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Cheap Cellars

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If you’ve recently started up a beer cellar, or perhaps just recently overflowed your existing cellaring fridge, then you might be in the market for a deal on a cheap wine cellar. And boy have I got a deal for you. Costco carries a line of discount wine cellars from Chigo and they occasionally put them on sale. Today is one of those occasions.

Here’s the link. There you will find an option to buy a 36, 60 or 96 bottle cellar for $400, $580, or $780 respectively ($130, $150 and $200 off regular). For reference, here is a link to local wine cellar company Vin de Garde’s online store where comparably sized fridges routinely hit the $3000 or $4000 mark.

Note, however, that I said “comparably sized” and not “generally comparable.” The reason is that Chigo fridges, quite frankly, are shit. I have one, and it’s a love-hate relationship. It struggles to keep a +/-9F temperature, the bottom is frequently at or below freezing, and it drains its condensation… no where. It just puddles up on the bottom and grows algae.

However, it sure is much better than storing 96 bottles of beer at room temperature, which is basically a perfect recipe for destroying your precious malty darlings. So if you’re on a budget, and looking to improve over the daily heat/thaw cycle that is the average living room, then yeah, go pick up a Chigo shit-o-matic. You will not find a cheaper cellaring fridge.

If you have a bit more money, Vin de Garde has some of the best prices online for better cellars. You don’t have to go all the way up to this puppy (at least if you don’t want to be fucking awesome), but a Cavavin Urbania (54 bottle, $1,370) is a decent middle ground. It will keep your beer (and wine) at a much more consistent temperature, and I highly doubt the bottom shelf will slowly turn into a block of solid ice.

Now I just need to convince them to give me a discount for this blatant plug. Hey, I never said I had morals.

Written by chuck

January 20th, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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20 Facts You Very Likely Already Knew About Yeast

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While doing some research for another article… No? You don’t buy me doing research? Okay, fine, I was drunk and bored then. Yeah, I thought you’d buy that one. So, while I was drunk, bored and done with the porn, I surfed randomly and stumbled across a few interesting facts about yeast. Most likely you already know most of these, but if I’m lucky there’s a few newbies. I’d also be surprised if anyone didn’t know the first batch, but I’ll keep them in for completeness.

The raw basics (Skip if you have a beard)

  1. Yeast is a single-celled, asexually reproducing fungus. Hey, I said we’re starting basic, didn’t I?
  2. “Lager yeasts” are bottom-fermenting, meaning they fall to the bottom of the beer during fermentation. “Ale yeasts” do the opposite.
  3. Lager yeasts ferment beer at a much cooler temperature than ale, and at a slower rate. In fact, lager yeasts were first discovered in the early 1400s because beers fermented during winter had a lighter, crisper taste than those fermented in the summer.
  4. While Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ale) and Saccharomyces pastorianus (Lager) are the most famous examples of each, there are dozens of closely related species that can be used in brewing beer. Most commercially purchased strains, though, are variants of those two.
  5. Yeast metabolizes sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol; this gives beer it’s two distinct properties of carbonation and awesomeness.
  6. It’s common to refer to the carbonation produced by yeast as “yeast farts” since it’s a gaseous product of cellular respiration. I guess that makes the liquid product (booze) “yeast piss.”

Yeast is also responsible for vague, blurry ads that somehow make me uncomfortable.

Slightly more interesting

  1. The Spanish “cerveza” is derived from the Latin “cerevisia”, which is the name of the top-fermenting ale yeast, so when you order that cold Central American Lager on a beach in Mexico, you’re really asking for an ale, and really, wouldn’t you prefer a beer with actual flavour?
  2. S. pastorianus used to be called S. carlsbergensis. It was identified in the late 19th century by, you guessed it, Carlsberg Brewery (or rather, their research arm. Yes, they have a research arm).
  3. S. cerevisiae is also used to make wine and bread. Wine was easier to do, though, because it grows naturally on the skin of grapes.
  4. Some yeasts outside of the Saccharomyces genus entirely are also commonly used in brewing beer, with Brettanomyces bruxellensis being a notable one (although almost always in conjunction with regular yeast). This is the “Brett” in Brett-conditioned beers. This yeast also occurs naturally on the skin of wine grapes.
  5. Despite the fact that yeast produces carbon dioxide, it isn’t enough to carbonate beer to the levels consumers expect. Thus, that beer in your hand has been artificially, or “force” carbonated. (See Dean from Lighthouse Brewing’s comment below for info on alternatives)
  6. The “sour” in sour beers is not yeast at all, but rather the bacteria Lactobacillus brevis and Pediococcus cerevisiae amongst others.
  7. It’s very hard to actually kill yeast. You can starve it, dry it out and even freeze it, but if you give it a little sugar and some water… bam! Booze!
  8. Yeast doesn’t just straight up convert sugar into liquor, it lazily slowly converts it to intermediary products first, and only goes back to finish the job once all the yummy sugar is gone. Incomplete fermentation can leave lots of these intermediaries lying around, causing off flavours in beer.
  9. Yeast is also finicky. It can just up and quit, saying “fuck this” while storming off the job. This is known as a stuck fermentation, and while you can sometimes get it going again by adding new yeast (scabs!), it’s not always possible.
  10. Breweries often maintain their own standing colonies of yeast, rather than buying new supplies at the start of each brew. Since yeast evolves very quickly, breweries often also breed them for specific flavours and characteristics, resulting in custom sub-species specific to each brewery.
  11. Yeast is everywhere: on your keyboard, in the air, in your hair and on your skin. Before modern times brewers wouldn’t add yeast to their wort–they’d just expose it to the air for a bit.

Very interesting

  1. Brettanomyces bruxellensis (see above) is actually a specifically cultured version of the wild yeast regional to lower Belgium. This is why traditional (wild fermented) Belgians from that area have Brett characteristics. We also have local species of wild yeasts in Vancouver, but no one brews with them (yet).
  2. It was recently determined that S. pastorianus is actually a hybrid of S. cerevisiae and S. eubayanus which is less than interesting until you realize that S. eubayanus is native to Patagonia and that S. pastorianus became common in European brewing in the early 1400s.
  3. All these yeasts produce liquor aerobically, or in the presence of oxygen. Many other yeasts will only do so anaerobically, like Kluyveromyces lactis. Add in oxygen, and they’ll completely convert your precious barley malt into CO2 and water, the greedy bastards. Deprive them of O2, though, and you have a new weird beer that geeks might buy!

And there ya have it. I’m no longer bored, or maybe I’m now too bored to continue blogging. I don’t know which. I think I’ll go have a beer.

Written by chuck

January 16th, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Focus on the LDB V

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It’s been a few weeks since we last took a look at the LDB’s advertising strategy, and I’ve just noticed that they’ve updated the website with a slew a of new ads.

So, let’s see here, they have… holy shit. There’s beer here. On the main rotator, even! Except… well… it’s Coors Light…. sharing space with Miller Genuine Draft… and cheap awful wine. Sigh. Fine, let’s get out the calculator.

Total Ads: 7

Wine: 4
Liquor: 0
Beer: 0
Mixed: 2
Corporate: 1

The “Mixed” category means these ads are for multiple product types, and those break down as follows:

“Savvy Shopper” Ad:

Wine: 8/15 (hmm… can Toscano Rosso be considered strictly “wine”, per se?)
Liquor: 5/15
Beer: 2/15 (I know, I know)

“Taste Magazine Winter Edition”

Wine: 169
Liquor: 28
Beer: 0

I think that last one is the most insulting. Taste Magazine is supposed to be the LDB’s premier tool for highlighting all that is great and awesome about booze in BC. This issue runs a colossal 188 pages and features 197 different products, yet not one single feature is dedicated to beer of any sort, Coors Light or not.

Think about that. Someone, somewhere, was scouring their database for products to feature in fucking WINTER and they decided to add the one hundred and sixty ninth wine before even considering resorting to beer. Here’s a hint, guys, if you search the LDB database for “Winter” you get 31 hits, 22 of which are beer–maybe some of those would work out well in a magazine about winter booze? I’m just throwing the idea out there, is all.

It would appear that the only ads the LDB thinks beer drinkers want to see is when their favourite shite macro is on sale. Oh well, so where does that leave our running totals?

Liquor: 9 (+0.48 rounded up)
Corporate: 11 (+1)
Wine: 23 (+5.39 rounded up)
“Beer”: 0.27 (+0.13)

Now, why did I round up Wine and Liquor but not beer? Is this me skewing the results to make things look worse than it really is? Or is this me not bothering with small decimals on numbers over 20? Tell you what, when beer breaks 1.0 I’ll let you know.

And lastly, the whole “Please focus on beer” aspect of this argument doesn’t make sense unless there actually IS beer to focus on. So LDB, here are three great beers you’re listing RIGHT NOW that could have been in Taste Winter or any of your ads if you’d even considered beer a product worth talking about in any way shape or form, and each one comes from that search for “Winter” that no one thought to do for your “winter” magazine.

Beer 1: Dead Frog Winter Beeracle

Is the Frog alive? Fearless made us wonder what would next appear from the undisputed “Best Brewery in Langley”, and this is that beer. I haven’t tried it, and therefore the jury is still out, but maybe you should taste it before I rant about it/praise it and flavour your judgement.

Price: $4.99 for 650ml
Availability: Widely Available

Beer 2: Hopworks Abominable Winter Ale

But you know what I have tried, and is excellent? This guy. The LDB’s recent habit of carrying one or two beers from Hopworks has made me very happy, and this beer started it all last year. As you might expect, it’s a more hop-forward take on the usually very sweet style of Winter Ale, but not so much as to make it a “Winter IPA,” should such a thing exist…. I just came up with the best idea for a beer ever!

Price: $6.25 for 650ml
Availability: Widely Available

Beer 3: Lost Coast Winterbraun

Points for crazy bottle artwork are definitely merited here, but also for a delicious brown winter ale. A slightly tweaked version of a normal brown ale will leave you wondering where brown ales end and where winter ales start (usually in the spices… aw crap, I just spoiled it for you, didn’t I?)

Price: $4.85 for 650ml
Availability: Widely Available

Written by chuck

January 9th, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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