Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘Beer and You’ Category

Estate Breweries Are Coming

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Breweries are changing rapidly these days. In the 1980s the first brewpubs in North America opened, inspired by the ancient watering holes of old Europe. Shortly thereafter, the first commercial-scale craft brewers started putting out beer with actual flavour instead of just cans of slight bitter booze-water.

From there, the brewers started experimenting with styles and ingredients. They adopted increasing amounts of the newer hop varieties to create the IPA explosion of the late 90s/early 00s. They even began experimenting with barrel-aged beers, and souring beers in said barrels.

Recently, though, the trend is towards single-origin hops and barley. Notably Russian River and Rogue Brewing in the States are selling beers created from single-farm ingredients. If you’re interested, the beers in question are Russian River’s Row 2 Hill 56, and Rogue’s Chatoe Rogue series. Along with single-origin beers came actual, honest discussions about terroir in beer without anyone snickering or asking a condescending “are you serious?”

From there, it’s only a matter of time before someone joins the complete package and creates estate breweries. Don’t believe me? It’s already starting: “The Farmery” is a new estate brewery breaking ground in Manitoba as we speak, and undoubtedly more are in the works.

Once I cover the guest bedroom floor
with dirt this will be epic!

Breweries are starting the move from run-down industrial parts of town back out into the country where they grew up. But which part of the country are they moving to? Location is everything when it comes to wine, and you sure don’t see a lot of estate cideries up in the Yukon, so where’s the best place to grow both the barley and hops required for good beer?

Barley likes areas with a low or no frost, and lots of nitrogen in the soil. Hops also hate frost, but like lots of sunshine in warm–but not hot–climates, preferably in areas with a slightly low soil pH. Using the handy-dandy maps Environment Canada makes available for such things you quickly discover there are two major areas that have all the ingredients. One is in South West Manitoba, right where our friends above are setting up.

The other? The Gulf Islands of BC. Yup, Saltspring, Pender, Galiano, etc. Those are all premium estate brewery locations. Notably Gulf Islands Brewing is already operating in the area, and they do grow their own hops. Estate Barley, though, is not planned at this moment (but maybe after reading this article they might change their minds?)

We can only hope that the next major phase of craft beer will result in a cluster of awesome breweries just a short ferry ride away. I look forward to plotting my multi-day trip through the Islands, with many stops to visit and taste barrel-aged, malt-forward estate ales within a stones throw of all the ingredients in the glass.

Sure, a multi-year barrel-aged beer such as the once I just spent five minutes fantasizing about is expensive (what can I say, I have weird fantasies. Oh like your fantasies are sooooo normal?), but it’s not bank breaking. Running some back-of-the napkin numbers based on barley & hop yields, bottle and barrel prices, brewery equipment and labour costs, I figure a small 2-3 hectare brewery and barrel room could operate profitably with a once-a-year release priced at only 15-20 bucks a bottle. Even less if they produce non-aged beer the rest of the year… or charge for tours.

So, who wants to start a brewery with me?

UPDATE: Oops. Replace “Saskatchewan” with “Manitoba” in that article (I’ve already updated it), for both the location of the Farmery and prime estate brewery territory. More than 2 hours sleep is recommended before fact-checking your own work.

Written by chuck

November 12th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Focus on the LDB III

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In what is becoming a regular feature here, I will now perform my every-2-or-3 week count of LDB advertisements on their website, and then proceed to point out that there are lots of interesting beers in the LDB inventory to talk about. So, let’s get on it.

As of right this moment, there are a fairly normal seven ads on the LDB website. These contribute to our ongoing ad count as follows:

Liquor: 2
Corporate: 2
Wine: 3
Beer: 0

This brings our running total to:

Liquor: 6 (+2)
Corporate: 7 (+2)
Wine: 15 (+3)
Beer: 0 (+0)

At this rate, I suspect we’ll see an ad for pruno before we see an ad for beer. Now on to the second part of these posts, were I highly some great beers that the LDB inexplicably stocks but doesn’t advertise.

Beer 1: Green Flash West Coast IPA

Considered by some to be one of the best IPAs on the planet, and I can’t say that I disagree. gives it a 99 overall and a 100 in style, meaning it’s not just one of the best IPAs, but it’s one of the best beers on the planet period. How this wound up in the LDB is a mystery that will likely never be resolved.

Price: $10.99 for 4x355ml
Availability: Limited

Beer 2: St. Sylvestre 3 Monts

A beer with a cork in it! At the LDB!?! Maybe they ordered this thinking it was a bottle of wine? Sure, the listing has no picture, and doesn’t mention the brewery. And sure, it’s likely crammed in the back of the “misfits” shelf in the craft beer section (you know the one), but they have it, and at $6.99 it doesn’t get much better than this.

A great example of a high-test French table beer, this guy is all about the yeast, the nose, and the high carbonation. Open a bottle and remember what summer once felt like.

Price: $6.99 for 750ml
Availability: Widely Available

Beer 3: Lagunitas Lucky 13

Okay, it’s listed as “Lagunitas Seasonal” but the picture is Lucky 13, which is a malt-forward red (ish) ale. Brewed to celebrate their 13th aniversary, this beer was so popular with the staff that they decided “fuck it” and began brewing it each and every year. That was 6 years ago.

Price: $5.99 for 650ml
Availability: Fairly Widely Available

Written by chuck

November 7th, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Beer and You,Beers

Tagged with

Election Day

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In honour of election day south of the border, I figured I’d be a pageview whore and throw up a meaningless poll. Go ahead, friends, and waste 5 seconds of your work day voting in this here poll for best beer in BC. Consider the comments section to be a write-in ballot. If enough folk nominate a new beer, I might just add it.

This poll closes… whenever I feel like, but likely sometime today.

Rules for consideration:

  • One entry per brewery, max
  • Must be a regular beer. No seasonals.
  • Initial list was populated by pulling from the Top 25 Beers in BC, according to RateBeer.
  • Plus Steamworks Pilsner… because that didn’t make the top 25, despite winning “Best in BC” recently.

Update: It’s over! Driftwood walks away with the crown, despite a late rally by Cannery Brewing in favour of their Maple Stout. Final Tally:

Driftwood Fat Tug: 45%
Central City IPA: 25%
Cannery Maple Stout: 13%
Crannog Backhand of God: 11%
Phillips Amnesiac DIPA: 5%
Steamworks Pilsner: 1%

Total Votes: 64

Written by chuck

November 6th, 2012 at 10:49 am