Archive for the ‘Breweries’ Category
I’ll admit that I’ve been a lazy ass, and have been sitting on this review for a while—a few months, even. However, sitting inside while the wind is blowing through Vancouver seems like the perfect time to write this sucker up. Beats the tar out of going outside, at least.
So… another Stanley Park brew, eh? What does Chuck think? Well, before we can talk about what’s inside the can, let’s spend a bit of time talking about what’s outside the can.
Turning Point Brewing (the actual brewery behind the Stanley Park brand) has elected to reinforce their completely fictional relationship with the park whose name they’ve appropriated by releasing a hoppy pale ale to commemorate what is one of the worst tragedies to ever strike Stanley Park.
For those new to the city, in December 2006 a series of massive storms touting winds as high as 120 km/hr tore through the iconic Vancouver park, and uprooted over ten thousand trees. The damage was wide spread and jaw-dropping. Entire acres of wooded rainforest were laid bare, turned into chaotic clear cuts. The emotional toll of this event on Vancouver natives was tremendous. People were literally brought to tears by the footage.
So now, eight years later, to have a brewery commercialize this tragedy for profit is… well, let’s just say it takes a certain insensitivity to think this is a good idea. However, Turning Point rampant desire to build any sort of association themselves with their namesake trumps any sort of good will.
Not to say there isn’t actual good will here. Turning Point is donating 25 cents per can (or per pint of draught) to the Stanley Park Ecology Society and, while 25 cents doesn’t sound like a lot when you consider that the can in question cost you $2.50 at the LDB, believe me it’s eating a pretty hefty hole in their bottom line (although, don’t get me wrong, this beer is still very profitable).
Perhaps I’m being too harsh? Maybe they can pull this one off and treat this touchy topic with all the decorum and sensitivity it demands? Let’s go watch this promo video to learn more.
Well fuck. Seriously, guys? In addition to all-but-implying that the brewery has any sort of actual relationship to a wind storm that occurred a four full years before they opened shop, that video lays down a sentence of marketing copy downright laden with wind-theme adjectives: “An unexpected storm of tropical fruit and earthy pine-hop character that bends to a gust of citrus on the palate and a rewarding bitterness that finishes clean.” That is verbatim from this video, and is printed on the side of their cans.
You can do a benefit ale. That’s a thing you can do. Central City has done several versions of their IPA whereby profits are donated to Autism research. However, the beer is simply called “IPA for Autism” and they donate $2 per 650ml bomber compared to Stanley Park’s $0.25 per 500ml can (approximately 6x Turning Point’s offering). If you go read the description of the beer here you’ll see that CC has avoided using tie-in words. Imagine how horrible it would be if they described their beer as having “strong aromatics that can look you in the eye.”
Unimaginably horrible and tasteless, that’s how it would be. And yes, a wind storm in Stanley Park is not even remotely the same thing as a child with Autism, but they’re two tragedies that two breweries have responded to with two benefit beers, and the two different approaches couldn’t say more about each of those businesses.
Nothing more clearly demonstrates Turning Point’s true feelings about Stanley Park than this beer. Stanley Park is not a treasured gem or a source of civic pride to Turning Point. Nope, it’s a marketing opportunity, pure and simple. It was that in 2010 when they created the Stanley Park Brewing brand and it still is today. If they were serious about rebuilding the park, they would have released a tastefully marketed brew and donated 100% of the profits, not 25 measly cents.
What about the beer itself? Yeah, it’s okay. Actually, the nose on this thing is amazing. You should have a sniff. Don’t actually drink the beer, though, as it’s not that great, but merely good. Even so, it might be the best beer Stanley Park has ever produced, but until they change their marketing game I’m going to spend most of my time talking about the packaging.
Oh, and to save you time: skip their winter ale too. It’s frankly bad.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of an urban snob. At least I came upon this trait honestly, though. You see, I grew up on the island, and I’m not talking Victoria. Nope, I’m talking “The Island” as in thinking “let’s all drive our trucks into the woods, build a giant bonfire, and chug Lucky Lager until we pass out” to be the height of societal discourse.
You see, I’ve had to discover and appreciate urban culture for myself rather than have it handed to me as my birthrate like some bloody hipster. Heck, if I hadn’t come to Vancouver for school just in time for the craft beer revolution, I’d likely still be there today. Maybe even with a bigger truck. Definitely with a bigger gun.
So when we start talking about beer what’s made in small towns, I get a bit skeptical as to quality. If the general populace of that small town don’t know shit about good booze (as I certainly didn’t way back when), then they’ll buy whatever crap is brewed locally and talk a good streak about how awesome it is.
In short, small town brewers have a tendency to put out mediocre beer and never know better, because no one knows enough to tell them. Eventually, they get big enough to ship a few bottles down to Vancouver, then they get panned, and subsequently go out of business, leaving Smithers brewery-less again… uh… you know, in general. I’m not talking about anyone specific here.
Thus, when I spied a screen-printed bottle of Barkerville Brewing’s 18 Karat Pale Ale in the local LDB a few months back, I reluctantly bought it expecting it to be bottled shit, or something even worse, like DMS-laden shit. Even though the brewery isn’t actually located in Barkerville, calling Quesnel home doesn’t exact get you big city cred.
Imagine my surprise, then, when the beer turned out to be pretty damned good. No, not just good, great. Now double the surprise you’re imagining when I stumbled over a bottle of their 52 Foot Stout and found it equally great. Well, crap, there just might be something here.
So I set out to get the rest of their beers into my mouths. The chaps up in Quesnel were nice enough to send along their Golden and Brown ales, and luckily my local Rogue Wetbar had a keg of their Wandering Camel IPA on tap.
Five beers brewed; five beers consumed. Are they all great? Nope, but they are much better than anything I’d expect to come out of Quesnel, and honestly better than about half the beer us Lower Mainland beer snobs are drinking on a daily basis. Are they worth driving to Quesnel for? Fuck that; nothing’s worth that. However, they are worth making some poor schmuck drive a delivery truck from Quesnel to Vancouver for. Heck, if I hadn’t moved to the city, that schmuck might be me.
Prospector’s Peril Golden Ale
Clear as a bell golden colour. Likely highly filtered.
Thin cara malt (some Pilsner?). Simple light hops.
Smooth round mouthfeel, some diacetyl, gives way to a tad too heavy hopping.
5.4% ABV / 24 IBU / Blonde Ale
Meh. There are better local Blondes around.
3.5/5.0 (Above Average)
Hound of Barkerville Brown Ale
Rich, beautiful, opaque, auburn; tight off-white head.
Light nose, some caramel/rye? Pepper.
Sweet malt, with metallic finish and slightly chemically hops.
5.9% ABV / 17 IBU / Brown Ale
Decent example of a brown, a style lacking popularity. So sure, buy it.
3.5/5.0 (Above Average)
Wandering Camel IPA
Light aromatic hops. Citrus, light pine.
Pours cloudy orange/yellow. Thin tight head. Long persisting.
Little bit watery but good hops integration. Nice jackfruit citrus freshness. Creamy mouthfeel.
6.5% ABV / 48 IBU / English IPA
If fresh, yes. This guy goes over a serious cliff after about a month.
3.5/5.0 (Above Average)
18 Karat Pale Ale
Light caramel. Some slight c-hops.
Pretty much perfect bitter/pale body with a tight persistent head.
Bam. Great slight roast malt. Well matched hops. Good finish. Great stuff.
5.0% ABV / 33 IBU / American Pale Ale
Some bottle variation, but I’ve had some killer samples.
52 Foot Stout
I’ll admit it: I like Spruce Ales. In much the same way that I’m not partial to White IPAs, I am partial to Spruce Ales. So, you should take this review with a grain of salt. Maybe I’m just gaga over anything with tree bits in it, or maybe I hold Spruce Beers to an even higher standard because of how much I lust after them. I honestly have no idea.
Dead Frog is continuing to try and convince the world that they’ve given up their Lime Lager ways, and the Big Stump Spruce Golden Ale is the next in their “no really, it’s good beer, we swear!” series. Okay, fine, the series doesn’t actually have a name but that’s how they’re coming across. And, while the Lime Lager Days definitely are behind DF, their debt to craft beer in general hasn’t quite been paid off yet.
The press material for this beer is frankly incomplete, only hinting at the origin of Spruce Tip Ale with a frustratingly vague reference to Captain Cook’s NorthWest voyage. Spruce Beer was indeed brewed by Captain Cook, who’s on-board brewery mixed spruce tips in with their ale to combat scurvy. While the exact origins of the practice are not known, it is certainly at least several centuries older than Captain Cook. You can learn more on WikiPedia.
Secondly, and minorly, the presser mentions that Dead Frog draws their water from the Fraser River. I will chalk this one up as poetic license, for if they’re pulling that brown “liquid” into their brewery we should all get tested for any number of water born illnesses immediately, but I digress.
How is the beer behind the label? Not bad at all. It’s not an amazing Spruce Ale, but it’s fairly competently done, and a great example of an all-too-rare style. Combine that with a beer that frankly pours an attractive glass, and you have a strong contender for your weekend patio pints.
|Style||Golden Ale (Spruce)|
|Does it compare to the first Tofino Spruce Tip IPA?||Sigh. No. Nothing ever could.|
|Cost||$5.50-$7.50 per 650ml|
|Similar Beers||Tofino Spruce Ale|