Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘Beers’ Category

December Beer of the Month

with 3 comments

Lighthouse Brewing has been slowly upping their game, at least in the form of the “Small Brewery, Big Taste” series, which come in skillfully screened 650ml bombers. The latest of these is “Siren Imperial Red Ale” and man is it ever good.

Make no mistake, this ale screams Dean McLeod, the chap that has reinvented one of Victoria’s biggest brewery. The body is a massive warm hug of amber maltiness, backed by a healthy punch of hoppy citrus-ness. The hazy body indicates that a healthy amount of yeast was left it, explaining the almost Belgian funk on the body. I wish I could adequately describe this one, but I just can’t. You need to buy it.

Is it just me, or does each LH beer’s label have less clothes on than the previous?

We all know Lighthouse has been getting better recently, but honestly I did not expect of beer of this quality to come from them any time soon. Imperial Red Ales are finicky beers that are very hard to do right; that Lighthouse has served up a nigh-perfect example of the style makes me seriously excited to see where they go next. This beer is effectively serving notice that Lighthouse is to be taken seriously, and not just for their top flight IPA. Driftwood & Central City? Move over, you have company at the top.

Coles notes:

Brewery Lighthouse
From Victoria, BC
Name Siren
Style Imperial Red Ale
SOA Now Silver
SOA Potential n/a. Not a cellaring beer.
Drink Immediately. Do not dally.
Label Weirdness Why are the blue and red rays coming from her ass? Also, what’s she sitting on?
Availability Select LRS; limited release.
Cost Unknown; likely ~$7-8 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers Howe Sound Thirsty Beaver, Hopworks Rise Up Red
Chuck says This is a statement beer with a small release. If you see it, buy as much as you might possible want, because you won’t see it again.

Even though it won’t cellar, it’s still fantastic.

Written by chuck

December 2nd, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

Steamworks Speaks

with 6 comments

This is the second of three posts on the Cascadia trademark dispute that consumed BC Craft Beer in fall of 2012. To read the whole thing from the beginning click here

The response to my article yesterday daylighting the whole “Cascadia” situation has been massive. This is an issue that really seems to have resonated with people all over–not just from Vancouver, but from all around the world. In addition to the dozens of comments on my blog here, there have been four threads on Reddit (with almost 200 comments), posts on beer-themed forums like BarTowel and a few discussions on non-beer themed sites here and there. In short, people on the Internet seem to care about this.

You know it’s serious when someone makes a cat graphic.

Also, Social Media lit up with 100+ retweets and damned near 400 Facebook likes. And yes, this means I now have hugely inflated ego and will be an insufferable ass from here on out. Deal with it.

As well, there were dozens of posts to Steamworks Facebook page. I say “were” because SW established a pretty good program of going in every hour or so and deleting them before finally giving up and disabling their wall entirely. That’s a quality move there, Steamworks.

Perhaps the most important bit of communication, though, was an email to me, authored by Mr. Gershkovitch, received last night titled “Notice of Defamation Action.” Don’t panic; Eli isn’t taking me to court. It’s a joke, and I mention it here because I liked it a lot. That title put me in a great mood. Attached was Steamwork’s reply. I’ve posted it here. Please read it, as the rest of this post won’t make much sense if you don’t.

So let’s talk about this letter. Despite the fact that this looks like something that was written in one go and shipped out quickly, it’s actually a very carefully considered and written piece of propaganda. The spin here is pretty massive, and if you read through it start to end you would be forgiven for forgetting what we were talking about in the first place.

I’m not going to dissect this letter bit by bit; I’ll leave that to the frothing hoards on the Internet, who are already way ahead of me on this one. Instead, I am going to sprinkle a few tidbits of info here to salt this discussion.

First, nice try Steamworks. This letter attempts to deflect a discussion about a trademark dispute into a David vs Goliath battle between the little guy and Molson. I’m not a fan of Molson by any stretch, and I’m even still a little hurt by GIB’s decision to sell out to them. However, that doesn’t mean I’m dumb enough to get distracted with a “but but Molson!” argument. It doesn’t seem like anyone else is either.

Second, the notion that every small brewery instantly rolled over in compliance because they’re just so nice (as opposed to Molson, who are meanies) simply does not jive with what I’ve learnt. Perhaps Steamworks doesn’t think that I might ACTUALLY TALK TO THE BREWERIES, but I have, and while, yes, some are acquiescing to the trademark, some are absolutely not because they think the TM is bullshit.

Third, an offer to license a trademark for $1 sure sounds swell, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, according to’s in-house legal counsel* you can’t just willy nilly sell unrestricted use of your trademark. This is part of the “protect it or lose it” Eli mentioned. If you let people give you $1 to use your term however they want, you may lose that trademark because you’re not protecting it.

Similarly, believe it or not, this man is not protecting his “ladies.”

Nope, this licensing agreement will almost certainly come with some rather strong restrictions on how you can use the term, because it has to in order to preserve the trademark. And those restrictions have to be spelt out in a document, which needs to be read by a lawyer. The last time I checked, lawyers cost more than one dollar. So we’re right back where we started with small breweries being potentially unable to afford this whole thing, or simply being unwilling to bother with spending time and effort on something that is, afterall, not brewing beer.

Not to mention that a licensing agreement sets up Eli as some sort of King of Cascadia, judiciously bestowing or revoking these rights to those he sees fit. As funny as I think that image is, it’s not a reality that solves this mess. The Grinch Who Stole Cascadia becomes The Grinch Who Still Has Cascadia But Lets You Look At It Once In A While. Maybe. If You’re Nice.

I really wish this $1 licensing solution would work, as I’d happily just write a $56 cheque to Steamworks for all 56 other breweries in BC (including GIB) to be able to use the term “Cascadian” in a beer style without additional restriction forever, and we’d be done with this whole thing. Sadly, that’s not going to happen, as it is a virtually impossibility that Steamworks would ever agree to licensing terms this loose.

UPDATE: For a much more in-depth review of Canadian Trademark Law and how it applies specifically to this case, read this excellent post over at hoplog.

UPDATE 2: The saga continues in part there.

* Yes, we have in-house counsel. Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? She mostly spends her time repeatedly explaining “libel” to me, and occasionally informing me that I can not, in fact, sue a brewery for making bad beer. That part still doesn’t seem right to me, though.

Written by chuck

November 24th, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with ,

Dead Frog Fearless IPA

with 4 comments

Dead Frog Brewing is perhaps best known for crafting horrible fruit/beer combinations that should never have existed outside of the mind of a madman–and a madman who can’t brew particularly good beer, at that. I’m talking about their Mandarin Orange Amber and Pepper Lime Lager, specifically, but there are plenty of other examples out there.

Or perhaps they’re better known for starring on The Big Decision, a Dragon’s Den spin-off that focuses on small businesses facing bankruptcy.

Either way, their reputation precedes them, and that reputation is not exactly stellar. But, could there be hope? I had completely written off this brewery, and wasn’t expecting much when I took a sample of their new IPA at the BC Beer Awards. Tasting that made me loudly proclaim “THEY’RE NOT DEAD YET!”

Is their most recently bottled IPA release as good as the massively hopped IPA I had at the BC Beer Awards? Nope. It’s better.

Fearless is a huge, Cascadian-style IPA. Massive hops and tropical fruit aromas dominate the nose, but a smoother malty body backs it up. It’s as well balanced as Cascadian IPAs get (aka so heavy to the Hops side of the scale the bottle almost falls over).

This beer is such a great IPA, in fact, that I am wondering how it would stack up against the reigning big boys of BC Hop Madness. How does it taste when Fat Tug, Red Racer and Switchback are all in the room? I’ll be doing a blinded IPA tasting in the near future, and will definitely inform y’all of the results.

Until then, go out and buy this great beer from Dead Frog. Please do it. They need the money.

Coles notes:

Brewery Dead Frog
From Aldergrove, BC
Name Fearless
Style Cascadian IPA
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential n/a. Not a cellaring beer.
Drink Now. Please.
Number of good beers they’d have to brew to make me forget Pepper Lime Around 200.
Availability Widely available at LDB and LRS
Cost $4.99-7.00 per 650ml bottle.
Similar Beers Driftwood Fat Tug, Central City Red Racer IPA, Lighthouse Switchback
Chuck says It goes down fast and good. If we buy enough maybe they’ll make more.

See? Breweries with bad track records CAN produce good beer.

Written by chuck

November 18th, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with