Barley Mowat 

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Molson and Me – Part One

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The most popular question asked of me at this weekend’s excellent CAMRA Spring Fest of Ale was not what my favourite beer was, or what I thought of that weird blood orange concoction from R&B, but rather if I’d gone ahead and sampled the Molson M that magically appeared on my doorstop last week. This perturbed me somewhat because, here we were surrounded by oodles of delicious light ales brewed specifically for our enjoyment, and everyone wanted to talk macro to me. (This is not like talking dirty, not even close)

So I figured I’d just get down to business and say it. Yes. Yes, I did sample the Molson M. And the Canadian, and a local craft lager (Central City’s), all side by each. I performed this subjective review, as promised, during a hockey game on Friday. Here are my impressions.

Wow. Molson M is quite possibly the easiest drinking, smoothest tasting lager I have ever had. It’s astonishing how many years of my life I have wasted in pursuit of darker, more flavourful ales, when beer nirvana was just $2 away at the local LDB. I don’t want to take away from Canadian, though, as it does have its place when you want to slow down and enjoy things, but for quick refreshment and a no-questions-asked finish, M is the place to be. I love this… hang on, Ted from accounting just popped in. What’s that? Bounced? You sure? The whole thing, eh. What about the briefcase of cash? Not actually money, you say? Yeah, I know that was just regular paper with my picture on it, but it just seemed so… natural.

Well fine, if you want to bribe me to praise your product, you better make good with the Bordens. So, back to the review, now without sudden and shockingly excessive income influencing my opinion.

Molson Canadian and M are terrible. Just ungordly awful. I paused after my second sip of each and pondered what exactly I had done wrong in my life to wind up here, now, drinking this schlock. These beers are not just pale, insipid, hollow ghosts of what a beer might once have aspired to. No, they are just plain dreadful.

They start with a faint nose of slightly-off straw, which can only be described as “barn-like” in quality, or perhaps even more accurately “used barn-like.” Too vague? Ok, piss. It smells like goat piss on wet hay. Perhaps, the piss is why the hay is wet and mildewing. I’m not really going to invest too much thought on this one, but I’ve spent enough time in petting zoos to confirm this comparison is apt.


Gotta admit, not sure how this could help the smell,
but also not sure what would make it worse.

The body is virtually non-existant, although some of the M did have a slight tinge of unfermented malt (not all, though, making me think their quality control isn’t where Canadian’s is). The finish is like being physically assaulted by a bad, off-beer taste. When I say this beer is bad, I do not mean “not good.” I mean “bad as in milk.” In fact, the most repeated first comment after a sip was not “Ugh”, “This is bad” or “Yuck.” No, the first comment was universally a gag reflex. I am not making this up. This beer is so bad your body confuses it with poison and wants you to stop drinking it right-the-fuck-now. After that, you’re stuck with a off-putting chemical taste on the palate that only another sip can seemingly cure, even if temporarily.

But that’s not what we’re here to evaluate. The job is to determine if M is better, or easier drinking than Canadian, which is about a relative evaluation rather than an absolute. Are they even different beers? Well, I have to admit these are two very slightly different beers, perhaps by as much as one or two percent overall. When you take a sip of one, and concentrate very very hard for 10 seconds or so, you can determine an ever-so-slight difference in the second, but this difference is so slight that it could honestly just be because the second sip is of beer which has now been open 10 seconds longer.

Is M better? No. M and Canadian are practically indistinguishable. In fact, we had to abandon the first trial part way through because it was no longer clear which product was which, and repeated samplings did nothing to address the situation. After that one glass was flagged to allow us to keep track. The microcarbonation process, which Molson refuses to talk about, did not inject tiny little pixies into the glass, nor did it somehow magically violate physical law to make nitrogen-like CO2 bubbles appear when you opened the bottle. In fact, the carbonation level of each beer appeared nearly identical, although I have not yet precisely measured it.

How did it compare to a local lager, brewed by Central City? Perhaps all lagers are flat and taste vaguely uric? I’m not a huge fan of the CC Lager. I find it quite boring and honestly not that good. However, after the Molsons, I easily could have confused it with a light hefeweizen. Yeast aromas popped out of the glass, and the crisp clean finish made it practically beg me to have another sip.

So, I guess Molson M does have a use in the real world: making mediocre craft beer seem absolutely awesome.


Kinda like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon,
although I’m unsure which is which in this analogy.

But I’m not done yet. Next up is a double blind taste test where random people will be asked to sample a variety of fluids and rank them in a variety of categories. Does anyone have a goat I can borrow for a few hours?

Update: The epic concludes in part 4. (Or go back to Part 2)

Written by chuck

April 18th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Beers

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March Beer of the Month: Driftwood Cuvée D’Hiver

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I’ve decided to draw attention to one beer a month, or thereabouts (if there’s nothing interesting to talk about, I’ll skip a month). These are not necessarily the best or tastiest beers, but rather an interesting brew that I’ve decided needs more attention. So, without further ado, March’s beer is:

Cuvée D’Hiver by Driftwood Brewing

It’s no secret that Driftwood is one of my favourite local breweries. A quick glance at my beer cellar shows that roughly 2/3 of the available shelf space is given over to one of Old Cellar Dweller or Singularity, and rightly so. Add into that mix their fall Sartori IPA and excellent regular beers and it means when Driftwood announces a new beer, I pay attention.


Logo unceremoniously stolen from Driftwood’s website, but it’s ok if this gets them more sales.

And this is the case with Cuvée D’Hiver. First, it’s a light saison coming out in the middle of winter. Second, it’s brewed with barley grown and malted on the Saanich Peninsula, just down the road from the brewery. Heck, until they announced this beer I thought barley malt was exclusively manufactured in factories and shipped to you in burlap sacks but no, turns out it’s a real thing that grows in the ground. Incroyable!

(Joking aside, locally sourced hops and barley is absolutely something I think there should be more of, and it really is a trend that is catching. Gulf Islands Brewing, Crannóg, and Driftwood all are doing their parts)

Thus when it was announced that the Railway Club would have a cask of this interesting ale, nothing in the known world could stop me from having a tasty pint or three. My buddy Tim has actually joked that my love of Driftwood is such that they could piss in bottle and I’d buy it. At first glance, the colour of this beer raised my suspicions that such a deed was afoot, but one taste and my worries were allayed. Oh but if my pee tasted this good!

The beer is a fruity, more refreshing version of the regularly excellent Farmhand. I’m not sure if it beats out Lighthouse Deckhand for best saison in the province, but it is absolutely worth a try. My only complaint is that this beer is so very perfectly made for summer that going outside to face the rain after my pint was doubly depressing.

Where to get it: All the finer local craft beer stores. On tap at the Alibi. Also, several casks have been made so keep an eye out.
Where not to get it: BC Liquor Stores

Written by chuck

March 4th, 2011 at 10:25 am

Posted in Beers,Breweries

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Okay, Okay, I’ll Review Some Beer

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I’ve finally cracked, and will put individual beer reviews up for your consideration. However, I won’t update the main page here with my thoughts, but rather keep my malty musings of the variety “beer good, you drink” over here.

As you all know, I’m a fan of folk making up their own mind about such things as beer, so I’ll keep it simple. I’ll either say to skip a beer, drink it, or consider replacing your blood with its sweet amber nectar. That’s it. The ratebeer’s of the world can have beer ratings down to 1/1000 of a point accuracy.

Written by chuck

November 25th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Beer and You,Beers