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Whistler The Chief Chipotle Ale

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It’s been a while since I last reviewed a run-of-the-mill beer off the LDB’s shelves. Coincidentally, it looks like Whistler Brewing Company has a new bomber out there: The Chief Chipotle Red Ale. If you need a refresher, I’ve been rather harsh on WBC in the past, but I’ve also given props where props are due.

I’m nothing if not pragmatic, and realize it can be hard for a company focused on low-to-mid-range beer to break away from the mass consumer market and instead focus on the high end beer geek crowd, but WBC definitely put their toes in the water with Lost Lake, a delightfully unfiltered IPA. Lost Lake represented a brief, welcome break from a line-up focused on sweetened beers best consumed from a jagged hole in the side of a can. Seriously, they have nine different beers listed at the LDB, and fully five of those are sweetened offerings that can only charitably be called “entry level products.”

Where does The Chief fit in here? Let’s start with the name. Aside from ominously stepping on the Squamish-based product naming scheme of Howe Sound Brewing, slapping “The Chief” on a spicy pepper infused Red Ale should promise a big, meaty, high-malt beer with lots of mineral complexity. This beer is none of those things.

Granted, it’s not awful, which is much better than I’d feared. However, a “Chipotle Red Ale” named after the largest chunk of granite on the planet can ill-afford to be boring, and that’s exactly where this beer leaves you. Whistler, you can do better than this.

APPEARANCE Clear, light auburn red with thin, quickly dissipating white lead. Very low carb.
NOSE Slight chipotle–not much else.
TASTE Not overwhelming, dry, chipotle bitterness, but rather unpleasant. Virtually no other flavour.
STATS 5.0% ABV / ?? IBU / Chipotle-infused
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yeah, it’s a skip. You might have $5.75 burning a hole in your pocket but you’d be better off eating the money instead.

Coles notes:

Brewery Whistler
From Whistler
Name The Chief
Style Red Ale
SOA Now n/a
SOA Potential n.a
Drink Your sink should drink it
Number of good beers with chipotle 0 and counting
Availability Most LDBs
Cost $5.75 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers Rogue Chipotle Ale

Written by chuck

November 27th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Beers

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Four Winds Saison Brett

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It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a beer. I thought about throwing up something on Driftwood Lustrum, but talking about the cellaring potential and general awesomeness of a beer you could no longer buy just seems cruel (I will update my cellaring page with details, though, so those lucky few who managed to get some can track their investment).

Today, though, I happened upon some Four Winds Saison Brett and figured the world could benefit from my thoughts on this interesting, complex and–perhaps most importantly–still available beer.

Tasting notes:

First, it comes in a cork and wire bottle. That gets some points from me right off the bat. Only three beers have ever been released in BC with corks, and Four Winds has now made two of those. Throw some Brett-infected barrel-aging on the fire and now we’re talking serious potential.

Does it live up to that potential? In a word: Yes. In two words: fuck yes. This is a refined, polished beer that makes nigh perfect use of barrel aging and Brett funk to add complexity to an already great beer. I opened this bottle with very high expectations and Four Winds met them.

This beer is drinking beautifully now, but it will continue to develop intense complexity with cellaring, likely for up to another 2-3 years.

APPEARANCE Cloudy, golden amber with a slight orange tint. Head is frothy, white and long lasting.
NOSE Bread yeast with a strong Brett funk. Slight pepper spiciness.
TASTE Crisp, dry body with a lingering funk from the Brett. Mild apple esters with a slightly bitter, oaky finish.
STATS 7.0% ABV / 28 IBU / Unfiltered / Bottle Conditioned
SHOULD I BUY IT? This is an elegant beauty of a beer, and definitely the best Saison BC has ever seen. So, uh, yeah, buy it.

Where to get it: The following stores purchases some stock of Saison Brett, but may or may not have sold out by now:

Legacy Liquor (rumoured out)
Brewery Creek
Fire Fly
Hastings Liquor
Westcoast Liquor Kerrisdale
Kitsilano Liquor
Steamworks Liquor
Burrard Liquor
16th St. Liquor
Village Liquor
Hop & Vine
Big Ridge
Central City
Spinnakers Liquor Stores
Cascadia Liquor Stores
Scotties (Squamish)

Coles notes:

Brewery Four Winds
From Delta
Name Saison Brett
Style Saison
SOA Now Gold
SOA Potential Gold-ier
Drink Now-2015
Improvement the cork makes +20% – I’m shallow, okay?
Availability Small release, major LRSs and brewery only
Cost ~$13 per 750ml bottle
Similar Beers Maybe Upright Seven, or Logsdon Seizoen Bretta–nothing made in BC


Gold because of the bar
this has set for BC-brewed beers.

Written by chuck

November 23rd, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Beers

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Beer of the Arbitrary Time Period

with 2 comments

Okay, fine, this is a bit late. I know I said I’d update a Beer of the Month twelve times a year unless there were no contenders. So far, there has twice been a distinct lack of contenders. This time, though, that was not the case. I got distracted. I don’t just mean lazy, either. A lot was going on this October, and honestly the fresh hopped ales were still coming out, so I let an update slide.

Plus, I had my eye on a specific beer release that I wanted to talk about, and it just kept getting delayed. So now we find ourselves in November, and I might as well admit that there will be no Beer of the Month for October 2013 (although, to be honest, a sizeable chunk of me wanted to declare “Fuck the Date” and just plod on with calling the next BOTM October, calendar-be-damned).

What’s on tap for November, then? Is it Driftwood Lustrum, which I recently plugged on Scout? Nope. As much as I like that beer, I don’t like giving props to a beer that is now sold out everywhere (pro-tip, it’s still available at The Blackbird… on tap… in 20oz pints… for $6. Why are you still reading this and not on your way there?).

Enough prologue; the November BOTM is (drum roll please)…. Four Winds Wildflower Saison.

October is for suckers, anyways.

Why this beer? Is it because it’s the first bottle release from a very promising new BC brewery? Nope. Is it because it’s an interesting twist on a favourite style of mine? Not really. Is it because it’s very good? Nyet. Sure, this beer is all of the above, but that’s not why I picked it as BOTM.

I picked Four Winds Wildflower Saison as Beer of the Month because it has a cork. I’m not shitting you. Yes, I am that shallow.

Sigh, so pretty. So. Very. Pretty. What? No, I am not weird. You’re weird, okay? Shut up.

Sure, the fact that this beer is a very good twist on a favourite style of mine from a promising new brewery in BC certainly didn’t hurt this beer, but the cork seriously sealed the deal. Cork and cage releases are rare in BC. So rare, in fact, that this is only the second time it’s been done, and the first time in a bottle that a single person could conceivably drink. (Background here)

Corked beers also cellar much, much better than crown caps, and that’s what I’m driving at here. Sure, this particular ale isn’t meant to spend long periods in a dusty basement, but if Four Winds can absorb the higher costs and effort of a cork & cage release and prove the whole model viable, then maybe we’ll see more bottle conditioned, corked beer in BC ready for long hauls in the cellar, and damnit, that’s a thing I want. Also, corked beers are just… more fun to open. I did say I was shallow, no?

So, congrats Four Winds. Congrats on producing an excellent beer (and it is that), and congrats on blazing a bold trail in packaging that hopefully everyone else will follow.

Written by chuck

November 1st, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Beers

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