Barley Mowat 

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Game On

with 11 comments

Alright, here we go. Got your warpaint on? Elbow pads? Helmet? Bear spray? Let’s DO THIS THING!

Driftwood Sartori is out today, folks. There might be some anticipated beer releases in BC, but none approach the madness that is Sartori Day. I thought I was alone in my fanatical pursuit of it last year… at least at first.

In an attempt to get around the per-customer bottle limits that so frequently accompany rare releases like this one, I drove from LRS to LRS buying my max. I thought that surely I’d be the only idiot so devoted, but that was not the situation. I was but one in a ravenous hoard of fresh-hopped nutters moving from store to store, emptying case after freshly opened case with a seemingly insatiable hunger.


Seems like a reasonable serving
(oh c’mon, that’s adorable)

This year I expect things to be even worse. Craft Beer, you see, is huge right now, and only getting more so by the minute. Sure, Driftwood–knowing a good thing when they see it–brewed up a double batch but even that’s only a wimpy 600 cases or so.

Driftwood has massively expanded their LRS support in the past 12 months, so supplies on a per-store basis will be rather limited. Don’t expect anyone to get more then 10 cases, but also expect random non-craft beer focused LRSs to land a few just because they happen to sell a lot of Fat Tug.

All told, the usual suspects (Legacy, Firefly, Brewery Creek, Viti) might sell out mere hours after getting their shipments in, so watch those Twitter feeds. Other, less popular or more remote stores should have supply into the weekend (16th Street, Darby’s, My Liquor Stores). Heck, Central City LRS isn’t even scheduled to get their shipment until Thursday.

If you think the bottle lust to be a tad extreme, then avoid St Augustine’s and the District Public House. Those fine establishments will be each receiving a cask of the lovely, and at a paltry 35 litres that’s barely the equivalent of 4 cases of bottles.

So get out there and get some.


How much does it cost and is it any good?
WHO CARES?! BUY! BUY! BUY!

UPDATE — Stock is generally good. Legacy got in 40 cases and sold ~20 last night. Darby’s has 7 cases. My Liquor Store has some (unknown number). The only sell out I’ve heard of it Brewery Creek.

UPDATE 2 — Legacy is out, but Liberty on the Drive says they have some, as does Edgemont

Written by chuck

September 23rd, 2013 at 11:37 am

Posted in Beers

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Fresh is Best

with 25 comments

With fall comes pumpkin ales, but we’ve already talked about those and their bitter sweet habit of signaling the end of summer. Fall, though, also brings the hop harvest, and the hop harvest brings fresh-hopped beers.

For a bit of background, beer is virtually always made with dried hops packed into pellets. The hops last longer and are also easier and more efficient to ship when they come in dry pellet form. Given that hops naturally mature in the fall, preserving them like this also gives us the ability to brew beer year around, and I like that.

However, for a brief window in September hop growers have a rare commodity: fresh off the bine*, whole cone hops. Brewers buy these in ludicrous quantities to use in fresh hopped beers, and these are just now trickling into the market.

What’s the big deal, you ask. Why does a fresh hop make a bloody difference? Well, let me put it this way. Do you cook? What’s the difference between fresh rosemary and dried rosemary? Fresh garlic vs garlic powder? Now you’re starting to get it.

Fresh hops have an almost completely different character compared to their dried cousins. Very herbal and almost sweet, these beers let much more of the individual hop varietal’s characteristics through into the final product. The hop species explosion means that I can’t tell you what each beer will taste like without trying them, but hey, sometimes you just gotta roll up your sleeves and get some research done.


Looks official, right? All we need now is a clipboard
and we can let the grant applications fly!

2013 will feature far more fresh-hopped beers than ever before, due both to the craft brewery boom as well as the massive re-emergence of BC hop farms. Whereas the first Driftwood Sartori came as a bit of a shock to local beer consumers (what? BC grows hops?), today it seems you can’t throw a rock in rural BC with hitting a hop farm.

Thus, I’m declaring September’s beer of the month to be the current batch of awesome fresh hopped beers. I’ll fill in the list below as I learn of new brews, and have a chance to review them.

Hoyne Wolf Vine (out now and great)
Driftwood Sartori (you blinked? You missed it. Still the king of fresh-hopped beers)
Howe Sound ??
Phillips Grow Hop
Brassneck (Conrad vs Cowboy Dan Fresh-hopped Belgian Pale Ale)
GIB – Mad Dash ESB with Sartori hops
Tin Whistle – Harvest Honey Pale Ale with hops from Grand Forks
Salt Spring Island Ales – fresh hops in one of their regular beers
Lighthouse – Road Trip Brown w/ Chinook & Zeus
Townsite – Time Warp Pale Ale
P49 – Bohemian Pilsner with Sartori hops
Fuggles & Warlock – Three Dawgs Pale Ale (With hops by Lynn! (@HopsCanary))
Storm – 100% James IPA (James grew the hops)

(Thanks to KWL and Dean for the fresh hopped beer info)

* Yes, dammit, it’s bine. Deal with it.

Written by chuck

September 20th, 2013 at 11:50 am

Posted in Beers

Parallel 49 Crane Kick, Snap Crackle Hop

with 8 comments

It’s been a while since I reviewed some beers, so I figured I’d dip my toe back into the critic water and see how it feels. Not surprisingly, P49 has seen fit release a couple one-offs, so let’s talk about those. Rather pointedly, I did not get around to posting a review of their previous special release: L’il Red. This was not due to any sort of beer blogger politeness (many other folk declined to review it, or even rate it on Untappd, because they’re nice) but rather because my day job was busy enough to prevent me posting a multi-page profanity-strewn rant about how bloody awful it was.

Or, I should say, is. Yup, it’s still around. That limited release that should have evaporated like all other P49 releases (which vary from decent to great) is still on shelves everywhere, including all over the LDB. That worries me, since the LDB gets a low of beer newbies, and this beer could be their first exposure to Parallel 49 or even craft beer in general. I’m not sure on the finances of pouring out a few dozen hectolitres of barrel-aged beer versus the risk of bad branding, but minimally they should have considered putting it in the corner for a year or so until they figured out what to do with it, like Driftwood did.

Anyway, I digress. Onwards with the current batch.

Tasting notes:

Crane Kick

I’m not normally a Pilsner kinda guy. Usually I like my beer big, robust, and greedy with hops. However, sometimes you’re looking for something just a little bit lighter. Lighter, though, doesn’t mean lacking in flavour. A few local lagers/pilsners have upped the ante in terms of how good the lighter side could be (notably Central City Pilsner and 33 Acres Ocean), but what would Graham With do? How about a single-hop release based on Sorachi Ace?

It’s a curious combination, but once you have that first sip it makes sense. In the recent arms race to giant floral hops from New Zealand, we’ve forgotten about the subtle delights of Japan’s Sorachi Ace variety. The light sweetness and balanced citrus aroma works well with the cereal rich pilsner malt. So well, in fact, that I’m shocked I didn’t think of this until I tried it.

STATS 5.8% ABV
APPEARANCE Pours transparent hay with strong carbonation and a lasting white head. Aka “like a pilsner”
NOSE Pilsner malt, cereal grain and a light hop finish. Aka “like a pilsner”
TASTE Clean taste with great hops/malt balance. The hops are a little stronger than I’d expect from the style, but the elements of the Sorachi Ace are just fantastic. Aka “like a pilsner, if it was very good and hopped with Sorachi Ace”
SHOULD I BUY IT? Depends. Are you a fan of interesting pilsners? Then yes. Do you consider pilsners to be too close to macros? Then no. Also, branch out, man.

Snap, Crackle, Hop

Okay, here we go. Hop pun in the title? Check. Hops on the label? Check. High ABV? Check. Yup, it’s a giant craft double IPA alright. These all need gimmicks, though, so what’s the gimmick here? Rice. It’s brewed with rice. Rice is what’s used to brew most US Macros, and for a good reason: it ferments very cleanly, leaving very little in terms of residual flavour aside from a faint, well, rice-i-ness.

So, what’s this doing in a giant West Coast IPA, where the malt character needs to balance out all those hops? Not a lot, as it turns out. The hops are way out of balance here. There is basically no body to speak of. If the hops weren’t the current “it” hop Motueka we’d be in major trouble. Motueka, though, is almost sweet on its own. Big florals, big citrus notes, and really quite a beautiful hop profile dominant this beer from start to finish.

In the end, though, I miss the body. If you’re a massive hophead who desires nothing else than no barriers between you and the latest trend in NZ hops, then have at ‘er.

STATS 9.3% ABV, 70 IBU
APPEARANCE Hazy copper with tight off-white head. Medium carb.
NOSE NZ hops: sweet kiwi, jackfruit, citrus. Bitter sweetness in the air.
TASTE Punch in the face of hops. Sweet front with a long lasting bitterness. Bright acidity over a very subtle, almost non-existence grain body.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Sure, why not. It’s a good showcase for Motueka, and sometimes you just gotta get you some hops.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver
Name Crane Kick Snap, Crackle, Hop
Style Pilsner Double IPA
SOA Now None awarded. None awarded.
SOA Potential n/a n/a
Drink Now Now
x times better than L’il Red? 10 8
Availability Most LRSs, some LDB
Cost $5-7 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) CC Pilsner None

Written by chuck

September 10th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Beers

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