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Granville Island Cloak and Dagger

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Well, here we are. GIB has finally let loose with the 2013 version of their Cascadian Dark Ale, the 2012 version of which started the whole CascadiaGate issue. Or, at least, that’s Steamworks’ story and they’re sticking with it.

For their part, Steamworks has since announced that everything is fine, and they realized the errors of their ways. Anyone can use “Cascadia” in the style of a beer, just so long as they don’t use it as the name (then they’ll have to pay $1). But I digress, this is not a story anyone even remotely familiar with beer in BC is not completely sick of. Kind of like our overly restrictive beer laws. What? Those are still here? Crap.


Pictured: Great beer in Costco. This is a thing that happens elsewhere in the world.

GIB also took the opportunity to relaunch their Limited Release Series as the Black Book Series. The beers themselves will be familiar versions of Brewmaster Vern Lambourne’s brews of years past, but they will have funky new labels and, for the first time, names.

Naming the beers is a concession to the “style but not name” requirement from Steamworks above, but also overdue. Good beers deserve names. The branding, though, is curious, as it de-emphasizes the “Granville Island Brewing” aspect so prevalent on GIB’s Molson-brewed beers, and instead highlights the specific beer. Frankly, the difference in quality between Molson’s “Granville Island” and Vern’s “Granville Island” has long been ill-served by the similar-looking bottles, so I say “well played, GIB.”

Anyway, back to the beer. What was the point of everyone turning towards Steamworks last fall and muttered “The fuck?” if not to protect a brewery’s right to make a fantastic hoppy beer and rightfully–truthfully–call it “Cascadian.” Sadly, that hypothetical beer is not this one (although Parallel 49 just released a Cascadian Dark Lager…)

Cloak and Dagger is a Cascadian Dark Ale, and all CDAs tend to be good, but it lacks that massive hop punch that trademarks the style. In fact, this is somewhat of a sweet ale… with an approachable taste, and that’s my main issue. CDAs are a beer nerd’s nerdy beer, and this just isn’t that. Sure, it has some of the toasted malt we all like in our CDAs, but that’s about it.

Tasting notes:

NOSE Dark malt, some roast coffee, and a mild punch of hops
APPEARANCE Black as night with light tan head
TASTE Sweet malt, although some bitterness from the roasting, not a lot of hops to back it up
SHOULD I BUY IT? Depends. Do you like sweeter, maltier IPAs? Then yes. Otherwise, give it a skip.

Coles notes:

Brewery Granville Island
From Vancouver
Name Cloak and Dagger
Style Cascadian Dark Ale
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential Not a cellaring ale
Drink Now.
Lawsuit odds I’ll give you 4:1. I just don’t see them doing it.
Availability Widely available at LRS
Cost $? per 650ml bottle (free sample).
Similar BC Beers Howe Sound Gathering Storm

Written by chuck

April 30th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

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Whistler Lost Lake IPA

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As you may recall, I’ve had some history with Whistler Brewing’s beers on this blog. As a result of that, I’m surprised that Whistler hasn’t posted pictures of me at every LDB in the province with instructions to not sell their product to me.

If they did, it didn’t work. The Groucho Marx glasses might’ve helped, I guess. In any event, I recently found myself staring down a bottle of their new Lost Lake Unfiltered IPA. I could feel my bad beer hormones getting all stirred up just looking at it.

Then I tasted it. What a let down. Not only was this beer not awful, it actually was flirting with being… good. I mean, it’s not great, but it’s not bad either. Yet, even though I liked it, I still have a big issue with this beer’s label.


And I don’t just mean that the label is missing Lost Lake’s bikini-clad sunbathers… um… what was my point again?

You see, it says “unfiltered” right there on the bottle. I’ve been semi-outspoken on this point before, but let me subtlety say it again here so I’m on record: BEER SHOULD NOT BE FILTERED. Leave the yeast in, folks. Think of it this way: have you ever had unfiltered or bottle conditioned beer and thought “this would be so much better if there wasn’t any yeast here”? How about the other way around?

Putting “unfiltered” right in the title of a beer might seem like a step in the right direction, and I guess it is a bit, but what I see when I read that is “all our beers are filtered. Except this one” or maybe even “not filtering beer is so weird that we just had to put it on the label. Aren’t we kooky?”

Anyway, the beer. This isn’t a big IPA like Driftwood’s Fat Tug, but it is a nice take on the milder English style. There’s lots to keep you interested: the hops are floral and fruity, the yeast holds the body together, and the sugars aren’t over done.

Overall, hands down the best beer from Whistler Brewing I’ve ever had: a solid “okay.”

Tasting notes:

NOSE Mild hop nose consisting of tropical fruit tones (grapefruit/passion fruit)
APPEARANCE Slightly hazy, but still quite a clear, orangey, amber. Thick persistent head.
TASTE Strong bittering hops, but overall a good tasting IPA. Yeast character is balanced and quite nice.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yes. It’s cheap, it’s good, and buying it will encourage another mediocre brewery to brew better beer.

Coles notes:

Brewery Northam (Whistler)
From Whistler
Name Lost Lake
Style Unfiltered IPA
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential Not a cellaring ale
Drink Lots. It’s not quite medal-worthy, but it’s still good.
Puzzler Where does all that yeast go when they filter? Down the drain?
Availability Widely available at LDB
Cost $5.84 per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Howe Sound Devil’s Elbow, Coal Harbour Powell

Written by chuck

April 24th, 2013 at 3:29 pm

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Phillips Twisted Oak 2 and Double Dragon

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Another month, and Phillips brings us another couple seasonal releases, and I’m happy because one of those is their next Twisted Oak Stillage release. To recap, Phillips decided to create a series of barrel-aged beers with no names. First was a Scotch Ale that was all about the oak and not so much about the scotch, and now we have a Red Ale. If the first was anything to go on, this one should be good.

Twisted Oak Stillage Red Ale takes normal barrel ageing and adds a twist. This isn’t aged in old wine barrels, or even old whiskey barrels, but rather old rum barrels. Notably, the identity of the rum that was in the barrels previously is not revealed, but the mere fact it was in a barrel at all rules out the lower end mixer varieties.

Tasting notes:

Twisted Oak Stillage Red Ale

Enough speculation, though, is it any damned good? Yes, yes it is. First off, this is a very pleasant red ale. Even though 6.8% strays a bit into Imperial territory, it’s not a harsh or off balance product. Throw on the barrel aging and we get something more complex, and unique.

NOSE Sweet caramel/toffee backed by rum. The rum isn’t over-powering, though. A hint of oak rounds it out.
APPEARANCE Translucent brown with a hint of deep reds; thin white lingering head. A pretty beer for sure.
TASTE The caramel/toffee is definitely first, with the rum perceived more as a faint alcohol burn. The oak is a bit harsh (providing a rough tannic bitterness), but not unpleasant.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Definitely.

Double Dragon Imperial Red Ale

With Twisted Oak comes this year’s Double Dragon Imperial Red, practically begging for the side by side comparison. Yup, they both have “red” in their names, and that’s about where the similarities end. At 8.2% Double Dragon rules out even being brewed from the same recipe as Twisted Oak, and it shows.

NOSE Thin malt, some cereal, bittering hops.
APPEARANCE Deep Auburn; persistent cream head.
TASTE Highly boozey. Decent malt with some roast character. The bittering hops are evenly applied, but in the end it’s struck through with that Phillips metallicness that ruins so many of their beers.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Nope. Buy Twisted Oak instead. Phillips has just managed to cannibalize their own sales.

Coles notes:

Brewery Phillips
From Victoria
Name Twisted Oak Red Ale Double Dragon
Style Red Ale Imperial Red Ale
SOA Now Bronze n/a
SOA Potential n/a; table beer
Drink Now Don’t
Pirate friendly? Yaaaar! Avast!
Availability Most LRSs
Cost $7.00+ per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) None. It’s pretty unique. Lighthouse Siren… if you can find it
Chuck says Moar please. Less please.


Please continue to screw around with barrels.

Written by chuck

April 17th, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Beers

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