Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘Breweries’ Category

Driftwood Twenty Pounder

with 4 comments

With virtually no warning Driftwood dropped this guy on the market two weeks ago. A lot of people didn’t notice because we were all preoccupied with the Alibi’s 400th tap list rotation, but once the giddy fogginess (aka hangover) cleared there was a new beer on LRS shelves staring us down. A big, mean, threatening beer.

That beer is Driftwood Twenty Pounder, their take on the a delightfully extreme style. This is only the second release of Driftwood’s Double IPA, and they’ve adjusted the recipe rather significantly in the direction of Crazy Weird Hop Party.

Pictured: Crazy Weird Hop Party

So is it any bloody good? Well yeah, what else did you expect from Driftwood? Of course it’s bloody good. Is it amazing? Nah, not really. Once you ratchet up the hops in a DIPA into “Humulus LD50 Research” territory I begin to lose interest, and this beer is definitely up in that rarefied air.

Giant hop-bombs measure their figurative dicks with something called the International Bittering Units scale. A score of sub 10 gets you light lagers, a classic British Bitter might be in the 20-40 range, while proper American/Cascadian IPAs start showing up around 50 or 60. Beers in the “as many hops as you can fit in the kettle” hop wars, though, put down “100+ IBUs” on the label as a badge of honour. It’s not that the scale stops at 100, but that the methods used to measure bitterness (largely via spectrophotometer) simply stop working above 100 and you wind up with “I dunno… a lot, I guess?” as the official result from the lab.

Not that 120 would mean much more than 135, though. Once you’ve past 100 the flavour of the beer just sorta becomes hops, hops, hops and nothing but hops. You know me; I like a balanced, flavourful beer (hence my preference for the much sweeter, viscous Cascadian IPA style over the dryer more bitter American IPA), and this beer might have been just that had they stopped adding hops about 1/3 of the way in. They didn’t, and we have a massive hop bomb.

In the end, I prefer the original, as the sweet body balanced the hops nicely. This beast just seems out of whack, and even more so than Russell’s recent Hop Therapy DIPA, which I found dry but not overwhelming. I’d love to do a side-by-each of both these monster beers, but alas they’re now equally hard to find in stores.

Hopheads rejoice, though, this is a beer for you.

Tasting notes:

NOSE Big pine with a solid under-layer of citrus. Both are hops-based aromas, I should note.
APPEARANCE Orange/brown with a thin sticky head (from the hops)
TASTE Hops. Hops. Hops. Some spiciness (caused by lots of hops) is about the only secondary flavour you get here.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Do you like so many hops you can smell them through the cap? The answers to these two questions are basically the same.

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood
From Victoria
Name Twenty Pounder
Style American Imerial IPA
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential Not a cellaring ale
Drink Now.
Days until your “not a hops fan” girlfriend dares come within 10 feet of your stinky ass 2
Availability Running low at most LRS
Cost $8.00+ per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Russell Hop Therapy

Written by chuck

February 27th, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

February Beer of the Month

with 2 comments

I was sitting at the Alibi the other day, and I actually got called out for selecting a Beer of the Month that the person next to me didn’t love. So, let’s review the rules, folks. Beers of the Month are beers that meet these criteria:

  1. I have tried them
  2. I liked them or found them technically interesting
  3. Are beers that I feel need broader attention

Notice anything missing from that list? Yeah: “Are really great.” A BOTM nod from me does not mean that this is the best beer you’ve ever had (although it might be, I haven’t been keeping up on my duty to stalk every reader and keep track of what beers you have or have not drunk), but it does mean the beer is interesting to me, Chuck, or perhaps an unusual beer from a brewery not known for unusual beers.

Mini rant over.

Okay, just to keep it interesting, for February I am choosing a beer that just happens to be really great as well. This might confuse some of you, but I just don’t care any more. February’s Beer of the Month is Lighthouse Belgian Black 2013. I know, I know, I’m pretty predictable.

I love this beer for a few reasons. First, the bottle: it’s painted all-over with a textured black paint that makes it stand out as much as it completely blocks any incoming light. The bottle also has a pirate skeleton on it, and I cannot stress how much this improves a beer simply because you can say “Yaaaaaaar!!!!” while pouring it, or maybe slip in an “Avast!” or two between sips. Try it. It makes the beer better; it truly does.


Second, a year ago this beer signalled to the planet that Lighthouse Brewing was playing for keeps in the good beer game in BC. Sure, Deckhand made us realize that “Lighthouse” and “Good Beer” could be in the same sentence, but Belgian Black was a great beer bombshell that took us all by surprise. Simply put, before Belgian Black I didn’t believe Lighthouse could produce cellar-quality ales and after I flat out knew they could.

Third, it’s even better than last year. A lot better. Brewmaster Dean McLeod tweaked the recipe to be a bit more Belgian, and wow it shows. The tone of the beer has become more malt forward, with hints of all the right dark Belgian flavours: cherry, plum, date, and a wee touch of a certain monk-i-ness. There is a depth and complexity of flavour in this beer that was only hinted at in the 2012 version.

It’s drinking well right now, but lay some of these down for a year or so and you will not be disappointed.

Tasting notes:

Nose: Plums, raisins, dates. Basically 3/3 of the Belgian Strong checklist. Fruity/spicey esters are absent/very low though.
Appearance: Persistent medium carbonation, thin tan head over a dark, opaque black body. Sexy!
Taste: Very malt forward with a complex Belgian funk. Hops are prominent but balanced.
Should I buy it?: Oh hells yes.

Coles notes:

Brewery Lighthouse
From Victoria
Name Belgian Black
Style Belgian Strong
SOA Now Silver
SOA Potential Gold
Drink Late 2013-2015
Pirate Score 1 for 1
Availability Widely available at LRS
Cost $8.00+ per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers P49 Vow of Silence

That’s three, but who’s keeping count?

Written by chuck

February 7th, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with ,

Parallel 49 Vow of Silence

with 2 comments

With great accomplishments comes great responsibility. Such is the attitude I adopted prior to cracking open Parallel 49’s latest seasonal offering: Vow of Silence Belgian Strong/Belgian Quad. For those keeping score at home, P49 is just freaking killing it these days. It seems like pretty much anything and everything that Brewmaster Graham With touches turns to beery gold. Their list of recent home runs is impressive:

  • Schadenfreude: Perhaps the single best Märzen I have ever had.
  • Ugly Sweater: A smooth drinking Milk Stout? Za-what?
  • Russian Imperial Stout: A seriously good barrel-aged RIS worthy of cellar time.
  • Lost Souls: Chocolate pumpkin? It should be awful but it’s great.

And yeah, I edited that down because their regular trio of beers, while excellent, have been out for a while. Throw on top of a new barrel room, and not so subtle hints about messing around with sours, and we have a champion in the making, all in their first 12 months of operation. It’s no wonder that CAMRA Vancouver recently voted them the Second Best Brewery in BC.

So when a brewery with both technical competence and the will to experiment decides to tackle one of the biggest, most nuanced styles around (Belgian Quad), it’s a lock for awesome beer, right? Sadly this is not the case. Now don’t get me wrong: Vow of Silence is not a bad beer–it is anything but. In fact, if a lesser brewery put this together I’d be ecstatic, but from P49 I expect more.

In the end I’m just not sure what this beer is trying to be. It certainly isn’t a perfect Quad that will develop slowly and magnificently in your subterranean cellar for the next forty years. The flavours are bit too haphazard and subtle for that. Well, maybe it’s an Ugly Sweater-esque take on an advanced style that normally is hard to consume? Perhaps, but for that use the flavours are a bit too strong, and the 10% ABV is anything but easy drinking. The high sugar further conspires to make you put the glass down far too early.

Ultimately, like having sex for the first time I don’t know what I want from this beer and it’s not quite sure how to make me happy. It’s certainly not bad but it certainly could be a whole lot better. Again, like sex, I’m very curious as to the effects of a few months in Pinot Noir barrels, but alas we will never know (in either case).

Still, we should all buy at least one, because minimally this represents the LDB’s first real interest in good beer, since they’ve bought a giant fucktonne of the stuff. Sure, I don’t doubt for a second that they’re only listing this because P49’s beer is selling gangbusters, but good beer should sell well, no?

Tasting notes:

Nose: Bananas, cloves and bread from the malt. Slight hint of noble hops. Impression is of banana bread with a bit of chocolate.
Appearance: Highly carbonated with a quickly dissipating head; pours thick opaque maroon.
Taste: Very malt forward. Some raisins. High sugar is perceptible, but reduced by noble hops and roast malt. Undercutting all this is a (mild) unpleasant carbonic acid tinge.
Should I buy it?: Yes. Buy one. If you like it, buy more.

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver
Name Vow of Silence
Style Belgian Quad
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential None Awarded
Drink Now.
Would it be better barrel aged? Oh hells yes
Availability Widely available at LDB
Cost $6.50 per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Lighthouse Belgian Black

Written by chuck

February 4th, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with