Barley Mowat 

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August Beer of the Month

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Bet you guys thought I forgot, eh? Yeah, I know that the BOTM widget sat sad and un-updated for the month of July, and yeah I was totally called out on it. I’d like to say it was due to intellectual reasons, and declare that no beer was worthy, but the reality is that I just plain old forgot. However, that is not the case for August. For August I would like to draw everyone’s attention to a particular beer.

This beer was released quite a while ago, and everyone hemmed and hahhed about it, because it wasn’t as great as its immediate predecessor. And then this beer slowly started disappearing from LRS shelves, and everyone subsequently forgot about it. Now that the weather is hot, though, I would recommend that we all take a long, hard look at this puppy.

Look at it! LOOK AT IT!

Yup, the August Beer Of The Month is Lighthouse Belgian White. The quantity available has gone down a bit since I last mentioned this beer, but it’s still pretty widely purchase-able via the LDB, of all places, and you know what? Despite this being Not As Good as Belgian Black, it’s still a pretty freaking good beer. Maybe Black was amazing and we’ve all become jaded assholes, or something. I know I have.

But when the sun is shining and you’re feeling pretty dang good about yourself, this beer is a fantastic companion. So go out, buy it all, and make Lighthouse think that producing good beer is a profitable venture.

Written by chuck

August 3rd, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Beers,Breweries

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Focus on the LDB

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Nope, this isn’t a rant… well, it isn’t entirely a rant. I looked out the window this afternoon and noticed it was kinda nice out. Then a cloud floated by which sorta looked like a “patio” and I thought “bang up idea, Mr Cloud!” (Note: pretty much all clouds look like a patio to me)

Of course, patio means patio beers. And with that thought came images of Belgian White. Long since gone from the private stores, Belgian White is available rather ubiquitously at the LDB, making for a rather shocking aberration from the LDB’s otherwise near perfect record of stocking pretty much entirely dreck and calling it beer.

So I wander over to the LDB website to find out where to buy this great concoction, and I see this.

Sigh. No funny caption. Just sigh.

Sure, there is such a thing as a nice wine to have in the summer heat, and this wine myopia on the LDB website is nothing new. However, there was just something about my particular context today and made this sting a bit more than usual. So I hung my head in a little bit of mini depression for how awful our provincial liquor board is.

Sensing that I was particularly vulnerable at that moment, the LDB website went for a “kick Chuck while he’s down” approach and scrolled this by.

Oh fuck off, LDB, just fuck right off.

I have officially given up hope that the LDB will ever give a focus to beer, period. Yet they sometimes have nice or unique products in stock. So screw you, LDB, I’ll do it for you. Thus, I present my first Focus on the LDB, a periodic post that will highlight interesting or special beers available in the LDB right now. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, just two or three beers in stock at the LDB that I happen to like (and are therefore good).

Beer 1: Lighthouse Belgian White

Dean’s follow up to their highly acclaimed Belgian Black, the White is a more traditional take on a Belgian Wit Ale. I love this beer, and am happy to see it widely available. Sure, it’s not as over-the-top great as the Black, but sometimes a simpler beer is just what the doctor ordered. This is effectively the perfect patio beer.

Price: $6.50 for 650ml
Availability: Wide

Beer 2: Hopworks Secession

I guess someone ordered too much of this and had to dump it at the LDB to get rid of it. Having said that, this is perhaps the one of the best CDAs available in Cascadia. Grab some of Vern’s locally produced GIB CDA while you’re at it, and do a side-by-side comparison to see who wins in a CDA-off.

Price: $7.75 for 650ml
Availability: Limited

Beer 3: Parallel 49 Sampler

Ok, fine, this isn’t a beer, but rather four beers. So that’s got to be four times better, right? The newest BC brewery on the block decided to jump into the LDB with a splash, giving us all four of their summer lineup in one box. The four are: Seedspitter Watermelon Wit, Old Boy Classic Ale, Gypsy Tears Ruby Red, and Hoparazzi India Pale Lager. Each is a slightly unusual and interesting beer, and I love them all. The only problem is that every time I look down my glass is empty.

Price: $23.50 for 12x341ml
Availability: Limited

Written by chuck

July 21st, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I Found The Golden Ticket

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So, I got a tour of a brewery yesterday. I get offered brewery tours all the time, and usually I go and skip the actual tour part and just talk shop with the brewers, because let’s face it, if you’ve seen one brewery you’ve seen them all.

Yesterday was a bit different, though, because I brought along some folk from my dayjob who’ve never seen the inside of the brewery, and so we couldn’t just skip out all the mundane details as per usual. Thus, things like “So, uh, yeah, that’s the lab” turned into a full rundown of what’s in a lab, what the lab does in a brewery, and why that’s important.

And you know what? I liked it. It was like I was seeing a brewery for the first time ever, though the eyes of my rookie companions. Which brewery was this? It was Parallel 49 and our intrepid tour-leader was none-other than the brewmaster himself, Graham With.

Now, for this blog I will skip all the mundane details and go straight to what I found very interesting about this tour, and about Parallel 49 in general. As such, there will be a few gaps in my brewery story, but please fill those gaps in with your own experiences at other breweries. No, and not with the canola-oil twister party. That never happened; I don’t want to have to tell you again.

First off, the soft story: P49 is best represented in the person of Graham With. Graham is, for lack of better words, a big kid who’s been given the keys to the chocolate factory. He is almost giddy with the excitement of making beer, and solving all the myriad production problems that come with operating a brewery (he is an engineer, after all, iron ring and all).

Take that aforementioned QA lab, for instance. Rather than just doing mundane quality control and cell counts, Graham is using the lab to help maintain a different strain of yeast for each of their beers. This might seem odd until you realize just how much character and flavour in a brew is created by the yeast. P49 wants to avoid that common curse of less science-y breweries: having all their beers taste the same due to being all fermented with the same yeast strain.

Or all fermented with the same shitty corn.

His enthusiasm is as infectious as it is obvious. Every detail of running a brewery fascinates him in an almost ADHD-like fashion. From the design and purpose of the tasting room, through the details of the QA Lab, right through tinkering with the C02 system to improve efficiency. Get him going for a second, and he’ll happily tell you about the lot of used bourbon oak barrels he’s ordered (look for an imperial stout… uh… sometime after they arrive?). Or about planned trips to Okanagan vineyards to take infected barrels off their hands, and yes, about the sour beer program that ultimately that leads to. (When asked about the 2-3 year lead time for a good sour, he just says “Well, that’s why we’re getting on it now!”)

Now, the hard story: Parallel 49 is swinging for the fence. Given the raw facts, I came into this expecting a brewery somewhere in size between Storm Brewing and my storage closet. P49 only started producing their first beer this year, and are only available on tap at select locations around Vancouver. Bottles? Only delivered to LRSs, and only in the past few weeks. Obviously this is a small brewery start-up.

Wrong. Parallel 49 is a huge brewery start-up. The first thing you notice upon entering the brewery is the giant tasting room (which is still being built). Sure, it’s not where you brew beer, but if you have enough space for this kind of tasting room, one can only imagine the cavernous space in which you produce the actual product.

And cavernous it is. The current equipment roster for P49 includes 315hl of fermentation space. That’s a lot for a new brewery, but that giant row of fermenters doesn’t even come close to filling up the production half of the brewery. Turning that over every 4 weeks yields about 4,100 hl per year of production. That’s a fairly abstract number, but it boils down to 150 kegs per week, or 22 kegs a day in terms of brewing capacity. With 16 tap accounts thus far, it’s safe to say they have a bit of room to grow.

And that room gets bigger when the new order shows up. Oh, did I forget to mention more fermenters are coming? Yeah, another 300 hl of production capacity are currently being shipped from China. I wonder if Graham’s refreshing the Fedex page like I did when my iPad was coming via the same route?

This excess capacity brings home my main concern for this business: where is all this beer going? Those 16 tap accounts sure as hell aren’t drinking it. And that bottling line, as shiny and new as it is, sure isn’t running the 30 hours a day it’d need to be to bottle it all. Of course, you don’t need to actually use all your capacity, but if you aren’t using it all why double it with a new order?

And that’s my puzzler. Obviously, an LDB listing is coming, and there’s talk of shipping product to Alberta and other places further east, but ultimately I think there’s a risk of a lot of good beer sitting around while the local craft beererati try our best to pound through it before it goes off. Trust me, as great as unlimited good beer sounds, there is such a thing as too much.

Kind of like how 1/2 way through a giant pile of heroin you never want to do horse again… oh wait… So yeah, pretty much the opposite of smack, then, I guess.

But that’s it? No negative rants from Chuck on P49 aside from “they produce too much good beer… maybe”? Well… yes, I have one complaint. Graham admitted to filtering their beers, and even showed me their filter. Filtering beer is an open argument, with some folk saying you can’t get really great clarity without it and some folk (like me, and other sane people) saying it robs a beer of all the yeast character that makes beer so interesting. Considering how much time and effort P49 puts into brewing beer with distinct yeasts in the first place, filtering it just seems wrong.

Luckily, Graham quasi-agrees with me, and is currently attempting to convince the owners to invest in a centrifuge to allow them to get both the startling clarity and the yeasty funk that makes great beer great. Mike & Anthony? Please please give him the shiny new toy. Just think how happy he’ll be. How can you say no to that face?

Written by chuck

June 15th, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Breweries

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