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Everything In This Blog Is A Lie… Including This

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I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes I go out to house parties. And sometimes, at these parties, my friends show up with mediocre beer. Not bad beer, mind you; they’ve all learnt not to poke the dragon. Regardless of their views on Molson, they’ve come to understand it’s just not worth the resulting lecture to drink it in my presence. Or really to even mention the brand name without an appropriate sneer.

Nah, we’re talking just “meh” beer here. Like Stanley Park Amber, for instance. It’s pretty insipid beer, but you know what? If you threw a dart in the LDB you’d likely come away with something worse (although that does raise an interesting trivia point… what IS the 50th percentile SKU in terms of quality at the LDB? I’ll look into it.)

As a milder form of my Molson/Stella/Heineken punishment, I am fond of playing a little game with the Stanley Park box that I like to call “Count the Implied Lies.” Why “Implied”? Because Mark Anthony Group (the fine folk behind this particular brew) are no dummies. They have lawyers, lots of lawyers. Heck, they might even be lawyers. In fact they have so many lawyers this article might be my last. And their lawyers have helped them craft what is just an absolutely fantastic piece of marketing that approaches, plays with–nay flirts with–nay spends all night buying drinks for, but never actually calls back the next day-with, but does not actually cross the line of false advertising. The package implies lots of facts, but never actually claims something outright that isn’t true.


Pictured: Exhibit “A”
Click to embiggen.

So let’s play a game, shall we? Count the number of implied lies on this great slice of packaging, and let’s compare notes. Please let me know if I’ve missed something.

  1. Brewery Location The brewery is, alas, not in Stanley Park… or close to it. The brewery is not even in Vancouver. It’s on Annacis Island. In Delta. You know, by the sewage treatment plant?
  2. Brewery Name Sadly, this beer is not brewed by Stanley Park Brewing. There is, in fact, no such brewery. Instead, we can thank Turning Point Brewing for this one. And Hell’s Gate Lager. Yum! At least they’ve taken the trouble to make a completely misleading website for us. Note the complete lack of references to any of: “Turning Point”, “Annacis Island” or even “Down by the sewage treatment plant.” But hey! Look at all these fancy pictures of the Sea Wall and nature!
  3. Brewery Founding Date Turning Point began operations in 2010 which a bit of research has informed me, occured sometime after the 1897 so proudly splashed out on their label. Oddly, the first Stanley Park Brewing actually started up in 1896, but perhaps that year didn’t test as well in marketing?
  4. Brewery History Turning Point has no relation whatsoever to the original Stanley Park Brewery. Why would they? That brewery folded over 100 years ago so there’s no trademark to acquire.
  5. Wind Powered Yup, they’ve got a wind turbine. “A” as in “one.” If you believe that’s running the boilers in a ~100 hectolitre brewery I’ve got a wind turbine to sell you. I’d be impressed if that thing powers the lights. As a side note, does anyone else find it odd that it rotates even when there’s no wind?
  6. Sustainable Brewery* Sorry, they’re not a sustainable brewery, in that they use more resources than they put back into the environment, in terms of electricty alone. They also order hops and malt from a catalogue, meaning that their supply chain is also almost certainly similarly un-sustainable. They’re better than most, but still not 100% sustainable.
  7. First Sustainable Brewery Ok, so they’re not perfect (and who is, right?) but at least they’re the first. Uh… nope. Other breweries have tried to be sustainable, most notably Crannog Brewing, who make a point of using solar power where possible, and growing their own hops & barley.
  8. Most Advanced Brewery Actually, I think they have this one. Every source I can find just completely raves about their awesome setup. “Most Advanced” is even less define-able than “sustainable” but at least there’s a few ways in which this one is demonstrably true.
  9. Belgian Amber This one is arguable, but I didn’t taste anything Belgian in terms of flavour. This is a straight up pale amber ale, nice n simple n bland. If there ever was any Belgian funk in that bottle, it was left behind in the filters.

* Sustainable is a very hard thing to define. Heck, the wiki entry on it starts with this notion. However, even the most liberal use of the word generally means a net-zero use of energy and resources, and they just aren’t there. This doesn’t mean they aren’t trying. My opinions on the quality of the end product aside, TP is doing lots of things right when it comes to reducing the environmental footprint of a product that is, afterall, very energy intensive to produce. Things like:
– Recycling spent grain (most places throw it out)
– Reducing water loss during brewing
– By reducing water loss, they also reduce energy costs (steam is lost heat)
– Hybrid delivery vehicles
– And yes, that damned windmill. Even though it doesn’t run the place, it does provide at least SOME engery, and that’s better than the magic electricity hole in the wall

However, despite all this, saying that they’re fully sustainable is misleading at best.

Written by chuck

March 5th, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Beer and You,Breweries

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March Beer of the Month: Tofino Dawn Patrol

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Continuing in the theme of “new breweries” adopted last month, the Beer of the Month for March is…

Tofino Dawn Patrol Coffee Porter

Tofino’s one of the “five new breweries” I like to talk about whenever someone shows a bit of interest in beer, or gets stuck waiting for the crosswalk light beside me (I honestly can’t tell the difference; it’s a bonafide medical condition). FYI, The other four are Hoyne, Townsite, Coal Harbour and Parallel 49.

Since I’ve only tasted beer from three of those five, it’s a bit early to declare a winner. However, Tofino will be hard to beat. All their beers have been good, but this one made me realize they were playing with the elites.

There’s a depth and complexity here that is just a fantastic surprise for a brewery that’s well short of its first birthday. As I’ve mentioned to Jason from Driftwood: pay attention, these guys are your new competition for the coveted BC Brewing Crown.


Also, they have a cool, simple logo.
No joke here, I love this.

Sadly, the scale of Tofino’s operation still prevents their widespread availability (or bottling). I’m unaware if their distribution has even advanced as far away as Ucluelet. Their current presence at the Alibi Room is primarily a nod to Nigel’s determination to serve all that BC has to offer, but only time will tell how permanent that arrangement is. [Edit: Nigel informs me below that the Tofino guys are delivering the beer to his doorstep. I guess this more speaks to his craft beer influence in the local market; what better way to get your new beer known than to have it on tap at the Alibi?]

What I’m saying is: Drink up; in the future this gem might be a ferry ride away. That, plus a long drive on one of BC’s sketchiest highways.

Where to get it: Tofino, Alibi Room
Where not to get it: Anywhere else

Written by chuck

March 2nd, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Breweries

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Credit Where Credit Is Due (YBC Cask)

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I’ve been a bit critical of YBC’s cask nights in the past, pointing out that they’re essentially taking the lazy route out and just dry hopping whatever ale they have lying around and calling it a day. For months and months their cask lineup switched between Pale Ale and IPA dry-hopped with a constant march of hops, with the odd stout thrown in for fun.

Thus, it’d be highly remiss of me to not mention today’s YBC cask, which breaks from that trend and is an honest-to-goodness interesting cask. The cask before us is a Pilsner dry-hopped with Spalt.

I know, I know, it’s not on the surface different from what I was just complaining about. But let me ask you this. Have you ever had a dry-hopped lager? Or a cask-conditioned lager?

Now take it to the extra bit of interesting, where that same beer will be re-dry-hopped with different strains for the next two weeks. Sad YBC couldn’t do all three at once for comparison, but the approach is still nice.

This could be very interesting. Plus, there’s a dynamite hockey game up on the big screen tonight, so YBC might be The Place To Be this afternoon.

Footnote: I should also note the other cask tonight: A chai tea infused winter ale from Central City at Cafe Barney on Main Street. That sounds deliciously insane, but YBC gets my cask vote. No, this has nothing to do with my living four blocks away and behind oh so lazy. Shut up. No. I think YOU’RE lying.

Written by chuck

February 23rd, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Bars,Breweries

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