Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘Breweries’ Category

Coming to Victoria!

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Where does a beer geek go when they have beer tourism on their brain pan, but not enough time to make it to Portland and back? Victoria! It’s a like a closer, mini-er version of Portland! Minus the awesome train to and from it… And the Whole Foods crammed to the rafters with good US beer… And the street cars… And the ubiquitous great street grub… And with more taxes… on top of higher prices… Sigh.

Actually, Victoria IS great, and boasts one of Canada’s few honest-to-goodness brewery districts. Don’t believe me? Well, what if I were to tell you that a single square kilometre of Viccy-land contains four breweries and three brewpubs? That’s equal to all of Vancouver, and it’s crammed within easy stumbling distance. That’s a density that matches the best Portland has to offer.

For those not in the know, the area is Rock Bay (roughly), and the breweries are Driftwood, Hoyne, Phillips and Vancouver Island. The brewpubs are Moon Under Water, Canoe and Swan’s. Ok, ok. Vancouver technically has six breweries and four brewpubs, but Parallel 49 isn’t up and running yet, and are we really counting Molson & Pat’s Pub? Really? Is Pat’s even still making that swill they call pilsner?

And those establishments are scattered all over the city. A mere 1.6km separates Swan’s and Driftwood, the two most distant contributors to this area’s awesomeness. And 1-2km over the bridge to the west are Spinnaker’s and Lighthouse, making a slight excursion worth while. You could easily walk to more of these hit locations than your liver would like you to. In Vancouver, you’d definitely need a cab. Or five. And good luck with that.

So, where am I going on my expedited two day skip-n-jump through barley-land? I’ve made a short list, but not being native to the rock (well, that part of the rock at least) I’ve likely missed out on some stuff. But here it is:


Hoyne — I definitely have to check out BC’s latest craft brewery. They’re just starting to crank out beer, and the early reviews are good. Sean Hoyne learnt his craft over at Swan’s, and those are some serious good beer credentials. Also, they have a slick website and some great bottle art. I love shit like that. I’ll be cruising by during their regular hours Saturday to take in a flight of the goods and likely buy a growler.

Phillips — Phillips also maintains regular Saturday hours with a growler bar. While I’m not a huge fan of many of their regular beers, they have a habit of making some nice smaller run ales (thinking of Hoperation, Krypton, etc).

Lighthouse — These guys, though, do not normally open the doors on the weekends. And that’s where being an internationally renowned beer blogger comes in handy. Dean McLeod himself will be coming out to give me a mini tour, which I can only hope will involve his being distracted long enough for me to sample all the current Small Brewery, Big Flavour beers in production.

Driftwood — What trip to Victoria would be complete without at least hugging the outside of Driftwood Brewing? Luckily, I can get all up inside that biatch, as Jason Meyer will be meeting me on Sunday to let the fox into the henhouse. As Gord as my witness, I swear my intentions are not to club Jason unconscious and load all the 2012 Singularity into the back of my truck. This is absolutely not a thing that will ever happen. (Just kidding Jason; I’m perfectly harmless–unless you count the smell)

Totally unrelated: these are now only $9.99 via mail-order!


Spinnakers — This is where, many years ago, I had my first sip of truly great beer. I can’t go to Victoria without stopping by to have a pint and watch the bay go by.

Swan’s — Believe it or not, I have actually never had a pint here. This will be remedied; I intend to sit on the patio and people watch over a pint of good bitter, just like all those backpackers.

Canoe — Again with the brewpubs I haven’t been to! It’s even sadder in this case, as Canoe’s beers are much harder to come by on the mainland versus Swan’s.

Moon Under Water — The Moon brews a style of beer that is sadly lacking in general availability: low ABV session ales. To be honest, I fully expect most of my take-back allotment to Vancouver to be comprised of MUB ales. And yes, there is an allotment. There’s no border I need to cross, but there is a trunk that needs to not drag on the pavement.

I will also aim to visit the Cook St Liquor Store and The Beagle, but honestly these 48 hours are starting to sound a bit packed. Have I missed any awesome beer-themed spot that only the locales know about?

Written by chuck

January 16th, 2012 at 10:59 am

January Beer of the Month

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Yup, it’s a new year already. You can tell because people are hauling their groggy asses off of the floors of their apartments before noon for the first time in a few weeks. Another good tip-off that a calendar rollover of some sort has recently occured is that I’m taking a whole post to laud praise on whatever seasonal release Driftwood is throwing our way this month.

Now, I didn’t get into the blogging business to be a credible journalist. In fact, those of you that know me probably spit up your coffee a bit at that sentence (or threw up a bit in your mouth, it’s really a matter of how well you know me). And, as such, I’m not overly interested in being considered an objective eye on the beer scene. However, my near-ubiquitous and nigh-constant shovelling of acclaim at a certain brewery in Victoria has even gotten me suspicious of my own motives.

But what’s a beer geek to do? They keep producing good beer, and I keep liking it. So here goes. The January Beer of the Month is, of course, Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller 2011.

But this is the 2009 label. Yeah, I’m just that lazy.

This is a great barley wine, and one that will improve for years to come. I recently did a vertical tasting of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 OCDs, and the ’09 came out on top and provided a great preview of what the ’11 might be in two years time. (The ’10, which still a great beer, just couldn’t keep up)

And the best part is that Driftwood made giant freaking buckets of this stuff, so it’s not hard to find like their other seasonals, and it doesn’t sell out very fast, if at all. Get out there, buy it, and drink it folks.

Now, as a personal favour, Driftwood, if you’re listening, could you guys produce something completely horrible, just so I can sound more balanced? I dunno, perhaps decant a single 650ml of Fat Tug just after the boil and call it the “Barley Mowat Journalistic Integrity Special Release” or something.

Written by chuck

January 4th, 2012 at 11:26 am

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Upright Seven Back In Town

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Not sure how much more I need to write than the title. It was announced today from our good friends at RainCity Brands that Upright Seven, curiously missing from BC liquor shelves since mid-summer, is now once again available for consumption.

I’m a massive fan of all things Upright. They’re perhaps my favourite brewery after Driftwood. It’s a shame they’re so far away (note, this doesn’t mean they make the best beer, just that I like their style).

Seven is a fantastic Saison, similar to Lighthouse Deckhand but a little less fruity and a bit more yeasty (all their beers are bottle conditioned). Consider it a much more robust version of their also-excellent Four, which is just perfect on sunny patios when you want a non-serious beer to pass the afternoon with.

Stock up while you can, folks. I’m pretty sure my case order via the LDB will be fulfilled soon enough, so that’s 12 less bottles that will make their way to shelves.

Written by chuck

November 4th, 2011 at 2:11 pm