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Harvest Fest Conclusions

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Just a quick summary of the events on Saturday, presented in order of Worst to Best Beer.

  1. Big River Gingerbread Ale
    Big River stood us up. Their promised Gingerbread Ale Beer was no where to be seen. Absent beers are the worst kind.
  2. Central City Pumpkin Ale
    Central City wound up just pouring their Pumpkin Ale from the taps at the Rail. I looked around for some tires to slash, but I suppose it makes sense they wouldn’t drive out there to not deliver a keg. This is not a terrible, or even bad, beer but laziness is only slightly better than not showing up at all.
  3. Central City Oktoberfest Ale
    Oktoberfest Ales are meant to be light, tasty, and easily quaffable. In an interesting twist on this theme, CC’s chipotle-infused offering was virtually undrinkable. I don’t hold this against them, however, as Chipotle Ales are incredibly hard to make work. Even Rogue’s bottled variety is border-line, and they’ve thrown years and piles of cash at making this a viable product.
  4. R&B Cornucopia Golden Ale
    This Mushroom Ale was… surprisingly not horrible. This ended up being a full bodied light ale with a counter-intuitively pleasant mushroom/earth finish. It’s not a finished product by far, but I think there’s potential to round this out.
  5. Granville Island Brewing Fresh Hopped ESB
    GIB’s Fresh Hopped ESB was decent, if somewhat unremarkable. The fresh hop taste I was hoping for was absent; perhaps I expected more than this beer could deliver. I also suspect I would have enjoy it more if it was just labeled a “Cask ESB.”
  6. Phillips Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale
    There was nothing limited about this ale, as it was just served out of LDB-fresh bottles. That didn’t stop it from being very tasty. Pumpkin ales range from sweet and pumpkin-y all the way over to light and spicy. On the spicy end are ales like CC’s, and on the sweet end are glasses of pie like Steamwork’s. This is absolutely like the latter. Pick up a bottle, grab some whipped cream, and have at ‘er.
  7. Phillips Grow Hop Fresh Hop Bitter
    Now here’s the fresh hopped taste I was looking for. While nothing to compare with Driftwood’s Sartori, this is still a very fine ale. By keeping it towards the lighter end of the bitter spectrum (this is a Bitter, not a Special Bitter, or an Extra Special Bitter), this beer balances excellent grain flavours with the lighter fresh hops without being too bitter.
  8. Storm Echinacea Stout
    This beer starts off tasting like a plain old great stout with nothing special about it, but slowly builds a pleasantly medicinal taste at the back of your throttle. Yes, I said “pleasantly medicinal.” No, I’m not kidding.
  9. Howe Sound Imperial Pumpkineater
    I knew something was up when this cask was left un-tapped on the counter because it “wasn’t ready yet.” It was tapped and served shortly thereafter to cheers. And they were right–it wasn’t ready. Instead it was delicious. I suspect the crew up in Squish tripped when they were adding the malt to this, because this cask had much more sugar in it than the regular version. As a result, it was noticeably sweeter and–I suspect–a bit more alcoholic.
  10. Russell Brewing Oaked/Spiced Wee Angry Scotch Ale
    Russell’s beer took the show, IMHO. This cask was absolutely delicious, and gains points as well for showing that Russell is taking good beer seriously once again. I am surprised at this, but I now have to give serious consideration to their other tall bottle ales, rather than dismissing them out of hand.

Written by chuck

October 18th, 2010 at 10:45 am

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Harvest Festival Round Two

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It’s only two days until the first ever Harvest Festival at The Railway Club. A few things that you should know have changed since we first talked about it.

First up, although I said it would be a caskival, it now appears that it will not. Usually the word “cask” gets plastered all over such things, and after the first few announcements that word went suspiciously missing. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there will be a cask or two, but the hoped-for row after row of cask conditioned ales will likely not be there.

So, what will be there? Not too many beers, either. Latest count puts us at ten, and while all are good, some of those are straight-up normal variants of regularly produced ales. In fact, the Railway already has Central City Pumpkin Ale on tap, so at least I hope they’re bringing out a fresh can of the lovely rather than just pulling from the pumps.

What beers can we expect? Here’s the list as of right this instant, and my take on each:

Pumpkin Ales

Pumpkin Ales are, frankly, the main reason I’m going to the festival. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed that only three are showing up, and that two of those are both the regular versions and widely available (and beer I’ve already had). However I suspect I will make the best of this situation by drinking them anyways.
Howe Sound Imperial Pumpkin Eater
I expect a regular keg of this, but I also expect it to be good (because it is).
Phillips Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale
This is a “limited release,” although I’m not quite sure what that means. In any event, it will likely be in a cask and likely be lovely.
Central City Pumpkin Ale
Gary, if this is just pulled from the Rail’s taps, I’ll slash your tires.

Fresh Hopped Ales

Here’s the meat of the fest. You all know how I rant endlessly about how great Driftwood Sartori IPA is. That is largely because it’s fresh hopped. If I had a daughter and it was legal to do so, she would be married off to a cask of fresh hopped ale. I suspect both these ales will be casked, because the best demands the best.
Granville Island Fresh Hop ESB
The brewery on Granville Island has been producing increasingly good beers recently. This is not to be confused with Granville Island Brewing (GIB), which brews insipid and generally lacklustre lagers and ales for the mouth-breathing unwashed masses. While both are the same company, they have completely separate brewing facilities, and the one on the island has not be tainted with suck. I expect this beer to be awesome.
Phillips Fresh Hopped Ale
How delightfully vague this title is. I expect a mild pale from the name, but really it could be anything.

“Specialty” Ales

Note the quotes. These beers are not for the weak. They range from interesting to down right freaky. You gotta try everything once, but sometimes that’s once too many.
Central City Oktoberfest Ale And here we find the thing I end the night on. Oktoberfest Ales are designed to be drunk in worrying quantity. There is no evidence to support this being in a cask, but I predict it will be.
Storm Echinacea Stout It makes you sicker and better at the same time! It’s been years since I’ve had this one-off, and man is it tasty. I hope this cask holds up to memory.
Russell Oak-Aged Scotch Ale, w spices My relationship with Russell goes way back, back before they started pushing mediocre beers and marketing their lager straight to football fans. I’ve had some of their more recent work, and it’s been surprisingly good. I have high expectations for this one, and will be straight-up disappointed if it’s not presented in a cask.
Big River Gingerbread Man Spiced Ale A pint of Christmas in your mug. Is it possible to not have this?
R&B Cornucopia Golden Ale This beer scares me. It’s infused with–I shit you not–chanterelle mushrooms. Mushrooms. In beer. Of course, people said the same thing about pumpkin so, uh… maybe it’s good? This cask will either be the best beer ever invented, or something they take 90% of back to Mount Pleasant.

Tickets are still available, and at $20/$25 I feel it’s a good price. If we support a beer fest (cask or not) in downtown, there might be more of them…

Written by chuck

October 14th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

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Best in BC

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I often get asked what my favourite beer is, and a lot of folk are honestly confused when I say that I don’t actually have one. My favourite beer changes with my mood, and as new beers become available. But I do have a list of beers that I constantly go back to, and a few breweries that I automatically associate with “Good Beer.” Here is that list. I will add it to the sidebar and occasionally update it as things progress.

The Best Beer and Breweries in BC According to Chuck

Best Breweries in BC: Driftwood, Crannóg, Central City, Howe Sound

Best IPA: Driftwood Sartori
Best IPA You Can Actually Buy: Central City Red Racer
Best Heff: Howe Sound Hangdog
Best Wheat: Howe Sound White Cap
Best Cream: R&B Raven
Best Stout: Crannóg Back Hand of God
Best Pale Ale: Central City Red Racer
Best ESB: Central City Red Racer
Best Red Ale: Crannóg Red Branch
Best Lager: R&B Ice Holes Lager
Best Saison: Driftwood Farmhand
Best Amber: Driftwood Crooked Coast
Best Scottish: Storm Highland
Best Nut Brown: Spinnaker’s

Best Beer in BC: Driftwood Sartori

Note that I have not included Imperials in the list above as I would have become tired of typing “Howe Sound.” There are some exceptions, but HS wins most categories, simply by virtual of being the only producer of that type of imperial. Also note there are some missing categories, this is because I have not come to a conclusion on every conceivable style of ale.

Written by chuck

October 5th, 2010 at 1:04 pm

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