Barley Mowat 

Whistler Big Sky

with one comment

About a month ago, a local pseudo-brewery sent out a request on Twitter for people to review their new beer. Whistler Brewing (actually a subsidiary brand of the larger NorthAm Group out of Kamloops, which also brews the piss-in-a-can known as Bowen Island Beer) had released a new California Common, titled Big Sky, and wanted local beer snobs to know about it.

It didn’t take long for the kind folk of Twitter land to suggest that perhaps they should send a sample off to me for review. Strangely, no sample arrived. Perhaps they forgot. Or, perhaps they’re even passingly familiar with my blog and/or previous reviews of their “beer”.


Let’s face it: I’m kinda like the Cards Against Humanity of beer reviews.

Whistler could be forgiven for thinking that I have it out for them, but then again I did rather like their Lost Lake Unfiltered IPA. So, you see Whistler Brewing, it’s your beer I dislike intensely, not you. If you brew better beer, I tend to give it good reviews.

See how that works? Weird, right? I know, I know, it truly would be so much easier if I was the kind of beer snob who would hand out praising reviews simply because you’re giving me free beer. Alas, that’s not the case. Also alas, it’s what gives the following review some clout.

First up, the style. I’ve always suspected that the marketers ran the show at NorthAm, and calling this beer an “Uncommon Lager” just reinforces that. The label rambles on providing a decently accurate description of the California Common style, although they completely fail to mention anything about California, or the actually interesting history behind that style.

Why would they invent a style, though? I can’t profess to know, but I suspect their target market might be confused by the California Common term, and its nasty trait of not having the word “Lager” crammed right in it. Perhaps unsophisticated beer drinkers of the sort what comprise Whistler’s demographic like lagers, and generally can’t be counted on to be patient or literate enough to bother reading the beer description. Sure, that’s rampant speculation, but I’m running with it.


To be fair, their target demographic
considers this “selection.”

Is it any damned good, though? Meh. It’s an okay, if not great, Cali Common. When I drink a Cali, I’m looking for a smooth malt body and complex finish. This beer falls short of the mark. Cereal properly comes through up front on the palate, but the finish is dominated by bitter hops without any of the firm, toasted grain backbone typical of the style. If you want a Cali Common, go drink 33 Acres of Life, which is drinking particularly well right now.

APPEARANCE pale red, filtered. Thick tight persistent white head.
NOSE Hints of pilsner malt. Cereal and strong grain. About right.
TASTE Like a strongly hopped light ale. Lacks lager crispness and round mouthfeel, yet despite all this is actually very sweet. Long unpleasant bitter finish.
STATS 5.0% ABV / 36 IBU / California Common
SHOULD I BUY IT? Do you like boring, over hopped beer?
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Brewery Whistler (NorthAm)
From Whistler
Name Big Sky
Style California Common
SOA Now None
SOA Potential n/a
Drink Now
Best use Making 33 Acres Life taste even better
Availability Wide LDB
Cost $4.75-$6.00 per 650ml
Similar Beers 33 Acres of Life, Anchor Steam

 

Written by chuck

September 5th, 2014 at 11:25 am

Posted in Beers,Breweries

Tagged with

Liquor Store Growlers

with 7 comments

So, the BC Government is moving down their checklist of recommendations from the Liquor Policy Review, finding new and innovative ways to technically give the public what they want while simultaneously screwing us over with policy gotchas preventing any actual enjoyment of said changes.

Let’s review how we got here.

Policy Recommendation #19 specified that “The Province should develop and implement a retail model that meets consumer demands for more convenience by permitting the sale of liquor in grocery stores.”

That seems perfectly reasonable until you realize it came with three caveats. The first maintains the existing cap on total number of Liquor Retail Store licenses in the province, which has been maxed out for many years. Basically, a grocery store can only sell liquor by shutting down an existing LRS.

The second gotcha specified that the minimum spacing of 1km between LRSs should be maintained. The third specifies that any grocery store that gets through the first two then have to build a “store within a store” to hold the booze, complete with separate tills and a no-minors rule. Thanks, guys.

Take those three elements together and we have a model that:
– Does not actually increase the number of locations in the province where one can buy liquor
– Prevents most grocery stores from even being able to sell liquor due to the 1km rule (all but 2 stores, in the entire province, are inhibited by this rule)
– Makes the cost to a store of actually selling liquor prohibitive, both in acquiring the license to sell, and in the required renovations to basically pick up an existing LRS and transport it into the store


Ever feel a little bit betrayed?

Okay, fine. They screwed that one up massively. Next up was Happy Hour, how could they possibly mess up “Allow drinks to be cheaper for a few hours?” For reference, here is the actual wording:

Policy Recommendation # 16: “Permit licensees to offer time-limited drink specials (e.g., happy hours),
provided the price is not below a prescribed minimum consistent with those supported by health advocates.”

Seems reasonable, right? Alas, the new minimums were so infamously high that many pubs had to raise, not lower, their prices. Dammmmn. Either they’re woefully incompetent, or they’re taking very mischievous delight in screwing BC liquor consumers over with a serious of “deal with the devil” style policy changes.


Although, to be perfect honest, we absolutely
should have seen this one coming

So now, when I get a PDF of a government survey being circulated about the next recommendation under consideration, I somewhat understandably start reading between the lines to see what they could possibly fuck up this time.

Here’s the full text of Policy Recommendation #69: “Allow private and public retail liquor stores to sell growlers (refillable bottles) and operate refilling stations.”

Before we start dusting off our growler collections in anticipation of getting fills of fine imported beers, I want to draw your attention to two questions the government feels the need to ask as part of this survey. There’s nothing firm here, but the same people who have crippled our Grocery Store Grog and Happy Hours are openly wondering about:

Does the size/volume of the growler bottle need to be restricted?

and

Do you have concerns about the labelling of growlers, particularly whether a brewery, manufacturer, or liquor store can refill a growler with a competitor’s label?

You don’t seed the conversation in a survey like this by randomly asking questions on topics you, yourself, don’t hold opinions on. The first question should end with “because we sure as hell do” and the second with “otherwise children might drink beer thinking it was merely Draino! Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?!”


Well, I mean, someone besides this guy.

So yes, growler fills in LRSs are likely coming to BC sometime soon, but please be prepared for a government mandate restricting the size of those growlers to one arbitrary size, and another mandate making it illegal for all growler fillers everywhere to put their beer in someone else’s growler, basically ruining one of the really cool things about the very concept of growlers.

I want to be wrong; I want to be worried for nothing but, burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me; burn me thrice, you must be the BC LCLB.

Written by chuck

August 26th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Dead Frog Furious Rocket Friar Man

with one comment

Continuing their tradition of spamming the local craft beer market to see what sticks, Dead Frog recently pushed out two more seasonals, logically sourced from the opposite ends of the planet: an Aussie-hopped ESB and a Belgian IPA.

In addition to making these beers, they were also brave/stupid enough to send me some for review, so let’s get to it.

Furious Friar Belgian IPA

I’m just going to come out and say it: this beer is awful. Many of the constituent components of a great Belgian IPA are here, and the colour and nose definitely get your hopes up. If you were to get that far, and then somehow fail to actually put the liquid in your mouth you might have a favourable impression of this ale, but alas I did run some past my tongue. I regretted this decision immediately.

Okay, maybe that might be a bit dramatic. This beer didn’t scar me for life like, say, Voodoo Donut. Instead, it’s just super hot. The long chain alcohols give you a definite nail polish, fire-water tone that simply doesn’t go away. There are some nice banana/clove esters in there as well, but you don’t get to enjoy them because you’re preoccupied by being worried about going blind*.

* Note: Long chain alcohols, while unpleasant, won’t actually make you go blind. At least not in the levels achievable during normal fermentation.

APPEARANCE Cloudy yellow/amber with just a hint of red. Thin, quickly dissipating head. Pretty beer.
NOSE Faint, light Belgian esters. No hops.
TASTE Harsh hotness that’s only made worse by the heavy handed hopping.
STATS 9.0% ABV / ~70? IBU / Belgian IPA
SHOULD I BUY IT? Do you have silverware you need to clean?
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Rocketman Interstellar ESB

To be honest, I’m not sure what an “Interstellar ESB” is, in terms of style. Since interstellar space is really just a nigh limitless void of emptiness, maybe drinking this beer will make you go mad from perceiving the infinite? Or maybe it’s a cheeky play in the heavy use of Apollo Hops coupled with not quite knowing enough space history to realize that “Translunar ESB” would be a much better, more awesome-sounding name for this beer. Whichever.

What about the beer, though? After the Furious Friar I was frankly frightened to try this puppy out. I even gave myself a 24 hour no-beer-cation to let my taste buds reset. So, with a fresh mouth and a heaping sense of impending doom I cracked the bottle, poured it into a glass, and did my job.

The result? This is a pretty good beer. I wasn’t sold on it for the first 1/2 glass, but over time the malt backbone did what it was supposed to do: make me want more.

APPEARANCE Pours deep cloudy/almost opaque dark brown with tight, long lasting white head.
NOSE Classic bitter. Good caramel / biscuit malt with well integrated hops.
TASTE Great malt backbone below a decent helping of fruity NZ-style hops (despite no actual NZ hops). Hops aren’t over done, but rather well balanced.
STATS 6.5% ABV / 40 IBU / ESB
SHOULD I BUY IT? Absolutely. Even if you don’t have to forget drinking FF.
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Brewery Dead Frog
From Aldergrove
Name Furious Friar Rocket Man
Style Belgian IPA Interstellar(?) ESB
SOA Now None Bronze
SOA Potential n/a n/a
Drink Now Now
Potential as rocket fuel Decent Ironically, none
Availability Most LRSs/some LDB
Cost ~$6-9+ per 650ml
Similar Beers Fernie Snowblind Red Racer India Red, Driftwood Naughty Hildegaard

 


One out of two ain’t bad

Written by chuck

August 14th, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Tagged with