Barley Mowat 

Four Winds Saison Brett

with 4 comments

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a beer. I thought about throwing up something on Driftwood Lustrum, but talking about the cellaring potential and general awesomeness of a beer you could no longer buy just seems cruel (I will update my cellaring page with details, though, so those lucky few who managed to get some can track their investment).

Today, though, I happened upon some Four Winds Saison Brett and figured the world could benefit from my thoughts on this interesting, complex and–perhaps most importantly–still available beer.

Tasting notes:

First, it comes in a cork and wire bottle. That gets some points from me right off the bat. Only three beers have ever been released in BC with corks, and Four Winds has now made two of those. Throw some Brett-infected barrel-aging on the fire and now we’re talking serious potential.

Does it live up to that potential? In a word: Yes. In two words: fuck yes. This is a refined, polished beer that makes nigh perfect use of barrel aging and Brett funk to add complexity to an already great beer. I opened this bottle with very high expectations and Four Winds met them.

This beer is drinking beautifully now, but it will continue to develop intense complexity with cellaring, likely for up to another 2-3 years.

APPEARANCE Cloudy, golden amber with a slight orange tint. Head is frothy, white and long lasting.
NOSE Bread yeast with a strong Brett funk. Slight pepper spiciness.
TASTE Crisp, dry body with a lingering funk from the Brett. Mild apple esters with a slightly bitter, oaky finish.
STATS 7.0% ABV / 28 IBU / Unfiltered / Bottle Conditioned
SHOULD I BUY IT? This is an elegant beauty of a beer, and definitely the best Saison BC has ever seen. So, uh, yeah, buy it.

Where to get it: The following stores purchases some stock of Saison Brett, but may or may not have sold out by now:

Legacy Liquor (rumoured out)
Brewery Creek
Fire Fly
Hastings Liquor
Westcoast Liquor Kerrisdale
Kitsilano Liquor
Steamworks Liquor
Burrard Liquor
16th St. Liquor
Village Liquor
Hop & Vine
Big Ridge
Central City
Spinnakers Liquor Stores
Cascadia Liquor Stores
Scotties (Squamish)

Coles notes:

Brewery Four Winds
From Delta
Name Saison Brett
Style Saison
SOA Now Gold
SOA Potential Gold-ier
Drink Now-2015
Improvement the cork makes +20% – I’m shallow, okay?
Availability Small release, major LRSs and brewery only
Cost ~$13 per 750ml bottle
Similar Beers Maybe Upright Seven, or Logsdon Seizoen Bretta–nothing made in BC


Gold because of the bar
this has set for BC-brewed beers.

Written by chuck

November 23rd, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

Where the Money Goes

with 5 comments

Alright, so you’re starting a brewery. Congrats on being awesome. You’ve even managed to jump that next hurdle: financing. You’ve done all the normal steps: harassed friends, begged from the Bank of Mom and Dad, and kidnapped the children of a major financial firm’s loan officer. The deed is done, the money and credit are all lined up, and all it cost was little Jimmy’s toe.

Signing a lease, buying some brewing equipment, and hiring a brewer are really all that’s left between you and profitable, beery awesome-sauce (ProTip: You can avoid hiring a brewer by cloning an existing one).

Cue Graham With suddenly realizing why I’ve been asking him to spit in a petri dish recently.

After all that, though, things are clear sailing right? You can ring in your first growler sale, put that smiling John A MacDonald in the till, and finally start paying your staff, right? Wrong. Most brewery startups miss out on one little detail that seems frankly fairly idiotic: that money in the till? It’s the government’s; you’re just holding on to it for them for a bit.

What the what? Surely you must realize that beer sold in BC is subject to all sorts of mark-ups and taxes, right? What you probably don’t realize is exactly how those mark-ups and taxes are collected. Any sane, normal business, would sit down at the end of the day, do some math, and set aside the cash they owe to the rest of us to pay for things like roads, schools, and dubious senate expenses. It’s only fair.

Breweries, though, get a tough shake here. They aren’t trusted to do math, presumably because they’re corrupt, drunk, or both. Instead of simply remitting the ~$4 of that $10 growler owed to the government, they have to instead deposit the whole $10 into an account that the LCLB can withdraw from, which the LCLB then proceeds to do.

It get’s better. Instead of having the LCLB just take the ~$4 that is owed them, they instead straight up take the whole thing, process the taxes, and send out a cheque to the brewery for what’s left over. This process can take months, as in more than one. No, they don’t give you the interest on your money, what a silly question!

Pictured: Artist’s impression of LCLB tax/mark-up collection.

So, your struggling brewery that was depending on squeaky new income to, you know, pay salaries, buy malt and cover such trivial expenses as rent and hydro, now has to wait up to several additional months before seeing the first cent. This isn’t hypothetical. Some BC breweries in recent years spent years building their business only to almost go under immediately after opening because their revenue stream was delayed.

So, John Yap, while we’re talking about booze in grocery stores and beer at farmer’s markets, how about we also take a look at how the backend business of collecting tax on liquor is done, to allow these small brewery startups faster access to direly needed income?

In the meantime, brewery startups should add three or more months to their startup financing to account for this craziness. I’d hate to see you go under before Russian Imperial Stout season.

Written by chuck

November 22nd, 2013 at 11:30 am

Posted in Beer and You

Tagged with

Over Yonder Horizon

zero comments

I know, I know; I’ve let all of you down by being AWOL for a week. Well, truth be told folks, I have a day job that pays for this site, and since I just started at a new company I’ve not had as much time for ranting about beer. Stupid real world.

I’ve also been moonlighting as Rob Ford’s speech writer.
Explains a whole lot, doesn’t it?

However, I do have one little tidbit for all of you that I’d like to share. As part of being an infamous local beer geek, I occasionally get contacted for my feedback on prospective breweries and, as a result of this, I have built up a little crib sheet of anticipated and/or rumoured breweries that might be opening in the future.

Additionally, us beer bloggers are a tight lot, and we occasionally get together for a nip of tea and a jolly old round of gossip about the industry (“Did you SEE what Brent was wearing at the BC Beer Awards?!?”).

In short, I have a lot of sketchy, likely false information on what breweries might be around in 12 months. Rather than sit on this list because it’s shaky and unverified, I figured I’d do what I do best and publish it as fact. So, here ya go; thank me later.

Written by chuck

November 19th, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Breweries