Barley Mowat 

Driftwood Twenty Pounder

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With virtually no warning Driftwood dropped this guy on the market two weeks ago. A lot of people didn’t notice because we were all preoccupied with the Alibi’s 400th tap list rotation, but once the giddy fogginess (aka hangover) cleared there was a new beer on LRS shelves staring us down. A big, mean, threatening beer.

That beer is Driftwood Twenty Pounder, their take on the a delightfully extreme style. This is only the second release of Driftwood’s Double IPA, and they’ve adjusted the recipe rather significantly in the direction of Crazy Weird Hop Party.

Pictured: Crazy Weird Hop Party

So is it any bloody good? Well yeah, what else did you expect from Driftwood? Of course it’s bloody good. Is it amazing? Nah, not really. Once you ratchet up the hops in a DIPA into “Humulus LD50 Research” territory I begin to lose interest, and this beer is definitely up in that rarefied air.

Giant hop-bombs measure their figurative dicks with something called the International Bittering Units scale. A score of sub 10 gets you light lagers, a classic British Bitter might be in the 20-40 range, while proper American/Cascadian IPAs start showing up around 50 or 60. Beers in the “as many hops as you can fit in the kettle” hop wars, though, put down “100+ IBUs” on the label as a badge of honour. It’s not that the scale stops at 100, but that the methods used to measure bitterness (largely via spectrophotometer) simply stop working above 100 and you wind up with “I dunno… a lot, I guess?” as the official result from the lab.

Not that 120 would mean much more than 135, though. Once you’ve past 100 the flavour of the beer just sorta becomes hops, hops, hops and nothing but hops. You know me; I like a balanced, flavourful beer (hence my preference for the much sweeter, viscous Cascadian IPA style over the dryer more bitter American IPA), and this beer might have been just that had they stopped adding hops about 1/3 of the way in. They didn’t, and we have a massive hop bomb.

In the end, I prefer the original, as the sweet body balanced the hops nicely. This beast just seems out of whack, and even more so than Russell’s recent Hop Therapy DIPA, which I found dry but not overwhelming. I’d love to do a side-by-each of both these monster beers, but alas they’re now equally hard to find in stores.

Hopheads rejoice, though, this is a beer for you.

Tasting notes:

NOSE Big pine with a solid under-layer of citrus. Both are hops-based aromas, I should note.
APPEARANCE Orange/brown with a thin sticky head (from the hops)
TASTE Hops. Hops. Hops. Some spiciness (caused by lots of hops) is about the only secondary flavour you get here.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Do you like so many hops you can smell them through the cap? The answers to these two questions are basically the same.

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood
From Victoria
Name Twenty Pounder
Style American Imerial IPA
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential Not a cellaring ale
Drink Now.
Days until your “not a hops fan” girlfriend dares come within 10 feet of your stinky ass 2
Availability Running low at most LRS
Cost $8.00+ per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Russell Hop Therapy

Written by chuck

February 27th, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Posted in Beers

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Let’s Talk About Cans

with 10 comments

In a recent post I proposed something that proved far more contentious that I would have hoped: that you should drink beer out of a glass. That post also happened to cover a more deserving topic, so I elected to leave further discussion about drinking directly from cans/bottles for a separate thread. This is that thread.

So here we go; I will make my case for drinking beer out of a glass, and folks on the other side of the fence will counter in the comments.

Beer is not intended to be consumed directly from the container in which it was packaged. The fact that a lot of beer comes in single-serving containers might seem to contradict this claim, but the availability of single servings reflect the reality of a product that goes bad much faster that liquor or even wine if left open. Liquor is good virtually indefinitely after opening (26 servings per bottle), and wine can last at least a few days (5 servings per bottle). Beer is lucky to last two, hence 1 or 2 servings per bottle.

But it goes a bit deeper than that. Take liquor or wine: single serving packaging exists for both these items, but somehow you don’t look at those and think “Gee, that means I should use the shipping packaging as serving vessel.” So where’s the disconnect? Why do we treat beer differently?

Or maybe you do drink from the package. I mean, it does cut down on dishes.

The reason basically boils down to brainwashing. We’ve been trained through decades of commercials and macro-style advertising that beer should be consumed straight from the bottle or can. For the advertising executive, having the actor drink straight from the same container on display in the liquor store has an obvious benefit, but it also allowed them to insert an easily identifiable product into exciting new scenes, such as while hiking, hunting, skydiving or jumping ski-doos at each other for mid-air pool-noodle jousting (hey Molson: that last one’s free of charge–get on it).

Awesome aquatic hi-jinx aside, culturally we now envision this as the way to consume beer. But is it really the best way? Does it make a difference whether we pour it into a glass or if we crack a cold one and have at ‘er?

You betcha it makes a difference. Simply put: beer tastes better in a glass. Consuming a liquid is a three sense experience, and by keeping your tasty amber elixir in a can or bottle you’re only getting one of those. In addition to just plain ole looking nice, beer poured into a glass has a chance to release volatile aromatic compounds through the formation and dissipation of a head, and by simply having a larger surface area exposed to the air. Translation: it smells nice, and aroma is a significant chunk of your overall enjoyment of.. well.. anything you put in your beer hole.

If you are in a restaurant and the server doesn’t bring you a glass with your beer: bitch about it, because you’re actually being served a worse product. I have actually been asked if I’d like my Duvel in a glass, or if I’d like a glass with my 650ml bottle of Fat Tug; the fact that I was asked is almost as ridiculous as the image of drinking either of those straight from the bottle.

I’m sorry, there’s just no way to make this cool.

However, we’re not always in restaurants. What about at backyard BBQs? If the “backyard” is attached to a kitchen, get yourself a glass. It’s worth the ten seconds of effort. Hiking? You might not be keen on hauling glassware, but folding camping glasses are cheap, effective and weigh a heck of a lot less than the actual beer you’re carrying anyway. Not keen on bring home dirty glasses? What were you planning on doing with the cans, you slob?

As a general rule of thumb, if you would consider drinking the wine or liquor single-servings discussed above out of the bottle then your beer is fair game. If glassware is available and you elect not to use it, you are making the conscious decision to enjoy the taste of your beer less than you would out of a glass. If you’re doing that, why are you drinking craft beer in the first place?

Maybe you said “because I enjoy the experience of drinking beer out of a can more than the flavour” or something to that effect. If that’s the case, again I question if craft beer is for you. Unlike craft beer, macro beer should be consumed directly from the bottle and as cold as possible. Basically, anything you can do to hide or mask the actual flavour of macro beer will improve your enjoyment of it, so have at ‘er.

Lastly, yes, I am aware that Alchemist Brewing is actually recommending that their Heady Topper be consumed directly from the can. This is a marketing gimmick, plane and simple. The fact that the beer in question is a Double IPA–a style that perhaps benefits the most from glassware–should make this marketing gimmick punishable by law.

Alright, I’m done. Your turn.

Written by chuck

February 25th, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Alibi 400 Beer List

with 4 comments

My hosting provider might call me over this one, but it’s worth it. Okay everyone, here are all the menus for the Alibi Room’s 100, 200, 300 and 400th Beer List Celebrations! These thumbnails click through to very high resolution PDFs so you can print out your very own copy if you’d like, or perhaps just browse online and remember the good times (or forensically reconstruct the good times which you only vaguely recall). Cheers!

It’s beauutiful.

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Written by chuck

February 19th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Bars,Beer and You

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