Barley Mowat 

October Beer of the Month

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It’s a new month, and that means it’s time to shine my beery, Barley Mowat-y light on a deserving and interesting beer. But this isn’t just any month, it’s also BC Craft Beer Month! So you’d better believe October’s Barley Mowat BotM will be something special.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking: that I’m going to do what I usually do, and dance around the subject for a few paragraphs before slapping the gold star on whatever release Driftwood has out. And that thought did cross my mind. This time of year is Driftwood Sartori’s release, and damned that’s a fine ale. However, Sartori was released on Thursday the 27th of September and sold out, well, about 3 hours later. Been here and gone in September doesn’t qualify.

So here goes. October’s Beer of the Month is: Vancouver Island Iron Plow Harvest Marzen.

Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did ya?

Those of you that know me well just spat out whatever you were eating while reading this (side note, guys, don’t eat over your computer; it’s gross). VIB isn’t one of my go-to breweries, and honestly they generally produce large piles of insipid dreck.

However, even the staunchest dreck-factory cannot ignore this whole “craft beer” thing, and VIB definitely has taken notice. Flying Bomber White IPA was their first foray into good beer a few months back, and while a 66 over at Ratebeer isn’t Hair of the Dog territory, it is very promising for a brewery’s whose non-Hermannator beers average 27 points.

I personally think Iron Plow is an improvement on that high-mark of 66. Maybe not 80+, but definitely movement in the right direction, and that my friends, is an effort that deserves notice and acclaim, which is exactly what this column is for.

Iron Plow is available at both the LDB and your favourite LRS. Go forth and consume, my loyal legions!

Written by chuck

October 1st, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Beers,Breweries

Tagged with

Wine Ads and You

with 2 comments

It’s been 13 days since I last updated my LDB ad count. Seeing as the LDB just refreshed the ad list, I figure today is as good as any other.

So, what’s the count now?

Liquor: 2 (+1)
Corporate: 2 (+1)
Wine: 10 (+5)
Beer: 0 (+0)

Yup, not much has changed. The lion’s share of advertising space continues to be given to wine. Sure, I understand that one of the most important days in Wine Culture is happening tomorrow (Bordeaux Release Day), and yes, I agree that deserves a big ole whack of advertisting.

But you know what? In the past 13 days, BC breweries have released at least a dozen new brews of the pumpkin and fresh-hopped variety. These aren’t releases that are about to happen. No, these are beers that are in bottles and ready to be sold to customers. Did the LDB advertise them? Nope. Heck, the LDB isn’t even carrying most of these new releases at all.

Now, as “Ben K” pointed out on my last post about wine-centric advertising, perhaps the LDB is pushing wine down our gullets precisely BECAUSE beer outsells it 4:3, and we should be selling more wine, gosh-darnit!


An excellent point, and definitely one I’ve given thought to. However it doesn’t really hold up when you really think about it. Wine accounts for >95% of all their advertising, but only 30% of sales. Beer accounts for roughly 0% of their advertising, but represents a very comparable 40% of sales. So the numbers argument doesn’t support the difference. Perhaps a growth strategy is at work here?

Typically you want to advertise a product to expand its market base. The logic is that you only have a fraction of all possible consumers, with other consumers laying beyond your reach because they’re either not aware of the product or go to your competitors. Since the LDB literally has no competitors in BC, we have to assume any advertising they’re doing is to attract new consumers to a product.

Kinda like getting more bums to fight over the cheap rum.

Like it or not, good wine is an expensive, premium product. In periods of rapid financial growth, new wealth means you are creating new consumers for premium products. However, in recessions (like now) you are actually contracting the market for consumers of high end products.

A contracting market means that suppliers in that market have to fight harder to keep customers. This situation would be the perfect environment in which to launch a massive marketing campaign if you had any competitors. No competitors, though, means you have zero risk of losing people.

Okay, maybe there are new wine products out there that we need to educate consumers on? A new varietal, perhaps, or maybe people just don’t get that there’s good wine out there? While this argument makes slightly more sense, it also doesn’t fully explain their heavy bias towards wine, especially in light of their advertising strategy. Last time I checked Argentine Malbec (3rd ad), while tasty, was not exactly cutting edge.

But wine cocktails are. Curious how we don’t see ads for those.

Craft beer, however, meets all these criteria to warrant an ad campaign. It has a rapidly expanding production base, full of new breweries and new beers, is relatively unknown amoungst the broader public and, more importantly, is a premium product that fortunately doesn’t carry the same sticker shock as premium wine. Folks who have been recession’d out of the fancy wine market are ripe for craft beer conversion.

Yet, instead of ads alerting everyone to the fall pumpkin beer releases, we get ads trying to get us to pair wine with pumpkins. No, that’s not a joke. Go look (2nd ad). Mmmm… pumpkin wine. Next month we’ll get “Top 10 Wines that pair with leftover bit-sized chocolate bars!”

I’m not done my wine-advertising rant series yet. However, I’ll leave the next round of rampant speculation for two weeks from now when that ad counter ticks up to 15 wine ads to zero beer ads.

Written by chuck

September 28th, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Game On

zero comments

We’re finally coming out of the late summer beer lull: those lazy days of late August after the summer releases have become scarce but before the tsunami of awesome Autumn releases pile up and demand room in my cellar.

For most of September the local breweries were preoccupied with producing their pumpkin beers. With the latest round of brewpub bottlings, have a truly amazing crop of pumpkin beers available this year. I count no less than 10 pumpkin beers available for purchase for in-home (or on-patio) consumption.

But honestly, while I do like a good pumpkin ale, it’s not what gets us beer geeks all worked up in a tizzy. No siree. They’re damned fine, but they are no Imperial Stout or Barley Wine, those two reigning kings of fine ale.

However, we just can’t jump straight into the main act of fall releases. That’d be a bit premature. We have to first get ourselves warmed up some teasers. The pumpkins served their role as a flirtation, but now we need something a bit more serious to occupy our attention.

And that something is the fresh-hopped beers. The king of all fresh-hopped beers is Driftwood Sartori, and it is making its way to beer stores as I type this. When I first has this brew, I was convinced that no better beer could be made or even conceived of. While my opinion has come down a bit, I still think it’s one of the best IPAs in the province.

But don’t stop there! Driftwood isn’t the only one dumping buckets of still-green hops into their beers. Phillips, Granville Island and even new-guy Hoyne are all throwing their mitts into the rink. Buy ’em all and do a side-by-each comparison. The only winner here is you.

And when you wake up from your hop-induced coma, it’ll be time to take things up a notch with the fall releases all our favourite stouts, porters and winter warmers. Oh, it’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Written by chuck

September 25th, 2012 at 12:27 pm