Barley Mowat 

Everything In This Blog Is A Lie… Including This

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I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes I go out to house parties. And sometimes, at these parties, my friends show up with mediocre beer. Not bad beer, mind you; they’ve all learnt not to poke the dragon. Regardless of their views on Molson, they’ve come to understand it’s just not worth the resulting lecture to drink it in my presence. Or really to even mention the brand name without an appropriate sneer.

Nah, we’re talking just “meh” beer here. Like Stanley Park Amber, for instance. It’s pretty insipid beer, but you know what? If you threw a dart in the LDB you’d likely come away with something worse (although that does raise an interesting trivia point… what IS the 50th percentile SKU in terms of quality at the LDB? I’ll look into it.)

As a milder form of my Molson/Stella/Heineken punishment, I am fond of playing a little game with the Stanley Park box that I like to call “Count the Implied Lies.” Why “Implied”? Because Mark Anthony Group (the fine folk behind this particular brew) are no dummies. They have lawyers, lots of lawyers. Heck, they might even be lawyers. In fact they have so many lawyers this article might be my last. And their lawyers have helped them craft what is just an absolutely fantastic piece of marketing that approaches, plays with–nay flirts with–nay spends all night buying drinks for, but never actually calls back the next day-with, but does not actually cross the line of false advertising. The package implies lots of facts, but never actually claims something outright that isn’t true.


Pictured: Exhibit “A”
Click to embiggen.

So let’s play a game, shall we? Count the number of implied lies on this great slice of packaging, and let’s compare notes. Please let me know if I’ve missed something.

  1. Brewery Location The brewery is, alas, not in Stanley Park… or close to it. The brewery is not even in Vancouver. It’s on Annacis Island. In Delta. You know, by the sewage treatment plant?
  2. Brewery Name Sadly, this beer is not brewed by Stanley Park Brewing. There is, in fact, no such brewery. Instead, we can thank Turning Point Brewing for this one. And Hell’s Gate Lager. Yum! At least they’ve taken the trouble to make a completely misleading website for us. Note the complete lack of references to any of: “Turning Point”, “Annacis Island” or even “Down by the sewage treatment plant.” But hey! Look at all these fancy pictures of the Sea Wall and nature!
  3. Brewery Founding Date Turning Point began operations in 2010 which a bit of research has informed me, occured sometime after the 1897 so proudly splashed out on their label. Oddly, the first Stanley Park Brewing actually started up in 1896, but perhaps that year didn’t test as well in marketing?
  4. Brewery History Turning Point has no relation whatsoever to the original Stanley Park Brewery. Why would they? That brewery folded over 100 years ago so there’s no trademark to acquire.
  5. Wind Powered Yup, they’ve got a wind turbine. “A” as in “one.” If you believe that’s running the boilers in a ~100 hectolitre brewery I’ve got a wind turbine to sell you. I’d be impressed if that thing powers the lights. As a side note, does anyone else find it odd that it rotates even when there’s no wind?
  6. Sustainable Brewery* Sorry, they’re not a sustainable brewery, in that they use more resources than they put back into the environment, in terms of electricty alone. They also order hops and malt from a catalogue, meaning that their supply chain is also almost certainly similarly un-sustainable. They’re better than most, but still not 100% sustainable.
  7. First Sustainable Brewery Ok, so they’re not perfect (and who is, right?) but at least they’re the first. Uh… nope. Other breweries have tried to be sustainable, most notably Crannog Brewing, who make a point of using solar power where possible, and growing their own hops & barley.
  8. Most Advanced Brewery Actually, I think they have this one. Every source I can find just completely raves about their awesome setup. “Most Advanced” is even less define-able than “sustainable” but at least there’s a few ways in which this one is demonstrably true.
  9. Belgian Amber This one is arguable, but I didn’t taste anything Belgian in terms of flavour. This is a straight up pale amber ale, nice n simple n bland. If there ever was any Belgian funk in that bottle, it was left behind in the filters.

* Sustainable is a very hard thing to define. Heck, the wiki entry on it starts with this notion. However, even the most liberal use of the word generally means a net-zero use of energy and resources, and they just aren’t there. This doesn’t mean they aren’t trying. My opinions on the quality of the end product aside, TP is doing lots of things right when it comes to reducing the environmental footprint of a product that is, afterall, very energy intensive to produce. Things like:
– Recycling spent grain (most places throw it out)
– Reducing water loss during brewing
– By reducing water loss, they also reduce energy costs (steam is lost heat)
– Hybrid delivery vehicles
– And yes, that damned windmill. Even though it doesn’t run the place, it does provide at least SOME engery, and that’s better than the magic electricity hole in the wall

However, despite all this, saying that they’re fully sustainable is misleading at best.

Written by chuck

March 5th, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Beer and You,Breweries

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March Beer of the Month: Tofino Dawn Patrol

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Continuing in the theme of “new breweries” adopted last month, the Beer of the Month for March is…

Tofino Dawn Patrol Coffee Porter

Tofino’s one of the “five new breweries” I like to talk about whenever someone shows a bit of interest in beer, or gets stuck waiting for the crosswalk light beside me (I honestly can’t tell the difference; it’s a bonafide medical condition). FYI, The other four are Hoyne, Townsite, Coal Harbour and Parallel 49.

Since I’ve only tasted beer from three of those five, it’s a bit early to declare a winner. However, Tofino will be hard to beat. All their beers have been good, but this one made me realize they were playing with the elites.

There’s a depth and complexity here that is just a fantastic surprise for a brewery that’s well short of its first birthday. As I’ve mentioned to Jason from Driftwood: pay attention, these guys are your new competition for the coveted BC Brewing Crown.


Also, they have a cool, simple logo.
No joke here, I love this.

Sadly, the scale of Tofino’s operation still prevents their widespread availability (or bottling). I’m unaware if their distribution has even advanced as far away as Ucluelet. Their current presence at the Alibi Room is primarily a nod to Nigel’s determination to serve all that BC has to offer, but only time will tell how permanent that arrangement is. [Edit: Nigel informs me below that the Tofino guys are delivering the beer to his doorstep. I guess this more speaks to his craft beer influence in the local market; what better way to get your new beer known than to have it on tap at the Alibi?]

What I’m saying is: Drink up; in the future this gem might be a ferry ride away. That, plus a long drive on one of BC’s sketchiest highways.

Where to get it: Tofino, Alibi Room
Where not to get it: Anywhere else

Written by chuck

March 2nd, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Breweries

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Still On Notice

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Just a quick note here. It turns out that I work just around the corner from the Charles Bar, a place I had previously put On Notice for a dismal attitude towards craft beer. Since said notice, I was informed that they now carry a single tap of Howe Sound beer. So I decided to pop in and check things out, and see if their approach has improved.

I soon discovered that they did, indeed, have a rotating Howe Sound seasonal on tap. Things were looking up. I inquired as to what this might currently be, hoping for an answer like “Total Eclipse” or “Pothole Filler” since those are the current Howe Sound seasonal offerings. Instead, I got “some sort of winter ale.” Things were not looking so up.

Don’t get me wrong, Father John’s is a fine brew, but it was brewed way back in December, and this keg was likely delivered not long after that (strike one). I was still hopeful, so I ordered a pint.

Even though I ordered a pint, I was delivered a 16oz sleeve. Strike two. The glass was frosted, and the beer was ICE COLD. Strike three. I mean, really, frosted glassware for a winter ale? I haven’t seen that since about 2003 when I witnessed a surly waitress drop off a pint of guiness in a frosted glass and then proceed to tell my protesting friend that “Beer is served cold, sir.”

I don’t know about you, but I like my winter ales to taste like something, so I was forced to spend the next twenty minutes with my hands clasp around the sleeve, and boy isn’t that a fun way to have lunch?

All in all, this is barely more than the most imperceptible nod towards craft beer. Charles Bar, you’re still On Notice.

Written by chuck

February 29th, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Posted in Bars

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