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Brewery Lounges

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The hot topic du jour in BC craft brewing circles is the City of Vancouver deciding whether or not to allow local breweries to set up and operate tasting lounges. Well, okay, maybe it’s not the hot topic in all of BC. Municipalities other than Vancouver have no issue with letting breweries sell you their beer. It’s just us lucky folks in No Fun City being told to, well, not have fun.

Paddy over at the VanEast Beer Blog has a great summary of all the details here(CAMRA also has you covered here). You should go read that and then, the next time you see his grinning bald head in public, buy him a Fat Tug. What Paddy is not admitting to online is that a lot of the progress here has been his doing. Sure, local breweries have absolutely been active, and the mayor appears to be on the side of good, but Paddy has been working the political channels non-stop in the interest of getting things done.

So what’s all the fuss about, then? If you didn’t click the link above it all boils down to this: earlier this year the BC Government made changes to the Liquor Act that would allow a brewery to sell, onsite, more than 12 ounces of beer to each client per day (as they are currently limited to). Sounds easy enough to implement, but the City jumped in the way and insisted on the additional requirement of a Liquor Primary License for breweries that want to sell that second tasting glass of beer.

Liquor Primaries, in addition to being notoriously difficult and expensive to obtain, are not allowed in industrial zones in Vancouver which–you guessed it–is where all the breweries are located. And thus a Catch-22 was born: you can either brew the beer or sell a 13th ounce per day, but not both. It should be noted that this is all the City’s rules–the Province indicates that no Liquor Primary is required at all. Since the Province are the ones that make up the rules in the first place, you’d think their opinion would matter, but I guess that’s why we don’t get politics.

It’s mostly just the hug fights during parliament that confuse me.

For what it’s worth, Mayor Gregor Robertson appears to be quite supportive of the latest batch of craft breweries, even going so far as to tweet “Working on new regs to allow tasting lounges + more support for #Vancouver’s #craftbrew industry”. If the story holds, we should seem some progress in May. Of course, I trust politicians about as much as I trust that my $5 handed to the sketchy street guy is really going to food (if anything, he seemed even “hungrier” when he came back 90 minutes later and asked for more).

The one thing that keeps politicians honest, though, is the public eye. So tweet away at Mr. Mayor (@MayorGregor) and let him know that walking into a brewery and being able to try more than half of a single beer is something you’re keen to do in Vancouver.

Written by chuck

April 21st, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Xmas Buying Guide

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It’s gift giving time again, and no matter how strongly folk feel about their non-Christian religious denomination, no one seems to complain too much when the gift in question is beer. Do you have a bearded beer geek in your life? Want to know what sort of hard core or exotic gifts will make even the most cynical BC beer snob quiver in joy? Well, look no further, it’s Barley Mowat’s 2012 Xmas Gift Guide for Beer Geeks*!

Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller Vertical

Hillside Liquor in Victoria is offering up a five-year vertical of OCD. For those keeping track, that’s… all of them. They’ve likely sold out by now, but for those with keen eyes there are the odd 2011 and even 2010 vintages just hanging out on LRS shelves, if you know where to look.

Barley Wine Horizontal

Can’t make it over to Victoria? How about a horizontal of all the current BC Barley Wines? Driftwood has two out, CC released a limited number of Thor’s Hammer, Phillips pushed out Trainwreck, and both GIB and Howe Sound have their own product coming out in the near future. While obviously not as rare as the full vertical of OCD, this sampling of the current state of the BC Barley Wine World is a solid runner up. Just don’t give in to temptation and drink them all in one night.

Or leave them all out for Santa.

CAMRA Membership

No aspiring beer geek should be walking around without a CAMRA card. Not only does membership show your support for local craft beer, it also saves you gobs of cash through discounts at fine CAMRA-friendly establishments and at participating Liquor Retail Stores. I renew every January and usually make my fee back within days (it is no coincidence that Singularity is released shortly thereafter).

Central City Winter Cask Festival Tickets

While your run-of-the-mill beer fests are great and all, hardcore beer geeks like myself are somewhat less enthused. Regular beer fests are often just breweries pouring their production ales for people to sample and try for the first time. The issue is that any good member of the beererati has already had all those beers a few times over so, ultimately, the novelty factor is somewhat lessened.

What about a festival where most every beer is custom brewed just for the occasion? Sold! The leading provider of such festivals is Central City Brewing who, despite being an awesome brewery in their own right, invites everyone over twice a year for a party.

Tickets to this winter’s cask fest are only $30, and can be bought with plenty of time to spare for getting them wrapped and under the tree.


All these are solid suggestions but, let’s face it: the people reading this blog ARE the beer geeks–not the people buying presents FOR beer geeks. So, in a hat tip to reality, let’s wrap up with a couple great BC non-beer suggestions for our tolerant and enabling significant others. You didn’t complain when we converted your walk-in closet to a beer cellar, and you happily let yourself be dragged along to all kinds of crazy cask festivals. So here’s some Not Beer for you (yes, I do wine too).

Painted Rock 2009 Syrah

A wine of rare quality that you can enjoy right now but which will also improve with a bit of ageing. I suggest you buy a case and age it alongside your Barley Wine, so you can justify the inevitable Beer Cellar expansion into the master ensuite. See also, Painted Rock Red Icon, for a slightly pricer but even more ageing-friendly beast.

Osoyoss Larose Le Grand Vin Vertical

The LDB site only lists the ’07 or ’08 as being available, but if you look carefully you can find some as old as the ’06 and as new as the ’09 (and as big as the six litre!). Of course, there’s no telling how these bottles have been kept by the LDB, who seem hell-bent on destroying as much good wine as possible with heat and light. As an added bonus, though, the Larose Le Grand Vin comes in cool 6 bottle wooden crates, which are perfect for wrapping up (and for storing beer in).

UPDATE: Central City Cask Festival link now goes to something that isn’t 12 months out of date!

* Sure, I realized I missed few things, like the recently released Westvleteren 12 gift pack, but I’m staying on theme here, folks: BC. If I didn’t limit this hobby to just BC I’d be drunk far more often, and I’m already drunk all the time, so I’m not sure how that’d play out.

Written by chuck

December 11th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Going Once, Going Twice, Gone

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You know the stories; you hear about it all the time: tales of rare or forgotten bottles of wine, still covered in dust from decades of storage, being auctioned off for truly astonishing amounts of money. With all the proceeds going to Charity, of course.

Sure, it’s a fiver at a time, but she gets it all eventually.

Even in BC, with our draconian liquor laws, such things were known to happen. Turns out, though, that we were breaking the law the whole time. The Sun has the scoop. TL/DR version: A theatre in Victoria was bitch-slapped by the LDB because they had the nerve to auction off wine for a local charity. But never fear, Rich Coleman is here! No sooner does the article talk about how everything was called off then Uncle Rich parachutes into the scene and starts slinging around words like “outdated liquor policies” and promising to make everything all better. The BC LCLB even decided to throw down a press release detailing the change. Bam! Your government works!

So, I guess we’re done here? Nope. It seems to me that every time something like this happens we craft beer types assume the best and then Capt. Coleman* winds up finding a way to swap out “liquor” for “wine” as soon as we’re not looking, or even in the case of the farm-gate amendment rather pointedly putting in “vineyards and distilleries.” If I’m not being clear here, let me put this in very bold, simple terms: If we don’t jump on this bitch, Uncle Rich will straight up fuck us on this one.

Sure, just as he did with BYOB, he’ll whip out that tone you use when explaining the Real World to a toddler, and try to convince us that beer just isn’t as special as wine, and that no one would ever pay money for it in auctions. Surely having beer at auction would sully the charity’s reputation. Lot 1: Château Haut-Brion 1988, sold to the lady in the blue evening gown for $2,750. Lot 2: A six pack of “Bud Lite,” sold to the… rotund… gentlemen in the stained undershirt for… Four dollars and eighty-six cents. What’s that, sir? Ugh… no… financing is most certainly NOT available.

I mean, that’s the fear right? Beer just isn’t worth as much as wine and won’t sell at auction for any real sum of money. What’s that? $2,368.73? For ONE bottle? One 375 millilitre bottle? Holy shit. That’s like $4750 for 750ml. You could buy a bottle of wine for that!

CAMRA, I’m looking at you, here. Get on this.

* My fact checkers are informing me that Rich Coleman is, in fact, not a Captain. That’s odd, cuz it just sounds so right. Screw ’em, I’m leaving it in.

Written by chuck

November 15th, 2012 at 11:40 am

Posted in Beer and You

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