Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘CAMRA_YVR’ tag

Change IS Possible

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Gather around everyone and I shall tell you a story.

There once was a people who struggled dearly under a cruel and unjust King and his corrupt government. The pitiless overlords forced their people into long queues to purchase the one magical substance that could make their suffering-filled lives endurable. Let’s call the substance booze.

Not only was the people’s access to booze limited. The King knew that the people wanted the magical liquid terribly, and thus limited it’s availability to only state-run stores so he could ensure all the profits went straight to the crooked government.

The people begged and pleaded their king to change, and let anyone sell their beloved booze anywhere. But alas, the king, blind to the desires and needs of his people, heard no complaint but his own. And thus the people continued to suffer.

Sound familiar? I’ll be honest, I didn’t make up the plot from scratch. I might have borrowed some of the major details from a real life calamity. However, things don’t end as poorly for our beleaguered plebs as you might imagine.

You see, a mighty band of heroes named Costco came to the kingdom, and with the use of 22.7 million “little knights” they managed to convince the people to rise up and overthrow the cruel king. Sure, it could be argued that Costco just wanted all the profit from booze for themselves, but hey, hard liquor in a 10 litre jug! And will you look at that price!

Ok, I’m done now. In case you hadn’t figured it out, I’m talking about Washington state, which just recently voted to overturn their state-imposed state-run monopoly on liquor distribution and retail. Costco campaigned heavily for this, of course, as the thought of people NOT hauling whole flatcars of booze out of their stores was almost painful to imagine.

Read more here: http://reason.com/blog/2011/11/09/liquor-liberation-in-washington-state

See folks, with enough time, determination, and a giant pile of cold, hard cash for bribes, anything is possible. Think big. CAMRA is starting down the path towards liquor law reform, but as of yet there isn’t a large corporate sponsor willing to pony up the bucks.

Written by chuck

November 10th, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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Too Hop To Handle

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Last Saturday saw CAMRA’s latest Fest of Ale at St Augustine’s: Top Hop to Handle. After the mild and nuanced flavours of the Spring Sessional Fest of Ale, CAMRA swung the complete other direction by challenging brewers to cram as many hops into their ales as possible, and believe me, some of them were absolutely up to the challenge.

Specifically, Big River. Not only did they brew a nice big IPA for the event, but then they went and stuck a hopinator/randall on the end to further dull the pain. I didn’t get a picture of the beast, perhaps because the resulting beer was so hoppy I lost all sensation in my upper body, so I had to steal one of Leo’s. As always, for a much-better-than-I-could-do write up of the event, head over to his post. I’m not a journalist; I’m a beer snob.


I hop they cleaned that fish tank filter out.

So, what did I think of the event overall? Overall, I thought it was well executed. The brewers brought their A-game, for the most part. Noticeable disappointments where Phillips and Spinnakers, who brought unaltered versions of their Hoperation and Lion’s Head, respectively. I don’t know what kind of beer snobs you have over on the rock, but us big smoke-types expect more effort. Don’t get me wrong, I like both beers (especially the Hoperation, which is probably the best beer Phillips makes), but this is the city, guys.

Actually, scratch that. Nothing tells me I’m more wrong about Victoria beer types than the fantastic insanity-in-a-cask concocted by Dean from Lighthouse. Hands-down my winner of the event (and I was not alone on this one), Dean’s enthusiast use of New Zealand whole-leaf hops produced a beer so interesting I had to go back and ask him if it was based off of the Deckhand recipe. Yes, it absolutely had a certain saison-ness about it, but it all came from the hops, as he deliberately used a neutral yeast. Huh, you learn something new every day.

In the end, though, the hops had their inevitable effect, and I couldn’t taste freaking anything. About 90 minutes in, my tongue stopped tingling and was attempting to retreat into my nasal cavity to escape more punishment, and we still had half the beers to go. Luckily the provided tasting sheet listed the IBUs for most of the beers, and I proceeded through them from lowest to highest, so each successive drink was even more aggressive than the last, and thus I could actually taste some aspect of the brews.

Of course, this is akin to eating hot peppers in ranked order of Scoville Heat Units. It is a march to madness. Eventually my tongue (and face) had had enough. It gave up, took the ball, and went home. Extreme measures were taken; luckily Claire from Big River not only had that 151 IBU Randalled-IPA, but also a nice bag of fresh hop leaves…


Somewhat surprisingly, this is not the single worst idea I’ve ever had.

Looking back, I guess a hop festival had to be done. For next time, though, could we please just have a normal, regular cask festival? I love crazy beers, but I am also somewhat partial to actually tasting them from time to time.

Written by chuck

July 29th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Casks and Hops

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There are two upcoming beer events of note. The first is Central City’s Summer Cask Festival. There are 26 confirmed breweries so far, including an intriguing entry from Coal Harbour Brewing. So far, we’ve only seen a very young saison from Daniel’s new endeavour, so I’m curious to see if this time around the beer will be, you know, finished.

Things kick off this Saturday at 11am, yet there are still tickets available. I rather suspect the reason that this festival has not been subject to the near instantaneous sellout status of other lower mainland festivals is largely due to Central City’s rather unfortunate placement in Surrey. Sure, it’s right across from the Central City Skytrain stop, making for a nice easy commute to and stumble from the event, but no amount of transit convenience can hide the… Surrey-ness… of it all. It’s the smell, if there is such a thing.

Alas, I will also be skipping this one, but because of prior commitments rather than any particular olfactory concerns (hell, you should smell my bathroom). All joking aside, tough it up, city folk, and get your asses to Surrey.

Second up is yet another CAMRA-initiated event, Fest of Ale: Too Hop to Handle. Hosted at St Augustine’s, this iteration of the Fest of Ale will focus on, well, hops. And lots of them. Personally, I just love the pendulum swing from the last event, which focused on light alcohol beers with subtle flavour. It’s as if the CAMRA exec said “fuck that shit, bring on the hops and boooooooze!” Unlike the last event, which had a 3.5% ABV max, there is no ABV minimum this time around, but I’d expect the average will easily top 6 or 7%.

Expect to see IPAs, IPAs and, just for something a bit different, perhaps an IPA or two. Lots of the participating breweries already produce IPAs, so I’m hoping they’ll create something a bit special for this fest (and don’t just dry-hopped your regular brews, please). In fact, I’ll pull out an oldie-but-a-goodie and promise to call out breweries that get lazy and just pour their production beers. I know I’ve threatened vehicular damage for such transgressions in the past, but that’s suddenly out of vogue these days.

Perhaps more interestingly some of the contributors are not known for their hoppy ales, so I’m very interested to see what they bring along. Specifically, Saltspring and Crannog, both of whom grow their own hops, incidentally. I’ll be keeping a sharp eye on you guys, so bring your A-game.

I will be at this one, assuming I can snag a ticket before they sell out.

All in all, summer is off to a good start. I rather suspect the CC event will be the better of the two, but who knows, I’ve been wrong many, many times before.

Written by chuck

June 22nd, 2011 at 2:56 pm