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Rain Rain Go Away

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Yesterday was that fabled changer of seasons, the spring equinox. In addition to being a date of moderate-to-low astronomical significance, it also marked a nigh-magical change in the weather in Vancouver. The clouds parted, the sky turned a worrying shade of blue, and the beastly face of He Who Reddens Skin shown done on us huddled masses.

Only one thing could be done in such situations, and that was to dramatically change up my normal Sunday plans by tacking “Outdoors” on the end of “Drink Beer.” In order to appear slightly more useful to society than the barely functioning alcoholic that I am, my friend Jenn and I elected to sit down and run through a short list of spring-suitable, patio-friendly beers and report back on them here. It’s not a crippling substance problem, it’s journalism (this is a distinction many people often fail to make–especially those nosey social workers).

On deck for consideration were:

  • Cascade Kriek
  • Salt Spring Golden Ale
  • Driftwood Cuvée D’hiver
  • Lighthouse Deckhand
  • Les Trois Musketeers Blanche

Now, as I’ve said before I don’t like to rate or rank beers so much, and this is especially true when all the beers up for consideration are equally great (well, except the Blanche–I thought it a bit weak and will thus leave it out). So rather than talk about colour, nose, taste and other such beer-geeky terms, I thought I’d slot these nicely into their perfect spots on a summer afternoon, for each has their own distinct tones.

One O’Clock — You’ve just finished ploughing a field, neutering a bull with a pair of pliers, and mercilessly putting down a peasant uprising or some other suitable farm-related activity often pictured in those gritty, realistic beer commercials. You’re sweaty and tired, but the still-pungent, acrid smell of charred poor people fills your nose and heart with the satisfaction of a job well done. It’s time to relax, so you reach for…

Salt Spring Golden Ale — This light refreshing session ale is a fantastic accompaniment to the distant lamentations of peasant women. A great body is teamed up with just enough hops to remind you that this is good beer. It pairs well with blazing heat, a healthy fruit-based lunch, and justice by the sword.

Three O’Clock — Now that things are all settled on the home front, you’re past due to take some time out for yourself. Again taking my knowledge of such things from beer advertisements, you load up your over-powered ATV and hit the hills for some casual mammal murder. A few fully automatic assault rifles make for a fine base arsenal, but the true outdoorsman adds a bit of spice to the activity via explosive-tipped arrows and large bore artillery. Also in the pack is…

Driftwood Cuvée D’hiver — I shall make a desert and call it tasty. I’ve seen more than one tweet out there describing this as “Sunshine in a Glass” and I cannot disagree. This is a lighter, fruitier version of Driftwood’s already excellent Farmhand, and it’s ability to make you forget about mid-afternoon heat during light activity/maiming is second to none. This pairs fantastically with pretty much anything, but I’m particularly fond of having it with fresh meat, and grapes feed to you by slaves.

Five O’Clock — You’ve returned triumphantly home and it’s now time to invite all your neighbouring land-owning barons over for a backyard bar-be-que and perhaps light entertainment in the form of hunting would-be poachers for sport. BBQs create an all-out assault on the senses, and you need a robust beverage to sip out of the jewel-enstudded skull of your former arch-rival. That beer is…

Cascade Kriek — Fermented three times (once with cherries), and aged in barrels longer than it takes to grow an illegal clone of yourself to maturity, this sour ale is probably the most complex beer on today’s list. Suitable for slowly savouring on a deck while the day’s heat dissolves and you survey your domains, the exclusivity of this beer is only enhanced by the fact it’s not sold in Canada… yet. To acquire it one must make the epic pilgrimage to Portland (or, you know, send a minion).

Seven O’Clock — The sun has finally set, the sky is afire with brilliance, and the scorching heat has finally ebbed for the night. A long evening of hearing the petitions of the locals whilst planning your next tactical land grab awaits you. It will be many long hours before you can finally retire to the warm embrace of your harem. A long day needs a flavourful end-cap, and that’s…

Lighthouse Deckhand — No surprise here, as it’s the only beer left on the list. A robust, flavourful saison that takes no prisoner, it’s the perfect accompaniment to the sorts of strong cheeses and deserts that are appropriately served while you listen to one peasant drone on about the improprieties of another before sending both to the stockade as a lesson about… something.

There you have it, a spring’s guide to summer ales. I know there’s a lot more out there that I didn’t include on this list, but my liver can only take so much in one evening. And you guys, honestly, can only put up with so much over-written tripe before you’re driven to paying some random east-asian HaX0r to wipe my blog off the internet once and for all.

Written by chuck

March 21st, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Top Ten Lists

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Okay, I’ll admit it. Beer geeks are an obsessive lot. Nothing proves this more than the recent wave of consternation and discontentment that rippled through the barley fandom after a random website published a “Top Ten List of BC Breweries” that wasn’t in line with what many expected. Or reality.

Was the list bad? Hells yeah. How bad? Well, when your Top Ten list includes a brewery that no longer exists you know you’re doing something wrong. I’d like to think there are a few breweries out there that both outcompete Dockside in terms of quality and still produce, you know, beer. Basically the whole thing reeked of a desperate attempt to throw together something–anything–to cash in on this whole hot “good beer” trend and get some page views. And we happily obliged this hackneyed effort by linking to it over and over and over again.

Which website? Who the fuck cares? It sucks. If you’re curious about it, a 10s trip to Google or twitter will turn it up. Not directly, mind you, but rather through blogs about it, again pointing out the stupidity of the matter, that the blogs discussing it are more highly ranked than the source page. I’d advise against going there in any event, as there’s nothing to learn. I’m not going to link it here, but rather I will talk about my favourite BC breweries instead. Mostly because I’m awesome… or a complete narcissist, I can’t remember which.

I have a list of BC breweries on this site. And implicit in that is a ranking (you can sort by any column, including “Ranking”). However, I don’t like the notion of anything as arbitrary as a top ten list. What’s the difference between 10 and 11? By the time you get down there, you’re really splitting hairs.

So what’s my top ten list? I don’t have one, as the notion is too subjective and changes too often. I do, however, group breweries based upon a simple notion: if said brewery were to create a brand new beer, what would my preconceived expectation be? For those too lazy to click the link above and sort, here’s the summary:

I expect great/awesome beer:

  • Driftwood
  • Crannóg
  • Howe Sound
  • Central City

I expect solidly good beer:

  • Craig Street
  • Granville Island Tap House (NOT the big brewery)
  • Longwood
  • Spinnaker’s
  • Steamworks
  • Storm
  • Swan’s

I’ll omit the balance for brevity. Am I right? I doubt it. Will this list change? Absolutely. Several breweries are doing their damnedest to improve their beers or produce interesting casks (R&B and Russell among them) and new contenders are popping up all the time. For every new entrant I’ll just have to try their beers and see what I think. Man, this job sucks.

Written by chuck

March 10th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

March Beer of the Month: Driftwood Cuvée D’Hiver

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I’ve decided to draw attention to one beer a month, or thereabouts (if there’s nothing interesting to talk about, I’ll skip a month). These are not necessarily the best or tastiest beers, but rather an interesting brew that I’ve decided needs more attention. So, without further ado, March’s beer is:

Cuvée D’Hiver by Driftwood Brewing

It’s no secret that Driftwood is one of my favourite local breweries. A quick glance at my beer cellar shows that roughly 2/3 of the available shelf space is given over to one of Old Cellar Dweller or Singularity, and rightly so. Add into that mix their fall Sartori IPA and excellent regular beers and it means when Driftwood announces a new beer, I pay attention.


Logo unceremoniously stolen from Driftwood’s website, but it’s ok if this gets them more sales.

And this is the case with Cuvée D’Hiver. First, it’s a light saison coming out in the middle of winter. Second, it’s brewed with barley grown and malted on the Saanich Peninsula, just down the road from the brewery. Heck, until they announced this beer I thought barley malt was exclusively manufactured in factories and shipped to you in burlap sacks but no, turns out it’s a real thing that grows in the ground. Incroyable!

(Joking aside, locally sourced hops and barley is absolutely something I think there should be more of, and it really is a trend that is catching. Gulf Islands Brewing, Crannóg, and Driftwood all are doing their parts)

Thus when it was announced that the Railway Club would have a cask of this interesting ale, nothing in the known world could stop me from having a tasty pint or three. My buddy Tim has actually joked that my love of Driftwood is such that they could piss in bottle and I’d buy it. At first glance, the colour of this beer raised my suspicions that such a deed was afoot, but one taste and my worries were allayed. Oh but if my pee tasted this good!

The beer is a fruity, more refreshing version of the regularly excellent Farmhand. I’m not sure if it beats out Lighthouse Deckhand for best saison in the province, but it is absolutely worth a try. My only complaint is that this beer is so very perfectly made for summer that going outside to face the rain after my pint was doubly depressing.

Where to get it: All the finer local craft beer stores. On tap at the Alibi. Also, several casks have been made so keep an eye out.
Where not to get it: BC Liquor Stores

Written by chuck

March 4th, 2011 at 10:25 am

Posted in Beers,Breweries

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