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Driftwood Singularity 2013

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Okay, Singularity is out. It’s perhaps the single most hyped BC beer release (at least in this household), and thus accordingly comes with commensurately higher expectations. For those keeping score at home, 2011 was an intriguing mix of sweet cherry goodness with tart coffee bitter, and 2012 replaced all that with the hops that didn’t make it into Old Barrel Dweller (aka a lot). For the record, 2011 is drinking quite well just now, but 2012 needs more time.

So what about this years? Is this year’s Singularity a carbon clone of last year’s, much like this year’s Old Cellar Dweller? No, it is not. It is not even close. To put it short, folks, Driftwood has swung for the fences, and I think they just might have made it.

2013 is a deeply complex malt-forward monster of a beer. A lot of those nuances are hiding behind the bourbon barreling for now, but given enough time, the sticky sweetness of that whiskey will reduce, and the sugars will yield their nuanced flavours. Over time, I suspect this will age down into just a beautiful way to spend a Saturday night, provided that you have a fireplace, smoking jacket, and an old hound dog named Rex under which to slip your cold feet. Yup, I get all that from taking a sip. I am just that crazy.

Tasting Notes:
Nose: Strong oaky bourbon over a sugar rich background of plum and dates. Driftwood says they didn’t add any molasses to this, and I’m therefore impressed with the sugar profile on this thing. If you can resist drinking long enough, a hint of the hops just starts to come in at the end, but not enough to ID a varietal.
Body: Pours pitch freaking black. Like tar, only with less carbonation. This is a glass of inactive black sludge that just lies there taunting you, and then might just randomly kill your Chief Security Officer to get her out of an inconvenient contract.
Palate: Wow. The bourbon here is just… bourbon. Bourbon, bourbon, bourbon. I think they used the same batch of barrels from Old Barrel Dweller, because there’s no mistaking the giant double pump fist of whiskey goodness on this guy. Behind all all that whiskey is a huge, rich, malt profile, but you’re not going to know about it for a long while.

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood
From Victoria
Name Singularity
Style Russian Imperial Stout
SOA Now Silver
SOA Potential Gold
Drink Early 2014 through 2017. Maybe longer.
Time for a spoon to fall over after standing it in a glass Okay, fine, it was 0.285 seconds, but I honestly THOUGHT it would be longer, and doesn’t that count for something?
Availability Widely available at LRS… for now
Cost $13.50+ per 650ml bottle.
Similar Beers P49 RIS, Phillips The Hammer, maybe even Driftwood OBD
Chuck says Buy. Buy it right now, and in volume, because it will be gone very very soon.

Another gold. Either beer is getting better or I’m losing my touch.

Written by chuck

January 14th, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Beers

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It Comes

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Just a quick update today since I’m busy with other things. It has come to my attention that some of the neophytes whom count amongst my readers have yet to open accounts on The Twitter. To those few, I say “for shame!” Not only have you missed the sheer amazement of Justin Bieber’s famous “IM SEXY AND I KNOW IT” tweet and it’s subsequent, record setting, 69,000 retweets, you’re also completely missing out on solid intel on upcoming BC seasonal craft beer releases.

Intel such as the release date of the widely acknowledged* best beer in BC: Driftwood Singularity. So brace yourself for beer geeks storming into shops and buying bottles of this with all the decorum and civility of a mother from November 1982 looking for Cabbage Patch Kids. Sigh. I just realized how very old I am, but I digress.

I was sorely tempted to just straight up lie and say it’s coming out on Wednesday to buy me extra time, but that wouldn’t be fair, would it? So here’s the straight dope: Monday. It’s coming out Monday (and maybe Tuesday, depending on your store), but with this information comes a serious warning.

I will be shopping for this beer, and upon entering a shop, after I conclude the hand shakes, posing for photographs, kissing of babies and occasional boob signing that generally accompanies any public appearance by me**, if I see you holding the last bottle of Singularity I will rip it from your hands and use it to bludgeon you to death. And then I will do unspeakable things to your body to teach others a lesson. Be warned***.

* By me. I’m wide. Get it? Nothing? You guys suck.

** My doctor feels that the ever-widening gulf between reality as perceived by me versus “others” is cause for concern. I told her that she’s unable to accept my fame for what it is, then I signed her boob.

*** No clever joke here. Seriously, be warned.

Written by chuck

January 11th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Beers

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Introducing the Beerdies

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It’s the first day of the New Year: a time for reflection on days gone past, pontification on days yet to come, and perhaps most importantly, a time for reading whatever random crap you can find on the Internet with the hopes of dulling even just a little of the pain inside your head. Seriously, what the fuck did you drink last night? Last thing you remember was opening that bottle of Old Barrel Dweller and grabbing a straw… did… did you make out with your cousin? No not that cousin, the ugly one, cuz ew.

So let’s take our minds off the myriad horrors of braces for a second and talk about 2012 and all the great awesomeness that we saw. In order to frame this discussion, I will now introduce the “Annual Barley Mowat Excellence in Beer Awards”, aka The Beerdies. Other, better blogs and organizations have end-of-year awards focusing on actual merit (eg Best Beer or Best Brewery), so I’ll take up the slack and focus on the state of BC Beerdom from the point of view of the bearded beer geek (aka me).

I haven’t built a trophy yet, but I figure this plus a can of gold spray paint and we should be good.

To avoid repetition, I didn’t actually insert “According to Chuck” at the end of these category titles–just read it in there as you go. Or “In bed”–either works equally well.

Best New Brewery: Parallel 49 (brewmaster Graham With)

I was initially somewhat wary of P49’s potential. After all, here was a brewery focusing on session ales, of all things, and with a near-rookie brewmaster. Didn’t they know that Barley Wines and Imperial Stouts are where it’s at? Well, shows what I know. All their beers are great, and the special release program is bringing interesting and unique brews to the masses. Well played guys (and yes, an Impy Stout is on the way, just to cover all the bases).

Brewery What Took Most Of My Money: Driftwood (brewmaster Jason Meyer)

For the third year in a row, Driftwood woed me with both giant cellarable releases (Singularity, Old Cellar Dweller, Old Barrel Dweller, Mad Bruin) and an excellent on-tap and table beer line-up (Fat Tug in particular). However, the times, they are a-changing. It wasn’t just Driftwood taking up new slots in my cellar this year, Central City, Howe Sound and Granville Island all earned shelf space, and that list is set to grow with Parallel 49’s RIS about to come out.

Hottest Brewery Accessory: Barrels

Driftwood and Central City have been playing around with barrel ageing for a while, but in 2012 this niche concept went mainstream. How mainstream? Here’s the list of breweries that now have barrel programs: Phillips, Driftwood, Russell, Central City, Parallel 49, Granville Island (Taphouse), and more are added every day. P49 is building a dedicated barrel house, they like it so much. While we don’t quite have a Cascade Brewing Barrel House up here just yet, we’re on our way.

Best Seasonal Lineup: Lighthouse “Small Brewery, Big Flavour” (brewmaster Dean McLeod)

Let me list some beers: Belgian Black, Belgian White, Overboard, Siren, Uncharted. All those came from one brewery: Lighthouse. Sure, the small release program from Lighthouse didn’t always hit them out of the park (Choco Porter, sorry Dean), but by and large these weren’t just great beers, they were excellent beers.

Best New Trend: Growlers (in Vancouver)
Honourable Mention: Names Not The Owner/Location (eg: Brassneck, Four Winds, Bomber)

Victoria has been blessed with a growler culture for a few years now, making running a brewery without a growler bar an odd proposition. In Vancouver, though, growlers have been limited to brewpubs. Until now, that is. We’re just getting going, but with two new growler-friendly breweries this year and at least three more in the works, things are getting interesting.

Best Nigel Springthorpe: Nigel Springthorpe

No surprises here, right? A Chuck-based award system that didn’t set one aside for the reigning King of BC Beer wouldn’t make sense. Sure, it’s not fair to all the non-Nigels out there, but this isn’t about fair. It’s about good beer, and so is Nigel.

Most Improved Brewery: Dead Frog (brewmasters Tony Dewald & Tim Brown)

There are so very many things wrong with Dead Frog Brewing that Love Good Beer dedicated an entire post to it, and this is AFTER they released Fearless IPA. I agree; they’re not out of the deep end yet, but Fearless is a step in the right direction. There’s a lot more to running a successful brewery than making good beer, but it definitely helps. Keep up the good work, Dead Frog, and I look forward to what you make next.

And now, the grand prize of the 2012 Beerdies (aka the Golden Beerdie):

Best Beard in BC Beer: Conrad Gmoser

Look at it… it’s just so… glorious. Don’t you just want to touch it? To stroke it? To have it?

I might as well have named this trophy The Conrad, but unlike The Nigel above, this will be available to anyone with follicles, brewing instinct, lots of time and the kind of job that involves both obsessing over a complex process and little to no outside contact. Yup, a brewing hermit is basically a shoe-in.

And that’s all for now! Back to bed.

UPDATE: @GingerLiz corrects me on the mint content of Deans choco porter. Turns out I get confused by leafs on packaging easily.

Written by chuck

January 1st, 2013 at 11:53 am