Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘driftwoodbeer’ tag

One IPA To Rule Them All

with 3 comments

As many of you are aware, I recently tasted a Dead Frog Fearless IPA, declared it great, and then loudly wondered if Fearless might count itself amongst the higher echelons of the hop madness that is the BC IPA Market. Thus, I decided to do another one of my blind tastings, only this time with the ranks stacked with good beer (no more crappy lager for me).

As step one, I went out and picked five BC-produced IPAs to stack up in a blind taste test. These five beers were:

  1. Dead Frog Fearless: The reason for this test. Omitting it would be one of the odder moves I could make here.
  2. Driftwood Fat Tug: By popular consensus, this is the reigning king of BC IPAs (what you can buy in a bottle).
  3. Central City Red Racer: The one, the original, the IPA that ruled BC from the Dawn of Hoppy Awesomeness until The Day Fat Tug Was Released.
  4. Lighthouse Switchback: The new kid on the block with some serious chops, and a delightful New Zealand take on this whole “hops” business.
  5. Coal Harbour Powell: Okay, so it’s not really fair to pit an English IPA up against all these Cascadian hop monsters, but I’ve been hard on Coal Harbour in the past, and this seemed like a great chance to do a blind taste test of their award winning beer.

The only images I could find mentioning Beer Statistics are just incredibly depressing, so enjoy this C&H comic instead.

Method
Seven tasters were randomly selected from the group of seven people who showed up to my tasting event. Tasting sheets with five computer-randomized letter codes were printed and distributed (eg “ADBEC” or “CBEAD”). A non-particpant poured columns of each beer out of sight from the tasters, who were then summoned to grab one of each sample. All glasses were uniform. Participants were instructed on the basic IPA features to pay attention to, and were instructed to rank beers in order of preference 1 to 5, with no ties.

Now, why did I do each of these things:

  • Computer randomized letters: Computers are unbiased, and randomizing letters instead of breweries (indeed, before I had even chosen the breweries) removed the possibility of bias being introduced by me at this stage. Since people tend to drink left to right, a single set order could introduce bias to the first hop beast.
  • Pouring out of sight: This is a classic single blind, preventing the tasters from knowing what beer is in each glass. We did consider a double blind (having another person pour from the labeled bottles into a pitcher, then into glasses) but our potential second blind wanted to drink beer, too.
  • Uniform Glassware: Glass shapes affect aroma and flavour; this is why you don’t drink beer from the bottle, or I WILL CUT YOU. Previous experiments of mine showed a much stronger correlation between perceived beverage quality and glass shape than to actual brewery. Having uniform glassware removes this problem.
  • Ordinal Ranking: As I’ve mentioned before, people suck at absolute ranks. Asking folk to give each beer an absolute score would introduce all sorts of personal bias (eg what is a 5/5?).

But enough about that, what are the results? Well, here are the raw data:

Taster 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Central City (“A”) 2 1 3 5 2 2 5
Dead Frog (“B”) 3 5 1 4 5 4 4
Driftwood (“C”) 1 3 4 2 1 1 3
Lighthouse (“D”) 4 2 5 1 3 3 1
Coal Harbour (“E”) 5 4 2 3 4 5 2

Which translates into these scores. Solely because a table with two columns would look lonely, I’m giving you mean, median and olympic averages (throw out highest and lowest, then mean).

Score Median Mean Olympic
Central City (“A”) 2 2.86 3.2
Dead Frog (“B”) 4 3.71 4.4
Driftwood (“C”) 2 2.14 2.4
Lighthouse (“D”) 3 2.71 3.0
Coal Harbour (“E”) 4 3.57 4.4

So there you have, Fat Tug retains it’s crown, and Fearless comes dead last (at least where n=7). Here are some interesting takeaways:

  • No one voted Fat Tug as the worst, and no one voted Coal Harbour as the best. Every other beer had at least one first place and last place vote.
  • Switchback has pulled ahead of Central City for second best IPA in the province, assuming the province is accurately summarized by me and my six friends. Well played, Dean.
  • Fat Tug is statistically out front with a big lead, and then Switchback and CC are effectively tied. Bringing up the (way back) rear is Dead Frog and Coal Harbour, also effectively tied.
  • I’m taster #5, by the way.
  • I was surprised by how much better Fat Tug is compared to the competition. I’ve been on a BC IPA vacation recently, and Fat Tug, CC and Switchback have all clumped together in my brain. In blind tasting, though, I clearly preferred the Fat Tug by a wide margin (so did most everyone).
  • In attempting to ID the beers blind, I nailed Driftwood, but exchanged Switchback and CC, and also swapped Dead Frog and Coal Harbour.
  • Last place here is still a decent IPA. I followed up with a dedicated tasting of Coal Harbour’s Powell IPA to confirm. While it’s not an amazing IPA by any stretch, it is competently executed. A gold star for Most Improved Brewery is deserved.

Written by chuck

December 27th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Xmas Buying Guide

with 5 comments

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

Dwellers of Cellars and Barrels Both

with 2 comments

Everyone in the beer world loves December, because that’s when all the good stuff comes out and beer geeks everyone get worked up into a tizzy. Except me; I kinda hate it.

Don’t get me wrong: I love great beer, and all these barley wines, imperial stouts and winter warmers are definitely great beer. I also love to cellar beer and that, my friends, is where the problem comes in. That means I have to buy a lot of this beer, and that means running around chasing delivery vans (or relying on the always awesome Sharon), and all that means I’m going into debt this December. Thanks a lot, guys.

It didn’t used to be this bad. Driftwood would drop out OCD, I would buy a couple of cases, and I’d be happy. I would try Phillips and Howe Sounds’ offerings, declare them decent-but-not-cellarable and we’d move on to next year.

Oh, how things have changed. Not only have the minor breweries gotten better, but now Central City is bottling Thor’s Hammer, and Driftwood made two, count them, TWO versions of OCD. Gah. I guess I’m eating cat food for Christmas.

All bitching about my ruined finances aside, how are these beers? Does a few months in bourbon barrels (and a double-shot of malt) make a huge difference? Short answer: yes. Long answer: Yeeeeeeesssssssss.

Tasting notes:

OCD: Nose is light caramel with lots of CO2 fizz. On the palate I get lots of that same caramel, but hints of vanilla with a bit of toffee finish. Hops are pretty well stacked up here, but should fade and mellow over time. This year’s release is very similar to the 2011 version. In short, they’re both built to age for a long time, so much so that I wouldn’t consider the 2012 terribly drinkable right now.

OBD: Nose is BOURBON! Whoa! Also in there are caramel, liquorice, dates and some plum. I wonder if molasses sneaked into this mix? Carbonation is much lower than OCD. The taste is dominated by bourbon alcohol, with an astringent oakiness towards the back. Hops are lacking, but definitely there. Over a glass, this sucker builds a nice whisky burn in the back of your throat. Unlike OCD, this is a beer for drinking right now, but the whisky will fade and mellow with ageing. The question is whether it will ultimately turn into a sticky sweet mess or not.

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood Brewing
From Victoria, BC
Name Old Cellar Dweller Old Barrel Dweller
Style American Barley Wine American Barley Wine
SOA Now Silver Silver
SOA Potential Gold Silver
Drink 2013 to 2018 Now to 2014
Relative sketchiness of the wax
seal compared to 2012 Singularity
-100%
Availability Most LRSs, but OBD is going fast
Cost $12.00+ per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) Central City Thor’s Hammer, Phillips Trainwreck, Howe Sound Wooly Bugger
Chuck says MINE! They’re all mine! Get your filthy hands off them!


Like you expected anything else.

Written by chuck

December 6th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with ,