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Focus on the LDB II

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Again, because they sure as hell aren’t doing it, I might as well tip y’all off to some great beers currently available via the LDB. But before we get to the part of this article that will actually be useful, please allow me to have a mini-rant.

I’ve gone on record about how the LDB weirdly loves to ignore beer in their advertising in favour of, well, anything else. This despite the fact that the majority of their sales are for beer, and that craft beer is one of the few product categories that is consistently seeing increased sales.

Now, though, I’m going to keep track of this bias. As of today the LDB main website at features 7 advertisements–four in their rotator and three below that. These can be categorized as ads for:

Liquor: 1
Corporate Responsibility: 1

and, drumroll:

Wine: 5

Yup, that’s 71% of their ad space dedicated to a product that comprises only 30% of their income. I will keep track of this every month or so, and put a running tally on the right. I will also take bets on what # wine hits before beer hits 5. My guess is 140.

Now on to the delightful beers that this same store rather confusingly has in stock right now.

Beer 1: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace

Summer’s almost over, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up drinking light saisons. If there is a better mild saison on the market, I’m not aware of it. Sure, the price has gone up over the $9.99 it was first listed for, but I’m not gonna quibble over 66 cents.

Price: $10.65 for 750ml
Availability: Very Limited

Beer 2: Unibroue U17 Grand Reserve

As of posting this beer is almost gone from the shelves, but there are a few out there still. Upon release this one didn’t get great reviews, and I concur. However, despite it’s not being as awesome as we’d all hoped, it’s still a very good beer, and now it’s being offered at a very good price.

Price: $10.99 for 750ml
Availability: Extremely Limited

Beer 3: Howe Sound King Heffy Imperial Hefeweizen

Possibly the best hef in BC, but that’s not why it’s here. It’s here because Howe Sound has moved over to producing their fall seasonal, Pumpkineater, and that means King Heffy is gone for the season. Stock up now and crack one open when the rains come for a glass of sunshine, or to make yourself very depressed about how many months of dreary winter remain until this fine brew is new again.

Price: $8.50for 750ml
Availability: Widely Available (for now)

Written by chuck

September 15th, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Posted in Beers

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September Beer of the Month: Howe Sound Pumpkineater

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Yeah, I know it’s a few days into September already, but I’ve been very patient with this one. When oh-nine-oh-one rolled around on Saturday, I hadn’t had a chance to try all the various contenders. So I let the date slip a day while I tried Phillips Electric Unicorn in the hopes it would be great. Then I let the date slip some more.

Luckily, just when things looked bleakest, I was informed that the current seasonal on offer at Howe Sound Brewery was none other than their annual release of Pumpkineater. Sure, you can’t get it in the stores yet, but by the time all 10 of my regular readers review this, it will be everywhere.

So, without further adieu, please gaze adoringly upon the label of this month’s winner:

I will drink this out of the skulls of my defeated enemies!

Or maybe a pumpkin. Yeah, a pumpkin seems like a better idea.

Written by chuck

September 5th, 2012 at 7:56 pm

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Great Barrel Experiment: Beer Two Review

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Next up: Bourbon barrel-aged Howe Sound Pothole Filler. First, the specs:

Source Beer: Howe Sound Pothole Filler Imperial Stout (2 Litres)
Barrel: 2 Litre Bourbon-infused American Oak
Age: 3 weeks in barrel; 4 weeks in bottle
Adjuncts: Vanilla seeds
Carbonation: Brettanomyces in-barrel, then Dextrose/Champagne intro’d in-barrel, then in-bottle at capping

Damn if that doesn’t at least sound tasty. I mean, who doesn’t like a complex imperial stout. The burn of the bourbon should balance the sweetness of the vanilla, and the original chocolate tones should bind it all together. At least, that’s the theory. And we all know how theories usually wind up.

Legislated out of existence by US governments, that’s how.

Of course, reality has that nasty habit of not giving a shit about what you want to happen, and that explains my beer. The problem I had from day one with this barrel was in keeping the fermentation going. The imperial stout’s high alcohol and low specific gravity meant that the brettanomyces I threw into it had a very hard time getting going. The goal here was to dry out the beer a bit and add a slight belgian funk tone. While this might seem odd at first glance, it’s exactly the formula of one of the best stouts I’ve ever had (a one-off at Upright Brewing).

The brettanomyces, though, were rather put out at not being given tasty, easy-to-digest fruit to consume (such as was happening one barrel to the left), so they protested in about the only way they could: they up and died. With no active fermentation to keep pressure inside the barrel up, the risk of oxygen intruding and oxidizing the beer became real. So I whipped up some champagne yeast with dextrose, and tried that, which promptly died as well. Repeat this process a few more times, and finally one batch stuck and a slight positive pressure was keeping O2 at bay.

So what did I wind up with? The resultant beer was slightly less carbonated than the store-bought variety, but had an intriguing vanilla tone throughout. At the end of each sip, the bourbon would give you a little mellow burn and make you want more. There was also something else lingering on the edges of my tongue. Something… unpleasant… even… cardboardy. Damnit. Oxidization had crept in after all.

Again, I had the brilliant idea of blending this with my saved bottle of Pothole Filler, and this saved it. Not only did the blend take the edge of the oxidization, but a mix of about 75% barrel-aged, 25% shelf Pothole Filler was a vast, vast improvement over the original. Howe Sound makes a fine product, but ultimately I wouldn’t consider Pothole Filler to be cellar worthy. My concoction, though, is definitely that.

In the end, this is a recipe I’d want to tinker with and improve, but it definitely squeaks onto the list of “will do again.”

Last, but not least, is my Driftwood White Bark + “everything I could find” concoction. I should probably get to it sometime this week; as I was pulling the Pothole Filler out of the closet, I heard it laughing at me from the dark corner. This seems like the sort of situation one needs to address sooner rather than later.

Written by chuck

July 15th, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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