Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘lighthousebeer’ tag

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

Justice Might Be Blind But Taste Isn’t (Molson Review Part Three)

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I finally managed to gather up enough suckers last weekend to give this whole “blind taste test” thing a whirl. Due to the blog’s resident globe-trotting scientist being off well, trotting the globe, my methods were likely a bit sloppy and the lack of lab coats and protective eye-wear means safety had to be compromised a bit in the interests of expediency (seriously, though: Nature of Things better give Jenn back soon, otherwise I’ll start mixing beers at random just to see what happens).

The assembled panel had a fairly wide range of tastes, from folks nearly as beer-geeky as myself, through a few lager louts, all the way to someone who never drinks beer if at all possible. The beers selected for tasting likewise represented a wide range of options. Of course, both Molson Canadian and Molson M were present, but I also picked up some micro-brewed lagers: Howe Sound Lager (largely due to the can), and Lighthouse’s new Overboard Imperial Pilsner because why the fuck not? If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

I also threw in another macro because, let’s face it, Moslon is not competing with Howe Sound or Lighthouse. Thus I found myself picking up a tallboy of Bud. I gotta admit it, I felt really rather embarrassed and dirty buying this. I would up throwing the can into my bag and out of sight as soon as the transaction was complete, and then covering it up with a liberal dose of porn, lube, pantyhose and condoms in case someone looked.

My six guinea pigs were given unlabeled, randomly ordered samples of each. Aside from the Molson products, even the identity of the candidate beers was unknown until the conclusion of the test. They were then asked to rank each beer upon a variety of criteria, including “Ease of Drinking”, “Refreshment” and “Overall”.


Wow. Even I’m impressed with the professionalism.
And the lack of fire. OK, mostly the fire.

So how’d things stack up? Well, there are a few surprises here. Frankly, I didn’t think M and Canadian would score differently, and I somewhat suspected casual beer drinkers (or non drinkers) would have difficulty telling the ligher lagers apart, craft or no. Here’s some take-aways:

  • People either hated or loved the Lighthouse. It ranked first or last for nearly everyone (one put it at 2nd to last).
  • Canadian and M ranked similarly in all cases, often one immediately after another. However, M always–without exception–ranked lower than Canadian. In all categories.
  • Everyone, craft beer drinker or not, was able to distinguish the craft beer from the macros, and almost unanimously felt the craft beer was a better product, in all categories.
  • Budweiser ranked higher than either Molson product for 5/6 tasters. It even beat Howe Sound in 1/6.
  • The gap between craft and non-craft was fairly large (except Lighthouse, due to some folk just hating it), but curiously the gap between Bud/Canadian and M was just as large.
  • Only one person, the non-beer drinker, picked Molson first, and only Canadian. So, uh, I guess Canadian is the best beer if you hate beer?

So we’ve answered the original question. Is M different from Canadian? I have to admit it, I was wrong. It is demonstrably different after all. It turns out that Molson M is much, much worse.

Overall Rankings:

  • First: Howe Sound Lager (1.67 average score)
  • Second: Lighthouse Overboard (2.83 average score)
  • Third: Bud (3.08 average score)
  • Fourth: Molson Canadian (3.17 average score)
  • Fifth: Molson M (4.25 average score)

And that’s it. I’m done. No more Molson for me, which also means that the bums who collect the empties out of my alley are about to get a treat (or more specifically, 20 treats).

Written by chuck

May 27th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

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