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Focus on the LDB VII

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If you haven’t been over to the LDB’s website recently, you might have missed their full site redesign, which was quietly rolled out recently. The new site is slicker and sports a more minimalist design that I actually prefer to the old. However, that’s not all. There are also new features, including an easy-to-access list of recommended products (sure, it’s full of crap right now, but give it time), and the ability for the plebs (that’s you guys) to rank their inventory from 1 to 5 stars.

That last feature made the rounds of the local Molson marketing group shortly after the launch of the site, as the entire Molson catalogue was quickly marked up to 5/5 stars, including sub brands such as Granville Island and the lesser known Black Loon. Subtle, guys. Things eventually balanced out, but a few hundred beer geeks going through the beer section would be even better than the general public (hint hint… link).

So, did a new website lead to a new advertising strategy? Not even a little. Well, I guess the new site now has nine prominent advertising slots with which to ignore beer instead of the old seven, which is sort of a change. Our new total gives us:

Wine: +5
Liquor: +2
Beer: +0
Corporate: +1

One of those links goes to the now-permanent Savvy Shopper feature, which is basically “what’s cheap and still gets you there.” Seriously, pretty much anything you see here is best paired with big hair, stained t-shirts and cars on blocks; they might as well sort these listings by ounces of alcohol per dollar. In any event beer does make a small showing in the 31 discounted booze products, even if it’s mostly Bud.

Wine: 15
Beer: 4
Liquor: 12 (lumped the “coolers” in here. Seriously, though, what IS Palm Bay?)


I mean, aside from being the
drink of choice of these people.

In addition to those, the Spring Edition of Taste Magazine has been released. Weighing in at a hefty 180 pages, it contains ads for 185 products, and 6 of those are for beer! In fact, not only are there six more featured beers than last issue, and not only are these pretty decent beers, there’s a whole article about beer by none other than Joe Wiebe! Rock on, Joe!

Sure, Taste is still a meandering, wine-myopic tome (153/185 featured products are wine), and I’m reasonably sure some wines have now been featured multiple times over the past year, but progress is progress. If this rate of increased features keeps up, beer will contribute as much to the pages of Taste as it does to the LDB’s sales figures by, oh, 2017 or so.


Much more likely, though, is the all-Franzia Special Edition.

Taking all that into consideration we wind up with:

Wine: 33 (+6)
Beer: 3 (+1; rounded waaaay up)
Liquor: 12 (+2)
Corporate: 13 (+1)

Lastly, here are three great beers currently on the LDB website that they could have chosen to feature instead of laundry lists of wine that have been featured several times already (The Show, anyone?). Sure, Joe picked six interesting Vancouver-based brews in his article, but those are buried a bit deep for web-consumption.

Beer 1: Phillips Bottle Rocket ISA

Classic LDB attention to beer. They get the name right but neglect to tell you who brewed it. The brewery in this case is Phillips, and this is their new(ish) and impressive Bottle Rocket India Session Ale. It’s a milder, lower-ABV take on the now-common IPA style.

Listing: http://bcliquorstores.com/product/200303
Price: $11.85 for 6x355ml cans
Availability: Very low; likely just starting to be stocked

Beer 2: Central City Pilsner

Need a nice lager to go with the warming weather? Try Central City’s new Pilsner. It’s a superb hoppy Pilsner that’s a near perfect example of the style. Crisp, light with subtle hops.

Listing: http://bcliquorstores.com/product/255943
Price: $12.40 for 6x355ml cans
Availability: Widely available.

Beer 3: Townsite Said the Ale

Need a beer with an awesome storyline? Not too long ago CBC Radio 3 threw out an idea for beers named after bands. Everyone loved the idea, and it took off. The result? Several BC Breweries borrowed the CBC graphics and brewed actual beers that pay tribute to awesome indie bands. This guy is a play on “Said the Whale.” Indie music and craft beer: my two favourite things in the world together at last.

Listing: http://bcliquorstores.com/product/760900
Price: $5.96 for 650ml of indie awesomeness
Availability: Select stores; might have to ask them to ship it to your store.

Written by chuck

May 21st, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Phillips Twisted Oak 2 and Double Dragon

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Another month, and Phillips brings us another couple seasonal releases, and I’m happy because one of those is their next Twisted Oak Stillage release. To recap, Phillips decided to create a series of barrel-aged beers with no names. First was a Scotch Ale that was all about the oak and not so much about the scotch, and now we have a Red Ale. If the first was anything to go on, this one should be good.

Twisted Oak Stillage Red Ale takes normal barrel ageing and adds a twist. This isn’t aged in old wine barrels, or even old whiskey barrels, but rather old rum barrels. Notably, the identity of the rum that was in the barrels previously is not revealed, but the mere fact it was in a barrel at all rules out the lower end mixer varieties.

Tasting notes:

Twisted Oak Stillage Red Ale

Enough speculation, though, is it any damned good? Yes, yes it is. First off, this is a very pleasant red ale. Even though 6.8% strays a bit into Imperial territory, it’s not a harsh or off balance product. Throw on the barrel aging and we get something more complex, and unique.

NOSE Sweet caramel/toffee backed by rum. The rum isn’t over-powering, though. A hint of oak rounds it out.
APPEARANCE Translucent brown with a hint of deep reds; thin white lingering head. A pretty beer for sure.
TASTE The caramel/toffee is definitely first, with the rum perceived more as a faint alcohol burn. The oak is a bit harsh (providing a rough tannic bitterness), but not unpleasant.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Definitely.

Double Dragon Imperial Red Ale

With Twisted Oak comes this year’s Double Dragon Imperial Red, practically begging for the side by side comparison. Yup, they both have “red” in their names, and that’s about where the similarities end. At 8.2% Double Dragon rules out even being brewed from the same recipe as Twisted Oak, and it shows.

NOSE Thin malt, some cereal, bittering hops.
APPEARANCE Deep Auburn; persistent cream head.
TASTE Highly boozey. Decent malt with some roast character. The bittering hops are evenly applied, but in the end it’s struck through with that Phillips metallicness that ruins so many of their beers.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Nope. Buy Twisted Oak instead. Phillips has just managed to cannibalize their own sales.

Coles notes:

Brewery Phillips
From Victoria
Name Twisted Oak Red Ale Double Dragon
Style Red Ale Imperial Red Ale
SOA Now Bronze n/a
SOA Potential n/a; table beer
Drink Now Don’t
Pirate friendly? Yaaaar! Avast!
Availability Most LRSs
Cost $7.00+ per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) None. It’s pretty unique. Lighthouse Siren… if you can find it
Chuck says Moar please. Less please.


Please continue to screw around with barrels.

Written by chuck

April 17th, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

Cabin Fever and Black Jackal

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Sweet mother of all that’s good in this world, can Phillips brewing do anything BUT a seasonal these days? I swear, they’re up to like two a month! Since we’re coming into the lull of seasonal releases what is more commonly called “Spring” expect my review feed to slowly become an all-Phillips show.

So here we go on their latest two releases: Black Jackal Imperial Coffee Stout and Cabin Fever Imperial Cascadian Dark Ale. How are they? Pretty damned good. They both suffer from that unique Phillips metallic tang, but the styles in use here don’t suffer for it quite as much as others. If you can ignore that, each of these beers is a competent execution of Imperial versions of fairly normal styles, and that’s enough to get on my good side.

Tasting notes:

Black Jackal:

Okay, it’s espresso not coffee, and good espresso at that. I love how the quality of the coffee you add to a beer is still perceptible a few months later in the bottle. The espresso used here isn’t as good as in Hoyne Voltage, but the beer itself is better. Between the two, I pick this one. The coffee is quite strong on this beer, but I don’t mind since it’s good espresso and not gord-awful chemicals dumped out of a Folgers tin straight into the conditioning tank (aka “pulling a Donny”).

NOSE Nose is thin alcohol with a strong espresso undertone.
APPEARANCE Opaque black with a persistent medium tan head.
TASTE Coffee, very mild dark fruits, and a lingering finish that blends the malt and the espresso together. Well done.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Definitely.

Cabin Fever:

Yes, I know that Cabin Fever officially says “Imperial Black IPA” on the bottle, but I ain’t playing that game. This is an amped up CDA, plain and simple. The roast is almost overdone on this, but the high booze level (8.5%) cuts that down a bit.

NOSE Whoa. Roasted malt, piney hops, light coffee (from the malt), and a thin booziness waft off this.
APPEARANCE Very deep brown with thin lingering light beige head.
TASTE Sweet malt cut by the booze up front, then the roasted bitterness kicks in and lingers, slowing mixing with a pronounced Phillips’ metallic tang.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Definitely. Buy both at the same time, even.

Coles notes:

Brewery Phillips
From Victoria
Name Black Jackal Cabin Fever
Style Imperial Coffee Stout Imperial CDA
SOA Now Bronze Bronze
SOA Potential n/a; table beer
Drink Now
Best use Avoiding breakfast Avoiding trademark litigation
Availability Most LRSs
Cost $7.00+ per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) Hoyne Voltage Howe Sound Gathering Storm
Chuck says Damned good. Buy ’em on sight to support better seasonals from Phillips.


Seriously guys, fix the metallic finish, and I’ll give you a silver.

Written by chuck

March 8th, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with