Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘RandBBrewing’ tag

The Problem With Growing Hops

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As revealed previously, I have somehow managed to convince my girlfriend Sharon to devote a significant chunk of her very limited Kits-condo deck space to growing hops. I figured we’d plant a few rhizomes and see what, if any, cones develop. Then I would sit on the deck in late summer, enjoying a nice bitter, and then reach over, pluck one of the three or four fresh cones, and plop in my glass for a nice shot of fresh hop herb-i-ness.

A wonderful dream, I suppose, but reality has this nasty way of getting in the way. So, what happened? Did the hops all die off? Not really. Despite a massive infestation of aphids (how many–well, it turns out there is such a thing as a “hop aphid” if that gives you a clue), careful and diligent due attention by the afore-mentioned and completely-awesome Sharon managed to keep them confined to the fuggle at the end of the row (sob… good-bye wet hopped english mild ale).

What happened is that the hops flowered in a volume far beyond even my wildest dreams. Yes, it is possible to grow hops on a small deck in the city. Lots of hops. Giant reams of hops. We have yet to see what the final harvest will be since they’re still growing, but early results suggest an exact figure somewhere in the “buckets.”

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here are my glorious children up close.


The one on the left is my favourite, but each one is a precious gem, special in its own way.

Seems pretty close to the original dream, right? Well, let’s pan that picture up a bit to get some context. Yes, each of those flowery things becomes a cone.


Uh… anyone want some hops?

So, what to do with all the hops? I’ve been reviewing a few ideas, such as aromatic therapy pillows, tea, wet- and fresh-hopping beers, but my favourite so far is the notion of hop ice cream. If it works with green tea, I don’t see why it won’t work with hops. Expect the results of that in a few weeks. Also, when we’re all done with this season, I intend on putting up a nice summary of tips and tricks for growing hops in the city, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, if a local brewery known for playing around with ingredients would like to make a one-off cask of their popular bitter, I’m sure I can supply a decent bag of the goods.


Not naming names or anything, but a cask of this at the Rail? Please? Guys? Is this thing on?

Written by chuck

August 26th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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July Beer of the Month: R&B East Side Bitter

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I know, I know. July was about five days ago. I’m sorry. I was distracted by drinking beer on a sunny deck overlooking both the north end of the straight and a dramatic, miles long sandy beach. Sure, I guess I did technically have internet on my phone and could have done this post then, but I also technically had several more beers in the fridge, and we know who wins that battle.

So here it is at last, July’s Beer of the Month. I was tempted to go with something a bit more summery than R&B’s outstanding new ESB, but honestly I just can’t get enough of this beer, and I haven’t featured it before in a BOTM post, so here it is. I’ll not bother writing up just how much I love this beer again, since you can just go read it here if you’re so inclined.


Yes, I did just try to paw my monitor. Yes, I am pathetic.

If you see this beer, buy it. Buy lots of it. Not only is it great, and rapidly disappearing, but we also need to reward R&B for doing well by producing their first serious beer snob level beer. Good job guys; keep up the great work.

Written by chuck

July 5th, 2011 at 11:40 am

Posted in Beers,Breweries

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R & B Brewing’s New Ale

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I have some history with R&B. A long time ago, when my hook-up contacts at Russell sold their fortune to settle a new land (Mark & Peter Russell themselves), I started getting my kegs fairly regularly from the tiny two-lettered brewery at Quebec & Fourth. Much like other early craft beer revolution breweries, R&B have a solid, if not terribly imaginative, line-up of ales featuring such stalwarts as IPA, Pale, Cream, and even Wheat. Their beers are decent, but not fantastic. Only one, Raven Cream, really shines, and honestly that’s only in the first few days after tapping (seriously, try it, it is a completely different beer when ├╝ber fresh).

But all that’s fine. For kegs, I’m not looking for the best beer on the planet, but rather a solid session ale intended to keep me (and the uncouth drunken slobs that pass for my friends) out of the hidden fridge that contains the Good Stuff. And in this, R&B perfectly fulfills the role. Plus, they’re a fantastic group of friendly folk, and I do take a little pride from supporting a local business (even if it’s under the table). The fact that they’re the closest keg-selling brewery to my house is also a plus.

About a year ago, this all began to change. While the lineup stayed the same, R&B began fucking around with casks. And not in the “cram a handful of centennial pellets into some decanted IPA” way favoured by certain unnamed brewing companies in Yaletown that I so heavily loathe, but in honest-to-gord attempts to create either fascinating or tongue-splittingly awful beers. We’re talking grapefruit IPAs, bacon stouts, and fermented pineapple ales here, and I absolutely love them for it. A cask from YBC, Central City or Granville Island will likely be interesting, but utterly conventional. A cask from R&B is going to be bat shiate insanity in a barrel.

With that innovation has come something new in their regular beer lineup. Sure, you look at that lineup and figure an ESB will be a nice conventional addition to cover all five points of the Boring Beer Star, but then you taste their new East Side Bitter and wow! Holy shit! This is good. Fantastic, in fact. And now they’re bottling the stuff.

Is it the best ESB in the province? Hard to say, only history will tell–scratch that. Yes, yes it is. Central City, you’ve been served.

Go out and get some now. I grabbed a few bottles at Firefly last weekend, and already I’m looking for more. R&B, please tell me this will be a regular addition to your lineup, and reserve a keg of it for my next pickup!

Written by chuck

June 3rd, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Beers,Breweries

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