Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘stanleyparkbrew’ tag

2014 Beerdies

with 3 comments

Wow. So that happened. I, for one, didn’t see it coming; not even a little. But, rather than getting all picky about who killed whom, let’s just all take a deep breath and learn our lesson. When someone shows up at a party with a frothy container of liquid, it’s very important to not just assume the liquid is barely fermented ale. It’s important to consider that maybe, just maybe, it’s actually an ungodly amount of ayahuasca. That’s a Barley Mowat Pro Tip, right there.

Right, moving on. It’s that time of year again. Time to reflect upon the year that was, and hand out recognition to the few, the proud, the bearded. Yup, it’s time for the 2014 Annual Barley Mowat Excellence in Beer Awards, aka the Beerdies.

Unlike some other blogs out there, I don’t hand out annual awards based on popular votes. No siree. You see, people are fucking morons. Run a poll on your blog for a few weeks and you’ll wind up handing Granville Island Brewing a Gold Medal for the liquid vanilla-in-a-bottle what is Lions Winter Ale. This is proof that democracy just plain doesn’t work.

Well, that plus North Korea being proof of how completely awesome not-democracy can be.

What we have over here at BarleyMowat.com is a classic, functional dictatorship. I try all the beers, tell you about them, then you go buy them, and then you agree with me by telling me how awesome I am. That’s our relationship and frankly I think it’s working for us. So, without further adieu, let’s get to it!

Brewery What Took Most Of My Money: 33 Acres (brewmaster Dave Varga)

Finally someone pushes Driftwood from their reign of terror over my beer expenses. What change did Josh and Dave implement to tip the scales? Sandwiches. Yeah, I know. That’s pretty sad, but it’s the truth. If you want Chuck to consistently wander into your brewery and slap down money, don’t brew good beer. Instead, offer up tasty (and reasonably healthy) sandwiches in a convenient location forty feet from his day job. Damn I loves me some sandwiches.

Hottest Brewery Accessory: Lineups

I don’t mean “hot” as in great. I mean “hot” as in every brewery has one these days. Even recently opened Strange Fellows is getting hard to get into these days, and you might as well forget about Brassneck (I encountered a lineup there at 4pm on a weekday). Where did all these craft beer nerds come from? Half of them don’t even have beards! (edit: I have since been informed that these are “women”)

Best Seasonal Lineup: Not awarded

With all the new breweries opening, the local focus has been on establishing solidly brewed main beer lineups, not seasonals. The few breweries that do have steady seasonal lineups have either stagnated innovation-wise (Driftwood, Granville Island, Four Winds), failed to really hit a winner (Dead Frog), or shat the bed quality-wise (Parallel 49). With the landscape being what it is, I’m taking my ball and going home.

Best New Trend: Barrels Everywhere

You can’t start a brewery these days without a barrel program, end of story. Walk into any of the newer facilities and what do you see? Barrel stacks, and I don’t mean one or two barrels here or there, I mean massive stacks of oak all lined up to make awesome beer. In a couple of years we’ll be wading in sours, people!

Best Nigel Springthorpe: Aaron Jonckheere

I’m going to break from tradition here and not just automatically hand this one out to Nigel. Sure, Nigel’s still the best, but his trophy cabinet is pretty full and I don’t want him to have to buy a new one. That’s floor space he could use for another foeder.

Instead, I’m going to give the nod here to Aaron Jonckheere. He’s half the team behind the just-opened Strange Fellows, but I’ve been talking to Aaron for over a year about his trials, concerns, and hopes. He hasn’t limited his sharing to me but, rather, has engaged everyone he could find as well as sharing his story on his own blog: I’m Starting A Craft Brewery. Sure, there’s a bit of clever marketing going on there, but also a genuine desire to make starting a brewery in BC easier. That’s very Nigel of you, Aaron.

Most Improved Brewery: Turning Point (brewmaster Todd Fowler)

When you’re lying on your back in a ditch, all you can see is stars. What the folks who wrote that aspirational quote failed to mention is that, 99 times out of 100, instead of reaching for the stars you just go out and re-do whatever it was that put you in the ditch in the first place.

Turning Point, on the other hand, has taken that first step towards crawling out of said ditch. They’re wet, sick and covered in composting garbage but, hey, they can almost see the road.

Okay, enough tortured metaphor. What I’m saying is that their beer used to be undrinkably insipid but now it’s almost not bad. Between Wind Storm and their Wit, the beer has improved drastically and the marketing, while still the target of a good chunk of my beer nerd rage, has at least toned down the absurd not-quite-lies that spoke to unscrupulous profit-driven motivations.

Best New Brewery: Yellow Dog (brewmaster Liam Murphy)

Well this one was easy. Not only is Yellow Dog hands-down the best new brewery of 2014, but they’re making a serious run at best brewery in BC, period. Their smoked porter won Best in Show at the BC Beer Awards, and frankly I think their IPA is health-destroyingly great. Combine that with targeted taunts about an upcoming sour and I get all tingly feeling.

Add to that mix what is probably the best tasting room experience in the province and you have a winning combination. Congrats, guys!

And now, the grand prize of the 2014 Beerdies (aka the Golden Beerdie):

Best Beard in BC Beer: Dave Mitchell (Lighthouse)

I was rightly chided for missing Dave during last year’s awards but, let’s face facts: I don’t get over to the island very often and I could be forgiven for forgetting about Dave. Well, Dave met me half way this year. Seriously, his beer now extends most of the way across the straight.

Way to grow hair, Dave!


It’s… it’s…. beautiful.

Written by chuck

January 1st, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Stanley Park Windstorm

with 3 comments

I’ll admit that I’ve been a lazy ass, and have been sitting on this review for a while—a few months, even. However, sitting inside while the wind is blowing through Vancouver seems like the perfect time to write this sucker up. Beats the tar out of going outside, at least.

So… another Stanley Park brew, eh? What does Chuck think? Well, before we can talk about what’s inside the can, let’s spend a bit of time talking about what’s outside the can.

Turning Point Brewing (the actual brewery behind the Stanley Park brand) has elected to reinforce their completely fictional relationship with the park whose name they’ve appropriated by releasing a hoppy pale ale to commemorate what is one of the worst tragedies to ever strike Stanley Park.


The closure of an actual, real brewery in the park is also right up there.

For those new to the city, in December 2006 a series of massive storms touting winds as high as 120 km/hr tore through the iconic Vancouver park, and uprooted over ten thousand trees. The damage was wide spread and jaw-dropping. Entire acres of wooded rainforest were laid bare, turned into chaotic clear cuts. The emotional toll of this event on Vancouver natives was tremendous. People were literally brought to tears by the footage.

So now, eight years later, to have a brewery commercialize this tragedy for profit is… well, let’s just say it takes a certain insensitivity to think this is a good idea. However, Turning Point rampant desire to build any sort of association themselves with their namesake trumps any sort of good will.

Not to say there isn’t actual good will here. Turning Point is donating 25 cents per can (or per pint of draught) to the Stanley Park Ecology Society and, while 25 cents doesn’t sound like a lot when you consider that the can in question cost you $2.50 at the LDB, believe me it’s eating a pretty hefty hole in their bottom line (although, don’t get me wrong, this beer is still very profitable).

Perhaps I’m being too harsh? Maybe they can pull this one off and treat this touchy topic with all the decorum and sensitivity it demands? Let’s go watch this promo video to learn more.


I’m sure we’ll all watch it, find nothing objectionable, and this article will uneventfully conclude shortly thereafter.

Well fuck. Seriously, guys? In addition to all-but-implying that the brewery has any sort of actual relationship to a wind storm that occurred a four full years before they opened shop, that video lays down a sentence of marketing copy downright laden with wind-theme adjectives: “An unexpected storm of tropical fruit and earthy pine-hop character that bends to a gust of citrus on the palate and a rewarding bitterness that finishes clean.” That is verbatim from this video, and is printed on the side of their cans.

You can do a benefit ale. That’s a thing you can do. Central City has done several versions of their IPA whereby profits are donated to Autism research. However, the beer is simply called “IPA for Autism” and they donate $2 per 650ml bomber compared to Stanley Park’s $0.25 per 500ml can (approximately 6x Turning Point’s offering). If you go read the description of the beer here you’ll see that CC has avoided using tie-in words. Imagine how horrible it would be if they described their beer as having “strong aromatics that can look you in the eye.”

Unimaginably horrible and tasteless, that’s how it would be. And yes, a wind storm in Stanley Park is not even remotely the same thing as a child with Autism, but they’re two tragedies that two breweries have responded to with two benefit beers, and the two different approaches couldn’t say more about each of those businesses.

Nothing more clearly demonstrates Turning Point’s true feelings about Stanley Park than this beer. Stanley Park is not a treasured gem or a source of civic pride to Turning Point. Nope, it’s a marketing opportunity, pure and simple. It was that in 2010 when they created the Stanley Park Brewing brand and it still is today. If they were serious about rebuilding the park, they would have released a tastefully marketed brew and donated 100% of the profits, not 25 measly cents.

What about the beer itself? Yeah, it’s okay. Actually, the nose on this thing is amazing. You should have a sniff. Don’t actually drink the beer, though, as it’s not that great, but merely good. Even so, it might be the best beer Stanley Park has ever produced, but until they change their marketing game I’m going to spend most of my time talking about the packaging.

Oh, and to save you time: skip their winter ale too. It’s frankly bad.

Written by chuck

December 9th, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

Feature Beer: Turning Point (Stanley Park) Wit

with 2 comments

Whoa, now THAT’S a controversial headline, eh? Bet you didn’t see that coming. So, what happened? Did Stanley Park make a beer good enough to get off my shit list? Have I sold out? Did I burn my tongue horribly and now perceive everything around me to be full of fruity esters and lemon peel? Did I forget my long-standing feud and dislike of the most dishonest brewery in BC?

None of those things happened. Well, maybe the sellout thing, because this was a sample beer sent to me for review and frankly there is no other way I’d crack open a Stanley Park beer outside of whatever bent moral obligation I feel to at least taste the horrid dreck that shows up in the mail. So I guess that counts as a sellout.

The other thing that didn’t happen is the whole “good beer” aspect. This beer is not amazing. In fact, it might be the most boring beer I’ve ever featured. However, what this beer is not, though, is insipid pond water filtered within an inch of its miserable existence in order to appeal to a mouth breathing moron who only just now set down his empty Molson Canadian but yet can’t wait the five minutes it will take to change the keg, so he orders the next tap instead.


A little further to the left and, with a little luck, his life was ruined forever.

It might even qualify as “not bad” and that, my fiends, solidly makes it the Best Beer Turning Point Has Ever Made. Remember my whole spiel a few months back about how a mediocre beer from a terrible brewery is as worthy, if not more worthy, of praise then yet another home run from someone like Four Winds? Well, time to put my blog where my mouth is.

Not only is the quality (and unfiltered-ness) of this beer a big improvement for Turning Point, but so is the branding. Previous Stanley Park beers were wrapped in packaging so dishonest it would make the Ministry of Truth proud. This iteration does away with a few of the nastier claims, but doesn’t quite come clean. Gone are the picture of an impossibly tiny windmill and the ludicrous claim that it somehow powers a major brewery (it doesn’t), and the image of the late 1890’s Stanley Park brewery with the implied claim that this is somehow the same entity (it’s not).

Improved, yes, but not perfect. Still missing are some key facts, including that there is no such entity as Stanley Park Brewery (seriously, there isn’t), and that the beer in question is brewed by Turning Point Brewing which is owned by the Mark Anthony Group (better know for Mission Hill wine, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and Palm Bay).

Additionally, the beer now claims to be one of the best beers on the planet (it isn’t). This is a curious claim backed up by absolutely nothing, much like the bottle’s other claim of being produced in Canada’s first sustainable brewery (it isn’t). I guess if you listed every beer on the planet in order of quality and called it “A List of the Best Beers on Earth” then this beer would indeed appear on said list, but honestly that’s stretching things a bit.

Lastly, the beer 100% claims to be produced in “Vancouver BC” (it isn’t) and gives us a postal code (no address though) that correlates to somewhere around Main and 2nd. No where to be found is the awful truth: that the beer is produced on Annacis Island somewhere around the sewage treatment plant. Further research indicates this location is, in fact, not in Stanley Park.

Still, things are getting better, and that deserves some praise. Despite the ugly neighbours, the brewery on Annacis Island is capable of producing some amazing beer, if only they would try, and we have to encourage them to try.

APPEARANCE Cloudy yellow, almost glowing. Honestly, this is a pretty beer.
NOSE Some Belgian yeast esters, some lemon/orange.
TASTE A boring Wit, but not awful. I cannot stress this enough. Lemon esters are present but subdued. Orange peel is nice at the start but provides a bitter finish towards the end.
STATS 5.0% ABV / 14 IBU / Belgian Wit
SHOULD I BUY IT? Do you want something light ‘n fruity but can’t be bothered to hit up a brewery? At a wedding and it’s either this or listening to the drawn-out speeches sober? Sure. Otherwise, skip it.
CHECK IN

Brewery Turning Point / Stanley Park
From Delta, down by the sewage treatment plant
Name Wit
Style Belgian Wit
SOA Now None awarded
SOA Potential n/a
Drink Now
Would Chuck buy it? Well, uh… no.
Availability Everywhere
Cost $12.25 per six pack
Similar Beers Driftwood Whitebark, Powell Street Wit, Moon Under Water Lightside

Written by chuck

May 9th, 2014 at 11:27 am

Posted in Beers

Tagged with