Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘sticklebract’ tag

Coming to Victoria!

with 4 comments

Where does a beer geek go when they have beer tourism on their brain pan, but not enough time to make it to Portland and back? Victoria! It’s a like a closer, mini-er version of Portland! Minus the awesome train to and from it… And the Whole Foods crammed to the rafters with good US beer… And the street cars… And the ubiquitous great street grub… And with more taxes… on top of higher prices… Sigh.

Actually, Victoria IS great, and boasts one of Canada’s few honest-to-goodness brewery districts. Don’t believe me? Well, what if I were to tell you that a single square kilometre of Viccy-land contains four breweries and three brewpubs? That’s equal to all of Vancouver, and it’s crammed within easy stumbling distance. That’s a density that matches the best Portland has to offer.

For those not in the know, the area is Rock Bay (roughly), and the breweries are Driftwood, Hoyne, Phillips and Vancouver Island. The brewpubs are Moon Under Water, Canoe and Swan’s. Ok, ok. Vancouver technically has six breweries and four brewpubs, but Parallel 49 isn’t up and running yet, and are we really counting Molson & Pat’s Pub? Really? Is Pat’s even still making that swill they call pilsner?

And those establishments are scattered all over the city. A mere 1.6km separates Swan’s and Driftwood, the two most distant contributors to this area’s awesomeness. And 1-2km over the bridge to the west are Spinnaker’s and Lighthouse, making a slight excursion worth while. You could easily walk to more of these hit locations than your liver would like you to. In Vancouver, you’d definitely need a cab. Or five. And good luck with that.

So, where am I going on my expedited two day skip-n-jump through barley-land? I’ve made a short list, but not being native to the rock (well, that part of the rock at least) I’ve likely missed out on some stuff. But here it is:

Breweries



Hoyne — I definitely have to check out BC’s latest craft brewery. They’re just starting to crank out beer, and the early reviews are good. Sean Hoyne learnt his craft over at Swan’s, and those are some serious good beer credentials. Also, they have a slick website and some great bottle art. I love shit like that. I’ll be cruising by during their regular hours Saturday to take in a flight of the goods and likely buy a growler.

Phillips — Phillips also maintains regular Saturday hours with a growler bar. While I’m not a huge fan of many of their regular beers, they have a habit of making some nice smaller run ales (thinking of Hoperation, Krypton, etc).

Lighthouse — These guys, though, do not normally open the doors on the weekends. And that’s where being an internationally renowned beer blogger comes in handy. Dean McLeod himself will be coming out to give me a mini tour, which I can only hope will involve his being distracted long enough for me to sample all the current Small Brewery, Big Flavour beers in production.

Driftwood — What trip to Victoria would be complete without at least hugging the outside of Driftwood Brewing? Luckily, I can get all up inside that biatch, as Jason Meyer will be meeting me on Sunday to let the fox into the henhouse. As Gord as my witness, I swear my intentions are not to club Jason unconscious and load all the 2012 Singularity into the back of my truck. This is absolutely not a thing that will ever happen. (Just kidding Jason; I’m perfectly harmless–unless you count the smell)


Totally unrelated: these are now only $9.99 via mail-order!

Brewpubs



Spinnakers — This is where, many years ago, I had my first sip of truly great beer. I can’t go to Victoria without stopping by to have a pint and watch the bay go by.

Swan’s — Believe it or not, I have actually never had a pint here. This will be remedied; I intend to sit on the patio and people watch over a pint of good bitter, just like all those backpackers.

Canoe — Again with the brewpubs I haven’t been to! It’s even sadder in this case, as Canoe’s beers are much harder to come by on the mainland versus Swan’s.

Moon Under Water — The Moon brews a style of beer that is sadly lacking in general availability: low ABV session ales. To be honest, I fully expect most of my take-back allotment to Vancouver to be comprised of MUB ales. And yes, there is an allotment. There’s no border I need to cross, but there is a trunk that needs to not drag on the pavement.

I will also aim to visit the Cook St Liquor Store and The Beagle, but honestly these 48 hours are starting to sound a bit packed. Have I missed any awesome beer-themed spot that only the locales know about?

Written by chuck

January 16th, 2012 at 10:59 am

Too Hop To Handle

with one comment

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