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Harvest Festival Round Two

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It’s only two days until the first ever Harvest Festival at The Railway Club. A few things that you should know have changed since we first talked about it.

First up, although I said it would be a caskival, it now appears that it will not. Usually the word “cask” gets plastered all over such things, and after the first few announcements that word went suspiciously missing. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there will be a cask or two, but the hoped-for row after row of cask conditioned ales will likely not be there.

So, what will be there? Not too many beers, either. Latest count puts us at ten, and while all are good, some of those are straight-up normal variants of regularly produced ales. In fact, the Railway already has Central City Pumpkin Ale on tap, so at least I hope they’re bringing out a fresh can of the lovely rather than just pulling from the pumps.

What beers can we expect? Here’s the list as of right this instant, and my take on each:

Pumpkin Ales

Pumpkin Ales are, frankly, the main reason I’m going to the festival. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed that only three are showing up, and that two of those are both the regular versions and widely available (and beer I’ve already had). However I suspect I will make the best of this situation by drinking them anyways.
Howe Sound Imperial Pumpkin Eater
I expect a regular keg of this, but I also expect it to be good (because it is).
Phillips Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale
This is a “limited release,” although I’m not quite sure what that means. In any event, it will likely be in a cask and likely be lovely.
Central City Pumpkin Ale
Gary, if this is just pulled from the Rail’s taps, I’ll slash your tires.

Fresh Hopped Ales

Here’s the meat of the fest. You all know how I rant endlessly about how great Driftwood Sartori IPA is. That is largely because it’s fresh hopped. If I had a daughter and it was legal to do so, she would be married off to a cask of fresh hopped ale. I suspect both these ales will be casked, because the best demands the best.
Granville Island Fresh Hop ESB
The brewery on Granville Island has been producing increasingly good beers recently. This is not to be confused with Granville Island Brewing (GIB), which brews insipid and generally lacklustre lagers and ales for the mouth-breathing unwashed masses. While both are the same company, they have completely separate brewing facilities, and the one on the island has not be tainted with suck. I expect this beer to be awesome.
Phillips Fresh Hopped Ale
How delightfully vague this title is. I expect a mild pale from the name, but really it could be anything.

“Specialty” Ales

Note the quotes. These beers are not for the weak. They range from interesting to down right freaky. You gotta try everything once, but sometimes that’s once too many.
Central City Oktoberfest Ale And here we find the thing I end the night on. Oktoberfest Ales are designed to be drunk in worrying quantity. There is no evidence to support this being in a cask, but I predict it will be.
Storm Echinacea Stout It makes you sicker and better at the same time! It’s been years since I’ve had this one-off, and man is it tasty. I hope this cask holds up to memory.
Russell Oak-Aged Scotch Ale, w spices My relationship with Russell goes way back, back before they started pushing mediocre beers and marketing their lager straight to football fans. I’ve had some of their more recent work, and it’s been surprisingly good. I have high expectations for this one, and will be straight-up disappointed if it’s not presented in a cask.
Big River Gingerbread Man Spiced Ale A pint of Christmas in your mug. Is it possible to not have this?
R&B Cornucopia Golden Ale This beer scares me. It’s infused with–I shit you not–chanterelle mushrooms. Mushrooms. In beer. Of course, people said the same thing about pumpkin so, uh… maybe it’s good? This cask will either be the best beer ever invented, or something they take 90% of back to Mount Pleasant.

Tickets are still available, and at $20/$25 I feel it’s a good price. If we support a beer fest (cask or not) in downtown, there might be more of them…

Written by chuck

October 14th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

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Harvest Feast at The Railway Club

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You all know I like the Rail, which makes the hosting of the Rail’s first ever cask festival exceptionally special. That this event also focuses on hop harvest and pumpkin ales doubly awesome.

I’ll be there for sure, and you should too.

Written by chuck

September 29th, 2010 at 2:50 pm

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Hop Season

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Oh joy of joys, it’s hop harvesting time. Well hop harvesting time was actually a couple of weeks ago, but since it takes a bit to brew, keg and release beers based on those hops you can forgive me the confusion. With so much hops on the market, we are starting to see the ’10 releases of some great brews, and a few new entries. In no particular order, here are some great new arrivals:
– Howe Sound Brewing’s Total Eclipse of the Hop (Imperial India Pale Ale — At your better LDBs)
– Green Flash Imperial India Pale Ale (at most of the good beer stores)
– Anderson Valley Anniversary Imperial India Pale Ale (at most of the good beer stores)

Of these three bottled offerings my hat goes to the Anderson Valley. I love those guys so much. However, I’m not here to review beers for you. That’s your job. Go out and drink all three.

Lastly, but certainly not least, hop season brings out the ’10 releases of wet-hopped ales. Wet-hopped ales skip the hop drying step and instead infuse their beers with hops plucked straight from the vine. If you’ve ever noticed the difference between dried and fresh herbs, then this concept shouldn’t be unfamiliar to you. Last year Driftwood Brewing purchased the entire harvest from BC’s first hops farm (Sartori Hops) and released their outstanding Sartori IPA. I was lucky enough to grab a few of these before they sold out. The new release is upon us, so keep an eye on those local beer store shelves.

For those that want a preview, I have heard from Ian @Driftwood that the Railway Club will be tapping a fresh cask of Sartori IPA today at 5pm. This is one of only five casks produced for BC, and you’d better bet your ass I’ll be there.

And lastly, as eye candy, here’s Driftwood’s gallery of the happy hops en route to their new home. Go, look, drool.

Written by chuck

September 28th, 2010 at 11:02 am