camra vancouver winter fest

yesterday's winterfest of ale put on by camra was a great success!

fourteen breweries participated, and st. augustine's was packed
central city's gary lohin was the afternoon's big winner
his "thor's hammer" barleywine took home best barleywine, brewer's best in show and people's choice best in show
thor's hammer
gary from central city and amanda from camra
i enjoyed the thor's hammer
definitely spicy with big flavour and a sweet finish
i can't drink a barleywine as a sessional, but i sure did enjoy my glass of it!

as a matter of fact, besides the howe sound gathering storm, there wasn't a beer at the festival that i could see wanting more than a taster size of
not that they weren't good
or tasty
the opposite in fact
its that there was just so much going on in most of them
big, big bold flavours
just too much to want to have too much of, you know?

in the interesting category were a bbq duck beer and a coconut beer
the coconut had too much vanilla for me to want to try
but i was intrigued by the bbq duck idea
no ducks were harmed in the making of the beer
but a whole schwack of chinese 5 spice was abused!
very spicy nose
tasted like root beer to me
but i liked that it was an homage to the christmas story movie
and that it came with fortune cookies!

i didn't try all the beers available
i could possibly have, but i don't think i would have liked me much if i had
so i let some of the other beer geeks try them first and give me reports
as such, i skipped the phillips instigator doppelbock, the big river coconut, the granville island imperial chocolate stout, the howe sound wooley bugger, or the phillips trainwreck

i had a sip of the steamworks roggenweisen, which tasted on the belgiany side to me
and i had a sip of the big ridge festivus - wow, a whole lot going on in that beer

the dead frog w&w breakfast stout was like coffee
no pesky spices in attendance, just cocoa and roasted malty good ness
i thought it might perhaps be a little young, and i'd love to try it again in a week or six
still, quite drinkable and delicious!

the driftwood blackstone porter had some serious yeast issues at the beginning of the afternoon
but by the time i tried it, it was dark and delicious and drinkable
very roasted malty, and on the bitter side

the storm smoked porter was amazing
to me, this is what a smoked beer should taste like
and the jokes abounded about how james managed to get the bacon in there without any greasy film on the top

the lighthouse winter warmer was as close to a session beer as i got
i could see sitting in front of a fire with this one
great head retention
rich, creamy and delicious

r&b's auld nick scared me at first because they added demarara sugar
but it wasn't too sweet
definitely taste the higher alcohol caused by the sugar
again, lots going on in this beer
i liked it!

and finally the red truck varga's christmas cake tasted just like christmas cake!
very spicy, with some spice sediment at the bottom of the glass
but no vanilla apparent

i was very happy with the offerings
barely any vanilla in sight - lots of spice and smoke to keep things interesting
and lots of great beer geek conversation swirling around

winner of the spiced/winter ale category was the festivus by tariq kahn
winner of the stouts and porters category was the "you're using coconuts by claire connolly and james walton's smoked porter
winner of the full flavoured ales was dave varga's bbq surprise


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