Monday, April 29, 2013


and i'm back!

a coupla links for you:

bc's beer boom - breweries in the province
and breweries in vancouver

jan zeschky's vcbw preview

and the official vcbw website so you can get your tickets!

mention of a pair of new beers:

Vancouver Island Brewery APRIL 29, 2013
Media Release!

Art, music and beer - they just seem to go together...

Vancouver Island Brewery Releases Concert Series!
Available April 29th, 2013  

Festival Ales  
Concert Series Bomber No. 1                     Concert Series Bomber No. 2
Vicfest Festival Ale             VI Musicfest Festival Ale

Why brew a Festival Ale?
This festival ale is brewed in celebration of the amazing art, music and culture here on Vancouver Island. We're proud to support local cultural events that strengthen our island's unique collection of bouncing souls and kindred spirits. These events are a part of our community and highlight the vibrant lifestyle we all enjoy here on Vancouver Island. So we brewed a beer with a rhythmic blend of malts and lightly riffed hops. A beer that is sessionable, thirst quenching and a sensory expanding experience. Turn it up and enjoy.

Taste: Clean, crisp and sessionable
Aroma: Rhythmic malt and riffed hops
Colour: Bright gold
Alc.: 5%
Size: 650 mL

The Events: 

The festival location, St Ann's Academy, will provide a stunning, unique and true Island experience for both festival attendees and the participating artists and vendors. The weekend will be filled with culture, entertainment and samplings of select Breweries and Wineries from Vancouver Island. As the sun goes down, a full service beverage garden will open and the main stage will explode with the absolute best live music the Island has to offer. The 3rd annual V.I.C. Fest promises to be an amazing celebration of everything awesome from right here on Vancouver Island!

Vancouver Island MusicFest is 3 days & nights of amazing roots, blues and world music from across Canada and around the world! 6 stages & over 75 concerts, on-site riverside camping, kids activities, eco-education areas, workshops, unique crafts, tasty foods & so much more.  

The 2013 Festival headliners include: Kris Kristofferson, Mary Chapin Carpenter & Marc Cohn, John Hiatt , Indigo Girls, Walk Off The Earth, Guitar Heros - Albert Lee, James Burton, Amos Garrett & David Wilcox, A Curva Da Cintura featuring Toumani Diabate.  


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


that's it!
i'm outta here!

i have to go back east for a week for some family stuff, so there won't be anything new on here until i am back in a week or so

but before i go....
the fundraiser for driftwood brewer tim fukushima at the biltmore on sunday afternoon was a huge success
raffle prizes galore, awesome cheap pints and the kind of spirit the craft beer community should be insanely proud of

(and if you happened to miss my show last week on cbc radio, you can still check it out by going to on the coast and picking the april 16 edition - i'm the last 7 minutes of the show)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013


the cask at the yaletown brewpub last night was stellar!
brown ale done with raspberries
the raspberries were subtle and not sweet
and they put such wonderful flavour into that delicious brown ale
definite win!

the cask at the railway on tuesday was also a good one
central city's amber ale dry-hopped with simcoe
so satisfying!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

legacy liquor store

fun and fabulous beers available at legacy liquor store in vancouver:

Lighthouse Brewing Barnacle Wheat IPA - $7.25The breweries on Vancouver Island certainly know what they’re doing, and this IPA is a perfect example. Golden in colour with a nose of spice and pepper, and a palate that continues to profile spice and floral hops, this dry piney IPA shines when enjoyed with Thai and Indian food.

Powell Street Brewery Belgian Witbier - $7.95
Local boys at Powell Street have produced a perfectly spiced beer for the burgeoning summer season, with orange peel, coriander, cardamom and ginger all coming together for a sweet Easter-bread aroma. An off-dry finish is preceded by ginger and spice on the palate.

Driftwood Brewery Clodhopper - $8.95
A traditional Belgian-style Dubbel brewed on beautiful Vancouver Island, Driftwood has gone the extra mile with this brew using locally grown malt from the Sannich peninsula. Who’d have thought you could find a bit of Belgium right here on our doorstep.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

beer column

in case you missed me on the radio last night
here are my notes from my "spring beers" chat with stephen quinn:

The warmer weather makes you want to drink a lighter beer, to start putting aside those stouts and porters in favour of beers with crisper finishes and flavours that dance on the tongue. This is traditionally the time of year when lagers come to the forefront of beer consumption. I think the word of the season moves from "comforting" or "warming" to "refreshing"

There are two traditional beer styles that are associated with Spring.  Maibock, or May bock, which is brewed specifically for springtime consumption and Saisons which, before the invention of refrigeration, were brewed in the Spring to be consumed over the summer when weather got too hot to support brewing.

Maibocks are light in color with that refreshing lager crispness, but they have a heavier body and generally higher alcohol content than other light colored beer styles like Pilsner.  You’ll be hard pressed to find many Maibocks about, it isn’t a style we see brewed a lot on the West Coast.  Phillips brewed one back in 2010… If you really want to try one, Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale is an example of the style.

Saisons on the other hand, those you can find all over.  Saison used to be considered a dying style, but it has seen a huge resurgence in the past few years and saisons are now easy to find – both imported versions and locally brewed ones.

Originating in the farmhouse breweries of Wallonia, the French area of Belgium, saisons are a very versatile style - including blond and brown coloured ales, heavily bittered or refreshingly tart, well-hopped or gently spiced.  Each farmhouse had its own recipe and flavour twist, which has carried over into the saisons on offer today, so you’re going to want to try more than one to see if this is a style for you!  The highest rated imported saison is Saison Dupont, which you can find at private liquor stores.  Locally, some fine examples are Lighthouse’s Deckhand Belgian Saison and Driftwood’s Farmhouse Saison.
Other styles that have become associated with Spring are:

Kolsch, which is a light beer, sort of a cross between a pilsner and a lager, with a little spice character and a significant but not overwhelming bitter backbone.  Freya’s Gold from Odin Brewing in Seattle is on tap at St. Augustine’s right now.

Spiced Beer:  Wit beers from Belgium are spiced with coriander and orange peel, making them light and refreshing while still full of flavour, like Driftwood's White Bark. Also ginger beers are zesty and refreshing, like Phillips Ginger beer. 

Fruit Beer:  Many breweries release seasonal fruit beers in the springtime, often based on wheat beer recipes, offering flavors from raspberry to peach to mango. When picking a fruit beer remember the fresher the better so pick one that was brewed nearby or, even better, fresh on tab at your local brewpub, like Granville Island's Raspberry Wheat.

White IPA:  A new kid on the style block, this is a blending of two styles: belgian wit with india pale ale. The white ipa is perfect for spring drinking as it tangy from all of those belgian spice characteristics, balanced out with ipa bitterness. Kind of like spring weather that's sunny one day, cold and rainy the next, its a little bit of everything. A good example of this emerging style is the Deschutes Chainbreaker IPA.

Dopplebock:  which played an important role in one spring-time ritual - Lent. The story is that the monks of St. Francis of Paula of Munich originally brewed the chunky beer known as Salvator to provide them sustenance while they observed Lent by fasting. When the beer found its way to the general population it became known as double bock.  Again, not such a popular style in the Northwest and will be hard to find locally.

Several local breweries deliver their Spring seasonals to the usual craft beer establishments like the Alibi Room and St. Augustine's, so you can go try them side by side in a taster flight, or commit to a whole pint of something extra refreshing.

CAMRA Vancouver also has a Spring Sessional event at the Portside Pub on May 4th that will feature many of the local breweries showing off their "sessionable" beers. Sessionability being measured by the beers being 4.5% abv and under. There are still tickets available for this event, but they are going quickly so if you want to attend, I'd buy those tickets asap! You can get more details about that

Also on the horizon is Vancouver Craft Beer Week - May 31 through June 8. Tickets go on sale on April 22nd. I'll be talking about all the events on my next column in two weeks' time

Some Spring beers that I love are:  Conrad, formerly of Steamworks', ginger beer, so I hope that Steamworks will be brewing that again this Spring even though Conrad has moved on to Brassworks; and Iain Hill of Yaletown Brewpub's raspberry wheat ale. That one is usually available in the summer though, and Iain assures me that if he can find the black raspberries for the ale, he'll be brewing it again this year.

I am also looking forward to trying Tree Brewing’s new “Character” 12 can pack – it has two new brews that sound perfect for Spring drinking:  Groove Session Ale and Wild Ruby Raspberry Ale, alongside the established Beach Blonde Lager and Thirsty Beaver Amber Ale.  That launches this month so be on the lookout for it.

Beer Picks:

Moving on now to my beer picks, here are some spring beers that are currently available:

Parallel 49's Hay Fever saison is on tap at several places around town, as well as in bombers available at the brewery and liquor stores.

Ninkasi Spring Reign Ale is often on tap at Portland Craft, and available in bombers at private liquor stores

Deschutes River Ale - on tap at St. Augustine's


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

on the coast

hey, hey!
its one of those tuesdays!
the ones where i get to talk beer with stephen quinn on cbc radio one
at 5:50 this evening i'll be talking about spring beers

Friday, April 12, 2013

link love

lots going on in the beeriverse!

sierra nevada's founder, ken grossman, in a nice long interview

three craft beer trends to watch: collaboration brews, expanding industry means more jobs and women are embracing craft

the big boys are running scared - and taking over craft breweries, when they're not too busy coming up with new "craft" products

part one of the lovely lynn's blog on converting your friends into craft beer drinkers

u.s. beer is inspiring british brews

Thursday, April 11, 2013

legacy liquor store

new and fun beers available at legacy liquor store in vancouver:

Phillips Double Dragon Red Ale - $6.95

A gem from Vancouver Island, this Imperial Red Ale pours dark amber with a frothy head. Grapefruit and malt dominate the nose while nuts and toast are found on the palate. Medium-bodied and textured, it satisfies the greatest thirst.

Fort Garry Kona Imperial Stout - $7.55
From Winnipeg, Manitoba, this roasty Imperial Stout boasts notes of coffee and malt to match its dark mocha appearance, with more caramel and coffee taking charge in the flavour department. Medium-bodied and smooth, this Brewmaster Series beer is a solid contender in the realm of stouts.

Phillips Twisted Oak Barrel Reserve Red Ale - $7.85
Aged in freshly emptied rum barrels to give it a deep amber hue, this brew wraps lightly roasted malts in sugarcane sweetness. It’s not often that a beer like this comes around, so don’t miss out. Enjoy in a snifter at cellar temperature.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

phillips sees red

Double Down on Red

2 seasonal red ale releases

April 11th, 2013 - We doubled down, spun the brewlette wheel, and landed on red--but these two red ale seasonal releases are no gamble.

The Double Dragon Imperial Red Ale is back in the ring to go another round with your taste buds, while the Twisted Oak Red Ale, carefully crafted and slowly conditioned in freshly emptied rum barrels, makes its debut.

On Thursday April 11th from 4pm-6pm, we'll be hosting a special tasting of this primary coloured pair, so don't gamble on what may be your only chance to try these special releases from the tap.

Here's a little breakdown of each brew:
Twisted Oak Red Ale - 6.8% - 650mL

This Twisted Oak special release is matured in freshly emptied rum barrels, where it transforms from fiery red colour to a deep amber, and is wrapped in soft roast flavours and velvety sugarcane sweetness.

But unlike its Scotch-Ale cousin, this Twisted Oak release is only available for a limited time at craft-focused private liquor stores. Best enjoyed in a snifter at cellar temp (4C).
Double Dragon Imperial Red Ale - 8.2% - 650mL

The Double Dragon Imperial Red Ale is back once again! It strikes quickly with roundhouse hop kicks that are balanced by a formidable 8.2% rich malt body. Ultimately this majestic beer, brewed deep copper red, is big enough to slay even the strongest thirst.

Available for a limited time at craft-friendly private liquor stores and the Phillips Brewing dojo.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

calendar alert

put the following into your calendar:

11th annual EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival
Friday May 24 - 2-9pm
Saturday May 25 - 10am-9pm
Sunday May 26 - 10am-5pm
BC Place Stadium, 777 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver BC V6B 4Y8
Info and tickets:
Tickets: Adults $16 ($14 online), Seniors $14, Youth 13-16 $9, Free for kids 12 & under
Twitter @EAT_Vancouver, #eatbuzz

on the coast

in case you missed me last tuesday on cbc radio one's on the coast talking with stephen quinn about all the different sizes of bottled beer, and why the bomber is not, in fact, the wine-ification of beer, you can still catch the show by clicking here and choosing april 2nd.

the beer segment is right at the end - fast forward to about 7 minutes before the end if you just want to listen to me!

Monday, April 8, 2013

link love

can't-miss beer cities around the world according to zagat
and three of them are in america
no canadian cities made the cut

rick green tries to find good beer on his travels
or, why cheap cold beer is just that

imagine a place where the city actually helps a brewery grow
st. paul minnesota is that place

new beer cans with big lids
are you going to drink from them??

Thursday, April 4, 2013

camra saves the growler!

errr, well, if the ndp gets elected camra will have saved the growler from an unfair taxing policy
read all about it on camra's website

legacy liquor store

fun beers available at legacy liquor store in vancouver:

Parallel 49 Brewing – From East Van With Love - $13.75A collaboration between Parallel 49 and Gigantic Brewing is responsible for this Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Stout. Rich and dark, with notes of maple subdued by barrel-aging, makes this beer a must for your cellar.

Alameda Brewing – Bad Bunny - $7.75
Easter may be in the rearview, but Alameda is leading the pack with Bad Bunny, a lightly malted and hopped Cream Ale with subtle malt and fruit on the nose. On the palate fruit dominates, making this an excellent Cream Ale by any standard.

Tree Brewing – Captivator Doppelbock - $7.75
Once a staple of fasting monks, this style of beer has recently exploded in popularity in the modern world. Sweet, malty and lightly hopped, this strong ale is full of dark fruits and biscuit, making it an excellent variation of a European classic.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

beer column

my notes from yesterday's on the coast beer column
on the subject of bombers:

i have talked a lot about growlers, those lovely 64oz bottles you can fill at a brewery and take home with you to enjoy, but what are all the other types of beer bottles called? and why do we need so many different sizes?
growlers are the big boys of beer bottles. weighing in at 64 oz or 1.89 litres
next down are what are often called "growlitas" or "growlettes", weighing in at a litre. at places that are willing to fill these bottles, they are treated the same as a growler. Tofino Brewing in Tofino offer growlitas as well as growler fills.
also in this category are howe sound's swing-top 1 litre bottles, available for retail sale at Howe Sound Brewery and most liquor stores. the advantage of buying this size of bottle with a reclosable top is being able to pick your serving size of beer and save the rest for later. Also very good for sharing. The bottles can be returned for deposit or used for home brewing or anything else you might have need of a 1 litre recloseable glass bottle for. However I am not aware of any breweries who will refill these bottles for you.
750 ml bottles are not really used locally, but check out the import section at your local private beer store and I'll bet you see a few.
next size down is the 650 ml "bomber" bottles. i'll get to why more and more local breweries are bottling some of their beers in bombers rather than six packs of the 341 ml bottles in a moment. suffice it to say that bombers are a great size for sharing. Several restaurants that carry these size bottles do label them as share sized.

and finally we have the 341 ml bottles that make up a six pack - in all sorts of styles and colours. like the stubby - remember the stubby? Stubbies were used almost exclusively in Canada from 1962 to 1986 as part of a standardization effort intended to reduce breakage, and the cost of sorting bottles when they were returned by customers. Due to their nostalgic value, stubbies were reintroduced by a number of Canadian craft brewers in the early 2000s. These days Jamaican import Red Stripe beer is probably the only stubby bottle you'll see our West in North America, however, if you're in Ontario you'll find them at craft breweries Brick Brewery in Waterloo and Heritage Brewery in Carleton Place.
The industry standard bottle in North America is the longneck - a type of beer bottle with a long neck. Longnecks have a uniform capacity, height, weight and diameter and can be reused on average 16 times. The long neck offers a long cushion of air to absorb the pressure of carbonation to reduce the risk of exploding. The longneck also provides a handle for drinking directly from the bottle without transferring body heat to the beer from one's hand. The US ISB longneck is 355 ml. In Canada, in 1992, the large breweries agreed to all use a 341 mL longneck bottle of standard design (named AT2), thus replacing the traditional stubby bottle and an assortment of brewery-specific long-necks which had come into use in the mid-1980s.
other beer sizes not offered in the lower mainland are quarts and nips, two pints (1.136 ml) and 7oz respectively.
So why if there is an industry standard bottle do so many craft breweries design their own bottles?
the industry standard was set by the large breweries, via the Beer Store in Ontario, which also happens to be owned by the large breweries. craft brewers stick to the 341 ml standard size, and generally go with long neck brown glass bottles. But they all choose their own finishing touches on the bottle and labeling. Its a competitive market and you want to stand out, both via your stellar product inside the bottle and via the bottle itself. Serious breweries also use brown bottles as they offer the best uv protection for the beer. it takes mere seconds of bright sunlight exposure to skunk the beer, a clear bottle offers no protection at all, and green is really no better. Even fluorescent lights can skunk beer in a matter of days.
As to why craft brewers are leaning towards bottling in bombers - why not?
Larger bottles of beer have been around longer than six packs have. There are benefits to all of the different sizes of bottles that beer comes in, and a market for each of them. Many of the bombers are filled with bigger beers, those with a higher alcohol percentage. It makes more sense to buy one large bottle to share between friends or enjoy over a longer period of time than it does to buy a six pack. At a restaurant, why not order a bomber? You can share it like you would a bottle of wine, or you can drink multiple glasses of it over the course of the whole meal. If a brewery has a new beer, what better way to launch it in bottles than a bomber? That way consumers can buy one to try it out without the commitment of a six pack if its not to their liking.
It is also an advantage to the breweries - to put beer in six-packs, breweries need to be able to commit to having it regularly available in large volumes. With single bottle releases, breweries can change their offerings more frequently. It also gives them additional presence on the shelf. You can fit three bombers into the same space as one six-pack.

A recent article in The New York Times titled "Craft Beer's Larger Aspirations Cause a Stir" has created a stir in the craft beer community. In the piece, author Clay Risen writes about craft brewers putting their beers in bigger bottles. Risen said, "The trend toward large bottles is part of what is being called the "wine-ification" of beer, the push by many brewers to make their product as respectable to pair with braised short ribs as is a nice Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and at a price to match. Bottles sell for as much as $30 in stores and much more on restaurant menus." He even suggested that people don't like the 650 ml bottles because its too much beer.

Wine-ification? ooooh, them's fighting words. Several big names in beer took issue with the article, including Brooklyn Brewery's Brewmaster Garrett Oliver asked the New York Times to open the article to comments, which it did. Beer writer Jay Brooks also weighed in on the comments and wrote his own piece about it as well. from my scroll through the articles comments, all of them were negative.

Beer is not trying to be wine in general, but particularly not through the increased use of 650 ml bombers. However, there are some complaints in the beer community that bombers cost more than six packs on an ounce for ounce basis. Very few of the beers I drink come in both formats so its not as noticeable, but when they do, yes, you are paying more per ounce for the bomber. Marketing is everything! I will still happily buy bombers though, as the product inside is generally worth the price.

One last note, if you are afraid that you can't finish a bomber of beer on your own, and have no one to share it with, never fear! Use a bottle stopper. These devices go on top of the bottle and can help save the carbonation for a day or two.

My beer picks:
some lovely seasonals that are out now:
for sour-lovers: Driftwood's Belle Royale
for saison lovers: Evil Twin's Ryan and the Beaster Bunny
for ipa lovers: Phillips' Cabin Fever black ipa

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

on the coast

its the best kind of tuesday!
the kind where i'm on cbc radio's on the coast with a well-rested stephen quinn
at 5:50 p.m. i'll be talking about bombers
yup those 650 ml bottles that recently got accused of trying to "winefy" the beer world

88.1 fm
690 am

Monday, April 1, 2013