beer column

my notes from yesterday's on the coast beer column
on cbc radio one, with stephen quinn
wherein we drank driftwood's pilsner doehnel and chatted about beer gear

The craft beer boom is having quite the trickle down effect.  Sure there are new breweries opening up every day, but brewers aren't the only ones benefitting from the attention on craft beer these days.  Everyone associated with the industry is booming.  And with a boom come innovations!
Beer Gear:
The rising number of breweries with tasting lounges and growler filling stations mean that more growlers are being produced. Everyone has their own branded ones, including breweries and groups like CAMRA. There are more than just glass growlers available however. 33 Acres carries ceramic growlers when they can keep them in stock and Hyrdoflask makes double walled, vacuum sealed, insulated stainless steel growlers, which will keep liquids cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 12. That's right, it's a growler that can also be used as a thermos. You can buy the hyrdroflask online at or you can wait just a little longer for a local company, Innate, to release their stainless steel growlers. I have a Hydroflask growler and I love it. Firstly, they are lighter to carry than a glass growler, and I'm not worried about it breaking while I am carrying it. Secondly, the beer stays chilled all the way home. Thirdly, the rubber seal means that no air gets in or out of the growler and the beer stays fresh longer. I have filled up my growler a whole week before I needed the beer and it was still carbonated when I cracked open that seal. I think my only complaint about my Hydroflask is that the seal is that it is so good it takes me a couple of minutes to get it open!

Then to go with growlers there are all the various kinds of growler holders. From neoprene cases to protect and insulate your glass growlers to wooden boxes you can attach to your bicycle to keep your precious cargo of growlers safe, there is a huge market out there full of people coming up with ways to transport your growlers. When I do carry a glass growler around, I find my neoprene holder from Green Leaf brewing comes in very handy. The cushioning protects the glass growler and keeps the chill in the beer during travel time. And straps mean that my hands are free to do other things, like open doors and tweet about which beers I just picked up!  If you prefer recycled and upcycled materials, there are plenty of burlap and plastic carriers made from upcycled grain bags, available online or from assorted breweries around town. A search of today turned up 26 growler holders and 352 beer carriers available.

I am not aware of any innovations in actual glass or branded glassware, but in beer drinking vessels, yes! The company I mentioned briefly a second ago, Innate, who will be launching a stainless steel growler in the near future, currently have a stainless steel beer cup on the market. Called a "Saison Beer Sleeve" it is a 16oz stainless steel vacuum insulated beer sleeve. Designed in homage to the Belgian farmhouse brewed beer that was drunk during the summer months by field workers, the saison beer sleeve is perfect for drinking a cold beer outside on a hot day. Because it is insulated it is also great for keeping hot beverages hot, so doubles as a coffee cup and beer cup. I have a saison sleeve and I love it. I think everyone who wants to drink beer outside in the sun should get one. Not only does it keep your beer cool, it keeps it protected from sunlight as well. No chance for your beer to go skunky before you can finish drinking it, which is my worry when I am sitting out on a patio enjoying the sunshine and a beer. I also like the way it feels in my hand. You can find the saison sleeve at Deep Cove Brewery and SPUD - Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery. 20oz beer sleeves and growlers will be available soon, check the website for more details
(Disclosure:  The lovely folks at Innate provided me with my saison sleeve, and because I like it so much, another one for Stephen Quinn, which I presented to him on the air and out of which we sipped our Driftwood Pilsner Doehnel, which was also given to me, by the lovely folks at Driftwood Brewing)

Beer has four main ingredients, water, yeast, barley and hops. You can play around a lot with those four to create many different flavours in beer. You can also add to those with ingredients such as wheat, herbs, vegetables and the like. Local breweries such as Bomber and Parallel 49 have also been using randalls to infuse different flavours into their regular beers. Then there are all the new hop varieties that are being grown. Crannog Ales in Sorrento recently got the wild hops growing on the farm tested at a lab to find out which variety they were and discovered that while they are related to goldings hops which they also grow on the farm, they are a whole new hop variety. They have named this new hop Sockeye to acknowledge their salmon-steam safe status and the yearly run. Even though it takes about 10 years to develop a marketable hop variety, new hop varieties are constantly being released into the market and it seems like every year a new one becomes the belle of the ball. There was Citra, Nelson Sauvin, Sorachi Ace, Mosaic, and 2014's new hop that is creating a buzz is called Equinox. I look forward to trying beers brewed with this hop. I understand it is supposed provide "A pronounced aroma profile with citrus, tropical fruit, floral and herbal characteristics. Specific descriptors include lemon, lime, papaya, apple, and green pepper."

Brewing Equipment:
The concept of the centrifuge has been around for a long time. It is a piece of equipment run by a motor that puts an object in rotation around a fixed axis and applies force perpendicular to that axis - sort of like a salad spinner. The rotating force separates denser substances (or sediment) from the lighter, with heavier objects sinking to the bottom and lighter objects moving to the top. Where a salad spinner pulls the water from the lettuce to the edges and then deposits them on the bottom of the container away from the now dry lettuce suspended in a basket, in brewing a centrifuge is used to clarify beer, so the proteins are the heavier objects that are pulled to the bottom and the now clear liquid beer stays above. Using a centrifuge replaces the need for finings, filters and pasteurization to take a cloudy appearance out of the beer. Centrifuges can be a time saver as well as a space saver, but they do cost a pretty penny. Driftwood Brewing, Steamworks Brewing and Parallel 49 are all installing centrifuges. Parallel 49 has been using theirs for three weeks now and they love it. While it isn't saving any brewing time for them, it is a more efficient method of clarifying the beer and they are wasting less beer in every batch. Also finings include many substances such as egg whites, fish bladder, gelatin and casein, making some beers out there off the safe list for vegans.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg, but hey, I only get six minutes! 

Beer Picks:

There are a few exciting new beers out there:

Driftwood Brewing has brewed their first ever lager, the Pilsner Doehnel - available on some taps around town and in 650 ml bottles at specialty liquor stores,
"Brewed entirely with luscious barley grown and malted on the Saanich Peninsula by artisan Maltster Mike Doehnel, and so named in his honour.
This dry, snappy North German-style Pils was lagered for 6 weeks and hopped generously.  Prost! "

Bomber Brewing has a double IPA called SuperPest for all the hopheads out there - available at the brewery and in 650 ml bottles,
"Taking its moniker from the nickname of Craig Northey, founding member and vocalist of Odds, and a hockey teammate of some of the Bomber crew.
Brewed using Centennial, Chinook, and Columbus hops, and BC-malted 2-row barley, the 7.5% abv and 80 IBU Superpest is described as having a “soft bitterness” and “tangy hints of grapefruit rind (that) linger on the side of the tongue.”"

Central City Brewing Red Racer Copper Ale
which launches today,
available in 500 ml cans and 650 ml bottles
"A light bodied, easy drinking ale with a pleasantly dry finish. Toasted Munich malt gives this beer both it's colour and malty flavour that is balanced with subtle hop aromatics.
Pairs with: BBQ classics, pork dishes, fruit salad, caramel pecan pie"







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