beer column

here are my notes from yesterday's beer column on cbc radio's on the coast with stephen quinn:

The BC Beer Awards on Saturday were a huge success as usual! 
465 beers were entered by 63 breweries and judged, and 51 of those were declared winners – 3 in each of the 17 categories, plus 3 homebrews, a best in show and a challenge cask winner.

No one brewery ran away with the awards.  In fact, of the 51 awards given out, 33 different breweries were represented in the winner’s circle.  And the fact that the best in show winner was a smoked porter from a brand new brewery says wonderful things about the state of beer in British Columbia.  Breweries big and small, new and established are all making really great beer.  This brings joy to my beer-loving heart!  And shows why BC won a whole third of the medals handed out at the Canadian Brewing Awards back in June – there is incredible depth in this Province of brewers brewing beer in all styles.  And they’re brewing good beer.

Leaders of the pack at the BC Beer Awards were Moon Under Water from Victoria and Parallel 49 of Vancouver with 4 awards each.  Steamworks, Central City and Brassneck each took home 3 awards (all of which were gold for Steamworks); Phillips, Persephone, Driftwood, Four Winds, Howe Sound and Dead Frog each took 2 home.

And from Yellow Dog brewing in Port Moody – some of the newest kids on the beer block - Shake a Paw Smoked Porter won in the Porter/Brown Ale category (out of 30 entries) and was judged the Best in Show.  That’s a huge accomplishment for a brewery that opened in July.  Major kudos to them!

Repeat winners include Tree Brewing’s Captivator Doppelbock which won bronze last year and Gold this year in the Special Lager category; Persephone won the stout category last year with their Stout-off Stout and this year with their dry irish stout; Central City took gold last year in the Imperial IPA category, and silver this year; and in the Strong Beer category Townsite got bronze last year and silver this year with their Biere d’Hiver.

For the full list of winners, visit the website.

Another award handed out on Saturday was the Dan Small Homebrew award, in honour of Dan Small who introduced many lower mainlanders to the joys of homebrewing through his shop, Dan’s Homebrew Shop.  Dan passed away in August of last year. 

This year’s first place trophy went to the Anderson Family for their “Anderson Estate IPA”.

The Anderson Estate IPA is a fresh-hopped india pale ale made from nugget, centennial and mount hood hops grown at the home of Rod and Lynell Anderson.  Rod and Lynell harvested their hops and took them to their son Matt’s house where, with help from Lynell’s sister Janine, they all brewed the beer together. 

The Anderson family are long-time CAMRA members, Matt is an award-winning homebrewer and previous CAMRA board-member.  Matt and his sister Mel are board-members of the VanBrewers homebrew club.  They’re definitely a craft beer family!

And finally, the challenge cask award. 

Brewers were challenged by the BC Beer Awards folks to brew a cask of purl.  Purl is an old beer style that uses wormwood as its bittering agent.  Several brewers took up the challenge and brought their casks to the tasting festival.  The casks were sampled and people voted on their favourite one.  Bridge Brewing took away the honours for brewing the most drinkable purl.

Wormwood is best known for being the illicit ingredient in absinthe.  Wormwood is a very bitter plant and a little of it goes a loooong way.  Purl beers also have spices and fruits in them.  I don’t see this style catching on though, it is just too bitter for most people to enjoy.  James at Storm has been experimenting with wormwood as well in his weekly “Brainstorm” beers.  Great fun to brew I am sure, but not so marketable!  Then again, this city is always looking for new cocktails... purl cocktails could be the next big thing.  You heard it here first!

Beer Picks:

Gold medal winning Steamworks Pilsner – available in six packs at gov’t and specialty beer stores, and on tap at the brewpub and brewery

Gold medal winning Main Street Session IPA – available in bottles and at the brewery for tasting and growler fills

Gold medal winning Driftwood Farmhouse Wit beer – available in 650 ml bombers at gov’t and specialty beer stores as well as on tap around town


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