And only slightly jet-lagged.
What's with all the smoke? Can't I leave you alone for 10 days?
Anyway, here are my notes from last evening's beer column on CBC's On the Coast with the wonderful and beer-loving Stephen Quinn:
There's always something new in the world of craft beer - that's one of the great parts of the boom!
A couple of breweries have new head brewers: Kevin Emms has moved from Deep Cove brewing to take over the small batch program at Granville Island Brewing. His first new brew for them is the 2 Tides India Session Ale.
Steamworks Brewing's new head brewer is Julia Hanlon. Julia comes to Steamworks after a 10 year stint at the Molson brewery.
As for new locations, Chambar Restaurant relocated a few doors up Beatty Street last year. The new location gives the restaurant a larger space, and it has a patio - a really nice patio. While you won't get much of a view from it, unlike some of the other craft beer patios in town, it features a lot of brick and takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the city. All while offering you delicious Belgian beer options that pair incredibly well with food.
Steel Toad, who opened in October last year, also have a patio - this one a courtyard affair that again takes you away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Steel Toad offers a list of their own craft beer as well as some import options on draft and in bottles, including Montreal's Dieu du Ciel and Trou du Diable breweries and sours!
And of course there's always a new brewery opening - almost weekly it seems!
Outside the city, Maple Meadows opened on Dewdney Trunk Road in Maple Ridge in March. Their regular beers are an amber, a blonde, an ipa and a honey brown. They do tasters and growler fills at the tasting room.
Hearthstone Brewing in North Vancouver has not yet opened their tasting room, but it is imminent. In the meantime, you can find their beers on tap around town. They have quite the line-up for a new brewery - 8 beers, including a graham cracker ale and chocolate milk stout. Look for them at Bitter, Rogue and St. Augustine's.
Ravens Brewing in Abbotsford opened in May. They have a pale ale and a golden ale in 650ml bottles available at the brewery and at some private stores. They also do growler fills and tasters at the brewery.
Twin Sails in Port Moody should be opening soon. They'll be located two doors down from Yellow Dog brewing, which is not far from Moody Ales. Yellow Dog and Moody Ales both have great outdoor spaces for drinking... They're already a great day trip from Vancouver, with a third brewery open, you'd better leave yourself even more time!
In Vancouver, Doan's Craft Brewing opened in May. They're located in the former Powell Street digs, adding another stop to the East Van brewery tour. They have their lounge licence, so you can sip away at the tasting room, and find their bottles of altbier, kolsch and rye ipa in private liquor stores. Oh, and the tasting room is air-conditioned!
Callister Brewing is set to open any minute now, adding yet another stop to the East Van brewery tour. They're located at 1338 Franklin Street. Callister is a bit different from all of the other breweries. They're going for a more cooperative / collaborative approach. Various brewers use their equipment to brew their own beers, which will be available on tap at the Callister tasting room. They won't be bottling or canning, but will have limited distribution via keg. First to sign on was Adam Chatburn, past president of CAMRA Vancouver, who is brewing only cask ales under the Real Cask name. His beers recently won first and second at the CAMRA session ale festival. Callister's took third, making it a sweep for the new brewery! Also brewing at Callister is Chester Carey, whose sour recently won him a trip to Boston at the Samley Cup homebrew contest held by Samuel Adams brewing.
I brought in three beers from Tree Brewing in Kelowna to taste with Stephen Quinn and surprise tasting guest Mathew Lazin-Ryder.
The beers are from Tree's new RAW series. The RAW beers are "An expression of our brews in UNFILTERED fashion. Exhibiting rich colour and pronounced aromas each memorable brew retains the flavours derived from the malts to create a truly intense taste profile and a balanced finish."
These beers are unfiltered and dry-hopped. Unfiltered beers tend to be on the cloudy side, with fuller body, more colour and arguably more flavour than filtered beers. Dry-hopping adds to the hop aroma in the beer.
First up is the Knox Mountain brown ale -
"Occasionally, brewing in somebody else's shadow can actually be somewhat inspiring. Located just North of downtown Kelowna and overlooking our Brewery, sits Knox Mountain Park - our City's largest national park. Known for the annual Knox Mountain Hill Climb and its incomparable views of our city, Okanagan Lake and the surrounding mountains, our Brewers were inspired to craft this brew in recognition of this amazing natural space. Displaying a subtle roasted malt aroma, and a nutty, caramel flavour, the beer finishes well balanced with a dry, pleasant, mild hop finish. 5.6% ABV- 55 IBU"
Then we have the Monkey Pod rye ale -
"The monkeypod tree is native to Central and South America but today, it's widely found throughout the tropics in Hawaii, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Besides monkeypod, it's also known as a rain tree. This name probably comes from the fact that grass under a monkeypod tree always remains green, even in times of drought. There are a couple reasons for this; the first is the tree's large canopy, which keeps the ground below shaded and cool. Secondly, the monkeypod tree adds a lot of nitrogen to the surrounding soil from its seed pod droppings, which makes the grass greener. Brewed with a new Belgian yeast to bring forward a lot of aromas and flavours, combined with a Rye malt to add some spiciness and a little complexity to the malt profile. All together they combine to create a very well balanced and drinkable ale. 5.6% ABV- 25 IBU"
And finally the HopHead IPA -
"The name says it all...a full bodied India Pale Ale brewed for those that take their hops so seriously, they are referred to as 'Hop Heads'. Brewed year round since 1999, HopHead IPA is our Signature beer and was the first 'serious' IPA to be crafted for wide consumption by a Canadian brewery. Considered risky business for a small Canadian craft brewer at the time, it is now considered to have been ahead of its time by leading the charge into brewing full flavoured IPA's. 5.6% ABV- 64 IBU"