Wednesday, February 17, 2016

beer column

my notes from yesterday's beer column on cbc radio's on the coast:

What's going on in beer world this week:

- As we head into the latter half of February, it’s Annual General Meeting time here in Vancouver – both the VanBrewers Home Brew club and the Campaign for Real Ale Vancouver (CAMRA) are holding their AGMs this month. VanBrewers on February 20th at Direct Tap and CAMRA on February 27th at the Biltmore – so if you haven’t checked out these organizations yet, now would be a great time. And if you’re already a member, may I suggest you check your membership as it might be time to renew for the coming year!

- Budweiser trended on social media when Peyton Manning said in an interview that he’d celebrate his Superbowl win by drinking a lot of beer, and in particular Budweiser beer.

Peyton Manning’s love letter to Budweiser did not go unnoticed by craft brewers. The Brewers Association in America responded to Manning by letter, saying that they hoped he would try craft beer and spend some time in the off-season visiting local craft breweries to learn more about the industry. They also sent him a selection of craft beers, suggesting that craft beer would “satisfy the celebratory occasion more than a light American lager”.

Not to be outdone, Budweiser tweeted Manning that they’d send him 50 cases of beer if he’d be so kind as to provide an address to send them to. 

Ah, it’s always fun watching craft beer and corporate beer lock horns!

- And then the Province newspaper reported last week, on the front page no less, that Budweiser is BC’s favourite beer.

The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch released data that in 2015 Budweiser took 10 spots in the province’s overall top 30 list of products sold.

I love that beer is front page news, but I wish they’d chosen to focus on all the local craft beers that broke the top 30 in their regions. And, while I’m putting together my wishful thinking list, they could have put more emphasis on the fact that craft beer sales in B.C. have nearly tripled in the past five years, with $73 million worth sold in 2015. Corporate beer may still be the biggest seller, but craft beer is on the rise!

Some highlights for craft beer that the article did point out: in the Sea-to-Sky region a liquor store manager in Squamish said the store’s solid selection of B.C. craft beers and ciders makes up most of its sales; Tofino Brewing dominates its local top 30 with 11 entries, more than any other brand in any regional district. Several other breweries dominated their local top 30 lists: Powell River’s Townsite with 10 entries, Central Kootenay’s Nelson Brewing with eight and Columbia-Shuswap’s Mt. Begbie Brewing (Revelstoke) with seven.

- Another article that was trending on social media that gave me warm fuzzies is one about people who have a “local” to drink being happier people. Oxford University did the research, at the behest of CAMRA UK, into how having an alcohol-serving social outlet improves quality of life – and the gratifying results are that people who frequent local pubs are happier, healthier people. I think everyone who has a local tasting room to visit can confirm the UK results carry over here in BC! It really is nice to go somewhere where everybody knows your name! And they’re always glad you came to drink a local beer!



Tasting:

I tried this hopped cider at the Ciderwise event last weekend and really enjoyed it, so I brought a bottle in to share! It’s not beer, but it is hopped!

Anthem Hops is a hopped cider from Salem, Oregon, and it’s available in BC at private liquor stores (see below for the list).

Made from whole Oregon and Washington apples, which are pressed and fermented, it is then dry-hopped with cascade hops for three weeks for a complexly tart, but very light 5.5% beverage.


Because the hops being used are not being boiled, they don't impart any bitterness to the cider - they're strictly there for aroma (and via aroma, flavour).  Cascade are assertive little hops, with piney and citrusy notes, which augment the apple flavour of the cider nicely.

And I learned something new at Ciderwise: if you think the mark up on beer is bad (it starts at 55 cents per litre for small breweries) you should see the one on cider.

An example I was given is a 750ml bottle of 6.9% cider. Priced as a cider it is $18.99. A beer of that size and abv would be priced at $10.49 – that’s $8.50 more in mark-up on that one bottle. A 650ml bottle of 5.5% cider is priced at $10.99. The similar beer is priced at $6.49 – a $4.50 increase in mark-up.

Craft cider is poised to take off just as craft beer has, but with the enormous mark-ups, it is going to be much harder for cideries to compete and increase their market share from the current 2% (of all alcoholic beverages sold, by revenue). In comparison, cider in the UK is at 20% of the market share. B.C. cider sales at B.C. Liquor Stores were up about 22 per cent by September 2015 over the year before, so it is happening, it is just going to be an even harder slog for cideries than it is for breweries.

Which just makes me appreciate the cideries who are taking the plunge and making such great craft ciders - obviously not for money, it's all for love.


And it makes me want to lobby to get our own cider act, like Oregon did!



Beer Picks:

To celebrate their 2 year anniversary, you should try Bomber Brewing’s collaboration with Moody Ales! The Tam O’Shanter wee heavy scotch ale weighs in at 7.8% and 29 ibus. Available in 650ml bottles and on tap at the Bomber tasting room.

And to celebrate their 1 year anniversary, try Off the Rail’s Saison. It’s a departure from their usual styles, and it’s really nice. You won’t get that peppery saison finish here, but you will get that lovely farmhouse yeast. On tap at the brewery.

And rounding it out, Powell Street Brewing’s Mosaic Sour. This Belgian wheat beer has all the funk you’ve been craving! Available on tap at the tasting room and in 650ml bombers.



Stores stocking Anthem Hops Cider:

DELTA
SUNSHINE HILLS LIQUOR STORE

KELOWNA
URBAN LIQUOR STORE

SAANICH
METRO LIQUOR TUSCANY VILLAGE

VANCOUVER
DARBY D. DAWES NEIGHBOURHOOD PUBLIC HOUSE

VICTORIA
CASCADIA FINE WINES ALES & SPIRITS (QUADRA)
SPINNAKERS SPIRIT MERCHANTS LIQUOR STORE 

WHISTLER
NESTER'S LIQUOR STORE

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