beer column

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow.  I would like to remind you that there are more traditional ways to celebrate the Irish than by drinking green beer!

Life is short!  Drink good beer!  Like a lovely dry Irish stout!

One of the most common stouts, Dry Irish Stouts tend to have a bit of a lighter body, which makes them very drinkable!  They're usually a lower carbonation brew and can be served on a nitro system for a creamy mouthfeel.  The bitterness comes from both the roasted barley and the hops, though the roasted malt will be the more noticeable flavour.

Guinness is probably the best known example of the style, but you can get some really nice local versions too – see below for a few examples.

If you're in Vancouver and looking for a non-green beer-y way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, check out one (or more) of the below:

- From the folks who bring you the HarvestHaus Oktoberfest celebrations comes The KelticLanding.  Held over two nights at The Imperial, revellers can travel through the celtic traditions of Ireland on March 17th, and the gaelic traditions of Scotland on March 18th, via food, ales, ciders and whisk(e)y.  Tickets are $35 per night, or $55 for the two nights. (6 pm – 1 am) 

- Craft Beer Market will celebrate St. Patrick’s day with Irish Dancers at 6:00 p.m. and $6.50 pints of O'Hara's Irish Stout. Reserve your table on their website.

- Dogwood Brewing will be celebrating its first anniversary on St. Patrick’s day by throwing a bash at the brewery.  $65 tickets get you organic beer from Dogwood, Crannog and Nelson Brewing, a mashed potato bar, live music and whiskey!
- If you want to visit a couple of breweries and be sure you won’t stand in a line-up at any point in the evening, Vancouver Brewery Tours has you covered.  $75 gets you a St. Patrick’s celebration tour and tasters at Strange Fellows, Off the Rail and Big Rock Urban Breweries – as well as a comfy ride between the three.

- The Cascade Room on Main Street is celebrating St. Patrick’s day with live music and Irish food and drink, like Irish Whiskey cocktails and a special cask of Dry Irish Stout from Main Street Brewing.  Live music by the McBrewers starts at 8:00.

- St. Patrick's Day specials can also be found at most craft beer pubs around town, including: Central City - both Beatty Street and the Surrey Pub have $4 drink specials and Irish food specials; and The Donnelly Group pubs have been hosting the Road to Dublin since March 1st - $5 Irish beers and a chance to win a trip to Dublin - and on the 17th, Guinness will be on for $6 at all locations.  

- and not actually beer-related, the Irish Rovers are at the Vogue!  The Irish Rovers!

Also going on in craft beer world:

- Vancouver Magazine held the judging for its International Beer Awards last week.  Look for all the winners in their May edition.

- Central City's Beatty Street bar has received approval to start brewing beer at that location – which means that growler fills will soon be available there.  Apparently the granting of this license was contested by area residents as they were concerned that growler filling would lead to loitering and outdoor drinking.  I’m amused by the idea that growlers could be the gateway to loitering outside of bars!  I just can’t imagine preferring to drink out of a heavy growler on the street in the rain rather than having a drink in the bar or taking a growler home...

- Bomber Brewing is hosting the 2nd annual Beer League BASH taking place from 4pm to 10pm on Saturday, Mar 26th at Britannia Community Rink (1661 Napier Street).  Watch the four brewery teams battle it out tournament-style while you sip craft beer tasters from 16 local breweries, including the not-yet-open Luppolo Brewing – get a sneak-peak at their beers!  Tickets are $25 and available via Eventbrite for this fundraiser in aid of the Britannia After School Hockey program.  Bring in gently used hockey items to donate and earn yourself additional tasting tokens – but don’t bring the kids, this is an adults only event.

Tasting:  Boris Stout by Strange Fellows Brewing

From Iain at Strange Fellows:  "Those that were with us when we opened will remember the first Boris. This beer was brewed with Fennel and Tangerine peels. Of that first batch 6 bourbon barrels were filled and socked away in the corner of the brewery. That happened right at the end of 2014 and since then this beer has softened and taken on a complex leathery, rich and round character. This aging has mellowed the Fennel and added bourbon and oak elements. The aroma is pronounced and malty and the flavour is complex and lasting.

We brewed Boris in collaboration with Brasserie Trois Dames, a small brewery located in the mountain town of St Croix in the French part of Switzerland. Raphael the owner and brewmaster was in Vancouver for a few days and together we made this beer.

It is not untypical to age beers like these in bottle and they will continue to soften and change, however contrary to this I would like to recommend experiencing this beer right away as it is now at peak of condition given that it was barrelled in 2014. It has now left its comfortable and flavour enhancing home of American oak and sits in a world of hard glass walls in transit to your taste buds.

Origin of Russian Imperial Stout:  Brewed in England for Export to Russia. Imperial Stout was first made for Catherine the Great the 18th century Empress of Russia. Like many styles it came about partly by necessity. Contrary to pretty much all English ale of the time Imperial Stout was high in alcohol and so well preserved for a long journey to Russian court."

The limited release is available in 650ml bottles starting today.  Hurry, or you'll miss it!

Beer Picks:

Dry Irish Stouts in honour of St. Patrick’s Day:

Ravens Brewing Dry Irish Stout – a new release, just in time for the big day!  Dark roasts married with a crisp bitterness and dry finish. Available in 650 ml bombers and on tap at the Abbotsford tasting room.

StormBrewing’s Black Plague Stout – 8% of deep, dark and delicious.  On tap around town and at the brewery for growler fills.

Main StreetBrewing’s Oxymoron Dry Irish Stout – 4.6% of dry and roasty goodness.  Available at the tasting room.


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