beer column

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

For those who aren’t observing Sobuary this month, there’s plenty to do in the Lower Mainland!

- Fieldhouse Brewing is now open in Abbotsford, so you can stop by the tasting room for beer and growler fills.  They’re on West Railway, open Tuesday to Sunday.

This Thursday is a busy night!

- Central City is launching their barrel-aged Sour Brown I on the 23rd.  Stop by the Beatty Street location for a taste from 6:00 – 10:00pm.  Brewer Gary Lohin says “We decided to use the Belgian method of souring the beers since it is the birthplace of this style, and used various yeast cultures to produce the unique and notable flavours, and aged them for two years in the Cabernet Sauvignon oak barrels and French oak foeders. The result is a complex flavour that balances the sour notes with a melodic malty character.”

(For those not in the know, a foeder is an oak vessel that looks like a big barrel.  There are two main reasons to ferment in oak. The most obvious reason is to add a hint of oaky flavor to the beer. The main benefit, though, is that oak creates the ideal environment for the wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that are used for sour ales. The pores of the wood create little nooks for the bacterial creatures to live in and also slowly let in small amounts of oxygen that help the brettanomyces create their signature funky and fruity flavors.)

- Also on Thursday Butcher and Bullock has a special barrel of Parallel 49 s’more stout.  Butcher and Bullock were given an American Oak whiskey barrel.  Not being brewers or distillers themselves, they got together with Parallel 49 to fill the barrel with beer... and Knob Creek bourbon!  This Imperial Chocolate Bourbon Stout will be tapped, right from the barrel on Thursday.  Smoregasboard tickets are $15 to try this one of a kind beer.

- And another beer event on Thursday is TappedVancouver – a fund-raiser craft beer and wine tasting and silent auction at the Roundhouse for local theatre company, Fighting Chance Productions.  $60 gets you tasters and a souvenir tasting glass. 

- On Saturday (Jan 23) from noon til 6pm you can support the Kwantlen Brewing Scholarship Program by drinking cask beer at BRB Brewing in Richmond, including a cask from the Kwantlen students themselves.  

- On January 26th there will be a Robbie Burns Brewmasters dinner at Craft Beer Market, featuring scottish style ales, four courses of scottish inspired dishes and bagpiping.  Tickets are $60.

- Also on the 26th, it's the next Strange Day at Strange Fellows - Up Helly Aa - featuring a bagpipe mash-up and a special treat for those wearing a kilt. 7:00 - 9:00pm.

- And lastly, BC Liquor stores have sales on right now.  Apparently they’ve got too much stock and so they’re marking some of it down until January 30th.  Check out your local store to see what they’ve got on sale.

Beer barrel aged spirits!

You’ve heard of barrel-aged beers, but now distillers are taking back their barrels and making beer barrel aged spirits.  Anything except Bourbon goes – because by law bourbon must be aged in first-use charred oak barrels.  But tequila and whiskey don’t have such restrictions.

Distillers in partnerships with breweries to supply them with used spirit barrels came up with the idea to take those barrels back after they’ve been used to age beer and use them to age spirits.

Jose Cuervo and Jameson both have ale-barrel aged spirits on the market.  Jose Cuervo partnered with Odell Brewing in Colorado – Odell aged their Myrcenary double IPA in tequila barrels, then returned the barrels to Cuervo who put some of their signature tequila, Tradicional in them for a special-edition tequila.

Jameson whiskey partnered with Franciscan Well Brewery in Ireland and provided them with some whiskey barrels to age stout in.  Then took those barrels back and filled them with their classic Irish whiskey.

Neither of these are premium brand spirits, but the aging in the ale-casks reportedly ‘settled and smoothed’ the tequila to a point it was enjoyable without salt and lime; and added chocolate and roast notes to the whiskey that ‘demanded to be enjoyed neat’.

The Jameson’s Caskmates is available at 34 BC Liquor Store locations ($37.99 for 750ml)

I haven’t tried it yet as I’m still on the January wagon, but my friend Ryan tells me that it is a “perfect rainy-night-by-the-fire drink” with soft chocolate, coffee, praline and vanilla flavours.

This may be the next trend!  Keep your eyes peeled for more examples to pop up.  We certainly have enough brewery/distillery combos around to make this a local possibility!

Beer Picks:

Central City Brewers Belgian style sour brown ale – this limited edition sour was aged for two years in Cabernet Sauvignon oak barrels and is 9.2% ABV.  Available on tap at the tasting rooms and in 750ml bottles later this month.

Off the Rail’s ISA – the first small batch sold out really quickly at the tasting room.  But there will be another small batch on tap this weekend.  Get it while you can!  Or wait until June when the next batch of this 4.4 abv sessional with mosaic and centennial hops goes into tall cans.


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