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VCBW, The Weekend That Wouldn’t End

May 17, 2010

At the BC Beer Awards Rick Green asked me if I was going to write a big blog post about VCBW. I wanted to, but I didn’t want to do the work. So I told him the excuses I had told myself to justify not writing something proper. VCBW deserves better than it. It was an amazing week-long assortment of events. And from a consumer’s prospective it went off flawlessly. Ya know, If you don’t count Mayor Gregor Robertson being 10 minutes late to tap the cask at Hoppapalooza and cutting those 10 minutes off my drinking time.

VCBW Collaboration Ale Waiting to be Tapped

Even though the weekend had ‘technically’ ended Sunday felt like a Friday. “I just gotta get through this day and it’s the weekend.” For me Sunday was like the day before your birthday when you’re a kid, except for this birthday your cake and presents are a seven bus ride away.

Taking buses make me more nervous than flying. With planes everything is controlled and timed. Buses leave a little more to chance. Especially with the public variety. I’ve never had a bad experience with Greyhound Canada, there was no exception this time. When that bus arrived at exactly 8:15 a sense of relief also stopped at. As I stepped up the each step on the bus my anxiety was replaced with excitement. I’m going to Canada’s first ever Craft Beer Week!

I checked in to a seemingly quiet hostel on a seemingly quiet Granville St. I found out soon enough these first impressions were all lies. Good thing I took a few pairs of ear plugs from work.

Hungry, and not wanting to start Hoppapalooza with an empty stomach, I stopped in at El Taco for a chorizo burrito. Oddly it was served by a young cute girl with British accent. Not something one would expect from at Mexican eatery. I’m used to the employees all shouting at each other in Spanish. This just shows the multiculturalness of Vancouver. I heard about this place from Chris Bjerrisgaard, and now I’m passing it on to you.

Now with a belly full of spicy sausage and beans I was ready to tackle the twenty-five taps and ten casks at the Alibi Room. Looking at the time on my phone I figured I’d be one of the first people in the line. Instead I was greeted by about twenty other beer enthusiasts and the organizers of the VCBW. Now I just had to stand around and wait forty-five minutes for the mayor to show up.

When you walk in the doors you are presented with a tasting filled with the VCBW collaboration beer. It was created by the joining of Vern Lambourne, of Granville Island Brewing, and Iain Hill, of Yaletown Brewing Co. It’s billed a “West Coast Abbey Ale.” Belgium meets Cascadia. Take your average Belgian Pale Ale and through in copious amounts of high alpha-acid and citrus tasting hops and you get the VCBW Collaboration Ale.

A hugely complex beer with elements of candied summer fruits, bananas, caramel, citrus, banana bread, bubblegum, and cloves just to name a few of the flavours found. I didn’t take a single note on any of the beers I had. If I had made some for this beer I’d have a complete page stuffed with ridiculous verb and noun combinations. I should have expected this. Two great brewers making one beer. Like the saying goes, two heads are better than one.

His Worship, and someone's elbow, Tapping the Collaboration Ale Cask

One beer down, thirty-four more to go. Being smart I opted for an intensely hoppy double IPA, Deschutes Experimental Hop Henge. Smart move (not). An incredible beer, but way too intense to start the night off with.  Next I moved on to a cask of Central Ctiy’s Roach-a-palooza. ‘I never heard that’ you may be thinking. It was, currently (hopefully only currently), a one-off blend of the Red Racer IPA and ESB. Don’t worry it made my pants a little tighter as well.

With your entry a meal of Bison chili was prepared by Chef Greg Armstrong. I paired mine with a homebrewed beer from Andy The Beerman. The chili ignited the coals of my love of bison. An exquisitely crafted chili indeed.

If there was ever a beer equivalent of an ‘A-List’ party Hoppapalooza would be it. I was starstruck. Recognizing so many of the people who make the beer scene in BC so fantastic left me speechless. Through out the week I eventually got to met and talk to many of these people at the other events I attended.

That it’s for now. There will probably be a couple more posts on VCBW, but this has already gotten longer than the longest essay I ever wrote in college.


From → Beer, Blog, Events

One Comment
  1. Thanks for the post, Dave. Next year, I think you’ll be better prepared. Look forward to seeing you back with some fellow brews travelllers!

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