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Tuesday Was A Good Day

I didn’t even have to use my AK.

In all seriousness, Tuesday was a great day in this beer geek’s life, one I hope to not soon forget.

I started the day off by sleeping in and showing up to work after lunch, because I could. A nice and easy half day of work. Just what I needed.

Arrived home to find that my local post office is holding a package for me. I checked my latest Amazon order to find out if that was what my package was. It was. What did I order? Why Stan Heironymus’s Brewing With Wheat and Patrick O’Neill’s Cellarmanship. What prompted me to buy Cellarmanship was a conversation Twitter where I felt that many brewers and establishments weren’t treating their casks properly. So, I decided that I should be proactive and learn all about casks and cask maintenance. After flipping through the pages I realized I’ve got a lot to learn. Brewing With Wheat has been on radar since it came out. I’d rather drink a well brewed wheat beer than any other kind of beer. Unfortunately, this seems hard for many brewers in Cascadia to do. That’s why I stick with what they’re good at, IPAs. Also, the book qualified me for free shipping.

I stopped by the post office to pick the books up on my way to see Ken Grossman. That’s right, Ken “Seirra Nevada” Grossman. One of the most important men in modern brewing history was talking to CAMRA Victoria members. He had flown up just for the night to talk to us. Amazing. I stopped at La Belle Patate on my way to the Esquimalt Recreation Centre (where the talk was held). I was the first to arrive, and by a margin too. After I finished stuffing my face with enough poutine to give two cardiologists a heart attack, Glen arrived with Ken. Other people started trickling in.

There I was just sitting there minding my business and sudden Ken walks over to me and sits down and introduces himself. I was starstruck. There was so much I wanted to talk to him about, but I couldn’t calm my nerves enough to have a proper conversation. Though I did manage to get him to sign a bottle of his Pale Ale before he left to talk to other people. I’m still in shock. Why did he pick me as the first person out of twenty or so to introduce himself too? I’ll never know, but I’m freaking honoured.

Ken’s talk consisted mostly of the history of Sierra Nevada. A fascinating story of operating out of a tiny warehouse with equipment fabricated by Ken himself, mostly using salvaged dairy equipment, to the second largest brewery in the USA. To quote Jason Meyer, when I ran in to him at La Belle Patate, “Seirra Nevada brews over 800,000 barrels a year, we do 3000.” That’s a lot of beer. A lot of well brewed beer. Ken also talked about several things that only a brewer or a hardcore geek like myself could appreciate, like iron absorption in kegs. An amazing talk that exponentially increased the respect of a man who I already had an enormous amount of respect for.

Of course samples of Sierra Nevada’s beers were handed out; Pale Ale, Torpedo, Summerfest, Glissade, Porter and Stout. The stout was my favourite of the bunch, sadly it’s not available locally, only the Pale Ale and Torpedo are.

I came home and ended the night with Liefmans’ Cuvee-Brut. It’s a blend of Leifmans’ Goudenband & Oud Bruin blended with cherries. It’s also delicious and rather sweet. The 375ml bottle was the perfect amount.

To recap, two really beer geeky books, drank seven different beers, 5 of which were new to me, heard Ken Grossman talk and had him sign a bottle of his famous Pale Ale.

I gotta say, it was a good day.


Battle Royale – Slainte Mhath

Since that Damn Beer Blogger has been busy making sandwiches and not pitting beers against each other, someone has to take over. I’m going to man up and do it. In this battle we have three Scottish beers, to an extent. One is brewed in Scotland and aged in rum barrels. One is brewed here in BC. One is brewed somewhere in Canada and pays homage to its Scottish heritage.

There will be no shots of me feeling the spirit of the battle and wearing a kilt.

In the Northern corner we have Innis and Gunn’s Rum Cask. This particular bottle spent 57 days inside a rum cask before being deemed sufficient to drink by someone named Heather. Innis and Gunn’s clear bottle always make me shy away from buying them, but when their marketing company offers to send you a bottle, you’re not going to say no. When the next brew comes up you may turn it down, but I’m never going to turn down a free beer I’ve never tried before. Back to Innis and Gunn. Vanilla, similiar to Granville Island’s Lions Winter Ale, butterscotch, a touch of skunkiness and subdued spices. The skunk was nowhere near as bad it was in other Innis and Gunn bottles. If they used a real bottle I’d love to go to a local liquor store and buy a bottle and see how much better the beer can be.

In the Western corner we have Alexander Keith’s Tartan Ale. No laughing please. It was sent to me by their marketing company in Vancouver. The intern who sent it to me is pretty hot too. When a hot chick offers you a free beer you’re going to say ‘thank you.’ This beer was “inspired by the heritage of the man himself.” Alexander Keith was born in Halkirk, Scotland in 1795. He then immigrated to Nova Scotia and started a brewery in 1820. That’s about all the useful information in the press release I was sent. There was a paragraph trying to argue that scotch ale is a style of beer and not a modern invention based on some casual observations that turned in to guidelines. I disregarded it. On to the beer itself, but that is what will speak the loudest. It’s painfully obvious that it is brewed by accountants. The flavours are incredibly artificial in taste. Reminds me of a drinkable version of Okanagan Spring’s Pale Ale. Sorry Graham Kendall, Brewmaster Emeritus, Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery, this beer won’t attract a single person outside of your current market range.

And in the Eastern Corner we have local Granville Island Scottish Ale, one of the breweries latest in their Limited Release series. I believe they’ve now moved on to a double IPA. Granville Island’s Scottish Ale is much darker than the other two. Immediate flavours of caramel, with a strong alcoholic presence hot on that caramel’s heels; which I find surprisingly strong for a beer with an ABV of only 6.5%. Other flavours found were nuts, a touch of fruits and hints of coffee and chocolate are also available. I found the beer to be overcarbonated causing my tongue to feel like it was being pricked by a thousand dull needles. Not very pleasant.

TKO! And not in the tradition sense. All three beers were knocked out. I didn’t like a single one. Where are my Traquair House beers?

Guest Post – Basement Breweries Drinks Jack D’Or

I met John at a bar. The Beagle was hosting a cask night. The firkin was pouring Cuvee d’Hiver. It seemed like I was the last person to get to know John. Who is this Basement Breweries chap? Well, he is a Victorian who documents his homebrewing and drinking adventures on his blog, Basement Breweries. He even invited me his homebrewing shindig. Samples of nine brewed by John were on offer. I was impressed by many of them that I actually brought some bottles home to drink. I’m drinking his brown porter, tastes like toasted tootsie rolls.

I bashed a poor love poem of a post on Pretty Things before, but I’ve never featured a single beer from them. Well, he we go with their flagship ale – Jack D’or. Over to you John:

Pretty Things, a brewery from Westport, Massachusetts, is obviously a bit bizarre. From the story of the inspiration for their brewery coming from 15th century carvings in a cathedral in Yorkshire, to their wacky beer names like Confounded Mr. Sisyphus and Fluffy White Rabbits, it’s a little difficult to know how to take these guys. Just looking at the label of one of their beers is all it takes to know Pretty Things is a bit different, as they depict child-like cartoon illustrations that look more like something out of a Roald Dahl book than a label for an alcoholic beverage.

Jack D’Or is no exception to this spirit of uniqueness. The bottle shows Jack himself, a personified cartoon grain of barley sporting an absurdly huge moustache, standing in a wooden mash tun, apparently about to be transformed into beer. This beer is dubbed a “saison americain”, which is presumably a hoppier version of a Belgian farmhouse beer. It pours a straw-like gold with a nearly imperceptible fruity aroma. It is clean and drinkable and has a flavour permeated with spicy hops. There is a light element of Belgian yeast but it is dominated by the hop character of this beer. Its finish is fairly bitter, but I found it to be somewhat harsh and unrefined. My main criticism of this beer is its balance, the malt character is just not sufficient to balance the heavy hops. With its clean flavour and spicy hops this beer reminded me of a Czech pilsner, just hoppier and with a Belgian twist, and although I did enjoy it, for the high price I would recommend instead the Saison De Dottignies from the Brouwerij De Ranke. Simply put, it does this style better, with more subtlety and balance, and is available at Cook St. Village Liquor.

Rating: Good

No Justice for No Jail Pale Ale

Cannery Brewing is a fantastic little brewery in Penticton. I haven’t had a beer from them I didn’t enjoy, with an exception of a bad bottle of Blackberry Porter. Speaking of which I need to get another bottle to write about and do the beer the justice it deserves. Back on topic, when I heard that they Cannery was releasing a 3.05% beer called “No Jail Pale Ale” I was ecstatic. The ales of Britain fanned the flames of my beer love in to the raging inferno it is now. This is probably why I spent so much time, and money, at The Moon Under Water – British approach with North American ingredients. Best of both worlds.

No Jail Pale Ale was originally brewed for draft consumption in the Penticton area as a response to the tough new drink-driving laws. However, Cannery could not get approval for a label that says “no jail” due to liability reasons. The fear is that someone may try use the beer as ‘get out of jail free’ card when they get caught driving over the limit. That’s some bullshit right there.

Now the beer goes from having an awesome name to one that is totally not awesome and, kinda, awkward. And this all happened several weeks after the beer was released. I didn’t hear of the neutered name until I saw that Brewery Creek got a shipment of it in today.

Go read Colin’s humourous take on it over at his blog

Blondes Versus Brunettes – Moinette Style.

I absolutely love Brasserie Dupont’s Moinette Blonde. A lot. Pretty sure it made my top five in my top ten beers I drank in 2010. You can check for yourself, I’m too lazy to.

If you asked me what I preferred, blondes or brunettes. I’d immediately say redheads. Unfortunately there is no Moinette Rouge. So I can only put the Brune up against the Blonde. Yes, I am a little disappointed.

Fortunately both specimens are of the same vintage (2008), so there is no battle of whether I like them younger, or a little more experienced.

Moinette Brune pours really ruddy looking beer with rather energetic head. A spiced-rum like alcohol dominates the nose and is backed up with aromas of raisins. A strong nutty flavour jumps in to the front, followed by a yeasty character and touch of floralness and caramel. That alcohol shows up and warms the mouth on the fairly dry finish.

Blondes are more fun, or at least taste better.

Now to find a Moinette Biologique/Foret to see which kind of blondes I prefer. The slightly funkier hippy kind or the clean dolled up kind.

Rating: Average
Style: Strong Belgian Dark Ale
ABV: 8.5%
Serving Temp: 12ºC
BCL: n/a

Yeah, I make this my comeback post. What a cop-out.

Beer in BC is returning

Don’t you worry. My life is now normalizing out. The blog that makes you feel guilty for liking is, indeed, going to be active once again.

Expect some new and interesting things. That is a promise.

Oh, and buy Driftwood’s Cuvee d’Hiver. It’s great. I was going to write about it today, but I drank the bottle too fast while reading more on tied houses. Good thing pay-day is on Friday. I can buy more then. Maybe.

Work begins tomorrow. Sleep begins now.