Thursday, September 10, 2015

Great Canadian Beer Fest 2015 Rant

This post is not really a rant, but it makes a nice catchy title. Most of you know the story. The Great Canadian Beer Festival is one of the largest and longest running festivals in North America. Lots and lots of breweries, food trucks and entertainment. It is to no ones surprise that this is a big day for me. I pour over the beer list to plot my token allotment. I look forward to the release of the GCBF beer list almost as much as I did for the Sears Christmas catalog decades ago. So after much analysis here are my thoughts.

1. This is going to be an awesome beer fest

2. It should be renamed the Great British Columbia and UnTapped Beer Fest. True, it would be very hard to change the name at this point, but an overwhelming percentage of breweries are from BC. If you ignore the UnTapped portfolio, Unibroue, Mill Street, Muskoka, Big Rock and Steam Whistle the rest are BC breweries. I think this is great for BC Breweries to gain exposure. It does also highlight a few points. First, there are enough quality BC Breweries to fill a stadium. Second, the craft brew scene in Canada has grown so big that there are many other beer festivals across Canada. Breweries east of the rockies might not feel the need to market their beers in BC as demand in their own provinces is growing. Selling beer in BC is a very competitive market. The downside of this is that we don't get to taste Paddock Wood beers this year. I have found their beers to the some of the best at GCBF.

3. Local Victoria breweries didn't bring a lot of variety this year. Many of the local offerings are recent beers and an unmodified cask of a notable seasonal. There are some exceptions to this. Lighthouse has one new brew and two casks (if they work out). Moon has a new collaboration. Spinnakers has two wacky new brews. Category 12 does have a core brand with a new yeast added, which should be interesting.

4. Where is Crannog? Enough said!

5. Where are Three Ranges? Nelson Brewing? Brassneck? Red Collar? Noble Pig?

6. No American Breweries. See rather obvious but worth noting.

Now for my suggestions for something new to drink.

1. Loghouse Brewery. I plan to stand in line for all of those.

2. Ditto for Bad Tattoo.

3. All of Cumberland and Gladstone

4. Coal Harbour Baltic Porter. I love a good Baltic porter.

5. Dageraad De Witte Sour. mmmmm sours mmmmm

6. Doans American Rye Stout. Sounds unique.

7. Fuggles and Warlock have a multi hop West Coast Common.

8. Granville Island brewed a gose? Sounds good to me.

9. Longwood. A cask of a spontaneously fermented and 18 month cellared sour? This I gotta try.

10. Lighthouse used Discovery coffee to brew a lager; this should be tasty. Plus a few possible casks

11. Four Mile. Mainly because I don't want to buy a bottle so see if their beers have improved.

12. Spinnakers will have the first fresh hopped beer of the year. And a sour cask.

There are a few more I plan to try, but I'm not letting you know. Just in case there is not enough to go around


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Raised by Wolves by Driftwood

Unless you are under a rock somewhere, you will have tried this beer already. Or perhaps two or three. Sure this beer tastes great, as you might read in my glowing review later, but this beer is also innovative in a few ways. The first, and most obvious, is the use of the new wonder hop variety Equinox. This hop was previously called HBC 366 while in development by Hop Breeding Company. They are the same people that brought us Mosaic and Citra. Secondly, this beer also uses the semi wild yeast Saccharomyces Trois. This yeast used to be called Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois. Why the trois? This yeast strain was first isolated from a bottle of 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze. However, further DNA analysis by White Labs learned that it was more like a Saccharomyces yeast than a Brett. Hence the name change to Saccharomyces brux-like Trois (WLP644). So it acts like a regular yeast, but provides brett like flavours. So enough of the yeast lesson, how does this beer taste?

Raised by Wolves = 9/10

The nose is all Equinox with tropical fruits, pineapple, guava and lychees. Certainly the brett-like yeast is providing additional fruit esters. You would think from the nose that this would be a very bitter beer. Not as much as you would expect. It certainly has that gripping bitterness of the aforementioned tropical fruits, but that Brett horseblanket funk mellows it. Tartness lingers along with a bright citrus funk. I sense we might have a beer of the year on our hands.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 Beautiful label with a good description of flavours expected.

Glassware: A tulip or snifter will trap the Brett aromas nicely.

Food Pairings: The acidity and bright carbonation would work well with fatty fish like salmon or tuna. Might make a fun pairing with sushi. That wasabi heat would come alive with this beers funky tartness. Cheese pairing fresh goat (chevre) or maybe a funky Stilton.

Cellar: Without a doubt the brettness of this yeast will dry this beer out even further. Not sure how it will taste once the hops are gone. Worth a bottle or two. Might be in it for the long haul though, perhaps two years.

Barnstormer Saison IPA (Phillips)

You know, I've had it up to here, with hybrid styles that add descriptive dashes. Wait.. you can't see the motion I just made with my hand, can you? Oh Bother, this is the reason why I do not work in radio. Nor TV for that matter. Nor do I correct grammar in English 101. There is this trend to add descriptive names to the same dang beer. Just you wait for the "Barrel aged-brett fermented-session strength-imperial-imperial-india-pale-ale-on-lees-dry hopped with Mosiac". That last bit was for you Brewtal Truth. It will take a wrap around label just to get the whole name on. As always, I digress. So why does the Hawaiian Shirt enigma rant about a beer at midnight? There are two reasons: Firstly, to inflate my basement dwelling ego. The second is to validate your own, basement dwelling ego. I had this beer lined up in my sights to rip it apart. Yes, it tastes like every other Phillips IPA. Yes, it is most likely another Phillips beer with a funky yeast added. We know this. But you know, it is not that bad. I can actually hear the blog followers clicking the unsubscribe button. This beer delivers everything we- well not all da we's - want to drink. A drinkable IPA, with hints of something tropical and hints of unique yeast. Enough of the Keepers Stout infused rant - what does the beer prick think of this beer?

Barnstormer Saison IPA (Phillips) = 7/10

As expected the nose starts off with tropical fruits and spicy yeasts, luckily not too phenolic. This bubbly brew delivers a light to medium punch of grains, light pit fruits, pears, apricots and passion fruit. The taste is almost session like until the fusel nail polish alcohols hit the back of your nose. Still, I liked it. Would I buy a second bottle? Ask me in person.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (reasonable description of flavours)

Glassware: Pick you fanciest glass and make sure it is clean.

Food Pairings: I suggest something dry, mildly spicy and with a hint of funk. How about seafood pasta with parmigiano shavings? Cheese pairing is either Grana Padano or Reggianito.

Cellar: Nope