I’ve got back to back weekends coming up that involve beer travel and I am pretty excited about them.
This Saturday, Erik, guest contributor Peter, and I are heading down to Seattle for the Washington Cask Beer Festival. Their mouth watering lineup includes sixty one-of-a-kind beers brewed by thirty seven of Washington State’s illustrious brewers. My obsessive compulsive nature has me wanting to try each one. I am pretty sure this won’t be possible (or healthy), but we are staying the night, so I won’t be holding back. We are also going to eat at a few brewpubs and are planning a stop at Bottleworks, where I hope to find some rare gems. Because I don’t get down to Seattle much, I am really looking forward to this. Erik and I will definitely be writing about our upcoming adventure.
The following weekend, I and twelve of my friends are heading to Victoria for guest contributor Dave‘s stag. Having already done my homework, I booked us at Swans Hotel and we’ll definitely be visiting Canoe Club and Spinnakers also. A good portion of us are beer enthusiasts, but we’ll all be sampling the fresh and tasty wares of Victoria’s finest brewpubs before we paint the town red. We have rounds of golf at Cordova Bay and Olympic View booked and secured a hot dog suit for the weekend. This is as close to heaven on earth as it gets for me. Friends, beer, golf, and a hot dog suit, what more could a man want?
My birthday was last week – most who know me know that beer is always an appreciated gift . Chris and his wife (my sister) were kind enough to buy me some great new beer this year, which is always a great birthday idea. I was given a collectors pack of Historic Ales From Scotland and and a gift pack of Budels Bier. Obviously I am quite excited to try them all.
Budels is a family owned Brewery located in the Netherlands that has been brewing since 1870. That is about all I can tell you about Budels. Not a word of English can be found on the bottles – but that is how I know it is good beer. Nothing gives beer more credibility than a foreign language!
I am very excited to try the Historic Ale’s from Scotland. I have walked past this gift pack for years but never had a reason to buy – not that I ever need a reason to buy beer. These ales are based upon brewing traditions and techniques that have been around well before the Reinheitsgebot (Bavarian Purity Law) existed. Scottish Beer has always been very lightly hopped making it no surprise to find that most of these historic ales are completely void of hops. Instead of hops, other regional herbs and flavorings are used to balance out the beer malt sweetness.
I am grilling sablefish (previously know as black cod prior to Chef Rob Feenie’s fish re-brand) tonight for dinner – according the the bottle’s label, Kelpie Seawead Ale from the Historic Ales of Scotland gift pack, pairs nicely with seafood. I’ll let you know if the paring is a success.
Chris and Rachel, thank you kindly for the excellent gifts.
Two incidents made Sunday a strange day for me. The first happened that afternoon during my soccer game. I was subbing into the game when a spectator’s dog bit me on the thigh. I’m not sure what I did to provoke it, but the dog lunged at me as I was running past it onto the field. I’m still sporting fang punctures and a nasty bruise. How often does that happen? Had you asked me right then, I would have assumed that would be the strangest thing to happen to me all day. I was wrong.
It was Erik’s birthday this week and the Wolfe family tradition entails going out for a meal together. Tempted by the CAMRA newsletter, we chose The Whip to enjoy the cask ale they feature every Sunday. Sadly, CAMRA members had already consumed the cask of R&B Red Devil Pale Ale by the time we arrived. No bother, The Whip has an excellent beer menu and we were able to drink some tasty local craft beer. I enjoyed pints of Storm‘s Hurricane IPA and Black Plague Stout, both of which were highly enjoyable. Some undercooked yam fries aside, the food was also excellent. I really enjoyed my Mexican chicken burger.
It was as we were eating that Sunday’s second strange incident occured. We were enjoying our meals when a group of extremely intoxicated people arrived, taking a table near us. They were no trouble, but I can’t say I enjoyed their company. The serving staff quickly took note of their level of innebriation and cut them off. I heard one remark “this is the third bar we’ve been kicked out of” only for the waitress to reply “this is isn’t a bar, it’s a restaurant!” The group was allowed to finish their beers, giving one fellow the chance to expose himself in the middle of the dining room, perform the “windmill”, and place his genitals in his friend’s glass. How often does that happen?
I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it, I mean the incident, not the… I don’t blame The Whip in the least. Upon hearing of the infraction, the offending group was quickly removed. The Whip’s staff even gave us coupons for a free pint and 15% off during our next visit. We’ll definitely go back because the food, beer, and atmosphere were great. Happy birthday Erik, you’ll definitely remember this one.
Pictures of our visit:
Erik and Holly enjoying their beers
The wife and I
Kelly and Concord, they don't drink beer:(
Today is a day when the world dresses itself up in green and drinks an unprecedented amount of beer or whiskey, often leading to singing and dancing in an Irish fashion. But I must be honest, I did not wear green clothing, I had Pale Ale from BC with a dinner of Chinese food, and I have yet to dance a jig. I am not a poor sport – I did celebrate in what I consider to be a big way. Today I dug up my vegetable garden and bought a bag of soon to be delicious Kennebec seed potatoes. Could I be more Irish!?
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
My friend Tristen sent me a couple of articles this past week featuring some interesting beer news.
New Brunswick producing government brand beer
The first article from the CBC is about the New Brunswick government producing its own beer. They’ve actually setup a crown corporation to brew government brand Selection Lager and Selection Light, also known as Socialist Light and Socialst Even Lighter (I just made that up). They have introduced this new low cost beer to combat the loss of beer sales to neighbouring Quebec. New Brunswick will be selling their beer at the legal minimum price, a price that other breweries can only match via an application and only at certain times of the year.
What bothers me is that the New Brunswick Government is essentially making beer a commodity. They are saying that their citizens deserve cheap beer, not tastier or better quality beer. This quote really sums it up: “If you like mass-produced Canadian lager, this tastes just as good as the other ones. So why would you not save money?”
I can only see this move by the NB government as negatively affecting the New Brunswick craft beer industry. Price conscious beer shoppers will have one more reason to avoid a locally made, interesting craft beer, a sentiment echoed by Mocton’s Pump House Brewery in the article. Consumers may be able to buy beer for less, but they’ll also be getting less variation and, in my opinion, less enjoyment.
Beer taps at your table
The second article tells the story of a Kentucky bar that has installed beer taps at tables for self service. I was initially really excited about this. I thought table taps could be pretty cool, provided the beer selection at the table was good, no more waiting for service! I then had second thoughts, specifically what interesting things inebriated people might do to these unsupervised taps, compromising their cleanliness. Greater availability of beer might also lead to over indulgence, but then that is a self control factor.
The taps themselves are produced by Table Tap Products. I don’t really see any reason why they couldn’t work out in a supervised environment. Maybe table taps will take off? After my initial excitement, I am not really sure I care if they spread. There is something to be said for the bartender/customer interaction and I can’t see many traditional pubs installing table taps. I guess we’ll see what happens.