Monthly Archives: April 2009

A new beer cellar

I recently noticed that it was getting rather warm in my garage, which concerned me because my beer cellar is also in my garage.  While most beer is best served fresh, stronger beers (think 8% ABV and higher) can get better with age.  Both Erik and I have a few beers ageing, which you can read about on The Cellar page.  Erik also wrote a great post on how and why you should cellar certain beers.  Back to the problem at hand, beer ages best between seven and ten degrees (Canadian degrees, the ones that make sense).  Thanks to the arrival of Spring, my South facing garage has been heating up to as high as twenty, not good for my beer.

Not all those empties are mine.  I'm not an alcoholic, I swear.

My new beer fridge/cellar. Not all those empties are mine. I'm not an alcoholic, I swear.

Luckily for me, I’ve recently come into some hockey pool winnings.  With said winnings, I decided to purchase a beer fridge to use as my new beer cellar.  I was a bit worried that my beer fridge would be too warm, but the warmest setting has given me a nice eight degrees.  I purchased most of my cellar beers last winter, so it’ll be at least another half year before I crack any of them.  I’ll definitely post about the differences I notice in the aged version versus their younger counterparts.  If any of the beers end up spoiled because of my previously poor temperature control, I will be pissed.  Mustering the patience to store beer was hard enough in the first place!

Still only eight beers in the cellar, should probably go shopping...

Still only eight beers in the cellar, should probably go shopping...

Cheers,

Chris

Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies

Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies located in Vancouver’s threatened Heatley Block is the soul of Vancouver’s growing craft beer movement.   Yes that is correct, the very soul of craft beer in Vancouver is a homebrew shop.    If craft beer was a body, the many fine brewers in BC would be the heart, retail shops, restaurants and pubs such as Brewery Creek, the Alibi Room and The Whip would act as the arms and  legs, and the dedicated consumers represented by groups such as CAMRA Vancouver would be the mind.  All parts play an integral role in a successful beer revival, and although all parts are equally important, Dan’s will always hold a special place in my heart.

My love for beer came from an interest in homebrewing – without Dan’s I may never have been exposed to the diverse selection of beer that the world has to offer.  The entire Vancouver area is littered with many small u-brew and u-vint businesses that carry a limited selection of homebrew ingredients and supplies, but none of these compare to Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies.  Dan’s is the only retail store in the entire Vancouver area where whole-leaf  hops, hop pellets, a full selection of barley, wheat and rye malts, brewing supplies and brewers yeast can be found.  This list does not include the friendly advice and recipes that Dan and his staff are more than happy to provide to their customers.  Here is a video put together about Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies.

The most creative and experimental beer will always be homebrew.  I have to admit that some of the cask beers that brewmasters graciously provide are delicious and very creative, but craft brewing is still a business and the beer they produce must be commercial enough to sell.  Whereas homebrewers do not sell their beer and only have to please themselves and their usually appreciative friends – the only limitation homebrewers face is their own imagination.  For a mere sixty dollars on supplies and twenty to thirty dollars for ingredients, and add in a small amount of patience and there it is,  an incredibly unique and flavorful beer.

The  North American craft beer renaissance that was started in Northern California over thirty years ago was largely influenced by hombrewers.  Homebrew shops have always and will continue to play a vital role in the growth of craft beer.  For anyone interested in homebrewing, I highly encourage a  visit to Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies – I am sure Dan and his staff would be more than happy to help.

Cheers,

Erik

More Brockton IPA Launch Pictures

Further to my last post, the honourable Rick Green sent me a few more pictures he took at the Granville Island Brockton IPA launch party.  He has a real camera and his pictures are way better than mine, so I figured I’d post them.  Plus, who doesn’t want to get a look at the sweet, sweet Brockton IPA keychain that doubles as a bottle opener.

Erik and I conversing

Erik and I conversing

Me and my sweet Brockton IPA bottle opener/keychain

Me and my sweet Brockton IPA bottle opener/keychain

Cheers,

Chris

Ozarks Famous BBQ

A new southern BBQ restaurant name Ozarks Famous BBQ recently opened in Langley. This is the first authentic BBQ restaurant in Langley, although Boonies BBQ & Soul Food sits right next door in the neighboring Cloverdale area. After waiting a few weeks for the restaurant to get past the typical problems that most restaurants experience in the first few weeks of operation, I decided to stop buy and give it a try.

I am a huge fan of real BBQ cooking and am happy to see that people are finally beginning to realize the difference between high heat grilling and low heat barbecuing. Ozarks is a true BBQ restaurant following the time honoured traditions of slowly smoking inexpensive, tough-yet-flavourful cuts of meat until they become delicious and tender. BBQ also happens to pair excellently with a number of beer styles from IPA to robust porter. This should come as no surprise seeing that many local brewpubs serve BBQ influenced dishes.

Ozarks is a locally owned family business with a number of years experience in BBQ. Prior to opening this restaurant, the owners mastered the art of southern BBQ by offering an award winning selection of BBQ meat and sauces at Ozarks Country Meats in White Rock. There years spent perfecting slow smoked BBQ cookery is very apparent. Every piece of meat I tasted, including pork riblets, BBQ chicken and beef brisket were all barbecued to perfection. Nothing was overly sauced nor was it too dry – it was moist and tender with a noticeable but not overpowering hardwood smoke flavour.

The BBQ was great- no complaints about the food, but the selection of beer was clearly not well thought out. Only one of the beers available even has a chance of standing up to the bold flavours of southern BBQ. The restaurant’s draught beer selection is exclusively Granville Island Brewing – including two light lagers, a mild pale ale and the newly release Brockton IPA. The IPA fared relatively well alongside BBQ pork riblets, but did nothing to complement the other dishes we ordered. The two light lagers and the one pale ale are far too mild to match the restaurants southern food. Porters, Southern Brown Ales, Smoked Ale and other full flavored beer would complement the food much more than light lager. Such a great opportunity to match great food with great beer and again the opportunity was missed – such a tragedy.

I would like to encourage all the craft breweries with BBQ appropriate beers to contact Ozarks Famous BBQ. Perhaps all the restaurant needs is a nudge in the right direction.

Overall, Ozarks’ food is good and it is without a doubt worth a visit. If more appropriate beer was made available I would certainly become a regular customer.

Cheers,

Erik

The Brockton IPA Launch

Erik and I attended the launch of Granville Island’s Brockton IPA at the GI Taproom last night.  For us, because we’ve both written about Brockton IPA before (Erik did a group taste test and I posted some general impressions last week), the night was less about the beer itself and more about having a good time.  But if you did want to know, we find Brockton IPA to be a decent beer, although somewhat lacking in balance and merely resembling a hoppy version of their pale ale.  It isn’t killer IPA, but it will definitely draw more Vancouverites to craft beer, and for that we are thankful.

When we arrived at the busy Taproom, we were asked whether we were with the press or from the liquor board.  We were press!  I suppose I should be less excited about that, but I had never been referred to as press before.  If press are commonly treated as well as we were last night, I wouldn’t mind being with the press more often.  We were given three pints of IPA, an excellent spread of food provided by a nearby culinary school, and a complimentary cab ride home.  Also, Almira of Jive Communications, who invited us, recognized Erik right away (not hard, he is a behemoth of a man and extremely good looking) and gave us a thorough welcome.

We were also lucky to meet Vern Lambourne, the brewer at Granville Island.  Vern perfects Granville Island’s recipes before sending them up North to Kelowna for production.  More importantly, Vern brews all of Granville Island’s seasonal beers on Granville Island.  I especially enjoyed his Porter and eagerly await next week’s release of GI Bitter.  Last month’s Ginger beer, although not to my tastes, was very popular and sold out fast.  Vern let us into the brewery for a quick peek and a picture, and also invited us back for a tour another day.  It is always awesome to meet brewers, not only because they make the delicious beverage we enjoy, but because they are always such nice, humble guys.  Cheers Vern, thanks for showing us around.

We also ran into the honorable Rick Green, who is always a pleasure to chat with.  Rick is the king of BC beer and always has the inside scoop.  He introduced us to Crystal Henrickson of Yelp, who is their sole Vancouver employee.  She is trying to build a Yelp Community in Vancouver and I hope she succeeds.  Yelp is a great site when it is well populated with reviews.  I’ve found it really helpful when visiting US cities, but Vancouver is still catching up on volume.  Crystal convinced me to go beyond consuming other people’s reviews and make some of my own.  I’ve now signed up and rated a few of my favorite places.

The launch of Brockton IPA was surely an experience, one which I enjoyed.  If any other breweries, or even restaurants, would like to wine and dine us press at future launch parties, we’d be more than happy to oblige.

The crowded Taproom

The crowded Taproom

Erik with a Brockton IPA

Erik with a Brockton IPA

Me with a Brockton IPA

Me with a Brockton IPA

Vern in his brewery with his latest creation

Vern in his brewery with his latest creation

Cheers,

Chris