Monthly Archives: June 2009

Beer Off Flavours

As Chris posted earlier today, we visited Whistler over the weekend and held our very own beer festival in lieu of the canceled Whistler Beer Festival.  Most of the beers we consumed over the weekend were delicious; however, we did come across a few mediocre beers and even one that was terrible.

On our way home we made a stop at Howe Sound Brewing where we ordered the sampler, after one of the three samplers we ordered arrived at our table we quickly changed our order to only one sampler –  we decided sharing would be a good idea.  We found some of Howe Sound’s offering to be stellar, Father Johns Winter Ale and the Blond Ale were my two personal favorites, but the large majority was average at best.  One beer stood out as particularly bad – the Pilsner had an unpleasant pungent aroma reminiscent of Sulfur.  It turns out sulfur is a common off-flavour in lager and is often the sign of stressed yeast or green (young) beer.

When visiting small breweries and brewpubs it can be expected that a few beers along the way will have an unpleasant off-flavour or aroma.  Craft brewers do a great job and create fantastic beer, but because most brewers do not pasteurize their beer and are forced to operate on a tight budget, some of their product is not always on point.  I thought it would be worthwhile pointing out some common off flavours found it beer.

Cabbage/Cooked Vegetables – DMS: This flavour is generally unwanted and is often a sign of a brewer/brewery error.  If wort is not chilled quickly after the boil or a lid is placed over the brew kettle during the boil, DMS off-flavours can develop.

Wet Cardboard – Oxidation: Oxidized beer is unpleasant and tastes like wet cardboard – this is not a good flavour.  Excessive exposure to oxygen during the brewing process can cause oxidation and will only get worse with age.

Buttery – Diacetyl: A strong butter or butterscotch flavour is acceptable in small quantities in some English ales, but too much Diacetyl is overpowering.  Diacetyl is also found in some oaked Chardonnay commonly called “butter bomb” for their intense buttery flavour.

Apple – Acetaldehyde: A green apple flavour can be found in some lagers, a traditional Budweiser will have a green apple note.  In large quantities Acetaldehyde becomes unpleasant and is a good indicator of green beer.  Good beer cannot be rushed.

Skunky – Light Struck: Beer and light do not mix.  When beer is exposed to certain light sources, the sun for example, a powerful skunky aroma will develop and can quickly ruin a beer.  Skunky beer usually means one of two things, poor product packaging (clear or green bottles are just not good) or it is a hot summer day and relaxing with a beer on a patio is the only way to cool off.

Sulfur – Sulfur is not a good aroma or taste and can make for an unpleasant beer drinking experience.  Sulfur off-flavours are present in young lagers.

These are just a few of the common off-flavours found in beer.  Finding these off-flavours does not necessarily mean you are drinking bad beer – it means  you are drinking a healthy quantity of beer.

Cheers,

Erik

Our own Whistler Beer Festival

We heard about the Whistler Beer Festival about a month ago and decided to go, only to find out it would be canceled, but not before we’d booked ourselves in Whistler for the weekend.  Long story short, we went to Whistler last weekend to not go to the Whistler Beer Festival.  There are definitely worse things in life to contend with than a weekend in Whistler, so we made the best of it and had our own beer festival.

We ended up staying at an awesome complex called Glacier’s Reach, which we booked through the rental-by-owner site alluraDirect.com for a very affordable price.  We had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a hot tub on our deck(!), and we were right across from the village.  I’d definitely stay there again.  Erik and I brought up a bunch of good beer, mostly purchased from Brewery Creek, the best of which (besides Erik’s homebrew) being Coney Island Lager and Coney Island Human Blockhead, two very flavorful lagers.  We stayed in the first night to make our own pizza and enjoy our tasty beers.  The next day, our attempt at being active consisted of a walk through the village and around lost lake.  Then the rains came, signaling it was time to head to the Brewhouse.

The Whistler Brewhouse was very apologetic and immediately refunded our beer festival tickets, a wise move by them because we swiftly gave our money right back.  While the wives went shopping (blah), Erik and I sat at the bar, where we were treated to a few complimentary pints and a locals discount on the rest of our bill.  The Brewhouse had two seasonal’s, a smoked porter and a Belgian wit.  I found the wit a bit dull and the smoked porter a bit too smokey, but their Wolf Creek Bitter and Grizlly Brown Ale were as delicious as ever.  The wives later joined us for dinner after, thankfully not having bought too much stuff.  In the end, I think I was there for almost five hours.  I had a great time because the bar their is as close to heaven on earth as it gets for me.  Beer, chicken wings, sports on HDTV…done.

Man Heaven -  the bar at Whistler Brewhouse

Man Heaven - the bar at Whistler Brewhouse

Holly and her sampler

Holly and her sampler

We may have continued drinking beer that night.  We may have drank too much.  We may have wandered the village and purchased hotdogs unnecesarily, who can tell these things?  Whatever we got up to, it was all in the past by the next morning because we had more work to do.  We drove down to Squamish and to the Howe Sound Brewing Company for lunch.  Erik and I both ordered the sampler there, but decided not to double down when we saw the size of the first one.  Ten generous samples!  A bit much considering I still had to navigate the remainder of the Sea to Die Highway.  Sadly, we found the beer a bit underwhelming.  My personal favorite was the Father Johns winter ale, which reminded me of gingerbread.  We also enjoyed the Blonde Ale, the Mettleman Copper Ale, and the Diamond Head Oatmeal Stout.  Also, I had the half roast chicken for lunch and it was delicious.

Erik and the epic Howe Sound Sampler

Erik and the epic Howe Sound Sampler

This was indeed a very good weekend.  It would have been better if we’d had some more activities to do, but the rain held us at bay.  Next Winter, head to the Whistler Brewpub for a warming apres ski pint.  On the way home, skip the Tim Horton’s when you get hungry and head to the pub at Howe Sound for a tasty lunch.  You won’t regret either decision.

Cheers,

Chris

Lunch at the updated Yaletown Brewing

Yaletown Brewing recently did some renovations.  I do believe they were closed for a while even, but I don’t really know when or for how long.  What I do know is that I went for lunch there this week and they had a new menu.  I’ve only been there once before, so I’m not sure how different the new menu is, but I was sure that I wanted to try all of their beers, new or not, which is why I ordered the beer sampler.  Boy was I surprised when it came out!  My sampler of seven beers consisted of seven six ounce samples, a bit much for a weekday.  Obviously I couldn’t waste beer, meaning I drank it all, and had a pretty wonderful afternoon.  For lunch, I ordered their Valencia bowl, which reminded me of a paella/jambalaya combination.  It was both tasty and delicious.

The sampler at Yaletown Brewing

The sampler at Yaletown Brewing

You might be wondering what my point is?  Go check out the refreshed Yaletown Brewing and order the sampler.

Cheers,

Chris

Vij’s Restaurant and Vij’s Rangoli

As a present for her birthday, I bought my wife tickets to see Les Miserables, on Father’s Day, oops.  We managed to see our Father’s on different days and still take in Jean Valjean in all his glory.  We wanted to go out for a bite to eat after the show, and when looking for places nearby the Stanley Theatre, famed Vij’s seemed the logical choice. Our plans hit a snag when we found out that Vij’s doesn’t open until 5:30.  Our show was a matinee and ended at 4:45, so instead of waiting out front, we popped into the more casual Vij’s Rangoli next door.  Now I’d heard that people line up to get into Vij’s, but I had no idea how popular this place really seems to be.  Do people line up?  Do they ever!  By 5PM they were nearly fifty people lined up down the street, and not all of them made it in.  Some stayed to wait another hour or two for the first service to end, others joined us in Vij’s Rangoli.  I was impressed by the fanfare, but also feeling foolish at not seizing my chance to get in.  The food must be freaking good!

People Waiting in line at Vijs

People Waiting in line at Vij's

I wasn’t feeling too badly though, because Vij’s Rangoli was also quite good.  It is more of a deli style place, complete with market, than a restaurant.  The food was delicious, I had a lamb curry dish and Rachel had shredded pork, but I was particularly impressed with the beer menu.  Instead of the usual lineup of Canadian and American macro lagers, Vij’s Rangoli had Propeller ESB, Anchor Porter, Pilsner Urquell, and Rickards White.  These four beers are not similar and offer a variety of tastes, better suited to pairing with different dishes.  In this town, where beer is often overlooked, I was pleased to see they put some thought into the menu!  Checking online, I also note that Vij’s main restaurant has Storm Pilsner, IPA, and Scotch Ale on the menu, pretty solid.  What could be better than a well prepared curry dish paired with a well prepared IPA?  Not much, which is why I’ll be waiting in line next time.

Cheers,

Chris

Nice little weekend

Dave, Tristen, and I enjoying too many free cocktails at The Vancouver Club

Dave, Tristen, and I enjoying too many free cocktails at The Vancouver Club

This past weekend was a good one for my friends. On Friday, my friend Dave had a party to celebrate earning his Masters degree.  Master Simington lives in Chilliwack near Old Yale Brewing and treated his guests to a 19L keg of Old Yale Pale Ale.  Old Yale is not a very well known brewery in these parts, but is definitely one of my favorites.  It was cool to catch up with old friends and celebrate with a keg of tasty, affordable, local craft beer.

On Saturday, I attended Adam and Lesley’s wedding at the Vancouver Club.  I’d previously posted about the Vancouver Club, wondering what their beer selection might be like.  I guess Adam and Lesley read the post because they both asked me if I approved of the beer.  I didn’t really, but the wedding was awesome!  The venue, the food, and the company were all wonderful.  The Vancouver Club is a great place for a wedding, shoddy beer menu aside.  All the best to Adam and Lesley, thank you for inviting us to enjoy your special day!  We had planned to stop off at The Railway Club before the reception, but didn’t quite make it.  There was a cocktail hour before the reception featuring drinks and tasty food, and who am I to pass up graciously provided sustenance?  And if you were wondering, the beers available were Molson Canadian, Stella Artois, Heineken, and Becks, four generic lagers.

Also at the wedding on Saturday, I received the most surprising text message of my life to date.  As we were sitting down for dinner, Peter, of guest post fame, announced the birth of his first child, wooooo!  Baby Aaliyah Chandler arrived 18 days early, but healthy and with minimal fuss.  We visited the newly formed Chandler family this morning and can attest to the cuteness of said family, thanks in large part to the most recent addition.  To tie this event into beer, I’ve heard that stout is supposed to help in breast milk production.  This may or may not be true, but I’ve also heard that drinking stout is good times, so who really cares?  The Chandlers can expect some stout from me in the near future.

Congrats to my friends on their major life achievements!  If you are up for further celebration, I’m up for a few beers.

Cheers,

Chris