Monthly Archives: October 2009

Pumpkin Ale Season in BC

It is almost Halloween, which most significantly means that it’s pumpkin ale season again.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with pumpkin ales they are generally similar to amber ales, but are brewed with pumpkin added in some form.  Many pumpkin ales also include the spices one would commonly find in pumpkin pie such as ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice.  In fact, I’d say most people find that pumpkin ales taste like pumpkin pie.  It’s a taste that some don’t enjoy, but I for one am a bigger fan of pumpkin pie in a glass than on a plate.

Our BC brewers aren’t letting us down this year and are offering some tasty pumpkin ales.  I’ve managed to collect the following four:

BC Pumpkin Ales

It seems that pumpkin ales are getting rather popular in BC because most of the above proved rather hard to find.  Staking out Brewery Creek proved most effective, but I had to use the BC Liquor Store product finder to track down the Granville Island offering.  I haven’t had any of the pumpkin ales I’ve procured just yet because I plan to compare them all side by side come Halloween, but I’ll be sure to post my findings.

There are a few other pumpkin ales out and about.  Howe Sound released a small amount of their Pumpkineater Imperial Ale in bottles, but it sold out fast.  However, I did notice it on tap at the Alibi Room earlier in the week.  Steamworks also has their version of pumpkin ale on tap at their brewpub.  Even if you don’t think you’ll like pumpkin ale, scare yourself this Halloween and give it a try.

Cheers,

Chris

Kona Brewing and other Hawaii beer stuff

I got back from Hawaii last weekend and the euphoria of vacation has just worn off.  Regular life is not nearly as good as vacation life, but at least everyone on Facebook can now look at the pictures and see how much fun I had.  We did have a lot of fun and, while Hawaii isn’t a big beer destination, we did manage to drink (a lot) of good beer.

In Kona on the Big Island, the main draw was Kona Brewing.  They have a cool pub just off the main drag in Kona with a nice outdoor patio.  I recall sitting on that patio sipping a cool beer as one of the few times in Kona that I was not way too hot.  Kona is really hot all the time, but thankfully Kona Brewing brews some wonderfully refreshing beers.  My two favorites were their seasonal release Coconut Brown Ale (available only at the pub) and their limited release Pipeline Porter brewed with 100% Kona coffee (available in stores).  Both were very flavorful and distinctly Hawaiian in their use of ingredients.  Kona Brewing brews many other beers, all of which were good, and were the steady choice at restaurants and grocery stores.

Entrance to Kona Brewing, makers of liquid Aloha

Entrance to Kona Brewing, makers of liquid Aloha

Dad and I getting ready to taste at Kona Brewing

Dad and I getting ready to taste at Kona Brewing

Rachel and I with some tasters

Rachel and I with some tasters

When in the States, I still get a kick out of the fact that you can buy beer pretty much everywhere.  As a Canadian, it was very strange to find beer in Safeway and Costco.  I also found the price of beer (almost half) and how frequently I was asked for ID strange.  Even my Dad was asked for ID, which likely made his holiday.  Speaking of Costco, in the Kona location we came across Kirkland beer!  I had no idea Costco had their own beer brand, but it turns out that this beer is made by the steady national brand Gordon Biersch.  Canadians, note the price for a 24 pack and be jealous.

Kirkland beer at Costco!

Kirkland beer at Costco!

Kirkland Beer, so cheap...I think I've paid that for six packs here.

Kirkland Beer, so cheap...I think I've paid that for six packs here.

We managed to pick up a few other good beers including:

  • Sam Adams Oktoberfest
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Anchor Summer Beer
  • Maui Brewing Coconut Porter
  • Maui Brewing Bikini Blonde
  • Mehana Brewing Volcono Red Ale
Maui Bikini Blonde, Kona Pipeline Porter, Sam Adams Oktoberfest, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Maui Bikini Blonde, Kona Pipeline Porter, Sam Adams Oktoberfest, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Maui Coconut Porter, Anchor Summer, Mehana Volcano Red

Maui Coconut Porter, Anchor Summer, Mehana Volcano Red

The first three in the list are fairly ubiquitous south of the border, but rare up here.  The latter three were solid island choices, with Maui Brewing my favorite Hawaiian brewery besides Kona Brewing.  If you are going to Hawaii, don’t go for the beer (not that anyone would be), but do make sure you try some Kona Brewing and Maui Brewing products.

In other news, it was the Ironman world championships in Kona while we were there.  I’ve never seen so many narcissistic skeletors with shaved legs exercising for ten hours plus in forty degree Celsius heat.  If anyone is wondering, compression socks (think knee socks) and speedos don’t go well together.  I wanted to tackle them and force feed them a beer, would have changed their lives.  To each their own I suppose, but I think my way of enjoying Hawaii was better.

Cheers,

Chris

Cassoulet, Beer, and Thanksgiving

The first Canadian Thanksgiving, yes I know I am well over a week behind, was held by an English sailor named Martin Frobisher in 1576 on one of Canada’s many northerly islands. This is a number of years, 42 to be exact, before America was colonized by the pilgrims, signifying what many consider to be the first Thanksgiving. This means that Canadian Thanksgiving is unique from American Thanksgiving in more than timing; Canadian’s are celebrating a whole different event than Americans.

This past Thanksgiving was the first in many years where I didn’t cook a large holiday meal for family and friends; we left that to other people. Instead of giving thanks with friends and family, my wife and I decided to relax, stay in, and enjoy a Canadian Thanksgiving meal ourselves.

I have already established that Canadian Thanksgiving is significantly different from neighboring America’s Thanksgiving right down to the very first event. Knowing this, I thought a traditional roast turkey seemed inappropriate. Instead I opted to celebrate with a rustic French inspired dish – cassoulet with venison, duck and turkey confit. Although Martin Frobisher was English, many of the earliest Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations would have been held by French Canadians. A hearty French feast seemed the only real option we had.

Cassoulet

There are a number of great cassoulet recipes; my favourite comes from Jennifer McLagan’s most recent publication titled “fat”. To me, the subtle use of cloves is essential in a good cassoulet, especially when paired with a traditional Farmhouse biere.

While in Quebec this summer, I picked up a number of French beers that are sitting in my cellar, including a bottle of Biere Nouvelle from Brasserie De Saint-Sylvestre. This particular beer paired perfectly with my thanksgiving cassoulet. The subtle flavour of cloves infused in the cassoulet helped to draw out the pleasant spiciness in the beer. The straightforward malt flavour worked great with gamier meats and the heavy carbonation helped to cut through the richness (aka. fattiness) that all cassoulets must have. Farmhouse French beer and cassoulet – give it a try.

Cheers,

Erik

Granville Island Brewing sold to Creemore Springs

I just got this press release from Granville Island Brewing, looks they got themselves bought:

GRANVILLE ISLAND BREWING AND CREEMORE SPRINGS BREWERY ANNOUNCE INTENTION TO JOIN FORCES

VANCOUVER: October 19, 2009 – Granville Island Brewing and Ontario-based Creemore Springs Brewery will be joining forces, to continue bringing Canadians superior craft and specialty beers.

Creemore announced today its intention to acquire Granville Island Brewing from Andrew Peller Limited. These two leading Canadian craft brewers, each with specialty product portfolios that complement existing offerings across Canada, will be able to offer their wide range of brands to more markets in Canada, while continuing to maintain their distinct positions in BC and Ontario.

Celebrating its 25 year anniversary, Granville Island Brewing has built a strong reputation as a brewer with super-premium and select small batch beers. Granville Island Brewing is a natural addition to Creemore, which has demonstrated leadership in its home market of Ontario as a leader in craft brewing for since August 1987.

“The Granville Island Brewing brand portfolio compliments Creemore’s portfolio and will strongly position us for growth in the craft and specialty segment, providing beer drinkers an enviable selection of the finest craft beers,” said Jason Moore, President and CEO, Creemore Springs Brewery. “Granville Island Brewing brands, when added to our Creemore Springs brand portfolio, will bring a wider range of selection in taste and profile for discerning beer drinkers. Creemore’s intention is for Granville Island Brewing to continue operating as a distinct organization benefiting from its own people, knowledge, recipes and marketing methods, in much the same way that Creemore operates in Ontario,” added Moore.

The Granville Island Brewing brand image and brewing operations will remain unchanged. The acquisition presents Creemore with a strong potential to enhance product sales, and expand to new markets. Creemore will work with the organization to evaluate expansion opportunities to other parts of Canada, as well as increasing Granville Island Brewing’s awareness through increased investment in marketing, which will remain truthful to the brand identity.

“Creemore understands and appreciates what is special about the Granville Island Brewing brands, much like their Creemore brands in Ontario,” Moore added. “These brands are true authentic craft beers, and with 25 years in the market delighting consumers with a West Coast affinity and award winning quality, Granville Island Brewing is a clearly tremendous asset and we welcome it to the Creemore family.”

“We’re pleased to be joining forces with another of the great craft brewers in Canada,” said Walter Cosman, Director of Marketing and Sales for Granville Island Brewing.  “Creemore is committed to keeping the unique formula that has made Granville Island Brewing what it is today – finest quality ingredients, unpasteurized product, dedicated people and brewed locally in British Columbia, while leveraging their abilities to enable more and more people to enjoy our west coast inspired craft brews”.

About Granville Island Brewing (GIB)

Established is 1984, Granville Island Brewing (GIB) is Canada’s first microbrewery offering a variety of award-winning beers which are brewed and sold here in BC. GIB is dedicated to handcrafting only the finest premium beers that are 100 per cent all-natural and brewed in small batches to provide consumers with the ultimate tasting experience. In celebration of their West Coast heritage GIB names each beer after iconic Vancouver locations that embody the local lifestyle. From the original Island Lager and English Bay Pale Ale, to Cypress Honey Lager, and now their latest innovation; Brockton IPA, GIB continues to produce a diverse portfolio of beers inspired by life on the West Coast. For more information, visit www.gib.ca.

About Creemore Springs Brewery

Creemore was established in 1987. Its direct fire brewing process uses only pure spring water, from the Creemore Springs, the finest malt barley, imported hops and select yeast to make its unique amber lager. Each batch is crafted by a team dedicated to producing the perfect beer. Creemore employs approximately 75 people in Ontario and its craft brews enjoy a great reputation among beer connoisseurs. Creemore is part of Molson Coors Canada.  www.creemoresprings.com

My initial thought is that this is not necessarily a good thing, but I’ll post more about this later on once I’ve given it some more time to consider.

Cheers,

Chris

The Great Pig Roast

The summer has recently drawn to a close and we are now welcoming the season of autumn.  While pondering for quite some time over the best way to toast the summer goodnight and welcome in the chilly fall season, yes I actually ponder, I received a timely call from a good friend.  After talking for a while it soon became apparent that the purpose of this call had a much higher level of significance than mere idle chit-chat – he was planning a pig roast.   I can think of not better way of bidding summer farewell than feasting on a pig, slowly roasted over an open flame.

The more I thought about it, the more appropriate an early-fall pig roast became.  A roasted pig, even a young suckling pig, is far more food than a crowd of less than 50 hungry eaters can consume, and I don’t know of anyone who has a house sized appropriate to house such a gathering.  The late September air is just warm enough for a sizable crowd of 60 people to gather around a large fire without any great level of discomfort due to cold.

The end of September also means apple season is in full swing, and with an apple tree in my backyard heavily burdened with fresh apples, we made a massive apple crumble.  Roasted pork, followed by a sweet apple crumble – a match made in heaven.  Cabbage is also in season and we all know perfectly well that pork and coleslaw are very good friends.  Yes, this event was made to be.

Of course any gathering of such a significant magnitude requires beer.  Trying to go follow the seasonal and local theme that this event was creating for itself, I decided to pick up to two 19L kegs from Langley’s own Dead Frog Brewery. When I went to pick up the two kegs on a Friday afternoon, I found what I presumed to be Dead Frog’s management team sitting in the board room, drinking quality beer.  As was expected, the beer was fantastic, although a bit foamy, and was enjoyed by many

So we bid summer farewell and welcomed in the fall with delicious feast of roasted pork – a definite contender for top five moments of 2009.

Cheers,

Erik