Monthly Archives: May 2012

Russell Brewing is so rad and so not

Rick August Russian Imperial Stout

Looks tasty, goes well with lemon ale

This blog has a history with Russell Brewing.  We had a bad experience, which they corrected admirably.  I really liked the people I met there and I really want them to succeed.  I also really like their Brewmaster Series, which includes their Black Death Porter, IP’eh!, Blood Alley Bitter, and Angry Scotch Ale.  They were involved with the tasty VCBW collaboration ale and they do other solid seasonals as well.

Recently they did something incredibly rad.  They held a home-brewing competition last year and then this year they commercially released and distributed the winning beer.  That’s right, Rick August Russian Imperial Stout is available in and around the lower mainland.  It’s an 11% beer and I’ve heard it’s packed with flavour.  Quote from the Russell press release: “The recipe uses more than 10 types of malts, two types of hops, a special yeast strain, juniper berries and licorice root”.  Sounds interesting, no?  I haven’t tried one yet, but I’ve heard good things.  I’m going to pick up two tomorrow, drink one and cellar the other.  I mean really, what they did here is incredible: they made the home-brewing dream come true for a guy.

Russell has this really awesome side to it, but then this crazy awesome beer/story isn’t mentioned on their website besides in a stuffy press release.  They continue to pump out extremely mediocre beer from their regular lineup, both in cans and on draught.  I despise their lemon ale and lime lager with the very fabric of my being.  And what’s up with Rocky Mountain pilsner?  I just don’t get how they can be so polar.  I’ve heard a couple rumours lately, one that they have two brewmasters (one who does the good stuff and one who doesn’t) and that they are nearing the brink financially.  Whatever happens, I hope they keep pumping out the good stuff.



Central City Summer Cask Festival

Central City Summer Cask Festival

Yeah, I stole your picture right off your site

In the beginning there were Dix Caskivals, a summer and a winter one.  They were the best beer festivals I’d ever been to in Canada.  Then Dix closed down, which was very sad.  Luckily, Central City started their own cask festivals to fill the void.  They started last summer, had a winter one, and now they are having another summer one (I expect, nay demand, this trend continue).  By all accounts, the previous two Central City cask festivals were very well done.  Sadly, I could not attend because I was living on another continent.

Central City just announced their third cask festival (second summer one) and you’d better believe I’m going to be there.  It’s this June 30th from 11AM (so early) to 6PM at Central City in Surrey (right beside the skytrain for those Vancouverites who fear the savagery of the Fraser Valley).  Your $30 admission gets you in, gets you a sweet tasting glass, and gets you three tastes.  Additional tastes cost $1, impeccably reasonable compared to the larcenous $2.50 they were charging at VCBW.  There should be 30+ casks full of interesting, mainly one off, beers created be our local brewers.  That’s what makes these cask festivals so great, the beer is almost exclusively very interesting and of very high quality.  I can’t wait for this; I’m going to drink one of each. Maybe I’ll even remember to take pictures this time.

Tickets sell out fast, so best be quick about calling Central City.



Untappd: Drink Socially – a pretty good beer app

There are not very many beer apps or websites, besides the odd blog, that I visit regularly.  I used to use the Good Beer Guide in England, but now I don’t live in England anymore.  BeerAdvocate is the only constant, mostly for their comprehensive directory, which I consult when travelling.  Even that is a pain in the ass to use, why no maps?  I’ve finally found a non terrible beer app that I feel like I could habitually use (if there are other good apps, please let me know).

Untappd is a sort of beer social network you can use via the web or iPhone app (I think they have an Android app too, but who cares?).  Essentially it lets you easily record what you’re drinking wherever you are.  This is handy for me because I find myself frequently saying “hey man I had the best beer the other day and I remember nothing about it”.  You can also follow breweries, track friends, create wishlists, rate beers, and a bunch more. I will use this to track my own beer drinking and maybe contribute the odd non-extensive beer review (how many BeerAdvocate reviews can you read before desiring suicide?).

Untappd iPhone screenshot

Things I like about Untappd:

  • I can track my beer drinking on my iPhone
  • It actually finds beer I search for
  • Breweries can choose to control their fan pages
  • A person I know has actually used it before
  • Feels way less pretentious than BeerAdvocate

Things I don’t like about Untappd:

  • A bit awkward usability wise
  • I don’t need anymore virtual social networks
  • Can’t find a way to invite people

Seriously, in the age of apps demanding you invite every Facebook friend and person you’ve ever emailed before you’ve tried them, how can there not even be one invite mechanism in Untappd?  Oh well, I guess they don’t want more users.

Anyway, if you want to be my Untappd beer drinking buddy, my id is carichardson.  I just got started, but I’m going to give it a serious go around.  I feel like Untappd has a lot of potential and I recommend it to any interested beer drinker.



Churchkey Can Company: A Beer Tech Startup?

If you haven’t heard of a church key, it’s one of those old timey beer can openers prevalent before the common place pull tab took over.  The only reason you’d ever have seen one is if you’re old (sorry old timers) or if you pay very close attention to the beer they drink in Mad Men. Now Churchkey Can Co is bringing back the church key opener and can.  Why?  Probably because, as hipsters know well, old stuff is cool.

I came across this new venture not through one of my preferred beer news sources, but from tech sources.  Indeed, Michael Arrington (of Techcrunch fame) is an investor via Crunchfund.  Apparently other tech executives are investing too.  The investors must see a potential gold mine in this to get involved in non-tech investing.

The beer itself is a pilsner and the recipe comes from home-brewers Lucas Jones and Sean Burke.  The reviews on BeerAdvocate and RateBeer are in the range of mediocre to decent.  As a beer geek, it’s hard to get too excited about anything but the best pilsners.  If it’s not about the beer, then what’s this company all about?  Oh right, marketing and making lots of money.  I think they are going to be very successful for the following reasons:

  • Adrian Grenier is a cofounder, yeah the Entourage guy
  • Epic marketing appeal, especially to hipsters
  • The beer is a decent pilsner, a style suitable for the mass market
  • Every six pack comes with a weapon…I mean church key opener
  • Big investment from big people means big budgets
  • They even have an environmental argument to support their old timey steel cans, apparently steel is recycled more than aluminum

The beer and opener are already on sale in the states of Washington and Oregon, apparently selling well.  Excellent launch plan, marketing to a beer obsessed hipstery corner of America.  Now I need to try some.