Monthly Archives: October 2012

Craft Beer Market Opening in Vancouver

If you’re from Calgary, chances are you wouldn’t shut up about 1989 if I started poking fun at your terrible, terrible Flames.  You might also be aware of a restaurant/pub called Craft Beer Market, a ginormous beer bar in Cowtown.  This very same establishment is opening up a new venue in Vancouver.  It’s going to be in the historic Salt Building (it’s required by law to put “historic” in front of “Salt Building”) in Vancouver’s up and coming Village on False Creek, ex athlete’s village during the Olympics.

Craft Beer Market Vancouver is opening next summer, but for some reason they decided to have an open house this rainy October.  For some other reason, they thought inviting Ashleigh Mcivor would help them sell more beer next summer.  While I doubt this manoever will pay dividends in the long run, I enjoyed seeing her because she is pretty and was letting people touch her gold medal.

Historic Salt Building

HISTORIC Salt Building, view from Tap and Barrel

When I tell normal people about the new Craft Beer Market, they think it’s cool.  When I talk to beer nerds (not tell, beer nerds know all), they universally doubt this new place in town is going to be any good.  I’m with the nerds on this one. CBM is hyping their proposed 140 taps and miles of draft lines as a good thing, but I’d take quality over quantity any day.  It already takes me twenty minutes to order a beer at the Alibi Room, why would I want to triple my choices?  More importantly, a lot of that beer is going to be sitting around for a long time going bad.  If my past experience at Taphouse (160 draught beers) in Seattle is any indication, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting a nice stale or oxidized beer.

Tap and Barrel

Tap and Barrel is behind those trees, view from HISTORIC Salt Building

Another reason I’m not bullish on CBM is that the new Tap and Barrel is right there. Like, right there.  Can this new village support two giant pubs, or even become a real village? Maybe these two will be packed during the summer when it’s nice out, but Vancouver doesn’t exactly have a thriving pub scene in less than optimal conditions.  Then there’s the fact Tap and Barrel has a bigger patio with a better view.  I just don’t see what works in Calgary working in an increasingly hipsterized Vancouver, not with such stern competition already in place.

That being said, I’ll be praying for Alibi Room 2.0.  It is a cool old building and they’ll have to have some good beer pouring out of those 140 taps.

Crowded Open House

Crowded Open House, power of free beer

So what was the open house like?  You got four drink tickets for showing up and leaving your name (you probably could have done this repeatedly).  The place was packed because, you know, of the free beer.  There was some food (bread and charcuterie) if you were willing to wait in a giant line for it.  Local businesses Terra Breads and Legacy Liquor Store had booths, as did Oceanwise, Mission Hill, and Blasted Church.  I did not get my face painted, despite feeling like a bad ass lion face could have done me some good.  Breweries on hand:

  • Central City
  • Howe Sound
  • Turning Point (Stanley Park brand)
  • Dead Frog
  • Granville Island
  • Parallel 49
  • Tree
  • Russell
  • Whistler

None of them had incredible beer available, except for Central City, champs that they are, who brought a cask of ESB, which of course they ran out of before I got there.  So yeah, if I don’t forget this place is supposed to exist, I’ll totally check it out next summer.  Then we’ll see what happens, possibly a brawl with Tap and Barrel?

Friends at Craft Beer Market Vancouver

Ran into some friends, Craig ruined this picture with his face



It’s Pumpkin Beer Season in BC

Despite now being the time to harvest pumpkins for fresh incorporation into a warming autumn seasonal, pumpkin beers have been on the market for quite a few weeks now.  Three years ago I set out to acquire and taste every pumpkin beer brewed in BC; there were only four.  I set out to do the same this year, but found a freaking whole lot of pumpkin beers being brewed in or available in BC this year.  I did my best to acquire them all, fully intending to review and rank them all for you, my dearest readers.  Sadly, I failed spectacularly.

We, the wife, some friends, and I, set out to taste these pumpkin beers in succession.  We even prepared a pumpkin themed dinner to accompany our tasting.  And while the pumpkin mash, pumpkin soup, salad with pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin creme brule were all a treat, we quickly tired of pumpkin beer.  You see, we can’t waste any but the worst beer and these pumpkin beers were mostly in 650ml bombers.  After four rounds of pumpkin…what, fresh hops you say?  Turns out, pumpkin beers can be very good, but they aren’t exactly session-able for the majority of people. Yeah, so here’s a list of all the pumpkin beers I found.  More importantly, make sure you eat roasted kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) as soon as possible.  It’s ridiculously good.

Kabocha Squash

These are kabochas

BC Pumpkin Beers:

Other Pumpkin Beers available in BC:

You should be able to find a lot of these at BC Liquor stores and many of the better beer stores.  You’re liable to find other pumpkin beer one offs at brewpubs, tap rooms, and cask events around town, so keep an eye out.  Did I miss anything? Also, for the record, I remember being particularly partial to Elysian Pumpkin Stout, Howe Sound, Red Racer, and Lost Souls.



Beer Builds Better Communities

The cool thing about craft beer, aside from it tasting fantastic, is how it helps to build and strengthen local communities.  If summed up, the craft beer brand in its entirety is built around being local.  Craft brewers almost always start small.  From their infancy, craft brewers engage local businesses for supply and support, and employ locals to brew, sell and help run the business.  They sell their products locally and rather than invest in large national marketing campaigns, they opt to tell their story locally, one person at a time.

Unlike so many businesses that now outsource production to far away places, craft brewers do not.  Even with consistent growth year over year, brewing operations tend to stay within, or near to, the community of origin. As a result, the community becomes a big part of their brand.  Because of this, consumers develop a strong connection to their local craft brewer.  There is a certain sense of pride we all take in our local home town product – beer is one of the few remaining local products.  As a brewery grows, so does it’s surrounding community.  This means more jobs, more good beer, and a general increase in local goodness.

Entire cities, such as Portland, and Victoria to some extent, have become strong independent communities thanks in part to a thriving local craft beer scene.  In recent years pockets of Vancouver have developed into microcosms of beer excellence.  With Vancouver’s rapid increase in craft beer production, these microcosms will grow and strengthen our local communities.

Hoyne Brewing Co, one of BC’s newer craft brewers, is a great example of how craft beer builds better communities.   The Hoyne Brewing team is small group of dedicated local talent, engaging other local businesses while helping to make their community a better place one beer at a time.  They do most of their design work in-house and their PR is genuine and appreciated. Here is a pretty cool video that they just put together.

VOLTAGE – The making of a beer. from CASTE on Vimeo.

And another video highlighting the collaboration between local farmers and craft beer – I want a van full of hops too!





List of BC Beer Awards Judges

So the BC Beer awards last weekend have garnered much online attention.  I previously posted a few comments and the list of winners.  One thing I often wonder about beer awards is, who entered?  Something I wonder about less is, who judged?  Well, I happen to have a direct line of communication to the guys at Brewery Creek who put on these awards, so I asked them for both lists.  BTW, the direct line of communication I have with the guys at Brewery Creek is the cashier line.

I failed to get the list of entrants because Brewery Creek “[has] no interest in hi-lighting the losers”.  I totally get this and don’t begrudge them at all.  Similarly, nobody needs to know that I finished last in the grade seven district cross country race I foolishly entered or that I never finish last at sex.

Brewery Creek was much more accommodating when it came to the judges and I admire their transparency.  Turns out they put together a pretty respectable list of qualified beer tasters.  Below is the list as Brewery Creek sent it to me, though I added a few links when I knew who someone was.  Most of these people are super qualified and/or home-brewers actively involved with VanBrewers.

  • Nigel Springthrope : Beer Expert  – experienced judge – Never heard of him, owns Alibi Room?
  • Randy Shore: Media – Vancouver Sun’s The Green Man
  • Chad McCarthy: BJCP ranked beer judge – Cicerone, on Twitter
  • Tim Ellison: Sommelier  – experienced judge – PICA Instructor
  • Adam Henderson :BJCP ranked beer judge – Beer Importer and Cicerone
  • Dave Shea: BJCP in training – CSS Legend and Mobifier
  • Aaron Peterson : BJCP ranked beer judge
  • Bob Boufford: BJCP ranked beer judge
  • Danny Seeton: BJCP ranked beer judge
  • Ian Crook: BJCP ranked beer judge
  • Katy Wright: BJCP ranked beer judge
  • Liam Wake: BJCP ranked beer judge
  • David O’Halloran: BJCP ranked beer judge
  • Ben Coli: BJCP in training – experienced judge  – Sloppy Gourmand
  • Nicole Coetzee: BJCP in training  – experienced judge – Ginger Beer Blog
  • Scott Butchart: BJCP in training  – experienced judge
  • Rob Ardies: BJCP in training  – experienced judge

So yeah, they probably aren’t going to ask me to be a taster next year. For a few first hand accounts of the tasting process, check out this and this.



BC Beer Award Winners 2012

The BC Beer Awards were given out this past Saturday at Chapel Arts in Vancouver.  The event was coupled with the CAMRA Harvest Cask Fest, a signature event of the ongoing BC Craft Beer Month.  Let me tell you, serving beer for a few hours before giving out awards is really a great way to rouse up a crowd.

The standout beer on offer was the cask of Belgian Quince IPA from Lighthouse, which was phenomenal.  They should add this beer to their regular rotation and make it available via IV for me personally.  I was also very fond of the Chocolate Pumpkin Porter from Parallel 49 and of the four fresh hop beers on hand.  I won’t speak of the beers I didn’t care for, like the R&B Cucumber Mint IPA.  I won’t talk about how that beer raped my mouth from the inside.

bc harvest cask festival

Harvest Cask Festival mayhem

The coolest aspect of the event was that most of the brewers who won awards were actually there and a few were standing right beside me when they won.  I considered kidnapping Driftwood’s Jason Meyer and forcing him to brew for me personally (at gun point), but I didn’t think that would be fair to the rest of you.

I’ve been critical of the beer awards in the past.  The trouble is, you’ve got judges blind tasting beers and marking them versus a style  guideline.  This means that beers you might not expect to win end up beating your favourite beers.  I considered rioting when Fat Tug didn’t win any of the three IPA awards, but was placated with cask beer.  Anyway, much respect to the guys at Brewery Creek who put on this awards shindig.  I know they worked really hard and recruited some top notch tasters.  I really like that they list how many entries there were in each category.  I guess Fat Tug finishing 4th of 36 is okay.

bc beer awards

An actual BC Beer Award is a black dildo

Suggestions for next year, force every BC beer to enter!  I hear Brewery Creek has access to a lot of beer, so they should just pull a bottle of every BC beer off the shelf.  For example, Tofino didn’t enter this year and I think they could have won an award or two.  Second and most important suggestion, let me be a taster.  Come on, I’m incredibly unprofessional, biased, and fun to be around.  Put me in coach, I can play.

Here are the winners:

Best of Show – Steamworks Pilsner -Conrad Gmoser of Steamworks Brewing Company

Lager/Pilsner – 22 Beers

1.) Steamworks Pilsner – Conrad Gmoser of Steamworks Brewing Company
2.) Beach Blonde Lager – Stefan Buhl of Tree Brewing Company
3.) Kelowna Pilsner – Stefan Buhl of Tree Brewing Company

Special Lager – 8 Beers

1.) Brewmaster’s Black – Stefan Tobler of Okanagan Spring Brewery
2.) Hermann’s Dark Lager – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery
3.) Iron Plow Harvest Marzen – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery

Session – 17 Beers

1.) High Country Kolsch -Bart Larson of Mt. Begbie Brewing Company
2.) Seadog Amber Ale – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery
3.) Begbie Cream Ale -Bart Larson of Mt. Begbie Brewing Company

Wheat/Rye – 22 Beers

1.) Belgian White – Paul Hoyne and Dean Mcleod of Lighthouse Brewing Company
2.) King Heffy Imperial Hefeweizen – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of Howe Sound Brewing Company
3.) White Bark Ale – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of Driftwood Brewing Company

Pale – 41 Beers

1.) Red Racer Classic Pale Ale – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company
2.) Salt Spring ESB – Murray Hunter of Gulf Island Brewing
3.) River Rock Bitter – Daniel Murphy of Canoe Brewpub

Cascadian Dark Ale – 4 Beers

1.) Skookum Cascadian Brown Ale – Matt Phillips of Phillips Brewing Company
2.) Gathering Storm Cascadian Dark Ale – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of Howe Sound Brewing Company
3.) Cascadia Dark Ale – Tommie Grant of Spinnakers Brewpub and GuestHouses

Porter/Brown – 24 Beers

1.) Pow Town – Cedric Dauchot of Townsite Brewing Inc
2.) Dark Chocolate Porter – Paul Hoyne and Dean Mcleod of Lighthouse Brewing Company
3.) Longboat Chocolate Porter – Matt Phillips of Phillips Brewing Company

Scottish/Irish – 3 Beers

1.) Big Caboose Red Ale – Gord Demaniuk of Fernie Brewing Company

Fruit – 15 Beers

1.) Blackberry Festivale – Cedric Dauchot of Townsite Brewing Inc
2.) 4 Way Fruit Ale – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of Howe Sound Brewing Company
3.) Seedspitter Watermelon Wit – Graham With of Parallel 49 Brewing Company

Stout – 14 Beers

1.) Keepers Stout – Paul Hoyne and Dean Mcleod of Lighthouse Brewing Company
2.) Pothole Filler Imperial Stout – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of
Howe Sound Brewing Company
3.) Singularity – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of Driftwood Brewing Company

IPA – 36 Beers

1.) 5 Rings IPA – Derrick Franche of High Mountian Brewing Company
2.) Central City Imperial IPA – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company
3.) Red Racer IPA – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company

Sour/Brett – 4 Beers

1.) Oud Bruin – Iain Hill of Yaletown Brewing Company
2.) Bird Of Prey Flanders Red – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of
Driftwood Brewing Company
3.) Imperial Flanders – James Walton of Storm Brewing Ltd

Specialty – 20 Beers

1.) Smoke & Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale – Kevin Emms of Coal Harbour Brewing
2.) Serendipity #5 – Stefan Buhl of Tree Brewing Company
3.) Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest – Graham With of Parallel 49 Brewing Company

Strong – 7 Beers

1.) Hermannator Ice Bock – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery
2.) Old Cellar Dweller 2012 – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of
Driftwood Brewing Company
3.) Bourbon Barrel Aged Thor’s Hammer – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company