Monthly Archives: November 2012

Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine in bottles

thor's hammer barley wineThor’s Hammer by Central City brewmaster Gary Lohin was the first barley wine I ever tasted.  It was five years ago at the Central City brewpub in Surrey and it was one of the first times a beer every blew me away.  I’ve tasted similarly good or better barley wines since, but I’ll never forget that first sip of the golden nectar of the gods.

If you don’t know, barley wine is very strong beer that is often very sweet and aged a long time to both add flavour and subdue the high alcohol content.  Barley wines usually come out around Christmas time and are warming, festive drinks, perfect for dulling the harshness of relatives.

You used to only be able to get Thor’s Hammer at special beer events or in the Central City Brewpub (or at Sailor Hagars before that).  This past summer Central City released a limited collection that included Oak Aged Thor’s Hammer and now, for the first time, they are releasing a bottled run at the appropriate time of year.  Thor’s Hammer jostles with Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller for the title of best barley wine in BC and is a must buy for BC beer nerds.

It should hit stores in Vancoucer this week or next, likely on a Thursday.  If you don’t want to miss out (only 99 cases made), I suggest you like Brewery Creek or Legacy on Facebook to get their notifications.



Bestie: Bringing the Sausage Party to Chinatown

I met Dane Brown last August at the Gastown Cask Carouse where he told me about his new restaurant Bestie, which means beast in German and “best friend” in teenage girl. Bestie is billed as Chinatown’s finest currywurst and it surely will become so when it opens, since I know of no other currywurst venues in Chinatown (or in Vancouver).  They plan to sell local versions of German street food such as fresh baked pretzels, organic sausage, and Berlin street treat currywurst (I previously wrote about currwurst here), accompanied by local craft beer.  When I asked Dane what beer they had lined up he indicated they planned to serve Driftwood, hopefully something from the new Brassneck Brewery, and a German lager.

I was reminded of Bestie today when a colleague shared their innovate indiegogo campaign with me today.  They are pre-selling sausages for their early 2013 opening via Magic Sausage Cards.  Their campaign started today and, at the time of writing, has already sold $3325 of their $10000 allotment!  I imagine most of this money is going towards finishing construction and setting up shop.  Pretty great way to raise seed money, eh?

Bestie Magic Sausage Card Campaign from Bestie on Vimeo.

When I talked to Dane in the summer, he told me they planned to open Bestie in late October.  Since that hasn’t happened yet,  I reached out to Dane to see what’s the what (unsecrectly hoping they were having trouble getting a liquor license, so I could complain about the process).  He said getting the necessary building permits took way longer than expected and “more than anything we were just optimistically naive about the process and the timeline.”  Well, I appreciate the optimism and I hope it works out because I’ve pre-bought myself some sausage.



Why do hipsters love Pabst Blue Ribbon?

If you didn’t know, Pabst Blue Ribbon is the hipster beer of choice.  I didn’t used to believe this was possible, but I’ve personally witnessed the prevalence of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the funkier parts of four North American cities in the past two months.  It’s the truth.

I find the popularity of Pabst Blue Ribbon surprising and upsetting.  Surprising because, in Vancouver at least, hipsters are responsible for producing most of the best craft beer and innovative food.  Upsetting because Pabst Blue Ribbon tastes not very good.  It scores a whopping 2/100 on RateBeer.  Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of PBR.

BUT WHY THE HIPSTER LOVE?  I mean, there must be a reason, and I’m quite sure it’s not to do with taste.  PBR was first brewed in 1844, so maybe because it’s old? But then there’s lots of old beers, why aren’t Abbey beers the coolest?  Maybe because PBR is pretty cheap? But there’s lots of other beers in the same price range, or cheaper.  Maybe because it’s so uncool that it’s super cool?  I don’t know, I don’t get hipsters.

Turns out other people on the internets were also wondering why PBR is so cool with the kids who aren’t trying to try to look cool.  As it would happen, PBR is actually popular because it was so uncool that it became cool with the ironic crowd in the late nineties.   A PBR marketing manager jumped all over this and began sponsoring indie music, skate shops, art galleries, weird sports, facial hair clubs, and other hipstery things.  This Quora thread and this Wikipedia blurb do a good job of explaining what went down.  I find it really funny that PBR themselves decline to acknowledge their hipster fan base for fear of becoming inauthentic.

But now that everyone knows PBR is cool, is it uncool? Probably, since hipsters sort of got punked into drinking bad beer. Hey cool kids, maybe start drinking better tasting local craft beer?



UPDATE: One of my colleagues sent me this fantastic article on the rise of PBR.  Read it instead of this post.

Beer in New York

More specifically, beer in Manhattan and Brooklyn.  I was in New York this past weekend for a few days and did my best to seek out the finest beer establishments.  I targeted quite a few, but only managed to visit the six below, chosen purely based on where I happened to be at beer drinking time.

One thing I noticed about the beer menus in New York was that they were very California heavy.  I found this strange considering I was in the North East of American Town, which has it’s fair share of quality brewers.  What’s even stranger is that I didn’t see any Oregon beer available in pubs, pretty crazy considering how rad Oregon is when it comes to beer.  So lots of California, no Oregon, and a smattering of the North East, weird eh?  I thought I’d see more from up and coming Vermont too, but not so much.

Now for the six pubs I visited.  None of them blew me away, but all were pretty good.  There were no Belmont Stations or Alibi Rooms in there, but I may have missed the best ones?  I also received recommendations for New Beer Distributors, Barcade, Pony Bar, and Bierkraft, for next time…

Blind Tiger
The blind tiger is a cosy, lively pub in Greenwich Village.  It was super busy when we visited late on Saturday afternoon, and I’ve heard it’s crazy after work.  As I was advised, I suggest heading to this place during the afternoon if you really want to get in.  The beer menu was really solid and we drank Flying Dog Raging Bitch on cask, Boulder Hazed and Confused, Founders Cerise, and Mad River Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (insanely flavourful).  I highly recommend this place to any beer geek or pub enjoyer visiting New York, especially since the neighbourhood is neat too.

Bling Tiger nyc

Rachel enjoying Blind Tiger with that guy

Rattle N Hum
Right near the Empire State Building, this is very much a sports bar with a beer nerd menu.  It’s not exactly cosy and was full of football fans and/or beer nerds.  My wife was not a fan of the atmosphere.  We drank Brooklyn Blast, Brooklyn Brown, and a bottle of Founders Breakfast Stout.  This was my first taste of Founders magical stout, so a worthwhile experience.  I recommend this bar for beer nerds and/or football fans.

founders breakfast stout rattle n hum

Founders Breakfast Stout at Rattle N Hum, I’m a virgin no longer

The Ginger Man
Right near Rattle N Hum, I was told to only stop at this bar if I was in the area.  The beer selection isn’t as good as other NY beer destinations, but it’s a pretty cool pub.  It’s one of those wood panelled, brass rail type old-timey places.  It had a good feel and my wife was much more impressed with the atmosphere.  We drank Sierra Nevada Tumbler and The Bruery Autumn Maple.  Only go to this pub if you’re in the area; it’s not a top beer destination.

Spitzers Corner
A trendy beer bar in the Lower East Side, felt most like the Alibi Room. What I loved about Spitzers (this may apply to big cities in general), was that when we arrived at 11:30pm on a Monday, not only was it open and full, they were still serving food!  Both the beer list and food menu looked good, and we certainly enjoyed what we had.  We ordered Bronx Pale Ale and Six Point Sweet Action, which I found crazy refreshing after so much heavy, iconic New York food.  Southern Tier and Founders beers were available.  I highly recommend this place, doubly if you’re a hipster.

Mugs Ale House
A neighbourhood pub kinda place, in stark contract to its uber hipstery location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  We arrived late afternoon and our fellow patrons consisted of locals who looked like they shouldn’t be drinking so early.  Still, it was a good place.  We had Barrier Belgian IPA and Brooklyn Red IPA (brewed exclusively for the pub by Brooklyn brewing located a block away, super fresh).  I’d check out this place if you’re visiting Brooklyn Brewing, but otherwise not make the effort.

Spuyten Duyvil
Also in Williamsburg, this place was also very hipstery, but in a friendly way.  The inside of the bar is covered in trendy nicknacks, which I found neat and not douchey.  The beer list is pretty solid too, lots of Belgian stuff.  We drank Midnight Sun Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Defiant Muddy Creek Lager, Brasserie des Franches Douze, and De La Senne Zinnebir.  This was a good place, check it out if you’re in Brooklyn.

Obviously I needed to bring some beer home too.  I didn’t really know where to go for this, so trusty Whole Foods it was.  I was really impressed with the Whole Foods I went to in the Lower East Side.  Their beer section was treated as an actual store, the selection was magnificent, and a good many beers were labelled with RateBeer ratings. I picked up Founders Breakfast Stout, Founders Harvest Ale, Alesmith Grand Cru, Dogfish Head 75 minute IPA with maple syrup, and Uinta Crooked Line Labyrinth Black Ale.

new york beer haul

Beer haul safely back home, none of it was brewed in NYC

So that’s that then, turns out New York is rad and you should go there.