The spring season is finally here; the sun is shinning, the earth is slowly warming, the trees are beginning to blossom, my garden plants are sprouting and India Pale Ale is now is season. My latest IPA that I started six weeks ago has finally finished bottle conditioning and is now fit for enjoyable consumption, although it is still somewhat green and could use another three weeks to fully come together.
My IPA is not the only IPA of the spring season; many other brewers have used the early spring or late winter to launch their own IPA offering. Central City Brewing, Russell Brewing, and Granville Island Brewing have all recently launched an IPA into the market to compete for the growing hophead demographic. I am most excited about Central City’s Empire IPA and, although it has been sitting on store shelves for quite some time, I have yet to pour it out of a can in the comfort of my own home. Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing is one of British Columbia’s most talented brewmasters and he has yet to disappoint me.
I am less excited, yet still quite hopeful, about the Russell and Granville Island IPAs. Both brewers have shown they know how to craft a delicious IPA, yet have a tendency to water down their beer to reach a larger market. Granville Island’s past seasonal IPA was delicious and Russell’s IPA Cask served recently at DIX was flavorful and well hopped. As previously mentioned, I am not a huge hophead and hope that both the Granville Island and Russell IPAs make great summer beers.
Granville Island’s IPA, named Brockton IPA, and Central City’s IPA have both been available for some time now. Russell Brewing’s IPA has yet to reach liquor stores and I cannot provide a date when this new offering will be available. I recommend visiting Rick Green’s Blog for updates on upcoming beer releases; Rick has an immense knowledge about BC’s beer scene.
As for my IPA, which as yet to be named, it is malty and not overly hopped, but sadly will only be available to those who stop by for a visit or to those who invite me over for dinner.
I received the fall issue of Taps Magazine from erik for Christmas. Taps bills itself as “Canada’s Beer Magazine”, probably because it is Canada’s only beer centric magazine, beginning operations in 2007. I’ve enjoyed reading Taps, but in my estimation, Taps is more like Ontario’s beer magazine. Don’t get me wrong, I like Taps and I think that it is well worth reading for any Canadian beer enthusiast. At the same time, it is irksome as a westerner to read a “Canadian” publication that is so Ontario focused. I don’t blame the good people of Taps for their bias; they are from Ontario and Ontario is what they know. That being said, start on the Leafs and I’ll throw some hate your way.
What reading Taps has made me realize is that good beer is largely regional. If I can’t buy the beer or visit the pub or brewery being discussed in a publication, what good does it do me? Mill Street might be the best brewpub on earth, but reading about it just gets me angry at its inaccessibility. The exception to my regional outlook on beer might be travel, where learning about a destination’s beer culture ahead of time might be a very tasty investment.
When considering starting this beer blog I did a lot of research, I read a lot of beer blogs and I went to a lot of beer websites. The only two websites that I consistently have the urge to revisit are the BC Beer Blog and CAMRA Vancouver for their wealth of local news and information. These two sites are coincidentally operated by one Rick Green, who’ve been lucky enough to have comment on this blog. Rick, we love getting our weekly CAMRA newsletters, but that last month between blog posts was torture! What I love about Rick’s writing is it’s local focus; he tells us of upcoming events I can actually attend, of casks we can actually drink from, and of all the beer goings on in and around our area.
Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to read Taps and I will definitely try some of Mill Street’s wares the next time I’m at the Irish Heather. I’m only an Ontario hater when it comes to the Leafs. My point is that the beer news that excites me the most is local beer news, which is convenient considering that the good beer I will most likely enjoy is local beer. I want to stay abreast of everything going on in the beer world, but I feel like most people would be missing out by not delving into their local beer scene. Imports will always have their place, but to me, good beer means local beer. You never know, the tastiest brews might be just down the road.
A photo of early BC hop pickers; courtesy of the Chilliwack Museum
Happy New Year! 2009 brings exciting news to the world of BC Craft Brewing. Hops have once again been planted in the Fraser Valley and a small harvest is expected this year.
With the recent hops shortage, brewers have struggled to find a reliable supply of hops and have had to deal with dramatic price increases. If proven successful and commercially viable, it is expected that BC’s dormant hop industry will be revived, providing local brewers a new source for hops. BC was once a major hop producing region, not surprising seeing that Washington State, just south of BC, is currently one of the largest hop growing regions in the world. Sadly, due to declining demand BC’s last hop harvest was in 1997, but 2009 is a year of change. The Chilliwack Museum has a put together a great site about the history of BC’s hop industry that is worth taking a look at.
BC has some amazing brewers creating fantastic beer. Speaking from the perspective of a home brewer, new ingredients helps to inspire brewing creativity – harvest ale, brewed with fresh hops instead of dried hops, is the first beer that comes to mind in this situation. I think this new supply of local hops will bring a new passion to the many craft brewers in BC. I look forward to tasting the news beers that BC brewers create.
Chilliwack’s hop yards provided seasonal work for my grandparents when they first moved to British Columbia, so I feel a small sense of connection to this industry and am very excited to see that hops are once again being grown in BC. For more news on this story check out the BC Beer Blog – a great source for BC beer news.