I went to the Central City Summer Cask Festival last weekend and it was rad. I hadn’t been to a cask festival at Central City yet, having been away for the last two, and was very impressed. Unlike at the old Dix Caskivals, there was actually room to move around. It got busy, but not crazy busy, and the patio made getting some fresh air a breeze. The food available was also very good, another bonus. But, of course, the main draw was the beer. According to my tasting notes, these were my favourites:
- Whistler Brewhouse Oaked Amarillo Dry Hopped IPA – Very pronounced oaky vanilla flavours. Amazing malt/hop balance, my pick of the bunch.
- Tofino Brewing Sitka Spruce Tip IPA – Amazing aroma, appropriately malty IPA.
- Elysian Brewing Splitshot Coffee Milk Stout – Somewhat sweet, milky taste. Coffee detectable, but not interfering.
- Central City Citra Dry Hopped ESB – Great fresh aroma, superb ESB. I could (and did) drink a lot of these.
- Water – Very watery, no malt, hops, or aroma to speak of. Excellent water taste. I actually wrote this down, likely near the end of the festival.
There were a few duds but, on the whole, most of the beers were excellent. I was idiotically unable to get to Odin’s Thor’s Oakuinox to try it, which was devastating. Some other beers, which I’ll mention because they were interesting, included Crannog Mead, Central City Chilli Stout, and Storm Raspberry ESB. All in all, it was a good time and I’m looking forward to the winter festival that promises to provide stronger and more adventurous beers.
The cask of Elysian Splitshot Coffee Milk Stout
Busy, but not oversubscribed
A few of us dudes enjoying the festival
Obviously I know that almost all beer has hops in it, but not necessarily the high levels you find in the pacific northwest. When I moved to London I thought I’d be moving to a beer mecca, cask beer everywhere! I actually feel like I’ve taken a step down beer-wise. While there is a thriving pub culture here that I very much enjoy, I can’t say as much about the quality of the average beer. The majority of cask ales have been open a bit too long and taste a bit stale. Even the freshest cask of English ale can only be described as a mild pale ale by west coast standards. We’re blessed in Vancouver to have been influenced by the hopheads of Oregon, Seattle, and Northern California and it tastes good.
Sweet, sweet Central City IPA
I didn’t realize quite how much I missed a 60 IBU West Coast IPA until I had a slew of visitors gift me fantastic bottles from the motherland. Amongst my blessings I counted Central City IPA, Granville Island Imperial IPA, and Deschutes Hop Trip. They were delicious, thanks for asking. Of course there are British exceptions, such as the brilliantly hoppy offerings from Brewdog in Scotland, but I can definitely say that UK brewing lacks the adventurous extremes of the North American west coast and Belgium. Lucky for me, I’m making a quick return to Vancouver next week. Canucks woooo!
I knew that I missed hockey, but (again) I didn’t realize how much until I was reminded of it’s absolute awesomeness. Game 4 of the Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks series was at noon pacific time, meaning it was on in London at 8PM. I seized my big chance to watch live hockey for the first time in over a year at the Maple Leaf pub in Covent Garden, as did every other hockey starved Vancouverite in London. I can honestly say it was one of the best atmospheres in which I’ve ever watched a hockey game. The place was packed out with fervent Canucks fans decked in blue and teal, complete with UK levels of alcohol consumption, which resulted in really good times. What choice do I have but to come home for the parade?
At the Maple Leaf for game 4
Hank didn't touch it, we're good
Back in the colonies one of my favorite breweries is doing something extremely rad. Central City is offering a bacon tasting menu all September using bacon cured with their own beer. The three course menu only costs $35 and features bacon and corn cakes paired with Red Racer Lager, country bacon terrine with Red Racer ESB, and maple chocolate bacon cheesecake prepared with Red Racer Stout. Can you believe that? A three course meal and beer pairings for $35 based on bacon, the world’s most delicious food (fat and salt, mmmm)! I might have to fly back for this.
In case you’ve forgotten, it’s Father’s Day this Sunday! To celebrate the occasion a few BC breweries have got themselves involved in some Father’s Day beer dinners. If your Dad likes eating good food and drinking good beer, then I can’t thing of a better Fathery’s Day gift than a trip to one of these dinners:
- Central City in Surrey will be offering a three course meal, each course made with beer as an ingredient and paired with beer, for $35 anytime between 4PM and 8PM on Sunday, June 20th. I haven’t been to one of the Father’s Day dinners at Central City before, but I’ve seen pictures and heard Erik’s account of last year’s dinner. Without yet seeing the menu I can say, and trust me here, it’s worth the money.
- R&B Brewing is doing a Father’s Day dinner with DIVA at the Met in Vancouver. This dinner is a five course affair with each course paired with an R&B beer. On Saturday, June 19th from 7PM to 9:30PM this dinner can be yours for a mere $49. Again, I wasn’t there last year, but I heard the reviews and saw the pictures. It looked amazing, as does this year’s menu below.
The irony that I’ve moved from Surrey near Guildford in Canada to Surrey near Guildford in England (at least until we head up to London next week) isn’t lost on me. This time I’m not talking about Central City, Russell Brewing, or Big Ridge, but Hogs Back Brewery. Much to my surprise, I learned of Hogs Back Brewing through Google Buzz. It was recommended to me by a friend of friend in Canada who originally comes from Surrey. Without a car, I was trying to figure out how to get to Hogs Back when a random Google Buzz user let me know of a few pubs in Guildford that carry their brews. Who knew people used Google Buzz? Anyway, I eventually found Hogs Back’s beers at a small beer and wine shop in Shalford.
I picked up TEA and OTT, which stand for Traditional English Ale and Old Tongham Tasty (Tongham is the town Hogs Back is based in); both are bottle conditioned. I’ve only tried TEA so far and I quite liked it. As the name says, it is a traditional bitter. I found it to be pleasantly malty and full of flavor, if lacking in hops for my tastes. So far I’ve found that English brewers tend to focus on malt and its subtleties, versus North American brewers who make much more use of hops to provide bold flavors and bite. While both approaches have their merits, I’m currently enjoying the excellent session brews the British brewers are brewing (most bitters weigh in at 4% ABV). I’ll definitely buy TEA again and I can’t wait to try the other interesting beers that Hogs Head has to offer.