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.
Brewing is an art. Real beer is unique, creative and well thought out. This does not mean that good beer must be complex and highly sophisticated, but it does mean that mass market appeal should not be the number one driver behind creating a new beer. Making money is not a bad thing, we all need to put food – and beer – on the table. But a balance needs to be found between creating a successful commercial beer and a beer that is unique and tasty.
Beer festivals and other beer related events, such as the recent Caskival at DIX, are great venues for brewers to dream big and showcase more experimental beer. Attendees at these types of events expect to find creative beers. Boring beers tend to get overlooked at cask beer festivals. Sure, some of the more creative beers may ultimately fail, but failure is all part of success.
The beer industry is divided into two polar segments – craft beer and macro beer; the medium sized regional brewer is now almost completely extinct. Most macro brewers, such a AB-Inbev, focus on reaching as large an audience as possible. Creativity must be a foreign concept in these large breweries; here commercial success is far more important than creating a beverage with integrity. On the other hand, craft breweries have a more balanced approach – creativity and commerce seem to have reached a happy medium.
It saddens me to see craft brewers sacrificing creativity for financial reward. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but craft brewers need to jump off the lime lager band wagon. Just stop, no more – Please! We all expect this sort of thing from Miller and Budwesier, but craft breweries, never. There is nothing creative about emulation and imitation.
I’ll state my point again; real beer is an art. Art is creative, and emulation is not creative. It is really that simple.
I received an email from Russell Brewing today announcing their new Cactus Lime Lager, to be sold at Cactus Club restaurants. This news depressed me. Does the market really need more lime flavored beers? I hope the Cactus Lime Lager is better than their Russell’s Lemon Ale, which I have previously tried and, similar to Bud Light Lime, found it to taste like bad Sprite. I thought I might enjoy the taste of “real lime flavor” in beer because I enjoy the occasional fruit wedge dropped into certain brews, but I really, really don’t. Those of you that do like lime flavored beers, what is it about them that you enjoy? Some say it is easy to drink, but so too are many other lagers (also water). I just don’t get it.
I really thought that Russell was going in the right direction with their recent IP’eh release, which I found to be a very tasty beer. I hoped they might introduce more well brewed limited edition beers (like the Blueberry Wheat they had at the Dix Caskival) to the market, but am instead disappointed to find them jumping on the lime flavor band wagon led by Bud Light Lime. It must make good business sense to be brewing this kind of beer, because they aren’t the only ones. In addition to BLL, Michelob brews a lime flavored beer, as does respected Canadian craft brewer Big Rock. I can only hope that other brewers don’t follow suit.