This week, I found three more beers to add to my favorites. The first is Phillips Accusation ale, which I’ve written about before. I’d had it a few weeks previously, but I decided to buy it again because I love a good Extra Special Bitter (ESB). I love ESBs because they are generally more flavorful, with a little more hop bitterness than your typical pale ale, but not as bitter and hoppy as an IPA. I also love India Pale Ale’s, but they can be a bit much sometimes. What puts Accusation Ale over the top for me is the great story behind it. Read my previous post to learn more about what happened with Phillips, as it says on the bottle: “sometimes bitterness comes from frivolous trademark disputes”.
In honor of Canada Day last Wednesday, Innis and Gunn released a special Canadian version of their whiskey barrel aged ale, also now one of my favorites. The Canadian Cask edition was aged for seventy one days in Canadian oak whiskey barrels imported to Scotland. This beer is a strong ale, full of rich malty flavors, and I loved it. This is a seasonal beer, so pick it up at BC Liquor stores and give it a try while it is still available.
Lastly, Brewery Creek recently started carrying Coney Island Lager from the Shmaltz brewery (famous for their He’brew ‘the chosen beer’ brand). This is not your run of the mill lager, it is amber in color and full of flavor. They use eight different malts and six different hops to brew this beer, and the complexity really comes through. I loved this beer and highly recommend it. It is only available at finer purveyors of beer such as Brewery Creek or Firefly and may not be in steady supply, so buy it if see it.
I hope you get a chance to try these beers. Phillips Accusation is also only available at the better stores. It’s a seasonal too, so grab it quick! If you don’t think you’ll enjoy my suggestions, I suggest chatting with the fine people at the better beer stores who’ll surely be able to help you find what you’re after.
Good news, delicious red-centered BC strawberries are now in season. Strawberry season in BC signifies the start of BC’s bountiful harvest. For those British Columbia who choose to eat large, watery California strawberries all year round, I beg you, please switch to local berries. Local BC strawberries are far juicier, sweeter and overall more flavourful than generic imported strawberries. They are only available for a few weeks, so get your fill while they are still here.
Fresh local strawberries mean one thing in my house, waffles with strawberries. Now here is the challenge, pairing beer with waffles & strawberries. Beer has such a diverse flavour profile from style to style, that I image there must be a beer that works with strawberries.
My first thought is to match this seasonal breakfast-for-dinner or “brinner“, with one of the many local fruit beers available. BC brewers offer a good selection of beer brewed with the inclusion of fruits such as Peach, Raspberry, Blackberry and Pumpkin . Unfortunately I have not been able to find a single brewer in BC offering a strawberry beer. A friend and former brewmaster told me that strawberries impart an unpleasant flavour post ferment, but this cannot be true. Abita Brewing in Louisiana brews what is rumored to be a good strawberry beer. Unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to find Abita’s Harvest Strawberry Lager in BC.
The other option I am considering is a Belgian fruit geuze, a wild fermented lambic beer brewed with fruit – the fruit helps add sweetness to the beer. An aardbei geuze, a strawberry geuze, seems an obvious choice. The only problem could be the geuze overpowering the fresh strawberry flavour. I want the beer to complement the fresh strawberries, no compete. A Belgian Fruli, a Belgian wit beer with strawberry juiced added is also a good option, but from what I have read, Fruli is closer to strawberry soda than strawberry beer.
Please feel free to make recommendations on beers that complement strawberries. I will be making a trip to Brewery Creek and possibly Firefly tomorrow to see what I can find. This Wednesday will be the big strawberry waffle day, I’ll keep you all posted.
One of my good friends Peter, of guest post fame, just took a job near Firefly. In preparation for Sundin’s return to the centre of the universe, we did a little beer shopping on our lunch breaks. It is always fun to introduce a friend to the glorious bounty held within Vancouver’s specialty beer stores. Both of us came home with some tasty treats:
The haul this week, Leafs suck, woooo!
I recently noticed a full page Mill Street ad on the back cover of Taps and was reminded of my Mill Street quest. I’ve already sampled four of their five bottled brews, notably the Tankhouse and Stock Ales, and more recently their Coffee Porter and Belgian Wit. I enjoyed the Coffee Porter, a Canadian Brewing Awards gold medal winner. I was not as fond of the Wit, which I found to be too flavored by its adjuncts. In any case, I figured I should give the Organic Lager a try.
What struck me about the Mill Street ad was their emphasis on recent awards, which include Canadian brewery of the year. I have the utmost respect for the CBA organizers and judges, who impartially conduct blind tastings. However, I’m wondering if the beer provided by the brewers for the judges is the same bottled beer waiting for consumers on liquor store shelves? I am not accusing any brewery of foul play (I hate the Leafs, I like Mill Street), but I’m sure the breweries see the marketing value in winning these awards. I may be out of line, but I consider this food for thought.
Spending yesterday afternoon in search of great beer was a pleasant reminder to me about why I love beer. Now I know we are only 23 days into this year, but I strongly believe yesterday will easily finish in my top five beer moments of 2009. There was no one particular beer that made yesterday so memorable; it was the combination of great beer, great places, great food and great company that made yesterday shine through the dreariness of BC’s foggy start to 2009.
The afternoon started by meeting my good friend Brad in Burnaby, on route to Brewery Creek. For those of us who live in the Fraser Valley, a trip out to Brewery Creek is not a weekly occurrence and is a noteworthy event. Until yesterday Brad was a Brewery Creek virgin – I was excited to show him the bounty that is Brewery Creek, and he was excited to spend his entire beer budget in one fell swoop. With grins on our faces we perused through the shelves slowly filling our carts with beer. For those who haven’t been, Brewery Creek is like a candy store for adults, only the candy doesn’t cost 5 cents. Brad loaded up on barley wine and I rounded out my collection with beer from Oregon, Washington, BC and Belgium. Had the day ended here it would have already been great – but it continued on.
We still had plenty of time in the afternoon and I had not yet satisfied my desire for new beer, so we decided to head to Firefly. This was my first visit to Firefly, and with a parking spot left open beside the store it was meant to be. Firefly has an impressive beer and wine selection, but I can’t say standing in a fridge while shopping for beer is ideal. Nonetheless, I added a few more bottles to my collection and headed on out; Brad had already overspent his budget and had to go without. I will be updating The Cellar shortly with my most recent additions, although most of my purchases will end up in my belly before they make it to the cellar.
By this time it was quarter to five and hunger was setting in. Yesterday was Thursday, and DIX Brewery has cask ale on Thursdays – good news! We headed over to DIX for an early dinner and to enjoy this week’s cask ale – a Rye IPA better know as Jack the RIPA. The cask ale was fantastic, with hints of spice from the rye, a warming malt flavour, and a great hop kick. One was all it took yesterday – sometimes simplicity and moderation (I can’t believe I am writing this) is a good thing. The food at DIX was equally impressive, I ordered the BBQ Brisket Sandwich and Brad decided on a burger. DIX was the perfect way to end an afternoon beer hunt.
I love beer because it is more than just nourishment to our bodies and a means for drunkenness. Good beer, like good food, becomes exponentially better when enjoyed with good friends, and yesterday’s beer tasted pretty fantastic.
This year I became a member of CAMRA Vancouver and I’m pretty excited about it. For those of you who don’t know, CAMRA stands for Campaign for Real Ale and it is an organization that promotes the creation and consumption of quality beer. It began in the UK to combat the proliferation of mass produced, generally poor quality lagers that began to dominate the beer market. CAMRA has really caught on amongst beer enthusiasts worldwide, so much so that we have our own Vancouver chapter.
You might be wondering what the point of joining an organization like CAMRA is. For me the benefits are quite obvious. With my 2009 CAMRA Vancouver membership I get:
- 10% off at Brewery Creek, the best beer store in Vancouver
- 10% off at Firefly, the second best beer store in Vancouver
- 10% off food at the Alibi Room, a great place to drink beer in Vancouver
- Special pricing at local beer related events
- A newsletter containing info on all the great local beer related happenings
The membership only costs $25, which I will recoup within a month by saving 10% on my Brewery Creek purchases. In additon to the financial benefits of joining CAMRA, members also play an important role in encouraging our local brewing community, which will surely lead to increased quantity and variety of quality beer produced in Vancouver. Sadly, I’ve already missed out on the first CAMRA affiliated event of 2009, the sold out Feast of the Five Firkins at The Whip, next time…
If you are a beer enthusiast, I suggest joining your local CAMRA chapter. At the very least, sign up for the mailing list. I think you’ll find it well worth it.