Saturday, August 19, 2017

GCBF Rant 2017

And you thought I was finished blogging? Rarely to a miss a chance to rant about beer. The beer list from GCBF this year is out and has quite a few gems. This year I thought about doing a Top Ten list of the beers that I am looking forward to trying and perhaps a few items people may have overlooked. There will also be a few duds this year. It is a rant by the Victoria beer prick right?

10. Axe and Barrel's Fruity Mother Pucker. This is a great name for a kettle sour, but it is not original. Peaks in Port Angeles made a kettle sour, but they mentioned that it was not intentional. Will be nice to see how Andrew's favourite kettle sour tastes in his new place.

9. KPU beers. This is the Kwantlen Polytech University brewing program. They picked a few classic styles like a Schwarbier (black) and an altbier (lagered dark ale).

8. Unibroue - Ephemere this year is a elderflower and fruit. Should be tasty.

7. Faculty brewing's 713 Balsamic stout. Balsamic reduction in an oaked stout. Could be good or really bad, certainly worth a token.

6. Beau's Gruit Ale. A gruit is a beer bittered with herbs and not hops. The Buenos Dias sounds like a salty Gose with citrus additions.

5. VIB - They will be releasing two new beers at GCBF this year. Hopefully they are truly new and not remixes of old beers or Corona clones. Their beers are usually solid and token worthy.

4. Category 12 - They seem to have an interesting selection of new beers and casks.  Zombie 2 and brett pale ale here I come. Swan's should also get a nod here too. Swan's Black Chamomile Pils sounds interesting.

3. All the new breweries and Vancouver tasting lounge breweries. There are too many to list. Many of them are too far away to reach Victoria or volume is too small to warrant the ferry cost. In no particular order: Luppolo, A-Frame, Mount Arrowsmith, SOOKE!, Ravens, Hathi, Riot Brewing, Andina Kolsch, WhiteTooth.


2. Field House's Coolship! A coolship is an open fermentation vessel which allows wild yeast and bacteria from the environment to land on the cooling beer and assist in fermentation. True terroir! These beers and generally a bit on the sour and funky side and always one of a kind. This is where I will be lining up.

1. Drake Cask Tent! I wonder why the Drake Eatery and Beer Parlour (at 517 Pandora) has it's own booth at GCBF? Sorry, inside joke. There is no mention if these 13 casks will be tapped at the same time, or if they will be staggered throughout the weekend. We will have to find out on the day.

There are a few honourable mentions, but I ran out of space. Fuggles and Warlock G&T Peach sour, Four Winds Quadrennial, Moon's kettle sour, Steel and Oak Steinbier (heated stone beer in collaboration with Freigeist Bierjultur), Trading Post tart cranberry brett ale and Strange Fellows Popinjay New World sour.

Again, I feel disheartened by lack luster effort from local breweries in their choice of beers to showcase at an event that garners so much attention. They have the shortest travel distance. C12 has some new items, even VIB timed beer releases well.  Driftwood core brands and cask of strong seasonals (didn't they do this last year?), Phillips ditto (although their Cola Slipstream sounds interesting) , Spins ditto, Hoyne ditto (their cask sounds suspiciously like Dark Matter with blackberries), Twa Dogs only current mixer pack, Lighthouse 3rd beer not mentioned. Canoe only core brands. Special mention to Granville Island for the best written description of their beers, but weren't these the same beers as last year? Then again, there will be people new to craft beer and this is the perfect place for them to sample regular brewery offerings.

Maybe I am being overly critical. Irregardless, it will be a great weekend of great beers hosted by great volunteers and fed by great local food trucks. Hopefully the washroom line ups will be shorter this year. What do you think, leave comments below.



Sunday, February 5, 2017

Excitation Espresso Stout - Category 12


Brewing with coffee, this is a great idea. The ethanol calms you down and the caffeine revs you up. Or the roasted flavours of stout and coffee blend nicely, your pick. There are a few ways to incorporate the goodness of coffee into a beer. The first is to just add coffee grounds into the brewing mash. This is the easiest way, but can produce a quite bitter, astringent and roasty beer. Imagine brewing a coffee with warm water for about an hour, you are going to extract all the flavours. Including ones you might not want. I'm pretty sure this is how Black Jackal was made, tastes like it anyways.
Another way is to just add lots of espresso shots. This is quite time consuming but highlights the rich, sweet creaminess of fresh espresso. Swan's yearly Double Shot Porter is made this way.
The middle ground of effort and flavour extraction is the cold brew method. Most of us have tried, or made, cold brew coffee. Just place coffee grounds into cold water, wait 24-48 hours, then remove desired caffeinated liquid. How does the phrase go..." all the jitter but none of the bitter." Spinnakers makes a cold pressed coffee brew and Lighthouse has their Night Watch Coffee Lager. You can either use the cold pressed coffee as strike water, or just add the coffee before the boil.

Excitation = 8/10

The nose is unusually calm with roasted coffee beans and blackberries.  Only a but of roasted bitterness, and not coffee acrid, starts off this medium to full mouthfeel beer. Get your jitter on with flavours of espresso creme, coffee water, dark berries and creamy bittersweet chocolate. The finish is long and roasted with addition flavours of toasted pecans.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 6.4% +1
Value +1
Appearance +1 Great label with nice description of expected flaavours

Glassware: Snifter, or ceramic mug

Food Pairings:Definitely grilled, heavy meats. You could also pair this with a dessert of tiramisu.

Cellar: maybe, but nope

For those who read all the way to the bottom, there is more. I'm guessing that you are also the people who stay to the end of the credits of an animation movie. Just in case there are extra scenes. I shall be brief. This will be the last beer review. I have been doing these reviews for over 10 years and my heart is just not in it. As you can tell, due to the lack of reviews this year. Also there was no best beer of 2016 article either. It would have been the 2016 Sang, it case you were wondering. Either that or the Twa Dogs Saison. If you want beer reviews, check out Bring Your Porter to the Slaughter, Matter of Beer, or Beer Ye Beer Ye. I might do something in the future, I paid for the web domain for the year. But for now that is all.
Thank you for reading and commenting





Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sang Du Merle 2016 by Moon Under Water

There are three beers that I feel form the trilogy of fermented flavour awesomeness. The first is my personal favourite Rochefort 10. The second is by buddy's favourite, Orval. Final spot of honour falls upon my wife's favourite, Rodenbach. If I were stranded on a deserted island... you get the idea. Rodenbach is the pinnacle of sour beer perfection. The brewing process is quite complex and involves multiyear aging in open air oak vessels called foeders. This brewing process, and subsequent blending, produces a sour ale of startling complexity. One can pick out flavours of sour cherries, caramel, oak, balsamic vinegar and red wine. Whenever I taste a beer that claims to be a Flemish red sour, the comparison relative to Rodenbach is determined. It can be very hard to duplicate the fruity esters of cherries without a long and complex wood aging process. One way to mimic these flavours is to add in cherries. I fully endorse this idea.

Sang Du Merle 2016 = 9/10 


The best year so far. A nose that carries a tart, sweetness of cherries is sure to please Rodenbach fans. Within all that are hints of oak, balsamic and apple cores. It is not often you experience an effervescent, cherry infused balsamic but this is one of those times. Add to that a sweet prickly acidity that lingers and you pretty much sum up the Sang 2016. A must for sour fans.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Snifter or tulip

Food Pairings: I would recommend a sweet and sour Chinese dish. The bright acidity and effervescence would cut the heavy fats. While the sweet and sour from both would just resonate.

Cellar: I put a few down

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Holy Willie's Robust Porter by Twa Dogs

Porters never get a high score with my rating system. They are just not powerhouse beers. Rarely do you get a porter that adds a complexity of depth that keeps adding new flavours with each sip. Baltic porters maybe, but not English or American. These latter beers are simple in flavour: little roast, little chocolate with a hint of coffee or toffee. Usually not a lot of hop nor yeast character. This is not to say that porters are not enjoyable, quite the opposite. Each sip will distract you then release you back to reality. The robust porter was the stronger version of the brown porter in the 2008 BJCP guidelines. In the current guidelines, brown became English and robust became American. I am also glad to see that this version in not adulterated with added flavours. No blackberry, maple syrup or mocha porters for this beer geek. So how does it taste?

Holy Willie's = 7/10


Yup, it tastes like a proper porter. Roasted grains, cereal and earthy hot chocolate powder gently rise from the glass. Luckily the sip is not overly acrid with roasted astringency, just nicely medium. The flavour parts align like a middle school math question: common denominator or roasted bread crusts, weak coffee, hot chocolate powder and a hint of dirt. Not too quick a fade, yup solid porter. Should have brought the bigger growler.


Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1 (yup would buy again)
Appearance +1

Glassware: Nonic pint would work

Food Pairings: A steak, or other dark fatty meat, off the grill. The slight char and roasted flavours should harmonize nicely. Veggie option would be a wild mushroom stroganoff

Cellar: Noipe

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Highway 19 IPA by VIB

I think this is a truly new release from one of Victoria's oldest breweries since 2014. For those keeping score, the last release was Sabotage. Nice to taste something truly new. Not much about this beer on their website, so how does it taste?

Highway 19 = 7/10

Yup, it's got Mosiac. It has the nose of tangerines, mangoes, papaya with only a hint of grass. I thought it was a little thin with a medium full and astringent mouthfeel. The tropical never stops, you might get a little bready and caramelized malts if you are lucky. But the rest is all assertive astringency of the tropical fruit, tang, papaya and onion variety. This flavour lingers for an impressive length of time. Nothing off or grassy to note, quite tasty. You are either a Mosiac (HBC342) fan or not.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6%
Value +1 (I would buy again)
Appearance +1 (suitable description of flavour on label)

Glassware: Just a clean pint glass or a fancy IPA glass. I think the IPA glass is a little over-rated and hard to clean.

Food Pairings: Hit it with a lemon chicken or Peking duck with a citrus glaze. For those vegans out there, try it along side mango fried rice with tamarind tofu

Cellar: nope

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Storm Watcher Red Pilsner by VIB

For some unknown reason, I decided to visit VIB today. I heard an empty growler in the trunk and had 30 minutes before violin practice pickup, so growler run it is. The closest place was VIB, Phillips or Moon. Being a beer ticker, I had to try something new. VIB had the red pilsner on tap, which I thought was a new beer. More on that later; don't worry, there is a happy ending. The label on the tap said "Storm Watcher Red Pilsner", didn't VIB already have a beer called Storm Watcher? And what really is a Red Pilsner? Neither BJCP nor Brewers Association has a red pilsner in the guidelines. Perhaps it is a Vienna lager, International Amber lager or an Altbier. This red pils might fit into these categories. Or perhaps, this is just a winter lager? Dang it, is this another VIB recycled beer recipe? Sure tastes like it. I actually plan to cut and paste an old review, because the flavour is similar. Luckily they had 2016 Hermannator and a new IPA called Highway 19. The Highway 19 is your standard IPA dry hopped with Mosiac, at least that is what the nice lady behind the counter told me. She seems very confident and believable. I got a sample also; SPOILER ALERT, it's good.

Storm Watcher = 6/10 


This ruby red brew is nice to look at, even though there is no foamy head. Despite the lack of head, it still offers up hints of vanilla and caramel with slight spicy hop presence. A cool creaminess delivers lots of malts - think graham crackers, caramel and raisins. There is also a continuous presence of vanilla that is not overpowering. The ending is sweet, quenching and ever so slightly astringent.  The storm watcher will appeal to beer drinkers who like their brews on the sweet side.


Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1 (yes, I would drink this beer again)
Appearance +1 I liked the label the first time

Glassware: Clean lager glass

Food Pairings: This would pair perfectly with an unsmoked ham and cheese sandwich on rye. Perhaps a caramelized onion and mushroom cream sauce over buckwheat noodles. Maybe a desert of sticky toffee pudding would accentuate this lagers sweetness. Come to think of it, the Storm Watcher could be used to make a hot toddy.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

GCBF 2016 rant

So apparently I have a reputation. It involves having a couple of beers and criticizing blogs and beers. Not sure if this is true - then again - if it were true, I would probably deny it. Let's pretend it is true and let loose. Sorry Adem, no beers on board, just a coffee and mango slices. 
This is the favourite time of year for a beer geek or aficionado. When I was young, the Sears Christmas toy catalogue was the greatest publication in the world. This has now been replaced by the GCBF beer list. The 2016 list has some great options and a few new breweries. A perfect list for me would be filled with casks and new limited releases. However, if any brewery that focused their marketing department on the above average beer geek, would go out of business quickly. I'm assuming limited beer releases do not pay the bills. I feel a brewery should bring lesser known core brands, something new and maybe a creative cask. That way there is something for everyone. There is an average assessment of this years beers list on The Brewtal Truth blog. Actually it is quite an accurate assessment. The cheeky description was to taunt this very accomplished author. However, he did miss a few things.

My picks for GCBF 2016

I plan to skip 33 Acres of regularity, which saddens me. They only brought a dry hopped regular release with unknown hops. I usually look forward to trying their creative brews. 

Beau's is bringing a gruit or herbed beer. This should be interesting.

Be Right Back are one of the new kids this year at GCBF. They are also bringing a lesser known beer style called the Kentucky Common. This beer style is one of the lost styles that was recently added to the BJCP list of beer styles in 2015. Looking forward to tying their interpretation. 

Brasserie Dunham, yes all those please.

Returning this year is Crannog and they are bringing a whisky infused Back Hand of God. I sure hope there is some left when I arrive late. Will the whiskey also be organic?

Deep Cove has the best beer name at the festival. I'm surprised it took this long to name a beer after the pub crawl anthem by Spirit of The West

Foamers Folly have a nitro IPA, which is hard to find. Also their beer naming department needs to use Google. Doesn't Red Arrow in Duncan have a beer named Idle Hands?

Granville Island is rarely a booth I stop at. However, this year they plan to serve a proper Berliner style weisse with choices of sweetening syrups. I had a stellar Berliner from Troubled Monk that was packaged with raspberry and woodruff syrups.

Attention Highway 97, the a traditional Scottish ale does not contain peated malts.

Four Winds. I has hoping for super awesome things from one of my favourite breweries. Truth be told, I flipped to this listing first. Their beers are all delicious, but I was longing for something new.  

Lighthouse is bringing a perfect mix of lesser known core brands, new releases and casks.

Three Ranges always brings solid beers to the festival and I plan to try their cask, despite my disdain for cilantro.

Don't forget about the newest Victoria brewery Twa Dogs.

I'm not one for cider, mostly due to lack of appreciation and familiarity. However, I plan to offer up a token for their cask of Spanish style sidre from Tod Creek. This style is tart, acidic and sometimes lightly sour.
I also have a booth category similar to Brewtal Truth. Their award is called "Why Bother". I call mine the "Zzzz" award, mainly because their booths don't add much excitement to this great nation's most important festival of brewing. Beer geeks, beer writers, sales reps, importers/exporters and people with deep beer money pockets come to this festival to sample the best and varied offerings from Canadian brewers. One would naturally assume breweries would want to bring their best.

Zzzz awards

Bomber, Bridge, Canoe, Gladstone (I expected more), Persephone (only core brands), S&O (core only).

Vancouver Island. Serving Islander (aka craft Lucky) at GCBF. Although, the root beer cask does sound interesting.

Moon is serving only core brands but the cask of Sang de Merle sour is somewhat redeeming

Hoyne core brands only and mentions a cask without how it is different or enhanced.
Phillips. Blue Buck and Pilsner? Blue Buck cask with Citra? I might be an very amateur homebrewer but isn't Sorachi Ace a mild flavouring/aroma hop, how are those dill and lemon flavours going to be noticed from beneath a chocolate and roasted porter? Still... might offer up a token is I have tried everything else.

Did I miss anything? Comment below