B.C. Beer Blog

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of B.C. craft beer

Posts Tagged ‘Dead Frog Brewery

Beer Festival in Wine Country

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Patrick Cumisky serving up some Central City Red Racer IPA.

You may be surprised to learn that it takes a lot of good beer to make a fine wine. That might explain why Penticton’s Cannery Brewing sells more beer in Naramata than all of Alberta and why Silverado Brewing operates a burgeoning brewpub on the grounds of a winery in Napa. It may also explain why the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale in Penticton has no problem still selling out in its fourteenth year.

This year was the first time I attended the OFOA. I had heard the festival was starting to get on the rowdy side in recent years (from the perspective of older beer geeks like myself). My suspicions were aroused when a half-dozen twenty-something males in the lineup in front of me started whooping and hollering even before the venue doors had opened! They were not already drunk. I guess the OFOA must be their biggest event of the year — combine drinking and two-dimensional food (pizza) with skirt-chasing and brawling et voilà, Christmas in April.

How about some Paddock Wood London Porter?

How about some Paddock Wood London Porter from Saskatoon?

I expected, therefore, to see plenty of young bucks drinking themselves into alcohol-induced belligerency, rather than taking the time to learn about and appreciate the beer. However, festival organizers seemed to have taken note of the downward trend and made some changes. Tickets were reduced by 1,000 for each of the festival’s two days, the cost was increased, and sales were strictly limited to before the event. It was also suggested that the music, for the most part, was chosen to coax a more mellow mood than feed the fire. These measures and vigilant security seemed to effectively keep a lid on things. A number of vendors expressed to me a resulting improvement.

On the tasting side, the majority of the festival was devoted to craft beer. There were 17 microbreweries directly represented, including four Washington breweries; two importers poured five beers from four foreign craft breweries; two mass-market beers squeaked in over the bar; and a smattering of alcopops and a macro-cider were there for the females who think they don’t like beer and will continue to think so until their menfolk graduate from drinking macro lager as their everyday beer.

Crannog brewmaster, Brian MacIsaac, accepts the Peoples Choice Award for his Back Hand of God Stout.

Crannog brewmaster, Brian MacIsaac, accepts the People's Choice Award for his Back Hand of God Stout.

Molson Canadian managed to weasel in a pseudo presence at the Boston Pizza booth, unofficial sponsor of unhealthy eating and, by extension, unhealthy drinking. Nevertheless, the food offering was actually better than the Washington Cask Beer Festival. The Barking Parrot took it for best value in my books. (How can you beat a cheeseburger for $1.00?) The Kettle Valley Station Pub offered a decent Louisiana Chicken Burger for $2.00. However, the best eating was easily from Salty’s Beach House — Thai Mini Meatballs, Scallops Remoulade, and fresh-shucked oysters. How civilized! The majority of festivalgoers seemed to agree too as Salty’s won the award for best food.

While there were seven hours on Saturday to make your way through the 60-odd beers worth trying; between drinking, chatting with brewers & fellow CAMRA members, eating, and taking in some of the entertainment, I didn’t manage tasting them all. Mind you, I’d had a number already. Things especially slowed down later in the day when the crowd got much thicker and lineups were ten deep in places. I mostly concentrated on trying what was new to me and found myself quite satisfied by the end.

The festival finale was the announcement of the Industry and People’s Choice awards. The people chose Crannóg’s Back Hand of God Stout as the festival’s best beer. A panel of judges, including my editor at Northwest Brewing News, Alan Moen, selected Pyramid Apricot Ale as the best macro beer, while Shuswap Lake’s (aka Barley Station) Sam McGuire’s Pale Ale was their choice for best micro beer. And that’s what I would call a successful conclusion.

For more OFOA photos, see my Flickr Beer Festivals Set. I also have some photos from my tour of Cannery Brewing the day before.

The Best of… Beer Confusion

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WE, the weekly formerly known as the West Ender, recently published its ‘The Best of the City’ readers choice awards. In their After Dark section, they had a couple of categories covering beer, so fewer issues for me to have than with the Georgia Straight‘s ‘Best of Vancouver‘ awards. Nevertheless, it is another canary in the coal mine to judge how beer-savvy their readers are. The verdict? Not terribly.

WE had two categories devoted to beer —Microbrewery and Brew Pub. What were the picks?

Microbrewery:

  1. Dockside Brewing Co.
  2. Steamworks Brewing Co.
  3. Granville Island Brewing

Brew Pub:

  1. Yaletown Brew Pub (sic)
  2. Steamworks Brewing Co.
  3. Dockside Restaurant & Brewing Co. (sic)

Problem? Dockside and Steamworks are not microbreweries They produce beer solely for sale on their premises, hence the term ‘brew pub.’ Microbreweries produce beer for sale outside of their premises. They’ve been allowed to have tap rooms to offer visitors a sample of their brews, but full pub service is not available.

So for next year’s ‘The Best of the City’ awards, let’s get what we’re voting on straight. In Vancouver proper, there are three microbreweries — Granville Island, R&B, and Storm — and four brew pubs — Coal Harbour, Dix, Dockside, Steamworks, Yaletown. If the boundary is actually Metro Vancouver, then the options extend from Lions Bay to Delta, Bowen Island to Abbotsford. That excludes Howe Sound Brewing, Whistler Brewhouse, Dead Frog, and Mission Springs. It also doesn’t include Whistler Brewing which doesn’t even brew in Whistler. Granville Island is a bit of an anomaly because the only beer they brew at the island is their seasonal releases. Anything that’s sold in a six-pack is made in Kelowna.

B.C. Craft Brewers Expanding Production

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With the brewery expansions that have taken place in the last few months, it looks like B.C.’s craft brewers are making some headway in the market. I’m hoping that people are discovering there is a lot more to beer than just lager and pale ale; that fresh beer is made here and it’s full of flavour.

Mt. Begbie moved into a new brewery over the winter. Bart and Tracey Larson were struggling in a space that couldn’t even accommodate a forklift. Now, with their new premises in downtown Revelstoke, they have enough space for a small retail area and a tasting bar.

Fernie Brewing’s sales have been growing rapidly since introducing their Rocky Mountain Genuine Lager and attending last year’s GCBF; Vancouver Island sales have quadrupled in 12 months. To keep up with demand, they moved into a brand new facility on the Crowsnest Highway, just north of Fernie. The brewhouse has tripled in size and they’ve added new fermenters, along with a state-of-the-art water filtration system. Don Moore set up the brewery and acted as head brewer until they hired Warren Smith, formerly of Calgary’s Wild Rose, in the spring. They, too, have a retail area and offer tours.

In Penticton, Cannery Brewing took over more space in the Cannery Trade Centre to add two new 40-hectolitre fermenters, doubling their capacity. They’ve also expanded their retail space where you can purchase shirts, t-shirts, vests, hats, posters, glasses, steins, and mustards & soaps made with Cannery beer. On August 8, owners Ron & Patt Dyck and brewer Terry Schoffer celebrated the brewing of their 500th batch with an open house — tours, appetizers, beer, and a cake (did it pair with the Naramata Nut Brown?).

As reported earlier, Howe Sound Brewing recently added more fermenters to increase their capacity. They will need it to supply exports to Arizona and Washington that are starting up this month. An additional demand will be experimenting with new styles that may be released in the future as seasonals or, depending on popularity, as part of the regular lineup.

Dead Frog moved into a brand new brewery in Aldergrove this spring with a larger capacity and a new bottling line. At that time, brewer Jorge Lussio left for other pursuits. To bring the new facility up to speed for the launch of their first bottled product, Dead Frog hired Tony Dewald from the Mark James Group to replace Lussio. On June 18 they released their bottled Lager, Pale Ale, and Nut Brown to cold beer & wine stores in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island.

We should hear about two more B.C. brewery openings within the next two-three months. I think there’s more room, so long as they target a market that isn’t currently being served or is underserved. For example, there are slim pickings for good beer up north, as I discovered last year.

Upcoming GCBF Highlights

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If you’re going to the GCBF and haven’t perused the brewers list on their Web site, you may want to make your way over there to plan ahead for what you definitely don’t want to miss out on.

For myself, I’m not interested so much in the exhibitors with bottles aka import agents and large producers. You can buy these in a liquor store. My first priority is breweries whose products I can’t get here. Of those, cask ale tops the list as they may be a one-off or at least of a regular style they brew but of unique character.

Non-B.C. breweries I’m looking forward to sample are Baron, Boundary Bay, Peaks, Silver City, Wild Rose, and Wildwood. Bushwakker from Regina, SK, is one coming the furthest to represent themselves and another I’ll be thoroughly evaluating. Paddock Wood from Saskatoon will be there too, but their products are available in Vancouver and they have exhibited only bottled product in the past.

Specific beers on my to do list: Anacortes IPA, Baron über-Weisse, Boundary Bay Imperial Oatmeal Stout & Scotch Ale, Peaks Dungeness Spit IPA, Pike IPA, Silver City Indianola Pale Ale & Imperial Stout, and Wild Rose Port-infused Oatmeal Stout

My second priority is B.C. brewers with a cask, a seasonal, or something new, followed by breweries whose beer I’ve never tried — Barley Mill Brewpub from Penticton and Hells Gate in Delta (I suspect this is the new Mark Anthony brewery).

B.C. beers I’m excited to try: Central City Imperial IPA; Crannóg Bansidhe, Bogtrotter Brown, Insurrection Pale Ale, and Pooka Cherry Ale; Howe Sound Pothole Filler & Total Eclipse of the Hop; Longwood Imperial Stout, IPA, Märzenbier; Nelson Paddywack; Spinnakers Hefeweizen; Steamworks Great Pumpkin Ale & Grand Espresso Stout (conditioning since last winter); Swans Scotch Ale; Tree Hophead; and at the Yaletown booth, Alchemy, Dix IPA, and Whistler Brewhouse Heart of Darkness.

Central City Thor’s Hammer is another standout. Brewer Gary Lohin used to make this when at Sailor Hagar’s. Sailor Hagar’s still have some of it from ten years ago and had a keg on draft last December — incredible! Word is they have one left, so keep an eye out for it later this year. In the meantime, you can try Thor’s Hammer the Younger in Victoria. If you’ve had Thor’s Hammer the Elder, you will recognize the progeny. Hopefully, Gary will put some away in a cool, dark corner and sit on it for a few years. Otherwise, bottle it so we can do so.

We’ve been expecting a Dead Frog cask in Vancouver from Tony Dewald (formerly of Dix) for a while, but he did not participate in the Surrey Summer Cask Festival, nor Caskival 5 at Dix — much of whose success is because of him. Now it looks like he’ll have a cask of their Nut Brown, so I’m anxious to sample it.

Dave Woodward’s Heart of Darkness from Whistler Brewhouse won best beer at the Central City’s Surrey Summer Cask Festival. An Imperial Stout aged on bourbon-soaked oak, it is a delightful mouthful that ought to be a staple Après-ski winter warmer in the Village.

If you stop by the Crannóg booth, one sample you should try to get Brian make up for you is a blend of 1/3 Pooka Cherry and 2/3 Back Hand of God. It makes a wonderful cherry stout.

On a final note, don’t overlook the wonderful cider from Merridale. Their cask Cyser is a must. It’s very popular, though, so I would recommend sampling it early. It also makes sense to do it before the big-flavoured, high gravity ales so you can fully appreciate it.

Dead Frog Seeking Second Brewer

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Dead Frog Brewery is looking for a second brewer for their fast-growing operation. The position pays $12/hour to start and increases to $15/hour after the three-month probation period. Must be hard working, conscientious, able to multi task, and have a passion for beer, as well as the brewing industry.

Please apply in person to:
Tony Dewald, Head Brewer
Dead Frog Brewery
#1 27272 Gloucester Way
Aldergrove, BC
(see the BC Beer Blog Map for location)

Written by BCbrews

August 16, 2008 at 9:08 am

2008 Canada Cup of Beer Awards

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Just Here for the Beer, organizers of Vancouver’s Canada Cup of Beer, have just released the 2008 Canada Cup of Beer Awards based on voting by the festival’s attendees. They are:

Favourite Canadian Lager
Dead Frog Lager – Dead Frog Brewery, Aldergrove, B.C.
Honourable Mention: Rebel – Tree Brewing Company, Red Truck Lager – Red Truck Beer Company

Favourite Canadian Ale 
Cutthroat Pale Ale – Tree Brewing Company, Kelowna, B.C.
Honourable Mention: Dead Frog Pale Ale – Dead Frog Brewing, Hophead – Tree Brewing Company 

Favourite Import Lager 
Efes Pilsener – Efes Beverage Group, Turkey
Honourable Mention: Estrella Damm Lager – Spain, Holsten – Germany 

Favourite Import Ale 
Liberty Ale – Anchor Brewing Company, San Francisco
Honourable Mention: Efes Dark – Turkey, Duvel – Belgium 

Best Booth Display 
Rickard’s – Vancouver, B.C. 
Honourable Mention: Red Truck Beer Company, Tree Brewing Company

Favourite Summer Cask Ale
Granville Island Raspberry – Granville Island Brewing
Honourable Mention: Dix IPA – Dix BBQ & Brewing, Red Devil Pale Ale – R & B Brewing

Favourite Beer Name
Thirsty Beaver Amber Ale – Tree Brewing Company
Honourable Mention: DUDE Beer – Pacific Western Brewing, Dead Frog – Dead Frog Brewing

Friendliest Servers
Red Truck Beer Company – North Vancouver, B.C.
Honourable Mention: Rickard’s – Vancouver, Tree Brewing Company – Kelowna

Favourite Microbrew Beer
Howe Sound Brewing – Squamish, B.C.
Honourable Mention: Tree Brewing Company – Kelowna, Dockside Brewing Company – Vancouver, Dead Frog Brewing – Aldergrove

Favourite Booth 
Campaign For Real Ale Vancouver – Vancouver, B.C.
Honourable Mention: Tree Brewing Company, Dead Frog Brewing, Efes – Sebucom International

Noteworthy for this year’s CCoB was the featuring of cask ale. Given that CAMRA was voted Favourite Booth of the festival, the fact that they served four firkins of local cask ale (BigRidge Clover Ale, Dix IPA, R & B dry-hopped Red Devil Pale Ale, Taylor’s Crossing Irish Honey Ale) means that more mainstream Vancouver beer drinkers are coming to appreciate the qualities of live, unfiltered, unpasteurized beer.

Where to find B.C. cask ale (see B.C. Beer Blog Map at top right margin):
BigRidge Brewing
15133 – 56th Avenue, Surrey
 – last Friday of each month at 5:00pm

Central City Brewing
13450 – 102nd Avenue, Surrey
 – Surrey Summer Cask Festival in July

Dix BBQ & Brewing
871 Beatty Street, Vancouver
 – every Thursday at 5:00pm; Summer Caskival in August, Winter Caskival in December

Great Canadian Beer Festival
Royal Athletic Park, Victoria
 – first Friday & Saturday after Labour Day (September 5 & 6, 2008)

Taylor’s Crossing
1035 Marine Drive, North Vancouver
 – first Friday of each month at 5:00pm

The Whip Restaurant & Gallery
209 East 6th Avenue, Vancouver
 – every Sunday at 4:00pm

The Wolf & Hound
3617 West Broadway, Vancouver
 – last Wednesday of each month at 6:00pm

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