B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Fernie Brewing

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.

Indonesian Restaurant Reaches Beyond Lager

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When it comes to beer, most Asian restaurants typically offer little but lager because that is the dominant, if not only, style of beer brewed in their respective countries. For the lager loather, they may have Guinness, but that doesn’t mean it actually pairs well with any items on their menu. This is a shame because there are a number of beer styles that go very well with different Asian dishes. For example, every Indian restaurant should have an India Pale Ale (Alexander Keith’s not being an IPA), not only because the style was created for India but because it also happens to go well with many spicy Indian dishes.

Saison Dupont, Fernie First Trax, R & B Hop Goblin

From top left: saté lamb chop, krupuk (shrimp chips), coconut prawn & sambal mayonnaise, green beans & kecap manis, beef rendang (centre). The beer, from left: Saison Dupont, Fernie First Trax, R & B Hop Goblin'

A Vancouver restaurant is changing this stereotype. I hosted beer-tasting dinners on April 27 and November 8 at Saté Satu, an Indonesian restaurant in Cambie Village, to highlight pairing Asian food with ales (more photos on Picasa) . The menu was as follows:

Salads pair well with wheat beers. In this case, I chose a Belgian wit to go with the Gado Gado. Wheat beers also pair well with seafood. But to change things up a bit and showcase another style of beer, I chose to match the prawn with a saison, a very versatile and palate-cleansing food beer.

Darker beers typically pair well with dark meats. The trick is to discover which style. Depending on how it is prepared, lamb can have a strong flavour. In this case, the spices it is marinated in cut down on the gaminess, while grilling brings out some sweetness from caramelization. Therefore, I chose a brown ale that complements this, but won’t overwhelm the taste of the food with heavy body and full flavour.

One might be tempted to pair the beef rendang with a porter or stout. However, this one was spicy. If you aren’t able to handle a lot of chili heat, either of these styles will be completely inadequate to stand up to the spiciness. Therefore, I chose an India pale ale to dampen the heat. If you can find one, even better would be an India brown ale. The hop bitterness would counteract the chilis on the one hand, while the malt sweetness would be a better match for the beef.

How much spiciness you can handle in your food actually makes a difference as to what style of beer will pair best with your food. The less heat you can handle, the bigger a beer you need; the converse is also true.

Finally, the deep-fried banana has some options, depending on how it is presented. If there is any chocolate sauce, a chocolate or roasty imperial stout would work. In this case, however, it was plated with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fruit. Consequently, I chose a wheat Eisbock because the caramel of the beer goes well with the carmelized batter of the banana. Also, the banana esters from the wheat beer yeast complement the dessert perfectly.

The owners of Saté Satu were very pleased with the outcome of the dinners, not only because their customers were satisfied with the experience but it gives them an opportunity to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Consequently, they modified their beer selection to include the ones above.

My next beer pairing dinner will be on November 19 at the House of Dosas (1391 Kingsway, Vancouver) with dishes from Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.

B.C. Recognized at Canadian Brewing Awards

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B.C. brewers won 14 out of a possible 63 awards at this year’s 6th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards in Toronto. A panel of 14 certified beer judges evaluated 239 beers from 50 breweries entered in 21 style categories. The following B.C. beers were winners:

Gold

  • Lighthouse Lager, Lighthouse Brewing (North American Style Premium Lager)
  • Tessier’s Witbier, Buckerfield’s Brewery—Swans (Wheat Beer Belgian Style)
  • Hefeweizen, Tree Brewing (Wheat Beer German Style)
  • Longboat Chocolate Porter, Phillips Brewing (Fruit and Vegetable)

Silver

  • Rocky Mountain Genuine Lager, Fernie Brewing (European Style Lager—Pilsner)
  • Belgian Wit, Granville Island Brewing (Wheat Beer Belgian Style)
  • Sungod Wheat Ale, R & B Brewing (Wheat Beer North American Style)
  • Hop Head IPA, Tree Brewing (India Pale Ale)
  • Appleton Brown Ale, Buckerfield’s Brewery—Swans (Brown Ale)

Bronze

  • Whistler Weissbier, Whistler Brewing (Wheat Beer German Style)
  • Surley Blonde, Phillips Brewing (Belgian Style Ale)
  • Swans ESB, Buckerfield’s Brewery—Swans (English Style Pale Ale Bitter)
  • Amnesiac IPA, Phillips Brewing (India Pale Ale)
  • First Trax Brown Ale, Fernie Brewing (Brown Ale)

Congratulations to the winners in their quest for excellence. Be sure to sample all of the above.

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.

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