B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Belgian

Central City Turns Five

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Surrey’s Central City Brewing celebrated its fifth anniversary on Saturday. Brewmaster, Gary Lohin, opened up the brewery to those wanting a tour. And because touring makes one thirsty, he set up a special beverage station with the following cellared ales:

  • Belgian Tripel – brewed December 06, 9.0% alc/vol
  • Smoked Porter – brewed October 07, 8.5% alc/vol
  • Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine – brewed October 07, 10.5% alc/vol
  • Imperial IPA – brewed June 08, 8.5% alc/vol
  • Red Racer Winter Ale brewed September 08, 7.5% alc/vol

Needless to say, the beverage station proved to be the most popular part of the tour. If you happened to miss the celebration, you’ll have to wait another five years before you can sample a comparable selection of cellared Central City ales. If we’re lucky, Gary may even brew a special beer for the occasion —a Red Racer 10-Speed, perhaps?

Gathered in the brewery for a special cellared ales tasting.
Gathered in the brewery for a special cellared ales tasting.

Another thing worth celebrating is the new chef. Executive Chef, Carl Sawatsky, came to Central City from the Bacchus Bistro at Domaine de Chaberton winery in Langley. He has brought a sensibility for matching food & drink that was also showcased this day with a five-course tasting menu:

❧ Beet Salad with goat cheese, pecans, frisée, and Raspberry Wheat Ale gastrique
Red Racer White Ale (aka Wally’s Wheat)

❧ Onion Cheddar Beer Soup
Iceberg Copper Bock

❧ AAA House Aged Striploin with mushy peas potatoes and red wine demi glaze
Boomers Red Ale

❧ IPA Braised Pork Belly with cabbage and crispy potatoes
Empire IPA

❧ Spiced Beer Cake à la mode with toffee sauce and stout truffle
Steelhead Oatmeal Stout

AAA House Aged Striploin with mushy peas potatoes and red wine demi glaze, accompanied by a Boomers Red Ale.

One could choose the courses individually or order all five for $40.00, including a 5oz taster of beer with each — very good value for the quality of the food and beer. Carl and Gary are eventually hoping to have a new tasting menu every month. Given how good this was, they should be encouraged at every opportunity to do so. Not enough brewpubs do this, which in my opinion is a major shortcoming. Brewer and chef should be working hand in glove, creating a synergy that exceeds what they can accomplish individually.

In case you didn’t know it Central City lager, pale ale, and wit are available in cans in both government and private liquor stores. The Empire IPA will be the next beer released in cans.

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Driftwood Delivers Draught

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Driftwood Brewery’s first kegs are out the door. Driftwood Ale is now available on draught at Colwood’s Cross Roads Bar & Grill, the KnockanBack Grill, and Smugglers Cove in Saanich. Both Farmhand Ale and Driftwood Ale are flowing at Victoria’s Flying Beagle Pub. White Bark Wit should be available in Victoria-area pubs this week.

While Driftwood will mostly be supplying Vancouver Island, the Alibi Room and The Whip in Vancouver will carry their draught in the Lower Mainland. We may see their bottled product, such as an upcoming barleywine, in private beer & wine stores.

The Importance of Imports

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Some of the offerings at Brewery Creek Liquor Store in Vancouver (Photo © 2008 Rick Green).

Some of the offerings at Brewery Creek Liquor Store in Vancouver (Photo © 2008 Rick Green).

While I’m a strong proponent of “thinking global and drinking local,” Alan Moen makes an interesting point in the Oct/Nov 2008 issue of Northwest Brewing News: that without access to foreign brews, our own beer suffers. I have to agree.

We can see that fact with the emergence of craft brewing in BC in the mid-eighties. If you ask the pioneers why they started brewing, it’s typically because they wanted access to European ales that were unavailable here. Why was Fogg ‘N Suds so popular? Because, suddenly, a whole palette of beer was available when only homogenized macro lager was sold before. Those who had emigrated from, or travelled to, Europe could now satisfy their thirst for flavour.

When I returned from a decade’s absence in Hong Kong and San Francisco, I was surprised to see a decline in the availability of imported beer. The venerable Fogg ‘N Suds was closing restaurants and cutting back on their beer offerings. There seemed to be a stagnation in the local brewing scene. Coincidence?

Within the last 18 months, however, the import side has picked up due to the efforts of beer importers AFIC Group, Beerthirst, and Bravo Beer in conjunction with private beer & wine stores, such as Brewery Creek, Firefly, and Viti. The arrival of Brooklyn Lager seemed to be a catalyst that sparked a swell in imports, giving us the likes of Anderson Valley, Bear Republic, Binchoise, de Blaugies, Bosteels, Dogfish Head, Dupont, Flying Dog, Gordon Biersch, Green Flash, Hook Norton, Lost Coast, Mill Street, Moylan’s, North Coast, Oud Beersel, Pike, Pyramid, Rogue, and Van Steenberge, to name just a few.

In the meantime, the availability and variety of cask ale in Vancouver has been increasing. Dix and The Whip have been offering weekly casks. Now the new Irish Heather offers a cask daily, a first in Vancouver. We’ll see if Victoria catches up as the British brewing tradition is their trademark. We may see Spinnakers start pushing this in 2009.

We’ve also seen brewery expansions, either with capacity increases or moves into new facilities. This has been the case for Cannery, Central City, Dead Frog, Fernie, Howe Sound, Mt. Begbie, Phillips, and R & B. Taylor’s Crossing will be adding new capacity to meet the growing demand for the Mark James Group’s Red Truck Ale and Lager until they complete a dedicated production brewery for those two products on Terminal Avenue in Vancouver.

Consequently, we are also seeing the emergence of new beers. Howe Sound is exploring an Imperial IPA and and Imperial Stout, both of which were consumer tested at this Great Canadian Beer Festival. Fernie Brewing successfully released a Huckleberry wheat beer as a summer seasonal for the first time this year, while Phillips came out with a blackberry wheat in support of local farmland. Granville Island launched two new Limited Release beers—a Witbier and a Belgian-style blonde ale—and will drop their upcoming Merry Monks Doppelbock and Scotch Ale for two new styles. Yaletown Brewing’s Iain Hill will release an Oud Bruin next month.

Then there’s Driftwood Brewing, a completely new brewery in Victoria that aims to carve out a special niche. According to brewmaster, Jason Meyer, they plan on “providing an eclectic mix of high quality brews with a continuously changing selection and a decidedly Belgian slant. Expect to see everything from styles familiar to Northwest beer lovers (we love our “C” hops as much as anyone) to wild- and brettanomyces-fermented, wood-aged, sour mash, and other adventures in flavour.”

The hop shortage has also spurred innovation by forcing some brewers to come up with ways to maintain the flavour profile of their recipes or brew styles that use less hops. Taylor’s Crossing, for example, will focus their remaining seasonals on either unique flavours produced from yeast or from different adjuncts.

It’s an exciting time for brewers and beer drinkers in B.C. We just need to work on the government to remove some of the Byzantine barriers that prevent us from achieving what Belgium, Oregon, and Washington have.

Granville Island Drops Two Limited Releases

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Many of you may be unaware that Granville Island Brewing makes all of its regular beers in Kelowna. Only the Limited Release beers are brewed on Granville Island by Vern Lambourne. Many of us look forward to a change in season in anticipation of the next GIB Limited Release. Those of you expecting their Merry Monks Doppelbock and Scotch Ale, however, should not get their hopes up. They are being discontinued.

This year it was decided to introduce some new Limited Release beers, meaning some would have to be retired. The first new introductions were a witbier and a Belgian-style blonde ale. The wit turned out particularly well; Lambourne was also happy with it, therefore, we should see it again next year. He wasn’t as happy, however, with the blonde. The yeast didn’t meet his expectations, so its release was immediately halted. We may see a new attempt next year using a different yeast.

The latest seasonal is their regular Oktoberfest Märzen, which will be available until early November. That will be followed by a Trappist-style ale which will replace the Merry Monks. (Personally, I wish they would replace that horrible Winter Ale, but it is a very popular seller.) Cask versions of this will be available at The Whip and the Dix Xmas Xtreme Caskival on December 6. I hope someone else does a Doppelbock, but it takes time, so it may be too late.

In January, Lambourne will have a porter to replace their Scotch Ale. He hasn’t decided the specifics of the recipe just yet, but it will likely be a traditional version without smoke or spice.

Written by BCbrews

October 15, 2008 at 5:48 pm

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.

Driftwood in Production

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Driftwood Brewery brewmaster, Jason Meyer, talks about his plans for brewing various styles of beer for a constantly-changing offering (Photo © 2008 Rick Green).

Driftwood Brewery brewmaster, Jason Meyer, talks about his plans for brewing various styles of beer for a constantly-changing offering (Photo © 2008 Rick Green).

Jason Meyer is in the middle of making Driftwood Brewery’s first commercial batch of beer. Their flagship Driftwood Ale and Farmhand Ale saison have finished fermenting. We’re getting closer to experiencing a welcome addition to B.C.’s craft-brewing scene. Driftwood expect to launch these in Victoria this month.

According to Meyer, their 5% Driftwood Ale is a “perfect marriage of Northwest and German hops balanced with cotton candy malt notes and a hint of fruit courtesy of our own special yeast.”

Farmhand Ale is a traditional Belgian-style farmhouse ale named for the beer that seasonal farm workers consumed when bringing in the harvest. At 5.5% ABV, this ale was made with sour mash and added spice.

While Driftwood’s primary market will be Vancouver Island, brewery President, Kevin Hearsum, intimated that their beer will also be available at The Alibi Room in Vancouver. We may also be lucky to see some 650ml bottles with the SRP of $4.75 in select stores.

To track Driftwood’s progress, you can find photos and video on the brewery’s Facebook page. I also have photos on Flickr from my visit there on September 5.

New Brewery Ferments in Victoria

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Third-hand brewing system originally from Flying Monkey Brewery in Olathe, Kansas.

Third-hand brewing system originally from Flying Monkey Brewery in Olathe, Kansas.

Just when you thought Victoria had enough breweries, another one is about to float in on the capital’s wave of craft brewing success. Driftwood Brewery is a new venture of Kevin Hearsum and Jason Meyer, formerly of Lighthouse Brewing. Meyer, Driftwood’s brewmaster, is a BJCP certified beer judge, past President of the Edmonton Homebrewers’ Guild, and Alley Kat’s first employee.

Driftwood will be a production micro-brewery producing draught largely for bars and restaurants in the Victoria area, along with 650ml bottles in select private liquor stores. Some seasonal releases will only be available in bottles. (I think we can persuade Driftwood to send some of their beer over the pond to Vancouver, knowing Nigel Springthorpe at the Alibi Room will want to stop by on his regular trips to the Island.)

What makes Driftwood different? According to Meyer, “We plan on providing an eclectic mix of high quality brews with a continuously changing selection and a decidedly Belgian slant. Expect to see everything from styles familiar to Northwest beer lovers (we love our “C” hops as much as anyone) to wild and brettanomyces-fermented, wood-aged, sour mash, and other adventures in flavour.”

Driftwood brewmaster, Jason Meyer, stands in front of his vented mash tun.

Driftwood brewmaster, Jason Meyer, stands in front of his vented mash tun.

This is welcome news for B.C. We won’t have to import Belgian-style beer from Quebec, the U.S., or Europe to get our fix. There is a building interest in Belgians with many brewpubs and micro-breweries releasing fruit beers, dubbels, tripels, and Wits, Granville Island being just the latest with their limited release Belgian Wit now available. James Walton, brewmaster of Vancouver’s Storm Brewing, has been the most experimental with his phenomenal fruit lambics that were ahead of their time for sufficient acceptance by the local market — unfortunate because he is no longer making them. Spinnaker’s Rob Monk released a saison at the beginning of this year that tasted more like an abbey ale due to the predominant presence of bubble gum in the flavour profile. Nevertheless, I hope he continues to work on this versatile style.

Driftwood is currently under construction; they just received their brewing equipment this week. If you are interested in following their progress, you can track it through their Facebook page. And while Hearsum and Meyer have already made dozens of experimental brews in their pilot brewery, they don’t expect to be in production until the fall. Their goal is to produce 2,000 hectolitres in the first year and 5,000-7,000 hectolitres within five years.

Although they intend on exhibiting at the GCBF, Meyer doesn’t think they will have any beer to offer. Nevertheless, I”m sure they’ll be happy if you stopped by for a chat.

Driftwood Brewery
450 Hillside Avenue, Unit 102
Victoria, BC  V8T 1Y7
Tel: (250) 381-BREW (2739)
Fax: (250) 384-2333