B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Crystal

All Aboard for Boxcar Bitter

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Janet and Steve Forsyth, owners of The Railway Club in Vancouver, decided to support their local brewers through the recent hop shortage by planting an acre of Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Crystal, East Kent Goldings, Fuggles, Magnum, Mount Hood, and Zeus on some spare land they own near Mission. After seeing which ones thrive, they will select the best eight varieties and expand the hop yard by another half acre.

This season already yielded a sufficient harvest to produce a beer. Consequently, the Forsyths contracted Victoria’s Phillips Brewing to brew a fresh hop beer exclusively for The Railway Club using only organic Chinook, Centennial, Cascade, Zeus, Magnum, Mt.Hood, and a small amount of Goldings from their farm.

For these ventures to succeed, it will depend on the growers working closely with the brewers to ensure their needs are met. It will also depend on the willingness of brewers to make some adaptations to use whole hops. Most of B.C.’s craft brewers use hop pellets. But until hops can be grown on a sufficiently large scale, it is presently uneconomic for local growers to purchase the necessary machinery to supply them. They may end up only supplying fresh hop cones for dry-hopping.

Thirty-six kegs of Boxcar Bitter are the result of this collaboration. It will only be available for a limited time, so be sure you don’t miss the train, um, boat.

Forthcoming Innovation from Taylor’s Crossing

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Dave Varga, brewer at the Mark James Group’s North Vancouver brewpub, Taylor’s Crossing (formerly Avalon Brewing), is an interesting brewer. On the one hand, he’s a perfectionist in his aim to brew to style. On the other hand, he can go completely off-tangent — last year brewing a cask-conditioned mole stout; this year, coming up with a masala pale ale cask (yes, a curry beer!). His forthcoming beers are a combination of the two approaches.

Varga’s next seasonal will be an English Summer Ale (English Golden Ale).  Made with Maris Otter Pale malt, some wheat, and a bit of Crystal for colour, the bittering hops were Target and the finishing and dry hops were Amarillo. This will be available as “Alchemy” at booth 31 at the GCBF, but it may be called something else when it goes on tap at Taylor’s Crossing after the Hefeweizen runs out early this month.

Due to the persistence of the hop shortage for TC, the focus on most of their remaining seasonals will be on either unique flavours produced from yeast or from different adjuncts. For example, Varga will attempt a fruit beer for this year’s winter seasonal, calling it “Harvest Ale.”   He is contemplating using apples, but hasn’t decided on whether to use a Belgian yeast strain or his house ale strain.

Normally, Taylor’s Crossing Firkin Fridays mean patrons get to sample a cask-conditioned ale on the first Friday of each month. In October, there will be two casks — a Summer Ale dry-hopped with Hallertau & Saaz and a special Red Truck Lager for Oktoberfest. The latter is an interesting innovation since it is difficult to make a palatable lager in a cask. Varga got the inspiration to try this at this year’s Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego. He used ale yeast to recarbonate the beer and added a generous amount of Hallertau and Saaz hops for dry-hopping. By the time it is tapped,it will have lagered for nearly three months.

Needless to say, I’ve got some North Vancouver visits planned. Hopefully, Sailor Hagar’s will have Thor’s Hammer the Elder on tap at the same time as TC’s Harvest Ale. That will be a wobbly day!