B.C. Beer Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Derrick Franche

Another Milestone: The Alibi Room 200th

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Nigel Springthorpe spoofs Michael JacksonI remember there was a time when a new change-up in the Alibi Room’s draught lineup was newsworthy of being posted on this blog. Those then became such a regular occurrence that even Nigel couldn’t keep up with posting copies of his new draught menu to his own Web site. Now we are lucky to get the occasional tweet, warning us of the odd noteworthy beer going on tap.

On December 3, 2009, the Alibi Room celebrated its 100th tap list with a party that has become legend amongst local craft beer nerds and brewers alike, not least of which was Nigel’s souvenir the beer geek’s guide to the Alibi’s 100th beer list. A shade over a year later, and three and a half years after this ball got rolling, it’s time to toast the 200th:

The Alibi’s 200th Beer List
December 22, 2010, 5:00pm
157 Alexander Street, Vancouver

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CAMRA Recognizes Vancouver’s Best in Beer

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Dustin Sepkowski, Morris Anh, Rose Weir of The Whip

Dustin Sepkowski, Morris Anh, and Rose Weir, photo courtesy Brian K. Smith Photography.

The Vancouver chapter of the Campaign for Real Ale has announced the results of its annual members poll recognizing local and regional excellence in brewing and beer service. Dix BBQ & Brewery was awarded Best Local Brewpub; The Alibi Room is Best Local Beer Cafe, Pub, or Restaurant; and Brewery Creek, Best Local Liquor Store for beer selection.

“While it may seem curious that the best beer is in Surrey and the best brewery in Victoria, this year’s results reflect the growth in popularity of real ale in Vancouver,” explained CAMRA Vancouver President, Rick Green. “We are fortunate to have brewers throughout the province willing to meet the demand here.”

Dix BBQ & Brewery began the trend in 2002, featuring a cask-conditioned ale once a month. With the encouragement of CAMRA Vancouver, the following has grown. Now Dix features a weekly cask ale and hosts a semi-annual cask festival.

“We are very pleased to be awarded favourite brewpub in the Lower Mainland,” said Dix brewer, Derrick Franche. “On behalf of the Dix BBQ & Brewery staff, I’d like to thank CAMRA Vancouver for their support.”

Nigel Springthorpe, Alibi Room publican.

Nigel Springthorpe, photo courtesy Brian K. Smith Photography.

In January of 2007, The Whip Restaurant & Gallery partnered with local microbrewery, R&B Brewing, to offer a weekly cask from brewers all over BC. Last year, they inaugurated the annual Feast of Five Firkins, a special brewmasters’ dinner featuring five courses paired with five firkins from five brewers. Their success is reflected in the three rewards they received this year.

Real ale is also reaching the suburbs. Taylor’s Crossing brewpub in North Vancouver offers a monthly cask ale, as does Surrey’s BigRidge brewpub. Central City Brewing, also in Surrey, launched their annual cask festival last summer.

Not only is Gastown an evolving dining destination, it’s also a growing focal point for craft beer. Steamworks has been the standard bearer since 1995. Two years ago, the Alibi Room changed direction to become a true free house showcasing all of the province’s best beers. Publican, Nigel Springthorpe, noted:

“We went out on a limb to try something different. The build has been slow, but I really feel things are coming together. We pick up our own beer from the Island; we even have small breweries in the Interior carpooling their beer or getting visitors to throw kegs in their trunks to bring to us. Things are changing. Craft beer is becoming a bigger part of our culture here in BC.”

Last year, the Irish Heather moved across the street into a newly-renovated location. As part of their makeover, they became the first establishment in Vancouver to offer cask-conditioned ale daily, supplied by R&B. And with first-rate imports being sold through progressive retailers, such as Brewery Creek, we can expect the bar to be raised in Vancouver.

The results of the 2009 CAMRA Vancouver Awards are:

Best Local Brewpub
Gold: Dix BBQ & Brewery
Silver: Central City Brewing
Bronze: Yaletown Brewing

Best Local Beer Cafe, Pub, or Restaurant
Gold: The Alibi Room
Silver: The Whip Restaurant & Gallery
Bronze: The Wolf & Hound

Best Local Liquor Store
Gold: Brewery Creek Cold Beer & Wine Store
Silver: Firefly Fine Wines and Ales
Bronze: BCLS Signature Store (39th & Cambie)

Best Local Beer Event
Gold: The Whip Real Ale Sundays
Silver: CAMRA On a Mission to Mission; Feast of Five Firkins (tie)

Best BC Brewery
Gold: Phillips Brewing Co., Victoria
Silver: Storm Brewing Ltd., Vancouver
Bronze: Crannóg Ales, Sorrento; R&B Brewing, Vancouver (tie)

Best BC Beer
Gold: Central City Empire IPA
Silver: Storm Black Plague Stout
Bronze: Crannóg Back Hand of God Stout

Best BC Seasonal Beer
Gold: Yaletown Oud Bruin
Silver: Steamworks The Grand espresso stout
Bronze: Granville Island Winter Ale

Derrick’s Experiment: Smoked-Fruit Beer

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You may be aware of smoked beer made with smoked malt.  Many of you will be familiar with fruit beer (made with the addition of whole fruit, fruit purée, or fruit syrup, not fruited malt). How about smoked-fruit beer?

Derrick Franche, brewmaster at Vancouver’s Dix BBQ & Brewery, will be experimenting with peaches and plums smoked in-house by chef Zai Kitigawa. Franche intends to make smoked peach Hefeweizen & porter, smoked plum Oktoberfest & porter, and an IPA with both smoked peaches and plums.

It will be interesting to see how much smoke comes through in the beer, as well as how much fruit. Apparently, the fruit was lightly smoked, so it may not be that noticable.

Written by BCbrews

September 17, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Vancouver’s Last Hop Bine?

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CAMRA Vancouver member, Julian Price, has made an interesting discovery: Brewery Creek is not just a cold beer and wine store. Here’s his story and your chance to brew up some history.

In 1905 the neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant was a logged-off area with only a few structures off Main or Broadway. One of them was a Vancouver Breweries building at the corner of what is now 280 E. 6th Avenue at Scotia. The brick and stone building is a heritage site and an artist live-work studio complex. The brewery was sited there because of the creek that flowed there. The water turned the grist mill and, of course, provided water for the beer.

Brewery Creek still flows but it’s underground now. It flows, as it almost always has, down to the False Creek flats at East First Avenue and Scotia. In fact, the Artech building has pumps underground to keep its parkade from flooding.

Across the street from Artech, there’s a large hop vine growing wild in the blackberry brambles. I can’t prove it, but it’s reasonable to suppose that spent hops and grains dumped outside the brewery found their way via stream, wind, or birds to where what now could be Vancouver’s last hop vine. False Creek was filled in to eliminate Mount Pleasant’s waterfront and Brewery Creek long has long since been sent underground, but the hops are still there…barely.

Recently, a City of Vancouver “Greenway” project has a planned bicycle path that will see the vine’s location on the boulevard bulldozed. The two-pronged approach of the path has brought the east end from Main Street to within a few yards of the vine. The westerly extension is at Great Northern Way and Brunswick, also within a half a block of the vine. I’m surprised there’s been a mature crop this year. I figured the machines would have sent the vine to oblivion weeks ago.

As the nights cool in the dying days of summer 2008, the last crop this old vine will produce has reached its prime. I’ve brewed with these hops, sold them on eBay, and given them away over the years. This is the last hurrah. I’ve taken samples of the hops to Derrick at Dix. He has said that he’s interested in brewing a fresh-hopped beer, but he will not be able to fit it into his schedule until the third week in September. The hops MIGHT still be there, but annihilation is imminent.

The vine is located on the north side of 336 East First Avenue, opposite the little park. Anyone interested in taking rhisome cuttings or hops will need pruners and gloves to clip away the blackberry brambles. The vine is large, so it will be possible to harvest a bunch large enough to brew anything from a basic five-gallon homebrew on up to craft brew sizes.

Julian Price

Another CAMRA Vancouver member has since advised me that another notable wild hop bine in Vancouver is on a pole supporting the wires for the heritage trolley, just below the pedestrian bridge over the trolley tracks, immediately north of where Hemlock meets West 4th.

So if you want to get some hops to make a fresh hop ale or add to your glass of bitter, pale ale, or IPA for some added fresh-hop aroma (be sure to bruise the cones before you add), here’s where you can find some. But before you do, take care to make sure they are not sprayed with defoliants or other such chemicals.

Update: reader Mattias Morrison has taken four cuttings of the heritage trolly bine and will be transplanting them at his new home in Campbell River.

Written by BCbrews

September 10, 2008 at 11:21 am

Caskival: The Coming Beer Culture

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Beer festivals in B.C. are typically male-dominated affairs that are tightly regulated by the Liquor Distribution Branch because of the assumed association between beer and bad behaviour (one that is not assumed to be with wine if you have ever dealt with the LDB in setting up an event). If the festival is more about raising money than the appreciation of good beer, you can bet that the quality of the experience will inevitably decline (e.g. Vancouver’s Autumn Brewmasters Festival). The GCBF, on the other hand, is a good example of a well-run, civilized event that, as a result, attracts a mixed clientele interested in the opportunity to taste many different beers, rather than an excuse to get drunk (a number who don’t get it still try, though).

Rae, Andy, and Lauren enjoying the cask ale offerings at Dix Summer Caskival.

Rae, Andy, and Lauren enjoying the cask ale offerings at Dix Summer Caskival.

At Saturday’s Summer Caskival (#5), I witnessed an interesting change at Dix from the previous affairs. There were more women in attendance.

I find this to be a noteworthy situation because it signals to me some positive developments:

  1. more women are discovering different styles of beer, beers they actually enjoy
  2. Caskival is a cultured enough event to make it worthwhile for women to attend
  3. the males are sufficiently well-mannered that women feel comfortable

We are starting to see the movement away from a drinking culture. More people are taking the time to contemplate and enjoy the creativity and skill of the brewers, socializing with similarly-motivated people, and enjoying food with their drink. I think beer has been on the decline as more Canadians choose wine because macro-brewers don’t fulfill this demand while micro-brewers don’t have the financial clout to reach a broad audience to inform them the option is available. Instead, the change is happening at the grass roots level through events like Caskival and word of mouth. I regularly come across people who are surprised by the quality of the beer and the ready availability of it if they know where to look. So many people say, “I never knew!”

For those that did and turned up “for the love of the bung,” there was a fine showing of creative casks this year. Fruit figured in half of them, including a medium-dry 5% ABV apple cider from Storm Brewing, kräusened with pear juice, that had aged nicely since last October. Whistler Brewhouse’s Dave Woodward provided a Belgian-style Mother Pucker Sour Cherry Wheat that was well-balanced, not cloyingly sweet, and had a taste of almonds (from the pits) in the finish. Dix’s Derrick Franche brought out the citrus with a Key Lime Yuzu Hefeweizen — no need for lemon or lime; it’s already in there.

There were classic casks, like Mission Springs Fat Guy Oatmeal Stout, a Simcoe dry-hopped Red Devil Pale Ale from R & B, and Crannög Three Finger Ale — a traditionally-made porter known as an “entire butt.” A special treat was Iain Hill’s Flemish Oud Bruin, which is developing much more character and depth as the months go by. I’m looking forward to when he releases it at Yaletown Brewing in the fall.

On the experimental side, the most unusual and ambitious was from Dave Varga at Taylor’s Crossing. Dave normally likes to brew to style and does a very good job of it. You would, therefore, expect him to be a conservative brewer; not when it comes to making a small batch for hardcore beer aficionados. How about a Masala Pale Ale? If you don’t like a full-on Indian curry, you wouldn’t have liked this beer; some poured it out. I do. Truth be told, however, I was skeptical. Cumin, coriander, fennel, star anise, cardamon, chillies, cinnamon, curry leaves, and palm sugar in beer? Yes! And amazingly good. It would be right at home served at Vij’s.

Tariq Khan of BigRidge in Surrey supplied a Chipotle Cream Ale. Chili beers mess with your head when you first try them. Like La Casa Gelato’s Spicy Mango ice cream, it is both hot and cool at the same time. How much heat you feel depends on your tolerance for chili. If you like spicy food, more of the smoky flavour from the chipotle will come out and some sweetness from the malt, a nice pairing with the barbecue at Dix. Otherwise, you will have mostly experienced the burn.

Dix usually tries to have food specials for each Caskival. This time there was an incredible Pork Loin Katsu Sandwich and Chef Zai’s very own Kimchi Smoked Striploin Beef Jerky with a yuzu honey glaze.

Caskival wrapped up with Derrick Franche announcing the brewers’ and drinkers’ choice awards. For the brewers, it was Iain Hill’s Oud Bruin. For the drinkers, it was Dave Woodward’s 7% ABV, 60 IBU, Whistler Brewhouse IPA, made with Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, and Horizon hops and Chico yeast. That said, I think we were all winners.

For more pictures of the event, check out my friend Raj’s Urban Mixer blog.

Real Ale Extravaganza at Dix Summer Caskival

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Exterior of Vancouver brewpub, Dix BBQ & Brewery at Beatty & Smithe streets.

Exterior of Vancouver brewpub, Dix BBQ & Brewery at Beatty & Smithe streets.

Tony Dewald’s (currently Dead Frog brewmaster) semi-annual cask festival tradition continues under the tutelage of Derrick Franche with the upcoming Summer Caskival at Dix BBQ & Brewery on August 9. With the support of CAMRA Vancouver, Caskival is a showcase of live, all-natural, preservative-free, unfiltered, unpasteurized cask ales from the creative talents of B.C.’s leading craft brewers.

This year, there will be approximately two dozen different beers to sample over the course of an afternoon. According to Franche, more brewers have gone experimental with their casks this time. Caskival seems to be evolving into a freestyle beer event that gives brewers an opportunity to experiment in a way that would otherwise be financially risky. Sometimes you may get a bum beer, but then there’s the extraordinary ale that more than makes up for the former. It’s exciting to be on B.C. beer’s cutting edge!

In addition to the regular food menu, there will be featured food specials — an entree ($12-$14), an appetizer, and Chef Zai Kitigawa’s special beef jerky.

Dix Summer Caskival
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Dix BBQ & Brewing
871 Beatty Street, Vancouver
Tel: (604) 682-2739

Cost: $15 CAMRA members, $20 non-members for entry; 4oz samples $1.00 each; souvenir t-shirts $20.00. There are no tickets for pre-purchase.

I will post more information about the participating brewers and their beers as the information becomes available.

Written by BCbrews

July 27, 2008 at 3:34 pm