B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Guinness

The Next Wave in BC Craft Beer

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Patrons enjoying the Driftwood beer dinner at Hapa Umi.

It was just over three years ago when I started this blog out of frustration over the lack of craft beer coverage in the mainstream media – virtually none. In fact, they were reporting the decline of beer in favour of wine when I knew it was a generalization that completely overlooked the ferment that was happening in BC amongst the microbreweries and brewpubs. Clearly, the MSM had no idea, given their wine obsession. At the time, craft beer in Vancouver seemed like an underground subculture whose workings were known to a select few. I had started getting the word out through CAMRA Vancouver’s newsletter, but needed a means for discussing issues and covering events in more depth than e-mail. The B.C. Beer Blog was born.

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2009 Tarnished Plate Awards

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Love them or loathe them, the Georgia Straight‘s Golden Plate Awards are out. Either way, it would be foolish to ignore them. Consider them a gauge of The Straight‘s readers’ preferences. If, as a business, you are targeting that demographic, then the awards will give you an indication of how successful your efforts have been to date. From the perspective of CAMRA Vancouver, it tells us how much more work we still need to do.

On the beer front, this is an opportunity to measure progress since the Best of Vancouver 2008 awards. Although there were fewer categories offered than the Golden Plates, my accompanying article in that edition covered more ground. I was hoping, at least, it made a few people curious to try something other than what they’re constantly being bombarded with in advertisements. The results are mixed, but I see some progress being made.

In terms of beer, readers are clearly influenced by advertising. The Local Microbrew category certainly limits the choices (thankfully, there were no daft awards, such as Molson Canadian), but all the beers chosen are actually brewed in Kelowna. The Granville Island beers that are brewed in Vancouver are only their Limited Releases. The majority of people still need to discover R&B and Storm, it seems. Sorry, folks, per a previous post, Steamworks is not a microbrewery; they are a brewpub. Outside of this category, only one craft brewer made the cut — Phillips, which just reinforces what I said in my last post about the need for craft brewers to collaborate.

In the categories of B.C. Beer (brewed outside Vancouver) and Canadian Beer (not B.C.), people have a reading comprehension problem since a number of choices were breweries, not actual beers. I find the import category to be the most disappointing of all. Given all the beers available at the establishments chosen in the Imported Beer Selection category, you would think there would be more of a mixture of choices other than mass-market lager and mass-market Guinness. There is a much greater diversity available here that people are completely missing out on. A visit to Brewery Creek, Firefly, Libations, or Viti would quickly put that to rest.

On the pub front, I see more progress. All the pubs are actual pubs; all the brewpubs are pubs that brew beer for consumption on their own premises (Granville Island Tap House not being a pub). The majority of the chosen pubs also have good beer. I’m heartened by the fact that The Straight‘s readers do not equate ‘best’ with the Granville guzzling galleries. On the food side, I don’t think enough people have eaten at the Alibi Room. Their commitment to local and seasonal is deserving of attention. Chef Greg Armstrong formerly worked at Habit Lounge, so he’s no slouch.

Finally, I’m curious about the inclusion of Fogg N’ Suds. Are people voting for them based on reputation? Their beer selection today is nowhere near that of their halcyon days in the mid-eighties. For B.C. beer, no one in the entire province beats the Alibi Room for the quality of their selection — there is simply no crap on tap. For imported beer, I think Fogg N’ Suds has been succeeded by Six Acres, the Irish Heather, and Stella’s. I wouldn’t call Chambar‘s selection the best from a comprehensive point of view, but it is very good from the perspective of matching their beer with their food, which no one else in Vancouver has done. I’d like to see them replace their gueuze, though, with Oud Beersel. If we can get anyone to import Cantillon, its inclusion would be essential.

Finally, here are the beer results from the Best Drinks section of the 2009 Golden Plate Awards:

Local Microbrewery
1. Granville Island Brewing
2. R & B Brewing
3. Steamworks Brewing Company

Local Microbrew
1. Granville Island Lions Winter Ale
2. Granville Island English Bay Pale Ale
3. Granville Island Lager

B.C. Beer (brewed outside Vancouver)
1. Kokanee
2. Okanagan Spring
3. Phillips Brewing

Canadian Beer (not B.C.)
1. Sleeman
2. Alexander Keith’s
3. (tie) Molson Canadian
3. (tie) Moosehead

Imported Beer
1. Stella Artois
2. (tie) Corona
2. (tie) Guinness
3. Heineken

Best Pub
1. The Irish Heather
2. Yaletown Brewing Company
3. Steamworks

Brewpub
1. Yaletown Brewing Company
2. Steamworks
3. Dix BBQ & Brewery

Pub Food
1. The Irish Heather
2. Yaletown Brewing Company
3. Kingston Taphouse & Grille

B.C. Beer Selection
1. Fogg N’ Suds
2. Alibi Room
3. The Whip Restaurant Gallery

Imported Beer Selection
1. Stella’s Tap & Tapas Bar
2. Fogg N’ Suds
3. Chambar Belgian Restaurant

Hallmarked Holidays

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I’m not actually looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day and that’s nothing against the Irish or St. Patrick. I think many of our holidays and festivals have been taken over by consumerism where the primary rituals now seem to revolve around spending on things instead of just spending time with people, enjoying food and drink in their company. If you think St. Patrick’s Day is about dressing in green, eating green food, and drinking lots of green beer, then you’ve either lost, or been misled about, the meaning of the occasion.

While I’ve done my share of quaffing pints of Guinness on March 17, I guess I’m getting tired of crowded faux Irish pubs packed to the rafters, stinking of spilled beer, struggling to get service from stressed staff. Instead, I’ll probably just make a fine Irish stew and enjoy it at home, toasting St. Pat and the people of Eire with a pint of stout. Maybe I’m getting old.

Written by BCbrews

March 13, 2009 at 4:27 pm

New Irish Heather Officially Opens

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Irish pipers pipe the spirit of the old Irish Heather across the street over to the new on its official opening on September 29, 2008 (Photo © 2008 Rick Green).

Irish pipers pipe the spirit of the old Irish Heather across the street over to the new on its official opening on September 29, 2008 (Photo © 2008 Rick Green).

Guinness brewmaster, Fergal Murray, arrived in Vancouver from Dublin on Monday, September 29, to officially open the new Irish Heather.

Publican, Sean Heather, started off the ceremony with a few words of welcome and introduced Murray who noted it was a rare opportunity to attend a pub opening.

Heather then had two pipers pipe the spirit of the old Irish Heather across the street to the new; toasts were made; and the Irish Heather was officially opened.

The pub was packed with friends, regulars, and local food industry types. Guinness was freely flowing as staff brought out food samples from the menu. Musicians and the pipers provided musical entertainment for a festive atmosphere.

While some are nostalgic for the ambiance of the old Irish Heather and have misgivings about the new location, I think they will eventually come around. The decor is entirely appropriate for Gastown—warm with a sense of the past, yet incorporating contemporary stylistic elements that dispel any mustiness. It just may need a bit of time for the construction smells to dissipate and the furnishings to get a more lived-in look for the reluctant to be converted.

Written by BCbrews

October 1, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Rick Green’s Dublin Steak Sandwich

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The colder weather has arrived. So here’s a recipe for some heartier fare with which you can better enjoy your stout.

  • 225g sirloin steak
  • 2 cups local stout, e.g. R & B Dark Star, Lighthouse Keepers Stout, plus more for drinking
  • 1 loaf French bread or 2 Terra Breads demi-loaves
  • 150g wedge Springbank Irish Guinness Cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups mixed salad greens tossed in Dijon vinaigrette (below)
  • small red onion, halved and sliced
  • mayonnaise

Cut the steak across the grain into 1/4″ slices. Cover in stout and marinate for at least four hours or overnight.

Remove steak from marinade and pat dry; lightly salt. Cook onions in remaining stout until it has been reduced completely. Meanwhile, prepare two sandwiches by cutting the bread in half horizontally. Lightly toast the bottom half, then spread with mayonnaise and cover with cheese slices.

Heat a dry iron skillet on high until it begins to lightly smoke, then add the steak, searing it on both sides until it is cooked to suit. Let rest a few minutes to return juices to the centre of the meat. Meanwhile set the bottom and top halves of the sandwich under a broiler until the cheese is melted on the bottom half and the top half is toasted.

To assemble the sandwich, place the steak on top of the bottom half, followed by the onions, and the salad greens. Spread mayonnaise on the remaining half and place on top. Cut in half and serve with a glass of stout.

Serves 2

Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp Modena Balsamico vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup light extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients, except the olive oil, until smooth. Whisk in olive oil, adding slowly in a thin stream.