B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Lighthouse Brewing

Why Does the Colour of Your Beer Bottle Matter?

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Lighthouse Belgian Black Ale bottle

Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Brewing.

If you’re a brewmaster making beer for the enjoyment of others, the ingredients and process you use are paramount. Quality control is one of the main concerns for beer drinkers who desire consistency with every pint. Regardless if you like Budweiser or not, no one debates that they have quality control mastered, as you always know how your beer will taste. One of the key factors in this consistency is the colour of their bottles.

The two biggest issues to affect your beer once bottled are light and temperature. Either of these can significantly affect the flavour of your beer, especially the former. This is why you see beer nerds cringe when they watch a beer commercial that shows open beer in the sun. Two seconds of direct sunlight will “burn” or “lightstruck” the beer, making it taste off. This is because light, especially ultra-violet (UV)  light, causes an instant reaction, changing the iso-α-acid to 3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol. If this sounds nasty, it is! The “thiol” change means sulphur. And even the smallest amount of sulphur, like one part per billion, will make your beer taste skunky.

This is why beer bottles are typically brown. They’re created specifically as a UV filter to protect your beer. Regular brown beer bottles don’t fully protect your beer, so you should still try to keep even a UV bottle our of the light.

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Vancouver Island Craft Beer News: September 24th, 2012

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It’s been a busy time in the brew houses since beer fest this year. Two of the Victoria breweries have new beers due for imminent release (if not already released) and three have some returning favorites, for a limited time. Without further adieu, here’s whats new for VI Craft.

Hoyne Brewing Company

Hoyne Brewing Company announced via twitter their new wet hopped beer, the Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale

This very unique, single-batch seasonal offering was brewed using copious quantities of local, fresh, hand-picked (harvested on Wednesday, brewed on Thursday!) Centennial and Cascade hops. This limited edition amber colored Wet Hopped Pale Ale is delightfully fragrant and is proof of how fortunate we are to live in one of the great hop growing regions of the world. (via Facebook)

It is also of note that two other Victoria breweries are working on wet hopped beers. Driftwood Brewing Companies Sartori Harvest is covered next in this post, and Phillips Brewing Co is also working on one. (via facebook) Read the rest of this entry »

How To Keep Turning the Tide in Vancouver

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Time to revive the B.C. Beer Blog. I didn’t have the time to write a short post, so I’ve given you a long one. Sorry that I haven’t added any pretty pictures to break up the monotony of the text, but I hope you find it worthwhile reading just the same.

There have been some exciting developments for craft beer over the past couple of months that I think are noteworthy when taken in the context of the overall trend. I feel that we’re on the cusp of a major change. For that to happen, it behooves all of us who have a love of craft beer to be the catalyst for change.

First off, there are the breweries that are now making seasonal beers or special, small-batch brewmaster’s releases that never did so before. Pacific Western Brewing launched its Brewmaster’s Signature series in July with their NatureLand Organic Hefeweizen. Last month they released their NatureLand Organic Festbier. PWB brewmaster is thinking of coming out with a stout next. (I would recommend a bock instead. We have enough stouts from our brewers, but few bocks.). Also last month, Lighthouse Brewing came out with Shipwrecked Triple IPA, the first of their Small Brewery, Big Flavour series. Next up, will be a Doppelbock called Navigator – great name choice that’s in keeping with the “-ator” naming convention of Doppelbocks and Lighthouse’s nautical theme.

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Moving Mountains

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Sometimes, changing a culture feels like trying to move a mountain. You put all your strength into it and it doesn’t budge. Of course, being that lone wacko on the fringe is like battling windmills with a toothbrush, you can easily be dismissed. Having acquaintances with earth moving equipment, though, begins to lessen the odds.

Fun at the Fest-of-Ale

Modelling beerwear at the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale, Penticton - April 4, 2009.

In BC’s craft beer scene, we witnessed a slight tremor in the mountain in 2009. Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub inaugurated their first cask ale festival on March 14, which quickly sold out. They followed with another fest on November 21. Both days of Penticton’s Okanagan Fest-of-Ale on April 3 & 4 were completely subscribed. Summer Caskival at Dix Barbecue and Brewery in Vancouver garnered a full house. The Great Canadian Beer Festival always sees full attendance on both days. CAMRA Vancouver’s Oktoberfest celebration at the Granville Island Tap Room sold out. X-mas X-treme at Dix on December 5 had to close its doors less than two hours into the event because of reaching capacity. Now we find that the third annual Feast of Five Firkins at Vancouver’s The Whip Restaurant & Gallery sold out in a day!

This can be a bit of a problem for CAMRA members and their circle who have supported many of these events from the beginning. Venues are at capacity when you visit, or events are sold out with even a day’s delay. What’s a poor beer aficionado to do? Well, it indicates an expansion of capacity is necessary. Events may have to grow or become more frequent. More establishments will have to be persuaded to part with their slavish 10 taps of crap and begin offering a rotating selection from other parts of the beer spectrum. Pioneers have to venture out to tame the frontier, bringing living colour to the glasses of macro-lagerdom.

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Spinnakers Hosts First Cask Festival

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Speaking of culinary tourism, Spinnakers hosted their inaugural cask festival on March 14 from noon to 5:00pm. As they’ve been tapping a different cask every weekday since December, it was only a matter of time before they would have a festival. I got word that the planning was underway when two of their employees attended the X-mas X-treme Caskival at Dix on December 6 to take notes.

The timing of Spinnakers’ cask festival was somewhat unfortunate in that it coincided with Just Here for the Beer’s Wine & Beer Festival at the Plaza 500 Hotel in Vancouver. Forced to make a choice, I selected Real Ale and an excuse to get out of town. Even with a high chance of rain, a day spent indoors imbibing cask-conditioned ale from some of BC’s top breweries, in the company of brewers and the craft beer cognoscenti, is time well spent.

The event was held upstairs in Spinnakers’ pub, which meant a limited number of tickets were available. Demand seems to have greatly exceeded supply as they sold out rapidly. Perhaps for the next one they will consider a larger venue. However, I doubt they will close off the downstairs dining room as I’m sure they make a lot more money from regular diners than drinkers.

Nineteen beers were featured, so there was adequate space to stage the casks around the room. The lineup was:

Some of the brewers who contributed to the cask festival.

In comparison to the more freestyle nature seen at Dix Caskivals, these beers were fairly indicative of their respective styles. A little bit of experimentation was seen with Canoe’s stout, Granville Island’s Ginger Beer, Spinnakers’ Black Velvet, and Swans’ porter, but nothing as eccentric as Dave Varga’s Masala Pale Ale or Tariq Khan’s Chipotle Cream Ale that they brewed for Caskival. Canoe Habit Espresso Stout is a collaboration with a Victoria coffee roaster. I like both beverages; even better together! Granville Island Ginger Beer appeals to all those ginger lovers with plenty of Hawaiian ginger to spice things up — great food pairing beer. Spinnakers’ Black Velvet was a blend of Irish stout and sparkling white wine. This was my first taste of the fest and I found it tasty, light, and refreshing — somewhat reminiscent of Unibroue Chambly Noire. Swans Pod Porter was conditioned with organic Madagascar vanilla pods, giving it a nicely enhanced vanilla flavour that is a major contrast to Granville Island’s over-the-top, cloying Winter Ale. Lovers of the latter should compare the two in a side-by-side tasting.

Spinnakers Katie Zimmerman announces end of their inaugural cask festival.

Spinnakers Katie Zimmerman announces end of their inaugural cask festival.

Although Phillips did not bring a cask, they did do something out of the ordinary that I found most welcome, despite some people’s grumblings — they served their draught IPA through two randalls, one containing Cascade hops, the other Centennial. Basically, they were dry-hopping the IPA even more on the fly. Delicious!

This was the first opportunity I had to try the mysterious Lighthouse Riptide Pale Ale. It’s their first new beer in three years and I must say that it’s about time! Offering seasonal beers is a basic practice for improving marketing: at the very least, you have more to say to the public to get their attention. Naturally, I was curious to find out more about the Riptide — how is it different from all the other pale ales out there; what malt or hops did they use, etc. Unfortunately, they won’t tell me anything beyond their generic marketese: ‘choicest imported malts, mated with a unique hop blend…’ Doesn’t everyone say that? Actually, no. If you look at the festival programme, virtually all of the other brewers talk about the specific ingredients they used for their beer. No big trade secret. Without specific measurements and knowing the particular brewing techniques, it is highly unlikely a brewer will be able to exactly match another’s beer. There are too many variables. I find the secrecy rather silly. Riptide doesn’t have a je ne sais quoi that makes it truly unique. It’s just another pale ale aiming for broad drinkability.

Five hours of drinking means that you need to have something to eat. Spinnakers is a good place to be hungry. I ordered their pulled pork nachos and Highland Beef Burger. There was no need for dinner after! Nevertheless, as a lagniappe, complimentary handmade white chocolate saison truffles were served to sweeten the day’s experience.
I always find these festivals come to a reluctant end. There’s never enough time to talk in a lot of detail to all of the brewers and your craft beer comrades and still be able to taste all of the beers. Fortunately, if you wanted to stay around, Spinnakers honoured purchased tasting tickets and you could order pints of any of the remaining casks. I had a ferry to catch, so I made a hasty departure with my travelling companions, Spinnakers Barley Wine and India Pale Ale malt vinegars for souvenirs.

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.

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