B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Real Ale

CAMRA Vancouver Summer Beer Festival

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St. Augustine’s will be featuring some great and unique beers from across BC at their CAMRA Vancouver Summer Beer Festival this Saturday, August 14th. Saturday’s festival, the first CAMRA Vancouver festival held at St. Augustine’s, will feature over twenty beers from twenty BC breweries. Many of the beers featured will be cask-conditioned. These seasonal releases, experimental batches, and one-offs have all been crafted by local brewers with the discerning craft beer lover in mind.

Many brewers have gone beyond the use of brewer’s yeast in their offerings this weekend. These brewers have instead created sour or ‘wild’ beers with the use of lactic acid bacteria and Brettanomyces, a wild yeast traditionally viewed as a contaminant in the production of most beer styles. This weekend’s festival will feature three examples of these sour or otherwise wild beers from BC craft brewers.

Russell Brewing will have a pin of their 100% Brettanomyces beer entitled “Brett Lambicus and the P-Funk All-Stars”. As the name suggests, this is a pale beer fermented and aged six months exclusively with Brettanomyces Lambicus.

Iain Hill of Yaletown Brewing will have a cask of his Brick and Beam IPA cask-conditioned with Simcoe hops and Brettanomyces. Iain cultured this Brettanomyces strain from a bottle of Orval, which gives the IPA a sweet, fruity Brettanomyces aroma.

Dave Woodward over at High Mountain will have a keg of his Berliner Weisse, a light, refreshing sour wheat beer.  This beer underwent a secondary fermentation for several months with Lactobacillus delbrueckii to create what Dave describes as an extremely well attenuated beer with a light lactic nose and tart finish.

The above beers are just the beginning of the creative, interesting beers present at this weekend’s festival. Here’s a complete list of the casks and kegs at the CAMRA Vancouver Summer Beer Festival.

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Written by Ryan

August 13, 2010 at 6:29 pm

CAMRA Vancouver Recognizes Local Beer Excellence

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Central City brewer, Gary Lohin

Central City brewer, Gary Lohin.

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. Surrey’s Central City Brewing was awarded Best Local Brewpub; the Alibi Room Best Local Beer Cafe, Pub, or Restaurant; and Brewery Creek Liquor Store, Best Local Liquor Store for beer selection. This is the second year both the Alibi Room and Brewery Creek were rated the best in their categories.

With the growing popularity of cask-conditioned ale (Real Ale) in Vancouver, more establishments have been adding this type of beer to their offerings. For this reason, CAMRA Vancouver added a Best Local Cask Night to its list of awards. In a nod to its pioneering role in popularizing Real Ale in the city, Dix Barbecue and Brewery won this category and won silver for its winter cask ale festival. The Whip is also acknowledged for its Real Ale Sundays with a different cask every week supplied by R&B Brewing.

Since last year, Amber Jack’s Tap House, St. Augustine’s Restaurant & Lounge, and Yaletown Brewing have each begun offering Real Ale on a weekly or monthly basis. The Alibi Room now offers a continuously changing selection of three cask ales nightly. They celebrated their 100th beer menu rotation on December 3. Read the rest of this entry »

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 Cask Festival 2

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Spinnakers Cask Festival 2

Spinnakers is hosting its second cask festival on November 21, building on the success of its inaugural event on March 14 and the growing profile Real Ale is getting in Victoria. This is also a great opportunity to meet brewers from both the Island and the Lower Mainland, many of whom previously brewed at Spinnakers.

What’s the big deal about meeting a brewer? It’s like knowing a farmer, butcher, baker, or cheesemaker — you have a direct relationship with where your food and drink comes from that helps you to know what you are consuming. You also have a better opportunity to understand the process from source to table and even, perhaps, influence what the producer makes.

Here is the lineup:

  • Central City ESB
  • Dead Frog Oaked Winter Warmer
  • Deschutes Jubelale
  • Dix Barley Wine
  • Driftwood Porter
  • Driftwood #2 TBA
  • Granville Island TBA
  • Lighthouse Winter Ale
  • Longwood Brewpub Imperial Stout
  • Mission Springs Winter Pumpkin Ale
  • R&B Bourbon Oak-meal Stout
  • Spinnakers Gingerbread Ale
  • Spinnakers Mt. Tolmie Dark Ale with Highland Park 18
  • Storm TBA
  • Swans TBA
  • Vancouver Island “Caskannator”
  • Whistler Brewhouse Woodwards IPA

Spinnakers is dedicated to sourcing local ingredients, therefore, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Slow Food and Real Ale than spending an afternoon at the gastropub on Lime Bay.

Time: Saturday, November 21 @ noon – 5:00pm
Place: Spinnakers, 308 Catherine Street, Victoria
Cost: $40 (includes 3 samples, souvenir glass, appetizers)
Tickets: at Spinnakers, both Spirit Merchants locations in Victoria, and CAMRA Vancouver’s Web site

Written by BCbrews

November 9, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Gastown Cask Carouse

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Alibi publican, Nigel Springthorpe, pulls a pint of cask ale.

Alibi publican, Nigel Springthorpe, pulls a pint of cask ale.

CAMRA Vancouver is hosting a Real Ale pub crawl in Gastown this Saturday, featuring cask-conditioned ales from R&B Brewing at four of the neighbourhood’s best locations dedicated to craft beer.

R&B Brewing Alibi Room The Irish Heather Six Acres Steamworks

Gastown Cask CarouseParticipants will break up into four groups and hit the Alibi Room, The Irish Heather, Six Acres, and Steamworks. Each person will receive, respectively, a pint of R&B Hoppelganger IPA, Red Devil Pale Ale, Raspberry Sun God Wheat Ale, and Raven Cream Ale, along with an assortment of bar snacks.

People from CAMRA Vancouver and the craft beer industry will also be on hand to talk about cask-conditioned ale and answer any questions.

Gastown Cask Carouse
Time: Saturday, August 29, 12:30 – 5:00pm
Place: meet at Carrall & Water streets, between Koolhaus & Chill Winston
Limit: 80 people
Cost: $30, $25 CAMRA members
Info & Registration: CAMRA Vancouver Web site

The weather forecast for Saturday is sunny and warm, so be sure to register today to ensure your space.

Casks in Victoria

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Spinnakers brewer, Rob Monk, pours some Real Ale in the pub at Spinnakers.

Spinnakers brewer, Rob Monk, pours some Real Ale in the pub at Spinnakers.

Spinnakers started the cask ale trend in Victoria at the beginning of this year by tapping a cask daily at 4:00pm. What a trend to start! This evening, there is a cask of Blue Bridge Double IPA at Spinnakers for $5+tax, but The Office Lounge would like to respond with a cask of Driftwood Ale from 5:30-8:30pm.

Next week—Friday, July 31—a cask of Oaked Scotch Ale will be available at Swans, starting at 4:30 p.m. for $6.75+tax. Not to be outdone, Solomon’s has just announced a cask of dry-hopped Driftwood Ale on August 7 at 4:20pm.

What an exciting couple weeks ahead for those with an appreciation for fresh beer in Victoria. Let’s hope this is a trend that continues.

~ Kris Constable, Victoria

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

Spinnakers Boosts Victoria Real Ale

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Until recently, the hotbed of BC cask-conditioned ale — aka real ale — was Vancouver. As Real Ale has a distinctly British pedigree (as you might glean from having heard of the Campaign for Real Ale), this is somewhat surprising, given Victoria’s British heritage (royal this, that, and the other thing; high tea; double-decker buses, etc.). However, you could only find a cask served at Spinnakers every Friday. Whereas in Vancouver, aside from its three annual cask festivals, a cask is always on at the Irish Heather, is featured every week at Dix and The Whip, and is offered monthly at BigRidge and Taylor’s Crossing. Ironically, a greater number of Vancouver Island brewers were supplying Vancouver with cask ale than their own patrons.

To address this paradox, Spinnakers has aggressively ramped up their real ale production. Now, every weekday, they are tapping a different cask in the taproom at 4:00pm. These are not just cask versions of their regular beer. Brewer Rob Monk is taking advantage of the cask’s small size (40 L) to experiment with different, innovative recipes. For example, tomorrow will feature a Basil IPA, next Tuesday there will be a Maple Nut Brown Ale, and on January 22, it’s a French Oaked Belgian Blonde.

Although brewing real ale represents more work for the brewer, it offers them an enticing advantage. When creating esoteric or extreme beers, brewing, say, a 10 hectoliter batch exposes them to much greater financial risk. Most beer drinkers in BC are not that adventurous or even beer savvy, considering how much macro lager is sold here. It would be hard selling so much of an unconventional beer in such a small market (compared to the size of the US). Brewing 40 L, on the other hand, is a completely different proposition. Now the brewer can afford to be creative and may, cask by cask, gradually convert enough of the clientele to be able to brew a full batch of a beer they would not have previously accepted. This is what seems to be happening in Vancouver.

The vanguard of brewing in BC is mostly found in its brewpubs (except for Kelowna and Penticton). Typically, they will offer a range of beer styles from lager to stout, Hefeweizen to IPA. Real ale is the next frontier. Hopefully, Spinnakers will now do for Victoria what Dix and R&B have done for Vancouver. A regular supply of real ale is a good thing that every self-respecting pub should have. The further away we get from BC’s beer parlour tradition, the better.

Immortal Brewer to Visit Vancouver

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On September 28, renowned Seattle craft brewer, Dick Cantwell, will be visiting Vancouver at the invitation of R & B Brewing to attend a special session of The Whip’s Real Ale Sundays. Co-founder and head brewer of Elysian Brewing, Cantwell will be bringing a cask of his Immortal IPA and a cask of Hale’s Ales O’Brien’s Harvest Ale—a Silver Medal winner at Denver’s Great American Beer Festival.

Formerly a writer, Cantwell started as a homebrewer in Boston for 15 years before moving to Seattle in 1990 to take up professional brewing at Duwamps Café. After 18 months, he moved over to Pike Place Brewery, brewing there until 1994 when he took up residence at The Big Time Brewery. In 1996, he opened Elysian Brewing with partners Joe Bisacca and Dave Buhler.

Since that time, Cantwell has won numerous awards for his beer. He was also named Brewmaster of the Year, and Elysian, Large Brewpub of the Year, at the Great American Beer Festival in 1999, 2003, and 2004.

Meet a Northwest craft brewing legend at:
The Whip Real Ale Sunday
The Whip Restaurant & Gallery
209 East 6th Avenue, Vancouver
September 28 @ 4:00pm