B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Red Racer

The Next Wave: Darby’s Pub

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Darby's Pub taster glass with Red Racer LagerTransforming an established neighbourhood pub is not an easy thing to do. In fact, if serving up the old formula brings in enough bums on seats throughout the week to make a bit of a profit (because the real money is in the attached cold beer & wine store), then why change? Change may upset the apple cart, annoying your macro-drinking staff and alienating your bread and butter – the regulars whose habits the staff know well enough that they automatically deliver what is wanted. Why take a risk by throwing a monkey wrench in that well-honed machine that has taken a lot of time and money to develop?

You know you’ve walked into one of these places when you have a déjà vu experience that teleports you back to the eighties, only there is no shine on the brass, the floor coverings are looking well-worn, the furniture has stains and nicks, the walls have tape residue from old posters, and there’s a certain stale smell that seems to follow around post-50-year-old blue collar bachelors. You may see a number of the latter who have made the establishment their surrogate living room because it offers the basic things they seek to satisfy them – cheap beer, fried food, women to serve them without complaining, sports on the TV, and companions to argue over sports and politics with. And if the establishment truly does function as a neighbourhood pub, they will turn to look at you, wondering what sort of force you represent to their social oasis.

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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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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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A New Trend for Father’s Day?

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Mother’s Day brunch is becoming a fairly established tradition, but what is there for Dad? How about a Father’s Day brewmaster’s dinner? Thinking that’s a perfect way to show your appreciation for dear old Dad, Central City Brewing, Crannóg, and R&B are each hosting such a dinner this coming Sunday. Here are the details:

Diva Head Sous Chef Jeff Van Geest

Diva Executive Sous Chef Jeff Van Geest

Unforgettable Tastes For an Unforgettable Man

June 21 @ 6:30 – 9:30pm
Diva at the Met
645 Howe Street, Vancouver
Cost: 5 courses w/ beer $55
Info: e-mail diva@metropolitan.com or call (604) 602-7788

MENU
Local Oysters 3 Ways
Tempura with crusted edamame & wasabi
Fresh with green apple herb mignonnette
Smoke with rhubarb barbeque sauce
R&B Sun God Wheat Ale

Albacore Tuna & Pink Salmon Tartare
Classic garnish
R&B Bohemian Lager

Bacon Wrapped Sloping Hill Pork Loin
Confit shoulder, morel mushrooms & barley risotto with dried pear
Maple mustard jus & cream ale foam
R&B Smoked Raven Cream Ale Cask (specially brewed for this event)

Farmhouse Cheddar
Apple ginger crumble, garam masala gastrique
R&B Hoppleganger IPA

Blackberry and Dark Chocolate Napoleon
Morello cherry chocolate coulis
Stout ice cream and stout foam
Espresso gellee
Dark Star Oatmeal Stout

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Tightening the Beer Belt?

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A refreshing Storm Hurricane IPA on a sunny day.

A refreshing Storm Hurricane IPA on a sunny day.

Pacific Western Brewing’s Cariboo “Genuine Draft” is flying off the shelves, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun. It’s because the lager is the cheapest six pack in the province. Given the likelihood that it doesn’t taste much different from BC’s top-selling diluted beer brands — Corona, Canadian, Kokanee, Budweiser, Coors, etc. — this isn’t much of a surprise. Why spend $10.75 on a six pack of Canadian when you can get Cariboo for $7.54? Do you really think paying $11.95 for a six pack of Corona means it’s that much better? Does spending an extra $4.00 for imported swill make one cool? When a six pack of locally-brewed Central City Red Racer Pale Ale costs $10.75, definitely not!

Unlike wine, beer is not so expensive that you have to make sacrifices, unless you drink lots of it. In that case, it doesn’t hurt to reconsider your drinking choices or drinking style, for that matter. If you drink a lot of mass-market light lager, maybe the reason is that its lack of flavour is not satisfying, so you keep drinking and drinking until you’re full or drunk. Try drinking an undiluted, unadulterated, unfiltered, unpasteurized craft beer instead. You might find that you are satisfied with drinking less. So in paying a bit more for a more flavourful beer, ironically, you may actually spend less on your overall consumption.

Picking up a growler from your local brewpub may be another option to save some money and, more importantly, the environment. You’ll have to buy the 2L bottle first. After that, just bring it back for a refill and pay the price of a couple of pints, but get 700ml more beer! Central City Brewing in Surrey, for example, normally charges $10 for a refill, but it’s just $8.50 on Sundays. This is cheaper than a six pack of Molson Canadian, but it produces less waste, doesn’t require recycling, and uses a lot less energy over the life of the container. It’s also the freshest beer you will ever get.

Taking this to a bigger scale, you may also be able to get 8.5L party pigs or 20L & 50L kegs from your local craft brewery or brewpub if you’re having a barbecue or throwing a party. It’s got the same advantages of a growler, only you spread the benefits to more people.

In Vancouver, an additional opportunity to reduce your beer expenses is by joining CAMRA Vancouver. Members receive a 10% discount at the Alibi Room, Brewery Creek, Firefly, Viti, and the Wolf & Hound.

Then there’s a more involved way to shrink your beer budget: home brewing. Pseudo-home brewing is using a brew-on-premises (BOP) shop, especially the kind where you don’t have much direct involvement in the actual brewing beyond choosing the style of beer you want and pitching the yeast. To actually get involved in brewing from start to finish, the easiest and cheapest way to get rolling is with a beer kit. Depending on how well-equipped your kitchen is, you may not have to get a lot of extra equipment. You certainly don’t need any fancy gear to brew good beer, nor really a lot of space if it’s just for your own consumption. It’s not that hard to brew beer; it just takes time. The challenge, however, is in making a great beer. Fortunately, there’s lots of help available in the form of books, videos, homebrewer groups, and your local hombrew supply store. Some home brewers I know still go to pubs and buy packaged beer from stores. Others swear by doing it yourself and bask in the savings.

Another option for the beer drinker is to look at some other expenses to see if you can reduce them instead of having to sacrifice enjoying a quality beer. Coffee is one item that most people will be able to reduce the cost of by simply making it themselves. If you typically buy two cups of coffee every day from a coffee shop, assuming you pay $1.50 per cup for drip coffee, that works out to $1,095.00 per year ($1,569.50 for a small Starbucks Americano, $1,825.00 for a medium). On the other hand, if you buy 1/2 a pound of fresh-roasted coffee from your local roaster every week for $8.00 and make it at home and/or at work, it will cost $416.00 and taste better. You save $679.00 (and a lot of waste if you can’t be bothered to use a travel mug when buying from a coffee shop).

While the economy may be forcing you to tighten your belt, you don’t have to go so far as to drink swill to afford drinking beer. It may just mean taking a different approach.

Central City Turns Five

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Surrey’s Central City Brewing celebrated its fifth anniversary on Saturday. Brewmaster, Gary Lohin, opened up the brewery to those wanting a tour. And because touring makes one thirsty, he set up a special beverage station with the following cellared ales:

  • Belgian Tripel – brewed December 06, 9.0% alc/vol
  • Smoked Porter – brewed October 07, 8.5% alc/vol
  • Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine – brewed October 07, 10.5% alc/vol
  • Imperial IPA – brewed June 08, 8.5% alc/vol
  • Red Racer Winter Ale brewed September 08, 7.5% alc/vol

Needless to say, the beverage station proved to be the most popular part of the tour. If you happened to miss the celebration, you’ll have to wait another five years before you can sample a comparable selection of cellared Central City ales. If we’re lucky, Gary may even brew a special beer for the occasion —a Red Racer 10-Speed, perhaps?

Gathered in the brewery for a special cellared ales tasting.
Gathered in the brewery for a special cellared ales tasting.

Another thing worth celebrating is the new chef. Executive Chef, Carl Sawatsky, came to Central City from the Bacchus Bistro at Domaine de Chaberton winery in Langley. He has brought a sensibility for matching food & drink that was also showcased this day with a five-course tasting menu:

❧ Beet Salad with goat cheese, pecans, frisée, and Raspberry Wheat Ale gastrique
Red Racer White Ale (aka Wally’s Wheat)

❧ Onion Cheddar Beer Soup
Iceberg Copper Bock

❧ AAA House Aged Striploin with mushy peas potatoes and red wine demi glaze
Boomers Red Ale

❧ IPA Braised Pork Belly with cabbage and crispy potatoes
Empire IPA

❧ Spiced Beer Cake à la mode with toffee sauce and stout truffle
Steelhead Oatmeal Stout

AAA House Aged Striploin with mushy peas potatoes and red wine demi glaze, accompanied by a Boomers Red Ale.

One could choose the courses individually or order all five for $40.00, including a 5oz taster of beer with each — very good value for the quality of the food and beer. Carl and Gary are eventually hoping to have a new tasting menu every month. Given how good this was, they should be encouraged at every opportunity to do so. Not enough brewpubs do this, which in my opinion is a major shortcoming. Brewer and chef should be working hand in glove, creating a synergy that exceeds what they can accomplish individually.

In case you didn’t know it Central City lager, pale ale, and wit are available in cans in both government and private liquor stores. The Empire IPA will be the next beer released in cans.