Wednesday, October 30, 2013

beer column

here are my notes from yesterday's beer column on cbc radio one's on the coast:

I sometimes bring in beers for Stephen Quinn and I to taste in the studio. This week I brought in not one, but four beers for tasting - but you won't find these beers at the liquor store or at a local brewery. These beers were brewed at home.  (We only got to the first three on air, but see below for my tasting notes on all four.)

Whoa!  Isn't it difficult to brew beer yourself? Shouldn't we just leave it to the professionals?

Hardly!  Brewing beer at home is actually quite easy and involves a minimal financial investment. You can purchase the basic brewing equipment in Vancouver at Dan's homebrew shop for $70, and you'll need a 19 litre stock pot (another $24) as well as the basic brewing gear.  A beer making kit of ingredients will cost you between $17 and $35. If you want to follow a recipe and put the ingredients together yourself you're looking at approximately $25-45 for ingredients (Dan's has several recipes you can follow, or you can find plenty online). One batch of beer will give you 23 litres (or approximately 66 bottles). Because I love you, I've done the math for you, and including the basic beer equipment, 19 litre pot and higher end ingredients, the cost is $2.20 per bottle for your first batch of beer, going down to a mere $0.68 for subsequent batches; making home brewing a very cost effective way to drink beer!

The actual brewing of beer is very easy. You boil some water, add your malt - for beginners I would suggest using malt extract instead of actual grains - add your bittering hops, keep boiling for an hour, depending on your recipe you might add more hops at various points during the boil, then you cool the wort down, move it to your fermenter (carboy or plastic pail), add your yeast, wait a couple of weeks, and you'll have beer.

However, brewing good tasting beer can take several tries. I would suggest tagging along with friends who homebrew and observing and helping them on a brew day to pick up tricks and tips, watching youtube videos of homebrewing techniques, and joining your local homebrew club.

If you live in Vancouver, your local homebrew club is the VanBrewers.

VanBrewers has around 130 members currently. Meetings are held on the last Thursday of the month above the Legion on Commercial Drive. Checking their website/Twitter/Facebook page will keep you up-to-date on club happenings.

Their big club contest, the VanBrewer Awards, is held in the Spring. This past year they had 330 entries from across Canada, making it the second largest contest in Canada for the third year in a row.

During the rest of the year they host in-house contests for their membership, take part and organize contests with breweries and provide the majority of the judging base in Vancouver. The club has around 20 BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) ranked judges of differing levels, which is an asset to the quality of beer being made and consumed locally.

VanBrewers sends entries to 5-8 other homebrew competitions in Canada, and to the National Homebrew Competition in the US. Last year they shipped around 150 entries, this year they're going to try and double that. One of the perks of membership is free shipping to contests across Canada. Annually VanBrewers members are awarded around 60 medals in total.

VanBrewers members who have gone pro: Tak Guenette and John at Steamworks, Ethan Allured at Coal Harbour, Graham With, Danny Seeton and John Adair at P49, Ted Christie at Red Truck, Anders McKinnon at Persephone, Kylo Hoy at Four Winds, Zak Plowright at Central City. 

For the record, I am a proud member of VanBrewers (and I have the t-shirts to prove it) but I have yet to brew a beer that I would share with anyone, let alone enter into a contest.  However, I have high hopes that one day, one bright shining wonderful day, I will brew something awesome!

And on to the beers we got to sample!  Many thanks to Scott Butchart of VanBrewers for collecting and delivering the beers to me, and for his excellent information sharing of all things VanBrewers for these notes and the show!
We tasted the three Dan Small Homebrew Award winning beers from the BC Beer Awards on air:
1st Place - John Folinsbee with an Oktoberfest-Marzen beer

2nd Place - Takashi Guenette with a Munich Helles

3rd Place - Adam Crandall and Dan Helmer with an Oatmeal Stout with cocoa nibs, vanilla and lactose

Also for fun, alas not sampled on air, we had Scott Butchart's Spruce Tip Pale Ale.

At the bottom are the BJCP style guidelines for each of the beers.  Below are my tasting notes, and the joyful comments of CBC personnel (and friends) who got to try these beers with me:

John Folinsee's Oktoberfest-Marzen:  Survey says everyone is in love with this beer.  If we could homebrew this well we'd never leave our homes.  Packs an alcohol punch disguised as an easy-drinking sessionable Oktoberfest.  Nice malts, clean finish, satisfying yet light.  Clear with a generous, short-lived head.

Tak Guenette's Munich Helles:  Nice light coloured pilsner.  Smooth tasting, clean finishing and easy-drinking.  Stephen Quinn may have gotten banana on this one, but no one else did!  Just a damned nice pilsner.  Pleased everyone.  Clear with a good head.  People thought it tasted like the pilsners of their youth.

Adam Crandall and Dan Helmer's Oatmeal Stout:  A big crowd pleaser!  Everyone spent a lot of time with their noses in this one just absorbing the cocoa notes.  Not a discernable vanilla flavour.  Opaque with a long-lasting creamy mocha coloured head.  For an oatmeal stout it sure did have a sharp finish, which added to the pleasure of drinking it.  Quite effervescent and made a very satisfying whoosh-pop everytime I flipped the pot-stopper open - you just can't over-rate a good whoosh-pop!
**this just in - there was no vanilla in the stout!  no wonder we didn't taste any!**

Scott Butchart's Spruce Tip Pale Ale:  The crowd was divided on this one - everyone at CBC loved it, I loved it, half the friends loved it.  The other half just weren't so sure about it.  Its a very interesting brew - the spruce tips give it a nice spruciness... but also a sweetness, which is what confused the nay-sayers.  The rest of us went with it and want more!  Cloudy without much head, but oh, the nose!

BJCP - Style Guidelines:

3B. Oktoberfest

Aroma: Rich German malt aroma (of Vienna and/or Munich malt). A light to moderate toasted malt aroma is often present. Clean lager aroma with no fruity esters or diacetyl. No hop aroma. Caramel aroma is inappropriate.

Appearance: Dark gold to deep orange-red color. Bright clarity, with solid, off-white, foam stand.

Flavor: Initial malty sweetness, but finish is moderately dry. Distinctive and complex maltiness often includes a toasted aspect. Hop bitterness is moderate, and noble hop flavor is low to none. Balance is toward malt, though the finish is not sweet. Noticeable caramel or roasted flavors are inappropriate. Clean lager character with no diacetyl or fruity esters.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, with a creamy texture and medium carbonation. Smooth. Fully fermented, without a cloying finish.

Overall Impression: Smooth, clean, and rather rich, with a depth of malt character. This is one of the classic malty styles, with a maltiness that is often described as soft, complex, and elegant but never cloying.

Comments: Domestic German versions tend to be golden, like a strong Pils-dominated Helles. Export German versions are typically orange-amber in color, and have a distinctive toasty malt character. German beer tax law limits the OG of the style at 14?P since it is a vollbier, although American versions can be stronger. “Fest” type beers are special occasion beers that are usually stronger than their everyday counterparts.

History: Origin is credited to Gabriel Sedlmayr, based on an adaptation of the Vienna style developed by Anton Dreher around 1840, shortly after lager yeast was first isolated. Typically brewed in the spring, signaling the end of the traditional brewing season and stored in cold caves or cellars during the warm summer months. Served in autumn amidst traditional celebrations.

Ingredients: Grist varies, although German Vienna malt is often the backbone of the grain bill, with some Munich malt, Pils malt, and possibly some crystal malt. All malt should derive from the finest quality two-row barley. Continental hops, especially noble varieties, are most authentic. Somewhat alkaline water (up to 300 PPM), with significant carbonate content is welcome. A decoction mash can help develop the rich malt profile.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.050 – 1.057
IBUs: 20 – 28
FG: 1.012 – 1.016
SRM: 7 – 14
ABV: 4.8 – 5.7%

Commercial Examples: Paulaner Oktoberfest, Ayinger Oktoberfest-Märzen, Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest, Hofbräu Oktoberfest, Victory Festbier, Great Lakes Oktoberfest, Spaten Oktoberfest, Capital Oktoberfest, Gordon Biersch Märzen, Goose Island Oktoberfest, Samuel Adams Oktoberfest (a bit unusual in its late hopping)

1D. Munich Helles

Aroma: Pleasantly grainy-sweet, clean Pils malt aroma dominates. Low to moderately-low spicy noble hop aroma, and a low background note of DMS (from Pils malt). No esters or diacetyl.

Appearance: Medium yellow to pale gold, clear, with a creamy white head.

Flavor: Slightly sweet, malty profile. Grain and Pils malt flavors dominate, with a low to medium-low hop bitterness that supports the malty palate. Low to moderately-low spicy noble hop flavor. Finish and aftertaste remain malty. Clean, no fruity esters, no diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium carbonation, smooth maltiness with no trace of astringency.

Overall Impression: Malty but fully attenuated Pils malt showcase.

Comments: Unlike Pilsner but like its cousin, Munich Dunkel, Helles is a malt-accentuated beer that is not overly sweet, but rather focuses on malt flavor with underlying hop bitterness in a supporting role.

History: Created in Munich in 1895 at the Spaten brewery by Gabriel Sedlmayr to compete with Pilsner-style beers.

Ingredients: Moderate carbonate water, Pilsner malt, German noble hop varieties.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.045 – 1.051
IBUs: 16 – 22
FG: 1.008 – 1.012
SRM: 3 – 5
ABV: 4.7 – 5.4%

Commercial Examples: Weihenstephaner Original, Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Gold, Bürgerbräu Wolznacher Hell Naturtrüb, Mahr's Hell, Paulaner Premium Lager, Spaten Premium Lager, Stoudt's Gold Lager
13C. Oatmeal Stout

Aroma: Mild roasted grain aromas, often with a coffee-like character. A light sweetness can imply a coffee-and-cream impression. Fruitiness should be low to medium. Diacetyl medium-low to none. Hop aroma low to none (UK varieties most common). A light oatmeal aroma is optional.

Appearance: Medium brown to black in color. Thick, creamy, persistent tan- to brown-colored head. Can be opaque (if not, it should be clear).

Flavor: Medium sweet to medium dry palate, with the complexity of oats and dark roasted grains present. Oats can add a nutty, grainy or earthy flavor. Dark grains can combine with malt sweetness to give the impression of milk chocolate or coffee with cream. Medium hop bitterness with the balance toward malt. Diacetyl medium-low to none. Hop flavor medium-low to none.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full to full body, smooth, silky, sometimes an almost oily slickness from the oatmeal. Creamy. Medium to medium-high carbonation.

Overall Impression: A very dark, full-bodied, roasty, malty ale with a complementary oatmeal flavor.

Comments: Generally between sweet and dry stouts in sweetness. Variations exist, from fairly sweet to quite dry. The level of bitterness also varies, as does the oatmeal impression. Light use of oatmeal may give a certain silkiness of body and richness of flavor, while heavy use of oatmeal can be fairly intense in flavor with an almost oily mouthfeel. When judging, allow for differences in interpretation.

History: An English seasonal variant of sweet stout that is usually less sweet than the original, and relies on oatmeal for body and complexity rather than lactose for body and sweetness.

Ingredients: Pale, caramel and dark roasted malts and grains. Oatmeal (5-10%+) used to enhance fullness of body and complexity of flavor. Hops primarily for bittering. Ale yeast. Water source should have some carbonate hardness.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.048 – 1.065
IBUs: 25 – 40
FG: 1.010 – 1.018
SRM: 22 – 40
ABV: 4.2 – 5.9%

Commercial Examples: Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, Young's Oatmeal Stout, McAuslan Oatmeal Stout, Maclay’s Oat Malt Stout, Broughton Kinmount Willie Oatmeal Stout, Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, Tröegs Oatmeal Stout, New Holland The Poet, Goose Island Oatmeal Stout, Wolaver’s Oatmeal Stout

10A. American Pale Ale

Aroma: Usually moderate to strong hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties. A citrusy hop character is very common, but not required. Low to moderate maltiness supports the hop presentation, and may optionally show small amounts of specialty malt character (bready, toasty, biscuity). Fruity esters vary from moderate to none. No diacetyl. Dry hopping (if used) may add grassy notes, although this character should not be excessive.

Appearance: Pale golden to deep amber. Moderately large white to off-white head with good retention. Generally quite clear, although dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy.

Flavor: Usually a moderate to high hop flavor, often showing a citrusy American hop character (although other hop varieties may be used). Low to moderately high clean malt character supports the hop presentation, and may optionally show small amounts of specialty malt character (bready, toasty, biscuity). The balance is typically towards the late hops and bitterness, but the malt presence can be substantial. Caramel flavors are usually restrained or absent. Fruity esters can be moderate to none. Moderate to high hop bitterness with a medium to dry finish. Hop flavor and bitterness often lingers into the finish. No diacetyl. Dry hopping (if used) may add grassy notes, although this character should not be excessive.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Carbonation moderate to high. Overall smooth finish without astringency often associated with high hopping rates.

Overall Impression: Refreshing and hoppy, yet with sufficient supporting malt.

History: An American adaptation of English pale ale, reflecting indigenous ingredients (hops, malt, yeast, and water). Often lighter in color, cleaner in fermentation by-products, and having less caramel flavors than English counterparts.

Comments: There is some overlap in color between American pale ale and American amber ale. The American pale ale will generally be cleaner, have a less caramelly malt profile, less body, and often more finishing hops.

Ingredients: Pale ale malt, typically American two-row. American hops, often but not always ones with a citrusy character. American ale yeast. Water can vary in sulfate content, but carbonate content should be relatively low. Specialty grains may add character and complexity, but generally make up a relatively small portion of the grist. Grains that add malt flavor and richness, light sweetness, and toasty or bready notes are often used (along with late hops) to differentiate brands.

Vital Statistics:






1.045 - 1.060

1.010 - 1.015

30 - 45+

5 - 14

4.5 - 6%

Commercial Examples: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Stone Pale Ale, Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale, Full Sail Pale Ale, Three Floyds X-Tra Pale Ale, Anderson Valley Poleeko Gold Pale Ale, Left Hand Brewing Jackman's Pale Ale, Pyramid Pale Ale, Deschutes Mirror Pond

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

on the coast

i'll be on cbc radio one's on the coast with stephen quinn at 5:50 this afternoon
talking about, and sampling some, home-brewed beers

Monday, October 28, 2013

link love

winners at the 2013 bc beer awards

vancouver is awesome, on 33 acres

ways to piss of your bartender - don't do these things!!

there is a new strongest beer in the world
(probably quite appropriately called "snake venom")

and new and delicious beers at legacy liquor store in vancouver:

2013 Brewery Creek Collaboration Spruce Tip Stout - $8.15
Craft Beer Month is coming to a close, but not without unleashing its collaboration beer to the clamoring masses. Employing the minds of Main Street Brewing, 33 Acres, R&B, Red Truck and Brassneck, this beer is not to be trifled with. Utilizing spruce tips and roast malt, all while boasting a more than sessionable ABV of 3.9%, this limited run brew should certainly not be missed (especially considering the fact the label is also a removable patch).
Evan Doan | Beer Team | Legacy Liquor Store

St. Ambroise Vintage Ale Millésimée - $7.55
Brewed once a year by Peter McAuslan and brewmaster Ellen Bounsall, this beer is a culmination of experience and passion. Dark amber in colour, it features all sorts of fabulous aromas on the nose including, but not limited to, buttered bread, red berries and caramel. Caramel and malt dominate the palate of this medium-bodied beer, making it a real gem for these brisk Autumn nights.
Chris Bonnallie | Beer Supervisor | Legacy Liquor Store
Harvest Moon Brewing Vulcan Ale - $4.45

Trekkies unite! Or those who wish to celebrate Vulcan, Alberta’s 2013 centennial celebration. A hazy copper in colour when poured into a glass, this beer has notes of biscuit and malt paired with apple and black pepper. Toffee is prominent on the palate, with a bit of biscuit and even some stone fruit leading to an off dry finish that helps to wrap it all up. Perfect for any Star Trek fanatic.
Joel Wilson | Beer Team | Legacy Liquor Store

Sunday, October 27, 2013

harrison beer fest and oktoberfest

yesterday's beer fest was fun
it's not the biggest beer festival around
and there were not many beers being offered that i hadn't had before
but it's a well-run festival and a great introduction to beer festivals for a newbie
or a relaxing beer festival for an old hand

caveat:  tourism harrison paid for me to stay two nights at the lovely harrison beach hotel, and entry for me and my guest to all three beer fest events.  i'm not going to lie to you about my impressions of the festival, but i may have had rose-coloured glasses on due to the sheer joy of a mostly-free weekend away at a beer festival in adorable harrison.

i brought a newbie with me to the festival
so while i spent my time pouring over the list for beers that i needed to cross off my "drank it" list
i was also looking for beers i thought she would want to try
for those who follow me, you'll know that i have one hold-out on full conversion to craft beer
well, no longer!
bringing her to the beer fest moved her from macro lager lover into craft beer appreciator
will she never drink a rainier again?  don't make me laugh!
but, she drank brown ales and nut brown ales and stouts and porters all afternoon and loved them
she even wrote down her favourites so she can find them at the liquor store

the set up of the beer fest was pretty much what you find at all beer festivals
booths set up around the room for breweries
seating in the middle
water / rinsing stations smattered around
but at harrison beer fest you get arm chairs and table cloths and blue skirts on the beer tables
it's a classy affair!

the wack pack was back in full force

the winners of the people's choice awards went to some very different beers than usually lead the pack in vancouver or victoria:

honourable mentions: mission springs, old yale and mill street
3rd place: phillips
2nd place: parallel 49
1st place: vancouver island brewing

then there was a two hour break in the proceedings
(during which i had a nap - no, really! beer festivalling is exhausting)
and the hall turned from beer hall into oktoberfest beer hall
with beer steins and leiderhosen and pretzels, oh my!
and the dancing!  chicken dance anyone?

i even got to meet sasquatch

the festivities wound down at 11
so civilized, just like the rest of the festival

did i enjoy the festival?  yes i did
would i come again next year?  i might
it wouldn't be top of my list of beer festivals to attend, but it was very enjoyable
i'm a beer geek, there are so many festivals i haven't been to yet and so many beers i haven't had the opportunity to try yet, that re-visiting a smaller festival would not take priority in my beer calendar
that said, i think it's important for places outside metropolitan areas to hold beer festivals and introduce people to the craft beers being brewed in their back-yards and local bigger cities
bringing beer to the people is a worthwhile endeavour and this festival certainly did that - i talked to quite a few people who admitted to being new to craft beer, and to a one they all said how much they were enjoying trying all the beers on offer
i do wish the licensed establishments in harrison would take note though - there is still not a craft beer to be found in harrison outside of the beer fest
if there had been, i would have been tempted to stay out longer after friday night's cask fest and to actually go out after oktoberfest

Saturday, October 26, 2013

harrison cask night

let me just begin by saying that harrison beer fest is adorable!
harrison is a lovely little place
and its beer festival is an equally lovely little thing

caveat:  tourism harrison paid for my hotel for two nights and entry for me and my guest to all three harrison beer fest events.  i'm not gonna lie to you about my impressions of the fest, but i may be mildly swayed by the sheer joy of getting away for a mostly-free beer weekend!

traffic was fairly kind to us, but we still didn't hit town until around 7 p.m.
so we were at st. alice hall about an hour after the casks had been tapped and the night was in full swing
the event was sold out because they wisely kept the numbers low to ensure that attendees got their beer's worth; the hall was full but by no means packed

my first impression was that this is a very different festival than i'm used to
people were sitting down, the noise level was fairly low and no one was drunk
and that impression lasted for about another half an hour
then people began to mingle and get louder

seriously, people sat down
there were lots of tables and chairs in the hall, and people were occupying them
they got up, got a beer, spoke to the brewery rep about said beer and then sat back down to drink it
so civilized... but so foreign to my cask festival experiences before now

people sat
the second thing that struck me about this festival over others i have been to - there were only six casks and they were all lined up right next to each other.
i thought this would make it hard to get to them
but you know what?  the crowd was small enough and polite enough that that just wasn't an issue
and the camaraderie of the beer pourers was all the more obvious with them hanging out right next to each other

six casks
now, if you're getting the impression that it was just a polite beer sipping sort of event, you'd be mistaken
it was a fun night
the casks were good, people were happy, the piano guy providing the live music was amusing and picked some great songs
and where there's beer flowing, there are always good times right alongside
especially for the "wack pack" who came out for their buddy's birthday and wore matching shirts with beery puns on the backs
(it was hard getting them to stand still!)

the wack pack
six breweries sent a cask
the first to have their cask drained was declared the winner of the evening
for the second year in a row, it was parallel 49 who claimed the honour
organizers joked that they would have to weigh their cask next year

dead frog brought their fearless ipa - the only hoppy beer in the bunch was a cask version of the bottled beer, brought down to about 70 ibus, and it worked

old yale brought a hazelnut stout - deep, dark and nuttily delicious.  they found the right amount of hazelnut to nut it up without overwhelming the rich dark malts

cannery brought a spiced knucklehead pumpkin - spicier than the bottled version, this one featured fresh pumpkin, nutmeg and all-spice.  not at all sweet, it was just like a pumpkin ale should be

parallel 49 brought old boy - a cask version of the bottled beer it was obviously a crowd pleaser as it was gone quite quickly

pacific western brought a barleywine - weighing in at 9% you'd think this one would have been boozey, but it wasn't at all.  light coloured and light flavoured, this was my least favourite of the night

mission springs brought a cherry bomb belgian - the saison yeast's pepperiness worked well with the soft cherry flavours to create a really drinkable beer

the night was pretty much wound up by 9:30
which after a long week at work was just about the right time to be winding down for this old lady
gotta make sure i'm rested up to kick up my heels at oktoberfest tonight!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

harrison beer fest

i am two days away from a beer weekend in sunny harrison hot springs!
my oktoberfest outfit is packed already...

the lovely folks at tourism harrison are putting me up in a hotel for the weekend
so that i can enjoy all the fun (and craft beer!) that the harrison beer fest has to offer
this will be my first time at the harrison beer fest
and i'm very much looking forward to it!
my fingers are crossed that the weather forecast of sunny and 17 C comes to pass
(wish i was there today enjoying the sunny and 20C afternoon)

for a couple of reviews of last year's inaugural fest, clicky on the linkys below
for what i think of this year's sophomore fest, check back here saturday and sunday!

- tourism harrison blog
- the agassiz observer

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

on the coast

if you missed my ode to autumnal beers last week on cbc radio's on the coast with stephen quinn
you can go back and listen now!
it's the october 15th episode, at about the 2:20 mark for the beer column

Saturday, October 19, 2013


new and exciting beers at legacy liquor store in vancouver:

Craft Beer Advent Calendar 2013 - $141.35
North America

Many of us remember the good old times, back in the days when we were kids, and Christmas time was fast approaching. In order to make us count the days leading up to Christmas Day, our parents or grandparents gave us advent calendars filled with small chocolate treats or toys. Now Craft Beer Importers Canada Inc. has recreated this great gift and made it suitable for the beer lover. No, this one is not filled with chocolate. Craft's advent calendar features 24 windows, and behind each window is one full-sized bottle of beer. These will go fast!
Moon Under Water "Harvest Ale" Pumpkin Pearzen - $8.75
Victoria, BC

Moon Under Water’s Pumpkin Pearzen Harvest Ale combines local pumpkins and pears with subtle banana and clove flavours. By celebrating the season and championing the local farmers that contributed, this brewery continues to impress. Well done.
Joel Wilson | Beer Team | Legacy Liquor Store
Reverend Nat's Hard Cider - $16.35
Portland, Oregon

The making of Hallelujah Hopricot starts with heirloom American apples as a Belgian wit-style cider steeped with coriander, bitter orange peel and paradise grains, fermented with French saison and Belgian ale yeasts. On top of that rich base they’ve added apricot juice and finished with whole-leaf Cascade and Amarillo hops. A fresh and fruity concoction not dulled by any sweetening, this off-dry cider is my bestseller, and for good reason. ABV 6.9%.
Evan Doan | Beer Team | Legacy Liquor Store

Friday, October 18, 2013

only one week away!!


HARRISON HOT SPRINGS, September 19, 2013 - Harrison Hot Springs is celebrating Craft Beer Month with three must-attend events over two days: Cask Night, Harrison Beer Festival and Oktoberfest Dance. Beer lovers and weekend adventurers alike are invited to partake in the celebrations and stay for the weekend to enjoy scenic Harrison Hot Springs.

The festivities begin on Friday, October 25th with Cask Night, a fun night of song and games with a warm and friendly British pub feel complete with evening piano music. Participating breweries include: Aldergove-based Dead Frog, Chilliwack’s Old Yale Brewery (Gold winner in the Canadian Brewing Awards), Penticton’s Cannery Brewing and local Mission Springs, whose brewery’s quirky memorabilia collection is worth a visit. Admission includes a complimentary sampling glass and three free tasting tokens. Tickets start at $18.

On Saturday, October 26th, beer aficionados will compare the finest crafted beers in BC (and one Ontario participant) at the Harrison Beer Festival, including:

• Lower Mainland’s Parallel 49, founded by East Vancouver locals; and Central City Brewing (2012 World Cup of Beer’s Gold & Bronze Medal winner).
• Three breweries from Vancouver Island: Driftwood Brewery, Phillips Brewing Company and Vancouver Island Brewery.
• British Columbia’s interior representatives: Tin Whistle Brewery from Penticton, Mt. Begbie Brewery from Revelstoke (founded by nuclear physicist Bart Larson) and family-run Fernie Brewing Company.
• Eastern Canada’s sole delegate: Mill Street Brewery, hailing from Toronto.
• From Northern BC: Pacific Western Brewing, established in Prince George in 1957, Canada’s longest running, British Columbian-owned brewery and the first Canadian brewer to export to Mainland China in 1991 and to Russia in 1996.

On Saturday evening, the celebrations continue with the traditional Oktoberfest Dance. The traditional saying to start Oktoberfest is “O’zapft is!” or “It is tapped!” The Beer Barrels will add music to the evening with their own blend of oompa-pa and polka music. Complete with beer, pretzels and bratwurst, it will be a true Bavarian party - lederhosen optional!

For more information and to buy tickets, please visit the Harrison Beer Festival website.

Responsible Drinking – This is a licensed event open to those 19 years of age and over. Tourism Harrison encourages all attendees to drink sensibly. Participants are encouraged to:

• Stay overnight, thanks to special festival packages available at local hotels
• Pick a designated driver before you arrive to ensure you have a sober driver on the way back.
• Take advantage of the shuttle bus service to Agassiz and Chilliwack.

Connect with Tourism Harrison

For more information contact
Jayne Lloyd-Jones Robert ReyerseSpectacular Ink Tourism Harrison
(604) 925-8187 (604) 796-0288

Thursday, October 17, 2013

bc beer awards

don't forget to get your ticket to saturday's bc beer awards
there are still a few left, but they won't be selling them at the door, so go online now and get yours!

hosted by cbc radio's stephen quinn
this is going to be a very fun afternoon of beer sampling!
1-6 at the croatian cultural centre on commercial drive

me, i'll be leading a vip tour group around the place early on
then drinking liberally after that

horn tootin'

shameless self-promotion time
check out my cbc website headshot
they made me look good!
(as in, don't expect me to actually look like this, ever)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

beer column

my notes from yesterday's beer column on cbc radio's on the coast:

It's officially Fall. That means its time to talk about autumnal beers.  
Once the hot weather and long patio evenings of Summer fade into Fall people tend to put down the wheat beers and lagers and instead pick up a spiced ale, or a stout. Often lighter beers, in both presentation and alcohol content, make way for heartier and higher alcohol beers. We're not yet at the winter ales point, or very high alcohol percentages of barleywines; we're still adjusting to the colder temperatures and enjoying the leaves falling off the trees. This is an in-between season and that is reflected in the beers that are associated with Fall.
We just had thanksgiving, a time which heralds the return of pumpkin beers to the shelves of liquor stores and the taps of bar-rooms. Pumpkin beers tend to hover around the 5% alcohol mark, but feature heartier malts and spices that evoke the harvest season and crisp fall air. 
A few great choices for local pumpkin beers would be:
- Parallel 49's Schadenfreude, an amber lager laced with all-spice for those who prefer a more subtle pumpkin flavour;
- Red Racer Pumpkin Ale, a rich and creamy pumpkin pie in a can for those looking for a just slightly sweet pumpkin beer;
- if vanilla and cloves are more your thing, go for the Steamworks Pumpkin Ale.
Brown ales are an often overlooked beer style, but are perfectly suited to the Fall season:
- Parallel 49's Old Boy brown ale is one of their year-round offerings that comes into its own in the cooler weather. ;
- Howe Sound's Rail Ale Nut Brown, Cannery's Naramata Nut Brown and Dead Frog's Nut Brown are nuttier, richer versions of the brown ale. All are available year-round, but are particularly satisfying beers for the Fall season.

Stouts and porters also make their way back into glasses come the Fall.   But what the heck is the difference between these two styles anyway?

I wish it was as easy as 1, 2, 3 or a, b, c, but with stouts and porters it just isn't. The Porter style was born in the 18th century pubs of London. It tended to be a blend of younger pale ales and darker old ales that the porters favoured. The recipes of the original porters are lost to the annals of time, but the ideals around the name live on and beer lore has it that industrial brewers tried to mimic this blend that the porters of the time favoured and sometimes made a very strong version of the brew which was referred to as a stout porter. Eventually the word porter was dropped and stout became its own style.
Fast forward to today and try to tell the difference between the two. Speaking very generally, stouts are brewed with roasted barley. This means coffee and dark chocolate notes as well as a dry bitterness on the palate, so if your dark beer has more pronounced and deeper roasted notes to the nose, as well as a more pronounced dry bitterness on the palate, it is probably a stout. Porters are commonly perceived as sweeter on the nose and palate. Furthermore, the color range for stouts is darker, ranging from dark brown to black, while porters rest more firmly in the brown spectrum. But not absolutely. Cuz it just can't be that easy!
Stouts contain a wide range of specialty ingredients, from oatmeal, to chocolate, and even to novelty items like bacon and peanut butter. Porters also manifest in numerous forms, from relatively mild to strong, from rather standard production to smoked and barrel aged beers. This diversity makes any simple distinction between the two styles almost impossible. Often it is just down to the brewer and what they want to call the deep dark beer the are brewing.
A few local examples of these arbitrary styles are:
- Crannog's Backhand of God is an amazingly malty on the coffee side of roasted malts, kind of stout. Deep, dark and delicious. Not to mention totally organic and sustainable. This one is not available in bottles, so you'll have to enjoy it on tap at various places around town, including the Railway Club;
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lso only available on tap is Storm Brewing's Black Plague stout, which is a dry Irish-style stout with licorice root and cocoa;
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n tap around town as well as available in bottles is R&B's Dark Star oatmeal stout. Oats give the beer a nice creaminess.
- Powell Street - when you can get it - makes the Dive Bomb Porter, toffee, coffee, cocoa and a little bit of hoppiness in this one;
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or something a little bit different, Cannery Brewing adds blackberries to their porter for a nice bit of fruitiness. I hear this beer makes for great blackberry pancakes!
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or the chocolate lovers out there, Lighthouse's dark chocolate porter will satisfy your next chocolate craving.
Also of note:  Brassneck Brewing is finally open! The eagerly anticipated joint venture of Nigel from the Alibi Room and Conrad, formerly head brewer at Steamworks and the mastermind behind the pilsner that won best in show two years running at the BC Beer Awards, opened its doors two weeks ago. You won't find any of their beers in bottles, so you'd better stop by the Main Street tasting room to sample their beers and fill your growlers. You'll also find Brassneck beers on tap around town.
Speaking of the BC Beer Awards, I'm very much looking forward to them on Saturday. There are still tickets available. Everyone should come out and sample the beers of British Columbia... and enjoy Stephen Quinn as host!
There will not be tickets available at the door, so please go online to to purchase yours - quickly, while you still can!