Monday, December 29, 2014

link love

just a wee one for you today as i loaf around
luxuriating in time off from work

drinking a little at work is good?
alcohol - making people seem smarter since civilization began

and don't forget to do answer the brewed awakening's poll!

can one new brunswickian save us all from the liquor control act?

Friday, December 26, 2014

new releases

Mt. Begbie Brewing Company Limited Release
Mt. Begbie Brewery is located in beautiful Revelstoke, a small town with a rich history, in the heart of British Columbia's spectacular Columbia mountain range.

The company is named after Mt. Begbie, a majestic glacial mountain that dominates the Revelstoke skyline.

In turn, the mountain is named after Matthew "Hanging Judge" Begbie, a colourful character from Revelstoke's early history, who probably would have benefitted from a sip of Mt. Begbie's soothing ales before rendering his judgements. Read more about the brewery. 

Hop into this beachwood smoked, rich malty Porter 
- the only friend you need on a powder day!

OLD FAT HEATER Winter Ale: Our version of a classic English Winter Warmer is slightly
sweeter and more malt forward with a moderate floral hop backbone. Notes of dates and figs 
are ripe for the season, while light alcohol and caramel malts linger at the finish, balancing 
perfectly with the minty hop flavour and spicy bitterness. Rid yourself of winter's chill with
an Old Fat Heater. 
About Old Fat Heater: 
Appearance: Light brown with copper tones.
Aroma: Dark fruits, caramel, floral hop notes, peppermint candy cane, light alcohol
Flavour: Caramel, plum pudding, candy cane, warming alcohol, clean bitter finish.
Mouthfeel: Full bodied with medium-high carbonation.
ABV = 8.0%
Original Gravity = 1.080
Bitterness = 43 IBU
Colour = 18 SRM
     Old Fat Heater is available now in kegs, 650ml bottles,
     and on tap in the Bomber Brewing tasting room.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

fa la la la la

for those of you who christmas,
i think deschutes has said it best:

Deschutes Brewery's Bitter Truth
The crew here at Deschutes Brewery just wanted to thank YOU for being a fan and wish you a very Happy Holiday Season!

Deck the halls with tasty craft beer,
fa la la la la, la la la la,
Tis the season to raise your glass & cheer,
fa la la la la, la la la la,

Don we now our beer swag apparel,
fa la la la la, la la la la,
Enjoy a beer & sing some carols,
fa la la la la, la la la la!

Merry Christmas & a Hoppy New Year!

and this beer nog recipe from anderson valley:
3/4 bourbon barrel stout
1/4 egg nog

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

beer column

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

As the year draws to a close, let's recap the beer happenings in 2014.

2014 has been quite the year for craft beer!  So far 20 new breweries have opened up across the province.

I’d like to welcome the newest Vancouver craft brewery:  Strangefellows!  Strangefellows is now open on Clark Drive in East Vancouver.  They are still jumping through hoops to get their lounge endorsement, so currently they’re just serving up growler fills.  Iain Hill, formerly of Yaletown BrewPub, is the brewmaster and he is well-known in the craft beer world for his incredible sour beers.  Strangefellows will have a barrel program, so look for sour beers from them in 2015.  Currently they have a deliciously hoppy pale ale on tap that is a mere 3.8%, a wit, a lager and a brown ale.

Also freshly opened are Category 12 Brewing in Central Saanich and Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse in Terrace.

Cumberland Brewing (Comox Valley), Gladstone Brewing in Courtenay and Hearthstone Brewery in North Vancouver may squeak their openings into 2014.

Numbers-wise that could take us to 23 new breweries in BC in 2014.

Five breweries opened in the Lower Mainland in 2013 (GreenLeaf at Lonsdale Quay, 33 Acres and Brassneck in Vancouver, Deep Cove in North Van, Four Winds in Delta).

That number more than doubled this year.  Among the breweries opened in the Lower Mainland in 2014 are: Bomber, Main Street, Steel Toad, Strangefellows and Postmark in Vancouver, Dageraad in Burnaby, Moody Ales and Yellow Dog in Port Moody, Black Kettle in North Van, White Rock Beach in White Rock, Surlie Brewing in Abbotsford, and Steel & Oak in New Westminster. 

Add to that the out of town breweries opening up tasting rooms in Vancouver – like Howe Sound Brewing from Squamish’s Devil’s Elbow alehouse on Beatty Street and Prohibition Brewing from Kelowna’s tasting room on Hamilton Street.

And all the expanding breweries:  both Bridge Brewing and Powell Street brewing left their original nanobreweries behind in 2014 and opened larger facilities.  Parallel 49 keeps on expanding, and the newly opened Bomber brewing expanded within weeks of opening.  Demand just keeps growing for craft beer and breweries keep expanding to keep pace.

It will be interesting to see if 2014 is the peak year for brewery openings or if the upward trend can continue.

2014 was also a year of many liquor law changes.  I think most people are happy that the provincial government is addressing our very antiquated liquor laws.  Many of the changes are small and just make sense, like allowing patrons to carry their own drinks between areas in an establishment.  Previously a server would have to carry your drink if you moved from the restaurant area to the pub.  Now it is legal to carry your own.  Phew!

But not everyone is happy with the bigger changes to the liquor laws.  For example, the happy hour law change should have made it possible for bars to serve beer at a discounted price.  This has been achieved in Vancouver where bars mark the beers up higher than other places, so charging the minimum price is a discount.  But in many smaller locales, the price of beer actually had to go up to meet the minimum 25 cents per ounce price put on it by the government.  That is hardly a win for consumers or small businesses.

Other law changes such as allowing minors into pubs during certain hours, allowing alcohol sales at farmer’s markets and whole site licensing seem to have escaped complaint.  I guess that means people are happy with the changes… or haven’t even noticed them!

April 1st marks the date the next set of changes take effect, including sale of alcohol in grocery stores and standardized liquor pricing.  These changes have been controversial, so I expect we’ll be hearing more about those as they come into effect, especially if they translate into the higher prices many are predicting.

As for beer trends in 2014, my favourite is the rise of sessionable beers.  These are beers with less than 5% abv.  Full flavour without a staggering alcohol volume is a welcome addition to anyone’s beer offerings.  If you know you’re settling in for several hours of convivial drinking it’s nice to have a lower alcohol option.  (I'm putting my money on sours as the beer trend of 2015).

I think the "hop of the year" must be Mosaic.  It is very tropical fruity, think mango lemon and pine.  You can try it in Central City’s ISA, Phillips Brewing’s Kaleidoscope and Deschutes Fresh-squeezed IPA.

And finally, I have to mention how happy I am that Rogers Arena and the PNE have added craft beer to their beverage line-ups.  This has been a long time coming and sporty craft beer fans are rejoicing loudly!

Beer Picks:

The hobbit Trilogy series of Beers

Central City Brewers + Distillers acquired the right to brew Hobbit beers for the Canadian market back in November.
The three beers should be making an appearance in BC Liquor stores this week.

Gollum Precious Pils is a 5 percent lager
Smaug Stout is a whopping 9.5 percent and brewed with chili peppers
Bolg Belgian Tripel is 8 percent .

Parallel 49’s Sahti Claus is a Finnish style beer brewed with rye, barley and juniper berries.  Traditionally this style doesn’t use hops, but P49 has put Chinook and simcoe in to add to the piney flavour.

Dead Frog's Nutty Uncle Peanut Butter Stout is a treat!  Not too sweet, not too nutty, and not too heavy hitting at 6.1%.

and the westender article about the perceived craft beer bubble

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

on the coast

i'll be on cbc with matthew lazin-ryder at 5:50 this evening
talking about what a banner year 2014 has been for craft beer
88.1 fm
690 am

Thursday, December 18, 2014

new releases



Odd Society Spirits Deliver 

Both the Sweet and the Bitter

Odd Society Spirits Set to Release Bittersweet Vermouth 

Vancouver B.C., December 16, 2014— With a grain-to-glass philosophy and a craft distillery designation, all spirits served at the Odd Society Spirits Cocktail Lounge are legally required to be created onsite. In order to expand their portfolio of spirits and liqueurs while elevating their already strong cocktail program, Odd Society Spirits obtained a winery license and has developed their own vermouth. Odd Society Spirits Bittersweet Vermouth will be available to purchase  for $22 in 375ml bottles at the distillery starting Thursday, December 18, 2014. Select British Columbia restaurants, bars and private liquor stores (prices may vary) will also be carrying this essential classic cocktail ingredient. 

A bittersweet fortified wine, Odd Society's vermouth is developed from a classic Italian recipe, made with local Viognier grapes and sweetened with caramelized sugar. It is aromatized with a mix of twenty-five different local and international herbs and botanicals including citrus, rhubarb root, and bittering agents like wormwood, cinchona bark and centaury. The taste is rich, deep and intense. Like a life well-lived, it delivers both the sweet and the bitter to add a subtle complexity to mixed drinks. 

Wanting to set this vermouth apart, distiller Gordon Glanz chose one flavour component that would truly express the terroir of the Pacific Northwest — harvested Arbutus bark from Mayne Island gives this vermouth distinctive west coast character. "We want to create spirits that represent where we live," says Odd Society Spirits co-owner and distiller, Gordon Glanz. "Everything we craft from the Bittersweet Vermouth to the Wallflower Gin is intended to evoke a sense of time and place."


Wednesday, December 17, 2014


stanley park's windstorm cans are on sale this month for $1.99
(the anniversary of the 2006 storm was december 15th)
partial profits go to the stanley park ecology society, so you're drinking for charity!

"Overall we have already raised tens of thousands for the maintenance of the park and will continue to come up with campaigns to support it in the future."  

For Immediate Release
Introducing Windstorm - An Unexpected Pale Ale
Limited Release West Coast Pale Ale to Benefit Stanley Park Ecology Society 
Vancouver, BC – Fall has arrived. Add a scarf, wax your ‘stache, and grab an umbrella for good measure; it is the West Coast after all. You hit the streets ready to feel the gusts of crisp autumn air and the crunch of leaves at your feet. Little did you know, you’d be blown away by the #unexpected. #Windstorm is here.
We were in for more than just a few gusts one fateful day in late December 2006, when a fierce 120km/hr windstorm tore a path through Stanley Park, levelling over 10,000 trees across 40 hectares of forest and causing extensive damage to the seawall. In the wake of the storm volunteers of all ages came out to plant seedlings, while businesses and government rallied to support restoration efforts. A community stood united, together rebuilding and ensuring the legacy of a stronger, more resilient forest for future generations to enjoy.
To commemorate this #unexpected moment, Stanley Park Brewing is shaking up their fall portfolio with the introduction of Windstorm West Coast Pale Ale. Their first new beer since summer 2013, is also their first release from new Brewmaster Todd Fowler.“The storm was our inspiration to do something unexpected. Featuring the uniquely aromatic mosaic hop as our signature ingredient, our West Coast Pale Ale delivers the perfect storm of tropical fruit and earthy pine hop character and a rewarding bitterness that finishes clean,” says Fowler. Stir things up by pairing this pale ale with a spicy Thai curry dish or flavourful citrus salad for something #unexpected. Windstorm blows in at 5.7% ABV and 35 IBUs.
As a part of our commitment to the enduring legacy of the World’s Best Park, 25cents from every can and pint of Windstorm sold will benefit the Stanley Park Ecology Society. “This initiative is emblematic of our strong partnership with the Ecology Society and shared commitment to nature in the city,“ says Jim Lister, General Manager of Stanley Park Brewing. 
“Windstorms are a natural and important force in the renewal of biodiversity in our forests. Although the 2006 storm hit particularly hard, it blew in many great benefits including a community united for restoration efforts. Today, we continue our habitat enhancement work through the generous financial and volunteer commitments of partners like Stanley Park Brewery,” explains Patricia Thomson, Executive Director of the Stanley Park Ecology Society. “We are very proud to have such kindred collaboration from the Stanley Park Brewery team. We toast the positive contributions of Windstorm!”
Windstorm West Coast Pale Ale is available on draft and 500ml cans for a limited time throughout British Columbia and Alberta. Check out the Stanley Park Interactive Map to find Stanley Park Brewery beers close to you. For more information, or follow us on, Twitter @stanleyparkbrew, and Instagram@stanleyparkbrew.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

new releases

from r&b brewing:



R &B Brewing NEW RELEASES Updates

R&B & the BC-SPCA = SPCale
R&B Brewing and the BC-SPCA have joined forces this winter in a fun way to raise funds in protecting domestic, farm and wild animals in need.

SPCALE is a limited edition brew that will be released in mid December. This rauchweissen ale is an unfiltered,delicately smoked wheat beer with a 4.2% abv and 12 IBU's.

A portion of the proceeds of this 650 ml bottled beer will be donated to the BC-SPCA. Many thanks to Hops Connect, Richards Packaging and United Labels for their contribution to this great cause.

The SPCALE will be arriving on the shelves of your favourite private retail liquor stores  throughout the Vancouver area just in time for the holiday season. It will also be available for a limited time in the new year  at our upgraded R&B growler station.

from stanley park brewing:
Introducing This Winter’s Conversation Starter
Stanley Park Brewing launches their flavourful new ICE BREAKER Winter Ale
Vancouver, BC – Winter is a time for friends, family and the many occasions that bring us all together. So get comfortable, share a beer and get the conversation started with a new ICE BREAKER; the flavourful new Winter Ale from Stanley Park Brewing. This porter style specialty ale is the perfect partner to cozy up with throughout the season.
Ice Breaker is a smooth and flavourful seasonal ale with tasteful notes of cherry and dark chocolate,” shares Brewmaster Todd Fowler. “We focused on using the right ingredients to not only craft a porter with rich colour and texture, but also having the right balance of specialty malts and alcohol that would best allow those unmistakable ‘black forest’ flavour characteristics to break through.”
This seasonal brew pairs well with many holiday foods including appetizers such as chartreuse plates with gouda, mascarpone and gruyere cheeses, a roasted pork tenderloin entree or pair it with dark cocoa chocolate or a New York cheesecake for dessert. You can also enjoy one (or a couple) on its own, as this porter is uniquely sessionable, with a medium body and easy to enjoy mouthfeel with low bitterness.
Wind down and warm up this winter and grab some bottles to share, available in 6-packs and on tap across British Columbia and Alberta. Check out the Stanley Park Interactive Map to find Stanley Park Brewing beers close to you. 
For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter @stanleyparkbrew, and Instagram @stanleyparkbrew.

and a new brewery in victoria:

Victoria’s Newest Craft Brewery Opening December 19th

Victoria, British Columbia December

11th, 2014

Just in time for Christmas, Category 12 Brewing will open its doors and its taps for all Victoria craft beer fans to revel in.

Category 12 Brewing is located on Keating Cross Rd. in Central Saanich and will be the only brewery on the Saanich Peninsula. The brewery will have a tasting room where people can come in to buy growlers (refillable glass jugs of fresh draught beer), 650 mL bottles or have a taste of the brewery’s offerings.

Michael and Karen Kuzyk are the founders and operators of Category 12 Brewing. Michael has a PhD in Microbiology and Biochemistry from UVic, practising as a scientist for his whole professional career up until this point. “I started homebrewing during grad studies first as a necessity, but it quickly became a passion of mine. I wanted to turn my passion into my full time occupation so I could really explore the creativity of industrial fermentation and, most importantly, share it with others!”

Michael plans to be creating mostly Belgian influenced and PacificNorthwest style beers. The brewery is launching with a Saison and a Black IPA. The Saison and a Pale Ale (coming by mid January) will become the year round beers for Category 12 and they plan to have two other seasonal styles available at all times. “We wanted to make it clear that we are here to make creative styles and experiment. We have to stand out in a competitive market. I think craft beer fans will immediately understand what we are trying to accomplish when they taste our first two beers.”

The logo and branding of Category 12 is derived from Michael’s science background, playing on the dark and taboo side of brewing and microbiology. The tagline says it all: “Welcome to the Lab”.
For more information about Category 12 Brewing, please visit;


Monday, December 15, 2014

link love

best beer cities by
bellingham makes #8 on the list
(san diego, denver and bend are the top three)

those rascally liberals were warned that their happy hour pricing would result in an increase
and bill tieleman warns it will be the same thing with "level playing field" pricing to liquor sellers

the secret world of beer muling
12 bucket-list breweries

is this new home-brew system a good idea
or a disservice to home brewers?

hop vodka from anchor distilling

best and worst christmas ales according to paste magazine
(american and belgian)

craft beer in kamloops

and i'm throwing this one in there to see if anyone's paying attention
the feminist killjoy holiday gift guide
nothing beer related on the list, but day-um, it's a good list!

Friday, December 12, 2014

customer service

where, oh where, has good customer service gone?
especially at places i keep trying to drink beer?
you'd think that with all the competition out there, high odds of failure and the sort, that there would be a push to go back to the good old days of satisfying customers

i have had a couple of highly unsatisfying moments that i just can't keep quiet about
i hate giving bad reviews
i usually go out of my way to avoid doing so
but who am i really helping by doing that?
not me, not you and ultimately not the establishment either
because these are not laments about individual servers
some of whom are excellent and others of whom really need to up their game, but that is a very different rant from this one
no, this one is about management

so, the last bit of preamble before i finally jump into it:
i worked in retail back in highschool
but i have never waited tables or slung beer for a living
maybe i don't know what it's like on the other side of the equation
but i do know how little it takes to change a situation from bad to worse, or from bad to better
and believe me, if you do the latter, you have a customer for life

example one:
i'm at st. augustine's to watch some cfl football
it's a saturday afternoon and the place is pretty dead
i am asked to switch tables because they are only going to show my football game on a different television
so you know that they know we're watching the game
we eat, we drink, we watch football
it's a close game, it's going to come down to the final plays to know who wins
but it's 7:00 p.m. now and all the televisions get turned to a pre-season hockey game
that hasn't even started yet
the anthem hasn't even been sung yet
sure, it's a canucks bar
they always play the games
but are you kidding me?  it's a sports bar with paying customers watching other games
surely you can leave a tv or two on the football game until it finishes its final minutes
nope, not st. augustine's
when i jump up to agitatedly ask the bartender to turn just one television back to the game that is in its final gripping seconds, i am told to calm down

that happened back in october
i still haven't calmed down about it
and i haven't been back to st. a's since
i probably never will watch another game there
i won't go so far as to say i'll never drink there again because hey, they often have launches and tap takeovers and i love my beer too much to cut off my nose about this
believe me, though, that i am happily spending my beer budget other places these days

example two:
it's grey cup weekend
malone's steps up to be the hamilton ticat "house" for the weekend
they open for brunch at 10:00 a.m. on saturday
because the vanier cup (that hamilton's mcmaster university is playing in) kicks off at 10:00 a.m.
apparently the management at malones thinks that it will be sufficient to have two bartenders, three servers and some folks in the kitchen to handle the brunch
shockingly, the place is slammed at 10:00, the kitchen gets so backed up they stop taking food orders for several hours, there's no chance at getting table service for drinks, the line up at the bar is many people deep...
if people weren't so eager to watch the game, i think most would have left it was such a gong-show

then at their regular opening time a couple more staff arrive
but it is still nowhere near enough staff as the place continues to fill up with folks who aren't aware that they're going to have to wait a long time for beers and forever for food
malones starts a line-up outside
and put a very tiny server on as the line keeper
no one respects her and people just keep on walking in
the place is way over capacity and the beer is even slower in flowing
and as for food to mop it up with?
we had to go over to burger king next door

malones could have made so much money that weekend
if only they had hired enough staff to keep things flowing
they're lucky the inspectors didn't come by and bust them for being over capacity
and that no underfed drunkards got into fights
oh, and the people next to us who walked out on their bill?  i'm betting they weren't the only ones who did so unintentionally or otherwise
i just hope management realized it was their fault and didn't take it out of the few brave servers' pay

example three:
i'm at mamie taylor's for the first time
i'm impressed by the beer list, the restaurant is beautiful, i'm feeling really positively about the place
then the mix-ups start happening
the server comes by to deliver food
food that she insists is under my name
i haven't ordered food yet
yes you did, no i didn't
YES, you did, we had a conversation about it
i'm very sorry, but while those fried green tomatoes look damned good, i really, really didn't order them and i haven't had a conversation with you about anything
so she turns to the woman next to me and insists that it was her who she had a conversation with about them
because she is so insistent, and they do look good, we offer to take them anyway
still shaking her head at us, the server takes the food away
she comes in our general direction several times after that, but doesn't ask us if we do want food or anything to fill our still very empty glasses with
someone else at our table manages to get her attention
i order another beer and ask if the sablefish gnocchi is meat-less
i realize it is a fish dish, i just want to make sure there's no other meat in it
she doesn't know
i ask if she can check, and if it is vegetarian that i will order it
the woman next to me orders a drink and a burger
the server comes back a couple of minutes later to confirm whether it was red or white wine she ordered, and that it was the burger
okay, seems like she's a bit frazzled
it happens
she tells us that she got some bad news and that she's preoccupied
we smile sympathetically and she leaves
but then she comes back over to tell me that the chef is making me a vegetarian version of the gnocchi
say what?  no, i ordered a fish dish because i wanted the fish
i just didn't want other meat in it
she looks at me like i have grown a second head and am trying to fuck with her
i am now feeling very uncomfortable about my whole experience
and shaming myself for being so "difficult" in wanting to know what's in my food
a minute later a man comes to deliver our drinks
he puts down the glass of wine and when i say that the beer is for me, he says that he is almost afraid to give it to me
um, what does that mean?
how does one react to such a statement?
apparently you've been having difficulties he says to me
actually, it is your server who seems to be having them, she got some bad news and is having trouble focussing
that shouldn't affect the quality of the service, he says
no, it shouldn't, we agree, but it appears to be happening and we're not trying to be difficult, it's just that we didn't order the fried green tomatoes and i didn't order a vegetarian gnocchi
otherwise, we're really quite happy, thanks
he looks at us like we're being particularly difficult and moves off

at this point, i want to cry
or crawl under the table
i have no idea what they're going to bring me to eat, and i dare not do anything about it if it isn't right
i'm with people i don't know very well, so laughing the whole thing off is hard
i don't have any idea how it all went so sideways or if there's a blessed thing i can do to make it alright
really, could the earth just do me the favour of swallowing me up?

when the food does come
it's right, it's delicious and i finish the whole bowl
some semblance of a festive evening is restored
but i don't think i ever want to go back there
i don't want to feel that shame again

what do i want from this rant?
nothing really, just needed to get off my chest that there are places i don't plan to visit again
not because of their food or their beer list or their decor
but because i felt like they didn't care whether i enjoyed my experience there
and if they don't care, why should i spend my limited beer dollars there?
i don't need to be pandered to, i just want to feel welcome