Sorry for the lack of posts lately, been uber busy with family stuff.
A group of us traveled to the Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria a couple of weeks ago and it was Awesome!
We started the day by sharing a bottle of Cuvee De Tomme 2009, a wonderful cherry sour from Lost Abbey. What a way to destroy the palate at 10 AM! We also downed a bottle of Victory at Sea from Ballast Point, an Imperial Coffee Porter with Vanilla Beans.
Once at the fest, we focused mainly on BC Beers and the handful from the States that we can’t readily get. An immediate standout was the White Bark Wit w/ Brett from Driftwood. Simply beautiful. As much as I love brettanomyces, I hadn’t thought of adding the bacteria to a wit bier. Stroke of brilliance for the Driftwood boys! They were also pouring a raspberry lambic/framboise, which was nice, but still a bit young. Hopefully they can cellar some away, as this beer will be spectacular in 6 months or more.
The Cascadia from Daniel Knibbs at Dead Frog was one serious kick ass concoction. I don’t quite know how to categorize it, but it was awesome! Daniel took the first runnings from a brown ale, hopped the ever-lovin’ snot out of it, fermented it down, and then dry hopped the bejeezus out of it and served it on cask. A malty hoppy flavor bomb from hell! Gary at Central City was serving his amazing Red Racer IPA (kicked up a notch, methinks) and a Double IPA version sporting over 100 IBU’s which was honestly one of the best double IPA’s I’ve had in a long time. The Phillips Amnesiac DIPA on Cask was another great effort from Matt Phillips and Crew, as was the Boundary Bay IPA from Bellingham WA. Jeez, can ya tell I like me some IPA?
After that much of the fest is a blur, I just know I had a great time, and can’t wait for next year. Maybe there will be a new BC brewery serving amazing craft and barrel aged beer? Hmmm?
Last Sunday went to the Whip for Cask Sunday, Anacortes IPA dry hopped with lots of hoppy goodness. Very nice! I haven’t been a big Anacortes fan, but that IPA is changing my beer addled mind. After the cask, we broke open several bottles from our respective stashes; Spring 2008 Hair of the Dog Blue Dot, Ninkasi Ticerahops, 2009 Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Wet Hop Ale, and Lost Abbey Angel’s Share aged in Bourbon barrels.
As to the HOTD Blue Dot, the ’08 seemed to have lost a lot of it’s hop character, but was still very appealing. (I have 4 bottles of ’09 coming soon!) The Tricerahops was, like most offerings from Ninkasi, rock solid. a big bold DIPA with lots of citrus notes. The Sierra Nevada Harvest is as always, amazing. As with most wet hop beers, the bitterness is drastically toned down due to the excess moisture present in the hops before drying, so what you get is amazing hop flavor and aroma without the some of the astringency you get with kiln dried hops. We popped the cork on the Angel’s Share next, and there is not much more I can say about Tomme Arthur’s beers. Big, smoky, chocolate, coffee, raisins, oak…WOW!
We also tapped a bomber of Phillips Brewing Crazy 8’s Annu-ale, brewed to celebrate their 8th anniversary. The description on the label is a bit vague, and I don’t know quite where to put this one. Big beer, 8% ABV, lots of malt, lots of hops. Not quite an IPA, but lot’s of character. Definitely warrants another go.
Also through my Norm at Beer Thirst, I discovered a new beer stop close by in Bellingham, WA. Haggen Food and Pharmacy has a great craft beer selection, lots of NW beers not available north of the border. And it beats driving down to Seattle. I was able to pick up Ninkasi, Sierra Nevada Harvest, Deschutes Red Chair IPA (they are getting Hop Trip this week!), Elysian and several varieties of Rogue that I hadn’t seen before. (They must have had 15 or more Rogue beers in bombers!) So when in Bellingham, definitely give Haggen’s a try, they have several stores in Bellingham and one in Ferndale.
Speaking of Elysian, their 2009 Night Owl Pumpkin Ale is spectacular. One of the 3 or 4 best pumpkin beers I have had. I think I like it so much because it is very similar to a pumpkin ale I have homebrewed in the past. I used over 1 pound of fresh pumpkin in a 5 gallon batch, they used over 7 lbs per barrel which is a pretty similar ratio. Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, clove) are added at the end of the boil and also post fermentation. The result is a deep amber ale that smells like a pumpkin pie! There is enough pumpkin and spice to carry over to the palate without overpowering it like many of the others I have tried. Good stuff!
Also, there is a rumor (or is it rumour?) floating about that there could very well be a new BC craft brewery popping up on the radar. I’m not privy to all the details (or am I?), but I’m hearing that it will be exclusively focused on craft styles, no mass market lagers, cream ales and the like. I’m told that the focus will be on artisan ales and lagers, with lots of experimentation with organic malts, brettanomyces and lactobacillus, barrel aging and the like. Keep your fingers crossed, this is just the kind of craft brewery BC needs!
Speaking of BC Craft Breweries, The Canadian Brewing Awards were announced this week, and BC was well represented. Congratulations to Gulf Island Brewing (Gold), Russell, (Bronze, Silver) Nelson (Bronze), Tree Brewing (Gold for Hop Head Double IPA, Bronze), R & B (2 Silvers), Old Yale (Gold), Bushwakker (Silver), Swan’s (Bronze), Howe Sound (Silver, Honourable Mention), Dead Frog (Gold, Bronze) Phillips (2 Silver and a Gold), Lighthouse (Silver) and Whistler Brewing (Gold). A complete list of the winners can be found here. Keep up the good work, BC is definitely a beer force to be reckoned with!
That’s all I have for today, hope to post more tasting notes and news soon.
Andy The Beerman