Mission : Leap Beer, 366 Beers in 366 Days

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Leapbeer Fieldtrip – A Flight at Spinnakers

On my most recent visit to Victoria I got to spend a very large amount of time at Spinnakers Brewpub. Not only did we have a great time spent at their guest house enjoying the hospitality of their accommodations, but we also got a very comprehensive tour of the brewing operations. Also well as ample opportunity to sample the food and the beers. This post is going to be focusing on the beer side of our tour. This is the flight of Spinnakers.

For  those of you who don’t know what a flight of beer is, allow me to illuminate. A flight of beer is a sampler set of beers. While it may at times include different brewers, I use this term to describe a collection of beers from the same brewer. If I were doing a sampling of different brewers I would call it a ‘tasting’ instead. This is my personal preference, but I just wanted to clarify because I’ve had ‘tastings’ already. I also want to add an apology for my picture taking skills. I took a different camera with me this trip, in the attempt to take better pictures. However it turned out that I really don’t know how to take pictures well with it. They start off out of focus so sorry.

Back to the beer. Our bartender of the day, Ryan, served us a series of their beers that were available at the taps that day. It is worth mentioning that they have a vast variety of beers that are produced at Spinnakers every year. So much so that I fear I may only get to sample a small array of what they produce. On top of that they offer their “Dog Watch Cask” series of beers every weekday between 4-6pm of specially augmented beers (Like the Northwest IPA with Citras I reviewed last week)

He took us on a tour of of the beers based lighter to stronger flavours, not strictly colour based.

First up is their Kolsch Style beer. This is a really light and refreshing beer. It isn’t without flavour, which is something people may expect from a 3.5% beer. I quite enjoyed it, and it was a nice wake up of the palate for this journey of beer.

Leapbeer #203 is Kolsch Style from Spinnakers GastroBrewpub

Next we moved to their Hefeweizen. I had the opportunity to sample this beer on my previous trip to Victoria and it definitely lives up to the memory of it. I admit that I am a soft sell when it comes to beers, as I enjoy all styles of beer. I’ve always had a soft spot for a really good hef mind you, and this one is spectacular. It is complex yet refreshing, bold and gently, all in the same beverage. I call it ‘sunshine in a glass’. It is their summer seasonal so please get down there to try this while it is there. I consider this the best Hef I’ve had all year.

Leapbeer #204 is Hefeweizen from Spinnakers GastroBrewpub

We ordered our lunch, a lovely salad to split, Fish n Chips for my wife and the Rabbit meat pie for myself, and Ryan poured another glass. This next turn he took us to one of their staple beers, the Nut Brown. This is a sweet and malty beer with a lovely roasted nut flavour. Another light and refreshing beer.

Leapbeer #205 is Nut Brown Ale from Spinnakers GastroBrewpub

After the Nut Brown we moved on to the Jameson’s Scotch ale. Scotch ales are notoriously delicate, but also very good. And this offering is no exception to that. It has a nice sweetness to it, as it almost has a barrel aged quality to it. It is also available at the bar in a pulled cask variety, meaning it is direct from a room temperature cask (aprx 10c). I tried it both ways while I was at Spinnakers, I preferred it in the pulled cask variety.

Leapbeer #206 is Jamesons Scotch Ale from Spinnakers GastroBrewpub

Now we started heading into the stronger flavour waters. We go into their version of a hopped out IPA, their Northwest IPA. I really like this beer. It offers a nice compliment of dry hopping to an already very tasty IPA. While it isn’t as bitter as other hopped up IPA’s on the market it definitely delivers on the bitter. I quite enjoyed it.

Leapbeer #207 is Northwest IPA from Spinnakers GastroBrewpub

After that, our food already arrived and lunch in full swing, Ryan brought us the Mitchell’s Extra Special Bitter. A lovely classic bitter available from the cold room as well as in the pulled cask. Sadly I messed up the picture of it so I don’t have one from this tasting. I will have a pic of it later in the week.

Leapbeer #208 is Mitchell’s Extra Special Bitter from Spinnakers GastroBrewpub

Lunch was a success, our meals were both hearty and satisfying. What better way to cap the afternoon but with their Tsarist Imperial Stout. This is a wonderful stout. It is a heavyweight, at 7.75% ABV. But it goes down so easy. Another of the beers available from pulled cask as well as cold room served. It is rich and malty.

Leapbeer #209 is Tsarist Imperial Stout from Spinnakers GastroBrewpub

That concludes our flight of beer that day. There were even more beers available at Spinnakers during our stay, but they were bottle & can offerings from the off sales. I picked up them and they will be covered later. For more information about Spinnakers beers (and everything else they offer) please check out their website here. http://www.spinnakers.com/

I wanted to include another little pic and story to this post. We stayed at the guest house, and many I talked to didn’t know where that was. I do have a video demonstrating how close it is, take into account that I am sitting on the patio of the guest house. I started the pic with my back on the wall. I realize I should have started the video from inside the guest house.

We also took a discovery flight with Victoria Flying Club and I was able to take this pic from the air. The red arrow points to Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, and the blue arrow points to the guest house we stayed in. It is a complete home, in the 1000-1200 sq ft range, more on that to come in the week.

Thanks for reading.

Leapbeer at HOPoxia

As many of my readers will know I attended my first Beer event ever last Saturday night. It was … interesting. Rather than delve upon the entirety of the events I will fill you in on who brought what, or what I remember. Whom I didn’t sample (because I purposefully avoided a couple of beers) and whom I really liked. Of the brewers I sampled all but a few of them. I tried;
Tofino Brewing’s Hoppin Cretin IPA, Russell Brewing’s Blood Alley ESB, Lighthouse Brewing’s Switchback IPA w/HOPoxinator, The Moon Under Water’s Waxing Crescent IPA, Driftwood Brewing’s  Fat Tug, Vancouver Island Brewery’s Cascadian India Dark Ale, Canoe Brewpub’s Siren Song Pale Ale, Spinnakers Brewpub’s Hoptoria IPA, Wolf Brewing’s Red Brick IPA, Parralel 49’s Hoparazzi IPA, Hoyne Brewing Co.’s Devils Dream IPA, Coal Harbour Brewing Co.’s Powell IPA, Longwood Brewpub’s Island Pale Ale, Phillips Brewing’s Hoperation Tripel Cross
I didn’t sample the following, for various reasons. Either I’ve already had their beer and didn’t want to overdo it (see lessons learned below) or their beer wasn’t favorably received by other patrons.Whistler Brewing Co. – Pink Grapefruit Ale
Howe Sound Brewing Co. – Total Eclipse of the Hop
Central City Brewing Co. – Red Racer ESB
Granville Island Brewing Co. – Cascadian Dark Ale (I think, I didn’t even go by there)
Salt Spring Island. (I don’t remember their presence, but maybe I just missed them)
My overall thoughts of the event. – The crowd was great, everyone I talked to was having a good time. I met a few people I’d only talked to on twitter and also got to hang out with some new friends as well. Everyone was there for the beer, from hardcore enthusiasts, home craft brewers, brewery professionals and everyday schmoes like myself. While the crowd was good I was somewhat underwhelmed by what some of the brewers brought to the event. Of all the brewers, only 3 did anything special. Vancouver Island Brewery had a specially made cask for the event (Cascadian India Dark Ale), The Moon Under Water Brewpub brought a brand spanking new Waxing Crescent IPA and Lighthouse had the Hopoxinator for filtering their Switchback IPA through various varietals of hops during the day. I was also intrigued at what Longwood Brewpub brought. Their Island Pale Ale is an IPA recipe using all Vancouver Island sourced ingredients, including the hops. All the other breweries brought standard release beers, many of which I’d had already. The only one of the ‘standard issue’ beers that I went back to repeatedly was the Hoppin Cretin because of its limited availability. Perhaps I had misconceptions about what other people would bring to the party, but It wasn’t just me who felt somewhat disappointed by the turn out from the beer side. We made up for it by having fun.
Leapbeer #200 is India Dark Ale by Vancouver Island Brewery (Photo Courtesy of Rob Ringma of Vancouver Island Brewery)
Leapbeer #201 is Waxing Crescent IPA by The Moon Brewpub
(picture hopefully coming soon)
Leapbeer #202 is The Hopoxinator by Lighthouse Brewery (Photos Courtesy of Joe Weibe @thirstywriter)
Here’s the varietals of hops they were using during the day (Photo Courtesy of Joe Weibe @thirstywriter)
Now on to the lessons I learned from this experience. While it was an enjoyable time I’m absolutely certain that I could have had a better time, and been more responsible at it too. Here’s the lessons I learned while out at my first big beer event.
1) Know your location. If it is going to be held in an open cement backyard of a brewery (not a bad thing) know this ahead of time and bring either a hat or loose clothing. It was so sunny and so hot out there. I’m certain the heat led me to consume a bit faster than I would have before.
2) Carefully choose your dining options for before, during and after the event. At this one which was 4 hours long, I hadn’t eaten a proper meal before hand (WRONG) I decided to get a Ghost Chili spiced hot dog from the onsite vendor (double WRONG!) and I didn’t have any plan for following the event. Choosing something during depends upon what is available, but afterwards is something that can be planned. A strong coffee and a slap in the face would’ve helped me for sure.
3) Survey the landscape and formulate a plan of attack. This is something I did do. I knew which breweries I wanted to sample first and then on. I really wanted to get in on the few special beers at the event, and I was very glad I did. VIB’s cask was the first to sell out completely if I recall, and it was in the top 3 for the event in my books.
4) Choose your service vessel well. If you lose or dirty yours ask for another one. Don’t randomly accept a graduated cylinder to drink from, even if it was passed to you by a brewer. They’re tricky to drink from, and you may (or in my case will) spill on your shirt.
5) Have an exit strategy mapped out. While it may change or things deviate a bit, set something up so that everyone gets back okay. Don’t ever think that driving away from one of these events is a good idea. EVER. Even if you plan to spend the next 3 hours after it doing laps around the block drinking copious amounts of water to wash the alcohol out of your system it is a bad idea. Cabs are cheaper than a ticket every time.
6) Bring little, so as not to lose stuff. I misplaced both my camera and my phone. Both of which were recovered (Big thank you again to Bryan at Cascadia and the staff at Phillips for that) It is really easy to put something down when you’re in the throes of an event and walk away from them. I was wrought with grief for a day worried about my camera.7) And this is an important one. Pace yourself. Even if its super hot try not to go ridiculous there. I didn’t follow by this, and ended up getting a bit stupid.

All in all I had a good time, but I could have made it better. A big thanks to Phillips (Matlock especially) for putting on the event.
For those of you wondering what happened to me when I drank from the graduated cylinder (aka the Spillinder), here’s a pic courtesy of @redhairedblond Julie Lavoie
Thanks for Reading

Leapbeer On-The-Fly Review #199 Northwest IPA with Citras Cask @ Spinnakers

While I am waiting to get my camera back with the rest of my pictures from my last trip to Victoria I thought it’d be good to make a post about one of the specialty beers I got to sample while I was down there. As some of you may or may not know Spinnakers offers a specially hopped cask offering every day of the week from Monday through Friday. What they do is take a smaller keg of their beer and dry hop it with a hops varietal. As I was told it usually only lasts about an hour or less before the whole keg is gone. We were there too late to try the ESB with Willamettes on the Thursday, but I made a special effort to get in on the action for the Friday.  Even reading what it was got me excited, their Northwest IPA with Citras.

I’ve already gone on at length about my enjoyment of the hoppier beers so let me suffice it to say, it was divine. The lemony dry hopping from the citra’s added an extra floral layer to this already excellently crafted beer. I had to rush off to dinner before finishing my pint, but thanks to eating in the same establishment (only downstairs) I got to take it with me.

I’ll be covering the Northwest IPA by itself later in the blog, but this was a special treat for me. Because it was a cask offering, served direct from a keg atop the bar, all the delicate floral notes were well represented. Another note is because it is dry hopped in the keg there was some sediment. Not a problem just a note.

Leapbeer #199 is Northwest IPA with Citras Cask from Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria

Thanks for Reading.

Leapbeer Review #198 Twilight Summer Ale by Deschutes Brewery

I find it hard to believe that this next beer is the first Deschutes beer I’ve covered for the leapbeer blog so far. In truth, I’ve had their beers before, I’ve even had some of their beers this year. But it isn’t until now that I’m putting one into the blog. There isn’t any special reason I haven’t included this brewery up to this point. It just hasn’t happened, until now. For those of you who aren’t craft beer nerds, Deschutes is one of Oregon’s premiere breweries. They are not only known for their standard brews, but they also have a very extensive barrel aging program. One that I really hope to sample from in the future.

This is a seasonal beer of theirs. Their site describes it as ‘A lighter, yet full-flavored, aromatic Ale for the long days of summer. Twilight’s solid malt foundation pairs with distinctive Amarillo hops for flavors every bit as intriguing as bigger, heavier ales. A back porch, lingering sunset wonder‘ (http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/brew/twilight-summer-ale)

They blend 3 types of malts (NW Pale, Carastan, Carapils) and 5 varietals of hops (Northern Brewer, Amarillo, Cascade, Tettnang, Brambling Cross) in this beer. It pours to a amber/orange colour with a white head that leaves a nice lacing to the glass. It smells amazing, like the blend of hops and malts have a perfect marriage. It is a very super easy drinking summer beer. A nice hoppy bite, with a complex malty under belly. Everyone who’s tried it has enjoyed it, and I’m no exception.

Leapbeer #198 is Twilight Summer Ale by Deschutes Brewery of Bend Oregon

I picked up the 6 of these beers in Top Shelf Liquor Store, a great place for craft beers in the Comox Valley. I find myself always wandering in while I’m down that way. Its a great place to shop. If you’re a craft lover you’ll do yourself a favour and check it out if you’re by that way.

Thanks for Reading

Leapbeer Review #197 Ephemere Black Currant Cassis by Unibroue

Now I admit I wasn’t very nice when I reviewed the Unibroue Fin Du Monde. I wasn’t trying to be harsh, but it came across as a like I was a bit mean. It was back when I was writing a considerably shorter write up to my beers. While I now am more verbose, it appears that my track record with this brewery isn’t getting any better.

The next beer from them I am trying is the Ephemere Black Currant Cassis. Due to the overwhelmingly good remembrance of the Brouwerij Lindemans Cassis Lambic, I’ve been wanting to branch out to the fruitier beers to try something with that same verve to it. Sadly this beer is not that beer.

It pours to a cloudy red colour with no head to it. It smells strongly of the black currants, however it doesn’t deliver on the flavour. It is a mild currant taste, with a lot of bubbles to it. I’m not saying it is really all that bad. Just that I find it to be a light, fluffy & very lightly flavoured fruity beer.

Leapbeer #197 is Ephemere Black Currant Cassis by Unibroue

I do promise to attempt this brewery some more, I’m sure the thousands upon thousands (who knows maybe more) beer drinkers of theirs out there can’t be wrong. Wait, wasn’t that an Elvis album?
Gah, I digress again. I am going to give them a good old college try again before the year is through. So please, all you Unibroue’ers save your hate mail for now.

Thanks for Reading.

Leapbeer Review #196 Extra Special Bitter by Salt Spring Island Ales

First off, let me apologize for taking such a hiatus. I went camping with some friends and needed some recuperation time after returning home. I’m glad to announce that I’m now fully rested and ready to consume and compose for your … enjoyment? (still to be seen)

This next beer is yet another from Salt Spring Island Ales. Their distribution continues to grow on Vancouver Island and I’m pleased to say that, while I originally bought this in Nanaimo, I’ve since procured it locally as well. Kudos to you Salt Spring for distribution. I know my market isn’t a ‘hotbed’ for craft beer, but I appreciate the effort it takes to get beers like this into deserving consumers hands.

Biggest stand out for me on the bottle is right below the matador and bear, where it says ‘Whole-Cone Hops’. As a fan of the hoppier fare, I’m already intrigued. Before going much further here’s what it had to say on the back of the bottle. “There are no bears on Salt Spring… Matadors? Maybe. Allow us to present our Salt Spring take on the classic ‘ESB’ style. Featuring an aromatic charge of whole-cone hops, championed by dashingly sauve organic malts, this balanced and delicious beer is excellent on its own, or pairded with classic pub fare.

I pop the big bottle and am immediately hit by the hoppy scent. I poured a nice amber glass with a fluffy white head atop it. I notice an overly abundant carbonation to it. It smells hoppy as you’d guess, but that’s about all I smell to it. Not so overpoweringly so as you’d get on an IPA, but definitely more than your average bitter. It tastes of the bittering hops at first, but there’s a nice malt body beneath it. The finish is nice, very crisp, leading to an easy drinking beer. I can’t say that this is my favorite iteration of an ESB, I think Blue Moon Bitter takes that cake still, but it is a very nice beer.

Leapbeer #196 is Extra Special Bitter by Salt Spring Island Ales

Thanks for Reading

Leapbeer Reviews an Odin Trio

These next three beers were a gift from @JohnLimHing from our roadtrip to Tofino. As previously mentioned there was an Odin Brewery VCBW event at his restaurant in Steveston (www.hogshack.ca), so he brought me over some of their brews.

I started off with the Viking extra pale ale. It didn’t have a label, but I’m not here for labels. I’m here for the beer. It pours to a lovely unfiltered golden colour with a frothy white head on it. There’s a fair amount on the nose of it. It smells of mildly citric hops, a touch of earthiness and rich malts.
Tasting it is quite bitter up front. The thick bitters coat your mouth. I find it to be nicely carbonated. Despite the bold flavours this beer has a delicate mouth feel. It is a very good beer.

Leapbeer #193 Viking Extra Pale Ale


Next I moved on to the Odin’s Gift Ruby Ale. This beer is a transparent deeply ruby red beer with a thin creamy head on top. When you bring it to your nose it smells very sweet, rich and malty. It does taste nicely malty, but there’s also a nice bitterness as well. It is a tasty beer, and very easy drinking.

Leapbeer #194 Odin’s Gift Ruby Ale

Lastly I moved to the limited release, Thor’s Equinox – Belgian Dark Ale. It is hard to tell from the picture, but this beer is a chestnut brown colour with a thin head on top. It smells of rich molasses and malts. But when you drink it you really get hit of the belgian sour yeast. The tasting starts with the rich malts and molasses and then ends with the sour taste. As this beer warms up a bit it gets really easy to drink. It is a high test 9.0% 650ml bomber, so drink with caution.

Leapbeer #195 Thor’s Equinox Belgian Dark Ale

A big Thank You to John for providing me with these beers, and as always, thank you for reading.

Leapbeer Review #192 Double Decker IPA by Vancouver Island Brewery

It’s sad to say this, but this is likely my last double decker for a while. Not because I don’t like them anymore. VIB has pulled this beer from their lineup to make room for the beachcomber summer seasonal. Change, it seems, is an unstoppable force.

A note they have on the bottle of this beer is that they use hops varieties from the pacific northwest which is nice.

I pored this amber beauty into my glass and set to work. A thin tan head forms and also leaves a nice lacing behind it as you drink. I get a nice hoppy scent on the nose, with some malty notes as well. Tastes great. Not quite a traditional style IPA, but not super aggressively hopped like switchback. It finishes crisp, making for a nice easy drinking beer. A nice balance of the hops varieties and the malty undercurrents.

You will be missed in this beer drinkers life, Double Decker. Thank you VIB for this beer, it may now be gone, but it will not be forgotten.

Leapbeer #192 is Double Decker IPA by Vancouver Island Brewery from Victoria

Thanks for Reading.

Leapbeer Review #191 Hop Rod Rye Specialty Ale by Bear Republic Brewing Co

I offer another apology to the reader today, because I have forgotten something. I do not remember where I got this beer. I assume it was either purchased for my by my Sr VP of acquisitions on her trip to VITI or I got it in one of my travels. Regardless of where it came from or who picked it up this beer made its way into the leapbeer beer fridge, and into my glass.

I poured this beer into my glass, and it was filled with a deep amber nearly ruby colour with a cream coloured head. The head dissipated, but still managed to leave a nice lacing around the glass. When I brought it to my nose, all I got was hops. Hops hops hops and a bit more hops. Someone hit the supercharge feature here.

The taste is as I would have expected, very hoppy. They’re very present, all floral and bitter, but there is a rich deep sweet rye maltiness underneath. It is like a velvety blanket draped underneath every sip. It is very impressive. There is also a hint of caramel in the taste of this beer. I know it isn’t strictly speaking an IPA but like Krypton it is a Rye PA. Be warned in advance that if you get this it is a higher test beer at 8.0% ABV and an equally impressive 80 IBU’s. Their site describes the beer like this “A high gravity IPA brewed with 18% rye malt. Hop Rod Rye has a floral hop aroma and subtle caramel notes with a slightly earthy and spicy rye character.” via http://www.bearrepublic.com/ourbeers.php

A very tasty beer indeed, craft brewed in Sonoma County California.

Leapbeer #190 is Hop Rod Rye Specialty Ale by Bear Republic Brewing Co

Leapbeer Field Trip – Townsite Brewing in Powell River

I took leapbeer on the road again, this time taking the opportunity to visit Townsite Brewing in Powell River. This recent addition to the BC craft beer community opened their doors just this year. They opened up in the old post office building in the northern area of Powell River. This is what their building looked like when they took over (borrowed from their website)

Unfortunately the day we were visiting there it was raining too much for us to take pictures of the outside. Suffice it to say they have now added a nice sign to the outside, and a chalkboard advertising their hours and available growler beers that they have inside. They are located just up the road from the local mill, which I’m sure has made it a lucrative spot for the drive home traffic.

We went inside the brewery and were met by their guard cat. After making it past him we were greeted by Karen Skadsheim, owner of Townsite. Handshakes where shared and we set off on our tour. A little information about the building that Townsite is in first. They are in the Federal Building  at 5824 Ash Avenue in Powell River. Originally housing the Post office, it has since housed a few other tenants before being reborn as a brewery.

The previous tenant, a fish packing plant, had set them up with several of their needed hookups for their brewing operation. They built this brewery with brand new NSI Newlands equipment. Their working space is a cozy environment, but I’m sure that it makes for easy transport from one vessel to the other. Beyond their cold storage area (not pictured) they have their beers available by growler onsite, bottles onsite and in selected liquor stores, and by keg.

Here are a few pictures of our look around the brewery.

Mash Tun and Kettle

Here’s their primary fermenter

Across from the kettle is couple of uni-tanks, plus an action shot of Karen.

From Left to Right the Bottle Labeler, Bottle Filler (in behind) and a couple of Fermenting Tanks

Lastly the Tasting Bar

I left there with a glorious flight of their beers (including one of the previously sold out Charleston Belgian Trippel that I managed to charm out of Karen’s secret stash) and I wanted to cap out this with a review of their Suncoast pale ale.

Their website describes this pale ale like so;  “Suncoast is our draught-only offering and our definition of a session beer. Think smooth, amber and yummy! This is for hanging out with great friends and enjoying lotsa laughs.” (http://townsitebrewing.com/beer#)

It pours to a deep amber with a white fluffy head on top. It smells quite amazing, almost fruitish with hints of passion fruit or melon. The taste is a more bitter take on a pale ale that I’m used to. It is a 25 IBU offering so it does rate on the bitter scale. That said the bitter dances really nicely with the rich malty notes of this beer. When Karen was describing it as their session beer she was not kidding. It is very easy drinking making for tasty pints after a days busyness.

Leapbeer #190 Suncoast Pale Ale

Thanks to Karen for her hospitality for our visit. I really look forward to seeing (and tasting) what you and your crew have brewing for the future.

And thank you all for reading.

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