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Archive for the category “Lighthouse Brewing Company”

Leapbeer Reviews #311 & 312 Uncharted Belgian IPA & Siren Imperial Red by Lighthouse

This next post is me catching up on the latest from Lighthouse Brewing Companies ‘Big Flavour’ series. These bombers have been quite well received up til now, and, as you will read, the trend continues. The latest two are Uncharted Belgian IPA, released late October of this year, and Siren Imperial Red Ale released December the 3rd.

Lighthouse Brewing Companies Latest Big Flavour Series BombersSiren Imperial Red and Uncharted Belgian IPA

Lighthouse Brewing Companies Latest Big Flavour Series Bombers
Siren Imperial Red and Uncharted Belgian IPA

First of these I’m covering is the Uncharted Belgian IPA. I wasn’t able to try last years version of this beer. According to one source the last years version was a blend of two beers by two different brewers. This years version was not. It is a 100% Dean McLeod production, and it’s delicious. It pours to a clear goldy amber colour with a lovely off white head that really sticks around. The bouquet off this beer is lovely. Floral and citric hops notes bring up thoughts of passion fruit and apricots (yes I know there’s no passion fruit or apricots in this beer). That’s kind of how the tasting starts with this beer as well. It is initially fruity but then a nice bitter washes over you from it. This is a beer meant for savoring, not lending itself to quick mass consumption. I did notice that the bottle I had recently didn’t have as strong a hops aroma as the one I shared with @eskimodave closer to the release of this beer. But when I gave the glass a swirl the bouquet opened up  again. A very solid and tasty beer from my friends at Lighthouse Brewing Company.

Leapbeer #311 is Uncharted Belgian IPA

Uncharted Belgian IPA by Lighthouse Brewing Company

Uncharted Belgian IPA by Lighthouse Brewing Company

After drinking Uncharted I thought there was no way to top it. I knew Lighthouse was planning to release an Imperial Red Ale, as they included it as their beer for Winterbrau at Canoe Brewpub. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this beer when I initially heard about its release. I figured it would be good, but I was outright WRONG. This beer is a tour de force of hoppy goodness. It is an all out assault on your olfactory glands and taste buds, in a very very good way. It is a deep reddish amber beer with a thick fluffy tan coloured head on top. The aroma from this beer is like an intoxicating blend of piney hops. The kind of melange meant to ensnare a hop head like me. No wonder it’s called Siren. This beer is enough to make me steer my ship into the rocks, its that good. Even before a drop hits my lips I’m sold on this product. And then when you drink it you get blasted by this unapologetic uber hop monster of a beer. The complex malt framework can on just support the massive hop injection provided from this libation. I love this beer.

Leapbeer #312 is Siren Imperial Red

Siren Imperial Red by Lighthouse Brewing Company

Siren Imperial Red by Lighthouse Brewing Company

Brewery: Lighthouse Brewing Company of Victoria, BC
Released: Late October 2012 (Uncharted), December 3rd, 2012 (Siren)
Size/ABV/IBU: 650ml Bottle/7.5% (Uncharted) 8.0% (Siren)ABV/
Availability: Limited
Purchased @: Merecroft Village Liquor Store & Cascadia Liquor Comox

Truly these beers deserve their own platform for review. Unfortunately I have to keep compressing posts to hit my Leapbeer deadline of December 31st. If these products are available in your area try them immediately. Especially the Siren, since it’s aroma hops will only dissipate with time. A big Kudos to Lighthouse and their team for these amazing beers.

Thanks for reading

Leapbeer Reviews #304-306 A Few Lighthouse Signature Beers

I realized a little while ago that, while I’ve been more than content covering the limited releases and new beers from my beloved Vancouver Island Breweries, I have unintentionally ignored the staple brands from these said breweries. I intend to do some rectifying of this situation, starting today.

Today I have a trio of, as fresh as I could get them (read: straight from the brewery) beers from the Lighthouse Brewing Company. These beers are available all year round, as well as in their mixer packs. They do a summer and winter mixer available in most government liquor stores in BC, as well as six packs of most of their beers, either cans or bottles. My friend Aaron shared a summer mixer with me earlier this year on a fishing trip, but I was too preoccupied to take notes on the beers.

Starting off I went with the Beacon India Pale Ale. This isn’t a super hop forward IPA like their delectable Switchback IPA, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty in its own right. It pours to a deep golden colour with an off-white head. I get a nice aroma from this beer of hops and grains, only mildly but still present. The real surprise was tasting the beer. It took my taste buds for a bit of a ride. Starts off a bit strong with a bitter punch, then it smooths out with malty goodness, followed by a bitter back. The rich maltiness is really accented well by the bitter notes.

Leapbeer #304 is Beacon India Pale Ale by Lighthouse Brewing Company

Lighthouse Brewing Company Beacon India Pale Ale

Lighthouse Brewing Company Beacon India Pale Ale

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Leapbeer Review #273 Pumpkin Ale by Lighthouse Brewing Company

Another Vancouver Island Craft Pumpkin beer comes to Leapbeer today, and this one is by Lighthouse. I picked this beer up on my last Victoria run, however I’ve seen it in several stores up here, and thats a good thing. This clear amber pumpkin beer is less of a ‘pumpkin pie in a glass’ beer and more of a beer similar to the Post Road Pumpkin Ale. It doesn’t smell really strong, you get a bit of pumpkin smell along with a slight hint of sweet yeast. When I drank this beer I like the way the lightness of the ale plays off the thicker mouthfeel that the pumpkin provides. There’s a reasonable yet reserved dosing of spice in this beer, which I’m getting ginger and clove in the forefront. I quite like this one, despite my previous reluctance in drinking pumpkin beers.

Leapbeer #273 is Pumpkin Ale by Lighthouse Brewing Company

Brewery: Lighthouse Brewing Company of Victoria BC
Released: September 29th (approximately)
Size/ABV: 650ml Bomber/5.5%
Availability: Select Private Liquor stores
Purchased @:
Liquor Plus in Victoria
 http://www.lighthousebrewing.com/ (Beer not featured on their beer list)
Other Reviews: Untappd, Rate Beer & Beer Advocate

I originally had five Vancouver Island pumpkin beers I wanted to put on the blog this week, but I have to wait because I did not get one of them from the brewpub last time I was in Victoria. That said there’s one more in the fridge to come, and I’ll be blogging that one later tonight.

Thanks for Reading


Leapbeer Field Trip – Great Canadian Beer Festival 2012

Great Canadian Beer Festival

With a name like that it has to be good right? While this year was the 20th iteration of GCBF, this was my first. It was also not likely my last. I had tonnes of fun sampling beers here, and the brewers came out to impress at almost every booth.

Learning from lessons of Hopoxia I started the day right, my sister and I had a plan. I avoided drinking anything other than water with the intention of getting my body super hydrated before the event. We went to Spinnakers and had some heavy food to sit in our stomach and help stabilize us for the days frivolities. I had the pulled pork nachos and she had the poutine. All loaded up with a nice heavy meal we hopped in a cab and made our way to the Royal Athletic Park for GCBF.

First thing I noticed, was the gigantic line up to get inside. It was not one, not two, but three blocks long. What I really should have done is register the blog for reporter access because they were allowed in an hour early. Oh well, live and learn I guess.

Welcome to GCBF, Prepare to wait

Another note about entering the event, is that we had our water bottles confiscated, which was a real bummer. One of my plans was to remain hydrated during the event so as no need to quaff the beer so fast. I wanted to enjoy the frothy goodness. The security at the event told me that this was due to people using their bottles for the beer instead of the designated drinking glasses. They did have some water available to drink, but because it was a really hot day and the water coolers weren’t plugged in it was all piss warm by the time I went to drink it. I was able to retrieve my bottle on our way out of the venue so it wasn’t all bad.

As you check in, they scan your ticket, take your water bottle, look through your backpack, give you a map and a 4oz drinking glass. Finally through security and then where do you head? For tokens of course. Drink tokens were 1.25$ a piece, the most you could grab is a bag of 16 for $20. My sister and I both grabbed one of them and set off to the brews.

First stop, Lighthouse Brewing. You may ask yourself why I would go to a local brewery when there were fifty four other breweries to see? Because I’m trying to be a Vancouver Island craft beer completist. They had a cask offering of a Sazerac Saison.

Sazerac Saison by Lighthouse Brewing

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Leapbeer Review #213 Tasman Ale by Lighthouse Brewing Company

This beer is latest release from Lighthouse Brewing Company in Victoria. It is an orange pale ale,  “Tasman Ale is brewed with the Tasmanian hop varieties Topaz and Summer, along with Motueka and Rakau from the Tasman region of New Zealand. Fresh and crisp, this copper hued ale features distinctive tropical fruit characters, clean and light bittering and a soft malt body.”

I have previously joked that this should be released under a new “Dean McLeod Signature Series” of beers because of his New Zealand & Australian connection. Dean has described this as the perfect BBQ or backyard beer. It wasn’t produced to cater to the upper crust beer geeks, but to have a mass appeal as well as to introduce (or reintroduce) western drinkers with southern hemisphere hops varietals. It smells very light, but has a nice rich flavour to it. The malt body of the beer is accented well with the hops. These aren’t your typical monster truck strength hops that goose step their way over your tongue that you see in a lot of North American craft beers. They’re more like a delicate tap dancer that has an occasional strong note but never loses rhythm with the brew. A very enjoyable and sessionable summer beer.

Leapbeer #213 is Tasman Ale by Lighthouse Brewing Company

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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 Halfway Post – Victories and Mistakes

It is officially the halfway point in the year, and I am also at the halfway point in the Leapbeer. I’m at beer 183, with another 183 to go. How can I sum up how things are going with the Leapbeer journey? It has been hectic. I feel that the blog and the journey are starting to taking on a life of their own, and it just keeps on building. There’s been a fair amount that I’ve learned over the first half of this journey. Like many things, though, I realize that the more I learn the more I have YET to learn. Especially when I consider what I am hoping to do with next year.

A few things I wanted to share about my educational journey so far into the world of beer would be about glassware, community, and research. I thought I’d also have a ‘mea culpa’ moment about a few of the mistakes I’ve made on the blog so far.

Glassware – If you recall from my post ‘Whats in a glass?‘ I disclosed the nature of 4 different styles of beer serving glasses. In truth there are literally hundreds of different beer glasses out there. I do my best to research my beer before opening to try and get the most appropriate service vessel for it. But sometimes I end up going to my new tulip glass. It was a gift from @Jonnybeers when we went on our Tofino road trip. Thanks again for that Jon, even if my first use of it was with a pilsner. I’ve found a few other glasses to add to my collection at thrift stores now. A large range of glasses isn’t essential though. Michael Jackson, the beer hunter, a well published and respected beer writer had endorsed a glass set that was simply 4 glass styles. A tasting or tulip, a snifter, a session or pint and a summer or stemmed glass.

Image Via wikipedia

Even if you don’t have a collection of glasses you likely have a better alternative to drinking it straight from the can or bottle, a wine glass. A fellow blogger from the Pacific northwest wrote a great piece about this in his blog ‘I Think About Beer’ where he extolled the benefits of using a wine glass. You can read it here http://ithinkaboutbeer.com/2012/06/20/glassware-a-victim-of-the-beer-vs-wine-culture-clash/ I’d be willing to bet that if you looked into your cupboard, there’s a great service option for your next pint of frothy goodness. Give glassware a chance, you won’t regret it.

Community – I’ve had the opportunity to visit a few of the breweries and chat up some of the staff around Vancouver Island. And in the case of Lighthouse, I got the tour from non other than their Head Brewer, Dean McLeod. Thanks again for the tour and interview Dean. I got to see in action the operations of Longwood Brewpub, Tofino Brewery, Lighthouse, Vancouver Island, Driftwood and Hoyne breweries. I did visit Phillips as well, but we were too pressed for time to tour the place. I met with several excellent individuals in the industry and got to take a real good look at whats involved in making beer. There doesn’t seem to be a cutthroat nature about these guys. There is an incredible sense of community among these brewers. They get down and help their fellow brewers when they need it, and are building a great thing on Vancouver Island. One of the other great thing to experience is the enthusiasm they have for their products. When you hear someone speaking passionately about something you also enjoy, it is hard not to get ‘caught up’ in the fervor.

Research – When I met with Gary from Driftwood for a tour of their place we chatted a bit about my comments on the Old Cellar Dweller 2011. In my review I had noted that there wasn’t service notes on the bottle. He told me that if people are shelling out over ten dollars for a bottle of beer, they’re likely the kind of people who know how to serve it. And he’s right, the average consumer will pass by the craft section. But I would like to think that as the craft beer scene continues to expand, there will be more people like myself who decide to expand their horizons by trying new products. If you do decide to go and try something new read the label. If you have the time check the website. You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it will make with your experience. Take for example when I drank the Phillips Double Barrel. I didn’t read the label before I opened the bottle and it wasn’t very special at all. Then I read the label and read that I should’ve been consuming it at 10c. When brought to the right temperature it was a completely different experience. What I’m taking a rather long way to say is, a little research can make a big difference.

Mistakes – I’ve made a few. There have been many a grammatical and spelling error that have gotten through. Obviously I’m not an English major (Not a major of any sort, I never went to normal college/uni) I’ve also had my first double purchase error. I got distracted while reaching for a Spinnakers Tour De Victoria bottle, but only after completing my purchase did I find out that what I had grabbed was something that was already in the leapbeer fridge. Recently too I had a numbering problem, where i forgot to list one of my reviewed beers into my master list, the Salvator by Paulaner. The most egregious of my errors, though, was one I committed in my review of Spinnakers Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale. It was drawn to my attention via email by the Publican of Spinnakers that I reviewed it as a Double IPA. I don’t know why I read it that way, its not like you can’t read it in the picture, but I didn’t let that go in my review. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to get another sample of this beer to give it a proper review, but I am going to do that this month coming up.

Whats coming up? – I’m taking leapbeer on the road again in July. I shall be doing at least 2 road trips over the course of the month to breweries and events. As I mentioned in my review of the Hop Box, I will be at the HOPoxia beer event at Phillips brewery on July 21st. I also have at least 1 other brewery tour planned, and another one I hope to do as well. Also July will be my first chance to get out fishing, so I’m hoping to do some ‘reviews on the water’ as well. We’ll see how that goes. I also plan to break down and do the post I’ve hinted about hops. I’ve done some research into it, but I need to do a bit more before I put pen to paper (so to speak). Lastly I hope to bring you more interviews. I really enjoyed the chats I had on site with the brewers and brewery staff, and I hope to be able to bring that to you, my readers.

Well I hope that catches you up on what I’ve learned and whats coming up. Now its to you. Leave a comment about what you’ve learned, or what beers you’ve tried that you liked. Maybe there’s some style of beer that changed your perspective, or something you tried that was absolute dreck. Any comments are welcome.

Thanks for reading.

Leapbeer Review #171 Cascadian Brown Ale – the VCBW 2012 Collaboration Ale

This May Vancouver celebrated Vancouver Craft Beer Week and to commemorate it, 30 of BC breweries got together to make this Collaboration Ale. The official site about it has this to say about it.

“On Friday March 30, the official VCBW Collaboration Ale was brewed at Russell Brewing in Surrey, led by Russell Brewing’s Jack Bensley and Central City Brewing’s Gary Lohin, using premium ingredients supplied by Canada Malting.

In celebration of BC’s largest craft beer festival, 30 of the province’s finest breweries banded together to create a unique Cascadian Brown Ale. This nutty, medium-bodied brew is our take on a traditional English ale with a curiously hoppy West Coast twist. It will be available during VCBW in draught and cask at participating establishments, and in 650ml bottles at leading private liquor stores throughout the Lower Mainland.

Each year, partial proceeds from the sale of VCBW’s collaboration beer are donated to a different charity. Last year, $1,294 was successfully raised for Japanese Tsunami Relief from sales of our 2011 Cascadian Dark Ale. This year we’ve tripled the batch size and hope to raise even more money for the Farmland Defense League of British Columbia.”
from http://vancouvercraftbeerweek.com/2012/official-beer/

This was presented to my by a twitter friend, John Lim Hing, on our trip to Tofino. His restaurant (Hog Shack Cookhouse) was location for one of the VCBW events in July, so congrats to you John on that. I grabbed my trusty pint glass and went to work. This beer pours to a lovely coca-cola coloured brown with a frothy beige head. It seems quite odd to me making a malty brown ale and jazzing it up with Cascade hops, but I’m intrigued as well. The taste of this beer doesn’t disappoint. It is malty, then hoppy, then crisp. The 55 IBU’s linger all on the side of your mouth. I don’t believe it was dry hopped, or at least not very much as there is very little scent from this beer. The predominant smell is malt, but even that is faint. I get a light taste of toffee and grapefruit, undoubtedly from the cascade hops coming through. The tartness really builds in your mouth. So much so that it begins as a quaffer and ends as a sipper. This beer definitely has some pucker to it, in a good way. This beer is definitely worth checking out, especially because the proceeds go to charity. I was emailed by Bryan from Cascadia Liquor stores in Victoria that they received a case of this a couple of weeks ago.

Leapbeer #171 is Cascadian Brown Ale by 30 different BC Brewers. See list below.

Here’s the list of the brewers from the official site.

  • Big Ridge
  • Big River
  • Cannery
  • Central City
  • Coal Harbour
  • Crannóg
  • Dockside
  • Fernie
  • Granville Island
  • High Mountain
  • Howe Sound
  • Lighthouse
  • Mission Springs
  • Mt. Begbie
  • Nelson
  • Parallel 49
  • Phillips
  • R&B
  • Red Truck
  • Russell
  • Saltspring
  • Spinnakers
  • Steamworks
  • Storm
  • Swans
  • Tin Whistle
  • Townsite
  • Tree
  • Vancouver Island
  • Whistler

So 5 of them were from Vancouver Island.

Thanks for reading

Meet the Brewers – Dean from Lighthouse

On my most recent trip to Victoria Head Brewer Dean McLeod from Lighthouse gave me the an tour through the Lighthouse Brewing facilities. I never know quite why I expect this, but I always envision Lavern & Shirley before I get to breweries and then get disappointed when I can’t send my work glove down the bottle line.

While Lighthouse didn’t fulfill that fantasy either, the tour was very illuminating. They are very much a working brewery, all busy busy work going on inside. Not a lot of time for funny business there. They do have a bottling line but its short. Plus I didn’t have gloves on.

Here’s dean doing some ‘product testing’.

After our tour I had a few questions for Dean, and here they are with his answers.

Leapbeer: You’re an Australian, with a New Zealand Hops strain twitter name, brewing global styled beers in Victoria, I don’t know how much more multi cultural you can get. How’d you get into the industry?

Dean: Hey Chris. Yep, I have moved around a bit! Like a lot of craft brewers, I started as home brewer, many, many years ago as a young bloke living in New Zealand. Too young to buy beer legally, I enrolled in an adult education home brewing course and learnt to make my own. And we brewed with really old-school NZ hops back then including Smooth Cone, Green Bullet, and my Twitter handle, Sticklebract. Years later, studying Marine Biology in North Queensland, I became involved with the home brewer’s club that we had on campus and I made the decision to pursue brewing once I’d finished up. A long stint in a yeast R&D lab, a return to university for a post-grad brewing degree, and finally a start at a brewpub in Sydney, Australia in 1998. Since then I have been very lucky to have worked in the biggest and most professional production craft breweries, the smallest brewpubs, the good, the bad and the ugly. Ten breweries later, here I am at Lighthouse! I love BC, I’ve been visiting since 2002, and I’m really happy being part of the craft brewing scene here in Victoria.

Leapbeer: You’re the ‘Head Brewer’ at lighthouse. Is this a Nuevo version of the classic Brewmaster? Or do you consider that a label not lightly bestowed, something reserved for those who complete the Braumeister course in Germany?

Dean: My brewing study was at a somewhat more humble institution than the likes of Heriot Watt, UC Davis, Weihenstephen, and the others. I don’t have a Master of Brewing Science degree. I know that ‘Brewmaster’ is a fairly universal term across North America, but it doesn’t sit comfortably with me. It’s a respect thing for those who have made that commitment. Mind you, a cook is not a chef, but a chef may not be a particularly good cook.

Leapbeer: While showing me around, I was really impressed by the variety of top quality base ingredients you are using in your products, do you mind giving my reader(s) a breakdown of what Lighthouse is using?

Dean: Lighthouse has always spent extra for great material. Our base malt is still Maris Otter from Simpsons in the UK and our specialties are from Simpsons and other quality maltsters in Germany and Belgium. Hops have traditionally been local (USA), but we are increasingly sourcing hops from New Zealand and Australia due to their quality and character. Silk purse, sow’s ear.

Leapbeer: The common theme I got while visiting the Victoria Breweries was expansion and growth. What can we expect new from Lighthouse in the near future?

Dean: Switchback IPA has been very well received, which is great. New season southern hops are rolling into the brewery now, so expect to see something featuring those in the near future. Bombers are taking a little rest over the summer months as we’re basically maxed out at the moment, but there will be new stuff in the fall and the reprise of some favourites. And yes, building more capacity over winter. Go Lighthouse!

Leapbeer: Do you think there’s much more room to grow in the craft beer market on the island? Also do you think there’s a danger in quality drop associated with a breweries growth?

Dean: Oh, absolutely. Our original lineup are all great beers, and drinking as well now as I can ever recall, but tastes evolve and we need to not only adapt, but indeed help shape how craft beer develops on the island. Exciting times for Lighthouse. From the quality perspective, there are any number of examples from the States where breweries have either maintained or surpassed their own standards as they have grown, and I firmly believe that quality growth should receive as much attention and resources as sales growth. The two are intrinsically linked.

Leapbeer: How much of what your brewery produces do you think makes it off of Vancouver Island?

Dean: Increasingly more. Stemming from our bomber series, our newer beers and things like the BC Craft Pack, plenty of drinkers in BC have been exposed to Lighthouse beers for the first time and hence think that we’re a new brewery. The vast majority of beer drinkers in BC have never heard of Lighthouse. There is so much more we can do without even leaving the province.

Leapbeer: The last few releases from Lighthouse have been really well received by the craft consumers, without giving a lot away, beer wise what can we expect to see from Lighthouse this year?

Dean: Yeah, so Tasman Ale soon, using hops from Tasmania and the Tasman region of New Zealand, more big beers in the Big Flavour bomber series, and a few more like our Dark Chocolate Porter where we bring in another element through the addition of fruit or spice or something extra.

Leapbeer: You’ve done successful cask nights at the beagle, as this trend (cask events) is expanding northward on the island, do you have any plans to do any cask events outside of Victoria?

Dean: I’d love to. I do miss that about working at brewpubs or production craft breweries with taprooms, the whole drinker interaction thing, but we’re just so busy at the moment. We’ll be at the Central City summer cask festival and at Hopoxia at Phillips in the next little while, and a few other local one-off casks here and there, so look out for us.

Leapbeer: We spoke about how to bring new products into gvmt liquor stores you have to drop old ones because of their bureaucracy. What would you propose for reasonable changes to allow for more or your craft beer into a wider market? Do you think privatized specialty stores do enough? Do you think legislation is holding craft beer distribution back in Canada?

Dean: From the distribution perspective, I can’t see any benefit in monopolies, be them government or private. Set the rules, collect your tax, leave people to get on with their business. That mantra is enshrined in law where I’m from; the idea of equal opportunity and a ‘fair go’ for everyone. Big distributers would pick up the volume brands and smaller more specialized distributers would fill in the gaps. And if independent stores were able to compete on a level playing field with government stores, I think we’d find the government stores trying a little harder in terms of range and service.

Leapbeer: What beers have you been enjoying lately, and what do you like from other Victoria breweries?

Dean: I drink as broadly as our dear government allows and with great gusto. Things I like are big, interesting, well attenuated, hoppy, sour, funky, that sort of thing. Switchback IPA is my kind of beer in that it’s very dry, has that mouth-wattering juicy fruit acid thing and some great hop character. Locally, there’s not a lot that floats my boat just now. Hermannator was good this year, the last Sartori was outstanding, 2012 OCD was oddly hopped but I dug it… I don’t know. Not a lot of innovation or risk taking at the moment, especially at the brewpubs. The best beer I have had recently was a blend of a Belgian IPA from Quebec with a Russian Imperial Saison brewed at home by one of our guys Dave Mitchell. Our Monday tasting benches get a bit funky sometimes!

Leapbeer: Lastly, what would you like to see out of the Leapbeer blog?

Dean: More chats with other brewers? Cheers Chris, this has been fun.

Leapbeer: Absolutely. I plan to. Thank you again Dean for your time. Keep up the good work. I know I’m not alone in looking forward to what Lighthouse is brewing for the future.

Closing thoughts.;It is really nice to talk with people involved in the industry that have such a passion for their product. I didn’t want things to get too political, but I wanted to shed light on what these brewers were facing. Lighthouse is dropping Riptide from their regular line up in order to free up brand space on the walls of government liquor stores. They’re not the only ones facing this either. As brewers continue to push the boundaries and produce various styles of beer they need to get them out there to the consumers. Not that I have any answers for this issue. I just don’t want any legislation to hold back the brewers creative process.

Look for Lighthouse’s latest creation hitting store shelves next week (June 25-29) The Tasman Ale. Their facebook page described this 6pack offering like this. “TASMAN ALE is brewed with the Tasmanian hop varieties Topaz and Summer along with Motueka and Rakau from the Tasman region of New Zealand. Fresh and crisp, this copper hued ale features distinctive tropical fruit characters, clean and light bittering and a soft malt body. 5% alc/ vol.” I for one can’t wait to try it.

I hope you enjoyed reading this everyone. I really like learning more about the production of beer, and I hope you do too. If you get a chance to tour a brewery please do so. I do plan to do some more interviews with other Vancouver Island Brewers, so stay tuned for that.

Thanks for reading this folks.

Leapbeer Reviews #161-163 Lighthouse Belgian White, Black & Killswitch IPA

Earlier in the year Lighthouse brewery in Victoria released their Belgian Black. A deep coloured Belgian strong dark ale made using a Belgian Ardennes yeast strain. Their release notes on it are here ( http://www.lighthousebrewing.com/products/big-flavour-series/belgian-black )
On January 16, 2012 Lighthouse Brewing released the newest addition to our 650mL Big Flavour Series. The Belgian Black is a beer like no other before it. You will not want to miss out on this one. Belgian Black was fermented with a Belgian Ardennes yeast strain. Enjoy the rich malty features of plum and dark cherries backed with subtle spicy notes. Lighthouse Brewing Co. is a premium craft brewery dedicated to producing unique, high quality, unpasteurized beers. Label artwork for Belgian Black was created by Victoria artist Michelle Landry.

Shortly after they released that beer they released their now quite well received Switchback IPA, an Pacific northwest inspired uber hopped IPA I reviewed previously. This beer is inclued again here because it was part of a featured cask night on April 9th at the beagle where they introduced Killswitch IPA. Killswitch IPA was a 66/33 mix of Switchback and Belgian BlackThis mixture of these two brews was the brainchild of Dave Mitchell (aka @eskimodave or disco dave) that yielded a surprisingly delicious hoppy brown ale.

Add to that most recently the Belgian white. Similar to the black in its yeast strain this beer is an Imperial Witbier making it the albino cousin of the black. Here’s what Lighthouse has about Belgian White from their website. ( http://www.lighthousebrewing.com/events/product-releases-2/belgian-white )
Lighthouse Brewing is excited to announce that we will soon be releasing Belgian White for your enjoyment this summer! Belgian White is an Imperial Witbier (Belgian White Ale) made from wheat, oats and malted barley. Galaxy and Citra hops lend subtle citrus flavours that are woven with a thread of clove from a classic Witbier yeast strain, and finished with a dusting of ground coriander seed. Label artwork for Belgian White was created by Victoria artist Michelle Landry.

For this tasting I intended to consume them from light to dark with the idea that perhaps the delicate accents of the lighter beer wouldn’t get overpowered by the heavy malts of the black. For this reason I drank these beers in the reverse order from how they were released.

First up is Belgian white. This beer pours to a golden colour with a frothy white head on top. There is a large scent of hops from it as well as yeast. When you taste it you understand why they have this in their ‘Big Flavour’ series. It indeed is a big flavour beer, both yeasty and bitter. It has a lovely hoppiness to it, but not citric. It is smooth, well carbonated and leaves some lacing in the glass. The bitterness really sits with you, its quite resonant. It echoes in your mouth and throat like a chamber choir.

Leapbeer #161 is Belgian White by Lighthouse

Next I move to the amalgum/frankenbrew cask project Killswitch IPA.
As you mix these two beers it becomes really similar in appearance to a Nut Brown ale. There is a really great citric hoppy smell to it. It literally tastes like an ipa stout if there were such a thing. Perhaps a Imperial brown stout ipa? I’m just spitballing there, but I love it. It is a very tasty and easy drinking blend of these beers. Kudos to its creator, It’s delicious.

Leapbeer #162 is Killswitch  IPA by Lighthouse

Lastly I move to the Belgian black. I’ve been sitting on this one for a while. When they announced its albino twin coming out I knew what to do with it, this combined tasting. This beer pours jet black. It smells of licorice and a hint of yeast. When you sip it it has a real similarity to a Russian Imperial Stout, if RIS’s were fruity. It has all the strength I expected, but it is smoother as well. There is a real plumby taste at the back of the tasting. Later I tried a second tasting but with the beer served at room temperature. This really jacks up the licorice smell. The malts and sweetness is excentuated, giving it almost a pungent flavour. The Alcohol in it is more prevalent, so it loses that smoothness it had when chilled. It may be hard to drink warm, but I enjoyed it.

Leapbeer #163 is Belgian Black by Lighthouse

Well I appreciate the time and craftsmanship it took to make these delicious beers. Thanks again to Lighthouse for their work. And Thank you for reading it.

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