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Archive for the category “Spinnakers Brewery”

Leapbeer Reviews #341-344 Catching up with Spinnakers

In my effort to catch up I find myself with a back log of Spinnakers beers to review. A couple of them were released earlier in the year and a couple more recently. The line up for today is Happy New Beer, Über Blonde Strong Belgian Style Ale, India Session Pale Ale and Hoptoria IPA.

First up is the Happy New Beer. This is a Wit bier, or Belgian style wheat beer. It is a low test (4.5% ABV) sessionable beer that I’m guessing is intended for popping midnight December 31st (I’m sorry Spinnakers I couldn’t wait). It is a clear golden beer with a white head on top. It smells of toffee, apples and malt. All arranged in a very delicate bouquet. I find that it is a light and whimsical wit. There’s minor sweetness with a hint of salted caramel to it. My only sticky point with this beer is that it has a very lingering bitter note to the taste, somewhat uncharacteristic for wheat beer styles.

Leapbeer #341 is Happy New Beer

Happy New Beer by Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Happy New Beer by Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Brewery: Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria BC
Size/ABV: 650ml Bomber/4.5%
Availability: Some Private Liquor Stores and @ Spinnakers
Purchased @:
Cascadia Liquor Quadra st Victoria
Other Reviews: Rate Beer, Beeradvocate

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Leapbeer Review #292 Lions Head Cascadia Dark Ale by Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

image via spinnakers.com

I looked after a coworkers cat while he was away and he brought me a treat from his time away in Victoria, a growler full of Lion’s Head Cascadia Dark Ale. I don’t intend to make this a re-opening of the whole ‘cascadia-gate’ thing, just a nice discussion of a great beer. This beer is a Cascadian Dark Ale or Black IPA. It pours to a very dark brown, almost black colour with a thin cream coloured head on top. It does have a fair amount of malt and sweets on the nose along with a great floral hop note. It is a very smooth beer to drink initially, then you’re hit with a latent hop bomb. The great bitter back has a nice pucker to it. Initially the sweet notes remind me of an almost caramel like sweetness. This is a deceptively easy to drink beer, but due to its higher test (6.8% ABV) drink responsibly. This wouldn’t be for non-bitter beer fans, but those who avoid dark beers because they’re too sweet would like this.

Leapbeer #292 is Lions Head Cascadia Dark Ale

Lions Head Cascadia Dark Ale

Lions Head Cascadia Dark Ale

Brewery: Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria BC
Released: June 21, 2009
Size/ABV: 1900ml Growler (also available in 650ml bottles and 355ml cans)/6.8%
Availability: Some Private Liquor Stores and @ Spinnakers
Purchased @:
Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub
Webpage:
http://www.spinnakers.com/our-beers/available-in-bottles/cascadia-dark-ale

Thanks for Reading

Leapbeer Review #276 Titanic Strong Stout by Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

I’ve written a few posts about the time I spent at Spinnakers last summer, and while I was there I also picked up this little beauty. The Titanic Strong Stout is another in their high test (7.75% ABV) stouts, even though it doesn’t taste like it. I wanted to give this bomber a fairly comprehensive tasting so I tried it two ways, chilled from the fridge and room temperature.

This beer pours to a jet black colour with a thin puffy cafe au lait coloured head. Tasting #1 (chilled) I detect a nice amount of coffee and licorice notes with the malts. The beer tastes very smooth. It really hides its alcohol well. Even those who don’t like stouts (or say they don’t like stouts) would enjoy this beer when chilled.

Tasting #2 (room temperature) More than before it smells strongly of coffee and licorice and now there’s an addition of dates to it. It has that thick smell to it. The beer still tastes super smooth with a surprisingly thin mouthfeel. This isn’t a motor oil stout. The malts really come alive when served at this temperature. In my opinion this is a very good stout.

I know a lot of people compare stouts to Guinness. I dare to say if someone had this side by side with Guiness that they would think the Titanic was lighter due to the way it feels in your mouth.

One other thing about this that I find interesting is that this has different characteristics from their Tsarist Stout.

Leapbeer #276 is Titanic Strong Stout by Spinnakers

Brewery: Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria BC
Released: Unknown
Size/ABV: 650ml Bomber/7.75%
Availability: Some Private Liquor Stores and @ Spinnakers
Purchased @:
Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub
Webpage:
http://www.spinnakers.com/past-beers/seasonals/titanic-strong-stout-2
Other Reviews: Rate Beer, Beeradvocate & Mikes Craft Beer Blog

One other cool thing we picked up while at Spinnakers was a bottle of their home made malt vinegar. They had a couple of bottles there made from a couple of different beers, but we grabbed one from the Titanic Stout setup. It is a very dark and rich malt vinegar, and a welcome addition to our pantry.

Thanks for reading

Leapbeer Review #264 Fresh Hopped Harvest Saison by Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Last up for a week of recently released Vancouver Island craft beers I find myself again sampling a fresh hopped beer. Todays beer is the Fresh Hopped Harvest Saison from Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub.

For the people lucky enough to attend this years BC Beer Awards & Cask Festival on October 13th, Spinnakers brought along a cask of their Fresh Hopped Harvest Saison. This isn’t to be confused with their Festive Saison, as this is a completely different animal. It seems to have been well received, having many 4/5’s and a couple 5/5 ratings on untappd. This is going to be a micropost for this beer. I forgot to take notes on it, so I’m going to have to try and remember it. It really reminded me of Saison Dupont, what many consider to be the gold standard of saisons. The inclusion of fresh hopping brought an extra thickness to this light beer, giving it a bit of juxtaposition in the tasting. The top of your mouth dances with the light peppery belgian yeast, and the thick sappy wet hopped elements reside in the bottom. I would have loved to sit down for more, or take a growler home with me. But alas my time was short, and they don’t fill growlers with this beer. Maybe when I’m back there it will still be around, maybe. Kudos to Paul and his crew down there for another extremely tasty beverage. And thanks to their great social media presence, I confimed that it was released on October 4th and the hops used are Fresh “Cascade, Golding and Chinook hops from Sooke to create this delicious brew!”

Leapbeer #264 is Fresh Hopped Harvest Saison by Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Brewery: Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria BC
Released: October 4th, 2012
Size/ABV: 500ml Glass/4.5%
Availability: Only at the Brewpub
Purchased @:
Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub
Webpage:
http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Spinnakers-Gastro-Brewpub-Newsletter.html?soid=1102969154180&aid=kYJvY00s0nI
Other Reviews: Untappd

Next week I’m planning to do posts on some of Vancouver Island’s recent Pumpkin beer releases.

Thanks for reading

 

Leapbeer Interview – Paul Hadfield, Publican of Spinnakers Gastro Brewpup

As I have mentioned before, on my trip to Victoria in July I had the opportunity to stay at Spinnakers in their guest house, and ample opportunity to sample their beers as well. One of the highlights of our trip was a wonderful tour of the facilities with the owner & publican of Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, Mr Paul Hadfield.

After our tour I arranged to do an interview with Paul, here it is.

Thanks for taking the time for us Paul, your establishment is a world class place. Do you mind telling my readers a bit about how it got started?

Spinnakers’ story began shortly after John Mitchell opened the first small scale commercial craft brewery of the modern era in Horseshoe Bay, in June 1982.  That he was granted a Brewer’s License, whilst being on the license of an affiliated neighbourhood pub license was groundbreaking.  Shortly after opening his Horseshoe Bay brewery, John became very aware of the shortcomings and set off to UK in search of better equipment.  Whilst he was away, I began the groundwork for a Victoria brewpub.  Upon his return, he agreed to sell his shares in the Troller Pub in Horseshoe Bay and we agreed to proceed with Spinnakers as the first purpose built brewpub of the modern era in Canada.  As an architect, my job was to find a site, design and build the premises and John was to be the brewer and publican.  The process took about 20 months from idea to opening day and involved a process wherein we had to do an update to the Vic West community plan, create new zoning bylaws for the City of Victoria, work with BC’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to create guidelines for brewpubs and work to change the Federal Excise Act to enable brewpubs to be both manufacturers and retailers of beer.


You’ve built Spinnakers into such an iconic establishment in Victoria. With a brewpub, lavish guest houses, gourmet kitchen, bakery, choclatier, artisan vinegar brewery and the artesian well all on site, what could be next for Spinnakers?


We are currently shifting our focus somewhat to be more brewery production oriented, having this year begun to ship our beers up Island and into the lower mainland.  Given the challenges facing the hospitality industry what with the downturned economy, the impacts of HST on food service establishments, the impact of changes to drinking and driving regulations and how they are administered and most recently the increases to labour costs as a result of minimum wage increases, we found ourselves searching for revenue streams which could be expanded.  We noticed that retail beers sales were growing as more consumers were picking up more product at retail stores and taking it home to enjoy.  We also noticed that there was a significant change in consumer preferences in greater Vancouver where craft beer was replacing (UK and European) imports.  Since the beginning of the year, we have committed to distribution, have more than doubled our brewing, sales and distribution staff,  installed a canning line, new bright tanks and are adding additional fermentation capacity to enable us to meet growth targets.



While we stayed there, I expected the beers to be good (which of course they were) and I expected a high level of quality from the food (which completely exceeded my expectations). But the thing that really amazed me was the attention to detail in absolutely everything. The baking for example. The breakfast scones, the crackers, in fact all of the baked goods we had there were exquisite. Since our stay every time I’ve been through Victoria I stop in and at least get 2 packs of the asiago dill crackers. Also the intricate and complex flavours to your truffles was impressive. What I’m trying to say in such a long winded and rambling way is that you’re whole staff seems to be top notch. Can you explain how you’ve assembled such a top notch team behind Spinnakers? And how have you managed to keep the quality to such a high level?


We came here to be artisan brewers, back in 1984.  At the time, the best insurance was to sell lots of good food to accompany the beers we wanted to sell.  We quickly became known for both with food sales rapidly outpacing beer and liquor sales and stabilizing at around 65 – 70% of total gross sales.  Over time we came to understand the brewery as a source of ingredients which could become inputs into other items.  We also came to view our food operations through a craft beer lens, causing us to seek out artisan growers and producers able to supply us with unique, locally produced food items.  Putting it all together requires that everybody understands, is committed and wants more out of the experience than just flipping frozen burger patties.  We were 20 years ahead of the current local, seasonal, sustainable trend, as doing all of these things was simply consistent with our business model, our underlying philosophy and was a reflection of why we came to be here in the first place.  The magic is that our staff tend to find us now, bringing their own unique skill sets and dreams with them.  We encourage people to try new (old) things and to push the local component to the extreme, looking for substitutions where imported food items are not grown here.  The people, be they brewers, bakers, chocolatier, chef, pastry chef, cooks or bartenders all feed off each other and are encouraged to interact and be innovative in creating (recreating) a local interpretation of cuisine.  In face of globalization, we have stressed going back to the farm gates for ingredients.  We seek out ingredients with good stories and encourage everybody to collaborate and delight our senses and taste buds.  When we evolve our cuisine and differentiate it from globalized food, we begin to define ourselves, culturally, as people.  We are passionate about Vancouver Island and delight in exploring the amazing opportunities that living here provides to all of us.  We aspire to function as a reflection of where we live.


Now that you’ve added canning to your brewery, does that spell relief for those ‘thirsting for a real ale’ further away from Spinnakers? Does that add some heartiness to the shelf life of them?


Canning is certainly superior in terms of protecting beer from the negative impacts of light.  Beyond that, a clean can, like a clean bottle is only as good as what goes into it.  As craft brewers, we are dealing with live products that have to be managed carefully.  I have long lived in fear of what happens to our beers after they leave our control.  We know that beer is very fragile, that it is going to taste best, depending upon what we are striving for, fresh from the tank at the brewery.  In tastings over the years, we have studied and compared beer on tap to beer in a cask to bottled to bottle conditioned and now canned.  With each, the beer has been though a slightly different process, even if they are from the same batch.  There are going to be minor differences in appearance, aromatics and overall flavour profiles. This is part of the magic of craft, that it is not all the same.  Having committed to distributing our beers, we look forward to making them available, more readily, to those who are unable to frequent the brewpub.


How many different styles of beer does Spinnakers produce?


Over the course of a year we will make about 20 different styles.  We try to keep 9 or 10 on tap, another 2 or 3 cask conditioned and feature 5 more as daily cask specials.  In package form, we currently have 17 active SKU’s with 5 being in cans, the others in 650 ml formats.


Do you have a favorite style of beer?


A very personal question, but the answer is definitely no.  There are many times of the day and days of the week and occasions that come and go, each of which speaks to an opportunity for a different beer.


Although your Brewpub is literally filled with brewing & fermenting tanks, What are your plans for brewery expansion for Spinnakers?


We will hit the wall early in the new year, forcing the addition of new fermentation capacity and storage capacity.  We are planning a new production brewery to meet the demand and are looking at shifting the focus from the original brewery into more esoteric styles, including barrel aged and sour beers.


Our Spinnakers experience while taking it all in was really comforting. My wife and I felt like family there, and everyone else we saw was being treated the same. How is it possible for a place to be as busy as yours is, and still everyone leaves with a smile? What is your secret?


Everybody leaves happy.  That’s our mission.  We are fortunate to have staff who care and who understand hospitality.  The fun part about having guest rooms, suites and the bungalow is that people can come and stay with us for more than a couple of hours and can indeed become house guests, part of the family.

What’s next for Spinnakers?

We are constantly working to evolve what we do.  The opportunities are a function or our collective imaginations, our abilities to see, understand and seize them and translate them into products or offerings which can delight us as consumers.  We have a couple of projects that we are working on.  Time will tell!


You operate an amazing place sir, truly a jewel of Victoria. I want to thank you for your time as well as your hospitality. I wish you well in all your endeavors.


It was our pleasure have you both come and stay and have you take the time to see and understand some of what we try to do every day.  We look forward to having you return soon.  Best regards.


Here’s the pictures of from our tour. Unfortunately I tried to take a pic of the boil (they were brewing more of their delicious Hoptoria IPA) my lense got messed up.

Lastly I wanted to re-review Spinnakers Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale. If you read my early one here I totally botched it. I reviewed this beer from the mistaken idea it was an IPA. I think I had gotten all hoppysocks that day. It was unfortunate that it happened, but that mistake actually yielded some good results. Not the least of which is a second chance to review this fine beer. Blue Bridge is a deep transparent amber double pale ale with a white head on top. While the head shrinks with time it still leaves a great lacing on the glass. It has a malty and sweet aroma, with hints of candied orange peel or maybe marmalade. It tastes great, mildly sweet up front with a nice bitter back. It is a deceptively drinkable DPA as it hits in a 8.2% ABV. The bitterness lingers with you, but as it smooths out it hints at a mild fruit character. Not as distinct as the orange scent, but still mildly fruity. A great beer that I’ve had a few times to enjoy this year, both from cans and in the bomber.

Leapbeer #141 is Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale by Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Brewery: Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub of Victoria, BC
Released: Unknown
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle + 355ml Can/8.2% ABV
Availability: Continuous (as far as I know)
Purchased @: Spinnakers, MVLS & Top Shelf Liquor Store
Webpage:
http://www.spinnakers.com/our-beers
Other Reviews: http://urbandiner.ca/2010/07/08/beer-review-blue-bridge-double-pale-ale/  Rate Beer  Beeradvocate

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 Fieldtrip – Spinnakers Chefs Table Dinner

While we were visiting Spinnakers my wife and myself took time to savour the excellent dining their kitchen offers. When you dine at Spinnakers one of your options is their Chefs Table Dinner. It is a 5 course meal and each course offers the chef Ali’s suggested beer or wine pairing. The evening was great, the spacing between the plates was perfect and our server was very helpful. I’m still learning about beer and food pairing, so this evening was illuminating for me. I always thought that maybe the beer would bring out some different flavours in the food or vice versa. However it was more that they two flavours would play off each other on my palate.  I chose the beer pairing and my wife chose the wine pairing. I didn’t take notes on the individual plates because I didn’t want to interfere with the mood of the evening. I did my best to take it all in as we ate. The plates were all fantastic. Nothing was excessively large or disturbingly small, but it all had perfect proportions and the timing between courses was impeccable.

First course was a Hertel bacon wrapped smoked oyster with Spinnakers Scottish Ale infused grainy mustard & a house made english flat bread cracker paired with Scottish Ale for beer or Hester Creek Cabernet/Merlot for wine.

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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
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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

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