Mission : Leap Beer, 366 Beers in 366 Days

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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 Reports – Whats in a glass?

It’s been a while since I’d done any kind of month end post about my findings, so I decided to do this today instead. The first of my Leapbeer reports, where I bring to you what I’ve learned on this journey.

I’ve heard some positive and negative comments about me mentioning me using my Tulip glass. It isn’t really a tulip glass though, but it is more tulip shaped than any of my other glassware. But since this came up I figured it was time for me to learn something about beer glassware.

I ask you, the reader, to take a moment. Think if you will of what you see when you think of a ‘beer glass’. Is it a large dimpled mug being held aloft by a cheerful German beer drinker? Or perhaps a ceramic stein with a peaked lid ? Is it maybe a stemmed glass? Or maybe it is just a normal cylindrical glass.

Truth be told, all of these glasses have their place in the pantheon of beer service. I was told by a patron at Hog Shack Cookhouse that during their trip to Germany, every brewery they visited there had their own specially designed glasses. Their is an unending supply of different styles of glassware with which to sip your beers.

And why is there so many, you may ask. Wikipedia had this to say. “Different styles of glassware exist for a number of reasons: they may reflect national traditions; they may reflect legislation regarding serving measures; they may relate to practicalities of stacking, washing and avoiding breakage; they may promote commercial breweries; they may be folk art, novelty items or used in drinking games; and they may complement different styles of beer for a variety of reasons, including enhancing aromatic volatiles, showcasing the appearance, and/or having an effect on the beer head. Several kinds of beer glassware have a stem which serves to prevent the body heat of the drinker’s hand from warming the beer.

I’m going to focus on a few different styles and how they may enhance your enjoyment of your beers.

First up is the Tulip Glass.

So this is a stemmed glass, giving the drinker something to hold so the beer doesn’t warm due from the drinkers hand. It also is bulged with a flare on top to help maximize head retention. It is recommended for serving aromatic beers, Scottish ales, American double or imperial india pale ales, Belgian ales and barleywines. In my experience, this style of glass is the most recommended from the information on the bottles, websites and breweries.

Next up, is the Pint glass

This is the most commonly found glass at the pubs I’ve been to. There are several variants to the pint glass. The one above is a conical pint, but there are 4 main shapes of pint glasses. They are the nonic, conical, jug, and flared top, though others are available. Pints are considered good for serving stouts, porters and English ales.

Next The weizen glass or wheat beer glass

This is a deeper than normal glass used to serve wheat beers. Originating in Germany the glass is narrow at the bottom and slightly wider at the top; the width both releasing aroma, and providing room for the often thick, fluffy heads produced by wheat beer.It tends to be taller than a pint glass, and generally holds 500 millilitres with room for foam or “head”. In some countries, such as Belgium, the glass may be 250 ml or 330 ml.

Wheat beers tend to foam a lot, especially if poured incorrectly. In pubs, if the bottle is handed to the patron for self pouring, it is customary for the glass to be taken to the patron wet or with a bit of water in the bottom to be swirled around to wet the entire glass to keep the beer from foaming excessively. I personally have 23oz versions of this style of glass that allow for a perfect inverted pour of a 17oz wheat beer.

Lastly we’ll look at the Goblet or Chalice.

A Chalice or Goblet is a large, stemmed, bowl-shaped glasses adequate for serving heavy Belgian ales, German bocks, and other strong beers that are usually sipped. The difference between a goblet and a chalice is typically in the glass thickness. Goblets are more delicate and thin, and the chalice is heavy and thick walled. Some chalices are even etched on the bottom to attract carbon dioxide and provide a stream of bubbles for maintaining a nice head.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I hope it illuminated you a bit about glassware.

I found a great blog post from the Vancouver Beer Blog where the blogger interviewed Don Farion, a Cicerone who works at Biercraft, a beer-centric restaurant chain in Vancouver BC. It’s a great read. I highly suggest you take a look and read the post in its entirety here. http://www.vancouverbeerblog.com/?p=2806

Images and information were also gathered from this site. http://www.thebeerinme.com/page.php?54

There is a very comprehensive post is on Beeradvocate about appropriate beer service/style and glassware here. http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/glassware.php

I hope this post may have inspired some to delve deeper into beer appreciation. Craft beer is a vast canvas that many paint with a multitude of different notes. When you consume it the way it is intended it can be illuminating. Maybe next time you crack open a beer, you can enjoy it the way the craftsman intended it.

Thanks for reading.

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