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Archive for the tag “vancouver island brewery”

Leapbeer Presents – Cellar Raid Beer Tasting!

I’ve been fortunate to be allowed to host a tasting event at the Courtenay Cascadia Liquor Store coming up next week. On Monday, January 20th from 7-8pm Cascadia and their guests will be helping me raid into my beer cellar and share some classic beers. Not only will we be sampling from a couple of classic ‘cellar’ styles, but hopefully we will share in a leapbeer experiment. There’s going to be all sorts of information about cellaring beers and examples and tips. Plus a special guest. I hope to see my readers there if you can.

Don’t Expect Anything Quite This Dusty img via http://www.kathryn.info

Here is a link to the Facebook Event https://www.facebook.com/events/1396355917283125/ if you wanted to RSVP that way. Otherwise you can call the store at 250-871-8171 to get your name put on the list or come by the store.

When: January 20th, from 7 til 8pm
Where: Cascadia Liquor Store, Courtenay BC. Unit 200 – 444 Lerwick Rd, Courtenay BC, V9N 0A9
How Much: $5 charitable donation.

PS: If you’re a reader not in my area, I apologize for sending this to you. I can’t find in wordpress where I limit who these posts go out to.

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Leapbeer Review #331 Dough Head Gingerbread Ale by Vancouver Island Brewery

I originally had planned to do this review in conjuncture with my wife and daughters gingerbread house day. I thought it would make for a great picture. Alas I missed out on my window for pictures, and someone got a bit hungry. My fault, at least they didn’t drink the beer.

When 5 yr olds attack!Apparently someone got a bit hungry before I could take the pic with the beer.

When 5 yr olds attack!
Apparently someone got a bit hungry before I could take the pic with the beer.

While I’m a proven fan of the rejuvenated bomber line from Vancouver Island Brewery this beer didn’t pique my interest. I’ve had a hit and miss relationship with winter beers. And when I think of a gingerbread beer it seemed wrong. I was expecting this beer to be overly sweet and overly spicy and generally over the top. I’m glad to report that it isn’t. This reddish amber ale has all the ginger and spice aroma that I was expecting. But when you drink it, it isn’t overly sweet. It tastes like a carbonated gingerbread house. If you’re looking for a hair burning ginger sting, don’t look at this beer, but if you’re looking for a gently flavoured seasonal this is a great choice.

Leapbeer #331 is Dough Head Gingerbread Ale

Dough Head Gingerbread Ale by Vancouver Island Brewery

Dough Head Gingerbread Ale by Vancouver Island Brewery

Brewery: Vancouver Island Brewery, Victoria BC
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle/5.5% ABV
Availability: Wide Release in BC
Website: http://www.vanislandbrewery.com/default.aspx?PageID=1053
Other Reviews: Ian Lloyd (@left4beer), Mikes Craft Beer Blog, Parting Glass Beer Blog, Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

Thanks for Reading

Leapbeer Reviews #324-328 A Flight of Canoe

Last night I had the opportunity to share some delicious beers with a good friend, so I brought over a sampling of 5 different Canoe Brewpub beers including three of their core beers and two different seasonals. Unfortunately a couple of the bottles were from the summer time and at least one was negatively affected by the age of the beer. The beers we were drinking were Red Canoe Lager, Sirens Song Pale Ale, Summer Honey Wheat Ale, River Rock Bitter and Winter Gale Strong Ale.

Canoe Brewpub FlightRed Canoe Lager, Siren Song Pale Ale, Summer Honey Wheat Ale, River Rock Bitter, Winter Gale Strong Ale

Canoe Brewpub Flight
Red Canoe Lager, Siren Song Pale Ale, Summer Honey Wheat Ale, River Rock Bitter, Winter Gale Strong Ale

First up is the Red Canoe Lager. It was somewhat unfortunate for us to start with this bottle as it was one of the ones that was old. This is advertised on their website as a Czech pilsner, but this bottle didn’t taste like it. I’ve had it at the brewpub and it is a very nice lager beer. This bottle, unfortunately, was not. Drinking a skunky beer wasn’t how I wanted to start off the night. I can attest to the fact that, when fresh, this beer is very pleasant. Its all uphill after this one (I promise).

Leapbeer #324 is Red Canoe Lager

Red Canoe Lager by Canoe Brewpub

Red Canoe Lager by Canoe Brewpub

Brewery: Canoe Brewpub in Victoria BC
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle(Also Available in Growler at the Brewpub)/5.2% ABV
Availability: At the brewpub
Website: http://www.canoebrewpub.com/beer.html
Other Reviews: Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

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Leapbeer Reviews #315-319 A Cornucopia of Phillips Brau

Another in my list of compressed reviews is me catching up with some of the seasonals by Phillips Brewing Company. My lazy blogging has left me with quite the back log of Vancouver Island craft beers to cover, but all that is changing. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that I have been covering multiple beers per post during the month of December. I was almost 90 back from my 366 goal when December started, but I’m catching up. Enough of the ‘mea culpa‘, lets get on to the beer.

I assembled quite the line up of beers to taste, but I included one from leapbeer’s past. Here’s the tasting line up

The Selection of Phillips Brewing Company BeersAlso a Flying Tanker as a reference beer for a White IPA style

The Selection of Phillips Brewing Company Beers
Also a Flying Tanker as a reference beer for a White IPA style

First up was a head to head comparison of White IPAs. I managed to pry one final Flying Tanker out of VIB Rob’s stash to use as a benchmark to compare the Phillips offering against. If you didn’t read my review of the Flying Tanker White IPA you can read it here. But to sum up, I loved it. It was beer of frankenstein-ish make up that it both confounded and pleased my taste buds. I’m breaking my reviews down to the three critera system I used in the post about beer cellaring. They’ll be examined by Appearance, Aroma and Taste.

Appearance
Flying Tanker: Dark Gold and cloudy with a tall pillowy white head
Electric Unicorn: Cloudy and golden, almost a sun yellow gold colour. Thin white head present.

Aroma
Flying Tanker: Slightly piney, some  citrus hop notes. Hefeweizen yeast characteristics as well (cloves and banana type aromas)
Electric Unicorn: Big time hops, pines and citrus. Hints of orange groves. A bit of a bready or biscuit type aroma as well.

Taste
Flying Tanker: A bolder flavour profile from previous tanker tastings. A strong bold IPA wrapped in a fluffy hefeweizen coat.
Electric Unicorn: Thin and smooth. Very easy drinking. Lots of hops bitterness to it, tastes more IPA than white IPA

My overall thoughts about the Electric Unicorn are that it was a very tasty beer. I tried it earlier in the year and really didn’t enjoy it. That was why I got the flying tanker to do a side by side with since I loved that beer so much. The age hasn’t been that good for the Tanker, which is to be expected. Hefeweizens or those made with that yeast strain are meant for consuming, not aging. The age, however, was a good thing for the Unicorn. I think it made it a more palatable. I kind of missed the window to showcase the Electric Unicorn during its sale period, and for that I apologize.

Leapbeer #146 is Flying Tanker White IPA and Leapbeer #315 is Electric Unicorn White IPA

Vancouver Island Brewing Flying Tanker & Phillips Brewing Company Electric Unicorn White IPA

Vancouver Island Brewing Flying Tanker & Phillips Brewing Company Electric Unicorn White IPA

Brewery: Phillips Brewing Company of Victoria BC
Released: August 28th, 2012
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle/6.5% ABV
Availability: None
Purchased @:
Merecroft Village Liquor Store
Other Reviews: Ian Lloyd (@Left4beer), Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

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Leapbeer Reports – Cellaring Beer

There have been several blog posts about cellaring beer in the craft beer crew, so what can I hope to add another to the mix. Beeradvocate gave us a very thorough explanation about how to store beer, and which beers are good for it. Vancouver based beer blogger, Barley Mowat, has done something extrememly similar (but he adds pictures). Vancouver Island beer blogger allum (although I grimace as I say that, I’m not even in his league let alone the same court) Ian Lloyd, aka Left4Beer took his kick at this same can too. (Note: To view these posts I’m referring to please click the links embedded in their names)

The reason I chose to toss my hat into this ring was because it was a completely unheard of concept to me one year ago. I, like many out there, thought old beer = bad beer. I mean obviously beer is meant to be drank as soon as humanly possible (unless of course you think I’m encouraging drinking in the store or in your car on the way home. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!) I should say, consumed as soon as reasonably possible.

Not quite what I mean by aging your beer (photo from agefotostock.com)

Why do beer geeks the world over choose to shell out top dollar for “fancy-pants brews” (pending TM) just to let them sit in a cellar until they can’t hold out any longer. Quite simply put, because it *can* make them better. I say can, because generally cellaring beer is saved for many styles, but not for others. Something like a fresh hopped beer is best consumed fresh. Even any dry hopped beer should be consumed as soon as possible, as those hop characteristics really diminish with time. Where aging beer really shines (in my limited opinion) is when it comes to high test stouts, bocks and sours. The rule of thumb I’ve heard is ‘If it’s at or over 9% ABV, it will age well”. I’ve spent some of this year collecting different beers and adding them to my cellar. Some of which I’ve tasted during the course of this year, but most of which I haven’t.

Another interesting ‘journey’ beer lovers are known to do is what is called a ‘Vertical Tasting’. As you may have guessed you have the various years of one beer and taste them to examine the nuances, changes and journey the beers have gone through. Recently left4beer and Jeff Kendrew did a three year vertical tasting of the same beer I chose to examine cellaring.

I devised a test to examine what cellaring beers actually does. I took two bottles of Hermannator Ice Bock by Vancouver Island Brewery, one from 2011 (a gift from a co worker Michelle, Thanks!) and one from 2012. The 2011 bottle has been aging in my ‘cellar’ (aka a stack of beer boxes in my downstairs closet) over the course of the hear. Hopefully this 9.5% ABV eisbock (or Ice Bock) style beer will have changed some. I’m going to use similar styled glassware (tulip/snifter) with a similar approximate six ounce pour.  I’ve got three criteria I’m going to be judging these beers on, Appearance, Aroma and Taste. Then I’ll divulge my overall thoughts of these two beers. Bear in mind that the batches may have some differences in the brew, but the recipe is very close from year to year. I served these beers directly from my cellar, meaning they’re between 10-12 degrees Celsius. Here’s the combatants.

2011 (left) & 2012 (right) Hermannator Ice Bock by Vancouver Island Brewery

2011 (left) & 2012 (right) Hermannator Ice Bock by Vancouver Island Brewery

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Leapbeer Reviews #307-310 The Vancouver Island Brewery Pod Pack

This next set of beers that I’m covering in the leapbeer blog is the Pod Pack from Vancouver Island Brewery. It seems like this beer mixer is one that I regularly pick up. It has a nice assortment of beers and is pretty available on Vancouver Island.

There are two iterations of this mixer, the summer and winter Pod Pack. Both packs include three of the same beers, Pipers Pale Ale, Sea Dog Amber Ale and Hermann’s Dark Lager. The difference between the two is in the Summer it includes the Spyhopper Honey Blonde Ale, whereas the in the winter they have the new winter seasonal Storm Watcher Winter Lager.

Vancouver Island Pod Pack Beers

Vancouver Island Brewery Pod Pack Beers

First up is the summer inclusion, the Spyhopper Honey Blonde. In case you didn’t notice it, there’s a bit of a theme with a few of the Vancouver Island Brewery beers. They have an Orca whale on their logo, the pack is called a Pod (aka a grouping of whales) Pack, and this beer is named after a type of whale surfacing behaviour, Spyhopping.

This is a clear golden coloured beer with a thick head that dissipates over time. It has a lovely honey and malty aroma. It is a not-overly sweet beer with some nice bitter notes. It is lighter fare, and super easy drinking.

Leapbeer #307 Spyhopper Honey Blonde

Spyhopper Honey Brown

Spyhopper Honey Brown

Size/ABV: 341ml Bottle/5.0%
Webpage: http://vancouverislandbrewery.com/default.aspx?PageID=1008

One cool thing with the Spyhopper Honey Brown, a friend of ours who does handmade soap actually makes one with this beer with oats and hops. You can see her stuff at the facebook page for Quadra Island Soaps.

Spyhopper Honey Blonde Soap with Spyhopper, Oatmeal & Hops

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Leapbeer Review #261 Storm Watcher Winter Lager by Vancouver Island Brewery

So yesterday I was down in Victoria to help a relative move, and it just so happened that there was also a cask event for BC Craft Beer month at the Beagle Pub featuring Vancouver Island Breweries new winter seasonal, Storm Watcher Winter lager. This replaces the Beachcomber in their line up. Because I had it on cask I didn’t have a bottle to put it up against so here’s art from their website, along with their notes.

With the ocean mist glistening in the air, huge swells rolling in from the mighty Pacific and the fury of the gales howling it must be storm season. Much like the storms of the West Coast, our Winter Lager rolls in with notes of caramel and finishes with a crash of malt. Pouring a warm amber-red, this lager combines honey, caramel and crystal malts to create a thirst quenching and slightly warming beer perfect for our winter storms.

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Leapbeer Review #246 Iron Plow Harvest Märzen by Vancouver Island Brewery

My last beer review, the Paulaner Munchen Oktoberfest Bier, impressed me so much that I wanted to cover a couple of other oktoberfest inspired beers. This next one, the Iron Plow Harvest Märzen, is one of them. This bomber is the second of a resurgence of bombers for Vancouver Island Brewery. You may remember the last one they did was the Flying Tanker White IPA. This new one starts a new series of bombers, their seasonal series, and this is bomber #1 from it.

For more history on the märzen style of beer, märzen means March, as in the month of. According to wikipedia

Märzen has its origins in Bavaria, probably before the 16th century. A Bavarian brewing ordinance decreed in 1539 that beer may be brewed only between 29 September and 23 April. The original Märzen was described as “dark brown, full-bodied”. The beer was often kept in the cellar until late in the summer, and remaining bottles were served at the Oktoberfest. In order to last so long, either the original gravity and alcohol were increased or the hopping was strengthened.”

For a bit more history on Märzen, check out these blog links from The Parting Glass & The Year in Beer.

I originally had this beer at The Great Canadian Beer Festival last month. To be honest, when I had it there I was unimpressed. I had some serious trepidation about buying it again and trying it at home. I’m really glad that I did because my opinion has gotten adjusted considerably. My thoughts on this beer now are pretty straight forward. It is delicious. When I opened this bottle it had a really nice malty sweet and almost apricot smell to it. It pours into your glass as a nice deep amber colour. The thick frothy white head on top dissipates, but their is a whole lot of bubbles still in the beer. As noted in The Parting Glass blog post, don’t expect a great hop note on this beer, just enough to balance out the sweet malty goodness. Each sip washes a nice array of flavours over your tongue, but they are gone almost as fast. It doesn’t linger with you. Instead it begs to be drank again. I think this would make for a wicked session beer, even at 5.8%. I could see several pints disappearing fairly easily from this beer. If only I had a 1L bottle I’d have used my giganto-mug from the Paulaner. If I were to compare it to yesterdays beer, the ‘Official  Oktoberfest Bier’ by Paulaner Munchen, I’d say this brew is its equal. Highly quaffable with some lovely malty sweetness. A nice balance of carbonation, and a very easy finish. I know that only 6 beers are classifiable as ‘Official’ but this one is up to the task. I am continually impressed with the new Brewers Batch from Vancouver Island Brewery. I can’t wait to see what they’ll think of next.

Leapbeer #246 is Iron Plow Harvest Märzen

Brewery: Vancouver Island Brewery of Victoria, BC
Released: September 2012
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle/5.8% ABV
Availability: Limited Release
Purchased @: BC Government Liquor Store
Webpage:
http://vancouverislandbrewery.com/default.aspx?PageID=1049
Other Reviews: http://partingglassblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/what-the-heck-is-marzen-and-why-you-need-to-try-it/ & http://barleymowat.com/2012/10/01/october-beer-of-the-month/

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 Review #146 Flying Tanker White IPA by Vancouver Island Brewery

I was really pleased to see this beer hit the shelves when it came out. Vancouver Island Brewery, the Elder Statesman of the VI brewing scene if you will, has a great stable of fine products. That said they don’t usually venture out of the norm when it comes to beer styles. They have their pale ale, their blonde, the nut brown, the ipa, and the red. They also recently released their Beachcomber Summer Ale, a pseudo hefeweizen (or as I’ve heard it called ‘half a hef’). To sum up, they haven’t been known for brewing something that breaks boundaries as of late.

This is all over now.

I don’t know who it is they’ve got in their mad scientist lab, but he’s letting his inner Picasso out. He harnessed his evil genius, took some beer ingredients, strapped lazer beams onto them and stuffed it all into the bottle. The Flying Tanker White IPA really is a Franken-Brew. Part wheat beer, part IPA, part belgian, all craft.

It is a complex brew, where they take the crispness of a wheat, the bitterness of an ipa, a touch of sour belgian style and wrap it in a silky smooth brew. It is the best new beer I’ve had this year.

It pains me to say this but VI has stated this beer is a ‘one off’. If you like it get it while you can. I’ve added a couple to my stock pile. Even though this is only here for a shoft time the statement VI Brewery has made of their craft has been profound. With this release VI has basically said, “We are here, we are craft, don’t let our age fool you.” Many a craft beer lover flocks to the newer brewers like they are at the debutante ball. Vancouver Island Brewery is reminding us that they are still here. They have upped their game, and elevated the VI brewing scene.

I’m certain that beer geeks may pick apart this beer, but I encourage you to drink it with an open mind. Sometimes us beer drinkers forget the idea that a craft beer is just that, a craft. The output of a creative mind. This beer helped remind me of that, and enjoy it. It is, Art in a bottle.

Leapbeer #146 is Flying Tanker White IPA by Vancouver Island Brewery of Victoria

I apologize that the picture kind of sucks. I was in a hurry to drink it and I didn’t want to wait. I’ll take another one later and replace it. Another thing, I didn’t get into the actual taste and notes on this beer, if you want that please read Left4Beer’s post about it as he does a better job at it than I could.  http://www.left4beer.com/2012/05/flying-tanker-vib.html

Thanks for reading everyone, and a big thanks to VI Brewing for this amazing specimen. Keep up the good work.

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