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Archive for the tag “victoria british columbia”

Leapbeer Review #214 Evergreen Ale by Phillips Brewing Company

On August 13, 2012, Phillips announced the release of their 11th Anniversary Brew, the Pandamonium DIPA. While I try to hone in my target scope to pick one of those beers up I wanted to take today to talk about their last beer release,  Evergreen Ale.

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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 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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Tales of The Vancouver Island Craft Beer Creep – Part 1

You may be asking yourself what I could possibly mean by ‘craft beer creep’. Could I be talking about the guy at the bar leering from behind his chalice of porter? Perhaps this the guy who scoffs at your choice as you stand in the line of the liquor store with a 12 pack of Bud? Or is this that irritatingly outspoken person on the internet going off about how this years ‘hot beer’ isn’t nearly as good as it was last year? Or could it be something else, something completely different?

Pardon if I go a bit geeky on this next bit, but anyone who has played as the Zerg in the globally popular game Starcraft will have seen the term ‘Creep Colony’. For the uninitiated, a creep colony spreads out ‘creep’ on the play surface making it able to place new buildings on it, spreading out the species (the Zerg’s) influence on the game. (for more on Starcraft ‘creep’ see this link http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Creep )I’m using this analogy for craft beer because of a trend I am starting to see develop on Vancouver Island.

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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.

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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
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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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Leapbeer Review #192 Double Decker IPA by Vancouver Island Brewery

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

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

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

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

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

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Leapbeer Review #185 Caffè Fantastico’s Double Shot Porter by Swans Buckerfield Brewery

Swans Buckerfield Brewery is nestled down in lovely downtown Victoria in what’s been called by the Thirsty Writer, Mr Joe Wiebe, Victoria’s Beer Mile. Within a relatively close proximity you have 8 of Vancouver Island’s breweries and brewpubs. We had the opportunity to bring Leapbeer there during my first visit to Victoria this year, but they didn’t have this new porter when I was down.

That’s not the case on my most recent visit to Victoria. During an afternoon where my little family were touring around the chinatown area of Victoria, I nipped away to check the Swans store to see if there was any of the Double Shot Porter left. Fortunately there was still bottles available, so I grabbed one to bring it to the Leapbeer experience.

The notes on the bottle say “In a single evening Caffe Fantastico’s team of skilled baristas pulled 850 double shots of espresso, which have been infused to create this delicious seasonal offering. Selected for its spicy cocoa and earthy tones, Sumatra Mandheling was custom roasted to work in harmony with this porter, creating a rich and complex flavour.

This porter pours to a deep brown/black colour. When held in the light it is somewhat translucent dark brown. There is a thich beige coloured head that forms, but then completely dissipates.

When you smell it you get lots of espresso coffee notes and malt. The taste is very malty and coffee-ish. It is a nice light feeling porter. I’m surprised at how thin this porter is. I wouldn’t be shocked if it was marketed as a ‘summer porter’ being that it has a relatively low (5.5% abv) test and a nice light mouth feel. This is a strikingly easy drinking porter. The compliment of the espresso smell to the delicate blend of the beer is really nice. Thumbs up from this beer drinker. One other note about this porter, it produces espresso flavoured burps. I feel that the majority of the the 850 double shots of espresso seem to reside in the CO2 in this beer.

Leapbeer #185 is Double Shot Porter by Swans Buckerfields Brewery from Victoria BC

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Leapbeer Review #141 Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale by Spinnakers

EDIT: This review is erroneos as I misread the label thinking it a IPA whereas it is a Double Pale Ale. I will re review it in the future to remedy this problem.

I had the chance to try this during my last trip to Victoria at the gastro pub. I didn’t take notes on it then, but I went to Top Shelf liquors in Courtenay and picked one up.

Their site has this to say about it.
An emerging new world style, this double pale blends north-west and noble bittering hops and finishes with old world noble aromatic hops to create a complex and floral hop profile. This beer is superbly balanced, masking its strong body and making the beer very drinkable. Beware! alc/vol: 8.2% og: 1.068 IBU: 42

The beer pours to the burnt amber colour with a thin white head on it. It smells hoppy. It isn’t the citric style of hops you’d expect from a pacific northwest IPA, but a more pronounced version of ‘original recipe’ IPA hops. As mentioned in the quote above, this beer really goes down easy. It’s deceptively smooth, despite its medium bitterness. And at 8.2% it packs a punch. It tastes nice, but it isn’t an IPA I’d regularly reach for. It is middle of the road in view of the bitterness. This would be a great IPA to start someone on if you were doing a bitter beer tasting.

Leapbeer #141 is Blue Bridge Double IPA by Spinnakers Brewpub in Victoria

This is only my first review of a Spinnakers beer, but I had a chance to try several during my last visit there. I can say without any hesitance that I enjoyed every beer I tried there. There were some I liked more than others, but they all had a great balance to them. I look forward to being able to return and showcase some of their other craft offerings.

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