Hit or Miss: Wet Hops!

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Wet hopping is when brewers take hops before drying them and use them in their brews. The supposed benefit is increased freshness of volatile oils. this sounds great but there are some inherent problems with the method.

Wet hops weigh much more than dried hops, due to their wetness. They also must be shipped with hours from bine to brewer.

So?

The first thing that hops to mind is since each shipment of hops is the first no one actually knows how they taste in beer or how to use them well. Brewers don’t get a shot at a pilot batch with fresh hops and most will simply insert them into an existing beers recipe. This is for the best, at least we are cutting down on some chance. The fact remains no one knows well how these hops are going to react, more to the point no one knows how these hops are going to react in multiple thousands of litre batches. Furthermore, Its in the brewers best interest to get these beers to market as soon as possible. This means by the time the brewer decides their beer isn’t as good as it should be its already on the shelves and your Craft beer hyped buddy has already swiped 3 bottles of Steamworks Yak Attack, a half case of Sartori Harvest and a couple american wet hopped beers from a brewery whose name he can’t rememer… “YOU TOTALLY HAVE TO COME TO MY BASEMENT SUITE AND DRINK THIS WITH ME!”

Secondly these hops weigh much more than normal hops due to their wetness. One ounce of wet hops is not equal to one ounce of normal hops so brewers are playing with fire. Now we might say we can just cover at 6-1 or something, but who knows what the actual moisture level is, on average, for all these hops. Especially when we consider  how many kilos of wet hops make up each beer.

What am I getting at here? Just because the bottles say wet hopped doesn’t mean these beers are better, or for that matter even good. In fact i’d wager that most of the wet hopped beers i’ve had this year were messes.

What’s my conclusion here? I wouldn’t go pre-ordering box of sartori harvest anytime soon. Wait it out, find the hyped beers and get them whilst you can. I recommend Little Dog Syndrome from Yellow Dog Brewing This year.

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Changing Art and Culture in Port Moody

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Port Moody is changing from the back water it was in the 40 years ago into one of the trendiest inner suburbs. The upcoming permanent sky train connection to Vancouver is simply the latest and most obvious example but this has been years in the making. The city has created two well designed urban villages (New port Village & Suter Brook) that have among the best connections to park and forest space in metro Vancouver, these spaces, have in turn attracted young professionals to the area which have changed the commercial character of the city. Wheras Port Moody 20 years ago was home to dunkin donuts and soup and sandwich spots artisanal and faux artisanal coffee shops have proliferated. Next came the breweries. now let me be clear not all breweries are created equally, some are better than others, and there are some terrifically bad ones in many suburbs. Port Moody is home to some of the best around with Twin Sails, Yellow Dog and Moody all winning awards in their short lives. Awards aside their success can also be attributed to their local clientele who are among their most important revenue streams. In short the success of breweries suggests a high urban awareness specifically in Port Moody and more broadly the Tri Cities. Even so, the cultural renaissance is far from complete. There are still a dearth of decent restaurants in town, although places like Originals Mexican are bright spots. Things maybe changing though as Romers burger bar (despite their poor Yelp reviews) opened their first location outside of Vancouver in Port Moody, and another trendy taco joint (Taps & Tacos) looks to open in Port Moody. Still, quality food is lacking.

So what am I getting at? Port Moody is modernizing and most aspects of local society are aware of that, one section that seems to be left behind is art & culture.

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Is this 1998?

Port Moody bills itself as the City of the Arts, and by every measure it lives up to its billing, but just as not all breweries are not equal not all art is either. Port Moody continues to be a patron of the safe and the old. Art displays are happy cheerful and if at all possible linked to the city’s mythos of Trans Canada railroad terminus. Free concerts take place through the summer with little air of excitement as faux has beens and safe acts take the stage. For example an oft heard rumour was that Golden Spike days stalwarts Trooper weren’t asked back after one band member swore on stage. The rumour is likely untrue but the fact that the rumour ever existed suggest that Port Moody residents are all aware of the safeness of the city

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The train motif is strong in this town…

Port Moody has an opportunity to change all of this though. Beyond the central railroad terminus mythos is a long history of aboriginal settlement by the Tsleil Waututh nation which is by and large ignored by all in Port Moody, Port Moody would be well served to invite this culture back into the area in the spirit of reconciliation. By doing so Port Moody would benefit with a new dynamism to its art and culture scene and begin to right structural wrongs present not only in Port Moody but any place with a history of colonialism. Further opportunity for cultural dynamism exists in inviting a different and varied contemporay art to share the stage with acts like Mostly Marley. Metro Vancouver has a wealth of young people who very quickly make there marks on the greater world around them, before ceding the stage to Trooper could we not possibly see one of the former Peak performance artists (I use this example with the awareness that acts must remain somewhat appropriate)? Port Moody is home to some of the most pedestrian festivals  in Vancouver the best example being Golden Spoke days, an event nearly entirely catered to the young and old, ignoring the young adults and professionals save for a beer garden. Port Moody has an incredible festival space and it’s not impossible to think that a stellar more modern festival could be staged there to advance the profile of the city. My own personal dream is a craft-beer-folk-festival where a small group of breweries (all 4 locals and perhaps 4 more invitees) and several mid-level metro Vancouver folk indie rock bands get together at Rocky Point on a warm summer day…  no kids though…

Port Moody is changing, so can the art and culture

UK Brewing V. North America.

One of this things you will notice as a Canadian or North American when coming to the the UK is that the variety of style was never concentrated as greatly as it was in North America. This could be down to any number of things.

The UK has tied house laws unlike those in Canada where independent pubs abound. In the UK Pubs are often owned by breweries and leased back to operators who are forced to supply only that brewery’s beers. Thus rather than putting their weight behind a single brand or few like Molson or Anheiser-Busch (if i misspelled there I’m not particularly fussed) the breweries were forced to attempt to appeal to all who walked through that pub’s door.

Historically we might also consider that when people colonized North America there existed no brewing tradition in aboriginal culture. When brewers did come to North America its not a stretch to expect that consumers were happy to take what they could get and brewers having much less resources than they would have in Europe were simply unable to brew a wide variety. Following this the large amount of German immigrants to the US definitely played a part in creating a brewing culture in many ways paralleling their own in Germany where in many regions the Lager or Pilsner was King.

Another cause for the endearing variety of style relative to North America would be the endearing traditionalism and lack of prohibition in The UK. Whereas the North Americans were subject to prohibition which killed small breweries and lead to a concentration of styles and breweries the UK was simply not. Regional beers and style were able to continue to be produced unabated and breweries were free to attempt a regional style to gain Market Share.

The greater consequence of this variety of brewing is less of a market backlash against the macro’s, as the macros to some degree have never stopped producing decent beers. I would take a british Macro Ale over a Canadian or American 999/1000. Of course Craft beer has come to the UK too. The positive effect of the variety of macro beers available in the UK is that british Craft Brewers have had to better than some great brews to gain market share whereas their counterparts in N.A. have just had beat the fizzy yellow swill.