Craft Beer is going Pop-Punk

Before we get started pretend this page opened like myspace and you are now listening to “Ohio is for Lovers” by Hawthorne Heights… the colour scheme is black and red too… Alright lets do this, this article is not gonna be backed up by stats and references, no for this one I’m gonna ramble until I feel done.

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That’s not how Venn Diagrams work at all!

Years ago (this blog has been going on for years! that’s crazy) I wrote a blog about craft beer being Punk Rock, its one of my favourite things I’ve ever written, but it was years ago.

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 6.18.21 PM           “As I mentioned craft beer is part of a punk rock diy counter culture, it represents a tangible way to reject corporatism, and it is a tangible affordable way to consume art and culture. So sit back and accept some learning.”

Whats the Deal with Craft Beer?

 

Well, just like Punk Rock found a market for their authentisism, and someone else found a way to mass produce it while maximizing profit… we now have the TAKING BACK SUNDAY of Craft Beer.

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Could there be a more timeless hair style?

It shouldn’t get to me but it does! I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the difference between Pilsner and Lager, and how Black Pilsner is not really a style of beer. I’ve enjoyed learning and realized there is more I don’t know about Craft beer than I will ever know. To be honest when new breweries show up with more money than sense I get kind of choked.

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Black Pilsner? https://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style02.php

Now before some redditor on R/Vancouvercraftbeer tells me to shut up and “talk about a beer I like” or something chill.

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Wow, cuts deep.

I like some pop punk… Seriously, Fall Out Boy’s “DANCE, DANCE” is a banger, and I freakin’ love the early 90’s Simpson’s reference… just don’t mention that when I finally make it to see NOFX. I also like the beer these guys put out with a decent level of consistency.

Its just weird to me when I live in a world where both Storm brewing and 33 exp exist…

33 acres, its beer, not Star Trek The Next Generation’s First season.

 

its like wait… you know I really used to like D.O.A. but do I also like the Postal Service… wait is the Postal service better…?

The bottom line is who cares? Me, evidently, I think… Drink beer you like and pour one down for the 2nd wave of Craft beer in Vancouver (the first wave was blues or something in this metaphor).

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Blended and Wild Ale is the Next Big Thing in Craft beer

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A bottle share with some blends

Yes I truly believe the next explosion in Beer will be blended, Wild ales and Wild-ish ales. No, I do not mean that I believe Blended and Wild-ish ales will come to dominate the industry like Hazy IPAs have. I do think Blended and Wild-ish ales will come to form a small fraction of the market to become a small but significant portion of the market though. Before I go any further lets get some Vocab down

Blended Ales “involve[s] a brewer sampling multiple beers and then determining (with specific measurements and careful sensory analysis) the right combination of flavors. In barrel-aged beers, this involves pulling nails from the front of aging barrels and sampling the liquid therein.”

https://www.allagash.com/blog/why-blend-beer/?ao_confirm

Wild Yeast Yeast actually is present in the air and wind. Exposing beer to the open air and wind will often lead to fermentation. The problem with this method is the yeast strains are often very localized and can be very different,  giving what many might consider “off flavours”. Some regions and areas (even buildings) are well known for having very desirable local strains. The most beloved strains are often found in Belgium where a few brewers still consistently wild ferment.

Wild Ale “Wild Ales aren’t necessarily Sour Ales, and Sour Ales aren’t necessarily Wild Ales. What makes a Wild Ale a Wild Ale is just that – the presence of a wild yeast or some other kind of uncontrolled or atypical microflora (“bugs,” if you will). These microflora are used in addition to (or wholly in place of) traditional brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae). It isn’t necessarily a requirement that the “wild” fermenting strain be derived from the actual wild – it also can come from a pure culture of some particular bug like Lactobacillus (Lacto), Pediococcus (Pedio) or Brettanomyces (Brett).”

https://beerconnoisseur.com/articles/difference-between-sour-and-wild-ale

Wild-ish Ale I made up this term to describe beers that are made from lab curated wild strains, so they may taste like true wild ales but they are brewed in a more modern way. 

Its important to note that there are no hard-fast rules about these beers and Breweries play with the labeling and naming often. For example it is my understanding that Yellow Dog’s recent Blended Reality release used Barrel-Aged Wild-ish beer BLENDED with  a kettle sour. Is that a Wild Blended Ale in a specific sense? No. But, in the broader sense it is Blended and thus a Blended ale, for the purpose of this article I mean Blended Wild Ales in the broader sense.

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Why are Blended Ales about to explode (in relative terms)?

Quality

Unlike other beers which after fully fermenting and conditioning do not change, blended beers are able to be blended to brewers taste. For example a brewer may brew 1000 litres of beer and put the beer into 3 100 litre oaked barrels, 3 100 litre oaked barrels with raspberries, and the rest in a steel conditioning vessel. When it is time to package the brewer can try each vessel. Each vessel WILL have slight to large differences in flavour body etc. The brewer can taste and blend to intended taste ensuring (to a a much larger degree than a conventional brew) that the beer tastes as she or he intends. In short blending allows for greater quality… and yes some beer is often left on the cutting room floor.

 

-Barreling at Coalesce and Temporal Artisan Ales

Cost

Lets make no bones about it when done well the quality of a blended ale should be very high, but what is also intriguing in the low start up cost of these breweries. Whereas conventional breweries really need stainless steel fermenting tanks which cost  in the 10s of thousands of dollars Barrels can be had in the mid hundreds. That is not to say when scaling to larger sizes that the costs of a blended ale brewery aren’t similar to a conventional brewery but rather that in certain circumstances such as a small start up brewery in 1000-3000 sq feet the start up costs can be significantly lower. An example of this is Deep Dark Woods Brewing in Whitehorse Yukon Territory. Another way this happens is when an employee of an existing brewery buys 10-50 barrels, leases space and time on the brewhouse from the brewery and they start a brand, as was the case (or something similar) in Coalesce Brewing and Temporal Brewing.

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Small scale brewing at Deep Dark Woods Brewing, pictured here is the Barrel Mash Tun

If you are looking to give these beers a go locally start with both Temporal Artisan Ales and the coming soon Bakery Brewing on Brewers Row  . Slightly further a field Deep Dark Woods Brewing in the Yukon Territory. Internationally I recommend Drie Fonteinen, Brasserie Tilquin, and Cantillon!

Pacific Beer Chat goes to the BC Beer Awards

pacific-beer-chat6-wide

Another BC beer awards and another night of perhaps too much imbibing… perhaps.

In any case I’m really stoked on this Pod Cast, it features a tonne of interviews with Men and Women who had just won awards and you can feel the excitement coming through.

Take a listen…

Episode 69 – BC Beer Awards & Festival 2018

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Brewers Row Grows Again

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The most tightly packed strip in all of Canada is about to get more tightly packed! Brewers Row is about to Grow to 5 breweries in 400m!

The new kid on the row is actually a sister brewery to Moody Ales, it will be housed in the former Calabria bakery building nestled between big sister Moody Ales and Big neighbour The Parkside Brewery.

The Bakery Brewery will focus on wild and sour barrel aged beers, and is aptly named for both the bakery that it replaces, and yeast being the most important ingredient in Bread and wild/sour beers.

The Brewery will house 50 seats inside and 50 seats on the patio giving it a grand total of 100 seats (and Brewers Row just under 300 patio seats)

The Brewery will also house a 5 BBL system which is more like a top of the line home brew set up than a brewery but fits this project really well.

The Brewery isn’t open yet, but initial offerings are available now at Moody Ales.Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.15.00 PM.png

 

 

 

Is Inauthenticity coming to the Tri-City Craft Beer scene?

I’ll argue ’til the cows come home that the appeal of craft beer is built in large part due to consumer fatigue for consumerism itself, that we are willing to pay more for a product just because we know the profits are going to a neighbour and community member rather than a faceless multi-national. But big business is aware of this too. Hell, small business people who want to become big business people know this. In fact the creation of faux-community or faux-place is big business in marketing.

This commercial really makes it seem like Blue Moon is an independent brewer with an independent founder but its always been owned by Coors, proof:

“Blue Moon Belgian White (branded as Belgian Moon in Canada) is a Belgian-style witbier brewed by MillerCoors under the name the Blue Moon Brewing Co. It was launched in 1995, and was originally brewed in Golden, Colorado.

Originally called Bellyslide Belgian White, the beer was created by Keith Villa, a brewer at the Sandlot Brewery at Coors FieldDenver, Colorado (owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company). Blue Moon brewed at the Molson Brewery in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is sold in the USA, as well as exported to Europe.[2] Blue Moon Brewing Co. is an entity of Tenth and Blake Beer Company, the craft and import division of MillerCoors.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Moon_(beer)

So to spell it out for you this is common practice in beer… if you want local examples think Stanley Park, Bowen Island, Sneaky Weasel (oh snap the last two are the same brewery).

Anyways, I fear this might be happening locally. A new brewery is setting up in PoCo calling themselves Rec Room brewing (cause people often drink beer in rec rooms! well not if you are of age…)

Here comes the Analysis:

Take a look at the Brew Master posting for Rec Room, https://beermebc.com/job/head-brewmaster-new-brewery-in-poco/

      There is more in the online description but holy crap, there is enough HR speak in here for a fortune 500. Brewers in a new brewery spend most of their time simply making sure beer is brewed successfully in a clean environment. Unless this brewery plans to employ 3 other brewers I find it unlikely that their “Brew Master”, a designation earned through training and apprenticeship, not occupation, will be doing anything else but cleaning and brewing.
Job Description (full description here)
  • Utilize skills to craft creative recipes and produce the best, most exciting beers possible
  • Select and maintain quality ingredients
  • Maintains all equipment to “like new” standards 

Maintaining the equipment to “like new” standards often requires a mechanic especially if your equipment comes from China. 

  • Create lasting relationships with vendors and customers 

Maintaining relationships with anyone is tough when you are cleaning and brewing all day.

  • Initial and ongoing training of all management and service staff 
Training management and customers should really be the job of the owners/front end staff… if you are paying a brewer to do this you are wasting resources and don’t know enough yourself to open a brewery  
  • Cultivate a positive work environment for all staff
  • Consistently strive to produce new innovative beverage items to fit concept
  • Takes lead role in developing concept with regards to training material 

Brewers aren’t creating training material! They are too busy brewing, cleaning, and ordering brewing supplies… especially in the early going.

  • Continually train, develop and motivate quality employees 

When you have one, maybe two brewers, beneath you this is little more than marketing speak.

  • Ensure high quality of beverage presentation/preparation 

This one is fair.

  • Consistently increase profitability 

How? Profitability in my estimation generally decreases when breweries increase in production… Your highest margins are in beer sold from tasting room and they decrease when you package and distribute. In the city of Port Coquitlam where tasting rooms are maxed out at 35 seats packaging and distribution is key! Thus, profit margins are reduced and reduced until if and when it becomes feasible to purchase a canning room and integrate distribution vertically may 3-5 years in at best. Breweries at this level are few and far between… P49, Central City, Phillips…

Thus, the only way to increase profitability in the short to medium term is to sell more quickly or reduce the cost of established recipes… this in nearly all cases means sacrificing quality.

  • Accurate reporting of all costs
  • Meet or exceed all budgets 

Yea shit happens in a brewery, sometimes your hops don’t give the right flavours, and you need another dry hop addition, sometimes your fermentation get stuck, sometimes you need to dump beer because it taste bad… Also “exceed all budgets” just reads really poorly.

  • Ensures all accounts are up to date with no “past due” bills
  • Conduct profit analysis where needed 

Nope, that’s your production manager/owner/founders job… yea your brewer should be able to give you some number but their background is biology not business.

  • Write schedules within budget 

Do you guys mean brew schedules?

  • Monthly P&L review with ownership group
If you need monthly P&L review with ownership group it leads me to believe that ownership is not involved with the day to day… that will lead to disaster in its own right.
      In short this whole “Brew Master” Job description reeks of guys with business degrees who enjoy after work beers at Steel Toad reading about the growth of craft beer and hoping to cash in.
     I’m not saying that owners of this upcoming brewery aren’t independents but the way their job description reads it sounds like small time entrepreneurs trying to make big bucks in a growing market using Faux-Good Will for Craft Beer generally, and I get that’s a harsh assessment…
BUT,
     There is a real heavy emphasis on profitability throughout that job description… you could just chalk that up to industry standards, but then compare it to the more standard brewer job descriptions listed here.
     So yes, I am stirring the pot once again. There is also a better than small chance I’m wrong too (that’s fine, I’m often wrong). Even so, I thing it’s worth a mull, if not in the case of Rec Room then definitely in the case of Blue Moon, Stanley Park Brewing, Sneaky Weasel Brewing and Bowen Island Brewing. Then again you might think that all entrepreneurs are using marketing to sell beer and make money and this is just a logical extension of that train of thought and that’s a totally valid opinion too.
POST SCRIPT:
I’m really conflicted about posting this article, but i think the topic is valid and worth a discussion. That said, I pledge to post any response from Rec Room should they respond because they deserve a chance to respond.

Port Moody Breweries

 

Name: Twin Sails Brewing

Address: 

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Established: 2015

Style: Progressive (NEIPA, Pastry Stouts, and an barrel aged sour program)

Tasting Area: Approx. 50 seats, Snacks, frequent food trucks, 30 seat patio (Dogs Welcome), Brick interior. Ciders yes

Core Beers: Dat Juice (Hazy Citra Pale Ale), Single Whammy (HAZY NE IPA)

Twin Sails is no longer the new brewery on the block, but they are producing some of the newest styles in beer today. Originally known as maker of traditional german style Twin Sails has more recently been known for its ultra progressive ales like Space Armadillo and Two Straws Milk Shake IPA-New beers usually drop every Saturday… but don’t stick around long.

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Name: Yellow Dog Brewing

Address: 2817 Murray St. Port Moody

Established: 2014

Style: West Coast

Tasting Area: Approx. 100 seats, outdoor seating, Small fare food, Frequent Food Trucks outside food ok, CIDER-NO.

Core Beers: Play Dead IPA, Chase My Tail Pale Ale.

Yellow Dog was the First brewery in Port Moody and burst on the scene winning best in show for their Shake a Paw Smoked Porter. Since then Yellow Dog has won a litany of awards and is arguably a top 3 brewery in BC.

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Name: The Parkside Brewery

Address: 2731 Murray St, Port Moody, BC Screen Shot 2016-12-28 at 11.02.42 AM.png

 

Established: 2016

Style: Contemporary

Tasting Area: Approx. 100+ seats, Outside food is OK, snacks, Frequent food trucks, video games, Front Picnic area (Dogs Welcome).

Core Beers: Dawn Pilsner, Dusk Pale Ale, Graffiti IPA.

Parkside is the newest Brewery on the Row putting out a range of contemporary ales and lagers to please just about everyone! Guest taps are also available so there is something for everyone.

qyksgeo5

 

Name: Moody Ales

Address: 2601 Murray St, Port Moody, BC

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Established: 2014

Style: Eclectic

Tasting Area: Approx. 75 Seats, occasional live music, snacks, WINE & CIDER AVAILABLE, outside food is ok, front picnic area, frequent food trucks,

Core Beers: Hardy Brown Ale, Sociable Pale Ale, Affable IPA, Chipper Blonde.

Moody Ales opened mere months after Yellow Dog in fall of 2014. Their beer list is ever Changing and you are sure to find something you like on tap.

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UPCOMING – Bakery Brewing

See the new breweries page for more info.

 

Coquitlam Breweries

Name: Mariner Brewing

Address: H-1100 Lansdowne Dr, Coquitlam, BC V3B 5E2

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Established: 2017

Style: Rumours of old styles done well, we shall see.

Tasting Area: Approx. 35 Seats, food onsite

Core Beers: North East IPA, Cream Ale, Amber Ale, Sour Weisse

Currently Coquitlam’s Only brewery minutes from venerable Brewers Row

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UPCOMING – Fraser Mills Fermentation

See the new breweries page for more info.

Big Rock (Vancouver) Citradelic

So I don’t really do beer reviews anymore. Mostly because there is a lot of people who do it better than me… The Beer Rater, West Coast Beer Geek, and Mike’s Craft beer to name a few. However, if you give me free beer i will review it, and that’s exactly what happened here.

As you know what i enjoy often more than the beer itself is the analysis that can come with it so here we go. Big Rock is a larger regional brewer from Alberta. Among the first wave of craft brewers in Canada they have been surpassed in quality but the newest wave of small batch craft brewers. Likely seeing potential for growth in the Vancouver market but hamstrung by a lack of credibility as a regional brewer from Alberta, ala’ Granville Island in Vancouver, they seemingly decided to open a branch plant facility in Vancouver.

Thus we can expect the Vancouver produced beer to be a step above the Alberta produced beer in quality to grab the more dynamic Vancouverite beer drinker’s attention. Is this the case with Citradelic?

Citradelic to my knowledge is a single hopped beer; hopped with, you guessed it, citra hops. These hops are known for their smooth citrus flavour. So how did it taste? The Malt is really quiet on this beer but that is to be expected. If you are trying to showcase the hop flavour you wouldn’t want to crowd the beer with complex malts. The hop flavour arrives with the nose of the beer in a long smooth slug of citrus flavour which is quite delicious before slowly fading as you set the glass down. An entirely pleasant experience.

I’m giving this beer a 3.5/5 not because there is anything wrong with it. There isn’t. But simply because this is a simple beer. Its the sort of beer that one can enjoy quite easily but certainly pales in comparison to to a well crafted barley wine. Why have i rated it so you might ask? Well i might direct you to Mill’s conception of higher and lower pleasures. In simple terms consider this:

“One pleasure is of higher quality than another if and only if most people who have experienced both pleasures always prefer the first to the second regardless of their respective quantities.”

Thus when i consider this beer next to truly amazing ones like say 4 winds nectarous and cast away notions of quantity Citradelic stands no choice… despite being an altogether wonderful beer.

If you think this whole article is useless you are probably right but J.S. Mill spits hot fire and you will probably sound way smarter if you off handedly mention J.S. Mill at the next Cocktail party you go to, or Commercial Drive share house mixer… same diff.

Whats the deal with Craft Beer?

Whats the deal with #craftbeer? HOPS? isn’t that something bunnies do?

Fuck you late 1980’s early 1990’s hypothetical adversarial Jerry Seindfield, I’ll tell you the deal. I’ve considered this thoroughly and i’ve come to a conclusion I am willing to share. The appeal, or deal, of craft beer is 3 fold. Actually its more fold but I am going to focus on 3, although you could argue that these are all aspects of a single fold, alas enough about folds. As I mentioned craft beer is part of a punk rock diy counter culture, it represents a tangible way to reject corporatism, and it is a tangible affordable way to consume art and culture. So sit back and accept some learning.

I don’t intend to spend much time on the first part of this essay as I believe my last post really beat down the Craft Beer is Punk Rock theme I push on this blog.

Because nothing is more punk then letting people know you are punk

In brief Craft Beer is the result of people looking at what they were drinking and saying “this shit is shit, i can do better”. This of course couldn’t be done with out people trying out home brewing and figuring out how to make things aside from pale fizzy lagers. But consider in the late 70’s and the early 80’s when the first craft breweries were started there were no existing business plans for a small scale brewery. After American prohibition ended the North American brewing Industry was an effective Oligarchy. No one had opened a new brewery in 50+ years; could it even be done. In BC we see the effect of this lack of knowledge where our first craft breweries failed before they were appreciated (like Socrates… HISTORY, that right horseshoe bay brewing is the Socrates of Craft Beer in BC). These guys who started these breweries were doing it DIY. I honestly bet at least one brewery was held together by close pins. This is apparent even today, ever see Powell St Brewing’s first brew house? it was a large home-brew set up! So if was grading this paper i’d say: “Great you have shown to some degree that punk rock is similar to craft beer, how does that add to the appeal?” I’d reply pedantically: “Craft beer was and remains a niche’, in the earliest days one had to seek out and purposely opt out of the macro beer society much like punk rockers attempted to opt of society at large. Today Craft Beer remains a niche’ but a larger one, We are seeing the rise of Pop Punk with crafty beers like Shock Top and Rickards, along side true greats Four Winds, or Steal and Oak. So the deal with Craft Beer is that by drinking it we are not simply consuming a beverage but affirming a critical view of our society at large arguing that their are things that are messed up in our world and given the opportunity we will use our beverage choice to sustain our critical analysis.

You know whats sort of fucked up? Corporations. Look I’m not gonna sit here and pander the politic in a beer blog. I’m honestly surprised at how pompously i ended the last paragraph but i believe it is as close to fact as once can be to say we in the western world are becoming more fed up with the corporations.

It likes the devil’s tail is a rhetorical tool to suggest something to the viewer, BUT WHAT? Damn It McLuhan left us too soon!

Here is the thing, craft breweries are most often (i can’t think of any) not large soulless corporations such as Molson Coors or inBev. By buying craft we are making a simple easy decision not to give our money to a business based in the United States, Europe or Japan but to the guys and girls who live down street. You know that your 15 dollar six pack doesn’t help to buy some exec a new mansion whilst the guy at the bottling plant struggles to pay rent, but rather might go into a savings account to help the brewmaster’s daughter to go to university in the future. In short craft beer is one of the few industries where the consumer can easily reject large corporations all together whereas in other industries like toilet paper we are slaves to large corporate industries. Lets take solace in that small win.

Beer is art, Fuck you it is. Why did I get so testy there? When I mention it even to my craft beer drinking buddies I still get the eyebrow raise with a facial expressions that reads:

Yeah this is delicious but it’s not the god damn mona lisa.

Here’s the thing it is the God Damn MONA LISA. Beer like paintings is an expression of culture in physical form. It lends context to our immediate society, and tells us about ourselves. Really? YES REALLY! Think about an English IPA, what does it tell us? It tell us about colonialism, it is a tangible example of british power relative to Indian. When faced with the problem of british service men serving in India without their precious ale, A hoppier ale was created to last the long journey into India. So? Well this tells us that British servicemen were not being assimilated into Indian Culture, It tells us the Empire was wealthy and strong enough that they could afford to ship creature comforts around the world and it shows us the importance of commerce in British Colonies. this is very much similar to what the Gleaners tells us about French Soceity in the 1800’s:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gleaners read the wikipedia post and consider how both beer and this painting tell us about our world.

Here’s the important difference between high art and Beer, Beer is cheap, it does the same thing but an expensive bottle is $25, have you priced out the Mona Lisa lately? I’ll stick with beer thanks!

So what’s the deal with craft beer? Its a form of art that allows to consume culture whilst simultaneously rejecting certain part our society, it also tastes good.

Dageraad Anno 2014

Man is it cool that the Vancouver Beer community has gotten to a point where we can support a style brewer like Dageraad? The best part is we are rewarded with for it with great belgian beers, and Anno 2014 a Belgian Golden Ale is another great seasonal. From the pour into the glass you are treated to a beautiful looking beer with a golden translucent hue. Champagney aroma abounds from the high carbonation, while the beer drinks sweetly with a crisp fruit finish with the Keremeos pear apparent yet not overbearing. Be careful when pouring as this beer does bottle ferment, while also being careful not to let the 8.3% ABV sneak up on you! Get one soon this could be Dageraad’s best yet!

Dageraad Anno 2014- 4.25/5