Pacific Beer Chat goes to the BC Beer Awards

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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.

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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

Off The Rail Brewing Means a New Beerea

So remember when I alluded to there being potential for another Beerea I poorly dubbed “CHUGa Choo Choo”? Well two minutes on google maps and I realize it’s a reality (or rather maybe very soon). Off the Rail Brewing is setting up shop just off Clarke at 1351 Adanac St Vancouver, BC V5L 2C3. If you are good at geography you will notice that it is a short walk to both Bomber and Strange Fellows brewery! Awesome a new Beerea (an area in which 3 or more breweries are in walking distance). So lets consider this from a transit hub point of view:

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Beginning from VCC Clarke station, we have a sub 18 minute walk to our first stop Strange Fellows (sorry goole no one is going to go on that goose chase you’ve mapped out)… Grab some Nocturnum.
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Following your Jongeleur, take a short 7 minute walk over to off the rails where you can sample some new fair.
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This walk is a bit of piss! grab some ESB at Bomber!

So what do we know about Off The Rail? Well i scoured their website, which is in fact really good for a brewery that hasn’t opened. First of all the owner, and perhaps brewer, is a current, or former, owner of the Railway Club; hence the name. Without having spoken to the brewer it looks like there will be an emphasis on traditional styles with an eye to english beer specifically. I mean a pale ale that emphasizes golding hops? Whats old is new again. Of note though is the mention of two row rather than maris otter which makes it more North American. “English” peppers the seasonal list too, so as someone who got into beer through traditional english ales this is quite exciting. Here’s the bad news, Silence from Off the Rail since December despite claiming to be open in late fall. I hope all goes well and we are tasting their beer soon. In any case this area will make for exciting Sunday Adventures.

Yellow Dog Play Dead IPA

Here’s a nasty confession, I originally wasn’t crazy for Yellow Dog’s IPA. What you say? That beer is critically acclaimed by the likes of Barley Mowat! Yes, yes it is, but despite that i was underwhelmed. Regardless, whenever I went to a local pub and heard it was on tap I ordered it. Whenever I went to the tasting room i ordered it too, strange. But then came winter and i like to drink seasonally so i was on to darker beers. The other day I was coming home from work and decided to stop by the brewery for a fill. I’d been drinking the Smoked Porter a lot lately so I thought a change might be in the cards and lo and behold i picked the IPA despite being a self-described Pale Ale lover. I got it home and WOW! Why was i all of a sudden so impressed by this beer? Because it’s so god damn well done it just sneaks up on you! Here’s a better explanation. With the craft beer revolution (JOE WIEBE!) came an explosion of IPA’s it’s the beer of the revolution, that’s fine its just not my favourite style. It seemed with every new brewery opening came a NEW SUPER HOPPY-BITTER BREW.  These beers are usually packed with flavour and most of the time are pretty good but alas they are not my cup of tea. This is what i was expecting from Yellow Dog and their IPA, but what i got was just an extremely well-balanced and palatable beer.

sorry for the crap picture

It pours a beautiful copper tone with a white head. A Tropical fruit scent emanates from the glass before flowing into a quiet sweet maltiness before Piney-Citrus flavour takes over. The big take away here for me though is despite its holiness and bitterness the beer does not shatter my palate with bitterness and rather invites another taste. I’m actually stoked to have had this beer again and it is currently my new favourite IPA.

Yellow Dog Play Dead IPA- 4.5/5