Category Archives: canada

A tale of temperature

A while back, I went to one of my local brewpubs and tried a dunkel. It was a charming beer and it photographed well.


The tasting notes described “toasted bread crumb and almond with hints of chocolate” which I got, but only as the beer warmed up. Some vigorous swirling in my mouth did the trick until the beer reached its optimum temperature, about 15-20 minutes into the pint.

Which did get me to thinking: do you serve beer at the correct temperature for the initial taste, or do you aim below optimum temperature, and hope your beer reaches optimal by mid-pint or so? I imagine that much of the answer to this question depends on the type of beer, the time of year, and the size of the pour (in July, you probably want your ‘Mexican-style lagers’ close to optimal temperature for the first sip; in December, I’d imagine a pint of a 10% winter warmer can be served a bit below optimum temperature, even if that optimum temperature is on the high side to begin with). But I don’t have a definitive answer, and now I have something to research.



Brassneck: The Quibbler; Dark Place

It’s been quite a while–probably three or so months–since I’ve been to the Brassneck, and significantly more time since I’ve sat down to have a brew. But Mr. Bottle and I had time to kill between an art show and a play, and we were in the neighbourhood, AND there were seats available.

So down we sat to have beer and sausages.


My beer was the Quibbler, a tart blonde with quince; the beer on the right was Mr. Bottle’s, the Dark Place, a barrel-aged porter with B. claussenii. After trying both, we each came to the same startling conclusion: we each liked our beers the best. Normally when we’re out, I pick for Mr. Bottle something he’d like, even if that’s the beer I’d most like to drink. I then try something a bit more experimental, and often find myself wishing I’d just ordered another pint of what he was having.

This time? Well,  Mr. Bottle’s beer was a perfectly fine porter with some brett in the mix, and…this time, I wasn’t a fan. It was fine; it wasn’t for me that day.

My beer was lovely in colour, golden and opaque, with an enjoyable nose (sourness, with a bit of the fruit coming through). The mouthfeel was juicy and appealingly rich–this beer has significantly more body than you’d expect. It’s also very reminiscent of the complexity of the fruit it’s celebrating, with perfume and hints of both apple and pear. I found the back end quite dry, but in a good way.

All in all, it was a lovely way to kill an hour.


What was that again? (Four Winds Bosque)

Four Winds Bosque Ale

This is an absolutely beautiful beer. The overall impression is of a crisp, clean, bubbly and exceptionally well-made farmhouse ale, with just a hint of tartness. It truly is beer of the highest quality.

Intrigued, I read the back and see that this beer was aged on Spanish cedar, then blended with a saison aged in tequila barrels, and then the whole was aged on Granny Smith pumice! Which leads me to think…well, this is an incredibly tasty beer. Unfortunately, saving perhaps a faint hint of the apple, I can’t parse what all these ingredients and processes are adding to the mixture.

Perhaps I was not in the headspace last night to tease out flavour components, but I can see why Four Winds was so detailed in listing everything that went into this beer. (I’m pretty sure this was around $15 for the bottle.) Having said that, I’m thinking that this is like sausage, which I can enjoy without knowing its backstory.

Forgot What’s In My Fridge #3

I was digging through beers on my top shelf (where I tend to keep the rarer things), and I came across an unassuming bottle. And found myself face to face with a…spring gruit?

Saltspring Gruit


This is the Spring Fever Gruit from Saltspring Island Ales. And I’m sure it would have been more enjoyable in spring! Or at least much, much closer to when I bought it.

There are some signs that oxidation has taken place–a bit of dullness on the palate–but what struck me most about this beer was how pleasant it still was. Sweet and malty, with some of the herbaceousness coming through as well, it aged far better than I might’ve thought.

Not the best beer to cellar by mistake, but I’ve had worse from the fridge.

Which means I should be drinking more.

What Can You Buy There #6: Kulshan Blood Orange Gose

Kulshan Gose ale

(Ed. note: after a weekend of travel, I couldn’t make the Monday theme happen. I’ll catch it on Wednesday!)

Like all good residents of BC, we stopped at the Trader Joes in Bellingham on our way back from our last trip to the States. While we were there, and in recompense for putting up with all the other shoppers at Trader Joes on a Sunday morning (why weren’t they at brunch, like sensible people?), I was allowed to pick up a six-pack of Kulshan Blood Orange Gose.

And…it’s entirely pleasant! Which sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, but no. It’s got a nice nose, a good gose front end, and a pleasantly fruity back note. I don’t know that my nose or palate picks up “blood orange,” as opposed to a general sense of fruitiness. But it’s remarkably light and crisp, and something that makes the warmer days of spring more enjoyable.


What Can You Buy There #5: Brassneck Sticks & Stones Rye Saison

I’ve got to get out more when I’m in Vancouver. I tend to visit the same three or four breweries time and again because they make really good beer and, well, I’m a creature of habit.

Brassneck SaisonSo I hope you’ll pardon me for repeating a visit to Brassneck, as I was literally driving by. With an empty growler. Purely by coincidence.


Brassneck tends to have a saison or two on tap all the time, so they’ve got a good sense of how saisons work. The Sticks & Stones is no exception. It’s a lovely color, with a good head. The taste is spicy (cloves, pepper), a bit fruity (banana?), herbaceous and grassy, and then earthy. The latter two flavors coming from the rye, perhaps. There’s a syrupy mid-note, with more of the earthy rye on the backend, including  a faint and agreeable drying note.

I’ll try new things in new places. Next time.

What Can You Buy There #4: Backcountry Everything Is Awesome Coffee Brown

(Fuz here)

First off: No. Everything is not awesome. And I’m not just talking about the political tire fire down south.

I came to Backcountry for my first beer in a week (shakes tiny fist at the state of my health), and…I wasn’t deeply unhappy with what I picked. But I wasn’t happy either, and it’s easy to explain why.

Backcountry BrownI had high hopes. Backcountry has great beer names, and this is no exception; I’m half sold on the name alone. And the beer smells toasty and malty–exactly what I’d like in a brown ale.

The mouthfeel is round and rich. The front end even has some subtle hints of berry from the coffee. There’s also some licorice, which is a bit odd, because that isn’t traditionally part of the style.

The richness in the beer, however comes across as booziness, which is weird in a 6.3% brown ale, and far too much for this style of beer. Also, the back end is bitter-far more bitter than I was expecting it to be.

I’ve been a big fan of their stouts, porters, and brown ales before, so I expect this is just a bit off. It’s not a bad effort, but it’s not their best effort.

What Can You Buy There #3: 33 Brewing Experiment; Brett Pale Ale with Apricot

(Ed. note: I hit publish on this yesterday, but it’s supposed to be up today. Enjoy!)

Hello! It’s Fuz again. Our host has asked me to contribute to this blog every now and then, something I’m happy to do.

The original remit of this series was to expose readers to things I can find in my local liquor shop, but I’m gladly breaking the pattern for this entry.

One of my favourite breweries in Vancouver, 33 Acres, has opened up an experimental brewery (33 Experiment) right next door to their current shop. They share a wall, but customers can’t simply pass through from one to the other. 33 Acres has their main line-up dialed in; this new space allows them to try new things. And boy, have they taken advantage of this freedom.

It’s a strategy I wish more breweries could pursue: lock in a few key styles, ensure a constant supply of those styles, then use another space to make new things. In this way, you satisfy your regulars (who come in for X, and want X, and expect you to have X), while welcoming in those wanderers who come for something new.

img_1634I ventured there with two friends the other night to kill some time and try a flight.

(Pictured from top left-bottom left): The Hazy Pilsner (meh), the Belgian Table Biere (decent), and the Brett Pale Ale with Apricot.

(Pictured from top right-bottom right): Sea Salt IPA (surprisingly good), and the Dry Hopped Brett IPA (decent).

While I was very impressed with the Sea Salt IPA, I chose to get a growler fill of the Brett Pale Ale with Apricot. On tap, I found it pleasantly yet aggressively funky, with the barnyard hay coming through in a winning fashion, and the fruitiness of the apricot rounding out the flavour notes and providing a nice sweetness. While one of my party was less convinced (she did not appreciate tasting notes that involved the word “manure”), the rest of us thought it a real winner.


The beer even holds up after a couple of days in the growler. If the funk is less, it’s still there, and the drying and sweet elements come through. Also, it photographs well.

Send Us (some of) Your Beers, Canada, pt 2

Driftwood Cry Me A River Gose

OK, let’s wrap up my lovely visit to Canada starting with….

Driftwood Brewery-Cry Me A River Gose: This is a little bit like an alcoholic grapefruit soda. That isn’t a criticism, though: this gose is very light, even the nose is only vaguely suggestive of the tartness. It’s incredibly quaffable though and I think would be not only a great beer to drink on your porch but one that would go very well with heartier food. The tartness isn’t strong enough to blow out your taste buds, but it would totally cut through some fattier cuts of meat and clear your palate.

Plus, that label is an absolute winner. 10/10 there.

Fuggles & Warlock-the Last Strawberry-strawberry wit. The strawberry comes off really strong when I open the bottle but it’s settled out by the time I pour it into the glass. Faint but similar to a strawberry flower, the nose holds a little of the saison spice, too. As for drinking: well, the flavors deliver on the nose: it’s got a ripe strawberry flavor with just a little saison and, if this was July, would be one of my go to drinks. As it stands, it’s just a tasty beverage that I’m happy to come back to.

Category 12 Brewing-Simplicity blond ale: The beer is a crime and someone should pay for it. The nose is stale, like grain that has been left out too long and any flavors are obliterated by a finish that is as dirty as peanuts you’d find on the freeway.

Riot-Working Class Hero dark mildRiot Brewing-Working Class Hero, Dark Mild ale: the nose is stingy with it’s scents of coffee and chocolate but they are there. But the flavors are really nice. Nothing too strong- this beer is easy drinking and a little sweet on the finish. It’s a solid beer and one that you might find yourself drinking a lot of without noticing. Which is ok, because at 3.8%, you’re going to be fine.

Micro Le Casor-Farmhouse Houblon; this has got that farmhouse, horseblanket note that I’d expect from the style but also something metallic in the nose, too. It’s fairly light, thankfully and I don’t pick up any metal in the finish. Lemony, just shy of soapy but an OK beer I’d say.

Send Us (some of) Your Beers, Canada

My recent trip to Canada yielded the opportunity to try a lot of different ales! Which was really quite nice. Plus, I got to share many of them with an old friend, and that’s even better. So, as is tradition, I’m going to give short views on what I had, with a little influence from my friend. Because the best way to really evaluate a beer is with someone else.

Four Winds: Meli saisonFour Winds- Meli, a farmhouse ale. This farmhouse ale is mining apples for flavor like nothing I’ve ever had. The nose is a little sweet, almost cloying in a yeast base way. But the beer tastes like cinnamon and applesauce. Or perhaps apple pie would be a better comparison: A little sweet, a little spicy, even a hint of dough in there. It seems a little alcohol forward for a 6.7% beer-there’s a question as to where the spice comes from, alcohol or yeast. It’s definitely enjoyable though and recommended.

Brassneck– 10×10 IPA: Faint hit of pine in the nose, and that woody quality shows up in the finish, too. It’s a solid, no frills IPA I’m perfectly happy to drink this at first…

But it doesn’t age well. The more sips I get, the more a dirty note comes in and the beer becomes less palatable. The front end of this beer is really good but the dismount just torques it badly.

However, their Kolsch is a different story entirely. Sourdough nose, bready malt line running through it, finishes pretty clean, I really think it’s delicious.

Brassneck: Pinky Peppercorn saisonAlso, they gave me a taster of the Pinky Promise to replace the 10×10. This is a saison with pink peppercorn and this too was a very good beer. A little lemony, just the barest bit of spice, and a pleasantly tart finish, I’d recommend this beer, no question.

33 Acres– ‘Of Euphoria’; Belgian tripel. There’s a hint of vanilla liquor in the nose, which sets me up pretty well for what I’m in for. Banana, vanilla: very much like a sundae is this beer. I can appreciate it, but my personal preference would be if it was a little drier on the finish, like white wine. However, it’s not flawed and I’d gladly recommend it to anyone who likes the style.

Luppolo– Oatmeal Stout: this is a super light stout. Pleasant coffee nose, with flavors that follow through. What I don’t get is a mouthfeel that I would expect from oatmeal being added. My tongue slices through this ale like water and I’m a little disappointed by that.

However; feel is not the major determiner of a beer, flavor is. And this stout is a light, dry stout. If there was a little more chocolate in there, I’d call it a porter and be perfectly happy. As it is, the coffee notes are strong enough and the beer more than pleasing that I’d tell someone to have one.

Field House-Dutch Pale ale: First impression, oh this smells like cutting open a bag of hops, maybe Simcoe. It’s a little funky, too but the flavors give me some malt (yay!) before turning back to the hops. The finish, though, has a lot of effervescence & bubbles and wipes the slate clean-right before a tinkerbell wave Torchlight: Hoptimus Prime IPAof sweetness arrives to balance it all out. I dig it.

Torchlight Brewing– Hoptimus Prime IPA: Pleasantly straightforward NW IPA. Clear & bright, without an overpowering hop bitterness-there’s actually a little sweetness that appears before the finish-it reminds me of IPAs from 5 years ago.That isn’t a bad thing: it’s nice to get a break from the “juice box” IPAs. Definitely wants some nachos to go with it. I like it.