Friday, January 11, 2013

BC beer travels 2012 - Part 2: Great Canadian Beer Festival

Some sort of summary

Oh dear… where do I even begin. We’ve done it before, we know how it works. Back in July I had to rise at the most excellent time of 4am (9am BC time) to join the usual crazy fight for tickets. I succeeded and we had tickets for both days once more. This sold out, of course, incredibly quickly. This year was also the 20th anniversary.

On our last trip, the first day was actually a little cold and we ended up leaving early. 2012 was the complete opposite and we were constantly running for shade under one of the many marquees. 

Of course on the Saturday it took almost 30 minutes to get IN to the park as the line curled around 3 sides of the block. 

Certainly makes you work up a thirst although I almost lost all interest in IPAs (it was summer, IPAs were everywhere). I ended up rocking my Hop Zombie t-shirt both days, partly because it was so much fun. Everyone loved the t-shirt; people took photos and others got upset when I told them it wasn’t a beer on offer here and they had quite the distance to travel to get some.

An excellent article was published in the local paper the day before. It has a lot of useful information on the festival if you're interested.

Looking through my phone I see that I wrote separate notes on GCBF. I think I was anticipating having to write an article about it for The Pursuit of Hoppiness.

Day 1

Arrived 2.15pm (3pm start), line only wrapping around first corner so not too bad. Blazingly hot and need beer. Suddenly rethinking my list of must try beers. Not sure I want dark… Maybe in the evening when it cools down. (Afterthought: did it actually cool down that much?) 

End of the day... nearing 8pm

Hop Zombie tee first noticed at official t-shirt stand, photo taken and questions asked about the brewery (I’ll take liquid commission Luke!). Then noticed at Hops and Robbers stand. Random asks me where I got my shirt, is this beer here, damn I wanted some Zombie (afternote: saw this guy the next day working at one of the stands, we had a good chat).

Day 2

Arrived later than hoped. Line to get in is absolutely ridiculous. Almost encompasses 3 of the 4 streets. 30 mins to get in…

Hop Zombie love continues: “does her shirt say Hop Zombie?”, “Yes it does”, “That’s so f*ing awesome. Where did you get it?” Then at the Crannog Ales stand the pourer says “Nice shirt!” Turns out he likes kiwis, obviously liked my shirt and had great conversation while I waited for stout/the last drink of the night. About to leave and stopped again. “That’s a cool shirt, can I take a photo? Where is it from?”

Love, love, love the free bus tokens to get home. Why aren’t you doing this NZ? You do it for the stupid rugby. (I love my notes!)

The beers… and terrible tasting notes:

I will point out that I got mocked by a couple of guys for even making notes

  • Banff Brewing/Jasper Brewing Reverend Rundle Stout (cask) – very alchy. Woooooah. Apparently nitrogen infused.
  • Beau’s Brewery Festivale Altbier – as with my thoughts on most altbiers: meh.
  • Black Oak Saison – no tasting notes
  • Cannery Brewing Blackberry Porter – wasn’t sure if I would like it but liked the idea of it. Tasted a bit like blackberry cordial and I questioned why it was sweet. I would have expected some tartness?
  • Cannery Squire Scotch Ale – a bit sweet. Not bad.
  • Canoe Brewpub Southern Cross IPA – HI NZ HOPS!! Nice bitterness on this.
  • Central City Brewing Red Racer ESB (cask) – never fails! Wondered if there was loads of Citra in this?
  • Central City Brewing Thors Hammer Barley Wine – trying it sans bourbon-aging. Was slightly sweeter and had a lovely tart/bitter toffee flavour.
  • Coal Harbour Brewing Powell IPA – definitely got the caramel mentioned in their tasting notes. Very sessionable, yummy. Reminiscent of caramel toffees.
  • Crannog Ales Insurrection Pale Ale (cask) – wasn’t keen on the aroma but the beer was okay…
  • Crannog Ales Back Hand of God Stout (organic) – really nice stout!
  • Double Trouble Brewery Hops and Robbers – underlined session IPA in their tasting notes. Was lovely but noted I was having trouble with descriptions at that point after so many bloody IPAs :P
  • Driftwood Brewery Farmhand Ale – already talked about this one…
  • Gigantic IPA – smelt like fresh hops and had a lovely bitterness.
  • Gigantic Axes of Evil Stout – questioned whether this was a stout. Seemed like a pale ale? Maybe I didn’t get the correct beer…
  • Gigantic The City Never Sleeps – AWESOME. Three words: clean, black and saison.
  • Great Lakes Brewing 25th Anniversary Porter – nice porter with the requisite toasty-ness.
  • Great Lakes Brewing Karma Citra IPA – yes there’s another Karma Citra out there. This had a nice aroma, wasn’t too bitter and was the first beer of the day.
  • Half Pints Brewing Little Scrapper IPA – their notes said grapefruit-like aroma, I would have said mandarin. Definitely tasted the dry hops though :)
  • Half Pints Brewing Humulous Ludicrous Double IPA – HI MALT! Did not notice the alcohol in this at all.
  • Hoyne Brewing Devils Dream IPA – no tasting notes
  • Lighthouse Brewing Switchback IPA – nice hops: Citra, Zythos and Falconer’s Flight
  • Lighthouse Brewing Blackberry Black Saison – subtle blackberry, nice saison with slight tartness (in a good way)
  • Longwood Brewpub Imperial Stout – light (?), roasty, clean, nice
  • Microbrasserie Charlevoix Vache Folle Imp Milk Stout – and here I gush. We went back to this and told everyone in their line to get it too. Mmmmmmm. Awesome milk stout; rich but not in a clinging way. Doesn’t show the 9%.
  • Moon Under Water Brewery Hop Harvest – lovely fresh hop notes and flavours
  • Moon Under Water Brewery Tranquility IPA – more hop bitterness on this than the Hop Harvest
  • Nickel Brook Brewery Headstock IPA – no tasting notes
  • Noble Pig Brewery Mocha Porter – somewhat standard porter but was probably served a little too cold
  • Noble Pig Brewer ESB (cask) – difficult to decipher my notes on this one. Something about it being like a special bitter with a shot of Youngs Chocolate Stout. I got a lot of caramel and toffee and mmmmmm, the other half got earl grey?
  • Paddock Wood 606 IPA – sadly tasted a bit like a lager
  • Paddock Wood Loki Double IPA – meh. Was rather disappointed with this after having the porter but was impressed that the server remembered me.
  • Paddock Wood London Porter – described as “a very smooth and refreshing porter” which I completely agreed with.
  • Parallel 49 Imperial Stout (cask) – wasn’t bad but was nothing spectacular. Tasted like an alcoholic stout…
  • R&B Brewing East Side Bitter – a hoppy ESB
  • Russell Brewery Blood Alley Bitter – a nice, simple bitter
  • Salt Spring Island Ales ESB – YES! ESB all over. Lovely toffee, perfect bitterness and perfect malt.
  • Salt Spring Island Spring Fever Gruit Ale (cask) – made without hops! Smelt like caramelised sugar or when you make your own hokey pokey. Had trouble describing the flavour as there were so many interesting/different things going on in this.
  • Salt Spring Island Heatherdale Ale – no notes
  • Spinnakers Brewpub Hoptoria (cask) – no notes
  • Swans Buckerfield’s Brewery Extra IPA – yep, this was an IPA. Bitter, hoppy, lovely. Dry grapefruit notes
  • Tofino Brewery Hoppin’ Cretin’ IPA – YUM! So balanced, so clean, so awesome. This is how you do an IPA.
  • Tree Brewing Vertical Winter Ale – caramel-vanilla marshmallows. That probably shouldn’t be good but it is.
  • Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique – OH CRAP! The Quebecois always know how to make a beer. Lingering chocolate flavour.
  • Trou du Diable Shawnigan Handshake – notes say “grabbed this cos no saison” (the saison was unavailable and we were suddenly on a saison kick of sorts) and I assume that was me, not the other half. Anyway it didn’t go down very well as it was far too lagery for me. The other half liked it so we did a beer swap. Described as a hybrid between IPA and a Hefeweizen so I really should have just queued for another beer.
  • Trou du Diable La Mosure (cask) – no tasting notes. I’m guessing I was pretty over IPAs at this point.
  • Wellington Brewery Imperial Stout – yep, it’s an imperial stout. That’s about it, in a good way
  • Wellington Brewery County Ale – probably should have had this earlier in the day. Lovely malty bitterness. I do like malt.

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