Sunday, February 27, 2011

Prehistoric Beer in California

Fossil Fuels Brewing, a small group of breweries in northern California, is producing beer from a yeast strain that is 45 million years old. The yeast was discovered in a block of amber by Raul Cano, a biology professor, while he was doing research in Myanmar. Sometime during the Eocene epoch, or 45 million years ago, the yeast would have become trapped in the resin from a tree, where it was preserved until its discovery by Cano. Incredibly, the yeast turned out to be an ancient relative of Saccharomyces, also known as brewer's yeast.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review - Driftwood Cuvee D'Hiver

I'm always excited when a new beer from Driftwood comes out on the market. Driftwood's beers are always well crafted, well presented and well thought out, and even when they aren't my favourite I can respect them for being great examples of their style. When I heard their new beer would be a farmhouse ale, or saison, I was over the moon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review - The Moon Revisited, Moon Under Water's Grand Opening Week

The Moon Under Water is the newest brew-pub on the Victoria beer scene and its philosophy around beer centres on the session beer, a beer of fairly low alcohol content that is suited to drinking in quantity over a session of long duration.This past week they had their official grand opening and I was on hand to try some of their new offerings. Every day during the week they released a new nano-brew paired with an entrĂ©e, in an effort to discover new beers as well as to see what was popular with Victoria beer drinkers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Brewday - Saison du Cornwall

My current craze for all things Belgian continues with this beer, the Saison du Cornwall. Named for the street where Basement Breweries is located, where several of the herbs in its recipe grow wild, it uses rosemary, sage, parsley and thyme. It is inspired by the Saison du Buff, a beer I reviewed previously that was a collaborative effort between three US microbreweries.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review - Phillips Hop Box

This is the last of my posts on the new beers Phillips Brewery has recently released. Hand it to Phillips, if there's one thing they understand it's that people don't just want good beer, they want new beer. It certainly worked on me anyways, as this is three posts in a row dedicated to their beer. One of their new releases is the Hop Box, a 12 bottle mixer pack, featuring 4 beers: Hop Circle IPA, Skookum Brown, Krypton Rye PA and Grow Hop Centennial IPA. The last two of these are brand spanking new and I sat down with both of them for a tasting.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Question: Is the Hoperation merely a Surly Blonde in hop's clothing?

This is a post I've been looking forward to. There have been too many questions regarding the nature of recipe and name changes of Phillips Brewery's beers that I have never been able to satisfy. When I heard Phillips' old Belgian triple Surly Blonde was being replaced with the Belgian IPA Hoperation, I knew I had to act. I quickly purchased a bottle of Surly Blonde as well as a Hoperation (I had to ask specially for this, it was being withheld until Surly Blonde sold out) and promptly set up a taste test. I would discover in my highly unscientific test whether all Hoperation was was a Surly with some hops thrown on top. I couldn't allow another unanswered Phillips question to pass me by. This time when the subject came up in gentlemanly discussion over a few pints at the local, I would be ready.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Review - Phillips Ginger Beer

 Phillips Brewery has never been afraid to experiment or bring out new products and they are continuing this with a number of new releases. They have a new Hop Box mixer pack out featuring four different hop heavy beers, a new Belgian IPA, Hoperation, that will be replacing Surly Blonde Belgian Triple, as well as a returning beer, Double Dragon Imperial Red Ale. For those of you who aren't hopheads they've also released a ginger beer that I recently sat down to enjoy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Brewday - The Beard of Zeus Imperial Stout

Before we enter into springtime I wanted to get one more big time winter beer under my belt and what better way to do it than with one of the biggest of the winter beers, the Imperial stout. This version of the stout was originally made in England for export to Russia where it was said to be popular with the Czarist court. Like the India Pale Ale it had to survive a lengthy sea voyage and was thus made to a high alcohol and hop content in order to preserve it during its journey. As one can imagine, it is generally a very dark beer with a high amount of bitterness and malt.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Arlo's First Home Brew

It took me the majority of the winter but I finally convinced my buddy Arlo of the necessity of taking up home brewing. Sometimes it can be a difficult argument. Things have changed dramatically in the last thirty years and home brewing is no longer the only way to drink quality, fresh beer of an interesting nature made without preservatives or adjuncts. Now there is a selection of products both local and foreign, that meet all these requirements no further away than your local specialty liquor store. Indeed, the selection could be better at times, particularly that of quality foreign beers, but that is the topic for gentlemenly discussion of another day. My point boils down to this question: if so much great beer is available no more than a short stroll down the street, as it often is in Victoria, then why home brew?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Brewday - Making the Half Pounder'

The Half Pounder' Double IPA is probably the most popular beer I've ever made. Featuring a half pound of whole cone hops it fulfills the wildest dreams of any hophead. With popularity however, goes consumption, and my 20 liter supply quickly dwindled to just a few bottles. The time was at hand for a new batch of the Pounder'.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review - Vancouver Island Double Decker IPA

I can remember the days when Vancouver Island Brewery ruled the Island. Feel like something dark and refreshing? Have a Hermann's Dark Lager. Want something with a bit of kick? Try a Wolf's Scottish Cream Ale. Don't know what you want? A Piper's Pale Ale is good anytime. But those days are long gone. With the emergence of more innovative local breweries, VIB has not adapted but has instead depended on its earlier successes, producing the same beers for the same customers of 2 decades ago. That is one of the reasons I was skeptical when I read they were producing a new IPA.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review - The Complete Joy of Home Brewing - by Charlie Papazian

If you're interested in getting into home brewing, or taking your home brew skills to the next level, I strongly recommend reading The Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian. I've read a number of books on the subject and have found many to be lacking in some way. Some are filled mostly with recipes, others are overly technical or too simplistic. This book however, often referred to as "the homebrewer's bible," strikes just the right balance.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Brewday - The Harvester Belgian Saison

With all the interest I've had lately in the saison I figured it was about time I tried brewing my own. I've talked about the history of this style in other posts so I won't go on at length, but it was originally a beer brewed in Spring for consumption by farm labourers during the harvest. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but now that February is here I'd like to think the worst of the winter is behind us, (at least on the Island) and the time is at hand for springtime brewing. The Harvester is the second in my series of blue-collar beers, after the Beast of Burden Brown Porter.