Monday, August 29, 2011

The Democracy of the Beer Cooler

My house is warmed. By which I mean, Mrs. Damnbeerblogger and I invited a number of people over -- totalling a "bunch" -- for some nibblies and bevvies in celebration of the fact that we've finally got our house organized. Which feat was accomplished by bunging all the mess into the basement.

As housewarmings go, it was quite the success, meaning that I received more beer by way of presents than I had to buy. The excellent Orlando F. bought a nearly-entire selection of Driftwood (as befits an individual bearing such a glorious appellation, he left off the Twenty-Pounder), and I also nabbed such beauties as a Chambar, a Lighthouse Overboard and a rare blueberry ale from a little-known brewery in New Brunswick. Also, two bottles of homebrew, both delish.

Admonished by the missus to procure some "boring" beer such that non-beerthusiast friends would not find themselves reeling from the proverbial schwack o'hops that I'm normally fond of, I milled about the 16th Street Liquor Store's cooler like a spotty adolescent furtively eyeing the top-shelf lady-mags, but couldn't pull the trigger on some dullsville two-four with fizzy yellow airbrushed features. Instead, I made my own two-four with mix and match six-packs.

Pack #1: Red Racer IPA. Dammned if I'm going to have a party without it.

Pack #2: Mount Begbie Kolsch. A safe bet and delicious to boot.

Pack #3: Cannery Naramate Nut Brown. I remember this being tastier. Still approachable and tasty.

Pack #4: Stanley Park Amber Ale. Not a regular for me, but should do all right.

Yon traditional cooler was packed with ice and brewskis and popped out onto the balcony, as through the night people milled in and out. Wine-drinkers drank wine. Non-drinkers drank tea. Somebody made Caesars. Halfway through the evening, somebody showed up with a sixer of Mill St Tankhouse Ale, and that got tossed in the cooler as well.

Come morning, came the cleanup, and I noticed a peculiar pattern to the floaties left behind in the cooler. I clearly remember the Red Racer evaporating as per usual (damn that's good stuff), but the leftovers certainly seemed to indicate... something.

Sure the Tankhouse was a late addition, and there was a single Begbie and Naramata left, but why all the Stanley Park cans? They were the last in, so folks were digging straight past 'em, in search of something different. Why? This calls for some research.

Here's the brew in question. On the label, it says it's sustainably brewed in a sustainable brewery by sustainable brewers that sustainably brew sustainable beer. I officially now want to punch the guy who started the whole sustainable movement right in his stupid sustainable face. SUSTAINABLY.

So it's made with a windmill or something: who cares? Is is any good? MMMmmmmmmmmm.....


This is a Belgian-style Amber? I mean, I know Belgium is not the most thrilling country in the universe but there're three things they do well:
1) Beer
2) Fries
3) Providing an arena for England and Germany to settle their differences.

This beer is un-offensive and un-obtrusive and just plain un-interesting. I'd leave it floating in the bottom of the cooler too.
On a more positive note, we were able to get to The District Social in Lonsdale Quay tonight. Great Belgian beer list (mostly bottles), great food, and La Chouffe on tap. Now THAT'S how you do it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Damn It, Missed: Twenty Pounder

This beer blog is teetering on the brink between, "Hey, don't you have a beer-blog?" and, "Hey, didn't you used to have a beer blog?" The readership bar at the bottom of your screen looks like a performance evaluation of the NYSE. And/or the dwindling popularity of Lindsay Lohan.

Now, I've the best of excuses for this blogging malaise, or rather a triumvirate of them: new job, new house and a surfeit of other writing gigs. Which gigs, dear reader, I actually get paid to do, and with the amount of beer required to deal with the stress of (a) New Job and (b) New House, you'd best believe I'm like a one man Oktoberfest, and thus need the funds.

Anyway, I soldier on, and hope you will too, as this blog inevitably degenerates into the sort of off-the-cuff twaddle that might be jammed within the pages of a Supermarket brochure on food-pairing ("rich meats like lamb go best with a dark beer, like Molson Canadian Export").

And so to battle. Not B.R., I haven't the strength for one of those, although I've got the kernel of an idea for the next one, and it's a Duesenberg. No, today it's time to review Driftwood Brewing's latest, the Twenty Pounder Double Imperial Pale Ale.

At the outset, I was more excited about the release of this beer than pretty much anything else this year. Yeah, yeah; I bought property. Yawn-snooze-coma-D.N.R. A double-IPA from Driftwood Brewing? Hold on t'yer hat Ma, she's gonna be a big one!

If all the breweries of BC were forced to don sashes and compete in some out-moded chauvinistic beauty contest, Driftwood would be the contestant who played a cover version of Motorhead's Ace of Spades on the bagpipes, sashayed around in a shimmering one-piece until the floor was littered with bugged-out eyeballs and then recited the entire works of the Venerable Bede in Latinate, balanced the national budget, and cured all known diseases. In short, they rock and/or roll.

So when I heard that Driftwood was going to be putting out a beer that might be a local rival for my all-time-fav Southern Tier Un*Earthly, I immediately began hyperventilating and fell out of my chair. My favourite style by my favourite brewery? How great is that?

Well, and assuming you've read the title of this post you shouldn't be surprised, not.... great.

Someone packed the powder wrong, and the Twenty Pounder fails to live up to it's For Those About To Rock artwork and instead blurts out its charge with a sad trombone noise. Wah-Wahhhh. It's just all over the place and skunky, and ye gods, the aftertaste is as astringent as... uh... a really astringent thing.

Dan over at smallbeerblog did an excellent post on this beer where he asked the question (and I paraphrase), "Do we criticize the small brewers as harshly as we do the big guys?" It's a fair question, especially as I, like you, would preferably support our hard-working local brewers. But why coddle them?

We don't need to. Driftwood is still the best brewer around. When my Cali peeps come up North, all they ever talk about is how amazing Fat Tug is. Take that, Lagunitas.

But as for the Twenty Pounder, well, it's a misfire. Part of the problem of setting such a high standard for your beers is that they get judged by that standard. This beer comes up short, but only because when I see the Driftwood label, I expect nothing but the absolute best.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Alibi Room Is The Best Place to Drink Beer In Vancouver. There. I Said It.

When bearded flip-flop enthusiast and serial-ruiner Jonny Lieberman (of Motortrend) mentioned he was coming to town, there was only one place that I was going to send him: without a moment's hesitation, I recommended the Alibi Room.

Now, had I taken a moment, I probably would have put forward Milestone's or something else equally meh. The Loverman has a tendency to lay waste to previously excellent things like some sort of King Midas of lame. To wit, next time I rolled into the Alibi Room, they'd run out of casks. Dammit, Jonny!

Anyway, probably none of you are getting this inside joke, so I'll move on.

The point is, while there are many excellent places to drink beer in this amazing town, only one can wear the King Heffy -style crown. This is not to cast aspersions on any of the fine quaffing establishments that rub shoulders with the 'Room but, like Highlander, there can only be One... ridiculous Scotsman with a Samurai sword.

In this case, it's Nigel Springthorpe, who is about as Scottish as, I dunno, Christopher Lambert. But trust a Geordie to get the beer right. Naturally, credit goes to sis-in-law Raya Audet and the good Mrs. Springthorpe as weeel.

God I love this place. Not only is the beer list constantly changing and double-sided, but there's frequent casks and also the food is amazing. I'm of the opinion that good beer should not be served in a place that doesn't have good fries. The Alibi Room's taters are kick ass.

There were many sensible, logical and financial reasons for my move from lovely Victoria (and I miss all you guys) to busy and frequently wet Vancouver. But I can't help thinking that perhaps all the rationale laid out on the table was simply just a justification to get closer to the unequivocal best tap list in BC. Crazy, right?