Thursday, April 12, 2012

Medium Well-Done: Up Goes The Bar

Just before I buggered off for Hawai'i (and more on that later), here we have a recent haul from the always-excellent 16th Street Liquor Store in West Vancouver. Again, if you've a craft-beer loving bone in your body, this is the place to go. Based on my experiences, you've a one-in-ten chance of running into a brewmaster, plus Chris knows his stuff.

The Uncommon Brewing Baltic Porter I've talked about before. Enjoyable, and doubly so for coming in Tallboy format, but let's set it aside for the mo'.

Of greater interest are the other three beers, a triumvirate from the Island that further Victoria's reputation as Beertown, BC, if not indeed Beertown, Canada. Gotta get back there soon.

First off, we have Lighthouse's Dark Chocolate Porter. Choco-Porters aren't really my bag, baby, but it's nice to see a Lighthouse Specialty series that should have broad-ranging appeal. Is is as good as Longboat? Um, close? It's a pretty good beer, with plenty of cocoa notes.

Next up is Hoyne's Dark Matter. Another entry in the Cascadian Ale column, this beer isn't quite a knockout (their Pilsner is exemplary), but is one more reason you should be paying attention to Victoria's latest brewery. The best thing this company can do is make the jump to six-packs, as all of their beers are approachable enough to be mainstream best-sellers. Guys, skip the bottles and go straight to cans!

Lastly, Driftwood goes all Beavis and Butthead with their Son of the Morning Strong Golden Ale. Sweet mother of pearl this stuff is strong: funny how I can quaff a Singularity and not get that same palate burn that this heavy ale imparts. Like all Driftwood beers, it's a bit young yet. Luckily, Chris happens to have elected himself to be my personal cellar-keeper, and all I need do is visit him in a few months, whereupon he will give me some very nicely aged examples for the simple exchange of handing over a few pieces of funny-coloured paper with the Queen's face on it.

So, all pretty good, B- to B+ beers. My point? We're spoiled rotten. If any one of these beers had launched, say, 5 years ago, they would each have been brews par excellence. Now though, things have moved on a bit. Honestly, I stood in a very well-stocked American beer store today and thought, "Meh. I can get better at home." WHEN HAS THAT EVER HAPPENED BEFORE?

Welcome, my friends, to the Beerenaissance. It's in full swing now, and my one regret is that I have but one liver to give.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hot Damn of the Week: Lighthouse Switchback IPA

This is a late post.

This is a good beer.

How good? Well, let's examine the delivery mechanism first: the humble six-pack, rather than the speciality bomber. For a long time, there's been something of a dichotomy between Lighthouse's Special Releases (which are largely excellent), and their standard fare (which is fair-to-middling). Obviously, there are exceptions - I'm awfully fond of Race Rocks, and Keeper's Stout makes Guinness look like Kokanee - but Beacon IPA has always been an IPA-in-name only. Mass-appealing, but not for the hop-head, and with the microcraft scene exploding, perhaps a beer that was starting to lag behind a bit.

Here, on the other hand, is a beer that carries the Lighthouse banner proudly, and so it should. It's really light and tasty, without being heavy-handed on the hops; a real Goldilocks of a brew. Reminds me a bit of the Dead Frog Citra special release, and is surely going to make it into regular rotation as a summer fave. Good job guys!