Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Great Canadian Beer Festival Roundup

The Great Canadian Beer Festival came and went. I won't argue with any of the four words in its title. My biggest disappointment was enjoying it so immensely that I almost completely neglected to take notes and pictures. Que sera. Above is a shot I did manage to get of one of the festival beer tokens that you handed over in exchange for a 4oz taster (unless you wanted to drink Merridale's cider, in which case the cheeky swines demanded two tokens per scrumpy!)

The bits I do remember will be written up in the next few blog posts. Today I wanted to talk about the beer. I find that tasting notes are useless unless you can actually summon the memory of the drinking itself. These are memories that go stale fairly quickly. Best to write 'em while you got 'em.

My list of beers I was looking forward to didn't all turn out to be the ones I loved the most. Let's tackle them first:

1. Vancouver Island - Chipotle Rauchbier
Now this had potential and was appropriate for a beer fest but I wouldn't drink it again unless the recipe was altered a little. Brutally spicy, droolingly citric, and not too strong on the smoke front. It was a real eye-waterer. I spoke with the brewer Chris Graham and I was impressed. I also got the idea that he knew this one was a bit OTT. His upcoming casks will no doubt be great and I can't wait to get hold of some.

2. Driftwood - Old Cellar Dweller
Wonderful. I knew I'd love this. I already had the 2009 in a bottle, but this cask-aged version was sumptuous. Thickly bitter with rich sherry-flavour. The hops really shine in this old beer. Tastes like a good tonic for a winter morning.

3. Central City - Red Racer Imperial IPA
Probably the best imperial IPA I had at the festival, although I prefer their regular IPA. This is one of those really chewy impIPAs with a bit of sweetness and some spice too. The aftertaste went mildy sour for me, but the front end was just great.

4. Howe Sound - Total Eclipse of the Hop
I didn't drink this one. I can't remember if it was only offered on Saturday or if it was one of the breweries whose line-ups were so long I kept thinking I'd get to it later. I was scarcely conscious of the passing time once I'd been there six hours, so a few beers sadly passed me by.

5. Swan's - Brewcifer IPA with Jalapeno, Pepper and Lime
Just bad. Didn't taste much like an IPA to me. Similar to the VIB effort, the spice was well overdone. This might be a subjective thing, but remember I love curries and enthusiastically munch on habaneros, so I'm inclined to think I wasn't alone in being put off by the power of this one. Not much room left for the beer.

6. Moon Under Water - Pale Ale
I really liked it, as I suspected I would. Richer than the low ABV would suggest, and like their bitter it was not scared of the hops. A real quencher with a lingering hazelnuttiness, and not quite as dry as the bitter.

7. Three Skulls - Blood Orange Wit
There was one beer that tasted and smelled like hydrogen peroxide (as our friend Adam astutely pointed out). I am fairly sure it was this one. Just dreadful. You can't think about the flavour with a face full of hair-dye.

Next blog post, I'll deal with the other beers that left an impression on me. I'll leave you with this picture taken while Dave, Adam and I took an early break to sip the Driftwood barley wine. It is my last truly cogent memory of the day, but what a great beer to say goodbye to reality with. Cheers.

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