Wednesday, August 27, 2014

De Struise Brouwers Black Albert (2007 Vintage, 13% ABV!!) | Crafty Beer Reviews: Ep. #300

Review 300!!! I can't believe it finally has happened! Thanks so much for everyone's support and a HUGE thank you to the Better Beer Authority crew new and old!! Please make sure to watch this and enjoy! Cheers!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Victoria, B.C. More than just whale tours and gardens.

Victoria, B.C was the second leg of my Pacific Northwest vacation.  I took a floatplane from the South Vancouver Sea Plane Terminal to Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The smooth flight took 30 minutes and the scenery from the air was breath taking.

After landing in the harbor and walking around it at a mellow pace, I checked into my spacious room at the Victoria Inner Harbour Marriott and headed out and about in British Columbia’s capital.  The first thing I did was find an oyster bar with a nice view and decent views.  The name of the place escapes me, but it's not worthy for a beer blog, even though I enjoyed my self there.

For dinner that night I occupied a bar stool at the Garrick’sHead Pub after reading on Beer Advocate that they had a lot of craft beers on tap.  I had a plate of shitty nachos and a couple good pints of local beer.  The tap list was extensive and worth checking out.

The next morning I took it fairly leisurely until I walked around the wharf and waited in line to get lunch at Red Fish, Blue Fish.  No beer served here, but that doesn’t matter.  The chowder and fish sandwich I had were very good and provided a good soaker for what craft beer adventures lay ahead.

The Red Dog. Fried Salmon Sandwich

A few months ago we did a Brew & A with Adem Tepedelen, author of The Brewtal Truth, Guide to Extreme Beers.  He is a resident of Victoria and told me if I ever find myself there, he would show me around.  Knock knock! ed note: go buy the book! makes for great gifts.

One major issue with breweries in Victoria is that they generally aren’t allowed to have a tasting room unless they are a brew pub.  You can get a few samples of the beer in their store front (if they have one), growler fills and merchandise.   Having Adem as a tour guide and his connections was mighty helpful getting me in to the breweries and being able to sample their beers

One brewery people told me was a must try was Driftwood Brewery, which was our first stop.  We were greeted by Head Brewer Tim Fukushima.  After our introductions, we headed for the walk-in fridge where tap handles were attached to the outside.  I had a sample of the White Bark Wit, a solid, to-style example.  We then walked into the fridge where our noses were attacked by hop aroma; as this is where the hops are stashed.

kegs waiting their turn to be filled
beer centrifuge 
Beer in hand, Tim walked us through the active brewery.  One person was cleaning kegs, another was brewing, while one of the owners was showing clients their new centrifuge.  We stopped at a brite tank and Tim gave us samples of an ESB right out of it.  It was so fresh and tasty, I was ready to go swimming in it.  Afterwards we stopped at the growler fill station again and I got a pull of Fat Tug IPA, easily the island’s best IPA and one of the best in the province.  Tim gave a great insiders tour and I am really appreciative of his time; as well as Adem’s.

Right across the parking lot is Hoyne Brewing.  We stopped in briefly so I could have a couple samples.  The one that stuck out to me was Dark Matter.  An easy drinking, yet flavorful black ale.

my own personal warning sign?
Next stop was Lighthouse Brewing Company, one of the older craft breweries on the island, forming in 1998.  Brewmaster Dean McLeod took us around the brewery much like Tim did at Driftwood.  I think the first beer I started off with was Switchback IPA.  As we walked around the brewery, Dean was telling us of all the expansion plans, their yeast project and brewing schedules.  It’s a lot to manage, so I was grateful for the time he took for us.

Lighthouse Fermentors

beer waiting to be distributed
Again, I was fortunate to try beer from the brite tanks.  First I had a pilsner, then Numbskull Imperial IPA, which had yet to go through its last Mosaic hop addition.  It was fantastic as is.  I finished the tour off by having a glass of an experimental vanilla stout that was excellent.  I really enjoyed the tour at Lighthouse.

For the final stop on the tour, Adem took me to a new gastropub that had just opened a few days before, The Drake Eatery.  They had a very good beer selection and I have no doubt this will be the hub of craft beer in downtown Victoria.  The beers were from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.   It was a really well rounded list from IPAs, sours, stouts, Wits and more.  The service was very good as well, so not that many kinks need to be ironed out for such a new place.
beer list at Drake

For Dinner I went by myself to the Bank and Bard.  An old style Scottish pub (like tons of them in Victoria), with a revamped food menu and a beer focus on British Columbia.  The bartender was very nice and helpful in helping me choose food and beer.

I really enjoyed Victoria.  I highly recommend a trip there.  The weather was perfect in early August. Next time I go, I'll check out the rest of Vancouver Island.

Be sure to check out Adem's book and consider purchasing it. Many people have made an effort to drink every beer in the book, I recommend trying to see how many beers from it you can knock off.  Buy the book here

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