HOODS | Kelowna’s Best Food, Chinatown’s Best Drinks, Victoria’s Best Coffee, & More

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You, Scout reader, have good taste. We’ve always known this, but we don’t often take advantage of it. This new feature changes that. From here on in, we want your help in refining our HOODS MAP so that we can keep steering locals and visitors alike to the best of our place in the world. There are five different geo-specific questions that we need answers to this month. We’ve done the initial curatorial leg-work of narrowing down the options to a shortlist, but we need you to finish the job.

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Which East Side brewery has the best tasting room? Is it Brassneck, Bomber, Powell Street, 33 Acres, Parallel 49, or Main Street Beer?

VOTE for your pick (and view results) on our EAST VAN or MAIN STREET pages.

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What’s the best restaurant in Kelowna? Is it RauDZ, Waterfront Wine Bar, The Terrace at Mission Hill, Bouchon’s Bistro, Old Vines at Quails’ Gate, or Sunset Organic Bistro?

VOTE for your pick (and view results) on our OKANAGAN page.

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What’s the most emblematic fixture of Kitsilano? Is it the Planetarium, Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe, Bishop’s, Zulu Records, Jackson’s Meat, or Kits Pool?

VOTE for your pick (and view results)  on our KITSILANO or WEST SIDE pages.

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What’s the best place for a properly made cocktail in Chinatown? Is it The Emerald, Bao Bei, The Parker, The Keefer Bar, The Union, or Mamie Taylor’s?

VOTE for your pick (and view results)  on our CHINATOWN or DTES pages.

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Which cafe serves the best coffee experience in Victoria? Is it Habit, Bean Around The World, Cornerstone Cafe, Discovery Coffee, 2 Percent Jazz, or the Parsonage Cafe?

VOTE for your pick (and view results) on our ISLANDS page.

GOODS | Music Direction’s July Playlist For Prohibition Brewing Co.’s New Tasting Room

Scout Series ~ Prohibition Brewing ~ from Music Direction on 8tracks Radio.

The GOODS from Music Direction

Vancouver, BC | Music Direction’s playlist for July highlights Kelowna-based Prohibition Brewing Company. The folks from Prohibition recently opened a beautiful Tasting Room on Hamilton Street in Yaletown. Bringing you back to a time when ordering a beer was worth the risk. They commissioned Vancouver artist Rory Doyle to hand-render all their beer labels and logos. Their music program will make you want to get comfy, stay a while and share a beer with the likes of Jack White, Afie Jurvanen and The Rolling Stones. Full tracklist after the jump… Read more

DRINKER | New Craft Brewery “Steel & Oak” Now Open (And There Was Much Rejoicing)

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by Chuck Hallett | Well, that didn’t take long. Not quite a week since the last brewery threw open its doors to make the world slightly more awesome, the new New Hot Thing is crouched at the starting line, ready to burst onto the scene in a haze of hoppy glory.

If you’re keen on ticking off yet another “Brewery Opening” on your list of Things To Do, though, get ready for a bit of a trip. Steel & Oak Brewing, the wort wizards in question, are all the way out there in New Westminster. I took the plunge and sat on the Skytrain for five hours (OK fine, twenty minutes), to trek out there last week for a bit of a preview so you didn’t have to. Well, fine plan that was. They’re good enough that you really, honestly should head out today to see for yourself.

Before we get on to the part of the brewery preview where I attempt to make yet another wood-clad tasting room sound original and inspiring, let’s take a second and review how you should actually go to S&O. Google might tell you to walk along Stewardson after leaving the weird mall/Skytrain stop that is New West Station. Don’t. Despite diesel particulate’s rumoured effectiveness as an aphrodisiac you might be better off with a short detour over to the boardwalk along the Fraser. Click here for a map.

Alright. Now you’re there. What should you expect? Co-owners Jorden Foss and Jamie Garbutt have put together a fine micro-brewery that, astonishingly, has some space left to grow. Plans are already in play for a barrel aging program and German-trained Brewmaster Peter Schulz is already concocting recipes in that precise, analytical brewing mind of his.

For opening day, S&O will have up to four beers ready to slip past your hipster moustache, and they’re all good. Damned good. Very damned good. So good that I wonder if the Fraser River is the common bond between great breweries because the last place to open of this calibre was Four Winds, downstream in Delta. In addition to the quality of the product in the tap, the balance of the brewery outside the tap is similarly fancy.

Yes, I did just compare S&O to the best brewery in BC. Now get ready for this: I think they could eventually be better. Sure, Four Winds is better right this instant, but they have a full year under their belt (happy anniversary, Mills’s!). When they first opened my reaction was “yeah, that’s a decent beer.” S&O beats that. Here are their beers:

Red Pilsner | Pretty much a perfect Pilsner nose, but a rich body that keeps on giving. I’m not a Pilsner guy, but I sorta love this beer. Start here.

Smoked Heff | Just the right balance of smoke. Not overpowering nor invisible. I’ve heard rumours of a bourbon barrel aged version, and I think it’ll slay.

English Pale | Tad young when I tried it, but had the start of a malty, chewy light pale ale that tastes exactly like Another Pint.

West Coast ESB | Also young when I tried it. Big tropical hop nose on this guy, but a bit unbalanced on the bittering. I suspect this is brewed more as a salve for the local hopheads than through any strong passion.

Coles Notes
Steel & Oak Brewing | www.steelandoak.ca
1319 Third Ave, New Westminster
Hours: 12pm-8pm Daily (10pm Thurs-Sat), Closed Mondays
Growlers: 32oz ($6), 64oz ($11.50)
Bottles: 650ml, coming in the fall
Barrels: Yes (not yet, though)

DRINK MORE BEER STORIES

GOODS | Parallel 49 Pouring New “Tricycle” Beer Made With Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice

Parallel 49 Brewing Co. is located at 1950 Triumph St. in Vancouver, BC | 604-558-2739 | www.parallel49brewing.com

Parallel 49 Brewing Co. is located at 1950 Triumph St. in Vancouver, BC | 604-558-2739 | parallel49brewing.com

The GOODS from Parallel 49 Brewing Company

Vancouver, BC | With summer just around the corner, the team at Parallel 49 Brewing Company has been busy bottling their thirst-quenching brews for patio season 2014. Welcome summer! Adding another craft brew to their seasonal lineup, the East Vancouver brewery is excited to introduce their newest fruity flavour, Tricycle, a refreshing lager blended with ruby red grapefruit juice.

Along with Tricycle, Parallel 49 will be bringing back some craft beer fan-favourites including Banana Hammock, a hefeweizen brewed with wheat, Pilsner malt and German hops with aromas of banana and cloves. And their much-anticipated Belgian style Witbier, Seedspitter, which boasts an effervescent watermelon aroma and crisp dry finish. The craft brewery has also brewed a lager version of their year round Hoparazzi, making it crisp and refreshing for those long, hot summer days in the sun.

“We always get excited about launching our seasonal beer,” said Graham With, head brewmaster at Parallel 49, “Nothing beats sipping on a cold craft beer on a hot summer day and our line-up of seasonal brews are crisp and refreshing.” Details after the jump… Read more

Parallel 49 Brewing Company

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Details

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1950 Triumph St. Vancouver, B.C. V5L 1K5
Telephone: 604-558-2739
Web: www.parallel49brewing.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Gallery

The People Who Make It Happen

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Mike Sleeman, Owner
Anthony Frustagli, Owner
Nick Paladino, Owner
Scott Venema, Owner
Graham With, Owner & Head Brewmaster
Michael Tod, Owner

About the Business

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Parallel 49 Brewing Company is an East Vancouver microbrewery brewing up some of the highest quality craft beers in B.C. With a successful first year and high achievements at last year’s Canadian Brewing Awards, Parallel 49 has recently expanded their sales into the Prairie Provinces as well as Ontario and the U.S. Their unusual but fun and cheeky named brews have become wildly popular among craft beer enthusiasts who enjoy their year round brews including Hoparazzi, Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale and Old Boy. In addition, Parallel 49 offers a variety of highly anticipated seasonal beers including watermelon infused Seedspitter, pumpkin Oktoberfest Schadenfreude, Ugly Sweater Milk Stout, and many others.

Visit Parallel 49’s East Vancouver tasting room and liquor stores across the lower mainland to purchase 12 and 6 pack bottles. Growlers are also available for purchase at the brewery. For more information on their latest brews visit the website here.

PRESS & Accolades

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“The Parallel 49 Brewing Co. opened on Triumph Street a year ago, and has bubbled up as vigorously as the 30 or so weirdly named beers from its six 5,000-litre and eight 10,000-litre tanks. Weird? How about Banana Hammock? Salty Scot? Lost Souls? Hoparazzi? Ugly Sweater? Schadenfreude? The latter word refers to the pleasure in seeing others fail. That certainly wouldn’t apply to Anthony Frustagli, Nick Paladino, Mike Sleeman and Scott Venema, who own the St. Augustine’s restaurant and craft-beer mecca, and Michael Tod and Graham With who joined them to found Parallel 49.” – Malcolm Parry, The Vancouver Sun

“It’s always exciting to see a new craft beer maker pop up in Vancouver; it’s even more exciting to see a brewery push boundaries, take risks and create new and interesting flavour combinations. Expect to see bold choices coming from Parallel 49 in the future.” – Ryan Tessier, Vancity Buzz

“Having an understanding of the science of brewing has almost certainly enabled Parallel 49 to achieve consistency in its product, even with the brewery in a state of near-constant expansion.” – Jan Zeschky, The Province

GOODS | Wildebeest Celebrating Quebecois Craft Beers With Special Feast On June 3rd

Wildebeest is located at 120 West Hastings Street in Vancouver, BC | 604-687-6880 | www.wildebeest.ca

Wildebeest is located at 120 West Hastings Street in Vancouver, BC | 604-687-6880 | www.wildebeest.ca

The GOODS from Wildebeest

Vancouver, BC | On Tuesday, June 3rd Wildebeest celebrates Quebecois craft beers with “Da Beest & Da Block”, an exclusive six-course dinner paired with pours from three of La Belle Province’s finest microbrasseries. As part of Vancouver’s Craft Beer Week, guests are invited to enjoy six unique brews from Quebec’s celebrated Le Trou du Diable, Dieu du Ciel and Les Trois Mousquetaires microbreweries alongside a French-Canadian inspired menu by Chef Wesley Young.

In addition to the brews paired during dinner, special edition beers will be poured by Le Trou de Diable brewmaster Isaac Tremblay. Guests are able to taste a selection of beers chosen by the brewmaster himself, including Le Trou de Diable’s Amer Indienne Belgian IPA and “Dulcis Succubus” Wine Barrel Aged Saison. With three seatings — 5pm, 7pm, 9pm — guests have several opportunities to enjoy this one night only event.

Tickets for this event are limited and on sale for $99 each, excluding taxes and gratuity, which includes a six-course dinner and six unique craft beer pairings. To secure a ticket and select a seating time please purchase online. Menu after the jump… Read more

BREWER’S BLOG | On Pilgrimages For Yeast And The Beers From “Brasserie d’Achouffe”

April 24, 2014 

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This is the seventh in a nine-part story chronicling Dageraad brewer Ben Coli’s exploration of two questions he had to answer before taking the gamble of his life in starting a brewery: What is Belgian beer and can it be brewed here?

by Ben Coli | Plunging down the steep hill into the Vallée des Fées I could smell my bike’s brakes smoking. Torn between the exhilaration of the descent and fear of repeating a previous year’s crash, between my impatience to drink La Chouffe and my desire to have two intact clavicles, I braked my weird little folding bike into the corners and let it run fast down the straightaways.

Erin and I were on a pilgrimage to the reputed origin of my yeast.

The village of Achouffe had grown a bit since the brewery was founded 31 years earlier, but it was still very much a one-horse town, and that horse is Brasserie d’Achouffe. The brewery is near the middle of town and the brewery’s cafe is right in the middle of town, but then again, Achouffe is small enough that everything is pretty much in the middle of town.

We were given a private guided tour of the brewery, which is in the same location, but is technologically a far cry from Chris and Pierre’s original set-up, with its washing-machine-drum lauter tun. The present brewery is a large facility with rows of enormous outdoor fermentation tanks looming overhead. Our helpful guide answered every question I asked him, right down to the mash and fermentation temperatures, practically daring me to make a beer as good as theirs.

But the real point of our visit was in the brewery’s café. I wanted to taste one of my favourite beers while it was as fresh as possible, right outside of the brewery’s doors.

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All beer begins to change subtly as soon as it’s bottled, in some ways for the better, in others for the worse. Hop aromas fade, chemical processes slowly create new esters, and no matter how well-packaged the beer is, oxygen inevitably finds its way in.

Many stronger beers, such as barleywines and Belgian quadruples, are built to withstand age and can be much more complex after three or five years of careful aging than when they’re fresh. Lighter, crisper, hoppier beers are almost always better fresh.

A strong beer stored in a dark place with cool, stable temperatures can slowly evolve into something truly magical, but no beer is better off after all the jostling, temperature fluctuations and time spent sitting on docks in shipping containers involved in shipping a beer overseas. I never had a worse Sierra Nevada Pale Ale than one I drank in Britain, 8,000 kilometres from where the beer was brewed. Fortunately, Belgian beer can withstand transportation better than a 5% alcohol pale ale. Higher alcohol levels and bottle refermentation help to ward off bacteria and oxygen, making Belgian beer more resiliant than most.

I’ve been drinking La Chouffe and Chouffe Houblon on tap at Vancouver bars like Biercraft for years now, and I’ve always loved both, even after their long voyage. It was a different story drinking them a hundred meters from the boil kettle.

La Chouffe is a bit different than it is at home; I wouldn’t say it’s remarkably better, just different. The fruity esters are a bit less pronounced, the hop character a little more present. But the Chouffe Houblon is a completely different story.

Brasserie d’Achouffe invented the Belgian IPA style by brewing Chouffe Houblon in 2006, when an American importer asked for a beer that would cater to the hop craze sweeping America. The beer was originally designed to be exported, which is unfortunate, because it tastes much better if you drink it fresh. A hundred meters from the brewery, the beer delivers an explosion of American and European hop aroma, coupled with the fruity esters of Achouffe’s famous yeast.

No Belgian IPA brewed on this side of the Atlantic has ever equaled the original, but I can’t blame brewers here for trying. It’s a style of beer that just doesn’t taste the same if you drink it too far from where it was brewed.

Photo by Goffe Struiksma | Map: Eli Horn | BREWER’S BLOG ARCHIVE

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P&I_00040728Ben Coli is owner and brewer of Dageraad Brewing, British Columbia’s first brewery specializing in Belgian-style ales. An award-winning home brewer, Ben formalized his brewing knowledge at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and at Brewlab in the United Kingdom, earning a certificate from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. Before his beer obsession took over, Ben was a writer of books, magazine articles and marketing content. He is currently writing a book titled “How to Love Beer.”

BREWER’S BLOG | On Two World Wars And Surviving Belgium’s Dark Age Of Light Beer

April 17, 2014 

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This is the seventh in a nine-part story chronicling Dageraad brewer Ben Coli’s exploration of two questions he had to answer before taking the gamble of his life in starting a brewery: What is Belgian beer and can it be brewed here?

by Ben Coli | In Belgium’s forested, hilly Ardennes region, there is a valley called Vallée des Fées (Valley of the Fairies) and at the bottom of that valley there is a tiny village called Achouffe. In this village there was once a cowshed, and in that cowshed a tiny brewery was born.

Brasserie d’Achouffe was started by Pierre Gobon and his brother-in-law Chris Bauweraerts in 1982, which was a dark time for Belgian brewing. With the number of excellent breweries thriving in Belgium today, it’s easy to forget that Belgium, like North America, went through an age of industrial lagers.

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Of the more than 3000 breweries that operated in Belgium in the early 1900s, only 750 survived both world wars. The wars were tough on Belgium’s small breweries: those that weren’t outright destroyed had their equipment requisitioned by the metal-hungry German army.

When the smoke cleared and reconstruction began, things got really tough for small Belgian brewers.

Light, pilsner-style beers came into style in a big way, and improvements in refrigeration and transportation made it easier for enormous industrial breweries to distribute nationally. All across Belgium, small breweries that had been making regional styles of beer for generations went bankrupt. By the end of the 1970s, seven breweries were responsible for 75% of the beer made in Belgium. More than half of the country’s beer was brewed by just two breweries: Artois and Jupiler.

Today we can only imagine how many amazing styles of beer were lost with the closing of so many small breweries. In fact, witbier, that classic style of Belgian wheat ale that is now the darling of British Columbia’s craft brewers, was actually extinct.

But in the midst of the carnage, Belgian brewing still had glimmers of hope. In 1966, brewer Pierre Celis resurrected witbier when he opened a brewery in the village of Hoegaarden. Then in the early 1980s a few upstart breweries began to emerge from the metaphorical rubble. Anyone who has witnessed the explosion of craft brewing in the US and Canada over the last 30 years will recognize the story of Belgium’s beer renaissance: a few dedicated homebrewers, bored of industrial lagers and nostalgic for what beer tasted like in the “good old days”, started tinkering in their kitchens. They got their hands on some old tanks from the dairy industry, cobbled together makeshift brewing equipment and started a revolution.

Among them were Achouffe’s Pierre and Chris. Brewing with a lauter tun crafted out of the drum of a washing machine, they began hand-filling and hand-corking repurposed champagne bottles and selling their brew to locals.

To compete with the flood of industrial lager washing over Belgium, Pierre and Chris would need an amazing yeast, one that could complement their blonde ale with a balance of subtly spicy phenols and juicy, fruity esters. Fortunately for them, when they went to one of the few remaining local small breweries with a bucket, they got a yeast capable of turning their hobby into an empire.

La Chouffe image with permission from La Chouffe | Map: Eli Horn | BREWER’S BLOG ARCHIVE

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P&I_00040728Ben Coli is owner and brewer of Dageraad Brewing, British Columbia’s first brewery specializing in Belgian-style ales. An award-winning home brewer, Ben formalized his brewing knowledge at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and at Brewlab in the United Kingdom, earning a certificate from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. Before his beer obsession took over, Ben was a writer of books, magazine articles and marketing content. He is currently writing a book titled “How to Love Beer.”

GOODS | Red Truck Wins Gold With Pale Ale At The 2014 “Fest Of Ale” In The Okanagan

April 17, 2014 

Red Truck Beer Co. is located at 1015 Marine Dr. in North Vancouver | 604-682-4733 | www.redtruckbeer.com

Red Truck Beer Co. is located at 1015 Marine Dr. in North Vancouver | 604-682-4733 | www.redtruckbeer.com

The GOODS from Red Truck Beer Company

Vancouver, BC | The 2014 “Fest Of Ale” event was held on April 4th and 5th at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre and had 35 brewers from BC and beyond. Each of the participating breweries put forward their best brews for judging. The awards were determined by industry experts Joe Wiebe, Craft Beer Revolution; Jim Martin, Metro Liquor; David Beardsell, brewery owner/consultant; Mike Garson, Mike’s Craft Beer; and Allan Moen, NorthWest Brewing News. The Judges awarded Best in Class for Pale Ale to Red Truck Ale made by Vancouver’s own Red Truck Beer Company. Take a look at the other award-winners after the jump… Read more

GHOST HOODS | On The Rise And Fall (And Rise) Of Mount Pleasant’s “Brewery Creek”

April 10, 2014 

The GHOST HOOD series dovetails with the new HOODS section of Scout (launching on Monday)

by Stevie Wilson | In conversations about Mount Pleasant these days, the old “Brewery Creek” moniker is being increasingly employed on account of all the new breweries that have arrived in recent years. But what exactly is the significance of the name? It’s important to note that although it’s generally thought of as synonymous with the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, the “Brewery Creek” distinction refers to a particular stretch of waterway that was integral to the growth and economic development of the area. Long before white settlers arrived, this expansive region was a popular harvesting location for First Nations. It would later become an important economic sector for new businesses thanks to its flowing natural resource.

The patch of land that became known as Mount Pleasant was originally shrouded in dense, dark rainforest. The creek that drained this forest into the salty waters of False Creek sat at the bottom of a large ravine that was open to the sky. It offered an abundance of flowers, berries, and other plants used by First Nations for medicine and food. The (now lost) waterway began near where Mountain View Cemetery is located today. Water flowed downhill just west of modern-day Fraser Street to a marshy, dammed area near 14th Avenue (Tea Swamp Park). From here, the creek flowed down the Mount Pleasant hillside, following a northeastern path alongside a First Nations trail (near where Kingsway cuts across Main Street), and continuing into the eastern waters of False Creek (which have since been filled in) near Terminal Avenue.

In 1867, the creek area in Mount Pleasant became Vancouver’s first piped waterway, delivering water by flume to Gastown – then the center of the city – and the boilers at Captain Edward Stamp’s Mill near the foot of Dunlevy (later known as the Hastings Sawmill).

The Brewery Creek region was defined by its open landscape, its distinct flora and fauna, and the numerous businesses that followed the path of the waterway – including several slaughterhouses, the nearby Vancouver Tannery, and an assortment of local beverage-makers that used the creek to power their water wheels: the San Francisco Brewery (later known as the Red Star Brewery), Mainland Brewery, Landsdowne Brewery,  Lion Brewery, and the Thorpe & Co. Soda Water Works. Read more

BREWER’S BLOG | Yeast Lands In BC From Oregon By Way Of The Ardennes In Belgium

April 10, 2014 

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This is the sixth in a nine-part story chronicling Dageraad brewer Ben Coli’s exploration of two questions he had to answer before taking the gamble of his life in starting a brewery: What is Belgian beer and can it be brewed here?

by Ben Coli | When Erin and I found the address we’d been given for Brouwerij De Glazen Toren, we were sure there’d been a mistake: we were standing in front of a suburban-style house with a large garage on a residential street in a little village. It turned out that the large garage was actually a very small brewery run as a retirement project by Jef Van den Steen and two friends.

We barely had a chance to say hello to Jef’s partner Dirk De Pauw, because as we arrived he was loading a case of beer into his car and leaving on a run to a nearby brewery to trade beer for yeast. Glazen Toren is too small a brewery for yeast propagation equipment, and they brew too infrequently to maintain all of the different strains they use for their various beers. Instead, they decide which local brewery’s yeast would work well with that week’s brew, and they trade beer for it.

In the old days, yeast was an extremely local ingredient of beer. Beer was fermented by whatever wild yeast happened to float by on the wind, which varied with local climate and geography. The beer would be fermented by whatever yeast lived on the fruit skins from a nearby orchard. A couple of kilometers down the road there might be another orchard with different fruit and a different airborne fermentation culture that produced different-tasting beer.

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When brewers began to domesticate yeast by reusing slurries that had made good beer, a newly-domesticated strain of yeast would be confined to one brewery. But when the brewery down the road had a fermentation problem, the brewer might come to borrow some yeast and carry a slurry of that particular strain home with him in a bucket, making a house yeast into a village yeast. If it was an exceptionally good yeast, it might be shared again and again and become a regional yeast.

Breweries sharing yeast used to be common practice. A healthy fermentation produces much more yeast than is needed to brew the next batch of beer, so if it isn’t given away, that excess yeast would just be discarded. Some breweries are getting more tight-fisted about sharing the biological property that is responsible for so much of their beer’s unique character, but there are other ways to get yeast now.

Trading beer for yeast sounds like a nice way to operate, but nowadays most breweries get new yeast from labs run by universities and private companies. These labs maintain libraries of hundreds of strains of cryogenically frozen yeast, which they will propagate on demand for breweries.

In Vancouver, we’re lucky to be close to the American west coast, the epicentre of that country’s beer revolution. In Hood River, Oregon, Wyeast maintains and propagates world class brewing yeast and sells it to both commercial breweries and home-brewers.

It is a strain of their yeast on which Dageraad’s core beers will be based. I first came across it at Dan’s Homebrew Supplies on East Hastings. The first beer I brewed with it absolutely hooked me. It was a beautiful Belgian blonde, fruity, complex and subtle. It was beginner’s luck. It would be a year before I’d manage to brew another beer as good as the first one.

But Wyeast doesn’t create its yeast strains from nothing. They scour the world’s breweries for their yeast, capturing, cataloging and storing the brewing world’s biological treasures and making them available to brewers everywhere.

Wyeast doesn’t say which particular brewery each yeast strain comes from, but certain brewing experts have some educated guesses, and these experts and my palate agree Dageraad Brewing’s yeast strain comes from a brewery in a tiny village in the Belgian Ardennes.

Illustration: Brockhaus & EfronEncyclopedic Dictionary | Map: Eli Horn | BREWER’S BLOG ARCHIVE

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P&I_00040728Ben Coli is owner and brewer of Dageraad Brewing, British Columbia’s first brewery specializing in Belgian-style ales. An award-winning home brewer, Ben formalized his brewing knowledge at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and at Brewlab in the United Kingdom, earning a certificate from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. Before his beer obsession took over, Ben was a writer of books, magazine articles and marketing content. He is currently writing a book titled “How to Love Beer.”

BREWER’S BLOG | On Belgian Yeast, The Character-Giving Engine Of Fermentation

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This is the fifth in a nine-part story chronicling Dageraad brewer Ben Coli’s exploration of two questions he had to answer before taking the gamble of his life in starting a brewery: What is Belgian beer and can it be brewed here?

by Ben Coli | Kris Herteleer opened the door of his fermentation room and, with an arched eyebrow, beckoned us to enter. Inside we found something that is becoming increasingly rare in breweries: two open fermentors lay before us in the cramped room, each brimming with a head of yeast floating atop the fermenting beer. The head on one of the tanks had the rocky texture of yeast that had been fermenting for several days; the other was topped with a fluffier crown of yeast, indicating that it was a day or two younger. The yeast, joyfully devouring maltose, had filled the room with their farts of CO2, which immediately made me lightheaded. I rudely shoved past several of the other people on the tour to escape the room before I passed out and tumbled into the fermenting beer.

Most modern breweries now protect their fermentations from contamination by enclosing them stainless steel tanks. At De Dolle Brouwers, Kris is less concerned about contamination by bacteria because he deliberately adds three strains of lactic acid bacteria to add character and a sour tang to his beer. However, the bulk of the work of fermentation and most of the character of the beer are the responsibility of a strain of brewing yeast. Kris originally got his yeast culture from the Rodenbach Brewery, but after hundreds of generations of the yeast spent their lives fermenting his beer at De Dolle, the culture has slowly evolved and developed a character that is the brewery’s own.

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Brewing yeast is part of the great biological legacy left to us by the generations of humans who spent the last few millennia taming the world. When you drink a beer, you’re drinking the product of centuries of brewing tradition, a reflection of what those old brewers wanted their beer to taste like. Yes, the brewer of today chose the hops and the malt, but it was generations of brewers who decided what flavours the yeast would produce.

When yeast ferments the sugar extracted from barley at a brewery (or grapes at a winery, or honey at a meadery), the chief waste products they make are alcohol and carbon dioxide, but they also create trace amounts of hundreds of other organic substances that contribute to a beer’s flavor. The level of these substances are measured in parts per million or even parts per billion, but if they weren’t present, beer wouldn’t taste like beer.

If you go back far enough, all yeast was wild; it came from the air, from fruit skins, from nature. In a brewery it behaved unpredictably and sometimes produced many flavours you wouldn’t necessarily want in your beer, like plastic, burning hot alcohol or nail polish remover.

Just as food crops and farm animals were selected for hardiness, size and yield, brewing yeast has been selected for centuries to create the flavour profiles that brewers wanted. If a particular yeast slurry fermented well and made good beer, it was reused and shared with other brewers. If not, it was discarded. Over the centuries, most brewers selected for well-behaved yeast that produced cleaner-tasting beer, and that yeast is what most beer is now brewed with. The epitome of this is the clean-fermenting yeast that is used to ferment industrial lagers, yeast chosen to impart as little flavour as possible.

Some brewers, though, recognized that fermentation flavours aren’t all bad. Sure, a blast of phenols can taste like plastic or bandages, but a small dose of the right phenols can have a flavour of cloves or white pepper, which is lovely in the right beer. And while an excess of esters in beer can be like drinking solvent, the right amount of the right esters can give a beer a nice fruity aroma, like bananas or red apples.

From the legacy of yeast they left behind, we can see that Belgian brewers of old were more concerned with good flavours than with clean fermentations. They picked yeast cultures that produced the nice flavours they wanted, while minimizing the bad ones. The yeast that emerged from this centuries-long process retained a lot of the “wild” yeast characteristics that most other brewers were so eager to dispose of. What remains is yeast that can be more difficult for a brewer to manage, but one that produces beer with that quintessential Belgian quality: complexity.

So if it’s Belgian yeast that makes Belgian beer, Dageraad is going to have to get some. But how does yeast travel from there to here?

Photo: Goffe Struiksma | Map: Eli Horn | BREWER’S BLOG ARCHIVE TO DATE

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P&I_00040728Ben Coli is owner and brewer of Dageraad Brewing, British Columbia’s first brewery specializing in Belgian-style ales. An award-winning home brewer, Ben formalized his brewing knowledge at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and at Brewlab in the United Kingdom, earning a certificate from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. Before his beer obsession took over, Ben was a writer of books, magazine articles and marketing content. He is currently writing a book titled “How to Love Beer.”

GOODS | “Wildebeest” Set For Craft Beer Supper With Delta’s Four Winds Brewing Co.

Wildebeest is located at 120 West Hastings Street in Vancouver, BC | 604-687-6880 | www.wildebeest.ca

Wildebeest is located at 120 West Hastings Street in Vancouver, BC | 604-687-6880 | www.wildebeest.ca

The GOODS from Wildebeest

Vancouver, BC | On Wednesday, March 26th at 6:30pm Wildebeest celebrates the special release of several new craft beers from Four Winds Brewing Co. with a five-course menu created by Chef Wesley Young. A local favourite, Four Winds Brewing Co. is known for using a combination of new world and old world methods to produce flavourful West Coast, Belgian and German style beers. With representatives from Four Winds Brewing Co. in attendance, guests have an exclusive first look into the brewery’s freshest additions, and feast on innovative, seasonally inspired dishes crafted in harmony with each new brew.

Tickets for this event are limited and on sale for $69 each, which includes a five-course dinner and Four Winds Brewing Co. craft beer pairings. Reservations can be made by contacting eat@wildebeest.ca or for more information visit us on facebook. Menu and details after the jump… Read more

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