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

DINER | “The Settlement” In Railtown Set For Postmark Brewing & Belgard Kitchen

by Andrew Morrison | 55 Dunlevy St. has seen a lot since the Vancouver Urban Winery took it over a couple of years ago. The old railtown address, all 7,700 sqft of it, is home to not only VUW – with its own Roaring Twenties Wine label, retail shop, and 36 tap wine lounge open to the public – but also FreshTAP, the company that brings BC wine to Vancouver’s forward-thinking restaurants serving the stuff on tap. It can be a little confusing with so much going on under one roof, so they’ve gone ahead and rebranded the whole building, sort of as an umbrella moniker. As of this afternoon, it’s called The Settlement Building. The rebrand is just as well, as the place will soon shelter two new companies.

The first of these is a 65 seat eatery called Belgard Kitchen. It’ll offer day/night service, low and cozy hideaway booths, and bar height tables. Overseeing the food program is 19 year Earls veteran, Reuben Major. Together with chef de cuisine Jason Masuch (ex-Brix) and sous chef Mark Reder (ex-Fish Shack), Major plans on serving shareable small plates in the evening (eg. Swiss cheese fondue, bacon mushroom pate) and a larger lunch program that will see sandwiches, chile, soups, salads, slaws, a house special ramen, and a daily crockpot. I looked in on construction yesterday and they were just about to start installing the bulk of their kitchen equipment.

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What’s in a name? I had to consult a 20 volume version of the OED to find the answer. It turns out that a belgard came to English (the poets, natch) from the Italian in the 16th century or so, and it means “a kind and loving look.” ”The team felt the meaning captured what they’re all about and what guests through the doors can expect,” The Settlement’s PR person, Kate MacDougall, explained. “It’s their everyday disposition – made easier, I’m sure, surrounded by wine – and their service style.”

Opening Day for Belgard Kitchen is set for the middle of April.

The second new company in The Settlement Building is a microbrewery called Postmark Brewing. It’s being led by managing director Nate Rayment, formerly of Howe Sound Brewing, while the “brew chief” is none other than polymath Craig Noble, who made the engrossing 2007 Tableland documentary (also the brother of JoieFarm‘s Heidi Noble).

Postmark will produce four sessionable beers that will be available for growler purchase/refill, on tap (one presumes) 20 feet away at Belgard Kitchen, and in local beer-loving restaurants around town. If all goes according to plan, we’ll be drinking their first beers in June.

The one catch to it all is that FreshTAP is moving out to make room for Postmark, which matters not to the public because it never provided any on-site services to the end consumer. In the grand scheme of things, however, it’s worth noting that the little company with the big idea of selling local wine in steel kegs to local eateries has already outgrown its nursery (slow clap all around). They’re looking at options for a new and scaleable space as we speak. Good luck, and well done indeed.

ALL ANTICIPATED OPENINGS

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.”

BREWER’S BLOG | Trappist Breweries: The Ancient Traditions & The Modern Realities

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This is the fourth 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 | A year after we were turned back at the walls of Westvleteren, Erin and I pedaled our bikes through the wooded hills that shield the Orval abbey from the secular world. Despite being jetlagged from the transatlantic flight the night before, I could hardly contain my excitement.

We were about to tour a real Trappist brewery. Although the Orval brewery normally only admits visitors one day a year, Erin had leveraged her journalistic credentials to arrange a private tour.

Orval is a legend in its own right. The monastery produces only one beer, but that beer is totally unique. Orval is a copper colour and pours with a rambunctious, foamy head, and it tastes unlike any other pale ale on the planet. The beer has the hops of a pale ale, sure, but there’s something else; there’s a peppery mystery and a murmuring of dark berries.  As the beer ages, it changes to a greater extent than any other beer I’ve ever encountered.

As an Orval gets older, the hop aroma fades into the background and is taken over by pepper and berries, and by a magnificently bucolic aroma of horses and meadow grass.  Local beer enthusiasts in Florenville and other surrounding villages always check the date on a bottle of Orval before pouring it, and many are known to cellar freshly-bought beer until it reaches their preferred age.

Some like it fresh, but most of the locals prefer their Orval aged for one to two years. One local man is reputed to have cellared a quantity of the beer for three years for his daughter’s wedding, although it’s not clear how he had three years’ notice.

Amid the ruins of the old twelfth century abbey of Orval, near a 300-year-old oak tree, Erin and I found a clear pond, fed by the same spring that supplies the brewery with water. The pond is said to be the site of the legendary scene depicted on Orval’s label: a trout surfacing, bearing in its mouth a golden ring lost by a countess, causing her to declare that this is indeed a valley of gold (val d’or; thus or-val). Inspired by a reverence that had more to do with the brewery than the abbey, Erin and I knelt and tasted the pool’s clear waters.

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Leaving the old abbey’s ruins, we passed the new abbey and entered the brewery for our appointment with vice president François de Herenne. The atmosphere of the brewery was certainly less fraught with romance and legend than the abbey ruins had been. There wasn’t a single monk or a single bubbling copper cauldron in sight. Instead, we were given a tour of a thoroughly modern brewing facility complete with a computerized control room.

Looking for a hint of ancient tradition, I asked François whether the current beer bore any resemblance to the beer the monks brewed in the Middle Ages.

His answer, given without hesitation, was an emphatic no.

The Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval was established in the 12th century and its monks almost certainly brewed beer from the beginning, but the abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution and the order dispersed, leaving behind little more than romantic desolation and a spring-fed pond.

The abbey was re-established in the 1920s, and in 1931 the brewery was opened to help fund the reconstruction of the monastery. The beer owes its recipe to the first two brewers from this period: the first was a German, who followed the German way and brewed something crisp and hoppy, and the second was a British-trained Belgian who introduced British techniques, including infusion mashing and dry hopping.

This is the reality of contemporary monastic brewing. There are no ancient copper vessels, no arcane 800 year-old recipes and monks are seldom seen in the brewery.

Monastic breweries are now professionally managed and operated by lay staff. The beers are made with modern brewing equipment and the recipes are of relatively recent origin. All of the Trappist monasteries in Belgium stopped making beer at some point in the last hundred or so years. Recipes have been tweaked and new beers have been invented to keep up with changing tastes. When you bring a trappist ale to your lips, you are drinking a very good brew, but you are not drinking an ancient brew.

What I saw at Orval was a very modern brewery with a secular staff.  What I tasted was one of the most distinct, unusual and complex beers in the world. And what I learned is that you don’t have to be a monk to brew it.

But there is another cloistered population of tirelessly hard-working organisms without whom Belgian beer would be impossible to make.

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.”

BREWER’S BLOG | On Trappist Breweries & Revering The Legendary Beers Of St. Sixtus

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This is the third 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 | The most pervasive legend about Belgian beer is that it is made by monks, which is true, in a way: some of the best Belgian beers really are brewed within the walls of Trappist monasteries.

When I first learned of monastic beers, I imagined tonsured monks in brown robes leaning over copper vats, stirring concoctions with wooden poles and adding arcane ingredients according to 800-year-old recipes.

The first time I tasted Trappist beer, it was easy to imagine it was brewed this way. I was used to drinking lagers and English-style ales – good, straightforward, honest beers with nothing to hide, but with no mystery. Then one day I drank a strong, dark beer from an abbey at the edge of the Belgian Ardennes. Rochefort 10 is a miracle of complexity, of spice and dried fruit flavours I had never experienced in beer before. This was beer? This was beer! Only monks could craft such an elixir!

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No Trappist brewery is as revered or cloaked in legend as Westvleteren, at the abbey of Saint Sixtus. The monastery produces such small quantities that the beer is scarcely distributed. Until recently, it was impossible to buy in North America. Even Belgians had to travel to the west Flemish countryside and wait in line (possibly overnight) to buy the monks’ famed beer. Visitors are barred from the brewery and are only allowed into the abbey by invitation.

In June 2012, my wife and I cycled halfway across Flanders to Westvleteren. Along busy highways and bucolic canals, through cities and cow pastures, in the sun and in the rain we pedalled, fully aware of the futility of our pilgrimage. When we arrived we could only look longingly at the abbey wall before turning around and crossing the road to the monastery’s café.

We sat on the sunny patio at the café with a couple hundred other beer fans, and we drank the monks’ beer and ate their cheese and pâté, content to simply be near where the beer was brewed.

The beer is so scarce that we had only ever had the opportunity to drink it twice before, once because we were given a bottle by a Belgian friend who had camped out overnight at the abbey, and once because a rogue beer distributor imported some to Canada against the wishes of the monastery. I’d never even had a full bottle to myself before, and suddenly we were able to order as much as we wanted and revel in the rich malt, dark fruit, and mysterious spicy depth of Westvleteren 12. It took some restraint to make it back to our guesthouse on two wheels.

That night I lay boozily in bed with the taste of Westy 12 still in my mouth, wondering what divine brewing miracles had been performed behind the walls of the monastery. The Westvleteren legend remained safely in the cloisters.

Image: Wikipedia Commons | 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

BREWER’S BLOG | So What Is Belgian Beer And Can It Be Brewed In British Columbia?

March 13, 2014 

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This is the second 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 | I’ve often seen someone take a sip of beer and say, “that tastes Belgian.” I’ve often seen someone take a sip of beer and say, “that tastes Belgian.” And when I take a sip of the same beer, I instantly know what they’re talking about. It does taste Belgian. But what is that taste?

It’s difficult to make generalizations about Belgian beer because one of the defining characteristics of Belgian brewers is their disdain for the whole concept of beer styles.

When a British brewer makes up a recipe for a new beer he plans to call Uglington’s Best Bitter, he’ll put his own stamp on the beer and make it a little different from other bitters, but he will be sure that the beer will be recognizable as a bitter; any creative license taken will be exercised within the boundaries of the style. That way, when Richard and Davey belly up to the bar and order an Uglington’s Best, they know they can expect a beer that’s more or less an English bitter, and that helps keep the peace until they start discussing trade unionism and Margaret Thatcher.

When a Belgian brewer invents a new beer called Engeltjespis, he’s thinking about creating a sublime new drinking experience, not about beer styles. He has a particular taste in mind, an idea of textures and aromas, and that’s what Engeltjespis will be. He doesn’t care whether a certified beer judge will think he’s brewed a category 18B Belgian Dubbel, or whether the high alcohol will push it into category 18E Belgian Strong Dark Ale, or whether the use of spices will get it kicked out of the styles altogether and lumped into the catch-all category for Belgian misfits, 16E Belgian Specialty Ale. And when Francois and Koen belly up to the bar and order Engeltjespis, they’ll be open-minded enough to drink the beer and appreciate it for whatever magic it contains.

And besides, they’ll be too busy arguing about the status of Brussels in the event of federal dissolution to worry about beer styles.

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Despite the flagrant creativity of Belgian brewers and the stubborn individuality of their beers, the BJCP (an American beer judge certification program) has described thirteen styles of Belgian beer. Yet I’d guess about half of the beers brewed in Belgium defy categorization completely, falling into that fourteenth catch-all category, “Belgian Specialty Ale”.

But in spite of its riotous variety, there is something unified about Belgian beer, a special something that makes people say, “That tastes Belgian.”

If I was backed into a corner and asked to sum up the defining characteristic of the taste of Belgian beer in one word, I’d say “complexity”.

Belgian brewers often supplement the balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness you find in every beer with fruity, spicy, floral and herbal aromas. Some Belgian beers are like running through a hayfield at harvest and others explode with a whole orchard of fruit flavours. You can sometimes find earthiness, a savoury, mushroomy umami taste, and you can sometimes find sourness, ranging from a light tartness to a mouth-puckering acidity. There can be subtle flowery aromas from hops, hints of cardamom or chamomile, and perfumey alcohol aromas that smell like rose petals. You can find those same toasty or caramelly flavours you’ll get from English beers, but they might be accompanied by a distinct aroma of dates and spices that transports you to a Levantine bazaar. Most importantly, when it’s done properly the flavours are harmoniously balanced.

Where do these flavours come from? Historically, Belgians weren’t constrained by tradition or by law the way many British and German brewers were. Belgium never had an equivalent to the celebrated German reinheitsgebot, the purity law that restricted brewers to brewing with nothing but barley, hops, water, and yeast. If Belgian brewers wanted to use oats or wheat in addition to barley, they were free to do so – and for that matter, they could also add carmelized sugar and a big bucket full of coriander or aniseed or thyme if they felt like it. That freewheeling tradition continues, and Belgian brewers remain more concerned with flavour than with ensuring that their beer is “pure” of spices and non-barley grains.

But grains and spices are just a part of the story of the unique flavour of Belgian beer. Brewers in other countries are more open to using a variety of grains and spices these days, but Belgian beer still tastes “Belgian”, while spiced Christmas beers in Britain do not. Tracking down the factor that defines Belgian beer is difficult in a country with a brewing tradition as ancient and cloaked in legend as Belgium’s.

Photos: Goffe Struiksma | 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 | Behind The Scenes Tastings And Brewery Tours Now Available At “33 Acres”

March 10, 2014 

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33 Acres Brewing Co. is located at 15 West 8th Avenue in lovely Vancouver, BC | 604.620.4589 | www. 33acresbrewing.com

The GOODS from 33 Acres Brewing Co.

Vancouver, BC | 33 Acres Brewing Company has officially launched its brewery tour program! Get an insider’s look into how 33 Acres brews their beers with an in-depth tour of the brewing process. Along side beer education and some history, you’ll get to enjoy a long table tasting that over-looks the brewery floor. Expect beer, some food, some more beer, and then maybe some more beer. They only allow 16 people every two weeks so make sure you sign up fast. Tickets are $30 and available on their website. Learn more about 33 Acres Brewing Co. after the jump… Read more

BREWER’S BLOG | On “The Dageraadplaats” & Making Belgian-Style Beers In Vancouver

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This is the first 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 | On any sunny day, the Dageraadplaats, a square on the east side of Antwerp, is full of people.  Kids ride laps around the square on their bikes, form impromptu gangs and generally run wild, while parents sit and chat with friends and neighbours while enjoying the sun and watching passersby.

The square contains no monuments and no public buildings of note. If it appears in any tourist guide to Antwerp, it’s as a footnote, not a destination. The Dageraadplaats isn’t a ceremonial space; it’s just a pleasant place for the community to gather. There’s a basketball court and picnic tables under the trees in the middle of the square, and the edges are lined with café patios.

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At any of the cafés, from the Moeskop to the Zeezicht, you can buy incredible beers like Orval, Duvel and Westmalle Dubbel at very reasonable prices. These beers are simply a part of life in Belgium. It is not uncommon to see a couple of retirees drinking Tripel Karmeliet at a café at ten on a Tuesday morning. What else is retirement for?

By mid-afternoon, the café tables begin to accumulate a wide variety of beers, each served in its own particular glass. There is Rochefort’s graceful goblet, Mort Subite’s fluted tumbler, Duvel’s iconic tulip bulb, and Kwak’s ridiculous flask and wooden stand. More often than any of these, you’ll see the bolleke – an upward-sweeping footed goblet full of copper-coloured beer from Antwerp’s own De Koninck brewery. So much variety, so many different flavours, so much beer culture, all from one tiny country.

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I love Belgium. I love the people – the Flemish and Walloons both. I love Antwerp and the Ardennes. And I really love the beer. But I don’t live in Belgium, I live here in Vancouver. I love our beer, too, our IPAs and our imperial stouts. But when I’m not in Belgium, I miss Belgian beer. I miss its diversity and complexity, its depth and surprises.

Can we have that beer here? Not just occasionally as an expensive, imported bottle, but as a standard, locally-brewed beer? Can we drink an authentic-tasting Belgian-style beer from the other side of the city, instead of the other side of the world?

Dageraad means “daybreak” or “sunrise” in Flemish. Vancouver is already experiencing the dawn of a new beer culture, and Dageraad Brewing will be part of it.

I’ve been visiting friends in Antwerp for about a decade now, and over the years I’ve had a slow, smouldering love affair with Belgian beer. It started off as a dalliance, a summer fling, but it gradually grew into a passion.

A year and a half ago I made a commitment: I went to brewing school and took two beer sabbaticals to Belgium. I brought along the other love of my life, my wife, journalist Erin Millar — or she brought me along, it’s hard to tell. We visited breweries and were often welcomed by brewers who recognized us as fellow aficionados. It was an amazing opportunity to learn about Belgian beer and ask brewers for their secrets.

It has been my experience that most brewers are incredibly generous with their time and knowledge when they meet a kindred spirit. In the following eight posts, published here over the next few weeks, I’ll recount what I’ve learned about Belgian beer, in part to pay forward the hospitality I received from brewers in Belgium, and in part to announce my new brewery.

I’m opening a brewery.

It’s called Dageraad Brewing. It’s named after a square in Antwerp. It’s also named after what that square is named for: daybreak or dawn, that period of time when the sky is brightening but the sun has yet to rise, when there are still stars in the western sky and the pale moon is just starting to fade into the pale blue sky.

The beers aren’t going to be Belgian. Belgian beers come from Belgium. My beers are going to come from a little industrial unit in Burnaby, BC, Canada, so they’ll be Canadian or British Columbian or Burnabarian, which is a word I made up that I like very much. But the beers will be Belgian-inspired, because those are the beers I like best.

Can you brew authentic Belgian-style beers in Canada? What does Belgian-style even mean? In coming posts I’m going to explain what Belgian-style means to me and argue that yes, you can brew those beers here. And then I’m going to prove it.

Photos: Goffe Struiksma | Map illustration: Eli Horn

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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 | The Bottleneck Pairing With R&B Brewing Co. For Beer Supper On March 11

The Bottleneck is located at 870 Granville Street in Vancouver, BC (at the Commodore) | 604-739-4540 | thebottleneck.ca

The Bottleneck is located at 870 Granville Street in Vancouver, BC (at the Commodore) | 604-739-4540 | thebottleneck.ca

The GOODS from The Bottleneck

Vancouver, BC | The Bottleneck and R&B Brewing are collaborating on our second beer dinner on Tuesday, March 11th. It will be based around the exciting theme of Fermentation. Think pickled, smoked and cured meats, cheeses, veggies prepared in remarkable ways! Todd Graham of R&B will be coming up with beers to match a menu crafted by chef Hugh Carbery. Tickets are limited and include a selection of cask beer matched with a four course dinner, all served in sequence and including desert. Doors open at 7pm with dinner served at 8pm. Tickets are $60 with tax included. Call 604-739-4540 or e-mail Juliana at julianamoore [at] livenation.com to reserve.Learn more after the jump… Read more

DRINKER | East Van’s “Bomber Brewing” Is Ready To Fill Its First Growlers Tomorrow!

February 13, 2014 

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by Chuck Hallett | And you thought 2013 was a big year for breweries. 2014 is off to a bang, and not quite two months in we’re already welcoming the opening of our second local brewery (the first was Black Kettle of North Van in early January). Now, crouched at the starting blocks in East Van and awaiting their official Friday opening, we have Bomber Brewing.

Bomber Brewing, with it’s connection to BierCraft via founder cum brewer Don Farion, joins Vancouver’s two other existing brewery/restaurant duos: Brassneck/Alibi Room and Parallel 49/St. Augustine’s. Between those two examples, Bomber is a bit closer to Parallel 49 in terms of both beer styles (session-able beer sold by the six-pack), and in terms of raw location (1488 Adanac).

You read that right. Eschewing the rapidly growing, painfully hip and increasingly crowded Mount Pleasant/Brewery Creek neighbourhood for the more industrial confines of East Strathcona, Bomber is the first to open of three planned breweries clustered around Venables and Clark.

They join relative veterans Powell Street, Parallel 49, Coal Harbour and actual veteran Storm Brewing a short distance away to form a tight, walkable pod of breweries that some are already calling Yeast Van.

Tucked deep in the belly of their warehouse at 1488 Adanac is a cosy, darkened tasting room in which plentiful use of natural wood and stone contrast sharply with the cold, brightly lit steel fermenters on the other side of a large glass window, in which the beer is made. It’s a great place to whittle away an afternoon, or four.

Bomber opens Friday February 14th 2-7pm for growler fills (1 & 2 L) and six-pack/bottle sales, with the tasting lounge following shortly on Monday February 17th with their regular hours of 11am-11pm. Beer lineup at launch will be their IPA, ESB, Stout and Belgian Blonde (Blonde in growler fills only).

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DRINK MORE BEER STORIES

Brassneck Brewery

December 20, 2013 

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DETAILS

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2148 Main Street | Vancouver, BC | V5T 3C5
Email: info@brassneck.ca | Web: www.brassneck.ca
Social Media: Twitter | Instagram

GALLERY

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photos by Lucas Finlay

PEOPLE

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Co-founders: Nigel Springthorpe & Conrad Gmoser

ABOUT BRASSNECK

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Brassneck Brewery is now open! Come visit us at 2148 Main St. in Vancouver, BC. Our hours are Monday to Friday from 2pm to 11pm and Saturday & Sunday from 12pm to 11pm.

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