HONOUR BOUND: Do Your Bit And Write In To Support Vancouver’s Brewery Lounges

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by Chuck Hallett | The big vote on brewery lounges is tomorrow at city council, and what was looking like a slam dunk on the side of awesome is now in jeopardy. The short version of that link is that a group of people (the Campaign for Culture) feel the proposed restrictions on are bad. I’m not going to pick a fight on that particular issue; the three restrictions, while reasonable, are totally just a salve to make lounges less threatening to bars. For the record, the three limitations are:

- Must close by 11pm
- Must be smaller than 860 square feet
- Cannot host more than two special events per month

What I am going to take issue with, though, is CFC’s approach of “if we can’t get what we want, we’re taking the ball and going home.” Yup, they are fighting against allowing lounges AT ALL unless those three restrictions are removed. Honestly, it’s like being three months into a relationship and refusing first time sex with your girlfriend because she won’t let you put the horse in the bathtub full of jello.

Having brewery lounges at all is so vastly better than NOT having them, that we’ll take this amendment, horse-less jello tub and all. (What? No horse? What about a goat?) While, yes, an amendment lacking those restrictions would be even better, what would be much worse is the many months of additional time it would take to get it. We have two awesome breweries about to open in Brewery Creek (33 Acres and Brassneck), both of which are absolutely counting on their lounges to generate much-needed revenue to stay afloat.

The other dirty little secret is, of course, that the current batch of breweries don’t even want those three restrictions lifted. None are proposed for more than 860 sf, and none want to be open past 11pm. That’s what pubs are for, and brewery lounges are absolutely not pubs.

Anyway, enough prelude. The whole point of this post is to get people to send emails to the mayor and council supporting this amendment. Those cranky bastards at CFC are doing this on their side, resulting in 12 letters against to just 1 for. I’ve taken all the hard work out of this for you, and drafted a form letter you can use below. The email address you want is mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca and the letter is below. 

Dear Sirs/Mesdames:

I am writing you today in support of amending the Zoning and Development By-Law to allow lounge use accessory to a Brewing or Distilling use.

The burgeoning craft brewing and distilling industry supports a key demand of local residents: to purchase merchandise from, and thereby support, local businesses.

Vancouver residents increasingly recognize the quality products being produced by local breweries and distilleries, but unfortunately have to retire to their homes to enjoy these products beyond a small sample. Allowing lounges will encourage a sense of community around these new businesses, as well as award local producers a much-needed revenue stream, encouraging further expansion of this new niche.

Additionally, our rapidly increasing local brewery and distillery scene has drawn the attention of visiting tourists, many of whom are dismayed to learn that the extent of their sampling is limited to a single sample per day. Adopting an amendment that will erase this restriction, and bring Vancouver breweries and distilleries more inline with businesses in other jurisdictions will be extremely beneficial to local businesses and residents.

I trust that you will consider the interests of both local businesses and residents when you take this matter under consideration on July 9th, and vote in favour this amendment.

Yours truly,

YOUR NAME ETC.

Please folks, do this. It’s actually important.

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Honour Bound details the many cool things that we feel honour bound to check out because they either represent Vancouver exceptionally well or are inherently super awesome in one way or another.

MORE BARLEY MOWAT

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Chuck Hallett lives and works in downtown Vancouver. His passionate obsession with craft beer borders on insanity. When not attempting to single-handedly financially support the local brewing industry through personal consumption, he spouts off on his award-winning beer-themed blog: BarleyMowat.com. If you’re in a good beer bar reading this, odds are he’s sitting next to you. Be polite and say hi.

BARLEY MOWAT: On How To Comprehend Your Sister’s Weird Homebrewing Boyfriend

February 12, 2013 

by Chuck Hallett | Barley. Hops. Yeast. Water. You’ve probably heard these words touted around in relation to beer in an advertisement, or maybe you’ve seen them printed on the side of a bottle. But do you really understand how they go together to make our Favourite Beverage? Do you just put them in a blender and hit “pulse”? Is it a bit more complicated than that? In a few minutes from now you’ll know the answers to these questions and more. Welcome back to beer school!

Brewing is both an ancient art and a modern science, and boy is it ever a lot more technical that just putting some barley in a bucket and hoping for the best. There are millenia of history behind making beer. Seemingly most of that time was devoted to inventing new slang for the process: malt, wort, mash, pitch, and many other terms have muscled their way into the process’ parlance, making communication in beer speak a chore for the uninitiated. If you ever find yourself in a discussion with one of the (often bearded) beererati, his occasional incomprehensibility is perfectly normal. It’s kinda like how I feel with art. Or music. Or the weather. (Pretty much anything but beer, really.)

Luckily, the basic concepts behind brewing beer are not that hard to grasp. The following list of terms won’t teach you how to actually make beer, but it will – at the very least – familiarize you with the core concepts in beer-making, allowing you hereafter to nod knowingly the next time your sister’s weird homebrewing boyfriend corners you at a party. Read ‘em up and don’t forget your delicious homework!

Malting. First, barley is not just reaped with a giant scythe then fermented, as cool as that would be. Before the magic can happen, barley must be malted, or allowed to germinate. Germination tricks the barley into thinking it’s been planted and it’s go-time for growing. The result is that the barley seeds generate the enzymes required to convert starch into sugar to support that growth, but this is just a tease: before any real growth occurs the germination is rather rudely halted with dry heat.

Milling. Next, all that malted barley (or malt for short) is ground up in a mill in a process rather creatively called Milling. The result here is a pile of ground up grain called grist. I’m not really sure what else you’d expect.

Mashing. The grist is added to a bunch of hot water in a process called “mashing in.” The hot water is called “Liquor” but, disappointingly, this is just a label. Mashing occurs in a “mash tun” which is vaguely Gallic for “big pot in which one make beer.” The reason the water is hot is that the heat activates the enzymes in the malt to complete the starch-to-sugar conversion. There are several different enzymes and several different ideal temperatures involved, but you get the drift. The result is a grain/water/sugar slurry called mash that can be filtered to create “wort,” the immediate precursor to beer.

Boil. Because we’re all slobs, and also because wort is effectively just a giant barrel of perfect bacteria food that, if left around, would grow enough nasty shit to kill everyone in a three mile radius, the next step is to sanitize things. The easiest way to sanitize a liquid is to boil the ever loving fuck out of it, so we proceed to do just that.

Hopping. During the boil hops are added at different points to balance out all that sugar with bitterness, flavours and awesomeness. Very generally, the earlier the hops are added, the more flavour they provide, while later means more aroma. Hops, being natural preservatives, have the additional benefit of scrubbing unwanted proteins out of the wort.

Chill. Next we bring the steril wort down to a safe temperature for yeast. This is done quickly through a heat exchanger for a few reasons, but a major consideration is that it just takes freaking forever for 15,000 litres of wort to cool down by itself and we don’t have all day, dammit.

Pitch. Once cool, a bucket of yeast is dumped, or “pitched,” into the mixture. Most people don’t suspect it, but yeast contributes most of the flavour to any given beer. Change the yeast, change the beer. With the yeast added, the wort slowly begins turning into beer (wort + booze = beer), and an angel gets its wings. From here the wort is left to ferment for a period of time, which depends on what kind of beer is being made.

Conditioning. Eventually most of the yeast is done, and it settles to the bottom of the fermenter. This inactive yeast is removed, and the beer is left to settle for a while (days or weeks). This lets flavours in the beer blend and mellow, and gives time for undesireable by-products of brewing to off-gas. If you’re drinking a flavoured beer, like a pumpkin ale, odds are the pumpkin was added during this stage.

Bottling/Kegging. Pretty much what you’d expect. The beer might be additionally filtered prior to bottling or kegging to increase clarity, but frankly that’s a horrible thing to do to beer. Sure, it looks good, but it steals much of the yeast’s flavour from the body of the beer, and I’ll take body over looks any day. Yes, this whole article was written specifically to support that joke.

And there you go! You now know more about brewing than I did a decade ago, and perhaps even just enough to horrifibly burn yourself in your kitchen. Congratulations! Homework after the jump… Read more

DINER: BC’s Ancient Liquor Laws See New Reforms (And There Was Much Rejoicing)

Well, this is good news. Hats off to Minister Rich Coleman for continuing to move our Byzantine liquor laws into the 19th century (baby steps).

“We are elated by today’s announcement. This is a huge step forward for B.C. craft brewers, vintners, distillers, restaurateurs and publicans. We applaud the government for updating an outdated and archaic law that was impeding progress not only for us but a number of businesses in the craft beer industry. We look forward to sharing the beers which we so carefully craft at Parallel 49 with our valued customers at St. Augustine’s.” – Anthony Frustagli, co-owner, Parallel 49 and St. Augustine’s.