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.
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
Ben 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.”
The GOODS from Meat & Bread
Vancouver, BC | Meat & Bread’s Pender St. location is in search of a full-time line cook with a minimum of 3 years of kitchen experience. The applicant must be creative, have a strong work ethic, a sense of urgency and attention to detail. Daytime hours. Please drop off resume in person weekdays before 10am. The Gastown location is currently seeking a front of house manager with a minimum of 3 years of experience in restaurants. The applicant must be a great communicator with a sense of urgency and great attention to detail. Daytime hours. Please drop off resume in person at our Gastown location weekdays before 10:30am. Read more
It turns out that the hippest winery in Mexico is made of recycled boats.
The email below was edited marginally because it exceeded the exclamation point allowance for this column…
Becoming a Sommelier Overnight With Savvy Girl
Hi! Hope all is well. I wanted to reach out to see if you’d be interested in featuring my newest client, Savvy Girl: A Guide to Wine in an upcoming feature!
With a passion for learning and desire to be savvy, author and entrepreneur, Brittany would crave the knowledge how-to books promised to offer, but found them painful to complete… Savvy Girl produces beautiful 100-page guidebooks that readers can finish in 5 hours or less… Savvy Girl believes in cutting through the clutter by delivering guidebooks that help women get savvy and get back to their fabulous life… even throw out words like “terroir” and “tannin” like WineSpeak is your first language.
Damn. If I had only known about this before! I could have saved years of study and thousands of dollars!
Unlike the parties at your house, this bathtub full of beer is actually therapeutic. The Schloss Starkenberger brewery in Tyrol, Austria is reputed to be the world’s only beer-based spa, located in its 700-year-old castle brewery’s underground vaults. Here in the old fermentation room, guests can immerse themselves in a bath of warm water and Biergeläger (translation: beer making leftovers). The only benefit/drawback? Guests are advised not to drink from the pools. Yeah, that’s probably good advice for every pool.
Meanwhile, in Canada: Uberfist. A Canadian-based company is “revolutionizing the drinking experience” with their invention of Uberfist, a cup holder with “unique thermal properties” inside a giant Hulk-like foam hand, allowing fans to “cheer on their favourite team while simultaneously supporting their beverage. What more could a sports fan want?” I am left answerless.
Meanwhile, in the USA, powdered alcohol is now for sale. Here you go kiddies – kool aid, pop rocks and Palcohol. Previous versions of the Palcohol website reported that the flavoured powder could also be snorted.
Because New Orleans doesn’t have anything else to worry about right now, the debate continues about allowing booze in ice cream.
If spring’s sunshine has you tuning up your bike, you might want to consider these accessories.
An Australian news example of turning lemons into limoncello, Adelaide Now reports that commuters were “treated to the bouquet of expensive white wine” after a truck carrying 11 tonnes of wine collided with a car, sending $500,000 worth of wine down the road. Also, much later in the story, no one was injured.
Leave it to Lithuania to make it hard for me to refute that Beaujolais Nouveau tastes like paint thinner with this new packaging.
THE GOODS FROM Le Vieux Pin & Lastella
Oliver, BC | Brand new websites for LaStella and Le Vieux Pin wineries bring more than great wine to consumers. The new websites focus on sharing relevant information about the South Okanagan in general and specific viticulture practices and terroir of each of their vineyards in particular. Until April 30th, in celebration of the new websites, new sign ups to receive the monthly newsletter will be entered to win a VIP tour of their vineyard and cellars combined with a barrel tasting and checking in on library wines. By signing up for the newsletter, receive timely release offers, rare releases and learn more about the Okanagan Valley and two well respected wineries. Check out Le Vieux Pin’s Petite Club, or LaStella’s Piccolo Club. Members receive 12 carefully chosen bottles of wine per year (two times six-bottle packages sent in the spring and fall each year costing approx. $150-$200 each) as well as 10% saving on wines purchased through the website or cellar door (excluding Maestoso, La Sophia and Library re-releases) and receive invitations and announcements of special events and tastings. Read more
by Lisa Giroday, Sandra Lopuch and Sam Philips | Asparagus! Yeah, we’ll spare you the urine jokes, even though they’re hard to resist. Like fiddlehead season, the asparagus season is extremely ephemeral. In fact, when we took some photos for this article, the ones harvested were about to go off, and are much longer and spindlier than they should be when harvested. But fear not, more shoots emerge…
What happens if you leave the shoots to keep on growing, you ask? Well, they become the most beautiful, fern-like fronds that your garden has ever seen. We like to plant ours in a patch amongst strawberries, as asparagus has a tall, upright growth and strawberries keep close to the ground, making for an aesthetically pleasing and delicious combo patch. Yes, you can have it all.
Asparagus is one of those veggies that many food growers in Vancouver don’t grow, mainly because it takes a few years of maturing in the garden to reach the edible stage, about 3 years from seed to harvest. You can, however, buy organic rootstock from a nursery that are typically 2 years old and have asparagus in the next year or two. As many of us move house fairly often, we don’t always invest in growing it. For those with the space and a quasi-permanent home situation (or an under-utilized space begging for some greenery and sustenance), asparagus is an exciting spring crop and one of the early spring delicacies in the garden. Because it’s a perennial (comes back year after year), it’s the gift that keeps on giving with little maintenance. It can live for 20 years, even longer.
If you’re botanically curious, Asparagus officinalis is a plant species in the genus Asparagus. Interestingly, it was once classified in the lily family like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have since been divided, and the onion-y plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and asparagus in the Asparagaceae.
Growing asparagus: Now’s a good time to transplant asparagus, and rootstock is becoming available at nurseries as we speak. Asparagus loves full sun. If you can, growing about 12 crowns will keep a happy two-some in weekly harvests during peak season. Be sure to plant each crown a foot apart. In the first season of the crowns producing, be sure to allow the spears to leaf out so the foliage can feed the developing roots for future production. Yes, this means no or little harvesting. An exercise in patience, it is, but it’s well worth it. Keep your asparagus happy and watered, and add a layer of compost in spring and fall – it’s a hungry veggie! Also, if you plant your asparagus crowns at varying depths, they’ll emerge at staggered times for a more continuous harvest. On a side-note, great asparagus companions are tomatoes, basil, and parsley.
So get out there, cut or find some spears, poach some eggs, turn on the grill, and grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano for a to-die-for dish of asparagus before it’s too late!
Victory Gardens is a team of local urban farmers for hire. Lisa, Sandra and Sam help transform tired or underused residential and commercial green spaces into food producing gardens. Their goal is to challenge the way communities use space and to participate in the change needed to consume food more sustainably. For the rest of the growing season, they’ve hooked up with Scout to share some cool tips and tricks on how to get the best from of our own backyards.
The Goods from Commune Cafe
Vancouver, BC | Commune Cafe on Seymour Street is looking for a talented individual with 3+ years of experience as a cook to join the kitchen team, specifically for dinner service. We offer a competitive salary/wage package and provide a unique learning experience. You can contact us at info [at] communecafe.ca. Learn more about the company after the jump… Read more
The Writers’ Exchange is a local program that offers inner city kids a place where they can learn to love the craft of writing. The Writer’s Exchange used to be run out of classrooms across East Vancouver, but this past Fall it opened a public space at 881 East Hastings. Here, kids gather after school to learn about reading, writing and the versatility of their own imaginations in a safe environment – all for free.
The literacy superstars who run the show, namely Sarah Maitland and Jennifer MacLeod, are aiming to ensure that every Vancouver child has the opportunity to build the literacy skills necessary to access a world where anything is possible. That’s a pretty great vision and we think our city will be a better place for it. But stuff like this doesn’t happen unless community pitches in to make it happen.
And that’s where you come in…
TIME | Volunteer some time! A few hours one day of the week would make a huge difference. Giving kids a familiar and supportive mentor is a key part of what the success of The Writer’s Exchange has been built upon. “As a volunteer mentor, you can help with reading, creative writing projects, literacy games and cool crafts, or support a small group of kids during in-school book-making programs. Help us make literacy fun and accessible for kids!”
DONATE | If you don’t have time, maybe you have a little food or money that you wouldn’t mind contributing. Healthy snacks or cash donations are accepted with appreciation. The Writer’s Exchange also loves books and art supplies.
TECHNOLOGY | The Writer’s Exchange is looking for donations of Apple Computers. We know a lot of our readers are Mac users, so if you or your office or organization are looking at refreshing your hardware any time soon, please consider donating your old computers to The Writer’s Exchange. Macs are great for creating stop-animation videos, processing photographs used for some of the books that the children create and are generally easier for newbies to learn on. Anything after 2005 can be refurbished and used by these kids.
Connect with Jennifer or Sarah at The Writer’s Exchange here.
PS. Once upon a time, a burrito was born. He was sitting around in the freezer until someone put him in the microwave. The burrito never felt so alive. — Crissy, age 9
Honour Bound details the many cool things that we feel honour bound to check out because they either represent our city extremely well or are inherently awesome in one way or another.
The GOODS from Greenhorn Espresso Bar
Vancouver, BC | Join us at Greenhorn this Saturday April 26 at 7pm for the opening of Aaron Blake Evans photography-based art show “Once Upon the Wild”. Aaron Blake Evans is an anthropologist, archeologist and artist. His work focuses on the marriage of nature and industrialization. Evans finds a lonely beauty in our urban, as well as woodland landscapes. His poetry lies in decisive imagery – lightly touched by loneliness. He is currently working with photographic prints, epoxy coatings, and cold wax coatings.
by Michelle Sproule | The main objective of this website is to scout out and promote the things that make Vancouver such a sweet place to be. We do this with an emphasis on the city’s independent spirit to foster a sense of connectedness within and between our communities, and to introduce our readers to the people who grow and cook our food, play the raddest tunes in our better venues, create our most interesting art, and design everything from what we wear to the spaces we inhabit. The Scout List is our carefully considered, first rate agenda of super awesome things that we’re either doing, wishing that we could do, or conspiring to do this week. You can also check it out in the Globe & Mail, from our calendar to theirs…and yours!
BODY ART | There’s a tattoo show going down at the Vancouver Convention Centre over the weekend. In addition to booths and tables manned by vendors and artists, expect special guest artists, demonstrations, workshops and contests, not to mention a lot of inked skin.
Apr. 25-27 | Various times | Vancouver Convention Centre | $20 | DETAILS
AFFORDABLE ART | Phantoms in the Front Yard is an 8-person artists’ collective comprised of established local artists that use the human figure as their muse. Phantoms will be doing a one night only show at the Burrard Hotel this Friday night. The crew will be taking over 3 hotel rooms to exhibit hundreds of miniature paintings and drawings (everything shown will be in an under 10″ x 10″ format) based on the theme of ‘Everyone I’ve Never Known’. As explained by Phantoms in the Front Yard member Jay Senetchko, the show is about “strangers who have influenced us but we’ve never really known, or, strangers we feel like we know but have never met. From Charles Darwin to your local bank teller…” The super good news is that the art will be priced in the $200-$500 range, and there will be music, cool people, a cash bar, and an after-party (also free).
Fri, Apr. 25 | 6pm – 8:30pm with after party to follow | 1100 Burrard St. | DETAILS
EVEN MORE AFFORDABLE ART | Once a year Vancouver art enthusiast Chris Bentzen curates a show of the works of 50 (mostly) local artists. It’s called Carded, and the twist is that every piece in the show fits on a 2.5 x 3.5 card. All of the card-sized works are displayed on the walls of the gallery but show attendees are also able to purchase a mixed pack of five pieces of the baseball/hockey card-sized art for $5. The only catch is that the pack will be random and you may not score the item you were after. And that’s when the fun begins…people start bargaining and trading. Don’t be alarmed to hear statements like: “You’ve got a Sophia Ahamed? I’ll trade you my Exploding Haggis for your Ahamed!” It’s a fun and interactive way to score some art at affordable prices. Organisers expect the show to sell out so think about arriving early to avoid disappointment.
Sat, Apr. 26 | 7-11pm | Hot Art Wet City (2206 Main @ 6th) | DETAILS
DINE | The Swallow Tail Secret Supper Club is holding one of their quick-to-sell-out dinners this weekend. This meal will be a South Indian vegetarian feast, so you can expect everything from kormas and curries to chutneys and fritters. Swallow Tail – always looking to add an extra level of detail to their dining experiences – has arranged for each guest at their table to take home an original watercolour (inspired by ingredients used for the meal) by local artist Angela Fama. Seats are going fast, so don’t dilly-dally.
Sat, Apr. 26 | 6:30 – 9:30pm | Location revealed with ticket purchase | $59 | DETAILS
COMMUNITY | The development of the site is still in the early planning stages but The Vancouver Park Board is planning to slap a new park on corner of Yukon Street and 17th Avenue. Hooray for more parks! It’s not often that a community gets to be in on the planning stages of a new green space in their neighbourhood, so get involved by attending an open house on Saturday. Learn more about the project, offer your insights and impressions, and swap ideas with your neighbours.
Sat, Apr. 26 | 10am – 2pm | 17th Avenue and Yukon Street | DETAILS
GET GROWING | Evidence of Spring is already pushing through the soil. Feeling perplexed as to how to get things growing? The ladies of Victory Gardens are offering a Spring Gardening Basics class this Saturday morning that will walk you through the steps of preparing your garden for a season of plentiful food production. Not only will participants of this 101 style workshop leave schooled on the importance of compost and soil, they’ll also learn about when to plant what, which edible plants will do well in Vancouver soil, how to sew seeds and how to safely transplant seedlings from pot to garden, and so on. Each participant will receive a pack of organic seeds and some notes on Spring Gardening Basics. Following this workshop there will be a gardening supply sale. The perfect way to start the first week of Spring!
Saturday, April 26 | 10:30am | 151 W 1st Ave | $20 | DETAILS
PITCH IN | Here’s a fine way to rack up some karma points: roll up your sleeves and join in a city-wide spring cleanup. Keep Vancouver Spectacular is a City program that provides community members with gloves, garbage bags, and tools for trash pickup when they carry out coordinated block-clean ups. This Saturday morning you can put on your grubby clothes and spend an hour or two picking up litter from streets and laneways in the Fraser & Broadway area. After the work is done, everyone is invited to head to the Mount Pleasant Community Centre for lunch. Block cleanup are happening all across the city throughout May.
Sat, Apr. 26 | 9:30am | Fraser & Broadway (2500 Block Fraser) | DETAILS
ARCHITECTURE | The Vancouver Heritage Foundation is hosting their annual Vancouver Special Tour this weekend. Look inside five new and amazingly renovated Vancouver Specials! It’s a one day, ticketed, self-guided event that celebrates innovation and design and asks the important question: ‘What can you do to make one of the least appealing architectural styles livable in a modern context?’ From Vancouver Heritage Foundation: “In 2014 we’ll visit visit a Joe Wai Special – an architectural style unique to Strathcona, as well as an unexpectedly beautiful in-law suite, and a Special constructed entirely of cinder block. Come see what it took to make a bunker-like Special into a success (hint, concrete saws were required). Explore how a standardized design continues to flourish behind a Vancouver movement to revitalize and reinterpret this uniquely-Vancouver house style today.”
Sat, Apr. 26 | 12-3pm | Various locations | $30 | DETAILS
ICONS | Head to the magical subterranean caverns of the Biltmore Cabaret this Sunday and browse hand-picked vintage like you’ve never seen before. Expect vintage-clothing vendors, flea-market finds, fancy antiques, accessories, stuffed animals, shoes, jewellery, records, retro household items, cameras, and all manner of other curious trinkets. This is a cabaret, so the bar will be open! Shoppin’, drinkin’, and dancin’ encouraged!
Sun, Apr. 27 | 11 am–5 pm | Biltmore Cabaret (2755 Prince Edward) | DETAILS
BIKE SWAP | It’s getting to be that time of the year when we can start to think about cruising around the city on a bike (and not just for transportation sake but for, well, for the mere sun-on-your-face-with-a-breeze pleasure of it). Don’t have a bike or looking to trade in your old ride for something slicker? You’re in luck, because this weekend brings with it a vintage bicycle swap at Britannia Centre. Buy, sell or trade bikes as well as parts and tools. Cruisers, BMX, road bikes and muscle bikes – they’ll all be there, looking for new homes.
Sun, Apr. 27 | 10am | Britannia Community Centre (1661 Napier) | DETAILS
Check the Globe & Mail every Thursday for our Special Weekend Edition of the Scout List
Michelle Sproule grew up in Kitsilano and attended University in Australia and the University of Victoria before receiving her graduate degree in Library Sciences from The University of Toronto. She lives in beautiful Strathcona and enjoys wandering aimlessly through the city’s streets with her best friend – a beat up, sticky, grimy (but faithful) camera.
by Sean Orr | B.C. NDP’s Jenny Kwan, who represents one of Canada’s poorest neighbourhoods, buys $1.9M home in another riding. This is the same sort of petty indignation as when a climate change denier points out that an environmentalist drove a car (god forbid). Also, $1.9 million in Vancouver means absolutely nothing. It’s not like she represents the the new aristocracy.
Besides, Vancouver’s cheapest house already got sold…for $643,000.
Meanwhile, speculation runs rampant: Absence of data on Vancouver real estate market ‘mind boggling’. It makes life especially hard when we don’t know how many foreign buyers there because we don’t know how racist to be. Clearly, capitalism isn’t working.
A constant desire to continually re-invent ourselves: Vancouver’s 10 biggest eyesores. Note the Vancouver Sun’s strange, classist overtones on this list as they include the beloved, working class Vancouver Special. Meanwhile the gaudy, green glass condos of Concord Pacific get a pass, as does the newspaper’s own ugly, ominous headquarters at 200 Granville.
Laureen Harper interrupted by protester at Internet cat video festival. “That’s a great cause but that’s another night.” Really? Can we circle the date when Conservatives will raise money for missing and murdered aboriginal women in our calendars? Or was this just an attempt to leverage her popularity?
Meanwhile, in the Guardian: Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada’s resource agenda, documents reveal. You just know that somewhere an greedy oil executive is wishing he could buy their silence for blankets and beads. Also in the Guardian: Canada becoming launch-pad of a global tar sands and oil shale frenzy. Oh great, now we’re role models for Israel? How bad can it get?
Possibly worse: Yellowknife is sitting on enough arsenic to kill every human on Earth. Yeah, but who’s got all the old lace?
The following story is just really very quite amazing, literally: Ten words to cut from your writing.
A special kind of pain to those who steal a band’s gear: Thieves steal $20,000 worth of equipment from 4 Vancouver bands.
The GOODS from La Mezcaleria
Vancouver, BC | Are you vivacious, energetic, organized, and confident? We need you! Our Host is the first face of La Mezcaleria and therefore incredibly important to us. You will represent our brand, our family and our vibe. This is a demanding position. Are you up for the challenge? 2+ years of experience is a must, and Spanish is an asset. Please send your resume and cover letter to info [at] lamezcaleria.ca and learn more about the company after the jump… Read more
The Staff Meal photo essays detail the stories behind the family-style meals that some of Vancouver’s busiest restaurant crews get either before or after service.
by Ken Tsui | Before unlocking the doors to usher in another fully-booked dinner service, Wildebeest chef Ashley Kurtz is putting together a staff meal based on his memories from the time he spent in South Korea. While travelling the country, he discovered tteokbokki, a dish of rice cakes cooked in a spicy sauce.
Today, this ubiquitous Korean street vendor staple is at the core of the meal. As the sauce bubbles, Kurtz effortlessly moves around the kitchen, throwing kalbi (thin, marinated slices of beef short rib) on the grill, fluffing the freshly cooked rice while occasionally returning to the giant pot of tteokbokki for a quick stir. As the sauce thickens, he doles out his house-made kimchi, soy marinated bean sprouts and sesame leaves as side dishes.
When the meal is served, the staff gather around a long table, ladling out tteokbokki and wrapping sesame leaves around the rice and short rib. Kurtz sneaks a bowl of puffed wild rice onto the table for a bit of added crunch. Co-owner James Iranzad sits down to the spread, looks across the table and jokes, “OK, but where’s the beer?”
The GOODS from Bambudda
Vancouver, BC | Bambudda has sprung forward with their new Spring cocktail list. On the list you’ll see new creations by barman “Buck” Friend like the “Secrets of a Geisha” – rum, chambord, lime, lychee sake foam. A “Bubble Tea” cocktail made with gin, blue caracao, rhubarb bitters, green tea liqueur and hibiscus bubbles is also available, along with 7 other new cocktails. Chef Korzack has also tweaked the dinner menu with some new dishes. Shitake mushroom dumplings with chrysanthemum pesto, glazed lamb and cumin flatbread. Duck is done with red dates, burdock puree, chrysanthemum greens and a black tea jus. What’s more, the patio will be ready to go in a couple of weeks, possibly sooner if the weather cooperates. Read more