- BC Games
VanBrewers hand out coveted Golden Stag award
In the spring a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of ... beer. At least in the Lower Mainland. VanBrewers, a 120-strong group of avid homebrewing enthusiasts, held their fourth annual competition at the end of April which pitted 347 different brews from across Canada against each other for the coveted 2013 Golden Stag award.
I was honoured to have been invited to be one of the judges on the final day to select the three medallists from the 23 best-of-breed beers chosen by other judges as the best representatives of each major style from the original 347. The quality of the finalists was superb and put some commercial products to shame. The winner was a weizen (German wheat beer) brewed by Jochen Fahr of Calgary. Although he brews at home, he is the son of a German brewery worker, has a Bachelor’s degree in bioprocess engineering and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, and uses a Linux computer system to precisely control his brewing process.
As one of the perks of winning, Russell Brewing produces a commercial batch of each year’s winning brew. Last year’s winner, Dave Shea’s Nautical Disaster Barleywine, has just been released. Jochen’s beer, Villicht’s Hochziitsbier Weizen is planned to be available in May 2014. See vanbrewers.ca for a full list of winners.
Celebrating craft beer
Vancouver Craft Beer Week is almost upon us and many of the events are already sold out. That said, there are still events to participate in. The nine days of beer starts Friday, May 31 and features 60 breweries and more than 30 events. Go to vancouvercraftbeerweek.com and see the opportunities to expand your beer palate tempt. This is an unparalleled opportunity to taste a wide range of craft beers and talk with the brewmasters themselves.
Beer of the Month - Coal Harbour Brewing’s Smoke & Mirrors – Imperial Smoked Ale
This is not a beer for the timid or unadventurous. Smoked beers have a small following, making them commercially risky. A co-founder of the late great Tall Ship brewing company of Squamish confided in me years ago that he had received a death threat over their smoked porter (the thought of which boggles the mind). This beer combines the unmistakable flavours of German smoked malts with Scottish peated malts (think Islay single malt) with the full flavour of an imperial stout. This is a massive beer with a taste profile that spans the spectrum from sweet malty through to a burnt dark chocolatey mid-palate ending with a bitter smoky finish and the warming glow that comes from 8.5% ABV.
The beer deservedly won Gold at the 2012 BC Brewing awards. You can find out what the fuss is about at some specialty liquor stores on the North Shore.
-West Vancouver resident George Pajari is a BJCP certified beer judge and elected member (retired) of the Institute of Brewing, London, U.K. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him at @zythesis.