Thursday, 3 July 2014

6 Brew Review at Vancouver Craft Beer Market

Well well, we mark a big night with Brewji hitting a new record number of views! Thanks to all of you who either mistakenly landed on my Craft Beer review blog, or those of you who actually enjoy reading.

My buddy Mike and I decided to head down Vancouver Craft Beer Market, and see what their rotation of tasters was for the week. He doesn't really remember if he's ever "tried craft beer" before. So, what better place for a grand introduction?

On the menu tonight, aside from the cute German tourists sitting next to us who, for some reason didn't like beer (yet I got them to try and like a Maple Cream Ale), were:

"6 Pack Sampler / Around the World" Beer List @ Vancouver Craft Beer Market
Brewji, 2014

Now, I wasn't particularly excited to try ANY of these, mainly because the first three sounded like they would be awful. I'm not one to trust any "lager" or "pilsner" descriptions any more. To me, those words (unless they come from Europe, or I get proven wrong) mean bland or gross, overpriced corn-water.

But then they poured the glasses so nice for us, all 6 of them. So maybe they wouldn't be so bad. Well, take a look, and see what's what. From left to right in the glasses, are the menu items in order (top to bottom).

"6 Pack Sampler / Around the World" Beer Tasters @ Vancouver Craft Beer Market
Brewji, 2014

Skagit River Cold Beer Lager (ABV 3.5%) from Mount Vernon, WA
First on the list, the Skagit River Cold Beer Lager. What did I tell you about overpriced corn water? Well, this isn't really overpriced, per se, but it is definitely corn water. The colder it is, the smoother it will go down. Contrary to the menu description, I wanted more beer, but not this stuff. It's better than Canadian, but that doesn't say much. You know what? Now that I think about it, this doesn't taste right for a lager. **Takes a moment to look this up** So this is actually the "Cold Beer Pilsner" according to Skagit. I'm not the biggest North American Pilsner fan  Mike thought it was alright, but he seemed bored and uninterested. I think I yawned in!

The Skagit River Cold Beer Lager (Pilsner!) gets a light, bland-but-still-drinkable 5.0 / 10

Steam Whistle Pilsner (ABV 5%) from Toronto, ON
Further into the list, the Steam Whistle Pilsner...not a fan. You know that "Vitamin P" cheap pilsner that comes in that green can? Yeah, the one with the t-shirts available at Walmart? You're probably better off buying that. After the first two, you won't be able to tell the difference. Not going to lie, other people like this stuff but I honestly don't care for the Steam Whistle Pilsner. This taster paddle seemed to be going downhill. Mike wasn't a big fan either; he was kind of turned off.

The Steam Whistle Pilsner gets an "I-don't-get-why-it's-so-popular" 3.5 / 10

Big Rock Grasshopper (ABV 5%) from Calgary, AB
Up next was another red flag, and I really didn't want to drink this. I smelled it and it smelled worse than the Steam Whistle. Was it? Oh yeah baby, oh yeah. This one got me talking to the German tourists, they gave me a sip of their G.I. Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale -- leagues better than the Big Rock Grasshopper. The description reads that I will taste some hops and citrus. There were hardly any hops, and no citrus. This is actually a wheat ale, and it tasted really skunky, making it even more gross. Sorry, Big Rock, but unless you pull it off with your Scottish Style Ale, I can't trust you with another brew. Maybe it was a bad keg?

The Big Rock Grasshopper gets a skunky-grasshopper's-behind 3.0 / 10

Hilliard's Chrome Satan (ABV 5.7%) from Seattle, WA
Finally, we get into the brews with some spunk. Hilliard's Chrome Satan -- that's just a bad-ass name on its own, isn't it? This had to have some merit to it. Fourth from the left, this hazy, copper-y coloured brew with an off-white frothy head smelled like a true ale. It had a floral aroma, where you can smell and distinguish that real ingredients were put into this brew. The taste, albeit not complicated, is well-rounded and flows smoothly. Easily my favourite beer of the night at this point. Mike seemed to quite like this as well. A brew with some flavour gets things going!

Hillard's Chrome Satan gets a finally-something-worth-drinking 8.0 / 10

Big Rock Scottish Style Heavy Ale (ABV 7%) from Calgary, AB
After shaking off three disappointments, and landing a good one, I'm ready for the next one. Oh crap, it's another Big Rock ale. The Scottish Style Heavy Ale better not make me feel like heaving up a heavy. I sniff just above the glass, cautious of the last Big Rock brew, and the German girls beside me giggle and watch intently (and almost curiously). The nose of this brew is malty, nutty, and slightly sweet. The smell better not deceive me, because people start looking at me funny at this point. The first sip is a big one, go big or go home right? I get a strong first taste of malt, followed by an overwhelmingly strong flavour rush, finishing off with a caramel note. This beer is delicious! Well done, Big Rock. I won't be ordering any more brews with insects in the name, nor any of your wheat ales, but this one is truly remarkable. Thank you. Mike also enjoyed this quite a lot.

The Big Rock Scottish Style Heavy Ale heavily redeems itself with a powerully-delicious 9.0 / 10

North Coast Red Seal (ABV 5.5%) from Fort Bragg, CA
Last on the list is the North Coast Red Seal ale. I've heard a few good things about this brew, as it was available for awhile on tap at the Hop and Vine Neighbourhood Pub in Burnaby. The brew looked a dark amber-orange colour, and the head didn't hold up for long at all (contrary to the photo). The aroma is like roasted caramel, but has a spicy tone to it as well. On taste, it's sort of hoppy, sort of fruity, and finishes with bitter caramel malt. That's the best I can do in terms of describing it. It's not too complex, but it's worth taking more sips to figure it out until it's all gone. Absolutely my favourite beer of the taster paddle. Mike agrees.

The North Coast Red Seal ale tops off the night with a save-your-best-for-last 9.5 / 10

So there you have it! I'm looking forward to another taster line-up! I'll definitely be back to Vancouver's Craft Beer Market.

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