Monthly Archives: November 2016

Visiting Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC, Canada

driftwood brewing

Driftwood opened back in 2008, when there were just 55 breweries in British Columbia. Now there are 155. They’re based in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, which has around 25 breweries and brew pubs. Driftwood have grown quite a bit and now are the fifth largest craft brewer in BC. They do just larger format bottles and draft.

Gary Lindsay. co-owner

Gary Lindsay. co-owner

‘We wanted to brew a number of different styles, and the 650 ml bottle makes that possible,’ explains co-owner Gary Lindsay. ‘It’s the best margin and it’s simple.’

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As they’ve grown they’ve invested $2m on a new bottling line which allows them to control oxygen pick-up, resulting in better quality beers that last longer. The bewery capacity has risen from 30 hl to 60 hl, and this year they’ll produce 21 000 hl of beer. They make six core beers and on top of this there are seasonals and limited releases.

Gary explains that as a hop-centred brewery, the hop profile is key to the success of their beers. ‘If it changes, customers notice,’ he says. So a lot of work goes into making sure that the beers are consistent even though the hop harvests are different. They have their hop contracts sorted out until 2020.

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Driftwood have 60 barrels and produce a range of sours. Gary prefers barrel-aged sours and isn’t a fan of kettle sours. ‘For an IPA the turnaround is 10-14 days. For sours it is a year,’ he explains. ‘They cost a lot to make.’ Despite the current popularity of sours, he doesn’t think they will be the next IPAs because of this cost, and the fact that the flavour is not for everyone.

When Driftwood started in 2008 it was at the height of the craft boom, and they couldn’t source the hops to make IPA. So they began by focusing on Belgian styles. Now, though, their best-selling beer is the Fat Tug IPA. It’s 65% of their sales. There’s a huge malt base here but it isn’t a complex malt base. A ton of dry hopping develops the nose and flavour, but with the right base these bitter, astringent characters work really well. This is Driftwood’s skill: beers where all the flavours are integrated.

driftwood fat tug ipa

The beers

Driftwood Cry Me a River Gose
5% alcohol
A salted sour white beer. Fresh, tangy and a bit salty. Tart and sour with some citrussy notes. Has freshness but also nice texture. Refreshing and saline. 8/10

Driftwood Farm Hand Saison
5.5.% alcohol
Made with Chouffe yeast plus white and black peppercorns. Fresh and tangy with lovely detail, and quite a bit of spiciness. Lively, spicy and vivid with a peppery edge. 8.5/10

Driftwood Entangled Haffenweis
7% alcohol
With the fruity, tropical north American hop Mosaic. Extremely fruity and very tropical, with some passionfruit. Nice texture here with toffee, apricot, marmalade and spice. 9/10

Driftwood Black Stone Porter
Burnt coffee nose. Very dry and savoury. Complex and spicy with tarry roast coffee notes. Dry on the finish, with some iron notes. 8/10

Driftwood Fat Tug IPA
7% alcohol
Amarillo is the main hop, supported by Cascade, Columbus and a few others. Beautifully complex, fresh and spicy with grapefruit and passionfruit. Powerful with a bit of sweet malt but also lovely complexity and freshness. 9/10

Driftwood Sartori Harvest IPA
7% alcohol
This is a fresh hop beer and it sells out quickly. It’s made with Centennial, grown in BC. 400 pounds of wet hops go into 70 hl of wort. This is lively and spicy with fresh hoppy notes and some marmalade. Grassy and herby, dank and skunky. Brilliant stuff, full of interest. 9/10

Driftwood New Growth IPA
5% alcohol
This is made from processed BC hops. Very fresh and lively with lemony fruitiness and some spiciness. It’s quite herbal and there’s some earthiness. Distinctive, hoppy and drinkable. 8/10

Thanks to Brent Muller of Vessel Liquor store, Victoria, who set this visit up

 

Bomber Brewing East Van Smash Fresh Hop Simcoe, Vancouver, Canada

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Bomber Brewing is a relatively new brewery, formed in 2014, by three friends with a love for hockey and beer, based in Vancouver, Canada. This is their fresh hop beer, and it’s a thoughtful, complex, delicious drop.

Bomber Brewing East Van Smash Fresh Hop Simcoe, Vancouver, Canada
4.5% alcohol. Pale in colour, this is a lovely fresh beer, with bright, sappy, piney notes from fresh Simcoe hops. Subtle malt characters here, with an almost pilsner-style maltiness, and it’s really nicely integrated with the sappy, green-tinged hoppy notes. It’s a detailed, complex, bright style of beer with lots of interest. There’s some grapefruit pith on the finish, and it’s appropriately bitter, but balanced. 8/10

Hearthstone Brewery India Pale Ale, Vancouver, Canada

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This is nice. It’s from Hearthstone, a new brewery from Vancouver’s north shore. It’s simply packaged, in a tall can, and it manages to carry off the west coast, hoppy IPA thing really well.

Hearthstone Brewery India Pale Ale, Vancouver, Canada
6.5% alcohol
95 IBU. Amarillo and El Dorado hops. This has beautiful floral aromatics of green tea, passionfruit, pine needles and fine herbs, with just a touch of malty sweetness. It’s certainly in the fresher spectrum of IPAs. The palate has some sweetness, too, from the alcohol, and it meshes together nicely, with lovely detail and complexity, and attractive resiny/pine-like bitterness keeping the palate focused. A good example of a more hoppy IPA that also shows great balance. 8.5/10

Brewdog Born to Die Terminally Hoppy IPA

brew dog born to die

This is an interesting beer from Brewdog. ‘Born to Die’ is a fresh, hoppy IPA, with a date on it. It’s a heavily whirlpool and dry-hopped beer, and the idea is that it should be drunk fresh. The inspiration for this came from San Diego brewer Stone, with their ‘Enjoy By…’ series of beers. They are released as special batches with the idea being that they should be consumed within the month. This is a really lovely beer.

Brewdog Born to Die Terminally Hoppy IPA 04.11.2016
8.5% alcohol
I missed the drink by date by 2 days, but this is still a lovely beer. It’s a gold colour, and has beautiful aromas of spice, grapefruit, cut grass and passionfruit. The palate has sweet tropical notes hemmed in by lovely spicy citrus notes, with orange peel and herbs and a lovely tangy bitterness. There’s some richness, but not as much as you’d expect from the alcohol level. This has real complexity and delightful, balanced hoppy bitterness, and it’s more restrained than you’d expect, and better for it. So fresh. 9/10