Author Archives: Jamie Goode

A brilliant Canadian Blood Orange DIPA from Twin Sails and Boombox

tone def

This is really smart: a double IPA with blood orange that really works. It’s a collaborative effort from two BC (Canada) breweries: Twin Sails and Boombox. They added 500 lbs of blood orange puree and 2 lbs of orange zest onto a really hoppy DIPA, and the results are amazing.

Twin Sails Brewing and Boombox Brewing Tone Def Double IPA With Blood Orange
8% alcohol
Brewed by Boombox in Vancouver, Canada, in collaboration with Twin Sails, this is a remarkable beer. A cloudy yellow/orange colour, it has concentrated flavours that combine bright tangerine and orange with some creaminess and a generous fruity personality. So vivid and bright with some sweetness from the alcohol. Richly textured and multidimensional, this is quite thrilling. 9/10

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

Toronado: visiting a San Francisco institution, with some amazing beers

toronado

I was in San Francisco for a few days, and I wanted some beer action. So where else to go but Toronado, the famous beer bar in Haight. It describes itself as a pub, and I can see why. It feels more like a pub than a bar.

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You come here for the beer, not the décor, or the service. It’s gritty and old school. If you are a beer geek, this is heaven.

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Toronado was opened in 1987, and a couple of years later it was bought by employee David Keene. It was Keene who was to develop this into the beer destination it is now, with 50 interesting beers on tap.

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We spent the afternoon here. These are the beers we drank.

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Russian River Brewing Company Pliny The Elder
A double IPA with plenty of malt and hops, this is superb. It’s lively and complex with a tangy, hoppy edge. Fresh and textured at the same time. Brilliant. 9/10

Port Brewing Co/The Lost Abbey Hop 15
10% alcohol and an incredible 180 IBUs. A double IPA with 15 different hops. Very rich and bold; textured and intense with concentration but also some restraint and balance. Spicy, intense, rich, bold and amazing. 9/10

Vander Ghinste Cuvée des Jacobins (Rouge) Sour Red, Belgium
This lambic beer has been aged for 18 months in foudres – it’s a sour red ale. Brown red in colour. So complex, appley, tangy and edgy. Some animal notes and bretty intensity. Tangy and citrussy with some sour cherry. So distinctive. 8/10

North Coast Brewing Co Le Merle Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale
Lots of hops and a Belgian yeast strain have created a spicy, smooth, yeasty beer with richness and warm complexity. Lovely stuff. 8/10

Allagash White
From Allagash in Maine, this is an American interpretation of a Belgian-style wheat beer, with oats, malted wheat, and unmalted raw wheat, and spiced with coriander and orange peel. Fresh, lemony and complex with nice weight. Amazing freshness and lovely lemony flavours. 8.5/10

Toronado, 547 Haight, San Francisco, CA 94117
Website: http://www.toronado.com/ 

The beers of Goose Island, with founder John Hall

goose island

‘One thing we pride ourselves on is that we make balanced beers,’ says Goose Island founder John Hall. ‘Drinkable beers.’

I caught up with him at the Goose Island Block LDN party in Shoreditch. It was a sell out event, with a band, food stalls, lots of Goose Island beer and a relaxed, alternative vibe.

John Hall, founder, Goose Island

John Hall, founder, Goose Island

‘Beer has been around for the ages, and the most popular beers that people drink are the balanced beers,’ says Hall. ‘That’s what makes beer such a popular drink.’

Hall’s story is an interesting one. ‘I was in corporate America, and I spent a lot of time in Europe,’ he recalls. ‘When you came over here you saw a much wider variety of beers than we saw in the States.’

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So in 1988 Hall decided he’d start making his own beer. He opened a brewpub in Chicago. ‘It was the best decision I ever made,’ he says. ‘I patterned it as much as anything after Fullers.’

A big moment for Goose Island was in 1992. Hall’s son Greg had begun working with him, and Greg met Jim Beam’s grandson at a cigar/beer/bourbon tasting. He had the idea of putting beer in a bourbon barrel. These barrels could only be used once, so there was a plentiful supply of them. Greg and John got six of them, and made beer in them. They were the first commercial brewery to do this style, and when they entered a beer in the Great American Beer Festival in 1995, it was a real hit. But the beer got disqualified, because it didn’t fit into any category. Now Bourbon-aged stout is an official category!

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A short film of the Block Party, with John Hall giving a speech:

 

In 2011 Hall sold Goose Island to Anheuser-Busch InBev. He’s now on the board. The world was watching: was quality going to suffer from this take-over, and inevitable expansion of production? Hall says he never had any doubts that quality would be maintained, and in some cases he thinks it has been improved. ‘The recipe hasn’t changed,’ he says. Hall is an advocate of balance. ‘I like a balanced beer,’ he says. ‘If it’s not balanced then I’m not crazy about it. I’m sensitive to ABV now.’

We tasted through a range of the beers, including some special production brews. These were a very exciting set of beers indeed.

Goose Island Sofie Saison
6.5% alcohol
Lively, spicy and vivid with lovely freshness and detail. Complex, spicy and food friendly with an almost saline edge to it. A lovely beer. 9/10

Vans x Goose Island Golden Lager
5.1% alcohol
This pilsner style beer is zippy and hoppy with subtle herby hints. There’s some spiciness and real bite. 7.5/10

Goose Island Juliet Sour
This is a sour made in white wine barrels with 50 lbs of blackberries in each. It’s inoculated with brettanomyces and spends around 10 months in barrel. Tangy and a bit spicy with lovely fruitiness. Very lively with a wine-like fruity quality and nice texture. There’s some sweetness here. 8.5/10

Goose Island Illinois Double IPA
8.4% alcohol
This is dry hopped with Citra, Cascade and Meridian hops. Sweetly textured and powerful with lovely spice, herbs and tangy hoppiness. Rich yet balanced. Lemon and tangerine peel notes here. There’s a hint of bitterness on the finish. A really lovely beer. 9/10

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
14.2% alcohol
This is a truly remarkable beer, and it’s from the 2014 batch. Opaque black in colour, it’s so rich and powerful with complex flavours of treacle, toffee, roast coffee and vanilla. There’s lots of chocolate and vanilla, and also some black cherry. Astonishing stuff. Apparently it went to barrel at 11% alcohol and came out at 14.2. 9.5/10

Goose Island Bourbon County Templeton Rye
13% alcohol
51% rye. Rich and textural with spicy, dense, intense flavours of toffee and treacle. Bold, but not as sweet as the stout. Pretty serious stuff. 9/10

Goose Island Brewery Yard Stock Pale Ale
8.4% alcohol
This is is made to an old fashioned recipe with 4-5 lbs of hops per barrel. Initially it is too bitter to drink, but time in oak mellows it, while the alpha acids keep bacteria at bay. After 11 months in barrel it has picked up alcohol and lost bitterness. Lively, tangy and herby with real power and zippy acidity. Tangy and bitter but balanced and lovely. 9/10

Goose Island Lolita Sour
8.5% alcohol
A sour aged in barrels on raspberries. Tangy and intense with a nice spicy bite and some fresh citrus notes. Lovely raspberry and cherry fruit with some noticeable volatile acidity. Detailed and exotic, and quite wild. 8/10

Sovina IPA Cerveja Artesanal, Portugal

sovina

I’m currently sitting in The Yeatman, looking over the river to Porto, and drinking a craft beer from the city. This is delicious and a bit different. Cervejas Sovina is the first Portuguese craft brewery I’ve come across, and this is a delicious beer that’s a sort of English/American hybrid in style.

Sovina IPA Cerveja Artesanal, Portugal
6% alcohol
Golden bronze in colour, with nice grippy, spicy hoppy notes complementing a rich malt core. There’s a savoury, earthy, herby edge to the palate which shows some bitter hoppy character but also a trace of more exotic fruity notes, too. Tangy, spicy finish is really refreshing. I’d say this is more English in its flavour profile but more American in its intensity and richness. 8/10

Camden Hells Lager

camden hells

Camden Town Brewery is a small craft brewery that by all accounts was fixing to be friendly with a big brewery, and ended up selling to AB InBev last year (one of the globes biggest brewers) for 70 odd million quid. There have been a spate of craft breweries selling to large brewers: the large brewers are terrified by declining sales of their key brands and see buying much hipper craft beer brands, which they can then scale up, as being the way forward. The flip side of this is suddenly there’s more beer and better availability, and the consumer wins – but only if the quality is maintained. Beer is recipe-driven and a brand can be scaled up, as long as no compromise is made with the ingredients. But some of these ingredients are expensive, and big breweries just love to cut back on costs, so there’s real peril. This Camden Hells is pretty good.

Camden Hells Lager
4.6% alcohol
Half way between a pilsner and a helles in style, using bavarian lager yeast and pilsner malts, with perle and hallertauer hops. This is a bright, fresh, yet flavourful lager with zippy citrus notes, a nice bitterness, and juicy lemony fruitiness. I really like it: it’s not the most complex beer, but it is very fresh and has plenty of flavour. 7/10