Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2017 – Penticton


This was the fourth year that I was asked be a judge at the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale in Penticton.  Once again the judging was held on day two of the festival on April 8th this year.  We had gone from 10 to 14 categories in the last two years but they scaled it back to 12 this year.  Those categories were Pilsner/Golden Lager, Pale Ale, Wheat Ale, Saison, Amber/Dark Ale, IPA, Specialty IPA, Dark Lager, Stout/Porter, Sour, Cider and Fruit Beer.  Once again we had 9 judges broken up into three groups of three.  The categories were broken up between the three groups in a way that everyone judged around the same amount of beer.  We were tasked with picking our favourite beer in each category that we were responsible for.  From there the groups were asked to pick their top two beer from those winners.  This gave us the top 6 beers for the entire group to deliberate over for the best of show.  I think this gets even more contentious every year and the discussions become arguments but we get down to a winner in the end.  The following photos of the Judges come from Kim of DogLeg marketing.

Meet The Judges

Chelsea – Brewtiful BC, Jeremy – Craft Beer Vancouver, Jan Zeschky – Beer writer

Rebecca Whyman – Beernesday.com, Rob Mangelsdorf – The Growler, Joe Wiebe – Author

Wade Dhooge – Cask & Barrel, Me, Jason Van Rassel – Daily Beer

Every year this panel is done by blind tasting with all samples poured by a team and handed out to each judge.  We do not judge to the full standards of the BJCP but only pick what each of the three judges in a group likes best then deliberate which of those should be our choices for number one.  Like I said above once we had decided which of the beers were the winners in our categories we had to choose our top two.  We had some pretty good discussions and disagreements about what beer should go on to the full judge panel.  Wow was there ever some serious disagreement this year when we came together as a group of nine to pick the best of show.  We started out with a very civil conversation where we discussed if the winner should be an approachable beer for the masses or what we thought was the most technically interesting beer.  Just this simple part of the conversation was a contentious one.  I don’t know if this was the most contentious judge panel that I have been a part of or not but this was definitely the one that had the most swings in our voting.  There was absolutely two different camps when it came to which beer should win.  The funny part is that the winner in the end was an underdog.  It wasn’t until one person voting against the winner said something that swayed the balance to the winning IPA.  I am really happy that I was able to come out on the right side of this vote in the end but it was close.  The judging once again started at 10am (Its a hard job but someone has to do it) and it went on for quite some time.

Once we had made all of our decisions about best beer of every category and best of show we were given the names of all of the winners we had chosen.

Best in Class, Judges’ Choice Awards:

Pilsner/Golden Lager Pixel Pils – Fuggles & Warlock, Richmond, BC
Pale Ale Dusk Pale Ale – Parkside Brewery, Port Moody, BC
Wheat Ale Summer Ale, Witbier – Steamworks Brewing, Burnaby, BC
Saison Sirens Chai Saison – Britannia Brewing, Richmond, BC
Amber/Dark Ale Brave Liver Scotch Ale – Mt. Begbie Brewing, Revelstoke, BC
IPA Street Legal IPA – Twin Sails Brewing, Port Moody, BC
Specialty IPA High Five Hazy IPA – Yellow Dog Brewing, Port Moody, BC
Dark Lager Dark Lager – Steel & Oak Brewing, New Westminster, BC
Stout/Porter Dry Irish Stout – Ravens Brewing, Abbotsford, BC
Sour Nectarous – Four Winds Brewing, Delta, BC
Cider Pippin’s Fate – Twisted Hills Craft Cider, Cawston, BC
Fruit Beer Park Life Passionfruit Ale – Bomber Brewing, Vancouver, BC

The People’s Choice Awards, voted for by guests at the event:

Best Beer                                                 Old Style Lager – Red Arrow Brewing, Duncan, BC
Best Cider                                                Pears & Peaches – BC Tree Fruits Cider, Kelowna, BC
Best Food                                                Brodo Kitchen, Penticton, BC

Best in Show, Judges’ Choice Award:      

High Five Hazy IPA – Yellow Dog Brewing, Port Moody, BC

This was once again an amazing judging session at the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale.  To check out the post on the festival itself click here.  Here are some of the photos of the group of judges and our amazing group that set up the juding and poured our samples.

Here are the photos from the Awards ceremony that was held in the main hall of the festival a few hours after we had finished the judging session.

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Sunshine Coast South (BC Ale Trail)


With the cost of ferries these days it is not always in the cards to do a long trip over two or more ferries.  I decided to change it up a little bit when I headed over to the Southern portion of the Sunshine Coast leg of the BC Ale Trail.  This time I decided to be a walk on passenger to the ferry.

In 2016 a group of people got together with the British Columbia government and tourism agencies to create the BC Ale Trail a selection of self guided craft beer and tourist trails.  I have been doing similar self guided road trips for years now checking out what the province has to offer be it beer or sights and even had a much less grand idea like the ale trails.

Here is the official video from the BC Ale Trail.

If you are only doing the Southern Portion of the Sunshine Coast trail you have a ton of options on just how to do it.  You could drive which is the quickest and most expensive way and you will need to find a designated driver unless you get a hotel room.  You can also be a walk on passenger at a much cheaper fair or slightly more and take the ferry with your bicycle.

The first thing you need to figure out though is what ferries you will be taking.  Click here for the schedule.

If you do not want to drive and park in Horseshoe Bay you can also take Trainslink.  Find directions here.

Once you have found your way to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal its time to get to the fun part.

Make sure to spend some time on the upper deck to get the views of Beautiful British Columbia.

I took a little video as we left the terminal in West Vancouver.

Once on the Langdale side you do not have to follow my recommendations but this is what I consider the best route.  While this route will be accessible to all in that it is on paved roads there are many big hills along the roads.  Here is the full path I would take.

This route takes you through some really nice albeit hilly country side to Persephone Brewing then continues downhill to Gibsons Tapworks.  To start walk up the highway when you get off the ferry and turn left at the first set of street lights.  You will follow this to the first Right that goes uphill.  Stay on N Road while it winds its way up the country side.  Turn left when you get to Stewart Road at the same point N Road meets the Highway again.

You have now Arrived at Persephone Brewing.  This brewery is also a Hop Farm although changes to the ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) may force the brewery off this land.  If you have a chance and live in BC please sign the petition to allow them to keep their brewery on this land.  This brewery makes a beer for everyone with all kinds of styles on offer.  They even have pizzas on weekends if you get lucky.  There is also quite a bit of live music that is offered at the tasting room.  As the weather warms up they have a nice big picnic area that you can enjoy your beer.  To check out my detailed (although outdated) post on Persephone Brewing and see some video of my ride there a few years ago click here.

Once you have had your fill of their beer and it may take a while it is time to move on to the next local.

Head South on Sunshine Cost Hwy until you get to School Road and turn left.  Turn left again at Marine Drive and a quick left on Cruice Lane.  You will now be at the front doors of the Gibsons Tapworks!  At the time of writing this post Gibsons Tapworks is a brand new brewery.  The brewery currently has 4 of their own beer on tap as well as a guest tap and a cider tap.  The lounge is really well laid out and really welcoming.  The brewery is also open until 10pm or 11pm depending on the day.  This should become the it place to be when you go to Gibsons or live there.  For more info on Gibsons Tapworks click here.

Once you are done here you will probably be hungry.  I hopped over to Bay View Szechuan & Chinese for some pretty good and amazing value Chinese food before my walk back to the ferry.  It is right on Marine Drive a block away.

Once finished food I started my walk back to the Ferry.

This is a nice scenic route North along Marine Drive.  You have lots of views of the ocean and beach access at many locations if you want to check out the beach.  You also make your way though a small cute unincorporated that looks like a fishing town.  Keep your eyes on the sky for hawks and eagles and on the ocean for wales or porpoises.  While I walked I saw one of the last two blow water out of their blowhole while swimming along a ways off the beach.

Once you arrive back at the ferry its time to go home.  While I love being on the Sunshine Coast its always good to get home after a long day of walking and enjoying brews.  Total walking time according to Google maps is 2 hours and 30 minutes.  If you don’t walk at a good pace and don’t go up hills well add some time.

In the future I plan on doing a full Sunshine Coast Ale trail post but I thought it worth posting on the lower Sunshine Coast as it is so easy for both locals and tourists to make it there!  I hope this inspires you to make your way over.

Port Moody (BC Ale Trail)


Craft Beer and tourism is a match made in heaven.  Just watch the Portland Oregon commercials that air in BC that focus on the beer scene down there and you know how much it means to that city.  In 2016 a group of people got together with the British Columbia government and tourism agencies to create the BC Ale Trail a selection of self guided craft beer and tourist trails.  I have been doing similar self guided road trips for years now checking out what the province has to offer be it beer or sights and even had a much less grand idea like the ale trails.  For my first official Ale Trail I decided to do the most accessible trail to both locals and for tourists.

Here is the official video from the BC Ale Trail.

The one thing that makes the Port Moody Ale Trail stand out above all others is that it is easily accessible from every major rapid transit system in Metro Vancouver.  From Vancouver International Airport (YVR) you have two transfers on Skytrains but it is fairly straight forward and people will gladly help you find your way.  You can also make your way from North Vancouver on the Sea Bus and Skytrain as well as from Surrey on the Expo Line or Mission on the West Coast Express.  This is truly the most easily completed craft beer trip in the province and the beer you will be checking out is top notch.

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Original Unedited map found here.

To plan your trip to the Port Moody Ale Trail also known as Brewers Row check out Translink’s Trip Planner.

Now the official BC Ale Trail for Port Moody only covers 4 breweries in Twin Sails Brewing, Yellow Dog Brewing, The Parkside Brewery and Moody Ales all on the strip of Murray Street dubbed Brewers Row but this trip would not be complete without a side trip to Dageraad Brewing in Burnaby only a few stations before.

Follow the following link to check out more details about the Port Moody Ale Trail.

If you are starting from anywhere other than the West Coast Express I would recommend starting at the unofficial stop on the ale trail in Dageraad Brewing.  The walk from the Production Way University station is a short quite flat 5 minute walk as per Google Maps.

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Dageraad Brewing specializes in Belgian style ales.  When I did this walking tour Metro Vancouver was in one of their unseasonable winter storms.  This is still an amazing trip in the winter.

Dageraad at the time of writing is currently expanding their tasting room which is really welcome as their current tasting room is very small and has an overflow area in the production side.  Don’t let this small room fool you though as they are making some really tasty Belgian inspired beer.  For a more in-depth write up on Dageraad Brewing pre expansion click here.

Once you have had your fill of beer here at Dageraad it is time to get moving again.  Walk back to the Production Way University station and head to Moody Station.

Once at Moody Station take the short walk along Spring Street towards the overpass.  Take the overpass but instead of walking around the loop turn right and take the walking path.  Follow that to the first of 4 breweries on Brewers Row in Twin Sails Brewing.

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Twin Sails began its life as a brewery that brewed mostly German Inspired beer.   In and around October 2016 everything changed.  With a new assistant brewer and a new direction they are now one of the leading breweries in experimental West Coast and East Coast IPA’s (also known as New England IPA).  This new line of canned beer is taking BC by storm and selling out almost faster than they can make it.  It is safe to say that as of October this has become one of my favourite stops in Metro Vancouver.  They still have the odd beer from their original lineup on tap usually a pilsner or a hefeweizen if you do not enjoy IPA’s.  If you are looking for something to do while here at the brewery try one of their board games.  For a more in-depth look at Twin Sails Brewing click here.

 

Once you peel yourself out of this tasting room you will take the horribly long walk to Yellow Dog Brewing next door.

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Next up is the original brewery on the row in Yellow Dog Brewing.  In the official video from BC Ale Trail you get a look at the old tasting room.  Yellow Dog has had a massive expansion very recently and has a new capacity of 101 people if I remember correctly.  Yellow Dog has been known well for their IPA but they make solid beers all around.  Basically every beer is named after something to do with dogs including the Play Dead IPA, Chase My Tail Pale Ale and the Shake a Paw Smoked Porter to name a few.  When they first opened they even let dogs on their back patio but health inspectors put a stop to that sadly.  You won’t find a bad beer on tap here.  To get more info on the brewery click here.

At some point you will have to decide to move on.  Your next stop is The Parkside Brewery.  This is once again a short little walk.

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The Brewmaster at The Parkside Brewery Vern Lambourne was previously the Small Batch Brewmaster at Granville Island Brewing and has a great respect in the BC craft beer community.  With a lineup of beer currently from a Pilsner to a Dark Cherry Imperial Stout there is a beer here for everyone.  This is also if not by volume then by sheer space the largest brewery on the row.  They also have the most parking if you want to drive here for a growler fill.  Not only do they have beer here they also have shuffle board and one arcade racing game that is free.  Click here to read more about the brewery.

Once you have had your fill of games and beer it is time to move to the last brewery on the Row in Moody Ales.  A mere 3 minute walk away you wont have trouble finding this place.

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Moody Ales could just as well be you starting point for this ale trail trip.  With a great mix of beers and very friendly staff you wont want to leave.  Moody Ales often has a cask beer on offer as well as up to 11 other beers.  Moody Ales is also the only brewery on the row that offers 1L crowler cans of their beer.  Can meets growler this beer is fresh and great to bring with you for outdoor activities.  Here is my write up of Moody Ales while not fully up to date you get more of an idea about the brewery.

Once your done at Moody Ales there is lots to do in the area.  The people at the Ale Trail recommend the following:

Brew Street Craft and Kitchen
3224 Saint Johns Street, Port Moody, BC
brewstreetcraftkitchen.com (604) 492-3883
Fresh, locally-sourced menus, plus a total of 80 craft beers on tap!
Rocky Point Kayak – Do before drinking!
2715 Esplanade Street, Port Moody, BC
rockypointkayak.com (604) 619-2837
Hourly, daily, or weekly rentals, of kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards. Find an abundance of bird and wildlife just a short paddle from shore.

Romer’s Burger Bar

101 Morrissey Road, Port Moody, BC
romersburgerbar.com (604) 917-0118
Commitment to being simple, fresh, local and a part of the neighbourhood. Enjoy all four local craft beers and casual dining inspired by the West Coast lifestyle.
With all of the beer available at these breweries it would really makes sense to go for a nice walk.  With Rocky Point Park located right across the street from all 4 breweries I would head there.  They have a great waterfront path that you can enjoy at your leisure.
If you don’t have a blast on this Ale Trail trip then you can’t say that you like Craft Beer!  This trip is a blast and well worth it for the tourist or stay-cation day.

BC Ale Trail Teaser


There is a new project in the works for the Province of British Columbia and its craft breweries.  Its called the BC Ale Trail and will the definitive guide to traveling the province checking out local craft breweries.  A few days ago they released their teaser trailer for the project that launches in October 2016.

The website for the project is live although there is little to no information as of yet.  Keep an eye out for this exciting new project as it has the making of a very interesting and exciting tool.

https://bcaletrail.ca/

Press Release:

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 // British Columbia, Canada

This autumn, explore British Columbia’s raw wilderness and bounty of craft beer with the BC Ale Trail — the definitive online guide to BC’s dynamic craft beer community. Explore stouts and snow-capped peaks, brown ales and beaches, or bikes and hikes that lead to a tasting room using curated Ale Trails connecting towns, breweries and nearby attractions, yielding unforgettable experiences for craft beer enthusiasts touring the province.

With support from seven of BC’s Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), the self-guided tours will highlight local brewery destinations and suggested sightseeing in each of the seven participating communities — Comox Valley, Kootenay Rockies, Nanaimo, Port Moody, Sunshine Coast, Victoria and Whistler.

Launching in October to coincide with BC Craft Beer Month, the BC Ale Trail will come to life with help from Joe Wiebe, author of the BC bestselling book Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to BC Breweries and co-founder of Victoria Beer Week, as well as several other BC craft beer champions who have contributed their expertise of the industry to produce an authentic and robust BC Ale Trail experience.

The BC Ale Trail invites beer enthusiasts to Arrive Thirsty, Leave Inspired. Join the wild at heart and explore all that British Columbia’s craft beer wilderness has to offer.

For more information, please visit BCAleTrail.com or email info@bcaletrail.ca.

While you wait for this to launch here is my complete list of craft breweries in the Province. 

https://mikescraftbeer.com/bc-breweries/

Situation Brewing – Edmonton


The situation in the city of Edmonton Alberta is that there is not a lot of craft beer currently.  Luckily that situation is changing right now!

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Hopefully in the near future there will be a sign on the brewery so that it is obvious that this is Situation Brewing.  Situation Brewing is a great little brewpub located fairly close to the University of Alberta.

The brewpub has a great restaurant area with lots of windows that open up wide to bring in lots of fresh air.  They serve 7 different beer that are brewed on site currently with up to 5 extra guest taps.  The bar has a small selection of hard liquor as well if you are in the hunt for that.  Not only do they make some tasty beer they also have really good food.  I can personally recommend the Sandwich Cubano just get a side of hot sauce to make it even better.  I could not have better things to say about the staff either as they were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.

I was lucky enough to have my lunch at the bar beside the brewing crew and was able to set up a little tour of the brewery.  The brewhouse is not huge but it is big enough to pump out enough beer to keep the taps flowing.  When I checked out the brewery they had only been open for around 3 weeks and they had already made a kettle sour so you can see that they are looking to make a name for themselves.  You will not find they beer at many locations outside of the brewpub because they fell in love with what Brassneck Brewing in Vancouver was doing more or less only selling been on site.

I am just happy that my work has been bringing me to Edmonton as I look forward to having a few more beers at this brewpub in the near future.  They make good food and good beer.  Make sure you head there if you ever make it to Edmonton or if you are lucky enough to live near to the brewery.

Situation Brewing
http://situationbeer.com
10308 – 81 Ave, Edmonton
780-705-1377
info@situationbeer.com

full sized photos