Utopias 2013 – Samuel Adams

Limited Edition
Bottle 6,561 of less than 15,000

From Samuel Adams out of Boston Massachusetts comes the Holy Grail of most beer nerds “Utopias” 2013 Vintage (also the most expensive beer to date).  This beer destroys your perception of what a beer is as not only is it uncarbonated but it is also 28% alcohol and is a blend of beers some of which have been aged in barrels for up to or more than 20 years!  This years edition has been aged in Bourbon barrels, 8 year old port barrels and rum barrels and the finished product is blended together with a small amount of their beer the Komsic Mother Funk.  Before you pour this beer understand it is not meant to be refrigerated and should be served at room temperature.  The beer pours a ruby brown colour and as mentioned is uncarbonated.  The aroma begins with alcohol up front with whiskey, vanilla and some sweet fruits.  The flavour is of huge malts, maple syrup, toffee, plums, cherries, butterscotch, chocolate, honey, vanilla, salt, rum, port, bourbon with a good sweetness.  This beer is quite viscus and feels almost more like a syrup than a brew.  The beer has a strong alcohol warmth and a medium alcohol flavour in the finish.  To say this beer is tasty would be the understatement of the year!  This is a game changer in the brewing industry as not only is is amazingly flavourful but it is also a beer that is brewed to an amazingly strong 28% (IBU is 25).  This beer does not use any gimmicks such as freeze distilling to achieve the alcohol content.  This beer tastes as good as high end Cognac and sherry.

Malts:  Two-row, pale malt, caramel 60, munich
Hops:  Hallertau Mittelfruh, Tettnang Tettnager
Special Ingredents: Maple Syrup, Komsic Mother Funk

Commercial Description:  Utopias is brewed using traditional methods. The brewers begin with a blend of two-row Caramel and Munich malts that impart a rich, deep amber color. Noble hops – Hallertau Mittelfrueh, Spalt Spalter and Tettnang Tettnanger – are also added to lend complexity and balance. During fermentation, several yeast strains are used, including one normally reserved for champagne. The beer is then blended with a variety of different brews, some of which have been aged in different wood barrels for more than 20 years. As a result of the blending and aging, Utopias invokes the flavors of a rich vintage Port, fine Cognac, or aged Sherry while feeling surprisingly light on the palate.

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Imperial India Pale Ale (for Autism) – Red Racer Brewing (Dec 18, 2014)

Beer Advent Calendar 2014

Updated review to reflect new “Imperial IPA for Autism” special edition.
Updated again for the rebrand as Red Racer Brewing as part of the Beer Advent Calendar 2014

From Red Racer Brewing (Central City Brewers and Distillers) in Surrey comes the “Imperial India Pale Ale” this version is the Charity version “Imperial IPA for Autism” with $5 per bottle going to Autism research.  This beer is a award winning beer available in 650ml bottles.  The beer pours a deep amber with a white head.  The smell of the beer is of strong hops, pine, citrus, mango and caramel malts.  The flavour is fairly malty forward with lots of caramel malts with lots of fruity notes inducing citrus, mango, pine, resin earthiness and lots of hops bitterness.  The finish of this beer is both sweet and bitter.  the beer has an IBU of 90 and an alcohol content of 9.0% and packs a punch.  This is a very tasty India Pale Ale if you enjoy a nice bitter North West IPA’s.  This special edition bottle coming out in February/March 2013 is a great cause and should get everyone out to buy it!

Commercial Description:  Red Racer Imperial IPA is dry hopped with whole leaf hops from the Yakima Valley, combined with Maris Otter English barley, which is floor-malted in age old tradition. A long maturation ensures plenty of flavour, with strong aromatics of grapefruit, tangerine and mango.

Food Pairing according to O’hare’s Beer Club notes are as follows:Salty cured meats, big strong cheeses.

Click here to check out the April Box

Mystery Gift Holiday Countdown 2014

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Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine (Vintage 2011) – Central City Brewing (Aged 1 Year)

Limited Winter Release. (99 cases of 12 650ml bottles made)

Review Based on Vintage 2011 brewed in aprox December 2011 released on late November 2012 and consumed on December 1st 2012.  Central City is one of the few breweries to age their barleywine in house for a year before releasing.

From Central City Brewing (Red Racer Brewing) in Surrey BC comes “Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine (Vintage 2011)” a bottle conditioned beer that has been aged for almost a full year before release!  This beer pours a cloudy deep amber colour with a tan head.  The aroma of this brew is of sweet dark fruits such as prunes, malts, toffee, mild chocolate and hops.  The flavour shows characteristics of sweet dark fruits, cherry, strong bitter hops, brown sugar, toffee, chocolate, tons of malts and alcohol.  The beer has a smooth mouthfeel and picks up strength at the tail end.  This beer starts cold in your mouth and turns warm as it hits your throat.  This is a slow sipping and amazingly tasty beer!  I have a bottle of this vintage put away in the cellar for consumption at least a year down the road!  Thor’s Hammer has a commanding alcohol content of 11.5% which like his hammer, it should not be taken lightly!  Barley Wine’s should be aged as they reduce the alcohol flavour and increase the other flavours of the beer.  With that in mind I can not wait to try the next 2011 Vintage when I decide it is time. This beer has opened my eyes to an amazing style of beer!

Commercial Description: Made with the best ingredients, with uncompromising standards, this Barley Wine is fermented traditionally within our tanks, and then conditioned for up to a year in its bottle. Enjoyed for up to five years after brewing.

Food Pairing as per Central City: Desserts, spicy dishes, breads.

This beer was part of Mikes Craft Beer’s Barleywine Tasting.  It was highly regarded by all tasters involved.

Read about the tasting here


BC Beer Awards 2012 / CAMRA’s Harvest Cask Festival – October 13th 2012

On October 13th, 2012 the Third Annual British Columbia Beer Awards & CAMRA Harvest Cask Festival was held at Chapel Arts in Vancouver BC.  This event was put on by a partnership of British Columbia Beer Awards, British Columbia Craft Beer Month and CAMRA British Columbia.  This is an amazing event put on to celebrate all the amazing beer being produced across this vast Province!


First off I would also like to thank the following people!

“Brewery Creek Liquor Store (for their support)

CAMRA BC / CAMRA Vancouver (for their hard work)

BC Craft Beer Month (for their partnership)

Chrislan Ceramics (for the amazing handles)

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (for providing space for judging)

Chapel Arts (for being an amazing venue)

Jonathan Lloyd Walker (for being an engaging host)”

Both Steve and I attended this event for the first time and did not know what to expect.  The doors to the event opened at 1pm on the first real torrential downpour of the year (what a good day to stay in and drink!).  The day started off with the Cask Festival which included beer from the following breweries: Big Ridge, Coal Harbour, Driftwood, Granville Island, Howe Sound, Hoyne, Lighthouse, Old Yale, Parallel 49, Phillips, R&B, Red Racer (Central City), Red Truck, Spinnakers, Steamworks, Storm, Townsite, Tree, Vancouver Island and Yaletown.  At events like this you will never find a more friendly and interesting crowd that loves to mingle and chat about craft beer.  Be it Brewmasters, CAMRA Directors or just good old beer enthusiasts, there was always great conversation to go along with the amazing beer.  Every beer was available for tasting excluding the one cask of Driftwood’s “Sartori Harvest IPA” seemingly the current holy grail of BC beer.  This beer was only available to CAMRA BC members.  I joined CAMRA just for the taste (Glad I did too!) as well as all the other benefits.  Breakdowns of all the beer tasted at this event will trickle onto the blog as it is written.  Thank you to everyone that took the time to stop and chat, you all made for a great time!  It was especially great to meet and talk with both Sean Hoyne and Gary Lohin for the first time, two amazing brewmasters and all around great people.

The award ceremony started at 3:45pm in the main hall area of Chapel Arts.  The award presenter was Jonathan Lloyd Walker a BC/LA based actor, screen writer and creative producer.  During the proceedings Jonathan Walker had some great jokes and made the proceedings go very smoothly but it was a good thing the event was 19+.  This year hosted a record number of entrants from Breweries to Brew Pubs.  The Judging was done on September 29th 2012 at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts.  12 beer categories were judged by certified Beer Judges, Cicerones, Sommeliers and noted beer and food lovers according to the program.

Without further ado here are this years winners of the BC Beer Awards:Best of Show – Steamworks Pilsner -Conrad Gmoser of Steamworks Brewing Company

Lager/Pilsner – 22 Beers

1.) Steamworks Pilsner – Conrad Gmoser of Steamworks Brewing Company

 2.) Beach Blonde Lager – Stefan Buhl of Tree Brewing Company

 3.) Kelowna Pilsner – Stefan Buhl of Tree Brewing Company


Special Lager – 8 Beers

1.) Brewmaster’s Black – Stefan Tobler of Okanagan Spring Brewery

 2.) Hermann’s Dark Lager – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery

 3.) Iron Plow Harvest Marzen – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery


Session – 17 Beers

1.) High Country Kolsch -Bart Larson of Mt. Begbie Brewing Company

 2.) Seadog Amber Ale – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery

 3.) Begbie Cream Ale -Bart Larson of Mt. Begbie Brewing Company


Wheat/Rye – 22 Beers

1.) Belgian White – Dean Mcleod of Lighthouse Brewing Company

 2.) King Heffy Imperial Hefeweizen – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of Howe Sound Brewing Company

 3.) White Bark Ale – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of Driftwood Brewing Company


Pale – 41 Beers

1.) Red Racer Classic Pale Ale – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company

 2.) Salt Spring ESB – Murray Hunter of Gulf Island Brewing

 3.) River Rock Bitter – Daniel Murphy of Canoe Brewpub


Cascadian Dark Ale – 4 Beers

1.) Skookum Cascadian Brown Ale – Matt Phillips of Phillips Brewing Company

 2.) Gathering Storm Cascadian Dark Ale – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of Howe Sound Brewing Company

 3.) Cascadia Dark Ale – Tommie Grant of Spinnakers Brewpub and GuestHouses


Porter/Brown – 24 Beers

1.) Pow Town – Cedric Dauchot of Townsite Brewing Inc

 2.) Dark Chocolate Porter – Dean Mcleod of Lighthouse Brewing Company

 3.) Longboat Chocolate Porter – Matt Phillips of Phillips Brewing Company


Scottish/Irish – 3 Beers

1.) Big Caboose Red Ale – Gord Demaniuk of Fernie Brewing Company


Fruit – 15 Beers

1.) Blackberry Festivale – Cedric Dauchot of Townsite Brewing Inc

 2.) 4 Way Fruit Ale – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of Howe Sound Brewing Company

 3.) Seedspitter Watermelon Wit – Graham With of Parallel 49 Brewing Company


Stout – 14 Beers

1.) Keepers Stout – Dean Mcleod of Lighthouse Brewing Company

 2.) Pothole Filler Imperial Stout – Paul Wilson and Franco Corno of Howe Sound Brewing Company

 3.) Singularity – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of Driftwood Brewing Company


IPA – 36 Beers

1.) 5 Rings IPA – Derrick Franche of High Mountian Brewing Company

 2.) Central City Imperial IPA – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company

 3.) Red Racer IPA – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company


Sour/Brett – 4 Beers

1.) Oud Bruin – Iain Hill of Yaletown Brewing Company

 2.) Bird Of Prey Flanders Red – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of Driftwood Brewing Company

 3.) Imperial Flanders – James Walton of Storm Brewing Ltd


Specialty – 20 Beers

1.) Smoke & Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale – Kevin Emms of Coal Harbour Brewing

 2.) Serendipity #5 – Stefan Buhl of Tree Brewing Company

 3.) Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest – Graham With of Parallel 49 Brewing Company


Strong – 7 Beers

1.) Hermannator Ice Bock – Ralf Pittroff of Vancouver Island Brewery

 2.) Old Cellar Dweller 2012 – Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of Driftwood Brewing Company

 3.) Bourbon Barrel Aged Thor’s Hammer – Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing Company

And the People’s Choice Award went to

Belgian Quince IPA Cask – Lighthouse Brewing

After the awards were all handed out the cask festival went right back into full swing and ran until 7pm.  This left lots of time to congratulate all the deserving winners on their awards.  I would also like to congratulate both Parallel 49 Brewing and Townsite Brewing on both winning awards in their first year of operation.  Keep up the amazing work!

Sorry I did not bring my good camera to this event so the photos are not quite as good.

Thanks for reading!

Larger photos can be found her

French Oaked Stiff Stout – Dead Frog Brewing

From Dead Frog Brewing out of Aldergrove BC’s Beermaster Series comes the “French Oaked Stiff Stout”.  This is there limited run beer made by their brewmasters where they are able to experiment more than their regular beer.  The brew  pours a deep black opaque colour with a brown head.  The smell is potent with lots of roasted malts, sweetness, mint and chocolate.  When you sip the beer you will taste roasted malts, sweet chocolate a light hopiness and maybe a hint of peat.  The beer comes in at an alcohol content of 6.5% which is stiff for a stout maybe (average just below 5%) but not like some I have had.  I was impressed with this beer as I am pretty sure this is the only stout being produced by this brewery.  For that matter really their main line of beer are all lager or lager like and only the Brewmaster series delves into the complex flavors such as this.