How I spent my Vancouver vacation, by Andrea, age 28

Saturday's drinking bright spot.

Saturday’s drinking bright spot.

The Specs: Dageraad Brewing (Burnaby, B.C.) Belgian Blonde
8 per cent ABV, draft


A weekend in Vancouver ought to afford a lot of great drinking — but a weekend in Vancouver with unlimited shitty table wine mostly affords something a little less bloggable.

However, somewhere in the mix of winning an award (gotta get my brags where I can guys) and the post-award hangover, I did manage a quick swing to The Alibi Room, beautiful taphouse nirvana that it is, for a couple of good pints of beer, including a taste of Dageraad’s Belgian Blonde.

Once again, I have to apologize that this is something you can’t get in Kamloops — or anywhere outside the Lower Mainland, really. That’s a shame because it’s delicious and easily among the better strong beers I’ve had this year.

With a cloudy colour and a savoury herbal edge, along with just a whiff of citrus, this beer is dense in taste but surprisingly light on the tongue, not too sweet, and with lots of fizz to keep everything moving. Would that the timing had worked out to allow a few more of these, and a little less of the house white.

(Props to the  Alibi too, if only because our waitress told me she thought a community newspaper awards ceremony seemed “cool” and wasn’t obviously lying.)



Want some beer with your foam? Don't be like me.

Want some beer with your foam? Don’t be like me.

The Specs: Coal Harbour Brewing Co. Powell IPA
6.5 per cent ABV, 650mL

An IPA is a bit of a dangerous choice for this blog. Though 2014 was my year of hop discovery, IPAs are generally right at the edge of what I consider an acceptable beverage. The mediocre ones taste grassy and soapy, and where other people allegedly find interest my palate registers a blast of bitterness and little, if anything else.

But, on the recommendation of a brewhound at Kamloops City Hall, I ventured forth.

I will admit a small bias right off the top. My 1950s fridge has a pretty heavy door and a couple of harder than average latchings over the course of the day did nothing good for this beer. No beverage has ever cascaded from a bottle with the force of this IPA.

On the plus side, while wiping off the floor I noted it smells quite nice. Bit of a fruity tang to it, which usually bodes well. The colour’s quite good too — a bit amber, great against the tiles.

Compared to a lot of IPAs which cross my path, Powell is quite mild. I was bracing for the shock and awe of hops, and it didn’t ever show up. There’s a characteristic bitterness to it, but it’s not overpowering (though you will notice more of it as the beer comes up to temperature). More in the fore are juicy flavours of grapefruit, maybe a tinge of apricot.

Oh, and as you may have guessed, I’m pretty sure it’s very carbonated, even without a good ice box smackaround. I don’t think I’ve ever had a beer continue foam up so much that many minutes after being opened.

Overall, this is a really great place to start if like me you’re trying to expand your horizons, or if you enjoy a certain amount of bitterness — but only so much. Or, if you really need an excuse to clean your floors on a Monday night.

Strong beer, grumpy Andrea

Oh Red Truck, you are not quite the start to 2015 I was hoping for.

Oh Red Truck, you are not quite the start to 2015 I was hoping for.

The Specs: Red Truck Beer Co. (Vancouver, B.C.) ’46 Porter
6.6 per cent ABV 650mL, limited release


Hey Bad Riders, let’s start the year with a controversial question:

Is anyone else starting to feel like they’re over strong beer?

This may be the winter doldrums talking, or the result of having too much Steamworks Blitzen (a 9 per cent tripel that wishes it had Red Collar’s cleanness of flavour) in my fridge that I don’t want to drink — but it’s also in part because I can’t figure out why the porter I’m drinking right now needed to be 6.6 per cent.

I like porters a lot. Over the course of the fall, they’ve become a go-to beer style for me. From what I’ve seen of the B.C. beer landscape, porters will get you a degree of experimentation I don’t see from other dark styles like stouts, and there’s generally no risk of ending up with a glass of something grassy, soapy and over-hopped, as has happened to me more than once with IPAs and ales.

With that fondness in mind, I was expecting good things from Red Truck’s limited edition ’46 Porter, with its silver medal from the Canadian Brewing Awards and its very charming bottle label (exhibit no. 150 in the ‘Andrea is a shallow drinker’ case).

But, instead, here I sit wondering only this: what the point of making this a strong beer?

In the right circumstances, a little booziness is fine and dandy in a beer. The little edge of Goose Island’s Sofie is one of the reason it became my favourite American beer of 2014.

Here, however, I don’t know what the extra alcohol is supposed to be adding to the mix.

Where this porter smells like it should have a round, dark coffee taste in line with a good after-dinner espresso, and the malt mix would have me expecting some caramel or vanilla tones, the actual flavour here is… a little brittle. Coffee, but more like the store brand stuff I’ve been brewing because I’m too lazy, post-new year, to grind beans.

Oh, and booziness. We’ve got that.

Compared to other porters I’ve tossed back, it doesn’t feel as interesting, as dynamic. But it’ll get me cut slightly faster if I want, so I suppose there’s that.

You’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s worth the sacrifice.