Dear Brewmaster…

Dear Brewmaster,
     I did not like this beer.  Keep up the good work,

Well Sir!  What the hell do you think about that?  Is it a paradox?  Can you not like a thing but love that it was made?  I think so.

To say that craft beer has exploded in BC over the last few years is like telling Tommy he’s got a huge zit on his nose.  It’s self-evident.  You think Tommy doesn’t know?  He can feel the damn thing throbbing away, building pressure for the inevitable breach.  He knows, she knows, everybody knows.  BC Craft Beer is a big fat Zit- wait.  Shit.

Dammit that simile was solid!  Right up until the end.

BC’s craft beer industry is flourishing.  Some of the reasons for this are:

  1.  People in the populace that crave quality.
  2.  People who want to support the “little guy” and the “me against The Man” mythos.
  3.  Buying local is a thing.
  4.  Also, it’s about choice.

One thing Big Beer can provide in spades is a consistent product on a massive scale.  This is ain’t necessarily a bad thing, and appeals to a large portion of the population where the emphasis isn’t on the ingredients but the experience.  Example: a multi-day kayaking trip I had with dear friends a decade ago.  We paddled all day and partied all night and the sheer number of cans crushed up in the bow of my boat was staggering.  It was an experience I’ll treasure forever and you know what?  The good times were in no way diminished by the fact it was Lucky Lager or Blue that bloated our bellies.  Some of the best times of my life involved shitty beer.  Smash-cut to today.  My tastes have become more refined and I crave the quality and variety craft brewers provide.  But unless you suffer from dementia or douche-baggery, you don’t forget where ya come from!

Okay, so we’re talking about reason number four.  Choice.  Yes, Big Beer can deliver quantity, but the sheer scale of their operation prevents them from being able to deviate from the status quo.  They’re too big to be nimble and creativity is a gamble they cannot take.  But you know who can deviate?  Be creative?  The brewers behind the scenes in some of your favorite microbreweries!  These modern day alchemists are mixing malts and adding adjuncts in ways inconceivable a mere decade ago.  They’re taking established styles and twisting and tweaking the recipes so the finished product barely resembles the guidelines of the style they started with.  This tinkering with the tried & true ain’t for everyone, but for some craft aficionados, curious consumers, and sheer lovers of the game, it’s paradise in a pear tree baby!  It truly is the Wild Wild West out there.  Or if you’re into the Haze Craze, the Wild Wild East!

Aaah, but slow down, Beer Guy.  This is not a toy every craft brewery wishes to play with.

True Dat.

There are those breweries whose mission statement is to make the very best beer possible within the dictates of a particular style.  This is a noble quest and not easily done.  You certainly know when you find it though, don’t you?  God DAMN that was a perfect stout!  Or Belgian Dubbel or Quad or enter any of the 99 bottles of beer on the wall here.  Realism is as much an art form as expressionism.

So we’re cool?  I’m not knocking more traditional Micro’s but I’m talking about the ones that mix it up.

So, to the beer that sparked this post.

The name of this curious creature is Must be Dreamin’ and it’s creators  are the master brewers behind Backcountry  Brewing out of Squamish and Twin Sails out of Port Moody.  This collaboration beer is a double IPA with Pinot Noir grape must.  What is ‘must’ I hear you say?  It’s the freshly pressed juice that contains all of the grape: skin, seeds and stem.  So what did these men of mad genius do?  They made a bad-ass base-beer then re-fermented it on over 250 litres of grape must!  They must be dreamin, indeed!

So no, I didn’t like this beer.  My first impression was, “tastes like they smashed beer and wine together” and in a far more measured manner, they did.  My second impression was, “tastes like barley wine” and my third impression was just, “tastes like weird wine”.  It’s a strong beer, coming in at 10.3 ABV, and my cockles were definitely warmed by the boozy heat, but this was not the beer I was looking for.  There were several reasons for this and none of them matter much: I had a cold that day, I’m not used to beers above 10% ABV, I don’t really care for red wine, etc.  And I don’t really need to hear that you loved this beer because I’ve heard quite a lot of that already.  And those people are right.  And so am I.  One’s taste in beer is subjective, but not only that: it’s changeable!  I have another can of the this waiting for me in the fridge and I’m quite curious as to how I’ll feel about it the second time ’round.  That Must be Dreamin’ is a well crafted beer is not in dispute, I guess my point is this:

If we (the consumer) liked everything you (the brewer) made, that would not be a good thing.  It means you’re staying between the lines, catering to your crowd and not pushing the envelope.  Pushing the envelope means taking your recipes to places they’ve never been and sometimes those places are gonna be somewhat disagreeable, maybe a hotel in Delaware.  But other times?  Other times you’ll find yourself on a boat in a bay by an island so rich in flavour and texture that your senses literally shudder with orgasmic glee.

I’ve experienced that …um…glee?… Let’s say full body buzz with beers from both breweries (most recently the Pump Up the Jam from BB and the Juice Plus from TS) and know that I will again because the brewers in question are masters of their craft, who hold on to quality with one hand while the other reaches out for the divine.

And so I say unto you:

Dear Brewmaster,
     I didn’t like this beer.  Keep up the good work,


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