An Iowa IPA

Every visit back to Iowa, the numbers of craft beers and spirits being made in the state never fails to impress.

Millstream still makes my favorite IPA, a wonderful play on the name but not on my affinity for hoppy beer. A visit to their brewery in Amana introduced me to their pilsner and stout, but it’s the Iowa Pale Ale that keeps me coming back. A wonderful play on the name for my favorite style of beer from my home state.

An evening at the Molson Brewery for Brew 2.0

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted about Brew 2.0, an event that was being held at the Molson Brewery in Vancouver that was to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the operation. Even better, this little shindig was being put on for social media folks like myself, plus a lot of familiar and not so familiar faces in the tech community in this city.

Yah beer!

The concept for the night was to invite a bunch of bloggers down to be apart of this celebration, try their beer, have some amazing food, learn more about the people behind the brewery, get a tour of the facility, and basically be treated to a rather amazing evening. That suites Rebecca and I just fine.

Brew 2.0

Brew 2.0

Brew 2.0

All in all, I was immensely impressed by not only the event, but my overall opinion of Molson has changed quite a bit. Of course, they were generous hosts, but even Geoff Molson, the great-great-great-great-grandson of founder John Molson[wiki], was there to give us a great history of the brewery in Vancouver, and good friend David Drucker was there to capture his introductory speech on video.

Probably the best part of the night was when Duane said to Geoff Molson, “You make a pretty good beer, but can you do a keg stand?” And Geoff honestly answered yes, but this remains to be seen.

Gord Rickards pouring beer for us

The other treat of the evening was to have Gord Rickards, co-creator of Rickard’s various brews, pouring my Rickard’s Red from the tap. After spending $7-$9 per single cup of beer at Canucks games, it doesn’t seem so bad after meeting the guy and drinking his beer for free. He also gave us a wonderful tutorial on the basic ingredients that go in the various beers that they make there, even letting us sample various grains that they use.

When we took a tour of the cannery floor, I asked Gord if he ever gets tired of seeing his beer put into cans with his name on it. He didn’t blink when he said no, and I didn’t doubt that answer before I even asked it. Shortly thereafter, they pulled about 8 cans off the line before they went through the pasteurization process. We went upstairs and had Rickard’s Red that was two minutes old, unpasteurized. They were cold and very, very tasty.

Micro-brews will always have a special place in anyone’s heart (and liver) who enjoys beer, but an evening like this helps you to understand that even the macro-brew folks are working just as hard to produce great beer. The next time you turn your nose up at a Molson Canadian could be a missed opportunity of having something that isn’t as bad as you think. Additionally, the Canadian we were given was the freshest, tastiest brew that any of us had ever sampled. Maybe it’s proximity, but the truth is that it was good.

The 50th Anniversary Gold Standard is something that will not go into production as much as brewed especially for marking the occasion. Trying it out, I can say that it’s really good. Creamy, kinda like an IPA, but that’s the best I can describe it.

I can’t say enough good things about the folks at Molson. Every aspect of the night exceed expectations, and it continued the next day when each attendee had a case of Rickard’s delivered to them. Since Rebecca was invited in addition to myself, we got two. Trump card once again, Molson. Thank you!

See more reaction around the blogosphere from Raul, Tris, Tanya, Arieanna, Ryan, and the Molson Community Blog. More photos can be seen in the Flickr set.

Guinness is an acquired taste

And I have happily acquired it. This might seem sad to some, but it’s taken me up until yesterday that I have my first, real taste of Guinness. It was my father-in-law who has opened my eyes up to this new experience. I think that’s the only way to sum up this first, and far from the last, chance. They say that it’s good for you, too. I say, bonus!

For years now, I’ve been less than a fan of beer. That whole time, people have told me about the differences between good and bad brews. I’ve never doubted this, and there are times where I have backed down from my stance. More than likely, it was when the price was right, meaning free. Quality, on the other hand, has long been lacking.

Every so often, I would feel nostalgic for my days in Japan, grab some spicy tuna rolls, and pick up a liter of Sapporo after a long day at the radio station. Now I live within walking distances of numerous sushi bars with more Asian brews that I probably still don’t know exist. I can’t fail to mention the soft spot that Asahi has in my heart, and that other brand that had kanji all over it except for the one phrase in english, “Good Value and Quality,” which is what I have referred to it as since. Beer machines on the street and long train rides are responsible for my low level knowledge of Japanese brews.

To say that I like beer is too broad of a statment. I’m finding pale ales to be among more of my favorite, and it really comes down to enjoying, not chugging, a pint that isn’t just suds and water. This is combined with the truth that I have discovered from moving above the 49th. Canadian beer is some good stuff, Granville Island and Okanagan Spring being my top favorites. Guinness, obviously not Canadian, gets a slot towards the top.