Tuesday, April 9, 2013

British Columbia Beer Tasting: Drinking & Musing

My British Columbia-loving friend, Regan, made another trip recently and lucky for us, hauled back six bombers to share. It was a short trip but he managed to collect three IPAs, two double IPAs and an oatmeal stout.

The tasting's line up went as follows:
Moon Under Water  - Tranquility IPA
Tofino Brewing - Hoppin' Cretin IPA
Parallel 49 - Lord of the Hops IPA
Townsite Brewing - Perfect Storm Oatmeal Stout
Tin Whistle - Scorpion Double IPA
Tree Brewing - Hop Head Double IPA

The beers ranged from 5.5% ABV (the stout) to 8.5%, with the two double IPAs falling on the lighter end of the ABV spectrum for DIPAs - not surprising for Canadian beers. There wasn't a stinker in the bunch and the IPAs and DIPAs were all distinctly different. Beyond discussing our personal favorites, there was also a side discussion about branding, focusing on two of the six beers in particular.

Before we get to the musings part I know there might be a few of you who are looking for a short read and are more interested in the beers themselves. My favorite, for both the grapefruit flavor displayed in the obviously unfiltered beer and a great label, was Parallel 49 Lord of the Hops. Tree Brewing Hop Head DIPA was a close second, one I found very drinkable even while the group consensus seemed to be that it was "too" malty. Now, if you'd like to read on, the musings part.

The first beer, Tranquility IPA, was a solid IPA with a moderate 70 IBUs and 6.5% ABV. What struck me though was the label. Something about the colors (especially the use of silver metallic), font and overall layout of the label said "sake" or "wine" to me more than it said "beer." There's nothing wrong with that and there is most certainly something to be said for brewery/label recognition. When consumers are facing a cooler full of options I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that there should be consistency among a brewery's labels although it may sacrifice some creativity. Taking a look at their website there unfortunately weren't pictures of the full labels, just enlarged portions of them, but they did maintain consistency with similar sketch-type images and the likely sticking to a two color label.

The other beer that sparked conversation was Tin Whistle Scorpion Double IPA. Here it wasn't the visual of the label but the seeming disconnect between the brewery name Tin Whistle, accompanied by an image of a train in the logo, and the beer name Scorpion. Again, not having familiarity with the brewery I consulted the internet in hopes of determining if there was a naming pattern, finding their Facebook page. Scrolling through some of their pictures it appears that they have used labels which used the Tin Whistle train logo featured prominently however Scorpion Double IPA and Rattlesnake ESB appear to be new releases. Maybe they're taking their artwork in a different direction or perhaps these are part of a new series of beers. Either way, they don't seem to have a naming theme that ties to anything train related.

As with many musings I'm not offering up any answers. I would however be interested to hear your thoughts on either brewery and their choice of artwork and naming themes, or lack there of.


  1. Wow, never heard of any of those. BC must really be taking off.

    Next time your friend heads up there, see if she can bring you some Driftwood bottles. I've only had the Fat Tug IPA and Old Cellar Dweller, but they were awesome.

    1. Fat Tug was one he brought back on a previous trip but I don't recall having the Old Cellar Dweller. He's good at trying to bring back something that is new or at least new to him/us.