Beer Tasting in the Alibi Room

Oh what a night!

Lineup to get into the Alibi Room
Lineup to get into the Alibi Room

Today a guest blogger helps get me out of my blogging slump. Al & Batz and I and a few friends joined a hundred or so other craft beer affectionados at Alibi’s 500th tap list celebration.  They’ve been open since 2006 in Vancouver and have remained one of the go-to spots for craft beer. Owner Nigel Springthorpe along with co-owner Raya Audet recently opened the Brassneck Brewery with their partner Conrad Gmoser (formerly of Steamworks) so we’re talking Vancouver craft beer royalty.

On arrival, an hour before opening, we joined about 30 other thirsty folks in a jovial lineup. Nigel appeared occasionally to hand out the very extensive tap list for the 5-day event: a reported 75 kegs and 23 casks!  And lord help me, one of my favorites (Central City’s Red Racer IPA) was going to be handed out for FREE until its keg ran out!  The line grew to over a hundred before the doors were finally flung open. Overheard in the line-up: “Weren’t we supposed to be saving our money for the rent?”

Grant checking out the massive beer menu at the Alibi Room
So many beers, so little time

So, without further ado, I’ll let Albatz take over with her tasting and I’ll interject as needed 🙂

1. Cantillon ‘Kreik’, a Cherry Lambic: This was the first thing I ordered. Comments (from me): “Pink! Sour!” Grant tells me that most lambics are a lot more sour than this one, and that I will get used to it. I don’t. It was popular with the crowd though, and the first keg to go empty.

Grant: That’s because it was actually from Belgium. People tend to glorify any beer from the old country.  I don’t particularly enjoy kreiks myself but felt it was to style.

2. Gigantic x Brassneck Collaboration: ‘Attention Seeker’ Session CDA:  Grant ordered this. Comments: dark, smells good, tastes good, bitter to the end.  Al likes it, “really dry”.

Grant: For the uninitiated, a ‘session’ beer is a lighter beer but with the hoppiness of a stronger beer. The lower alcohol makes them better suited for a ‘session’ of drinking. And a CDA stands for Cascadian Dark Ale.  

3. Brassneck Brewery, One Trick Pony: I have no notes on this. I think Ralphie ordered it….

Grant: No memory of this one… the downhill slide had started.

4. Brassneck Brewery, Free Radical White IPA with Mosaic Hops: Al’s order and he wrote, ‘great nose, delicious’. I think it must have been really good as it appears he didn’t shared it; there aren’t any other comments about it.

FREE! FREE! FREE! Central City Brewing, Red Racer IPA: We already knew this was a great beer, and sometimes it was a lot better than the brews we paid for! The offer was tucked in amongst a small novel about the Alibi Room, and I don’t think too many people read the whole thing cover to cover. But we did!

Page 7 of the Alibi Room Novel Offers Free Red Racer
A Portion of Page 7 of the Alibi Room Novel Offers Free Red Racer IPA

5.  Central City Ltd Release: Black IPA: Malty and bitter. I don’t like the smokey aftertaste.

Grant: Can’t remember this one either.

6. Persephone Brewing Limited Release, American Pale Ale with Citra Hops: Al’s fave, he notes, “fabulous nose, smooth, rich aftertaste.”

7.  Merridale Cidery ‘Hoptimized’ Dry-hopped Cider: Al liked it, but Grant and I didn’t. Grant said there were “too many esters happening” to which I concur although I’m not exactly sure what esters taste like.

Grant: My dislike was mostly predicated on having tasted some wonderful hopped ciders in Seattle.  And esters? Well, they are flavours imparted by the yeast. Some are good, some aren’t.  Some you might find offensive in one beer are actually part of the style of another. Lagers rarely have them, ales usually do.  Higher fermentation temperatures can increase them. A more lyric description can be found at http://www.craftbeer.com/craft-beer-muses/the-poetry-of-esters

8. Lighthouse Brewing Ltd. Release, Numbskull Imperial IPA: Not everything Lighthouse brews is good, but when it’s good, it’s very, very good. Comments: the BEST!, doesn’t smell so good but when you taste it…, the Three Stooges, nuc, nuc, nuc. WOW! The best beer of the night! This was like the free Red Racer, only better.

Grant: I totally agree with the best of night award. This brew had the creaminess and hop profile of a great IPA, without the booziness of some high-alcohol beers (few beers were listed with ABV but you could tell this was strong). 

LATER NOTE: Hard to find but managed to score a bottle of Numbskull at the Legacy Liquor Store down in the Olympic Village. 9.1% and just as good straight from the bottle!

Time for a food interlude: For a place that specializes in beer, the Alibi Room has some pretty good eats!
Pork & Beans & Bun with Jalapeño Butter.
Pork & Beans & Bun with Jalapeno Butter at the Alibi RoomChicken Wings in Sweet Chile Sauce.
Chicken Wings at the Alibi Room The charcuterie tray of warm bread and deli treats.
Alibi Room Charcutarie PlatePlaying around with my food, some yummy deli combos…
Playing with my Food: the Charcuterie Plate at the Alibi Room Playing with my Food: the Charcuterie Plate at the Alibi Room

9. Central City Special Release, 2008 “Thor’s Hammer” Barley WineI like it, finding to have a very malty taste and nose. Al says, “too sweet for my liking, a bit cloying…”

Grant: Sweet and strong and hits you like its name.  NOTE: No one should ever drink 12.5 oz of this monster after a “session” of lesser, yet still strong craft beers.  At 13% ABV it’s like drinking half a bottle of wine.  My hangover can be traced directly back to this bit of bad judgment on my part.

10. Storm Brewing’s “Glacial Mammoth Extinction”:  Not boozy tasting despite the 33%. Smells like beer, tastes like beer….

Grant: If the mammoths were drinking this, it’s their own fault they’re not around anymore. At 33% ABV it’s the strongest beer I’ve ever had. At least with this potent brew they had the common sense to just give you a single ounce. A potent sour beer.

A little goes a long way
Storm Brewing “Glacial Mammoth Extinction”

11. Powell Street, IPA with Kumquat and Amarillo Hops: Al and Ralph found it refreshing although Al noted that it was all kumquat rind. Grant and I found it drinkable but it didn’t have a lot of depth.

Grant: Little Kumquat is what I call my wife.  I expected more flavour but not a lot of complexity was found.

Well, the rest was a blur. Thank Batz for remembering enough to jog my memory.  I think this was a fruitful collaboration. Let’s do it again! Please remember to check out Albatz’s blog at http://albatz.wordpress.com/. It’s full of pretty pictures, and words and stuff!!

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