Text 20 Feb Intruiging Imports & Creative Craft Beer

New to the Barrel this week is a selection of imported wines and new local beers.

Winemakers seem to be becoming more aware of the effects that marketing has on their wine sales. They know that to not be lost in a crowd of “new and exciting” releases, their wine has to either fill some new niche that will catch people’s eye, or be so over the top that people can’t look the other way. Two of our new additions are facing off over this very issue, niche appeal versus mass appeal.

The first is Simonsvlei’s Toffee Chunk Syrah. This wine was created for those wine drinkers who are in search of a unique wine and different taste profile. The unique maturation of this full bodied red lends to the toffee characters that pervade this wine; distinct toffee aromas dominate the nose, with an edge of smokiness and berries that is echoed on the palate. Coming from South Africa, which has seen an abundance of coffee-driven pinotages recently, this Toffee Chunk is breaking away with a hint of sweetness that makes this Syrah smooth with a lingering chicory flavour. This wine pairs seamlessly with asiago cheese, smoked meats, or spicy steaks.



In comparison to the soft white, toned down label of the Toffee Chunk, we now have the Squid’s Fist. Australian wine makers Some Young Punks are an example of the new wave of vintner’s who are media savvy. Their sense of humor allows them to market themselves outrageously and bring a fresh approach to labeling that demands attention. Made from grapes from Barossa and Mclaren Vale, this dark fruited blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Shiraz, is a deep, inky red with a blueberry and grape nose. This blend shows lots of body and velvety tannins with a complex mouth of cassis, dark cherry, and a hint of tart apple. The acidity makes this an excellent food wine, pairing well with anything grilled.



Howe Sound Brewery out of Squamish B.C. is putting out some very interesting limited edition beers this year. One of the most anticipated is their Imperial Stout, also known as Russian Imperial Stout, which was originally conceived in the 18th century to be exported to Russia from Britain. Back then it was specifically brewed to a higher alcohol content of 7-12% to prevent freezing in the colder northern climate. Today, Howe Sound Pothole Filler Imperial Stout weighs in at a potent 9%; this strong, inky dark ale is brewed with six malts and blackstrap molasses. It has an aroma of chocolate liquor, roasted malt, and toffee. This is a thick, full flavoured beer with subtle hints of hops and deeper notes of chocolate and dark-roasted coffee. This beer won the 2010 Silver Medal at the North American Beer Awards.



Part of the limited release John Mitchells series, The Total Eclipse of the Hops is a strong India Pale Ale that is brewed with 100% barley, six varieties of hops, water and yeast. Extra barley malt nicely balances the huge volume of hops. The hops is very noticeable on the nose, but it blends well with aromas of grapefruit, lemon, light toasted grains, caramel and an edge of pine. The nose follows through to the mouth with a light grain and caramel flavor, and the hops is toned down with lighter citrus fruits as well as some pear, followed by a bitter pine hop in the end.  It is not a hops explosion as would be expected, but instead is nicely balanced and full of flavour. This beer would be great with spicy curried dishes and Mexican favourites.

Text 30 Jan New to the Barrel

This week at Whatcom Wine & Spirits we have a few exciting new additions to our Barrel List.

The first is Lighthouse “Belgian Black,” a belgian black brewed with with a Belgian Ardennes yeast strain. This new beer is part of Lighthouse's “Big Flavour” series using the highest quality ingredients and brewed to showcase unique characteristics. It shows some qualities similar to that of an imperial stout with some roasted walnuts and cocoa, but then suprises the senses with a fresh, plum-like flavour to accent the rich malty body. There is also traces of dark cherries, coffee, and some subtle spicy notes that make this belgian black complex and impressive.

                                                               The New Lighthouse Belgian Black

Another new addition is KWV “Café Culture” Pinotage from Paarl, South Africa. Pinotage is beginning to show it’s previously hidden coffee side. Dark aromas of red and black berries, plums, smoky spice, and distinct espresso notes. On the palate the wine is smooth and intense with similar flavours. It’s as if Paarl and Starbucks had a love child: the rich dark roasted flavours of coffee and berries unite in one absolutely satisfying glass!

                                                                  Café Culture Pinotage 

After going on hiatus for more than a year, Old Yale Brewing has returned with new owners and new image. This brewery in Chilliwack, B.C. has been producing interesting and hard to find beers since 2000. One of their first re-releases has been ”Sergeant’s IPA.” This IPA has strong citrus characteristics. The nose is great with pineapple, orange, caramel, and a slightly spicy edge. The entry has a brief sweetness followed by a grapefruit flavour that is tart and resfreshing, and follows through with plenty of hops that jump out from an earthy, toasty malt background.  It has great bitterness and a medium body.

                                           OYB New Logo

Old Cellar Dweller - This new release from Driftwood Brewing has got people talking! This Barleywine has three times the malt bill and five times the hops of a normal strength beer, and consists of 98% Pale Malt and just one hop variety, Columbus. On  the nose there is caramel, toffee, hops, and some subtle citrus notes. The mouth tastes of caramel, malt, nice bitter hops, vanilla, brown sugar, with a little bit of dark fruit and oak. This beer can be stored for a few years to bring out more of its complexity as it settles and the hops diminish.

                                                   Old Cellar Dweller

Check back soon for more new and interesting additions to our Barrel List!

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