Category Archives: Granville Island

GIB – BC Bitter

Before I get started on the focus of today’s write-up, I wanted to highlight a few things that will be coming up. First, I’ve heard word that more Surly is going to be coming to Manitoba near the end of August and beginning of September. There are also rumours that we might see their highly sought after Russian imperial stout, Darkness, come to Manitoba. For more on Surly, check out my write-up here.

I also want to mention that Half Pints recently celebrated their 11th anniversary. I want to give a shout out and huge congrats to all the folks there past and present. You’re all amazing people and you make amazing beer. Another anniversary is coming up soon as well. On August 26th torque will be releasing their anniversary beer “Inception” a Belgian saison aged in French oak barrels. So, add that to the calendar.

Finally, both TransCanada and Stone Angel are ramping up and getting ready to go. I expect we will hear more from them soon with Oxus not far behind (making their debut at Brew at the Zoo). Exciting times folks, exciting times.

I’m excited about today’s write-up because it involves not only reviewing a beer but also a “Get to know a brewer”.  I received another beer from Granville Island, their BC Bitter, and had the opportunity to ask their brewmaster, Kevin Emms, about himself and about the beer.

*Note – I did receive this beer for free*

I wrote about Granville Island in more detail when I first reviewed their Gose. You can read about them more here. To begin I’d like to focus on Kevin Emms a bit. Kevin came to Granville Island in 2015 following the departure of founding brewmaster Vern Lambourne. Kevin had always had these dreams of becoming a famous musician and using his millions to start a brewery. When the millions didn’t come, he decided that he would make the other half come true and pursue professional brewing.

““kevin_emms_granville_island_no_credit””I’m always interested in what it is that gets people into brewing beer. For me it is about the creativity and being able to try things that someone else might think is weird. For Kevin, it was the intersection between art and science. Being able to use science in the brewing process to create liquid works of art. This is something that I’ve heard from a lot of brewers.

Kevin has a MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland and has worked as brewmaster at Coal Harbour Brewing Company and Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers. He’s a big music fan and is still a dedicated musician. He plays drums in an indie band and in a couple of metal bands. He makes records, plays in shows and brews beer. Sounds sweet. Kevin’s favorite style of beer to brew and drink is a German Pilsner. The first beer he had a chance to drink when he was younger was Bitburger Pils and he’s been hooked ever since.

Kevin also has pretty free reign over his brewery and has been given the opportunity to brew styles he is interested in making. They brew 20 unique brews a year and at this point he says he’s crossed off most of the beers on his bucket list.

Onto the beer. For this small-batch series, Kevin has brewed a traditional English bitter using local ingredients to put a BC spin on it. He was inspired to brew this beer from his personal experience. When he was 15 his family moved to London and some of his first experiences drinking in pubs was in England and often drinking bitters.

The BC Bitter is essentially an English style bitter characterized by being flavourful and refreshing and bringing some moderate hop bitterness with a light body and lower carbonation. This is a BC take on a traditional style of beer from England and uses pacific northwest hops to give a bit of that BC influence to the beer. It is slightly stronger alcohol content than an English bitter and uses barley malted in BC as well as organic hops grown in Lillooet.

Kevin describes this beer as being characterized by a delicious, top quality malt flavour that compliments the bitterness and aroma of the hops. Balance and sessionability are crucial in this style and Kevin sees that as being a critical piece. Kevin aimed to give the malt as much respect as the hops. He was looking for a clean estery ferment that was hopped appropriately.

ABV – 5.5%
Appearance – Pours a slightly hazy, medium copper colour with a puffy foamy off-white head.
Smell – Definite hop notes, some piney and resinous, good doughy malt notes as well.
Taste – Nice doughy caramel malt notes and an earthy characteristic. There are some subtle citrus notes and a resinous hoppiness.
Mouth Feel – Carbonation is higher than expected, medium bodied,  with a bit of a piney bitterness note to it. Finishes semi-dry with good notes of bitterness and grainy malt.
Overall Thoughts – Hard for me to place this one exactly but I felt that it brought both a hop character and a doughy caramel character. There was good balance between the two which was nice. Overall I think the use of BC ingredients brought a challenge in placing this beer to style. 
Do I like it? – I did like it.  The hop character was quite nice for only 32 IBU and brought some good aroma. For me, it is a beer that I could have a couple of with food but not something I’d be clamouring over.

Thanks for following along. I hope you enjoyed this write-up. As always I encourage you to get out and try new beers. This one is currently on the shelves at the Liquor marts

Hopefully I’ll run into some folks at the Winnipeg Craft Beer Festival this weekend (August 19th) I’ll be tweeting and instagraming @beerwinnipeg so follow along. If you are coming, be sure to look for me and say “Hi”.

-Beer Winnipeg

Granville Island – Gose with Peach

It’s been fun running this blog for the past 2 ½ years. I’ve learned a lot about beer and about different styles of beer. I also seem to have got a bit of attention from folks as I’ve had people send me beer to try. I’m happy to try beer that people wish to send and I’ll write my honest thoughts about it.  So, I had the opportunity to try out Granville Island’s Small Batch Gose the other day.

*Writer’s Note: I did receive this beer review free of charge. This did not influence my write-up. *

Granville Island was founded in 1984 by Mitch Taylor. Long-time brewmaster Vern Lambourne joined the brewery in 2002. In 2005, Andrew Peller Wines purchased the brewery from Taylor and renovated the facility beneath Granville Bridge and expanded it into a new larger facility located in Kelowna. In 2009, Molson Coors Canada purchased Granville Island Brewing through its subsidiary, Creemore Springs.

Brewmaster Vern Lambroune stayed with the company until 2015 which led to the hiring of new brewmaster Kevin Emms. Despite the acquisition by Molson Coors, they could keep the original brewery operating on Granville island. This is the facility that develops and produces the small-batch beers which the primary brewing is done at Molson’s Burrard Street plant. What is interesting about this type of setup is that the small-batch brewery has more independence to produce some interesting styles of beers that may not be produced on a large scale.

What I do really like about the brewery is their initiatives towards sustainability and the environment. They are BC’s first Bullfrog Powered brewery and use clean green electricity. They are also part of the Canadian bottle pool which means that their 341 ml bottles are re-used up to 13 times. They also donate their spent grains to farms for animal feed and participate in the Granville Island zero waste initiative.

I’ve learned quite a lot about beer while running this blog and my favorite style to drink and brew is the Gose. While I’m certainly no expert, I feel that I have a pretty good grasp on what this style is and how to brew it. I was lucky enough to win a silver a medal for my Strawberry Margarita Gose from the Pro/Am competition here in Winnipeg. So, I love the style and am excited to see more of them being made.

A Gose (GOH-zeh) is a highly carbonated, tart and fruity wheat ale that also has subtle coriander and just a pinch of salt that should come across just at the finish. This style originated in the town of Goslar in the middle-ages. In fact, the name of the beer comes from the Gose river which runs through the town of Goslar. The water from this river had a huge impact on the flavour of the beer and so it’s no surprising it has held this name for so long. This area was known for mining and one of the most abundant minerals present was salt. Some of this salt dissolved into the local groundwater which was used during the brewing of their local beer. Since they didn’t have water softeners or bottled water, they just used what they had and made it work.

After centuries of dominating the beer market in Goslar, the popularity of the style fell. Luckily it was picked up by the German town of Leipzig where it is documented to have been brewed since the 1740s. By chance, the town of Leipzig fell outside of Bavaria where the Reinheitsgebot (German beer purity laws) initially came into effect. Once Germany unified, there were some hoops to jump through, but special considerations were made for this style of beer given its history.

Up until recently, it’s been very hard to find this style of beer. While it started to see a resurgence in the 1980s, it hasn’t been widely available and many people didn’t even know what it was. This is the reason I started brewing it myself, so I could consistently get a good Gose.

Lucky for me and other Gose fans, many breweries seem to be reviving this style. Barn Hammer, Torque and Peg Beer have all brewed Goses recently and we’ve seen breweries from outside Manitoba, Granville included, pick up on the style.

I love this style of beer and the variations that you can play around with. Like a Berliner Weisse, you could even mix a syrup into a straight up Gose, or play on the chracteristics like I did with my Margarita Gose. So, let’s get to this beer.

ABV – 5%
Appearance – Pours a cloudy straw yellow with a nice foamy head that retains well.
Smell – Subtle peach aroma as well as sour, salty notes on the nose.
Taste – Immediate subtle peach sweetness followed by a nice subtle pucker of tartness and a hint of salt on the finish.
Mouth Feel – Light body, high carbonation, nice tart finish with a touch of salt.
Overall Thoughts – Hits on all the points I’d expect to see from a Gose. The sourness was there, likely using lactobacillus, with just a wisp of salt on the finish.
Do I like it? – I did enjoy this beer. I felt that it was a good example of a Gose and hit on all the key aspects I like to see in my Goses. The beer has a nice sweetness on front from the peaches that doesn’t mask or take away from any of the other components of this beer.

I hope that this write-up was informative. I encourage you to get out and try as many new beers as you can. Broaden your horizons and your palate.

Keep following along as I keeping doing what I can to write about beer, breweries and brewers.

-Beer Winnipeg