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Oakes Weekly - July 3, 2003

Summer parties, Beer Cheese & Cider, blond ales and more
Oakes Weekly July 3, 2003      
Written by Oakes

Vancouver, CANADA -

<P>I have so many things to talk about so it will be a Random Thoughts kind of column…

<P>Chicago – wow! I have nothing else to say, as I still haven’t processed it yet. I’m expecting to get a couple of reports in (more than one would be great because I know people experienced this in different ways) and published for next week. When my mind is blown by the variety of beers available, you know it was a stunning affair. How anybody could have missed this one is beyond me – sell your mother if you have to. Next year, we’re talking about two fests, and maybe a winter one as well. But the BIG ONE – the Ratebeer Summer Party, well, the talk was the West Coast, maybe Portland. I also plan to set something up for Europe as well, maybe in Bamberg. I guess that will be up the European members of course, but I’d like to see a little transcontinental travel for these events in future. Anyway, that’s all for next year, but anyone who wants to help plan should let their thoughts be known on the Events forum.

<P>BEER CHEESE AND CIDER TOUR Of QUEBEC! Yes, on September 27th and 28th, I will be hosting a tour of the beautiful countryside (in its spectacular autumnal glory) to the south and east of Montreal, and stopping at around ten breweries, cheesemakers and cideries along the way. The beer itinerary will include dinner at Unibroue’s house restaurant, Fourquet Fourchette. All the Unibroue beers will be present, including some of their hard-to-find goodies. The cheese portion will include a stop at the Abbaye de St-Benoît, where monks make famous blue cheeses under a shroud of secrecy. Quebec’s ciders are less famous, but will drop the jaws of anybody who thinks that Woodchuck or Strongbow is all cider can be. That would be like saying Sam Adams and John Smith’s are what beer can be. From Norman-style bottle-conditioned ciders to ice cider – a produce unique to Quebec, in the style of Ontario’s famous icewines, you will be converted.

<P>The tour begins early Saturday morning, and returns to Montreal Sunday evening. The cost is $320 CDN and includes all meals and accommodation. Any beer, cheese and cider you buy for take-home is not covered. For more information or to book space, contact Jackie Bélisle @ 1-888-270-0222. Make sure to mention that Josh Oakes referred you.

<P>Blond ales are a much-maligned style, and rightly so. But in England, blond ales have emerged as a tasty alternative to bitter in the past few years. I know that a lot of North American brewers claim that the blond ales are light in body and flavour in order to be approachable, but this is bullshit. The English examples are often at the same low gravity that bitters are, and are never heavy. They are, however, rich in flavour due to the generous use of finishing hops, top-quality barley strains, and characterful yeasts. The dull-as-dishwater yeasts most American and Canadian brewers use don’t do the style any justice. The new world may produce better high-gravity beers, but the Germans (Kölsch) and English are kicking our asses with the light golden ones. Anyone interested in making a quality golden ale should take a trip to England and talk to some brewers there.

<P>Homebrewers – I have a pile of your beers from Chicago and will be able to put the notes on the homebrew forum. But I want to know what awards you win. Let’s get a Hall of Fame going here. Kmeves picked up an award at a recent competition and I know others of you have as well. Shoot me an email at [email protected] and we’ll get some recognition for the quality stuff you guys are producing.

<P>Yanks – enjoy your long weekend! Everyone else, have a great time as well, wherever you are. Just make sure you have some civilized beer with you.



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