Thursday, October 28, 2010

Analysis: Three Pumpkin Beers

Although I have written about the joys of seasonal beers in the past, I just couldn't resist expressing my passion for the autumn's pumpkin beer selections. I have consumed and enjoyed three pumpkin microbrews this fall, and all three are surprisingly unique. Try them out this year...or remember to keep your eyes peeled for them next October and November.

1) Howe Sound Brewing - Imperial Pumpkineater Ale
This is an imperial ale, meaning that it was designed with English, colonial beer-making in mind; therefore, it contains high alcohol (8.0% ABV) and a fair amount of hops. Both alcohol and hops are antibacterials, and they would help to preserve beer when it was being shipping from the UK to the colonies. This beer takes a little getting used, as it doesn't pull any punches with the pumpkin and nutmeg flavours. It is sweet, rich, and actaully makes for a pleasant dessert beer (I can say this because I've tested it!). A

2) Brooklyn Brewery - Post Road Pumpkin Ale
This dry, subtle ale is successful in balancing the sweetness from the roasted pumpkin with appropriate hops. At 5.0% ABV and mild spice notes, it is more drinkable yet less distinctive than Howe Sound. The aroma is rich in clove and pumpkin, but it definitely does not taste as bold as it smells. By the end of my first bottle, I was bored by this beer...especially after experiencing the autumnal fury of the Pumpkineater. C+

3) Granville Island Brewery - Pumpkin Ale
I often drink and promote Granville Island beers because they are close to my home and work; however, I am not the biggest fan due to the Pilsner hops they use in everything and the watery consistency that many of their brews demonstrate. Their seasonal beers are pretty good though (I actaully love their ginger beer), and this is a decent drink with its mellow cinnamon and pumpkin undertones. This beer is very malty, yet a combination of the Post Road and the Pumpkineater. Having said this, I don't know if I would drink it if it weren't on tap, right next to my work, calling yearningly to me at the end of every shift. B-  

And remember: Drink. Local. Beer.

Keywords: "Alphabet Review", "Alex Dawkins", "Granville Island Brewery"

Monday, October 18, 2010

MOA Satellite Gallery - Opens Oct 23rd!

The Museum of Anthropology - in cooperation with the Presentation House Gallery and UBC's Belkin Gallery - has opened a non-profit satellite gallery at 560 Seymour Street (above the new 560 club and old A&B Sound). Although not exclusively First Nations in its focus, a substantial amount of funding is coming from the Michael O'Brian Family Foundation which is affiliated with the Museum of Anthropology.

This is an exciting venue because there are few galleries that present First Nations art in non-commercial settings. The Native art market works differently from the conventional art market in that the majority of pieces are purchased outright from the creator. Conventional art galleries have many shows a year and rarely purchase any works as merchandise. The consignment agreements that most art galleries operate under allow them to take more risks and have more shows because they only need to spend money on advertising, rent, and promotion. When a gallery must buy every piece that they present, owners must be sure that they can sell them, and this results in a relatively cautious art market.

Victoria-based Tahltan artist Peter Morin (pictured) will be presenting his Petroglyphs performance on opening night, which is October 23rd.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Deep-fried Sushi at the Clubhouse

Across from the Cop Shop along West 2nd Avenue, just past the Cambie Bridge, lies a Japanese restaurant as eclectic and hidden as most of the businesses in this manufacturing district of Vancouver. I have been going to the Clubhouse for about eight years and have always found the quality of their food and their beer specials to counterbalance the cavernous and gaudy interior of the restaurant. I must note, however, that the owners made a big effort to tone things down and unify the decorative themes of the restaurant in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics. While it is still cavernous and odd, the large painted mural of a fairway that covers the east wall and the tastefully framed photos of famous golf courses that hang throughout are a testament to the name of the establishment.

The menu is large, which is usually a warning sign, but it is not ambitious. For example, their sushi and nigiri section takes up one entire page, and another page is dedicated to noodles and okonomiyaki. While the selection is broad, the items offered are essentially Japanese standards. Although, there are a few unconventional delights up for grabs.

It is a tradition for my dad and I to eat at the Clubhouse every year after the big NHL hockey pool that we have with family friends, and this year I finally had the courage to try one of their Holy Maki Rolls. I had seen this on the menu before and it scared me: fried maki rolls...gross. There are several varieties, but we opted for the California roll option. I was expecting the roll to be coated in a heavy, greasy batter which would disguise (and ruin) the contents. I was very happily surprised when the sliced Holy Maki Roll was brought to us sporting a thin, translucent, crispy layer of tempura batter. The roll was also larger in diameter than anticipated, and the crab-avocado interior was still cool despite the hot, crunchy exterior.

This genre-defying oddity will not be a hidden gem for long, seeing as hundreds and hundreds of condos were recently constructed just two blocks away in preparation for the past Olympics. This major event prompted the Clubhouse to clean up its act, but it also destroyed the restaurant's low profile.

Keywords: "Japanese Restaurants Vancouver", "Alex Dawkins", "Clubhouse Vancouver"

Friday, October 1, 2010

Deer Tick

An unappealing name with an inaccessible dirty blues sound, Deer Tick is an anachronistic rock band that is gaining fans and respect through non-stop touring and rugged authenticity. Since the band formed in 2004, the only full-time, regular member has been the founder and primary writer, John McCauley. The band has seen people come and go, though McCauley holds it down with his persistence and passion for touring.

Despite the inconsistent supporting cast, Deer Tick has maintained a distinctive sound over the years. This sound is defined by McCauley's raspy, Cobainesque vocals, which often accompany melodies reminiscent of the backwoods blues that emerged along the East Coast during the late 1940s. Deer Tick sounds swampy, yet their songs always include rhythm transitons and percussion that are undeniably modern and "indie" sounding.

I am not a huge fan of alt-country or blues, but I am always drawn to bands that are unique and self-sacrificingly dedicated to their music. From Hot Water Music to Mum to Runrig, I have the utmost respect for musicians who create, improve, and pound the pavement to prove their worth. Of course, there are some bands that do this and still suck balls, but Deer Tick is not one of these ball-sucking bands. They had their television debut this past summer, and they are only going to get better from here on out. They play at Vancouver's Biltmore Cabaret on October 22.


Keywords: "Biltmore Cabaret", "Alex Dawkins", "Vancouver concerts"