Category Archives: Alchoholic stuff

Breweries and tasting rooms in GVRD (weird locations outside of Vancouver)

It’s been an year and a bit since I’ve moved to Vancouver, and during that time, the beer scene has just exploded. Now, there’s quite a few numbers of breweries dispersed within the GVRD area, which is a wonderful thing for people who don’t want to ride the bus or skytrain down to Steamworks or Brassneck or Main Street Brewery, and spend an hour sobering up on public transportation.

Now there’s a lot of really good Vancouver based beer blogs out there, so the information here might be pretty redundant. However, I’m going to write it down anyway, more for notekeeping purposes than anything. I didn’t include places east of Surrey, since I haven’t been able to visit them yet. I didn’t include Central City, because I’m lazy.

By the way, I’m in no way qualified to write on something like this. Despite the fact that I consume an ungodly amount of beer, I am by no means a beer snob. I love my craft beers, I have my favorite breweries and yearly releases, but I would happily drink down piss yellow beer. I’m not a critical beer drinker. I love just about anything that’s fizzy and alcoholic.


Steel and Oak (Oatmeal Stout and Roggen-weizen from my most recent trip)

1319 Third Ave, New Westminster, BC V3M 1R2

Steel and Oak


This place rivals in hipness with Brassneck. Everything looks shiny, or old in the right way, or scuffed in the right way. The owners look hip, the customers look hip, the people working in the tasting room look hip. A meticulously clothed guy got up from his beer every half hour to change the record.

There are no excessive flavors in their beer, no mountains of hops, no overwhelming smokiness, no double-something or imperial-things. However, their beers taste very clean, not muddled, so it’s very easy to pick out the various flavor components that make their beer.

Also, they consistently produce lagers, which is not always the case with Vancouver breweries. It’s a good place to go when you want to drink some lagers, while basking in the pourover-to-order type coffeehouse atmosphere.

Steel and Oak: Oatmeal stout and Roggen-weizen

Four Winds (everything on that board in the picture)

7355 72 St, Delta, BC V4G 1L5Four winds: flights

Four Winds: On tap

This day I waited 30 min to get into a ramen place in Richmond, got a parking ticket, and spent another 10 minutes trying to find my way out of the packed parking area, so going down to Delta to Four Winds was a great relief. Also, you get astonished by how the ration of Asian people suddenly declines as you step outside of Richmond. Except for myself, there were no Asians in Four Winds. I’m still fascinated by the distribution of races within the various areas of GVRD.

Not much to say except that I have yet to hear anyone talk negatively (or even neutrally) about Four Winds. Everybody seems to love it, for good reason. The standards are good (IPA seems to be everybody’s favorite) but I got quite infatuated with the gose and nectarous (sour beer) that day. The space of the tasting room is fairly large (for a tasting room) and the composition of the room makes it feel more like a saloon than a tasting room. That might have been because of the guy playing piano in the corner, though. My opinions and impressions are very easily swayed by singular elements.

Yellow Dog (a flight of all their beers and a glass of Alt)

1-2817 Murray St, Port Moody, BC V3H 1X3

Altbier, Yellow Dog Brewery


1. You get to drink inside the brewery. You can eye the fermenters while sipping their beer.

2. The brewery name derives from an animal, and the bone shaped boards for the flights are adorable.

3. Their smoked porter won an award this year, but my favorite is the altbier. Great blend of fruity, yeastiness and malty flavors. It’s also a great beer to drink when you can’t decide if you want a lager or an ale.

Moody Ales (Smoked Porter)

2601 Murray St, Port Moody, BC V3H 3R5


Their tasting room also shares space with the brewery, so on brewing days, you can smell the grains mashing, or the hops boiling in the kettle. The beer styles they offer are pretty standard (IPA, brown ale, and blonde) but the balanced flavors of their beers are quite astonishing. They live up to their name by serving beers that are easily identifiable as ales, with a subtle fruity, yeasty flavor. The highly aromatic (and none too bitter) IPA’s great, the brown is comforting with a bit of a bite from dark grains, but my favorite is the blonde. I know that blondes aren’t the kind of style that you go crazy over, but the complexity that they pack into their blonde while retaining the crispness is just wonderful. This is a great place to get growlers, since it’s hard to get tired or overwhelmed by their beer. Also, they usually have a cask conditioned beer lying around, which gets me always excited.

By the way, Yellow Dog and Moody Ales are about a 5 minute walk from each other. Plan on visiting both.

Dageraad Brewing (Wet hopped blonde, amber, burnabarian, blonde)

3191 Thunderbird Crescent #114, Burnaby, BC V5A 3G1

Dageraad Wet hopped Blonde

Tiny, minuscule tasting room that fits about five people. However, the tasting room is definitely worth visiting, since their burnabarian (Belgian table beer) is only available on draft. The blonde is great (the wet hopped blonde is sublime) and the amber is tasty, but the idea of a not commonly distributed style of table beer on draft just appeals to the geek in me. The small space is also great for the person who demands constant attention. The guys serving there were extremely pleasant, and didn’t tire of my constant questions about bottle conditioning, secondary fermentation, hop use and other stuff.


Anyway, visiting the new breweries and tasting rooms around Vancouver, you get the impression that there’s already a regional style taking place despite the newness of the breweries. The beers in Vancouver seem to be much more muted than the bold, hoppy flavors associated with the beers of the Pacific Northwest. The emphasis seems to rest on subtlety, drinkability (possibly since the emergence of the beer scene coincided with the popularity of sessional beers) and tinkering with old styles rather than gutting them out.



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Filed under Alchoholic stuff, beer, Eating out

Beer making: 5 gallon all grain with a 19L pot

I’ve been brewing my own beer for about an year now. I started mainly because of the cost of beer in Vancouver, which is at least a dollar and a bit for the shittiest beers, and close to two dollars for a bottle of decent beer. Brewing my own, and reusing yeast has lowered the cost of beer to about 50-60 cents a bottle. Now that’s how much I paid for Hamm’s in the US. Wonderful. Brewing with extracts don’t take too much time or attention, so I was quite content.

However, my tendency towards obsession and cheapness drove me further. I wanted to do all-grain brewing for its lower cost and the potential to customize my mashing. I only had a 19L (or maybe it’s 20L) canning pot that I picked up at the thrift store, while people usually agree that you need at least a 7.5 gallon pot for brewing a 5 gallon batch of all-grain homebrew.

I usually love sticking to people’s recommendations, but I decided to test out all-grain in a 5 gallon pot anyway. I really wanted to try all-grain, and I don’t have the resources (or the space) to get a burner and a big pot for outdoor brewing.

I decided to use a combination of brew in a bag and sparging (or putting it simply, just dunking grains in a bucket full of hot water). The result was a success! I’ve done this twice now, and I constantly hit at least 75% efficiency with my brews.

So here’s the explanation to what I did. My brain is too jumbled to explain it verbally, so I just drew the whole thing on a tablet. That’s why the whole thing is horrendously ugly.

1-All grain 1-001

2-All grain 2-001

I would love to have a better setup with a dedicated mash tun in the future, but this works pretty well in the meantime. I can throw in about 2.5 kg of grains without problem.

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Filed under Alchoholic stuff, beer, Homebrewing

Makgeolli: Korean fizzy alcoholic rice drink

I’ve made more than a dozen batches of makgeolli now, so I think I’m qualified to talk about the subject. I cannot testify on the autheticness of my makgeolli recipe now, since I integrated some techniques from making Japanese sake and doburoku (house made unrefined liquor) in my methodology.

The basic recipe that I follow is this one.  By the way, this guy is much more knowledgeable than I am, so whatever he says is much more reliable.

The hardest part of making makgeolli is sterilizing stuff. I basically use the basic bleach solution that people use for sterilization (a tablespoon bleach in a gallon of water) and left if there for 20 minutes. I saw a guy in a video swirling soju (about 20% alcohol) for sterilization, but I don’t think that really cuts it. Bleach, star-san, one-step, or other solutions conventionally used for home brewing are a safe bet.

However, I do negate whatever sterilization method I use by squeezing out makgeolli by hand in the final part of the process, so I really can’t say I’m right or well informed or anything. I just deceive myself that I am.

One way that I comfort myself that my batches are safe is by using the Japanese sake method of Sandan-jikomi. This is done by introducing the nuruk (enzymes) and rice in three steps, doubling the ingredients each time. . This is to ensure that there’s a consistently large number of yeast-being-things living inside the fermenting liquid, and that they aren’t overwhelmed by other microbes that introduces off-flavors. So using the ingredient ratio that I got from the link, this is how I proceed:

Nuruk: 15g, 30g, 55g.

Rice: 150g, 300g, 550g. I usually make 450 grams of rice on the first day, pitch 1/3 of the rice into the fermentation vessel, and freeze the rest, which I defrost and pitch in the vessel the next day.

Water: 250ml, 500ml, 850ml.

You might be alarmed because the rice absorbs a lot of water, resulting in a thick sludgy porridge.


But don’t worry. Just keep stirring it once or twice every day, until you stop getting a layer of dry (or less liquid-like) parts on the top of your batch. The day you find a layer of pure liquid covering the rice, you’re done. Or anyway, that’s my criteria. Then, you pour the whole thing into a paint straining bag, or a nylon mesh bag from the wine store, or something along those lines. Squeeze the hell out of it, and you get this:



Fizzy, white, rice liquid.


Most people dilute it, and add non-fermentable sweeteners. I used to add simple syrup to sweeten it, until I decided that it tastes good enough on its own.

If you get really cheap rice (sushi rice will do, long-grain rice won’t) you can make an approximately three liter batch that’s around 9% for about three dollars. In Vancouver, that’s extremely cheap liquor.

Thank the person who posted the original recipe. I feel gratitude toward him every time I open a bottle of homemade makgeolli, or when I consider how much I reduced my monthly alcohol budget.


Filed under Alchoholic stuff