Pint of cask chocolate Stout

Pint of cask chocolate Stout

Want to try a beer so rare that it will never see a bottling line? Don’t want to travel for hours to a foreign country (or Vancouver)?

First a little history lesson on who is behind all this liquid magic. Tommie Grant joined Spinnakers 6 1/2 years ago under the supervision of Lon Ladell, and continued with Rob Monk while he was head brewer until this past fall. Since then Tommie has taken over as the head brewer creating these one off liquid master pieces.

Backed by 15 casks, each is lovingly filled from one of their base recipes and then subtly changed. The change could be something as simple as using fresh wet hops (Whole hops put into the cask) or an over sized tea bag filled with an exotic tea from the farthest corner of China.

Each night a new cask is brought up from the cellar with extreme care so the natural sediment is not disrupted.  (PS. Nothing will make a cask brewer angrier than treating his cask without the due love and care it deserves.) Then it’s tapped by hand, a process that has not changed in decades.

When asked how he selects what goes into the new casks Tommie had this to say “When deciding what we’d like to put in a cask, whether it’s a new or unfamiliar hop, or a tea, coffee, chocolate or what have you, we start by thinking about what flavours might be complimentary.  From there we will taste the beer and the ingredient side by side, or in a glass together to see if we’re right.”

In addition to the special casks there are an additional 3 hand pulled lines installed in the pub that pull up (at press time) an ESB, the Scottish and the Abbot Ale. All this craft beer has made head brewer Tommie very busy, and while some input comes from fellow staff and regular customers when it comes to creating the beer or cleaning the tanks he is assisted by Aram Heinze and Kala Hadfield in the brew house.

With the daunting idea of creating seven special casks each and every week I asked Tommie if he could recall a cask that went very right. He commented that “Probably my favorite cask that we do regularly is our Jamesons Scottish Ale infused with Scotch Whisky,  I think it’s amazing the way the scotch smooths out the already smooth and peaty beer.  We first made a scottish and scotch cask for the Hops and Scotch event a number of years ago and it went over extraordinarily well, ( who’d have thought that the folks at a beer and whisky festival would like beer with whisky in it eh?) Since then we’ve been recreating that cask for Robbie Burns day and I think it just keeps getting better every time we make it.”

Building on the hand pulled beers and the special cask, Spinnakers is also working to expand their selection to include a wider representation of beers from low alcohol session beers to higher percentage ones.

List of beers with original gravity, name, ibu and percentage.

List of some of the available beers with their original gravity, IBU , and final ABV.

While you are enjoying your beer and food Paul Hadfield (owner) himself can be sometimes found upstairs keeping an eye on things and chatting with patrons. While we were there he asked if we had tried the cask beer that night. Paul definitely seemed proud of the product he was serving and the goals he has in mind for the future.

Paul and I briefly discussed the presence of two American guest taps, and how his vision was to expand the palate of locals and patrons by exposing them to some of the amazing brews being created south of the border. Thereby creating higher standards for both drinkers and brewers alike in the local if not provincial brewing scene.

I wondered what sort of influence Paul had over his brew house with his years of experience. I learned that when he has suggestions on practices that could be changed Tommie and the rest of the brew house staff listen, encouraged by knowing that Paul has had some of the best brewers in Canada work for him. This reputation can be confirmed by a quick read of the history of the brewers that have graced Spinnakers on their own website.

More information:

Spinnakers can be followed on Facebook, and has a weekly email that comes out 9am on Thursdays that will tell you about upcoming events as well as what is in those amazing casks.

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Blackboard with the upcoming beers of the week

Weekly changing cask menu


Spinnakers has donated a beer and chocolate pairing gift certificate for one lucky person!
To enter, post a comment below with your favorite memory of Spinnakers or your favorite thing about Spinnakers.

Winner will be selected at random using Limit one entry per person. Entries must be received by June 3rd 2011 @ 11:59PM PST. Winner will be notified by e-mail (so use a real email address on your comment, email address will not be traded, sold, bartered, etc.). You must be over the age of 19 on the draw date. Prize cannot be redeemed for cash. Odds of winning depends on number of entries.

Cask on the counter at Spinnakers

Cask on the counter at Spinnakers