My friends and I became very fond of the West Coast beers when we stopped for a night in the tiny town of Blackball, and had more than a few at the ‘Hilton’. Their lager and dark are certainly nothing socks-knocking in craft beer terms, but they’re well made, tasty, and acquired a lot of ‘bonus points’ from the situation and setting, of course. This happens a lot with beer, sociable thing that it is.
Years later, the brewery did a bit of a share float to raise money for some expansion plans. My friends who’d been there at the Hilton — who all have day jobs and who all earn, you know, actual money — bought in. Then it seemed a bit odd that I, as the Beer Nerd, wasn’t in on it, too. So I bought one share off one of them, for the princely sum of 31¢.
So this is how much of a stickler I am for some sort of ‘journalistic’ integrity in beer writing. I have thirty-one cents in a brewery and feel obliged to say so. It drives me bonkers that this basic impulse to declare conflicts of interest isn’t much shared. I can think of several instances of people writing professionally about a brewery or a beer without divulging such probably-pertinent facts as close friendships, occasional employment, or other such potential or actual conflicts. It’s something I’ll have to make more of a stink about sometime soon, and then maybe just start naming names and ‘outing’ the offenders.
Anyway, West Coast recently hired a new junior brewer, and one of his first tasks was to take a crack at a pale ale. I think they did pretty admirably; it’s not overwhelming, but not all pale ale needs to be, and given the ‘pitch’ of their other beers, this will make for a nice little stepping stone without freaking out their core customers. It’s quite moreishly sharp and citrussy, though some Nerdier people did pick out some faulty flavours kicking around in there, too — but this is a first batch, and they do have some seriously-refined brewers’ palates, rather sensitive to these things.
Verbatim: West Coast Pale Ale 1/11/10 on tap @ MH ?% I feel I have to declare my official conflict of interest, in that I’m the smallest shareholder of West Coast Brewery. Got to know Darryl, the bosses’ son a bit over the years, and he mentioned this was headed our way when he was here at Festival time. It’s pretty damn nice; not aggressive, but more in the Creatures / Croucher mold — the sharpish, in a nice way. Very citrussy, but not one-note. Slightly hazy, nicely tart + refreshing + moreish. I had some of this here on Hallowe’en Eve, when we all dressed up; but I was in no state to make a proper note, then. So I had this while watching the Zombie Episode of Community. Neat.