What’s Brewing is a magazine about the craft beer movement in BC, Canada. It features great original beer writing from front to back. It also features craft beer community contributions and spotlight some of the best recent articles by BC beer bloggers and authors in order to help bring attention to the craft beer movement as well as the writing talent that exists in BC and Western Canada.
Featured image: Brian with a LIQ beer after a long Rice Terraces hike: China, 2010
How one photographer’s search for adventure has unlocked unique exbeeriences around the world
Global thirst montage
My passion for photography has taken me all over the world. But I have also always been fascinated with beer, which harkens back to an early time when my Dad would let me try his Lucky Lager and Old Style—the industrial beers of my childhood. I knew the beer my dad drank tasted awful, so I was destined at an early age to search for beers that suited my palate.
I learned about “hair of the dog” at a young age. My dad would leave an uncapped stubby on the table overnight. Downing it before breakfast the next day would make everything okay, with no hangover. These lessons came in handy later in my teen/adult life.
A MEXICAN CONNECTION
The first record my father purchased for our beautiful new hi-fi console was “The Lonely Bull” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. At five years old, I dreamed of visiting Mexico. Through my teens, the romantic trumpet songs from south of the border grew album by album in my collection. Who can forget Alpert’s “Whipped Cream and Other Delights?” Beautiful señoritas, whipped cream, photography, and beer became my focuses in life.
After graduating from Langara College’s professional photography program at 19, I travelled to Mexico. The trip was only two weeks long, but I made friends, saw incredible pyramids and colonial towns, and ate lots of tacos. I also was introduced to Mexican beers—Negra Modelo, Sol, Dos Equis Dark and Cuauhtémoc— whose roots come from the Austro-German brewmasters who arrived in Mexico during the nineteenth century. On this first trip there were lagers and dark beers. All seemed very delicious and I wanted more. European-style beer was first produced in Mexico in the 1540s, making it the first in North America. Fate perhaps? During later travels in Mexico and Central America I continued to explore the local offerings. Gallo (rooster) Lager battled the humidity but was like a Guatemalan version of Molson Canadian. I remember saving a wet label off a bottle in the back of my passport. When I checked a few days later it was solidly stuck… Oops! I peeled it away, doing considerable damage to the page. I was asked what happened to my passport as I entered back into Canada and took the truthful route. The immigration officer shook his head and advised me to leave the labels on the bottles!
ON THE EUROTRAIL
When I was around twenty-one I quit my job to go on the traditional rite of passage: a three-month Eurail/youth hostel backpacking trip around Europe and the British Isles. My first stop was the Heineken factory tour in Amsterdam. After two hours of quaffing a half dozen or so six-ounce glasses of Dutch lager, I stumbled around the city’s art galleries looking at Rembrandt and Van Gogh masterpieces till the late afternoon. In Denmark, I discovered how a half dozen or so Carlsberg Elephant Beers (style: bock) can deliver a sledgehammer to the skull the day after. I got to drink some great pilsners and lagers in Germany and Austria. But it wasn’t till I arrived in Ireland that the magic happened. In a pub in Dublin I ordered a pint of Guinness. The bartender drew a Shamrock on the thick creamy head. He told me it would still be there at the bottom of the glass, and it was!
From there I decamped to Scotland, a country with a 5,000-year history of brewing. In the UK I got to taste traditional Burton, Younger, and McEwan ales. After the sparkling lagers of Canada, these gasless ales seemed strange. It certainly was easy to down a pint in less than a minute, though! I hitchhiked from Edinburgh to the far northern tip of Scotland to visit the Orkney Islands. There I learned about mixing scotch and beer. A group of visiting sailors treated me to pints with a fifth of scotch to enhance the experience.
The next day was a disaster. I went to see the stack column called the Old Man of Hoy (449 feet). My vision was so blurry and my stomach so upset from the night before that it was hard to tell where I was going as I stumbled along the trail to the vantage point. With my hangover in full effect, I stumbled back through the knee-high heather, looking for a shortcut down to the valley bottom and the trail that would lead me back to the shuttle boat. Little did I know I was traversing a nesting ground for Arctic Terns. Halfway across, they started dive bombing me from all angles, wings clipping my head and shoulders—it was like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. This was the closest I had ever come to a battlefield! Travels to Greece and Egypt followed a few years later, sadly without any outstanding beers. The mostly-German mass-produced styles satisfied the tourists who overpopulated Athenian restaurants in the early 1980s.
THE WORLD COMES TO VANCOUVER
When Expo arrived in False Creek in the late spring of 1986, there was a surprise. The British Pavilion featured a pub like those in the English town of King’s Lynn, original home of Captain Vancouver, with the largest selection of draught beer ever provided in one establishment in the province. For the first time in BC history, kegged beer from outside the country could be served. Most of my 60 visits to Expo finished up in this pavilion.
In the early/mid 1990s, I did three trips to Four Corners in the American southwest. Beer was always part of the late afternoon/ early evening. I arrived in Zion National Park on an extremely hot mid-September afternoon. I had picked up a few micro beers at the Chevron gas station. I popped the top off an ice-cold Louisiana Snake Bite lager. The chili in the beer was overwhelming—an extreme hot/cold experience! A few days later I arrived in Moab, Utah. I found Eddie McStiff’s pub, where I had my first ever blueberry stout. At the time (1993), it was the only craft brewery in Utah. I would return twice more to Four Corners and seek out strange and wonderful beers to enjoy around the campfire.
In 1998, I went to Afghanistan as a photojournalist, covering earthquake relief with a colleague. We got stuck in Islamabad, waiting to get a visa to enter Afghanistan. This took many days, as the Taliban embassy (official embassy for Afghanistan) was in no hurry to help two independents. The temperature was a stifling 48 degrees Celsius. One day we went into a grocery store looking for beer, but that’s not easy in a Muslim country! We found a lime beer shandy; it was disgusting. But in that store, the owner of the largest tour company in Islamabad invited us to dinner. At his home, we were greeted by the sight of a cabinet full of 500-ml cans of Grolsch beer, whiskey, gin and vodka. In a country where alcohol is not allowed, this was a godsend. I was sent home with a dozen beers! But still not real craft.
THE CRAFT WAVE BEGINS
During the last return trip from Four Corners in the 1990s, I had driven up the California coast. Two memorable finds were Lost Coast Brewery and Rogue Ales in Oregon. In the meantime, annual craft beer festivals had commenced at the Plaza of Nations in Vancouver. The craft beer scene was slowly taking root, first on Granville Island then to the East side with Storm Brewing and R&B Brewing. I made sure to get to know all the brewers and supported them with photos of events.
In 2004, I joined CAMRA Vancouver, and participated in my first CAMRA-organized trip, to the Oregon Beer Festival in Portland, Oregon. I had never experienced anything like it; the new millennium was looking promising! I wondered if Vancouver could ever approach Portland’s level of craft beer awareness. We had a larger population, but we also had a much more resistant government.
THE CALL OF THE EAST
At the start of my explorations into China in 2006-2007, there was Snow and Tsingtao beer. China is the largest consumer of beer in the world, so their rice-based, hop-deficient beers were abundant, but disappointing. Next up was a trip to Myanmar around 2008. One national beer that surprised me there was DAGON Extra Strong Beer. Myanmar Lager was also very satisfying!
My travels became more focused on Asia as the years went by, resulting in a business partnership with travel (and beer) writer Rick Green in 2009, called Adventurocity. Our website with the slogan “Why take a trip when you can have an adventure” has served as a great resource on Asian culture, lifestyle, food and beer. It also provided me a wonderful motivation to continue to explore Asia. Our travels to countries both separately and together have yielded many resources for our stories that cover a wide range of interests. At the core of most of our current exploration is a passion to find out what is happening in the craft beer scene in Asia. During my travels in China over the past five years, I have focused on independent craft breweries. I have had the pleasure to get to know owners and brewers at places like Great Leap, Slow Boat and Jing A, just a few of the new kids in the bustling capital of Beijing. In large city Xi’an my good friend Jon Therrian is brewer and partner at Xian Brewing. The quality of beer being produced rivals that on this side of the Pacific.
China’s neighbour Taiwan has seen craft breweries popping up in the capital of Taipei, and I witnessed this in 2017. Then, in a Spring 2018 What’s Brewing article I talked about the challenges facing Thailand’s underground craft brewers. Yet to be explored is Vietnam, where my contact John Pemberton is producing “class A” beers at his Heart of Darkness Brewery. With 16 breweries in full production by the end of this year in Saigon, John and others welcome a new age of craft brewing to Mekong Delta.
NO STOPPING THE REVOLUTION
I’ve noticed that the craft beer revolution is spreading around the world. As has been demonstrated here at home, craft breweries are gathering places that can act as positive community forces, even in formerly run-down and challenged neighbourhoods. What if this happens worldwide? What if we get to know all our neighbours and become sociable on a global scale? This thought motivates me to keep going.
Today, along with What’s Brewing contributors Rick Green and Dave Smith, I am an accredited member of the British Columbia Association of Travel Writers (BCATW). I also belong to the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) and have a new position as instructor in Educational Travel at Langara College. I want to use my experiences to help spread good will to neighbours near and far. Sitting down at the end of the day and enjoying a fine craft beer together, no matter the language, should be a priority for good health in mind, body and spirit!
Experiencing new cultures, eating delicious local food, viewing exotic vistas and ending the day with new friends enjoying a pint together is a driving motivation behind my lifetime of travel. I look forward to sharing many more stories in the future as beer culture continues to grow in influence worldwide. We have lots of great craft beers on the West Coast, but maybe this article will spark your desire to get out your passport and explore.
ACCENT ON ASIA:
Author’s recent travels have unearthed BC beers in China and Southeast Asia.
We’ve just seen and enjoyed the Vancouver Craft Beer Week Festival at the PNE Fairgrounds as it celebrated its 9th year. Now, just over the summer events horizon, awaits the inspiration for most of BC’s outdoor beer gatherings. It’s the Granddaddy of them all: the Great Canadian Beer Festival, Canada’s longest-running craft brew party. The 26th Annual event is slated for September 7th & 8th in Victoria BC, with tickets on sale beginning Saturday June 16th.
If you haven’t been to this festival before, that’s reason enough to attend. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t appreciate good beer, and there’s no better reason to go than the fact that GCBF is the ultimate tradition for BC craft beer lovers. It’s a place where countless devotees learned what a true beer event can be like.
But let’s say you don’t think “tradition” is a good enough reason to make your way to Victoria for one weekend in September. No sweat; we’ll find you a reason to go. Here are the What’s Brewing Top Ten Reasons to Head to Victoria for GCBF.
1. Voted Best BC Craft Beer Event Every Year
The Great Canadian Beer Festival is truly an award-winning event. Of course the locals are proud of it, but it’s not just voted best in Victoria. It’s won the Beer Me BC People’s Choice Award for Best BC Craft Beer Event in all three BC-wide surveys to date, from 2015 to 2017.
OK, let’s find out why GCBF has earned that type of recognition.
2. Extensive, Curated Tap List and Guidebook
Another defining characteristic of GCBF is its beer menu, curated by festival co-founders Gerry Heiter and John Rowling. Check out the personal commitment to excellence shown by the Brewsome Twosome in John’s WB article, GCBF Research Department Road Trip.
Another longtime Director, Phil Atkinson, puts together the festival programme, which is an actual printed guidebook to all the beers, with a map and descriptions. Most festivals don’t do that. It’s a great asset to have for newbies and veterans alike, and thanks to recycling, having a printed booklet is guilt-free.
So how many beers total for 2018? Anticipate close to 200. This year’s menu is currently in the mash tun, but you can tap the 2017 list here for a taster sample: www.gcbf.com/2017-brewers
3. May I Cask You a Flavour?
Certain BC beer festivals are known for promoting the use of casks to serve unique and one-off beers. Many GCBF brewers bring special treats each year, often in cask format. Browse through our must-drink shortlist from a recent GCBF for examples of highlight beers we looked forward to; stay tuned for our 2018 shortlist closer to the time.
4. Repping Their Brands
GCBF has a really cool beer ethic. This festival is respected by the breweries because they know they’re dealing with the originals. As a result, the owners and brewers of many, many those curated beers will actually be at the festival, proudly repping their brand and available to talk about it.
5. The Green Green Grass Grows All Around
GCBF is held at Royal Athletic Park, a baseball field. When GCBF went outdoors in 2003, it created a BC blueprint–copied and adapted more than once–for how beautiful a beer festival can be. Thanks to usually-cooperative weather, it’s an idyllic sensory experience on green grass.
6. It’s A Musical Costume Party
GCBF features some of the most fun roaming musical entertainment. No massive concerts, just talented folks with amusing instruments making you smile.
In the same spirit, you’ll see more costumes here than any other BC beer event. Revellers cast aside their inhibitions and come wearing everything from lederhosen to chicken suits. So dress up for the occasion! Get your group to coordinate your colours so you can find each other easily. Prepare to be in lots of photos!
7. Art Worth Wearing
One of the many signature elements of GCBF is its tradition of commissioning unique artwork each year. Past events have featured outstanding illustrations like the ones displayed here, which make for some of Canadian beerdom’s most highly prized and collectible t-shirts.
Yes, you’re there for Beerfest, but there are some ancillary events on the Friday and Saturday each year. If you can get away from work a bit early, make it a Victoria Beer [Long] Weekend. Recent years have seen great tie-in events at Swans, Smiths Pub, Garrick’s Head Pub and The Drake (the antithetical “Little American Beer Fest”). It’s a bit early for the official 2018 itinerary, so when the time comes, just pull up the always-handy What’s Brewing BC Craft Calendar: www.whatsbrewing.ca/calendar
I just named a few of Victoria’s best-loved pubs. But what about the city’s classic craft breweries? Since you’re smart enough to plan on hitting town early, you’ll have time to do the stroll around the harbour and stop for a pint along Victoria’s “Beer Mile”, at Swans, Canoe, Phillips, Vancouver Island Brewing, Moon Under Water, Driftwood, Hoyne, Lighthouse and Spinnakers. And maybe by the time you get there: newcomer Île Sauvage. That’s another Top Ten reasons right there.
Victoria is home to North America’s first brewpub, Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub & Guesthouses. A few years after Spins opened, Swans Hotel & Brewpub set up shop. Along with Squamish’s Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company, they make up BC’s classic brewpub hotels. We’re very fortunate to have them. If you haven’t stayed in them please do; many of the rooms in these historic buildings are an amazing treat just to occupy. Suffice to say in this short piece that as a beer lover, you may never enjoy a hotel more.
Spinnakers and Swans are the two classic options, but there are plenty of other great accommodations in the Garden City. Watch the Festival’s Travel page for this year’s hotel deals: www.gcbf.com/travel
10. Sunday in Victoria
When the Festival wraps up Saturday, don’t just drink up & leave town. Remember that Victoria is an amazing tourism destination, and that’s why your parents took you there as a kid. If you’re beered out, take in the touristy stuff along the harbour, check out the Public Market, Chinatown, and a host of other options. And of course there’s Butchart Gardens on the way back to the ferry.
If you’re still up for beers on Sunday, try the Pickle Pub Crawl courtesy of the Victoria Harbour Ferry, or check out the offerings from Victoria’s own beer tour company, West Coast Brewery Tours: www.westcoastbrewerytours.ca
11. Community Fundraiser
This list goes to eleven, thanks to the fact that your dollars spent on GCBF–which is operated by the non-profit Great Canadian Beer Festival Society–are going to a good cause. First, the festival actually buys all the beer from the participating breweries, which isn’t the case with every event out there. Then, surplus proceeds go to the CFAX Santas Anonymous Society, which does good work for families in Victoria living with poverty every December.
Many other beer festivals are produced commercially by professional event management companies, and we don’t have a problem with that. But we save special respect for volunteer-primary teams like the GCBF Society who can pull off a great event and put significant funds into a charitable cause.
The ladies of Category 12 posing for International Women’s Day (Karen Kuzyk left, Jordyn Godin 2nd left)
I have met Karen Kuzyk several times over the last few years but usually just to say hi, so I was thrilled when she agreed to this interview. When Karen heard that I was organizing a group to brew for the Pink Boots Collaboration brew in March, she asked if one of her new brewers, Jordyn Godin, could join us. Jordyn was a pure joy and got right into the thick of the brew, even jumping on the forklift to get the malt bins in place!
Both women bring a lot to Category 12 (where half the team is female) and to the industry in general. Recently I asked both Karen and Jordyn for their take on being a woman in the craft beer industry.
Karen: A multitude of factors! While the concept of creating our own brewery was entirely Michael’s idea, we knew that we both needed to be 100% on board. I saw the opportunity to get some much-needed validation outside of my family life, while putting the knowledge I had gained about business through my own experiences into action.
Jordyn: I became a craft beer fan upon moving to the Island right after high school to attend UVic (University of Victoria) for my BSc. I never thought I’d ever be able to break my way in with zero contacts and truly no relevant experience at the time, but after encountering Michael and Karen a few times just via growler fills in the taproom, I kind of just fell in love with them. I obviously adored their shtick, having a background in Science myself, and after graduating from UVic, it took a while to get my foot in the door. When Category 12 finally had an opening in production, I jumped at the chance and they had me in for an interview.
PEOPLE WHO GET INTO THIS BUSINESS HAVE PASSION. HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR BEER?
KK: I’m sure we all have passion! Our values and motivations tend to be the differentiators, and they are as individual as the people themselves. I saw getting into the beer industry as a means of creating a business that embodied a way to have (apparent) control over our personal and financial destiny, to break away from the conservative choices we had made over the last twenty or so years and start over while we still had the ability, desire, and energy to guide the path in a hands-on way.
JG: I grew up in Alberta and the only beer I’d been exposed to was sad macro brands that my dad and male friends drank at bad parties. I didn’t know there were even different varieties of beer! So when I finally discovered a wheat ale from Wild Rose Brewing that I really did enjoy, I was shocked, because it didn’t look or taste anything like the beer my dad or friends had ever tried to coerce me in to quaffing. I didn’t try many beers until my second year at UVic, when I was drawn to a Killer Bee Honey Porter. I drank the whole bomber in an hour—I loved it! After this, I was obsessed with trying dark beers from all kinds of breweries.
WHAT KIND OF TRAINING/SCHOOLING DO YOU HAVE?
KK: In a previous incarnation, I had intended to become an elementary school teacher. I’m still passionate about creating environments where children can be their best selves, and causes that support literacy, outdoor play, and the learning styles of boys in the classroom.
JG: I have found having a background in science and experience in university labs undoubtedly useful, but that’s not to say that kind of experience is entirely necessary. Michael and my co-worker Jacob trained me, and honestly it was the steepest learning curve I’ve ever been a part of. Moving from the theoretical to the practical is something that student life never really prepared me for. However, after getting the hang of the job physically, my time management and lab skills that I acquired in university have proven themselves in spades!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB AND THE INDUSTRY?
KK: The sheer joy of working with an amazing team on a regular basis. I am grateful on a daily basis for the privilege of working with such competent, passionate people! It’s like creating the best family in the world! It’s such a dynamic industry there can be no complacency, and this is the kind of environment both Michael and I thrive in. No two days are the same.
JG: My most favourite thing is . . . brewing beer. It’s physical, it’s gratifying, it’s science and yet it still manages to feel a bit like magic. But as a more compelling response, my second most favourite and least favourite thing about being a lady who brews beer are one and the same: the shock when I tell people what I do. They immediately look me up and down, and part of me delights in their disbelief and part of me completely resents it. My favourite game takes place at parties when the craft beer dudebros are loudly speaking over you to one another like the topic of beer is completely over your head. Eventually you get to lambaste them with the fact that brewing beer is actually something you get paid to do and they’re either in utter disbelief or very embarrassed— both responses I relish of course, providing I’ve properly let them dig their own hole.
JORDYN: WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE FEMALE ROLE MODEL IN THE INDUSTRY, AND WHY?
Caitlyn Carlisle from Cumberland Brewing Co. Back when the thought of getting to work in a brewery was still a completely outlandish pipe dream, I saw her working in the tiny back room of the Cumberland brewery and she was the first woman I’d ever seen who wasn’t working the taproom. Who would want to hire me? I’m 120 pounds, have no experience, and I’m a girl. It wasn’t until I saw her—also a slim woman!—in her work boots back there that it dawned on me that this was even a remotely viable possibility. I’ve only met her once more since that day, when I was just starting to get on the brewhouse at C12. I doubt she remembers talking to me at all, but she’ll always be the woman who changed it all for me. Representation in the industry is so important.
ANY ADVICE FOR FELLOW WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY OR WANTING TO GET INTO THE INDUSTRY?
KK: Just do it! It’s never too late! It’s so easy to be lulled into complacency, to make the decisions you think are right based on the values or pathways of the people surrounding you, blanketing yourself with the illusion of security. It’s good to shake things up. If I had been able to grasp how intensely satisfying breaking away from those expected norms would be, I would have done this years ago!
JG: The advice I’d give other women with an interest in craft beer and the industry that surrounds it is simple: persistence. Don’t let anyone tell you no. When people ask me how I got into brewing I tell them, “sheer force of will.” Just keep showing up to the conversation.
BIGGEST ACHEIVEMENT TO DATE?
KK: Ha! I feel like I’m just getting started, it would be too presumptuous of me to assign that level of importance to anything I’ve done in the past! Seriously though, I think I’ve made major progress (as a recovering introvert, surprise surprise) in speaking in front of people; perhaps because I finally feel like I’m part of something that I can be proud of.
JG: My biggest achievement isn’t necessarily one specific event but rather the on-going event that I’ve been trying not to settle for anything less than what I consider an extraordinary time to be alive. Keep asking for more, keep dreaming bigger, and keep believing you’re worth the effort. I live in my dream place, with my dream people, working my dream job. If you aren’t obsessed with your life, change it.
Above picture: Team members from the five Penticton breweries celebrate their successful Penticton Ale Trail tap takeover earlier this spring at St. Augustine’s in Vancouver. Each brewery brought 5 kegs, for a total of 25 Penticton taps.
After a long winter, we are now enjoying gorgeous days filled with sunshine and blue skies. Tourism season is here, and visitors are arriving to enjoy all of our outdoor activities, amazing fresh produce, beach activities, and of course our vibrant craft beer scene.
Check out the BCAleTrail website to help plan your trip to the Okanagan. We now have 16 craft breweries from Vernon to Big White, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Summerland, Penticton and Oliver. Plus, two more coming in Kelowna: Wild Ambition Brewing and Vice & Virtue Brewing.
Firehall Brewery is located in the heart of BC wine country in Oliver. Their Beer Shop & Social now includes a recently expanded patio and a great selection of beer gear. They regularly host jam nights and vinyl nights, plus, their Back Alley Concert Series will be back again this summer. Keep an eye open for their Table Beer Series No. 3 – Barrel-aged Barley Wine 2018.
Head north into Penticton and you’ll find the Barley Mill Brew Pub. They have upcoming events including the Peach Gravy Improv Show on June 23rd, Yard Katz BBQ & Blues on June 30th and the Hillside Outlaws barn dance and rib dinner on July 21st. They are chilling down their already frosty beers for the summer, featuring Peach City Brew (Cayuse Wheat Ale topped with peach slush) & Cerveza “Lime”berg (Caballero Cerveza topped with lime slush).
Tin Whistle Brewery is celebrating the start of summer with some refreshing ales. The first ale is Paradise, a coconut wheat ale with hoppy citrus overtones. It will be available all summer in 650ml bombers and in draft. They also recently released Obsession, a beautiful hibiscus Belgium saison, the colour of rosé wine. This limited edition is available in 650ml bottles and in draft. Watch for their popular peach ale to be released in cans by July.
Highway 97 Brewing, now in its 2nd year of business, features a 36-seat taproom and patio. The taproom overlooks and is open to the brewing floor below. This summer they will have 10 beers available, 2 of which are made with fresh Okanagan fruit. Okanagan Fresh Fruit Hefeweizen features peaches and apricots, while their West Coast Summerweiss is made with berries and lemon zest. They also now offer an expanded lunch and dinner menu.
The team at Bad Tattoo Brewing are ramping up their production of craft beer and delicious pizzas. Check out the new items on their summer menu including the introduction of their own house made gelato. Continuing their goal of one month, one beer, this summer will see the return of crowd favourites Azacca What You Want Hazy Pale Ale in July, and Lucky 13 Double IPA in August. They will be launching a new beer in June, their Pear Lime Sour Gose.
Cannery Brewing has recently launched a new series of limited release beers that are available on tap and in 4-packs of 473ml cans. They feature gorgeous labels illustrated and designed by Penticton artist, Skyler Punnett. Watch for the Dualis Double IPA in early June and the rebranded Hop Chowdah Hazy New England IPA by late June. The Drupaceous Apricot Wheat Ale is also back for the summer! It’s the perfect choice for patios anywhere, including Cannery Brewing’s own pet-friendly patio.
When you are in Penticton, plan to attend the Penticton Farmers’ Market, which runs every Saturday morning until October. The market features local produce, baked goods and artisan items. You’ll often find craft breweries, cideries, distilleries, and wineries doing tastings and selling bottles and cans to go.
Summerland’s Detonate Brewing celebrated the start of their second year with the acquisition of a couple shiny, new 10hl fermentation tanks. Drop by the brewery and try their latest release, Taco Beer, brewed with tacos and flaked corn in the mash and chili, cumin, cilantro, lime, coriander, salt and pepper added to the boil.
If you are heading north to Kelowna, check out the newly opened Kind Brewing in West Kelowna. They’ve got a great patio space, which they hope to have open for this summer.
To find out more about the South Okanagan craft beer scene, join the CAMRA SO crew as we head to Firehall Brewery for their July 21st Back Alley Concert. We’ll have a shuttle from Penticton. It will be a great evening of craft beer, music and mingling with other craft beer lovers.
2017’s inaugural event hit it out of the park. This was an amazingly well-organized festival, and it brought recognition to its subject matter—beer made by females—with impeccable care and respect. Plus, the beer was flat-out delicious; one of the tastiest samplings we enjoyed last year.
TCCFA Communications Director Tim Vandergrift in his cask festival element: wearing beer after tapping a pin
TCCFA Communications Director Tim Vandergrift tells us that this year’s event will nearly double the inaugural in size, laying claim to the title of “largest all-female cask festival” anywhere. Of course, sadly, there might not actually be much competition for that title. There are other beer festivals in North America that are geared to ladies, a few of which do actually concentrate on beers by women. But they’re not cask festivals! One-off and experimental casks are what make many a British Columian beer festival—and any festival by the TCCFA—special. Hey, the rest of North America’s loss is our gain.
Of Siris, Tim says, “The goal is to open a venue to the women of BC brewing and let them make the st
ory happen. It’s about their issues, their successes, their stories and their shared experience in the profession and the passion they put into craft beer.”
Event direction comes from a panel of female Associate Directors, including brewers Claire Wilson of self-owned Dogwood Brewing, Julia Hanlon of Vancouver’s Steamworks and Ashley Brooks of Four Winds, a graduate of the Brewing/Brewery Operations program at Langley’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Also involved is Kwantlen’s DeAnn Bremner and team, plus a special faculty member who’s been an inspiration to many females in the BC brewing scene.
Master of Ceremonies at Siris is North American brewing industry veteran Nancy More, whose background includes senior management positions in global beer companies. She is recognized by many as the first female brewmaster in North America. Nancy is now a leader at KPU’s brewing program. We asked Nancy for her take on last year’s inaugural Siris festival.
“I was totally thrilled to be in a room with so many women who shared my passion for beer and brewing”, Nancy shared. “It really restored my faith in our ability to make change in the industry.”
Nancy More (right) with a group of people at Siris 2017
We also asked her how the interest from female applicants to KPU’s brewing program was coming along. She confirmed, “There is a strong interest from women who want to take our program. Currently we have more men enrolled, but there has been a growing number of women and I hope to see that number continue to climb.”
“Events such as the Siris Cask Festival increase the visibility of women in the profession and help newcomers see the opportunity of working in this great business”, she continued. “I think that the craft brewing industry is becoming more open to women. There are still lots of challenges, but significantly fewer than I would have faced when I started.”
Tim notes that there is a special pre-event hour just for female attendees, beginning at 11 AM. “There is going to be a Q&A session with Nancy and our Associate Directors, and a special guest for women aspiring to work in the industry to ask questions and to share experiences in a collegial atmosphere of their peers”, he shares. “Siris hopes to help spark ideas, careers, and new women-owned breweries in BC.”
Siris commits $1500 per year as a bursary for a female second-year student in KPU’s program. This year’s recipient, as determined via input from the KPU finance team, will be revealed soon. Last year’s recipient, Kristy Tattrie of Yellow Dog Brewing, completed her KPU studies just this Spring. She’ll be on board as a special guest at Siris. We’re looking forward to hearing her story.
Going forward, there are big plans for the future of Siris. As Tim says, “Women are the past, the present and the future of craft beer. They’re making space for their contributions to be seen, and showing everyone just how great and inclusive the industry can be.”
Plus, he notes, “It’s a ripping good cask festival with excellent beers and great people to share them with.” Cheers to that!
Buried in the blizzard of beer news and events this Vancouver Craft Beer Week is an announcement by Central City Brewing that may prove to be noteworthy in hindsight. They held a media gathering Tuesday May 29th to officially reveal their latest marketing initiative: a move to a new packaging and pricing model. Due to some efficiencies they realized during their recent transition to a larger canning format, they will now start selling 500ml for the same price they currently sell 355ml: Red Racer Upsizes Competition with Bold New Packaging
Photo: Facebook [Dustan Sept]
News that CCB is releasing beer in new cans might seem underwhelming. But what is really at play here are two things:
Price War. OK, that phrasing is a bit dramatic, so pick your own label for it, but either way CCB is emphasizing price in this move, and their news release could be interpreted as a shot across the bow to their major competitors (and many of the minor ones too). They recognize that there are “value craft” consumers that don’t want to buy Wildcat, but they do want to be careful with their money.What’s Brewing has recently seen 500ml 6-packs of their Beer League lager on sale for as low as $9.99 at CCB’s private liquor store. That is 3 litres of beer for under $10. Try that in a growler. Their many SKUs generally won’t sell that low, but they’ll probably come in well under the competition at this point. For some shoppers, value like that will be hard to ignore.
Form Factor. It’s become clearer lately that “tallboy” cans are the next wave in beer packaging, and by “next” we mean “already started”. Established breweries that have invested significantly in glass packaging over the years may soon be looking at a market that is shifting away from bombers and into cheaper, more portable cans. 500ml seems to be a “sweet spot” that can be single-serve or shared, and might be a good size for hospitality too.
Anyway, Central City is simply making an announcement about a smart marketing decision; this is all just neutral observation, and we certainly wish them all the best with their move. All the same, here’s hoping that the BC craft market stays rich and diverse and doesn’t become completely stratified into “high end” (which of course Central City also produces) and “value”. Either way, the beneficiary in at least the short term is the price-conscious craft consumer.
Stephen Beaumont is one of his generations greatest beer writers. And he just so happens to be Canadian. Starting out in 1994 with The Great Canadian Beer Guide, one of the first beer books I ever read (if you stumble upon a copy, pick it up for me), Beaumont has now authored or co-authored over ten books. Two of his newest are the revised and expanded World Atlas of Beer (2016) and the pocket guide Best Beers (2017), both co-authored with Tim Webb.
I was more than pleasantly surprised when I found out that the book launch for Best Beers was happening at The Drake in downtown Victoria on an evening I wasn’t scheduled to work. It is very rare to be able to shake hands with a writer you respect as much as I do Beaumont.
Best Beers is technically the third version of 2013’s Pocket Beer Guide. If you own the original version don’t hesitate to pick up the newest version as Best Beers is such a different book that it does justify the name change. In the original, Beaumont and Webb, with the help of a team of international beer experts, looked at a cross section of the most important breweries in each country at the time. They included a star rating for each brewery’s most important beer with a brief description. However, with the massive growth of the number of breweries worldwide, as Beaumont explained at the book launch, such an approach today would create such a huge book that it couldn’t be considered “pocket”. The new book is much better for it’s increased focus, which does away with the star ratings since all the beers featured “are at the top of their class” (p.8). It also allows for more in depth tasting notes, which in the first version could be as short as one word. Best Beers is an indispensable resource for those who want to hunt the crème de la crème of beers.
Another revised Beaumont and Webb book, The World Atlas of Beer, is equally of deserving of your attention, even if you have the previous version. The world of beer in between the years of 2012 and 2016 changed so much that it demanded a follow up. The beer landscape of certain countries, such as Canada, Iceland, Ireland and others, have changed so much that large portions of the book have been rewritten or expanded. Much of the book, even in countries with long brewing traditions such as the Czech Republic, deals specifically with the recent past since it is only then that so much has changed.
Another book, National Geographic Atlas of Beer, was recently released and although a fine book, definitely lacked in specific beer recommendations, outside of noting some historically important breweries and then a single recommendation for each beer style. For instance, the two Canadian beers suggestions are Postmark Raspberry and Unibroue La Fin Du Monde. This lack of beer advice might seem like the case in the newest version of the World Atlas as well, which has done away with the beer recommendations that ran along the bottom of each page in the original. However, fear not, as the authors have heavily peppered suggestions throughout the text, making them easy to find once you are actually reading. The price point between the two atlases should also be noted, $34 Canadian for the better book while National Geographics Atlas cover price is $50 Canadian.
Beaumont and Webb don’t shy shy away from making their presence known in the World Atlas. As Webb writes in his forward, “If enthusiasm breaks through our reportage occasionally, we ask your forgiveness.” No forgiveness needed as far as I‘m concerned, as the well-informed authorial asides are some of the best parts. As an example, the brief discussion on what the hell Guinness is doing lately, ends with, “We sense the limits of understanding oft found in the corporate mind, plus an allergy to live yeast.” This is exactly the kind of thing I love in my beer books. Best Beers has similar insights embedded, such as the short chapter on beer trends. Either way, the World Atlas of Beer is one second edition of a book you should definitely seek out as it is a deep, well-informed book about all things beer and its current situation around the globe.
Speaking of all things beer, if food/beer pairings or cooking with beer is an interest of yours, then definitely check out Beaumont’s Beer and Food Companion or the Beerbistro Cookbook, which are both written with the care and understanding that Beaumont applies to all his books.
I envy the beer fan who has yet to discover the books and writing of Stephen Beaumont. He is a national treasure. For those of you who may own earlier versions of his books I highly recommend updating at the soonest possible moment. Both the World Atlas of Beer and Best Beers are two of the most important beer books published in the last few years and your bookshelf will not be complete without them.
At a recent homebrew club meeting I was speaking with a member about one of his beers and the ingredients that went into it. After a long list of ingredients that didn’t sound like they would get along very well, it became clear why the beer tasted a bit odd. There were many ingredients added that didn’t sound to me like there was any consideration given to what the final product may taste like. Let’s talk about new recipe formulation and design.
Lately I have been making some pilot batches at home for a commercial brewery that I work for. I have been making some styles that I have never made before, and yet the recipes are coming out very close to what I imagined. Some of that will come from experience and getting to know what certain ingredients will bring to the table, but part of it comes from understanding styles and knowing how to properly use brewing software. Software can help save time and guesswork by giving you a pretty good idea of the important stats while creating a new recipe.
There are two popular software solutions being used by most homebrewers, Beer Smith and Brewers Friend. I have used both and prefer Brewers Friend. I found the interface slightly easier to understand. I also like that it is cloud based and I can access my recipes from any device connected to the internet. Best part is that you can use Brewers Friend FOR FREE. The main limitation to the free platform is you can only save three recipes. No problem, print and delete the older recipe before creating a new one. I eventually paid for an annual membership as I wanted to save many recipes.
When creating a new recipe I start by thinking about what I want the final product to taste like. What style would be closest to how I want the beer to look and taste? Once I have a style to go on then I get some classic recipe ideas. Many times I will start with a classic recipe from a book, such as ones published John Palmer. I start by entering that recipe into Brewers Friend with my efficiency set to 65%. This number can be adjusted as you take measurements and learn your actual efficiency. Now you can adjust malt weights to get the desired original gravity. I generally adjust the yeast attenuation to 75 or 80% as I have found that gives me better idea of where the final gravity will end up.
Remember to select the style from the drop down list. If you expand the top section by clicking the ‘more’ button you will see how well your recipe is fitting within the style guidelines and you can adjust to adhere to those guidelines.
Next up is the hop additions. I enter the weight as per the recipe and then adjust until the software indicates the IBU that I want to achieve. At that point I start thinking about ways that I want to adjust the recipe to make it fit the flavour profile I have in mind. That could mean adding or subtracting specialty malts to change the malt sweetness, nutty or bready character, roasty, etc. I may change out the hop varieties to something more citrussy or spicy. And finally yeast selection. Yeast selection can have a huge impact on the final beer.
To experiment with yeast I would highly recommend making a simple SMASH or pale ale recipe and brewing it identical every time but trying out a different yeast. This will give you a great idea of how that particular yeast affects the flavour. It took me a while to discover yeast strains that I prefer.
A new feature on Brewers Friend that I like is slider buttons for the malts. You can simply slide the button back and forth to increase or decrease the percentage of that malt within the recipe. Very helpful when you have a recipe that is only given in percentages.
Once you have measured and determined your efficiency you can adjust the recipe accordingly. Simply ‘edit’ the recipe and then ‘scale’ the efficiency. I will quite often use Brewers Friend to scale up a recipe for commercial purposes. To do this I scale the efficiency first, from 65% to 80%, and then scale for size secondly. You may need to slightly adjust malt to match the original gravity or hops to match the desired IBU, but generally it will scale up quite well.
Brewers Friend also has a recipe database that you can access. Suppose you are looking for a clone recipe of your favourite beer, search the database and you will likely find many recipes to use as reference. You can also share your recipes so that they show up in the database.
Another feature the Brewers Friend has is a brew day log with a step by step checklist so you don’t miss any steps. Entering the pre-boil gravity and post boil gravity will help you figure out your kettle losses which can be adjusted for your equipment set up. Efficiency will be calculated for you based on measurements you enter at various steps.
Officially kicking off tomorrow is Vancouver Craft Beer Week, Western Canada’s largest celebration of brew culture. From its beginnings in 2010, VCBW has served as an annual locus of citywide beer activities. And since 2015, its event lineup has included Forbidden Fruit, BC’s only annual Fruit Beer-specific event.
Vancouver is a beer town now–something that, only a decade ago, it was not. But of course, “beer” in this context means something much different than it did a generation heretofore. A fruit beer festival would have been a tough sell in days of yore, but due to the enlightenment that’s washed over the city this decade, this festival is not only surviving, but selling out the house.
Forbidden Fruit is hosted by Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House, a craft beer outlet on Beatty Street near Stadium Skytrain Station. (It’s a “brewery tap” operated by craft beer veterans Howe Sound Brewing). We recently connected with event manager Kristie Sparksman, who not only handles Marketing Strategy & Design for the Elbow but also personally takes a significant hand in curating the event. Here’s what Kristie tells us to look forward to in 2018.
Fruity, sweet and sour beers will be on tap at VCBW Forbidden Fruit, BC’s only annual Fruit Beer event
Q&A with Kristie Sparksman of Devil’s Elbow
What’s Brewing: Forbidden Fruit is now in its fourth year, and it’s the only annual fruit beer festival in BC. How proud is Devil’s Elbow of hosting this event?
Kristie Sparksman: It’s honestly our favourite time of year! Forbidden Fruit is an honour to host and curate, and an excellent representation of the strength of Vancouver Craft Beer Week. Each year we try to make it better and better, and this year it’s going to be unbelievable.
WB: We sense that people are excited about this event. How are tickets selling?
KS: Tickets are almost sold out. There are 40 left, and they always start to go quickly when the event is a week out. So I’d encourage people to snap them up, quick!
All the movers, shakers, and drinkers of the craft beer community will be there. It’s going to be a blast.
WB: Some people are put off by sour beers, and others are suspicious of fruit beers. What would you tell someone who hasn’t tried these types of beers before?
KS: Fruity beers are such a nice entry point to the beer world! Sour beers I can understand people not liking as much, because there are some people who don’t like (for instance) pickles, and that is crazy to me!
I mean, if you don’t like beer that is completely fine. It’s not for everyone. But if you are determined to become a beer person, I’d definitely start with something fruit forward.
WB: It says there will be “food stations” set up for the event. What will these be serving?
KS: We’ve got handmade pretzels baked at R&B, pulled pork sliders, Two Rivers beer sausage (our personally-made sausages!), and slabs of slow smoked brisket: the crown jewel of our main menu.
Tokened food stations will run from 5:00 until 8:00, and the entire food menu is available all evening.
WB: Is there a beer that you especially have your eye on and are personally looking forward to trying?
KS: Each brewery has something amazing to offer, but if I was to pick one to highlight, it would be the new kid on the block. I was lucky enough to sample Electric Bicycle’s Sorbet IPA on their second day of opening ,and can’t wait to share it with the fruit lovers.
VCBW Forbidden Fruit
WHEN: May 31, 2018, 5:00 pm – Midnight WHERE: Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House, 562 Beatty St, Vancouver COST: $45 Includes: