B.C. Beer Blog

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of B.C. craft beer

Why Vancouver Craft Beer Week?

with 9 comments

Vancouver Craft Beer Week logoVancouver has experienced varying degrees of success with its beer festivals, but hasn’t found its groove to the degree that Victoria has with the Great Canadian Beer Festival or even Penticton with the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale. Having heard this topic brought up on a number of occasions over the past couple of years and the inevitable lamentations that followed, I was determined to do something about it.

The main challenge with putting on an event similar to the aforementioned, though, is the money required to stage it. It seems that those with the passion don’t have the money and those with the money either don’t have the passion or don’t have the confidence in you pulling it off if you haven’t already proven yourself. If passion for craft beer and money were hand-in-hand in Vancouver, then we wouldn’t be in this Catch-22 predicament.

Nevertheless, staging a large event on a single day without a reputation from a positive track record is a risky venture. There is a lot riding on just a few hours. The GCBF and OFOA got to where they are today by lots of hard work, building them up over more than a decade from smaller beginnings. Would we really have to wait that long before Vancouver finally has itself a beer festival worthy of its status as the largest metropolis in Western Canada? Could we wait that long?

I don’t recall the specific day last year this happened, but I remember reading about San Francisco Beer Week and pondering the model as a possible solution for Vancouver. The more I thought about it, the more sense it seemed to make as the direction to go. It was something different from Victoria and Penticton, making it less likely to cannibalize attendance from them. It involved more than just breweries. It also spanned numerous venues around town over the course of seven days, making it much more likely to gain greater attention in the public eye. I threw the idea out to a handful of my fellow beer aficionados, who immediately embraced it. Thus, Vancouver Craft Beer Week was born.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s hard to change a culture. Craft brewing has been exploding in the US, while in Canada we’ve been slowly picking up steam, albeit in pockets in different parts of the country. Unfortunately, StatsCan remains intent on reporting the general trends without recognizing the underlying changes taking place. While wine may be up and beer down, craft beer is the fastest growing segment in liquor sales in BC. This isn’t because of media exposure or advertising. It’s a grassroots effort from brewers, dedicated consumers, publicans, retailers, and restauranteurs that has been gradually spreading knowledge of craft beer through one-on-one exposure, a growing number of beer-related events, beer education, and the use of electronic & social media to distribute information that is absent in the mainstream media.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week is meant as a strong public statement that when we speak of beer, we are no longer talking about swilling suds. Rather, it is a serious component of our culinary landscape with broad appeal that embraces all ages, classes, and sexes. If you look at the range of events we’re putting on, you will see that beer isn’t just for the guys, something to drink only with burgers and pizza, or guzzle while watching sports. Beer is diverse, flavourful, complex, and can be elegant when appropriately chosen and properly served in a fine dining context.

There are very few places in the Lower Mainland where people will get a sense that we have over 40 craft breweries and brewpubs in BC. The more people demand of the hospitality industry and retailers, the better our options will be. The same ten taps of crap (mostly industrial lager) is not choice. These are chosen for their profitability and the large degree to which people are brainwashed into drinking particular brands, not for seasonality or affinity with one’s menu. We can do better; simply don’t accept anything less!

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9 Responses

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Greg Andrews, Vancouver Beer Week. Vancouver Beer Week said: RT @BCbrews: New blog post: Why Vancouver Craft Beer Week? http://wp.me/phZ1d-cm @VCBW #YVR #craftbeer [...]

  2. Think it’s been done already actually. Although the lack of information on it might be why it was never repeated. There was a 50+ brewery fair out at UBC several years ago. Unsure why it never happened again. Lack of participation? It was bigger than the fest of ale at the time I think

    bwilder

    April 23, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    • Size is one thing, impact and sustainability are another. Vancouver has never had anything as large as the GCBF or OFOA and last as long as they have.

      How Vancouver Craft Beer Week is different from any other beer event in the province is that it not only involves brewers and consumers but also the hospitality industry in their own establishments. And it’s not simply about tasting beer from different breweries. There are numerous paired beer dinners, judged competitions for both home and commercial brewers, a cooking with beer class, and a special event highlighting women and beer. I expect next year, once people & businesses have seen what this is all about, they will come up with more ideas.

      Given the broader involvement/impact this will have on the city, it is why the mayor will be making an official declaration of Vancouver Craft Beer Week.

      BCbrews

      April 24, 2010 at 12:13 am

    • The event that you are referring to is The Canada Cup of Beer – it is a great festival but is different from the VCBW because there are also lot of import beers at the event. There are a few satellite events during the week of beer. It is bigger than the fest of ale and boasts a huge selection of over 200 different beers.

      Check it out: http://www.canadacupofbeer.com

      jsmith

      April 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm

      • I think you need to qualify how The Canada Cup of Beer is bigger than the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale. Compare last year’s “venders” at the CCoB (http://www.canadacupofbeer.com/venders.htm) with this year’s lineup at the OFOA (http://www.fest-of-ale.bc.ca/brewers.html) — they are comparable in number, although the OFOA has more craft brewers, even though their lineup is less than normal because the Brewers Association conference in Chicago was on at the same time. The OFOA also has a much longer history than the CCoB.

        That said, here are some of the ways in which VCBW is different from CCoB:

        * strictly focused on craft beer, and beer alone
        * aimed at a broader demographic, including women
        * features an open, blind judged commercial beer competition
        * has a homebrewing competition where the winner gets to brew their recipe in a commercial brewery

        I think the CCoB occupies an important role in developing the crossover market — appealing to those who are macro beer drinkers but curious about craft beer. By offering both types of beer at the same festival, it gives people an opportunity to try the difference if they are interested in tasting the beer. This, however, doesn’t offer sufficient appeal to the craft beer aficionado to make the trek to Thunderbird Stadium. Rather, their BC beer festival of choice is the GCBF.

        BCbrews

        May 3, 2010 at 8:41 pm

  3. [...] Why Vancouver Craft Beer Week? « B.C. Beer Blog [...]

  4. [...] Why Vancouver Craft Beer Week? « B.C. Beer Blog [...]

  5. I’m hoping that this will really give BC beer a higher profile. Two sets of people should be targeted. 1. Those who tentatively venture into craft beer and need a push to delve deeper. 2. Those wine lovers who look down on beer as inferior. The many food and beer events are a great way to do it.

    The Beer Wrangler

    May 1, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    • 3. Women who think they don’t like beer because of only being exposed to Wonder suds and sexist marketing.

      BCbrews

      June 4, 2010 at 12:04 am


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