The Straight Readers’ Best Vancouver Beer
I’m always interested to see when readers of The Georgia Straight weigh in on what they consider to be the best of xyz. It serves as a useful gauge in terms of current popular taste and understanding.
In terms of beer, their Best of Vancouver 2008 includes three beer-related categories—B.C. Beer, Brew Pub, and Local Microbrewery. The winners for each category are, respectively, Granville Island Brewing, Yaletown Brewing Company, and Granville Island Brewing.
The listings under B.C. Beer were somewhat confusing as it refers to beer in the singular. Perhaps there were a variety of different answers that were synthesized into a general ‘Granville Island Brewing’ and ‘Okanagan Spring Brewery.’ The best answer, though, which the editors listed under the heading, was, “I can’t just pick one!” If you read my article, you’ll see why, if you don’t already know. Given the winners in the other two categories, it was disappointing to see that second place went to a mass-market lager.
For the final two categories, the listing of Granville Island Brewing is a bit problematic because it is neither a brewpub, nor a microbrewery. GIB is not a pub or restaurant that brews beer on its own premises and sells 25% or more of its beer on site. The Tap Room is strictly that, a brewery tap, and shouldn’t be confused with a brewpub.
GIB’s annual production is 60,000 hetcolitres when, according to the US Brewers Association, a microbrewery is a “brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels (17,600 hectoliters) of beer per year.” In fact, GIB is a regional craft brewery. It also isn’t a local brewery, per se, because most of its production is in Kelowna. The only beer that is produced locally on Granville Island is its Limited Release beers (aka seasonals) brewed by Vern Lambourne. These are packaged only in 650ml bottles.
In the City of Vancouver, there are only two microbreweries—R & B and Storm. In Metro Vancouver, there are three, with the addition of Russell Brewing. Russell is on the verge of becoming a regional brewery as its current capacity is 16,000 hectolitres. However, their status, like Granville Island, may also be somewhat ambiguous because of their merger with Fort Garry Brewing of Winnipeg. Excess production capacity at Fort Garry is being used to fulfill Russell’s contract for BC Place Stadium. Therefore, actual production of Russell-branded product may, at some point, exceed 17,600 hectolitres, if it hasn’t already.
I hope The Georgia Straight readers will renew their search for Vancouver’s best beer. I look forward to seeing who the winners are next year.