B.C. Beer Blog

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

The Straight Readers’ Best Vancouver Beer

with 3 comments

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.

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3 Responses

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  1. Just wanted to clarify a point with regards to the definition of a microbrewery. The definition of what a microbrewery is can be somewhat fuzzy as it has different definitions depending on what jurisdiction the brewery is in.The United States Brewers Association may define a microbrewery as a “brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels (17,600 hectoliters) of beer per year”, however; in British Columbia a microbrewery is legally defined as a brewery which produces no more than 100,000 hectoliters of beer a year. Both Russell Brewing and Granville Island brewing are, by definition, both microbreweries rather than regional breweries.

    vern lambourne

    October 6, 2008 at 2:50 pm

  2. I find the BC definition problematic because it is an arbitrary definition that I suspect was meant to benefit certain business entities with respect to tax. I used the USBA definition because as it covers a larger geographical area, it represents a more uniform, accepted standard.

    bcbrews

    January 12, 2009 at 3:51 pm

  3. […] covering beer, so fewer issues for me to have than with the Georgia Straight’s ‘Best of Vancouver‘ awards. Nevertheless, it is another canary in the coal mine to judge how beer-savvy their […]


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