B.C. Beer Blog

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

Building a Bridge

with 5 comments

This is the first guest post from Victoria craft beer enthusiast and B.C. Beer Blog reader, Kris Constable. He is trying to organize a Victoria group to study for the BJCP certification: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=144492600065. We hope to hear from him, from time to time, reflecting on his experiences from an Island perspective.

I just got back from Vancouver Island Brewery’s release of Spyhopper Honey Brown. I’m normally not a big fan of honey browns, as I usually find they don’t have much honey flavour and have a slightly bitter aftertaste. This honey brown surprised me. You can taste the honey, which is from Babe’s Honey Farm here on the Island. Not to mention, it’s got an amazingly smooth finish that leaves you wanting another gulp.

What I realize this beer provides is a craft product that can still be, what I call, a lawnmower beer — a few of which you can easily quaff back while cutting the lawn. This is an essential bridge to build with those who are megaswill drinkers (Labatt, Molson, et. al.), bringing them into the craft brew scene. What people don’t often realize is that if your beer is not a craft beer in Canada, it’s not Canadian any longer. That’s right, Molson, Okanagan Spring, Sleeman — none of these are Canadian. So if you want to support local, there is no better time than now to switch to craft beer.

Often craft brews are geared for beer nerds, those that appreciate a 50+ IBU beer or a wildly exotic flavour profile. Someone trying their first craft beer, though, will often be put off. Spyhopper crosses this boundary. Recommend it to any friends you have that are used to drinking the same old, same old. This, to me, is the bridge that needed to be created. As with anything that is a learned experience, once they learn and appreciate the value of local craft beer, there is no going back.

~ Kris Constable, Victoria.


Written by BCbrews

April 9, 2009 at 8:52 am

5 Responses

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  1. I agree, bridge beers (although not Spinnakers Blue Bridge Anniversary Ale) do play an important role in moving the drinker beyond mass-market suds. However, I don’t think they have to be dumbed-down versions of traditional styles. They don’t all have to have honey in them either. You can choose a number of unadulterated classics — Belgian Golden Ale, Dunkel, Hefeweizen, English Mild, Ordinary Bitter, Wit — and achieve the same goal.

    A craft brewery has forsaken its principles, however, when it tries to appeal to the broader market by making an industrial beer clone. This may increase the brewery’s sales, but it doesn’t serve to develop the market. It’s just appealing to the lowest common denominator. BC’s wine industry did not progress by taking that approach. The craft beer industry won’t either.


    April 13, 2009 at 11:31 pm

  2. What traditional style has been dumbed down? Leaving a comment without tasting the beer shows the ineptness of the person who thinks every beer should be brewed by Matt Phillips. Nobody has forsaken their principles other than you. Listen here beer lovers, it’s a good beer. Clean, nice honey notes, and goes down smooth. Try the beer, blog, have another.

    Stuart Finkle

    April 24, 2009 at 9:22 pm

  3. The traditional style, Stuart, is an English Brown Ale: Mild, Southern English Brown, Northern English Brown. At no more than 30 IBUs, this is not a challenging style of beer to drink, no matter who brews it. Have you had one?


    April 25, 2009 at 8:32 am

  4. Not all honey is created equal. When Vancouver Island Brewery came looking for a honey we had to listen to what they wanted the end result to be before recommending a honey. Just like hops, barley, etc… care must be taken in getting the correct honey for the style of beer your a making (or making a mead, or doing a honey vinegar, etc…). We sell many different types of honey and each brewmaster is looking for something very specific that they are attempting to convey in flavour. Some use a fireweed because they want a bit of bite, some use a rich wildflower because they want a rich smooth roundness. Anyone who wants more information on types of honey for beers should give us a call or come by the honeyhouse – we are here to educate in our area of expertise – honey.

    Mark Pitcher

    May 23, 2009 at 8:32 pm

  5. Hi Mark. Thanks for your comments and adding to the story.

    I agree, not all honey is created equal. I love a good, unpasteurized local honey that has a nose and flavour evocative of where it comes from. If possible, I’ll buy it from the apiarist that collected it.

    Just to clarify my comments above. They don’t refer to a specific beer or honey. I’m not trying to single out Vancouver Island over other brewers. It’s more of a frustration with a trend that appears to reinforce the ubiquity of sweet beer we find popular in BC. Is this because of the flood of sugar that we find throughout our food and drink? Has it crippled our palates so that bitter and sour flavours are shunned. I find that troubling.

    However, I am curious if people have taken to honey beers because of the honey or the sweetness. Do they buy a honey brown because they know it will be sweet? Whereas, with a brown ale, they may not know and will avoid buying it without even finding out more about the style.

    I think if people were better educated about beer styles, they would at least know what a traditional brown ale tasted like. And if they preferred a honey brown because of the honey characteristics, then by all means, go for it! As it stands, I’m waiting for a honey IPA to appear.

    If you also supply honey for mead, feel free to post any details of what Babes has to offer.


    May 23, 2009 at 9:24 pm

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