Why Vancouver Craft Beer Week?
Vancouver 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!
Subscribe to comments with RSS.