The View from Bellingham
Mark Biehl, a beer blogger and podcast personality in Bellingham, noticed a tweet of mine about contributing to the B.C. Beer Blog. He kindly offered this perspective on B.C. craft beer. I think we can appreciate the frustration he must feel being so near, yet so far away from enjoying what is everyday for us. Hark! The call of Cascadia beckons.
Ahhh, beer. I’m a beer blogger, so you know I drink a lot of beer. I drink beer from all over the world, but usually I like to stick close to home. There’s a lot of great beer here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the best beer place in my book. Oh yeah, we also grow all the hops. That being said, there are some local beers that don’t come my way.
Living in Bellingham, a town closer to Vancouver, BC, than Seattle, you would think we would see a lot of BC craft beer. We don’t. To be honest, the only Canadian craft beer that comes to my mind is Unibroue. But let’s talk about closer to home. As our neighbours to the north begin producing more and more craft beer, why isn’t it showing up in the grocery stores down here.
Many of us are very unfamiliar with BC craft beer. Howe Sound has made it’s way down here, and with a bang in my opinion. They have those awesome one litre bottles with the swing tops. I’ve been buying the beer just for the bottles, but the beer’s not bad at all!
So why is BC beer practically nowhere to be found only a few miles from the border? There are a couple of possible explanations. First, as Rick explained to me, many BC brewers are most concerned with their home market, as they should be. But is there more to it?
In my opinion, breweries should always serve their home market before any growth to new markets. But I’m wondering if there are other factors at play, here. BC has fewer breweries than the state of Washington. That in itself makes it hard to compete with the local guys down here, though I don’t necessarily think that this market is too saturated, but that could just be the beer geek talking. Maybe there is a fundamental difference in market demand, but I find that hard to believe. Because if we know our stereotypes, Canada loves beer, though I suppose there could be a difference in the craft beer culture. I’ve done a bit of studying up on NAFTA and I know cross-border trade is a pain. I don’t know the specifics on beer, but I bet it doesn’t help getting BC beer down here.
These are just a few thoughts on BC beer and where it stands to us Washingtonians. Right now, it pretty much doesn’t exist, but I hope to see more craft beer trickling down here in the future. If my Blackhawks can’t beat the Canucks, at least I can enjoy some craft beer.