Archive for the ‘culture’ Category
Getting caught up in the euphoria of BC’s craft beer revolution, it’s easy to quickly associate the mention of “craft” with beer. However, there is a non-beer craft community of artists, artisans, teachers, scholars, collectors, and gallery owners that is represented by the Craft Council of British Columbia.
Last year, in celebration of Craft Year 2015, the two came together for the Craft Year, Craft Beer fundraiser at VanDusen Botanical Gardens. This year, the collaboration returns on November 5 for Celebrate Craft…Beer!, a charitable fundraiser that will be held at Performance Works on Granville Island.
Celebrate Craft…Beer! features a curated market of local artists and seasonal craft beer from 18 BC breweries, who will be competing to win an amazing handmade tap designed and created by a noted local artist. The winner will be chosen by a judging panel consisting of Chad McCarthy, Rebecca Whyman, and Ken Beattie. Attendees will also be able to vote for the Peoples’ Choice seasonal. Last year, Strange Fellows Brewing won both categories. Read the rest of this entry »
Some places are known for distinctive beer styles. In fact, some styles are even named after the places where they evolved, e.g. Bock (Einbeck), Kölsch (Köln), Pilsner (Plzeň), Vienna Lager. In BC, the craft beer renaissance is reaching ever greater heights. However, is there anything that we can point to as being distinctly BC? When people think of beer and British Columbia, is there anything that differentiates us from our neighbours? The rest of Canada? Not as such.
There is still a lot of experimenting going on in BC as more and more people join the excitement that is craft beer. For a BC style to be adopted, it would require the co-operation of our craft brewers and the support of the drinking public to succeed. As we’ve seen with the Cascadia Dark Ale debacle, the former is already a messy thing. In fact, it might make more sense getting the public behind such an idea. Because if there is an obvious market, what brewer would pass up such an opportunity?
It appears the City of Vancouver is, once again, living up to its reputation of being No Fun City. Despite the provincial government’s announcement on February 8 that BC breweries and distilleries will now be allowed to apply to have on-site lounges, special events areas (SEA), picnic areas and tour areas, it appears Vancouver’s restrictive zoning regulations and liquor laws will make it very difficult for breweries to take advantage of the changes.
This change to the law, which the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) states in LCLB Policy Directive No 13-02, is “designed to support the growing craft brewing and distilling industries by introducing another means for licensees to showcase their products,” allows breweries and distilleries “to apply for endorsement areas at their manufacturing site where patrons may consume liquor manufactured under the licence.” Currently, breweries can apply to have tasting rooms where they can either offer the general public free samples and/or sell up to 375ml (12oz) per person, per day to be consumed in the tasting room.
The new regulations would allow breweries be able to sell their own beer on-site in amounts more than 375ml per person, per day. I had this clarified by a LCLB spokesperson who, via e-mail, wrote, “the process for breweries and distilleries to apply for on-site lounges and special event areas will be the same as it is for wineries, in that it will be treated as an endorsement on the manufacturer licence, rather than a separate liquor primary licence.” This is the part the City of Vancouver’s Liquor License Department (CVLLD) does not seem to understand.
A few months back I met with someone from the wine camp. Over a few beers, we had an excellent discussion about issues common to both the BC wine and craft beer industries, successes the wine lobby had realized as a result of advocacy, and how craft beer consumers could better organize to help them realize similar successes. During this discussion, it was pointed out to me that craft beer advocates and the craft beer industry as a whole have a major problem. It has nothing to do with the quality of beer being brewed or the lack of industry organization. This is a problem that is playing a major role in the lack of support given to craft beer by the government and the hospitality industry.
“You (craft beer consumers/industry) have an image problem,” I was told. This was not news to me, and should not be for the majority involved with the craft beer scene in BC. It is a reality and a hangover from the Dark Ages of Beer. This was when, with few exceptions, the majority of beers available from coast to coast in Canada were generic, mass-produced lagers meant to be swilled for effect, not taste. During this Dark Age, beer had no place in the finer restaurants about town, did nothing to enhance or compliment food, and was considered a beverage almost exclusively downed by down-and-outs and working men. Thankfully, due to the explosion of the BC craft beer scene and the amazing beers being brewed locally, those days are long gone. Or are they?
You may be asking yourself, what could I possibly mean by ‘craft beer creep’? Could I be talking about the guy at the bar leering from behind his chalice of porter? Perhaps this is the guy who scoffs at your choice as you stand in the liquor store line with a 12-pack of Bud? Or is this that irritatingly outspoken person on the internet, going off about how this year’s ‘hot beer’ isn’t nearly as good as it was last year? Or could it be something else, something completely different?
Pardon if I go a bit geeky on this next bit, but anyone who has played the Zerg in the globally popular game, Starcraft, will have seen the term ‘Creep Colony’. For the uninitiated, a creep colony spreads out ‘creep’ on the play surface, making it able to place new buildings on it, and spreading out the species’ (the Zerg’s) influence on the game. (For more on ‘creep’ see the Starcraft Wiki.) I’m using this analogy for craft beer because of a trend I am starting to see develop on Vancouver Island.
Whenever I plan to visit a new city, if it isn’t in Saudi Arabia, I’m checking out the local craft beer scene online ahead of time to ensure I enjoy some of the local flavour. I know I’m not alone in that regard because If you visit Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, you’ll notice each has a section set up for the brews traveller. And with the rapid growth of craft brewing in North America, beer tourism is also on the rise.
Beer festivals, like the Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria and the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale in Pentiction, are obvious tourism boosts to those cities. Penticton, however, isn’t known as a beer town. Victoria, on the other hand, is well-regarded in craft beer drinker circles for its high per capita number of breweries, pubs, and brewpubs. The fact that I don’t see much of Victoria outside of those when I visit is a testament to the quality experience our provincial capital offers.
Bear Republic Long Table dinner at the Pumphouse Pub (l to r: Norm Eng, Tom Orange, Rob Angus of Beerthirst and Chef Daniela Iaci, Micah Noble, Tony Iaci of Pumphouse Pub)
Think of a neighbourhood pub in BC and it’s usually not that difficult to predict what you’re going to find – a wide selection of industrial lager, lots of fried food, a pool table, and televisions. They largely follow a cookie cutter business model that offers Joe Average some macho time with the mates during the week, away from the wife and kids. Come the weekend, it’s time to take the missus out for a little treat of sweet drinks, spinach salad, and live music, maybe splurge a bit on Keno for a chance to take that trip to Vegas or Maui on the winnings.