Archive for the ‘travel’ Category
‘Tis the season to open a new craft brewery in British Columbia, apparently. While I was in the Comox Valley for the holidays, I learned that Cumberland Brewing Company was officially opening their doors. According to The Vancouver Sun, 21 breweries are in the planning stage across the province, 13 of which are to be in Metro Vancouver. Canada’s third largest city has proven friendly to nano-breweries where patrons can walk in the door and get a pint or growler fill of a unique tasty local beer. Will the Comox Valley prove as friendly? I hope so.
The Cumberland Brewing Company (CBC) was started by Darren Adam and Caroline Tymchuck, whom I contacted via the brewery’s Facebook page to see if they were interested in talking to a blogger about their business. Darren and Caroline told me to come down to their Dunsmuir Avenue location the next day, their fourth day of operations, for a quick chat. Despite it being a holiday, there was a line out the door and it was tough to get a seat in the tasting lounge. When Darren could spare a minute, he was happy to answer a few questions. Read the rest of this entry »
While I have lamented for some time that most hotels in Vancouver seem oddly uninterested in promoting local craft beer to the city’s visitors, this is slowly beginning to change. One of my current favourite Vancouver hotels to enjoy a BC brew at is The Listel Hotel on Robson Street (at Jervis). Forage, their zero waste restaurant (formerly, O’Doul’s), offers a seasonally-changing selection of ten BC craft taps, along with some Pacific Northwest bottles. I can’t resist having their meaty popcorn with crackling for a beer snack as a start to an evening of seriously good local communal noshing. Chef Whittaker’s award-winning BC spot prawn and seafood chowder is also not to be missed!
Starting today, in a BCbrews exclusive contest, you have three chances to win a $100 gift certificate to forage. Every Monday for the next three weeks, I’ll be posting a question on Twitter with the hashtag #forage4beer relating to forage’s beer selection, which you can find on their Web site. Answer the question once on Twitter, being sure to include the hashtag. Then, on every Friday at 5pm, we’ll choose a random winner who has correctly answered the question.
On a final note, be sure to keep an eye on the forage twitter feed for news of an exciting craft beer event that is in the works. You won’t want to miss it!
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.
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.
At the risk of sounding immodest, Vancouver Craft Beer Week is a big deal. I just did a search for “Vancouver Craft Beer Week” on Google and it came back with 20,600 results. Between Vimeo and YouTube, the VCBW ‘I am a Canadian Craft Brewer’ promotional video has been viewed almost 2,000 times since April 21. There are over 825 followers on twitter and almost 1,400 Facebook fans. Then there are the mentions in the media… (Look for extra coverage on The Peak 100.5 FM and in the WestEnder, especially the upcoming edition on May 6.) All this has really only come together in the past month!
I would say that this rapid build-up of support is due to the fact that Vancouver Craft Beer Week is a simply an expression of the growing craft beer culture in British Columbia, as demonstrated by increasing craft beer sales. And for the first time, it brings brewers, the hospitality industry, and the public together in the largest, public demonstration of what we have in our own backyard.
The heightened publicity does not just benefit businesses directly involved in VCBW. There is a multiplier effect that extends to others, as well. For example, I know that people are coming to Vancouver from Austin, Phoenix, and Los Angeles specifically to attend this event. Given that it overlaps with Seattle Beer Week, brews travellers will be motivated to “kill two birds with one stone” and come here to spend their money. The Mayor’s Office recognized this value, which is why they have officially proclaimed May 10-16 as Vancouver Craft Beer Week. Seattle’s mayor has done the same.
I used to work in the cruise industry in Vancouver, but I’ve never been on a cruise. The reason? I’m not a fan of floating feedlot dining and I don’t like to travelling with a large group of people, especially when you get hundreds disgorging from multiple cruise ships in port at the same time, overwhelming small towns with more tourists than residents, many of whom are seasonal workers from somewhere else.
Maple Leaf Adventures‘ Tall Sails and Ales craft beer and culinary tour through the Gulf Islands via 92-foot tall ship, however, is something completely different. Led by Victoria-based brewing historian, Greg Evans, this low footprint cruise highlights 50 B.C. craft beers through brewery tours, tastings, and pairing with meals prepared from local ingredients (e.g. cheddar and ale soup, cream ale apple fritters, Salt Spring Island lamb, stout brownies). In addition to beer education and brewing history, guests will learn the “unbuttoned” social history of drinking on Vancouver Island and local Prohibition lore.
Of course, you cannot ignore the natural beauty of the area the itinerary covers. Maple Leaf Adventures also offers natural history tours, so you will also get the benefit of this expertise in experiencing the flora and fauna, such as porpoises, sea lions, seabirds, beaches, and rainforests. What a great way to enjoy beautiful British Columbia!
Tall Sails and Ales Cruise
October 22-27, 2009
5 nights, 6 days
Departs from: Port of Sidney Marina
Cost: CAD$2215, includes all accommodations, meals, tastings, materials, and use of gear on board, including kayaks
To book this trip, contact Maple Leaf Adventures at 1-888-599-5323 or via their Web site.
About Greg Evans
Historian, museum director, beer consultant, and raconteur, Greg Evans is known in many circles as a man who knows a lot and makes learning fun.
He is an active member of the Victoria chapter of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the executive director of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. He has previously been director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum and the B.C. Museums Association, president of the Heritage Council for B.C., and a member of many boards and cultural organizations.
His masters thesis is on the Vancouver Island brewing industry from 1858-1917. His extensive knowledge is enhanced by a quick wit, as evidenced in the names of some of his lectures, including “Hic Hic Hooray: How Canadians Kept Americans Wet During Prohibition.”
You can find some articles by Greg Evans on Maple Leaf Adventures’ Web site.