B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver Craft Beer Week

The Next Wave in BC Craft Beer

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Patrons enjoying the Driftwood beer dinner at Hapa Umi.

It was just over three years ago when I started this blog out of frustration over the lack of craft beer coverage in the mainstream media – virtually none. In fact, they were reporting the decline of beer in favour of wine when I knew it was a generalization that completely overlooked the ferment that was happening in BC amongst the microbreweries and brewpubs. Clearly, the MSM had no idea, given their wine obsession. At the time, craft beer in Vancouver seemed like an underground subculture whose workings were known to a select few. I had started getting the word out through CAMRA Vancouver’s newsletter, but needed a means for discussing issues and covering events in more depth than e-mail. The B.C. Beer Blog was born.

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The Refinery’s Cocktail Kitchen Series Features Driftwood

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Derek Vanderheide at The Refinery CKS

Derek Vanderheide mixes a Thai-pirinha at The Refinery Cocktail Kitchen Series competition.

Writing for Urban Diner exposed me to the world of cocktails. It was on assignment for UD that I met Lauren Mote, who introduced me to the concept of pairing craft cocktails with food. UD was my entree into the community of local bartenders who approach their profession with the dedication and passion of craft brewers. I find it interesting that what is happening in Vancouver’s cocktail scene very much parallels developments in our craft beer culture. Sometimes the two intersect, as when The Refinery hosted a beer cocktail competition in 2009 featuring Whistler Brewing.

This month, craft beer and cocktails meet again at The Refinery’s Cocktail Kitchen Series, an ambitious bartender competition that involves the active participation of the public. The format of CKS is that each month features a food theme and a spirit. For May, there is a Thai vegetarian menu designed by The Refinery’s Ben de Champlain up against Driftwood Brewery beer. The competing bartender then must create original cocktails to pair with each of the three dishes, using the featured beverage and one of The Refinery’s house bitters. Guests then rate the cocktails, the success of their food pairings, and the bartender’s presentation. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Chapter

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Guide drinking a Festbier at Gordon Biersch, Taipei

Converting my guide to craft beer: drinking a Festbier at Gordon Biersch in Taipei.

You may have noticed that my posts have been coming a lot less regularly. That’s because I have started a new business venture with a friend that is not related to beer. It’s called Adventurocity, a travel company focused on Asia. (No, I have no plans to move back to Asia at this time.) My passion for beer is exceeded by that for travel, so my beer activities are now taking a back seat. Fortunately, I won’t necessarily find myself wanting for a good brew when on the road, but that depends on the country. My friends Josh Oakes and Sunshine Kessler have done a great job documenting the beer scene in a number of places. (They are currently in Malaysia.) There’s plenty of mass-market lager in Asia, but not a lot of indigenous craft beer – a good business opportunity for anyone wanting to start a brewpub or microbrewery and live overseas. Some brewers from North America and Europe are already doing this.

In starting this new chapter of my career, I have resigned as CAMRA Vancouver President; I no longer write for Northwest Brewing News and Urban Diner; and I no longer work for the Craft Brewers Guild of British Columbia. Although I initiated Vancouver Craft Beer Week, my role with VCBW is as a consultant, not as part of the executive. Nevertheless, I’m still very interested in what is happening in the craft beer scene here and hope, some day, we will have a beer culture that will rival that of Washington and Oregon. You’ll only reach high if you aim high.

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VCBW Myths and Lost Opportunities

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Maria Dobrinskaya, Rick Green, Mayor Gregor Robertson toast VCBW.

Maria Dobrinskaya and Mayor Gregor Robertson toast with me the launch of VCBW with some Central City Roach at the Alibi Room Hoppapalooza. (Brian K. Smith photo)

Now that a couple of weeks have passed by since the inaugural Vancouver Craft Beer Week has finished, there’s been time to get feedback in various shapes and forms. Given that we sold out most of our events, that the mayor officially proclaimed Vancouver Craft Beer Week and came to celebrate the festival kickoff with us, and that the mainstream media gave VCBW some good coverage, one could deem it a success for craft beer. Nevertheless, VCBW did not work for some. I want to address a few of the issues that have come to my attention, especially some myths and misconceptions that result in lost opportunities.

First off, I want to point out this was the first such festival for Vancouver; in fact, for Canada. You never get everything right on the first go, but you hope to be in the ballpark (see above). In getting third parties on board, it also didn’t help that we had the Olympics, the Playhouse International Wine Festival, Dine Out Vancouver, and the playoffs as a significant combined distraction. Under the circumstances, one may have to forego the ideal and opt for what is expedient. Next time around, we hope parties will get involved early enough so that we can achieve the ideal for the 2011 VCBW.

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Leveraging Vancouver Craft Beer Week Marketing

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Mayor's Vancouver Craft Beer Week ProclamationAt 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.

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Meet Your BC Craft Brewers

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A couple of years ago, I wrote about how what is considered to be the working man’s beer is anything but. Ironically, the worker is persuaded through multi-million dollar marketing campaigns that guzzling a multinational corporation’s industrial lager is more appropriate than buying from a local small business, a style of ale with a history pre-dating lagers by centuries. Craft beer is somehow “fancy,” even though a barley wine, bitter, or brown ale is still made, like lager, with water, barley, hops, and yeast.

It is actually quite easy to shatter this myth if you take the trouble to meet some of your local brewers. The best place to meet them is in brewpubs because they often work within plain sight and even hang out at the bar to eat or have a beer after work. However, if you happen to be shy or introverted, here’s a video produced for Vancouver Craft Beer Week to introduce you to the down-to-earth folks known as Canadian craft brewers:

As you can see, there’s nothing fancy about what our craft brewers do. They just make a good honest brew that doesn’t have to have micro-bubbles, be cold certified, filtered five times, called something it isn’t, or served with a lime in order to sucker you into drinking it. There are more flavours in beer than honey and lime waiting to be experienced. Meet a craft brewer, and they will be happy to show you the way.

Written by BCbrews

May 3, 2010 at 9:52 pm

CAMRA Vancouver Recognizes Local Beer Excellence

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Central City brewer, Gary Lohin

Central City brewer, Gary Lohin.

The Vancouver chapter of the Campaign for Real Ale has announced the results of its annual members poll recognizing local and regional excellence in brewing and beer service. Surrey’s Central City Brewing was awarded Best Local Brewpub; the Alibi Room Best Local Beer Cafe, Pub, or Restaurant; and Brewery Creek Liquor Store, Best Local Liquor Store for beer selection. This is the second year both the Alibi Room and Brewery Creek were rated the best in their categories.

With the growing popularity of cask-conditioned ale (Real Ale) in Vancouver, more establishments have been adding this type of beer to their offerings. For this reason, CAMRA Vancouver added a Best Local Cask Night to its list of awards. In a nod to its pioneering role in popularizing Real Ale in the city, Dix Barbecue and Brewery won this category and won silver for its winter cask ale festival. The Whip is also acknowledged for its Real Ale Sundays with a different cask every week supplied by R&B Brewing.

Since last year, Amber Jack’s Tap House, St. Augustine’s Restaurant & Lounge, and Yaletown Brewing have each begun offering Real Ale on a weekly or monthly basis. The Alibi Room now offers a continuously changing selection of three cask ales nightly. They celebrated their 100th beer menu rotation on December 3. Read the rest of this entry »