B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Washington

Local Breweries Feel Slighted by LDB’s Plan to Lure US Craft Sales to Gov’t Liquor Stores

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by WanderingPaddy

Despite the fact that many small BC craft breweries often struggle to get their beers listed for sale in government BC Liquor Stores, the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) is sending one of their own to the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America (CBC) to give a talk about “market opportunities” in BC for US craft breweries.

LDB Portfolio Manager, Kimberly Giesbrecht, is set to give a one-hour talk entitled, Canada Market – British Columbia, during a day of talks dedicated to “Export Development” at the CBC.  According to the LDB, Giesbrecht was invited to speak at the CBC by the U.S. National Craft Beer Association (USNCBA) “because BC is recognized as very supportive of the craft beer industry.” Giesbrecht “will be sharing her insight into the BC market with their members,” addressing “craft brewers from around the world including many from BC.”

I hope BC craft brewers do not have to travel all the way to Washington, DC, where the conference is being held, to benefit from Giesbrecht’s insights about the BC craft beer market.

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The View from Bellingham

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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.

Howe Sound Brewing Bottling Line

Howe Sound is one of the few BC breweries exporting to the US.

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?

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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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Howe Sound Crosses the Line

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Howe Sound Brewing has been aggressively expanding their bottled beer sales and succeeding. To accommodate the growth, they recently added more fermenters to the brewery for a total capacity of 10 hectolitres.

It’s hard to miss Howe Sound’s distinctive 1L bottles with the Grolsch-style swing tops. Owner Dave Fenn said by using a larger bottle, he wants to compete with wine by having beer on the table with food and people.

Time will tell if they succeed, but they aren’t waiting around to find out. After months of label design and jumping through the regulatory hoops, Howe Sound beer will be sold in the United States this fall. Haggen supermarkets will begin selling it in Washington in September. An Arizona distributor will handle placement in various retail outlets in that state.

In addition to expanding their market, Howe Sound will also be experimenting with new beer styles. At the Great Canadian Beer Festival, they will debut a double IPA (Total Eclipse of the Hop) and an Imperial Stout (Pothole Filler). Depending on the feedback, they may decide to add these to their product portfolio. If you don’t mind being a Guinea pig, be sure to stop by their booth at any of the beer festivals they attend to see if they have anything experimental.

Finally, November 1 is the release date for this year’s Father John’s Christmas Ale. You should buy a minimum of two, saving at least one to lay down in a cool, dark place for some character building.

Written by BCbrews

August 20, 2008 at 1:40 pm