Rebecca Kneen & Left Fields • R&B Brewing • Ashley Brooks • Beer in China • Copenhagen • Hot Weather Brewing • Beer Engines • The Brewer's Tale
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VOL. 26 ISSUE 4
THE JOURNAL OF BC'S CRAFT BEER MOVEMENT
Who's behind the
BC Beer Awards? 7th Annual Event Preview
Plus: Getting away to the Okanagan & Interior BC Craft Cider Takes off Hop Farming Returns to BC
Fall 2016 Contents
THE JOURNAL OF BC'S CRAFT BEER MOVEMENT
BC Craft Beer Month 2016
BC Beer Awards & Festival 2016
The Craft Cider Licensing Debate
Craft Cider Scene Ripens In The Okanagan 46
A BC Craft Cider Primer
A Growing Hopportunity
The Sunflower Field Epiphany
Profiles: Women in Beer
Beers, Beaches & Breweries
Staycation BC: Okanagan & Interior
Ullage and Spillage
A View from the Cellar
Ancient Wonders and New Tastes in Xi'an, China
Books In Review
Out and About
Hop Farming in the Thompson Okanagan 14 17
Rebecca Kneen & Left Fields Chef Dave & the Craft Sodas
Big Ridge Brewing's Ashley Brooks
26 South Okanagan 28 North and Central Okanagan 30 Kootenay Rockies A Warm Weather Brewing Surprise It's R&B, But Better!
A Crash Course in Cellarmanship Pt. IV
A Copenhagen Beer Celebration Reading Fiction #1: The Misfortunates
On the Summer Trails
OPENING REMARKS The best season: it's autumnatically beer time
all, my favourite season, is a time for harvesting things. Not for me personally; I don't work on the land, but in this issue we profile a number of people that do. Agriculture plays an underpinning role in the largely-urban craft beer movement, as demonstrated by the resurgence of hops farming in BC (and increased interest in barley farming as well). It certainly also comes to the surface when discussing the growing craft cider movement, which is dependent on BC orchards for the raw material. We kick off this issue with a closer look at these topics, and touch on related Fall celebrations: BC Craft Beer Month and BC Cider Week. As I've travelled BC this year I've noticed how certain regions that support agriculture are also growing the craft scene. In our last issue we spotlighted the Cowichan and Comox valleys, home to small new breweries plus countless other crafty and culinary artisans. In this issue we look at the more established Okanagan region (where, by the way, new hopyards and orchards are quickly taking root). We're pleased to report that (as columnist Kim Lawton has been trying to tell us all along) the scene is stronger around the whole Okanagan than it appears from afar. Penticton has long been a nexus of craft beer activity, but larger Kelowna is coming on strong and is now also a confirmed craft beer tourism destination, hashtag #yeastbank (explanation within).
Hey, Fall 2016 marks our one year anniversary. What's Brewing has been around since 1990, but only one sol in the format you're gazing at right now, which debuted at the Great Canadian Beer Festival (an event which to us marks the official beginning of autumn... see? it all ties in) during Sept 2015. There have been countless interesting developments documented over this publication's 25 years; look for us to spotlight some of them in coming weeks and months.
Many thanks to our Corporate Supporters Whatâ€™s Brewing would like to thank these and other craft beer community members for their valued support!
In keeping with the Ale Trail theme from the Summer issue, we've also toured the rest of Southern BC in a giant loop that extends from the Shuswap through the Kootenays. Throw aside any hesitation to do the same; the number of dots on the map makes it more than well worth the trip for a beer fan, or just a BC travel fan. We appreciate and acknowledge the hospitality and support provided by Tourism Penticton and Tourism Kelowna before and during our BC Interior tour, as well as that of over two dozen (!) breweries, numerous cideries and others along the way.
Dave Smith, Editor
New perk for sponsors: Corporate Membership now entitles you to a special Community Profile page on WhatsBrewing.ca. Full directory info and links to your Web presence included. Find out more here: whatsbrewing.ca/corporate
ÂŠ 2016 What's Brewing The Journal of BC's Craft Beer Movement
Editorial Team: D. Smith, P. Morris firstname.lastname@example.org Copy Edit & Proof: I. Smith, P. Morris
Published by Line49 Design Group Inc. 300-1275 West 6th Avenue Vancouver BC V6H 1A6 email@example.com www.whatsbrewing.ca
Communications: Monica Frost firstname.lastname@example.org Social Media: @whatsbrewingbc Advertising & Corporate Sales: email@example.com
Contributors: Simon Backer, Warren Boyer, Adam Chatburn, Ted Child, Lundy Dale, Kim Lawton, Chelsea McDowell, Lynn McIlwee, Stewart 'Scottie' McLellan, Sheridan Mohammed, Mallory O'Neil, J. Random, John Rowling, Brian K. Smith, Jeremiah Thunderfoot, Paddy Treavor, Rebecca Whyman Cover Photography: Brian K. Smith
BC Craft Beer Month: October 1-31, 2016 n 2011, Minister of Agriculture Don McRae officially proclaimed October as BC Craft Beer Month. It was to be a month of celebrating BC Craft beers, and of course, the brewers behind them. We have never looked back!
With over 130 breweries (and counting) in BC, we continue to have so much to celebrate. Not only that, but craft cideries and distilleries are opening up throughout the province. We are also noticing more local production of malt and hops: a win-win for breweries, cideries and consumers!
WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR? A province-wide kick-off party and awareness campaign aimed at celebrating BC Craft beer. All will be revealed on the site as plans and events unfold. 31 days of BC Beer. Every day there will be a beer of the day listed on our Social Media for everyone to partake in!
WHAT’S COMING BACK IN YEAR SIX? Year Two for BC Hop Fest, Canada’s first fresh hop beer festival on a hop farm! This year, three times more presenters and breweries involved! Look for that on Saturday October 1st. We have partnered once again with BC Beer Awards & Festival at the Croatian Hall in Vancouver, with an expanded area, more breweries, and cideries! Saturday October 15th The BC Ale Trail, officially launching at the BC Beer Awards. Check out their website and Facebook page: bcaletrail.ca and facebook.com/bcaletrail Harrison Beer Festival - now in year 5! With a cask night, a beer festival and an Oktoberfest! October 28th and 29th Special release beers? With our bountiful hop supply this year, you know there will be a plethora of freshly hopped beers! Brew Master dinners? Tap takeovers? Beer pairing events? Yes, they will be there! Oktoberfests? Cask events? Pumpkin beer fests and competitions? You bet! Women and Beer event? Yes – and a special cask event!
ARE YOU IN? WANT TO GET INVOLVED? Sponsorships start at $500 and will get your logo and link on the BC Craft Beer Month website along with Social media support on Facebook and Twitter. For more info contact Director Lundy Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org www.bccraftbeermonth.com
BC has a fantastic and tight-knit craft beer community; it’s something we can be proud of. One way our community bonds together is through shared communication, and What’s Brewing is here to help facilitate that. Craft beverage lovers who’d like to keep informed can register to receive regular updates from WB Communications Director and veteran BC beer scene leader Monica Frost via a weekly email newsletter called The HopLine. Expect to see news, stories, events and updates from the world of BC craft beer, as well as our up-and-coming craft cousins: BC’s craft cideries and distilleries. Sign up for our BC craft news & events bulletins here: http://www.whatsbrewing.ca/hopline
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BC Beer Awards & Festival 2016 S BCBA Directors Gerry Erith, Matt Anderson, Monica Frost, Amanda Barry-Butchart and Chester Carey. Photo: Brian K. Smith
etting the scene: around a large table at Central City’s Red Racer Restaurant in downtown Vancouver, former home of the legendary brewpub Dix, the team behind BC’s premier annual beer awards program has gathered to hammer out more of the never-ending decisions around this year’s event. BCBA’s five experienced Directors are the pilots co-steering the ship, and there are always new courses to navigate.
It’s trite to say this year’s Awards will be “the biggest and best yet”, but the chances of it not being both the largest and the most patron-friendly to date are remote. Even now, seven years into its history, BCBA is still on a growth spurt in some ways. To date, over 65 beer & cider participants are registered offering close to 200 total beverages to sample at the event. This year, the team expects to grow the number of award categories to as many as 30, up from last year’s 20. Interestingly, final decisions about grouping and categorizing are made after most of the beer submissions are received. Chester Carey mentions, “When we started this thing, it was like, ‘What’s a Brett IPA? What’s a white IPA?’“ Not all brewers were doing these styles, you see. “We were getting a total of maybe three in categories like that; now we might get 30. So it makes sense to break them into subcategories.” Matt Anderson confirms that “We kind of have to wait and see [how many subcategories to add]. If there’s 23 Kölsches, we might have a Kölsch category. If not, it stays combined with other types.” That growth potentially means you’ll want to be ingesting a lot of tiny beers. Working in your favour is this year’s Brewer’s Challenge theme: ‘Year of the Mild’ (sponsored by Timber). With 27 breweries signed up (so far) to try their hand at brews running 4% ABV or less, you can choose to make it easier on yourself to try more beers and still stay balanced on two legs. BCBA chooses a new style for the Challenge each year as a non-compulsory theme; there’s no pressure on participants to get on board. However, many brewmasters seem to enjoy the template, as it gives them motivation to submit a style outside their regular repertoire.
Keeping up with the growing list of BC brewers is also a job in itself. For some breweries that are just coming online, BCBA will be their first-ever judged event. BCBA Director (and What’s Brewing’s very own) Monica Frost observes that some years, “There’s even a few that are under the wire to get their first beer out on time” for the intake. Speaking of intake: if you’re a brewery and you haven’t gotten your submission in as of this magazine’s publication date, here’s a hint: you’re late. Amanda Barry-Butchart points out that they go to great lengths to track down contacts for every brewery in BC, but adds that “If you’re a brewery and we haven’t reached you, get in touch with us”. Another reason to reach out to BCBA is to volunteer. Interested in getting in the door for free and seeing the festival from behind the scenes? Visit the website and use this form to apply. More new stuff this year: Collabofests have become popular in North American craft beer culture (as per Brian K. Smith’s article in WB Spring 2016). BCBA 2016 will have a mini nod in that direction with a Brewers’ Collaboration booth this year, presented by The Growler.
Amanda notes that alongside the main food offerings from Tap & Barrel, and a Tacofino food truck, comes a new innovation: the acceptance of beer tokens as payment for two unique snack categories. Merchant’s Oyster Bar will be on hand shucking oysters and Outpost Mini Donut Company will bring their sweet treats. Save fiddling and pay for your oysters and donuts with your beer tokens. Avoid eating them together (obviously; no beer will pair with both, right?). The Festival’s charity of choice: A Loving Spoonful. Support a good cause, try lots of beers and take in the spectacle at the 7th Annual BC Beer Awards & Festival.. When: Saturday, October 15th, 2016 (4 :00- 9:00 PM) Where: Croatian Centre, 3250 Commercial Drive Vancouver Tickets & Info: www.bcbeerawards.com
FRIDAY & SATURDAY
7pm - 9pm
BUSINESS & POLITICS
Howling Moon near Oliver is now growing their own orchard. They package in both bottle formats
The Craft Cider Licensing Debate farm or factory, beer or wine?
eorge Carlin once looked in his fridge and couldn’t discern the contents of a particularly old plate of food. “Is it meat? Is it cake?” asked the dazed fellow during a standup routine of decades ago. Trust me, it was hilarious in context. Sometimes one runs into two things that seem similar but require completely different treatment. In fermented beverages, there is little confusion between beer and wine; they are the Salt and Pepper of ‘soft alcohol’. Even those who are fans of both will tend to employ them differently. However, a recent increase in popularity has drawn attention to a beverage class that straddles both sides of the beer-wine divide: craft cider.
It’s meat and it’s cake Slotting cider with wine, as the BC Liquor Control & Licensing Board does, makes sense on a certain level. In terms of fermentable material and production process, apple wine (as it’s known in Germany and parts of North America) certainly has a lot in common with vino; it’s not ‘brewed’ (no boiling involved). But in some ways, cider is more like beer than wine. You already know why: it’s a refreshing drink that is commonly served on draught (eg, the ‘good’ old Strongbow tap next to the Guinness) and is widely perceived to be a warm weather beverage (remember, not everyone drinks thick black beers all winter like you do). Wine, unlike cider, cannot be quaffed by
>> Jeremiah Thunderfoot
the pint (again, if you beg to differ: I’m just saying that other people use smaller glasses than you). There is a line of thinking, and some research, that says there is a growing cross-over between craft beer and cider consumers, and that producers should have the ability to sell cider in the same fashion as craft brewers do. Case in point: cider is absolutely a candidate for growler sales. Wine? Not so much. It’s hard to put a finger on how to deal with cider, especially in the hospitality space. This summer, Orchard & The Sea came online as BC’s first Craft Cider Bar and kitchen, providing modest but demonstrable evidence of the category’s growth curve. Proprietors Shawn & Kelly Pisio have experimented with serving options. So far, they’ve partially adopted a beer-like approach, offering flights of samples akin to a craft brewery tasting lounge. Groups also have the option to share a bottle at a table, in traditional wine style. Chef James Bryan of Penticton Ramada’s Kettle Valley Station restaurant discussed with us the presentation factor around cider. Many cideries package their product in 500 ml brown bottles, (similar to some UK beer bottles). Others like Summerland Heritage prefer clear wine-style 750 ml bottles for the aesthetic appeal (Howling Moon covers the bases by doing both). There’s a clear difference in perception between the two packages; one looks much more elegant than the other.
FALL 2016 Proprietor Cameron Bond of Summerland’s Local Lounge + Grill spoke about the issues around trying to present cider as a product at the table. “Having it on tap is an animal, because a lot of people like to drink it with ice.” Staff have to make a point to ask the customer about preference, or use two glasses: one to hold the liquid, and another glass with ice to pour it into. At that rate, one would be tempted to forget draught and stick with bottles. Ice is a factor that makes cider different from both beer and wine. Given how tricky categorizing cider is for both industry folks and the general public, it’s understandable that provincial legislation might not perfectly serve the craft cider industry. BC’s liquor legislation currently takes a two-tier approach to cider licensing that assesses operators based on their type: farm or factory. BC has differentiated between wineries in this way for years, and applies the same logic with cider due to its similarity to wine. Basically, if you grow the fruit yourself (vineyard or orchard), you get a “Land-Based’” license. Otherwise, you’re a “Commercial’” manufacturer. The LCLB slaps a higher markup on products from commercial operators than on landbased, leading to an intentionally uneven playing field. That’s a good thing, assuming that the ‘commercial’ producers are the classic, larger operators that make what ‘cider’ has meant for the past two generations: fizzy sweet pop in 2L bottles, interchangeable with ‘coolers’. Those businesses are pumping booze, sugar, flavouring and CO2 into a fermented fruit concentrate in a factory. You want them taxed at a higher tier; that’s what the government does with breweries, and you support it because it makes the BC craft beer industry possible. However, maybe we’re not actually comparing apples to apples here.
Commercial operators aren’t all huge anymore There’s probably no rule that says one can only be a quality craft cidermaker if one operates an orchard. It seems quite possible in theory to set up a skilled fermentation and blending operation using other people’s fruit, including locally produced BC apples. Vancouver’s startup Sunday Cider is a case in point. Following the urban-craft-brewery-style model employed by a number of cideries in US cities like Portland, they aim to use quality fresh materials in their products, without actually growing them. Unfortunately for them, they’re classified in the same bracket as the giant companies, meaning that in order to sell their product at par with farm operations, they have to take a cut in profit. Paul Hadfield operates Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, which, being in West Victoria, has no orchard, yet makes a line of cider. As Paul related to Aaron Johnson of Cascadian Beer Podcast, “I wanted to make cider a couple of years ago, because I saw that it’s the new craft beer. But the bureaucrats decided that cider is a different license… which is actually a winery license. We now have a commercial winery within our brewery.” During late spring 2016 I was engaged in conversation with John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform, at a beer function. Mr. Hadfield was nearby. I took note when Paul turned to John and, with reference to recent ‘Hopportunities’ amendments to beer legislation, remarked “Great job. Now, can we talk about cider?”
Hadfield: 'I wanted to make cider because it’s the new craft beer' His question makes perfect sense to me now. Long the domain of industrial-scale producers, urban craft cider wasn’t on the radar as a small business issue when any relevant legislative decisions were made. As Hadfield acknowledged, in recent years the BC Government has made great strides in revamping liquor law as it pertains to craft beer, following the lead of other jurisdictions like Oregon. It might be time for the same type of review to take place around craft cider, in order to accommodate a potential new wave of small urban craft-brewery-like operations that might make cider, perry, mead or other fermented beverages from natural materials. Ultimately, urban cideries will likely want to follow the lead of all those breweries you see in Yeast Van, and it might make sense to treat them that way. Back at Orchard & The Sea, Kelly and Shawn, who naturally support both types of BC craft cideries, ventured that a third licensing category might one day be necessary to deal with the trend. Orchard operators, who would be exposed to unexpected nimble competition if urban cideries suddenly start popping up, will point out that there is a difference in commitment between operating a straight production facility and a full estate cidery. Orchards are a category of farming, requiring a massive startup commitment and a long waiting period before fruition. That’s an investment one wouldn’t want to regret.
The fight for the future should be big vs. little rather than little vs. little. Chris Schmidt, President of the newly-formed BC Farm Crafted Cider Association and owner of estate cidery Tod Creek, has also served on the Board of the Northwest Cider Association and has been instrumental in starting BC Cider Week. For his part as an apple grower, Chris says, “I’m pretty happy with the current regulations. A couple points to improve on would be that 1) the current LDB definition of cider should be enforced, and 2) if there is to be a level playing field, commercial producers should do the same as the land-based producers (buy land, plant trees and harvest fruit).” Chris shares that “I’m a little cautious that changes to benefit the ‘big boys’ will hurt the little cideries and orchardists. We’ve recently formed the BCFCCA in order to act as a common voice of the land-based licensed cider producers.” It sounds like what we need are changes that benefit small urban cideries without enabling the ‘big boys’. As with beer, part of what’s needed is to set a production threshold to separate small urban crafties from the giants. The challenge is to finely adjust the current markup differential so as to enable a small wave of newbies while minimizing risk to the present orchard model. The fight for the future should be big vs. little rather than little vs. little. At What’s Brewing, we’re pulling for both types of small producers--with and without farms--as long as they’re making cider the way it should be. ----
Read: A BC Craft Cider Primer on page 46 >> Next Page: a report on the Okanagan cidery scene
STAYCATION BC REPORT
Craft Cider Scene Ripens In The Okanagan This summer, our Staycation BC research and discovery journey brought its focus to a handful of cideries in the South and Central Okanagan. As you would imagine, BC’s biggest fruit belt is a great place to find the new Craft Cider category alive and growing. Depending on your criteria, there are easily over a dozen available in this region, and rest assured that more are on the way. Here's a random sampling.
Scenic Road Cider Co.
Profiles include narrative only. For locations, contact info, hours & details see whatsbrewing.ca/map
Summerland Heritage Cider Co.
Scenic Road makes Dry and Nearly Dry varieties Two couples have combined to create a well-run operation north of Kelowna. Named quite literally after the road their orchards can be found on, SRC impresses with their extremely clean and professional tasting room, brewhouse and brand.
Kim and Ron Vollo in the shop Significant media coverage has been afforded the Okanagan’s first modern craft cidery, founded in 2012 by three fellows with years of home-fermenting experience. We met one of the trio, Ron Vollo, at their orchard. He was busy pasteurizing a batch when we arrived. He and wife Kim kindly gave us an informative tasting of their three products. They have a flagship product, and in a way it has played an important role in developing the cider market in the fruit belt. Tuesday’s Original, named after the founders’ routine of a weekly meetup, sits in the semi-sweet spot between their Porter’s Dry and Sweet Paradise blends. Tuesday’s was patterned after a classic English cider recipe and, whether it’s succeeded in emulating a UK style or not, it is a singularly compelling drink with a distinctive, haunting flavour in the finish. Thanks to the appeal of this beverage, Summerland Heritage has been able to take a leading role in the region’s blossoming apple beverage community. As beer folks with limited exposure to craft cider, we found that Tuesday’s was a great introduction to the category. The good news is that you can probably try it even without the drive to Summerland, given their decent penetration in BC private liquor stores.
First impression upon reaching their location is made by the nicely welcoming patio tables on the front lawn of an orchard. Turns out it’s just one of their two orchards; one couple owns a property growing primarily dessert apples, and the other grows mostly cider versions. Naturally, these are blended to create some delicious products. Just as appetizing is their non-alcoholic fresh-pressed apple juice, distributed in uber-tidy cube boxes, Absolutely refreshing the morning after a night of heavy cider sampling.
Howling Moon Craft Cider Sales rep Tim Turta treated us well on spur-of-the-moment notice. We tried their two primary products, sold in the industry-standard 500 ml size: Revival, which uses 60% dessert apples and 40% cider apples, and the drier Revolution, using the reverse blend. Also offered in a large 750 ml wine-style clear bottle is their sparkling Serenity. Their products can be found at a number of restaurants and even some brewery tasting rooms in the Okanagan Howling Moon is converting much of their acreage, currently vineyard, to orchard (see related discussion about Dominion Cider, next). 25 different varieties of cider-specific trees are planted in their back area. Proprietor Nik Durisek says “It takes 5 years for our first crop to come off our semi-dwarf M27 rootstocks. Until then, we support our local apple farmers and source the best quality cider and dessert apples we can find.“
Dominion Cider Co. Co-Owner Mike Harris was a gentleman, treating us to his chilled cider and a bit of his story. As with nearby Summerland Heritage, three men (albeit younger) have combined to create a brand that’s about the product first. Dominion’s primary product, straightforwardly named Craft Cider, is a somewhat sparkling 6.8% ABV recipe using heirloom apples. I must have liked it; I had to ask Mike for a second sample, which I know pleased him greatly. We were fortunate to also sample his next product, a Ginger Cider that’s coming down the pipe soon, in collaboration with Dickie’s Ginger of Vancouver. The land surrounding the tasting room is a great example of a minor trend in the Okanagan. At their location, you’ll currently find a vineyard right out front of the tasting room doors. Do they make cider with grapes? Actually, no. The plan is to replace some of the acreage with cider apple trees, reflecting the slow reversal of a local trend that ramped up a generation ago during BC wine’s ascendancy, when orchards were ripped out all around the lake, and replaced with more profitable vineyards. Hopefully the rise of craft cider will result in the survival and resurrection of more orchards.
Other places to get cider inside yer If you’re tied to the big city and can’t cruise the Okanagan or Island countryside for the foreseeable future, you can still find many ways to sample BC ciders. Click the above links or
use our BC Craft Map to view cidery websites and browse their product locators or place online orders. In an exciting 2016 development, Vancouverites now have part-time access to BC’s first pure Craft Cider Bar. This summer, Orchard & The Sea came online as the weekend-only evening identity for The Birds & The Beets, a small downtown eatery. Despite press coverage to the contrary, their ‘popup’ operation will continue this Fall, and hopefully well beyond. Another set of opportunities to sip and celebrate will present themselves at BC Cider Week in October. This annual event debuted in 2015 as an official activity of the Northwest Cider Association, which has presented a Washington Cider Week annually since 2011. The Canadian equivalent runs October 15th to 22nd, locations TBA. Last year’s events drew plenty of participation in both South Island and Okanagan regions. Monitor this website for more: bcciderweek.com For a Craft Cider Primer: see page 46 >>
Owners of Square One, Hops Canada, AGWASHY and Crannóg/Left Fields in their hopyards
A Growing Hopportunity Hop Farming in the Thompson Okanagan
>> Chelsea McDowell
rom 2009 to 2014, the overall production of beer in Canada decreased, but craft beer production increased by 170%. Even the furthest corners are experiencing craft beer fever - Nunavut Brewing Co. is set to open in Iqaluit next year. In British Columbia the market share for craft breweries currently sits at 18%, huge compared to the national average of 6% although, when compared to Oregon at 40%, there is still room to grow. Along with the increase in craft breweries, there have been rumblings of a hop shortfall for several years now. There were significant shortages in 2008 and 2012, and one has been predicted for the 2016 harvest based on global high temperatures and droughts. For some entrepreneurs a limited supply signals a business opportunity. BC has a long history of hop cultivation, and at one time was the largest producer of hops in the British Commonwealth, primarily in the fertile land of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. In the Interior, hops were planted at Coldstream Ranch near Vernon in the 1890s. Kamloops had a major hop plantation established in 1936. Okanagan First Nations people gained a reputation for being excellent hop pickers, and would work their way up the valley from Southern Washington during the hop harvest. The hop industry in BC survived well into the mid-20th century, but as Macro Beer took over the market and sourced cheaper hops from producers in the US, Australia and Europe, BC farmers were unable to compete. The last commercial hop yard of that era in BC closed in 1997. In 2000, Crannóg Ales became the first of the new wave of hop growers, producing hops to use in their own brewery. In 2009, Sartori Hop Ranch became the first major commercial producer on the scene. With at least two dozen hop farms currently operating in the Province, interest is starting to develop
in the Thompson Okanagan—more frequently associated with orchards and vineyards. Here are the stories of five of them.
The Veteran It is impossible to write about the new wave of hop production without mentioning Crannóg Ales and Left Fields farm. At first, Brian MacIsaac and Rebecca Kneen hadn’t planned on growing hops, but after starting up in 2000 they realized organic hops could only be sourced overseas. Once they started growing their own in 2001, they became the first of a new wave of hop cultivation in BC. At the time, there was very little information on how to operate a small-scale hop yard. They gleaned what information they could from existing hop yards elsewhere, although sometimes the farmers were reluctant to share information. Rebecca also researched pre-1930s publications, which actually were quite useful as organic was the only method used back then. Through her research she was able to publish a detailed manual on small-scale hop production, which is available through their website. [Ed note: more about Rebecca in our next story.] All of the hops produced on the farm are used by the brewery. Currently they grow 17 varieties, the majority being Fuggles and Golding, along with Nugget, Magnum, Cascade, Challenger, Mount Hood, Willamette, and Chinook. They grow smaller amounts of other varieties which are used more for experimentation. Each spring they sell rhizomes; now, hundreds of people in BC are growing the children and grandchildren of their hops, myself included. Most interesting is the Sockeye hop; it has a spicy aroma and mild bitterness and was found growing wild on their property. They chose not to patent it, but they do limit the sale of Sockeye rhizomes to organic growers who will respect its wild pedigree.
FALL 2016 In early autumn the cones are hand harvested by a small volunteer crew, then dried and packed using custom-made—and sometimes DIY—equipment on site. Brian explained that they don’t pelletize, as this is extra processing which can reduce the quality of the final product. He finds brewing with whole hops is actually easier as the final beer doesn’t require the fine filtration that pelletized hops do. They only grow the hops necessary for brewing the following year, and only brew as much beer as their zero-waste system can sustain. Rebecca believes that for hop growing to become a strong industry, people need more education on growing and processing techniques. The best chance is by small-scale growers working together to produce and market a high quality product. Brian spoke to the high rate of failure in craft brewing as well as hop farming—neither can be successful without planning, knowledge and effort. They think that breweries would prefer to use a local product as long as it meets their high standards for quality, which in the end is what they need to be successful themselves. Rebecca’s final word is that the most important factor is the relationships hop growers develop between themselves, the breweries, and fellow growers.
The New Recruit Brent and Kari Tarasoff are no strangers to the agricultural world. Coming off 30 years of farming in Saskatchewan, they were looking for a lifestyle change when they found a beautiful property on the Upper Bench in Penticton. Inspired by their love of craft beer, they wanted to get involved in the industry without the complications of a brewery or restaurant, and so Square One Hop Growers began. In one sense the name refers to starting over in a new business venture, but it also speaks to hops being the backbone of brewing. “It all starts here” explains Kari, “you need good quality ingredients to make good quality beer”. The Tarasoffs hope to use their agricultural experience to push the envelope on quality and yield in smallscale hop production. In March 2015 they started with 70 plants, and completed planting two acres this year with 1,750 plants including Columbus, Centennial, Cascade, Chinook, Glacier, Hallertau, Magnum, Mount Hood, Nugget, Willamette, Super Alpha, Pacific Gem, Galena, Crystal, Triple Pearl and Sterling. Sourced mostly from Ontario, they started with rhizomes as well as twoand three-year-old plants. Brent states that compared to his previous experience, hop farming is very labour intensive for the square footage. The initial work to drive the poles, set up the trellis, install drip irrigation and prepare the soil takes a lot of time—and money. Then the seasonal work of training, cutting shoots, weeding, spraying, fertilizing and dealing with the local pest population takes over. They are also busy building a large shop on the property, which will house their production facility. A brand-new harvesting machine was purchased this year and they are considering investing in a pelletizer as well. That is a lot of up-front investment, so they are contemplating renting their harvesting equipment to other hop growers in the area to recoup some of their costs. One of the challenges Brent and Kari have encountered is the high cost of land here for the final value of the product. This makes it hard to compete with large-scale hop growers in other areas, such as Washington, where the land is quite cheap. As well, expanding beyond their current scope would require
hiring a crew, which has its own issues. A huge concern for the small-scale grower is that quality hops require effort and investment—if the hops aren’t well managed the breweries won’t be interested. Kari told me that marketing is also tricky as, being relatively new, they don’t have standing contracts with any breweries at this point. Pelletizing might help in this regard, as it’s what brewers are used to, but it’s another big investment without a guaranteed return.
The Giant Joey Bedard started Hops Canada in March 2015, in partnership with the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in Kamloops. With several successful business partnerships already under his belt, he has good insight into the current hop industry and has built Hops Canada’s business plan looking towards the future. Joey believes that the craft beer explosion, combined with hop shortages, has influenced an increase in hop farming. However, he doesn’t think that the market share for craft beer will grow at the same rate as hop production, which may wind up with a glut of hops in the market, thus greatly reducing their value. Due to this, he has developed this operation on a large scale (220 acres) in order to be profitable at $5.00/lb whereas other growers in the area are looking for profitability at $15.00/lb. Located down several dirt roads and across the tracks, the vast plantation is on First Nations land and employs several local band members. Planting started last spring and was completed this spring. Currently growing are Chinook, Centennial, Cascade, Zeus, Galena, Cashmere, Tettnang, Mount Hood, Willamette, Crystal, Fuggle, Horizon, Sterling, Triple Pearl, UK East Kent Golding, Golding, Newport, Ultra, Sorachi Ace, and one as-yet unnamed hop. Joey’s “pessimistic” estimate of their harvest this year is around 20,000 lbs, but he is hopeful it will be more. Growing on a large scale, Hops Canada can afford the equipment needed to process the hops quickly and create a high quality product. Their harvesting line can currently do 600 bines an hour, and they are looking at doubling their machines in the next few years to get through harvest even faster. Hops Canada also acts as a brokerage for other varieties of hops that are not grown on site. This allows them to supply brewers wholesale with 50 different varieties of hops. About half their market is located in Canada with the rest sold internationally, to places like India and South Africa. Diversifying this way helps ensure they stay afloat should the local market experience a major shift. They are also working with Thompson Rivers University on a sophisticated breeding program to create novel varieties of hops using genetic trait selection. Currently they are looking to develop varieties with stone-fruit characteristics and have a few test patches planted for further experimentation.
The Little Guy A Guy With A Shovel Hop Yard (AGWASHY) was started five years ago by Steve Tomlinson, with 300 plants on a third of an acre in the West Bench neighbourhood of Penticton. Steve and his wife, Rita, were looking to plant a cash crop on their oneacre property. After reading about hops, he decided to plant a test row which did quite well, so he took the plunge, and has been tweaking the system ever since. He sourced his hops from Left Fields (Crannóg) and originally planted Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Fuggle, Nugget, Newport, Galena, Willamette, Mount Hood, Golding and Zeus. Continued on page 46
in Profile: Rebecca Kneen
The Sunflower ...or, how the right choices created Left Fields
>> Dave Smith
alk about ‘brand’, and the owners of Crannóg Ales get just a titch uneasy. The word has a connotation that isn’t aligned with their ethics; ‘marketing’ is not really a concept that leaps to the tongue when describing the operation that Rebecca Kneen and Brian MacIsaac have created. But they’re certainly willing to admit that they have a brand. Since its debut at the turn of the millennium, the notion of Crannóg has occupied a singular space in the collective mindshare of BC craft beer fans. As one of those fans, my first exposure to their brand came filtered through the lens of an enthusiasts’ group—namely, my local CAMRA branch—during a decade when Crannóg, Phillips and Storm spent year after year trading the top three spots in our annual Brewery of the Year voting. I, and no doubt many others, came to understand Crannóg as ‘that weird brewery from the Interior that makes interesting beer and is distinctive and rare and therefore cool’. When you walk down the organic aisle at your friendly neighbourhood megasupermarket, you see lots of things that look like they’re probably distinctive and rare and cool. But you probably keep walking. Feel free to take offence—if you’re a dedicated organic products fan, good on
you—but I can assume from a statistical perspective that you’re not. It would be forgivable if the word “organic” instead brings to mind for you ‘alternative lifestyle choice’ with hints of ‘cost’ and ‘inconvenience’. We’re a long way yet from the day when food production returns closer to its pre-20th-century historical roots the way the craft movement has driven with, say, beer (or for a better example: craft cider, as related in another story in this issue). Because of all this, you might leave the aisle without picking up that jar of jam, reading the label and thinking about where it came from and what makes it compelling. Similarly, over the years, I’d see Crannóg at beer events, take in their basic message of ‘beer from a farm’, but not really dig under the surface. Who has time at a beer festival to talk about farming and dirt? If it wasn’t for a recent effort my wife and I made to finally learn more about Rebecca and Brian by visiting their homestead and staying overnight, I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything specific about what drives the message around and behind their sought-after beer (and I wouldn’t be able to tell you how much it personally annoys Brian when drinkers at festivals spend the entire day talking about nothing of more life importance than the taste of beer). I mentioned Storm a moment ago. I always found it easy to compare that brew-
Rebecca with Carmack, their gigantic Irish wolfhound (of course) ery with Crannóg. Storm’s owner James Walton always seemed offbeat in manner and dress in a way that was fun to compare and contrast with Brian’s persona. Not surprisingly, the Crannóg and Storm folks are kindred spirits and close friends. MacIsaac confirms that Walton himself acknowledged their shared distinctiveness; the man who is well known as the urban Mad Scientist of Beer would playfully refer to the Crannóg team as the ‘Gaelic Warrior Brewers’. In my quest to ‘read the label’ and get to know more about what makes Crannóg tick, I decided to start with a reliable approach: get the female perspective. I looked past the kilted Gaelic male warrior, and instead reached out to his life partner. This story about Crannóg begins with the person whose agricultural background, family history and aptitude has complemented and enabled Brian’s vision, resulting in their creation, a farm named Left Fields.
Brewster begets brewster Rebecca Kneen is a Maritimer. Well, not anymore, of course, but most of her youth was spent there, the result of a decision by her parents to settle in Nova Scotia and raise sheep. As a child, unlike you and me who may have had a cat or dog, she had large woolly animals as pets.
Cathleen and Brewster Kneen. Image: ramshorn.ca
Field Epiphany Those aforementioned parents are Brewster and Cathleen Kneen, who met in Ontario as 1960s student peaceniks and ultimately became partners for life at personal, professional and community levels. Once committed to the pastoral lifestyle, Brewster—American by birth— doubled down in his adopted homeland and took on leadership in his field (literally, sorry) as the Secretary of the Sheep Producers Association in Nova Scotia. In 1980 he and Cathleen founded a local newsletter, the Ram’s Horn, which grew into a lasting social and farming advocacy platform; he ultimately became a recognized author with a series of books.
One look at Cathleen and you can see that Rebecca’s hop cone didn’t fall far from the bine. But the
resemblance just cosmetic. grew up well her
isn’t Rebecca aware of mother’s
The call of the soil work; she describes Cathleen as having been highly organizational and a “huge person for linking people”. Although Cathleen sadly passed in February of this year, that work left a legacy.
From early on, Rebecca had an inkling that there were different philosophies of farming. As she described to me over a beer on a warm July evening, she knew some potato farmers who grow for McCain’s in New Brunswick. Typically, a farmer will use their judgment regarding when to plant crops and harvest them. Because of the contract with the food company, their friends didn’t make the rules about what happened when; they were obligated to sow and reap during a preset annual window. Their contract dictated when they’d apply pesticide and when they’d apply herbicide, no matter what the weather was doing, including rain and wind—two things that help spread chemicals.
It would be difficult to overstate how Cathleen and Brewster’s influence has guided Rebecca’s journey. She describes both herself and Brian as “fairly political animals”, and directly credits her parents’ role in developing her own thinking by saying that “I’ve piggybacked on what they’ve done”.
If, like me, you’ve ever reached the checkout at Home Depot with a bottle of weed killer, you’ve probably had the ‘use with caution’ spiel solemnly delivered by the appropriately trained cashier. Turns out that applying sprays to a large acreage is not like squirting the weeds in your backyard garden; rubber gloves don’t help much, because the poison tends to come from the sky. Rebecca acknowledges the skill it must take to pilot the crop dusters that fog the countryside when it’s spray day at a large conventional farm, but she’s also seen firsthand the price paid by the people living underneath the mist. No matter how careful the aerial delivery, resident farmers might end up washing their windows afterwards.
As a young Rebecca reached her late teens she had begun to strike out on her own. She undertook a gradual, unplanned cross-Canada migration, working (thanks to family connections) at
There was a time that people spoke quietly about cancer. Dying young was a reality, but an unacknowledged one; it was an inconvenient truth. Oddly, many farmhouses would keep a private gar-
Brian and Rebecca out front of house Cathleen, a self-described feminist and by any measure a social activist and organizer, had spent some time working for the CBC before the move to the Atlantic, and would continue to do a bit of radio in Nova Scotia. She brought to her life partnership with Brewster a full commitment to making the world a better place, in the process founding a Women’s Centre and helping give birth to the People’s Food Policy Project. Later in life she took on the role of Chair with Food Secure Canada (2006-2011), Just Food Ottawa and the Ottawa Food Policy Council.
various types of farms in the process. Her journey didn’t have a preset course, and Rebecca certainly wasn’t sure that farming was what she wanted to do with h e r life; like any normal youth, she made an attempt to break away from her family calling. As fate would have it, somewhere along the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific she would find her direction and confirm her purpose.
den for the resident family, leeward of the aerial spray direction. There was an obvious contradiction here; why spray food for other people, but not yourself? Clearly there was a better way.
where hops grow, but there’s a lot more than that; I got up close and personal with some happy, filthy pigs (you have to wash your hands if you touch them) and a whole bunch of free-range chickens. Plus, of course, sheep. While there, I learned that a good livestock farmer cares about her animals just as much as she’d care about her kids (well, close enough).
Fast forward to some point in the 1990s, when our young, migrating heroine found herself near Brandon, Manitoba, standing on a stretch of rural road dividing two fields. In quasi-biblical fashion, this bit of bisected countryside had the makings of a parable—but only to one who could see its message. On one side of the road, a beautiful collection of sunflowers beckoned from an organic farm. The soil supporting these tall plants was rich with life: bugs crawled in it, worms wriggled through it. It held water; it was alive. Rebecca turned and noticed a stark contrast with the non-organic field right across the road: there, the earth was powder. Countless sprayings had accelerated the leaching of nutrients. Bugs and worms were absent; the dirt was capable of supporting weeds, but was close to dead. Looking at the damaged soil, Rebecca came to a realization that would guide her choices as an adult: if she was to follow her parents’ path and work on the land, she couldn’t work this way.
Settling in Sorrento Rebecca’s journey eventually brought her to East Van, where she met Brian through mutual careers in social work. This part of the story has been told before by others; suffice to say that the sort of people that homebrewer Brian and former farmer Rebecca spent time with encouraged them to seriously pursue the idea of brewing and farming for a living. Brian eventually acquired a formal education around brewing, and worked a stint at Storm. But the vision of their own brewery began to take shape.
Hops are just one thing they grow Once they set their minds to it, the pair began the search for a location; they worked for another organic farm for a year before finding their own. Being raised on an inland farm in Nova Scotia, Rebecca was
Baah..darn sheep, butting heads again just fine moving away from the Coast to the Interior; she describes her preference as “I like bumpy land, not flat land”. Their quest eventually led to the Shuswap and a 10-acre farm on unceded First Nations land (namely, Secwepemc territory). The spiritual connection sat well with the duo, as did the strong organic farming culture they found around Sorrento. When Left Fields was set up in 1999, organic farming was a bit less well-known than it is today, and generating cash through organic brewing was tough. “The farm fed us for the first five years of our operation” admits Rebecca. A community network was essential, and for this, the Kneen pedigree has shone through. Since then, Rebecca has served as Chair of, and on the Certification Committee of, the North Okanagan Organic Association. Brian also volunteers with the Association and is no slouch at community himself. As he says, “we don’t want to be self-sufficient”, meaning that he recognizes the importance of working with other people to do things he can’t do himself. Why learn to make cheese or clothing, when, as MacIsaac says, “I can trade for that” with someone who likes what he’s putting out—not hard to find, when you’re putting out Back Hand Of God. No doubt building a network also helps with the burden of being chained to the lifestyle. While at their property, we were witness to the great team of helpers they have to draw from. Kneen points out that “When you’re farming, it’s a bit ludicrous to use the phrase ‘work/life balance’ because so much of your life is the farm”. Left Fields is not large, but it’s a real honest-to-goodness farm. Crannóg’s longtime beer fans might know it as a place
Not that the hop growing is unimportant; see Chelsea McDowell’s story in this issue for more about the leadership role Crannóg took in establishing a hop farm in central BC. Rebecca’s aptitude has come in handy not just for Brian but also for numerous budding hop plant growers across BC, in the form of a Hops Production Manual she authored. Her parents’ leadership in publishing is echoed in the initiative she took to offer knowledge on this subject to other brewers and farmers. After sheep farming for a decade and a half, Brewster and Cathleen Kneen moved to the Fraser Valley in the mid1990s, and eventually lived at their daughter’s farm for a spell during its early years. There’s no doubt that they were proud of what their daughter had accomplished, and the partnership she had forged with her Canadian-Irish life partner, with whom she created Canada’s first certified-organic farm-based microbrewery.
Did someone say 'That's All Folks'?
-------------In Part II I’ll go farther into the brewery side of things, including Brian and Rebecca’s experience in setting up the first brewery of its type in Canada, and their philosophies on growth. Until then, have a pint of Gael’s Blood if you can find it, and if you can’t, head on up to the Okanagan where you’ll have a better chance. Visit the farm while you’re at it; it’s open to the public on Friday and Saturday afternoons throughout the summer season. To get the full experience, stay in the Bed & Breakfast at the house neighbouring the farm, known as The Ark. It’s a great way to kick off a tour of the Okanagan beer scene.
< Chef Dave & the Craft Sodas Left Fields is not just a hopyard for a brewery; it's a real, honest-to-goodness farm that grows the goodies you see above, on display at the Sorrento public market. You can see a fellow top left (Nick) pouring something from a keg at the market. Despite the appearance, t's not beer. It's a non-alcoholic soda drink, flavoured with syrups made from organic fruit grown at Left Fields. The fruit sodas are the brainchild of David Colombe, the farm's resident chef. When Crannรณg puts on a brewery dinner, Dave is the man with the meal plan. Turns out he's got a sweet idea that's got people thirsty for more. By serving Left Fields fresh fruit syrups with CO2 via a keg or soda system, you get a handcrafted soft cocktail that's naturally refreshing. We tried the rhubarb, sour cherry and raspberry while we were there, and can confirm that they're addictive. It's fun to drink something like this, free of excessive sugar. Dave met Rebecca and Brian as a fan of their beer at the Great Canadian Beer Festival (where countless people have become temporary best friends). As a chef in a restaurant that served Crannรณg ales, Colombe started building recipes around their beers. Over the years a real friendship grew; eventually David and Angela were married on Rebecca and Brian's property. Dave and his wife Angela now live in, and operate a B&B from a house known as 'The Ark' on a property directly adjoining the farm. Because of this, a visit to Crannรณg can be an overnight affair! Guests are optionally treated to meals right from the chef's kitchen. As a beer fan, you'll want your visit to coincide with a tour of the brewery. This only happens on Fridays and Saturdays; book your tour at crannogales.com. Rates at The Ark are extremely reasonable. For more info, contact Angela and David Colombe at The Ark at Left Fields: 702 Elson Road, Sorrento BC Tel: 250-833-8665 airbnb.ca/rooms/12990978
Profiles: Women in Beer >> Lundy dale
Big Ridge Brewing's Ashley Brooks
very time I walk into a brewery or brewpub I am always seeking out any women I see behind the scenes, especially if they are cleaning kegs, mashing in or are heavily focused on a beer.
That’s how I met Ashley Brooks about 3 years ago, while attending one of the Thursday Cask nights at Yaletown Brewpub. There she was, in overalls, glued to every word that head brewer Tariq Khan had to say to her. I had a brief opportunity to say Hi to her, and she was just bursting with enthusiasm and passion. I could tell that she was going to go far quickly! Within the three years that I have known her, she has gone from doing her practicum at Yaletown to becoming head Brewer! Pretty impressive for the justturned-30–year-old!!!
NAME & POSITION AT BREWERY: Ashley Brooks, Head Brewer at Big Ridge Brewing Co. in Surrey, BC.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE POSITION? I’ve been running the brewery for almost 8 months now, wow time flies!
WHAT BROUGHT YOU INTO THE INDUSTRY, AND THIS SPECIFIC CHOICE? DID YOU CHOOSE? OR DID THE JOB? I started out doing my Bachelor of Science in Microbiology & Immunology at UBC when an Industrial Microbiology class taught me the basics of beer & wine fermentation. I thought it was the coolest thing I could do with the degree, and with my love for beer I knew I had found my calling! What brought me to Big Ridge: having worked my first assistant brewing job at Yaletown Brewing Co. I always enjoyed the dynamic of the brewpub, so when the head brewing gig came up at Big Ridge I couldn’t resist applying for the opportunity! As a new brewer I’ve been able to work on my recipe development & explore my range in a fairly intimate setting, which is good for me at the moment.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE? Before I got into brewing I was a server in the restaurant industry for about 10 years. During that time I completed my B.Sc. Undergraduate degree at UBC and travelled the world.
IT SEEMS THAT PEOPLE THAT GET INTO THE MICROBREWERY BUSINESS HAVE PASSIONHOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR BEER? My love of beer started at a fairly young age, after growing up on Lucky Lager in Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island it was my mom that introduced me to IPA. I thought the hops were just spectacular, and from then on I started branching out and exploring different beer styles as a hobby. It didn’t dawn on me as a potential career opportunity for years after that.
DO YOU FEEL RESPECTED IN YOUR ROLE? Yes, I feel that our craft beer industry is a very respectful & an inclusive community.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING A MINORITY FEMALE PRESENCE? I feel proud to represent women in brewing! Overall, I feel like I have been given the same opportunities in this industry, regardless of gender.
ARE THERE ADVANTAGES OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE INDUSTRY? I suppose being a woman can give you a different perspective in the brewery, but for the most part I think that people as individuals have different skill sets, work ethics, etc. which can give them a better advantage.
ARE THERE DISADVANTAGES OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE INDUSTRY? It can sometimes feel like there’s a little extra attention because of my gender, but I really just want people to pay attention to my beer. I also think what may deter some women into the industry is the physical aspect/heavy lifting portion of the job. While it’s obviously not as easy for someone of my size you learn the techniques around these obstacles and make it work.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB AND THE INDUSTRY?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BEER OUTSIDE OF YOUR BREWERY AND WHY?
I love the camaraderie; it is something I’ve always respected about this industry. Also to have a job where you get to combine art & science is pretty awesome and always keeps things exciting. It’s definitely rewarding to have one of your own beers at the end of a hard workday.
So many great beers, how do you pick a favourite?! One that always comes to mind locally is the Four Winds Berliner Weisse because it is just an awesome, quaffable summertime beer with the perfect amount of tartness. Travelling out of country all the barrel aged sour beers at De Garde Brewing near the Oregon coast in Tillamook were just outstanding, I would highly recommend the trip out there!
HOW WERE YOU TRAINED? I was part of the inaugural class at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Brewing & Brewery Operations program. Before entering the program I was in touch with local brewers about shadowing for a day to get an idea of the job. During my 2 years in the program I worked as an assistant brewer at Yaletown Brewing Co. & Bomber Brewing, both great opportunities with some talented brewers who have helped me get to where I am today.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BEER OF THE BREWERY AND WHY? My favourite is always changing as I brew new seasonals. Right now I’m really happy with the way my Blueberry Wheat ale has turned out, using fresh, local product is always enjoyable It’s quite refreshing! Another of my favourites was the Wrath of Brooks-Khan Belgian IPA collaboration I did with my mentor Tariq; the hop combination really complemented the Belgian yeast characteristics giving some delicious spicy, citrus & fruity notes. Plus it was my first beer on tap outside the brewery, at Alibi Room & 12 Kings Pub.
FAVOURITE FEMALE IN THE INDUSTRY? Well I definitely look up to and respect all the women I’ve met in the industry so far! Rachaal Steele, one of my mentors at Bomber Brewing has always made me feel like I can accomplish anything and has been a great motivator for me, so she’s definitely up there on the list!
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE? Becoming a head brewer in general is a pretty awesome achievement in my books! Also to have my beer on tap at the Alibi Room has always been a dream. I did get my first beer award this year as well, a silver for our Big Ridge 152 Lager in Vancouver Magazine’s International Craft Beer awards, so I’m kind of proud of that. I hope there’s more where that came from!
Among other contributions to the BC beer scene, Lundy is a founder of CAMRA BC's Vancouver chapter, Barley's Angels' Pink Pints Chapter and BC Craft Beer Month, and Past President of CAMRA BC.
You love drinking great beer. We love brewing great beer!
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Beers, Beaches & Breweries
>> Kim Lawton
ike the rest of BC, the craft beer scene in the Okanagan is vibrant and exciting. It’s growing like crazy with new breweries, new beers, new hop growers, new events and new locations featuring craft beer, casks and beer-paired dinners. With so many exciting developments in the region, I’m going to focus on some of the newest news and upcoming not-to-miss events. First up is the CAMRA SO (Campaign for Real Ale South Okanagan) Home Brewers Competition on September 17th. We’ve got an active home brewing community with OK Brewers as well as a growing membership in CAMRA SO, and we thought this was the perfect event to bring both groups together. Competing home brewers will create their best beers to serve at the event. Attendees will cast their votes and the top 3 brewers will get bragging rights and prizes. The event will be held at Square One Hop Growers, where we’ll also have a chance to tour their hopyard, see a harvester demo, and pick some hops.
barrel-aged beers, including a Blonde aged in red wine barrels and a Chocolate Milk Stout with pecans and vanilla, aged in bourbon barrels. Travel further north to Vernon and visit Marten Brewing Company. They made the first Nitro IPA in the Okanagan and it is always on tap. Compare that to the same IPA made with CO2 and taste the difference. They also have a Nitro-infused Stout and they’re working on a pumpkin ale. Plus they’ve got some great beer and menu items planned for their Oktoberfest. In other news, recently opened Craft Corner Kitchen in Penticton is starting their brewmaster dinner series in September. The Barley Mill Brew Pub will be crafting up their Barley Mill IPA as their fall seasonal, available on tap and for growlers. Tin Whistle Brewing is taking a page out of the winemaker’s playbook and releasing a blended ale called Midnight Peach. This unique combination incorporates Peach Cream Ale and Killer Bee Dark Honey Porter. It will be available in early October in 650ml bottles and on tap. And finally, Oliver-based Firehall Brewery celebrated the grand opening of their Beer Shop and welcomed two new owners to the team, Danielle & Dermott Hutton.
As part of the Cannery Brewing team, I'm excited about the upFlipping the calendar coming limited release over to October, we’ve batch of our Wildfire got the Oliver Cask & Black IPA. This week, as Keg Fest on October Penticton Oktoberfest 2015 we’ve been working on 1st. This event will kick an updated label for this beer, Okanagan wildfires have been off the 20th annual Festival of the Grape weekend with a harburning north and south of us, and firefighters have been vest-celebration theme, so expect harvest ales and fresh hop working hard to control these fires. I love this beer, both for the casks as well as a “collaborale” cask made by the local brewtaste and for the cause. A portion of the proceeds from the sale eries. of this beer supports the great work of the Canadian Fallen There is no better way to celebrate BC Craft Beer Month than Firefighters Foundation. with Oom-pah-pah bands and lederhosen. The 7th annual What’s Brewing Editor Dave Smith and his wife Ivana paid a Penticton Oktoberfest takes place October 22nd at the Penticvisit to the Okanagan during their Staycation BC tour this sumton Trade & Convention Centre. Enjoy local and German beers, mer, a trip I helped plan. At first, I thought they’d only need two a cask made by Cannery Brewing, mouth-watering food, and days to visit Penticton, but it was soon evident that even with great music to get you moving on the dance floor. With acthree full days it would be a fast-paced tightly-packed agencommodation and ticket packages starting at $99/couple, da. [Ed. note: Yup.] That shows how far we’ve come here in the plan to spend the weekend in Penticton. Okanagan. But don’t take it from me; I’ll let Dave and Ivana While here, be sure to visit Highway 97 Brewery, Penticton’s tell you themselves, next! newest brewery. They will open in early October and they’re brewing a Pumpkin Pale Ale to celebrate! Stay tuned for details on their official grand opening celebration. Kim is is a long-time craft beer supporter, President of CAMRA South Up north in Kelowna, Kettle River Brewing is now open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This fall they will launch their
Okanagan, Marketing Director at Cannery Brewing and Okanagan correspondent for BC Craft Beer Month. Follow Kim @DogLegMarketing.
* Creator of the What's Brewing magazine stand *
Staycation BC: okanagan & interio p. 26 South Okanagan p. 28 Central & North Okanagan p. 30 Kootenay Rockies
>> Beerseekers on tour 'Beer in wine country' is a theme that's been employed by many writers. Actually, the wine country looks pretty damn good all by itself. But a nice beer or craft cider along with it doesn't hurt. Naramata Bench, Penticton BC, during Hoodoo Adventures tour. All images: D. Smith.
ces of Craft: see legend on p. 34 15
STAYCATION BC REPORT
South Okanagan: craft leader So you're up for a road trip? There's no better place to drive than in your own backyard, British Columbia. Let's travel the beautiful Crowsnest Highway, then approach this Okanagan experience from the south.
Profiles include narrative only. For locations, contact info, hours & details see whatsbrewing.ca/map
Oliver Firehall Brewery
Ross Thompson with his fermenters Penticton has been respected as a craft beer town for years. Since 2001, Cannery Brewing has been one of the primary reasons. With very stable, community-minded ownership, Cannery has acted as a catalyst for the South Okanagan craft beer scene, and as a more-or-less direct result, Penticton has so far kept ahead of larger Kelowna in craft beer penetration. The BC Interior’s only CAMRA BC branch thrives here.
John and Sid in the taproom Pull up to the only craft brewery in the south end of the region. Housed in a former fire hall, you'll find it below local favourite Pappa's Firehall Bistro. If you're hungry, place your order in the restaurant before heading downstairs. Sid Ruhland is a self-taught homebrewer who began while in college. Fast forward to today: he, father Jim and family run a community-minded business. Their cosy, homey tasting room is notable for being kickstarted by a crowdfunding campaign. A large space directly outdoors is used for small concerts and earmarked as potentially a large patio.
Penticton Tin Whistle Penticton's oldest brewery has recently moved from their original location to the space vacated by Cannery Brewing. They now have a comfortable tasting lounge with six taps pouring a selection of their twelve beers. They don't have a kitchen, but step down the hall and you'll find a couple of food outlets where you can grab a meal to enjoy in the taproom. Tin Whistle's name comes from the first train that came to Penticton on the Kettle Valley line. Their product branding reflects the local area and history.
Cannery has grown by leaps and bounds but has maintained its “small brewery, big flavour” philosophy and feel. In 2015, the Cannery folks moved into their new location on Ellis Street, and they now have a good-sized taproom and patio where you can relax and enjoy a pint or two. Head Brewer Ross Thompson notes that their focus is on making solid, balanced, drinkable beers, and they certainly hit the mark. With new recipes added for their tasting room, they tend to brew 8 year-round beers plus at least one seasonal. If you’re feeling peckish, the taproom has a light food menu, including the most original vegetarian nachos around. Being very community-minded, The Cannery supports local charities and events, and features local talent with live music every Sunday. When What’s Brewing dropped by, we were treated to a lively concert featuring musicians jumping right up onto the bar. No lack of fun when you’re at the Cannery! View more photos and full profile >>
Highway 97 Brewery Like a game of musical chairs, a new brewery is set to open this fall in Tin Whistle’s old space. Highway 97 is the longtime dream of John Kapusty, a local entrepreneur, outdoor enthusiast and homebrewer. . They have redesigned the space and are creating a clean, open-concept brewery and taproom. They plan to have 8 beers to start, including a Pilsner, an Amber, a Scotch Ale and an IPA.
Lee Ager with his kegs What happens when you mix an experienced hospitailty manager, a bright young ex-accountant from a smart family, beer and a pizza oven? A recipe for success, that’s what. Bad Tattoo, a relative newcomer compared to others in Penticton, exploded onto the scene in July 2014 and quickly broke all projections for patronage. Co-owner Lee Ager describes the sense of awe when they first opened the doors and were swamped with five times the food orders they planned for. “We’ve regularly had to turn away 100 people a night”, he says ruefully. It's true; we dropped by the busy lounge on both a Tuesday and a Wednesday and witnessed firsthand the wall-to-wall clientele.during the slowest days of the week. The secret is the one food item they serve: possibly the best thincrust pizza in the Okanagan. With flavours like Ham & Apple, Spanikopizza and an amazing Falafel creation, their gourmet pies are the perfect manna for a beer-thirsty crowd. Besides the great food and well-appointed 115-seat lounge, what impressed us was their brewhouse. We toured a clean, well-laidout facility in a deceptively large warehouse-style space with lots of room for expansion. And they’ll need it; Lee currently makes a point of managing their growth, but there's plenty of demand.
Barley Mill Brewpub
O8b²ËF²bÉu¢O A classic Tudor-style house The Barley Mill has been a part of Penticton’s fabric seemingly forever. They opened as a neighbourhood pub in 1982 and began brewing their own beer in 1997, at the height of the micro/ brewpub trend. Unlike many breweries of that vintage, they're Continued on page 47
O8b²ËF²bÉu¢O O8b²ËF²bÉu¢O O8b²ËF²bÉu¢O
STAYCATION BC REPORT
North and Central OKanagan Kelowna The case for #yeastbank No, there's not a yeast repository here. We, and BNA Brewing, marketing manager Jill Jarrett, thought that the growing Kelowna scene might be in need of its own nickname. Being that the clustering in Kelowna is on the East side of Okanagan Lake, it was suggested that their scene be tagged "Yeast Bank" (the side opposite from Westbank, right?). That "brewpiphany" was just another fun memory from our full-of-surprises trip to the Interior's largest, and Canada's fastest-growing, metropolitan area. Now let's continue your trip. Profiles include narrative only. For locations, contact info, hours & details see whatsbrewing.ca/map
front Park. OK, no, it's not really an institute of any kind. Like Bad Tattoo, it's a brewery with a lounge and a pizza oven, albeit more cozy in size. Tree is Kelowna's largest brewer by a long shot, but the BI is a standalone operation. Its brewhouse is run hands-on by Tree's longtime brewmaster Dave Gokiert, who has been empowered with partial ownership and the license to experiment, as should be the case with such an asset. Since we're having lunch, let's check their light menu, specializing in spent grain pizza. Also try the must-have house made beer salt chips (not greasy!). You can really enjoy a beer in the relaxed atmosphere of this great two-floor room and patio.
Where To Stay: Prestige Beach House So you're freshly arrived from your trip through Summerland and Peachland (is everything in the Okanagan named with this type of deadpan self-awareness? I'm looking on my map for "Wineland"). Check into the massively-renovated Prestige Beach House, not too long of a hike from our destinations. Also, the restaurant can serve you a fabulous breakfast. Now that you're ready to set out on your day, let's take a walk along the shoreline. Where shall we stop first? How about a place where we can have lunch along with the thirst-slaking beverages Kelowna's great weather will necessitate.
Tree Brewing Beer Institute
Hillary, Brittany and Jill say hi from the tasting room The first impression upon walking into BNAâ€™s tiny taproom is that this is a small, quaint brewery. After a proper tour, you'll come to realize that BNA is actually two operations: busy brewery, next door to a massive two-floor restaurant with its own entrance and opening hours. Thus, your tour will actually involve BNA twice: have dinner here on the way back later. Sticking with the brewery side first, let's talk about excellence. BNA opened c. 2015 in the former building of the British North American Tobacco Company (hence name), and is already expanding into a larger warehouse space. While they've made 23 different beers since they opened, packaging has just commenced; we got to see the hush-hush first round of product being bottled.
Wall mural upstairs at the Tree BI The Tree Brewing Beer Institute opened two years ago on the beautiful, bustling boardwalk located along Kelownaâ€™s Water-
We're storytellers, so it's not our approach to list out beers in these pages. An exception has to be made for their flagship Earl Pale Ale [as in Earl Grey]. We tracked it down elsewhere in Kelowna because the lounge was tapped out. It was worth the effort; maybe not everybody's cup of tea, but 'life-altering' was the phrase that came to mind for yours truly.
Tree Brewing (main brewery) Walking from BNA, we now head toward Tree's mothership, the original brewery. Aforementioned brewmaster Dave G is close to 20 years now with the company; perhaps if you're organized and ask in advance, he or somebody will show you around.
Vernon Marten Brewing Co
Here you'll find a 10-tap tasting room that serves a few of Tree’s regular line-up. This is a true "tasting room" in the sense of "try it and buy it" product sales. That's not a knock; the laws didn't allow for lounges when the classic breweries of BC's Interior towns sprang up (they're still adjusting; see our Kootenays section for more examples). Tree has done a great job of addressing the New Wave of craft with their BI. Anyway, you're here to see the massive brewhouse, which originally lived at Shaftebury in Delta. The immense tanks will present a sharp contrast with those at your next destination.
Kettle River Brewing Stefan & Pearl in front of their glass-encased brewhouse Don't make the mistake of visiting the Okanagan and skipping home after stopping at only Penticton and Kelowna. We almost did. Thanks to Kim Lawton we made the trip to Vernon, and to say it was "worthwhile" just does not cut it. Of all the surprises on this trip, the Marten Brewpub may have been the most shocking. Here in a small town is an urban brewery + restaurant with simply astounding planning and construction, resulting in a destination-level facility. There are few rooms in BC, at any level of cost and ownership, that could surpass what husband and wife team Stefan Marten and Pearl Scott have created. This couple has extensive hospitality experience, and it shows in the realization of their dream pub.
The insane brewers at KR will age so many things in these Right next door to the largest craft brewery in the region is the tiniest. Suffice to say that the brewhouse at Kettle River will remind you of your favourite stovetop homebrewer. As it happens, the local homebrew club was meeting here the evening we arrived; a perfect fit, we would say. Don't underestimate KR based on their size; their ambition to experiment is astounding. When we visited, these young madmen had brewed 93 unique recipes since opening, which was an average of one per day, one batch each. Note: KR is currently only open Fridays to Sundays.
Boundary Brewing Co. Smaller yet than Kettle River is Oliver Glaser's brewing project, which is waiting for a home. Originally planned for and named after the border-straddling Greenwood area, Boundary is starting up with a 3 hl system. You may be able to find Oliver's beer on tap when you arrive in town.
Don't forget the cider On your way North from Kelowna, stop by Scenic Road Cider Co, on the outskirts of town. See our spotlight on cider on page 10, or visit our BC Craft Map for more listings.
Stefan has worked with well-regarded brewmasters to shape Marten's beer menu with a German theme. This is one of the few craft breweries at which yours truly would seek out a lager.
Salmon Arm & Sorrento Barley Station The Barley Station, aka Shushwap Lake Brewing Co, is a venerable brewpub with a good history of producing solid, well-regarded ales. Example: their Bushwacker Brown took a Gold Medal at this year's Canadian Brewing Awards. We enjoyed a delicious meal, and owners Stu & Kathy Bradford gave us a nice tour of their smart, linear brewhouse.
Crannóg Ales If you skipped straight to this section or are reading it on our website, you could be forgiven for not realizing we've covered Crannóg and their farm, Left Fields, extensively in this issue of WB. Rather than provide a third spotlight in this issue, let us refer you to page 14 for a profile of this unique operation. There you'll find instructions on how to book lodging right at the farm. Note that the brewery is only open Friday & Saturday. See Kamloops on page 33
STAYCATION BC REPORT
The Kootenay Loop: Ski Country OK, now you've taken in the entire Thompson Okanagan region with its 16 craft breweries, numerous cideries, and don't forget the handful of craft distilleries in this area, known for its warmth. So you're really thirsty now; it's time to cool off.
Invermere: Arrowhead Brewing
Suggestion: look eastward from the Shuswap and you'll see BC's largest Ale Trail, a giant loop stretching as far East as Fernie. As you can see by our map, the breweries make a dotted ring from Salmon Arm all the way around to Grand Forks and Oliver, closing the loop neatly at the beginning of our tour. Beer touring in this part of BC is unlike the previous regions we covered; cities aren't as likely to have multiple breweries. PS: Vancouver transit riders: yes, the title is another pun. Sorry. Profiles include narrative only. For locations, contact info, hours & details see whatsbrewing.ca/map
Revelstoke: Mt. Begbie
One of the cutest brewery buildings in BC For a room that's not especially large, the number of people constantly filing in the door and finding spots to sit amongst the fully-appointed tasting lounge was impressive. The Growler gave Arrowhead top marks for its decor, which is retro and abundant; we concur. It was hard to stop snapping photos. Also generous was the 10-tap selection, offering a wide variety of house-made styles. We gave their beers good marks in our private little notebook. Arrowhead is getting it right.
New plant under construction Thanks to the patience of Mt. Begbie rep Darryn Shewchuk, we were able to get in on a Saturday and tour the operation. Currently you can sample their wares in the standard brewery sales room (a la Tree Brewing, per previous section). The brewery is in process of moving to new location that gives meaning to the term 'standalone'; rather than walking up to the current downtown location, visitors will be driving slightly outside town to the large new plant. When it's ready, you'll have a modern tasting lounge experience.
Golden: Whitetooth Brewing Owner Kent Donaldson reported that his building under construction is "pretty much done...cold storage and piping are next". By now the brewhouse should be installed; it may be pouring beer when you roll up. Stay tuned to our map.
A picturesque brewery, inside and out On a roll now, like us you've just pulled into Fernie and realize that you've reached back to back beautiful tasting rooms. The difference with Fernie's is that it's gorgeous on the outside as well, not just for the building, but for the backdrop. Sitting out on the patio could lead to a serious desire to not leave.
Originating in the owners' barn, Fernie is still a family owned and run business. The massive pallets of colourfully printed cans in storage underscore Fernie's history, like most on our Kootenays tour, as a production brewery. Demand is heavy both summer and winter (ski season, yet another recurring theme along this leg). Marketing Manager Abi Moore explained a number of Fernie's innovative community programs, such as their Cheers to Charity, where the entire revenue (!) from $5 taster flights goes to a local beneficiary chosen from a waitlist on a revolving basis. New is their Trail to Ale, a ~50K foot or cycle challenge with a beer reward that unlocks the local passion for the outdoors— something Abi, a fitness trainer herself, knows a lot about. The tasting rom featured 5 beers on tap when we arrived. It's not a lounge yet, so samples are limited to the 12 oz quota, but again, that's normal in these parts. You won't regret the drive.
Cranbrook: Fisher Peak Brewing Known as the Heid Out locally, this brewery restaurant, like Marten Brewing in Vernon, is deceptive from afar. You think it's going to be a small-town brewpub then it turns out to have an impressively modern, urban ethic, and the beers are great. Also, owners Heidi Romich and Jordon Aasland package their beer in cans for local sale.
with head brewer Jerry Grant for an informative walk around the facility. Demand is high for their big sellers like Wild Honey and Harvest Moon Hemp. New online is a coffee stout in collaboration with local roaster Oso Negro. Earlier in this issue we spotlighted Crannóg Ales, well known as an organic farm brewery. As BC’s largest-ever organic brewery—by a country mile—it's amazing that Nelson isn't more widely recognized for committing to its own program. If a brewery this size can do it, will others follow their lead?
Nelson: Torchlight Brewing The size and philosophy of Torchlight, a short walk down the hill from the main drag, is reminiscent of Kettle River, as discussed in our Kelowna coverage. The brewhouse is miniscule but very experimental; since 2014, the guys had brewed 42 different beers by the time we dropped by this summer. On tap, they had Noctis (dark lavender & hibiscus sour) and 3 other beers plus a Cherry Kola. Open Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Rossland Beer Co.
With four Red Seal chefs, the kitchen is formidable. Manager on duty Viola gave us a nice tour of the operation including the galley, where it was clear the staff are 100% into what they're doing. Don't skip this stop, there's no reason to.
Nelson Brewing Company
Behind the bar in the tasting room Petri Raito & Ryan Arnaud grew up in Winnipeg and started a U-Brew in Trail, eventually converting to a commercial brewery. As residents of nearby Rossland—a mountain village destination in its own right—they tired of the trek and eventually moved shop closer to home. They'll be expanding before long, as demand drives them out of their charmingly quirky current facility to a more practical location across the road.
A longtime Nelson landmark One of the reasons to travel BC on a brewery tour is to travel British Columbia itself. For most of the Kootenay leg, the vast landscape is the primary reward for the time spent in the car. When you get to Nelson, the village itself is a reward. Note that here we use the term 'village' to connote not the size but the bohemian spirit of the place. As first-time visitors, we were happy to leave with a 'Keep Nelson Wierd' pin. NBC is a local legend, now 25 years strong. New owners Matt & Kate Walker have great plans to modernize the operation, which currently has no real tasting room (but by all means let them know you're coming and they'll give you a tour). We met
There's a half hour investment to detour here. We mention that only to confirm that it's a no brainer. Do not miss this one.
Grand Forks: Spencer Hill Brewery We conclude our massive tour of BC brewing with the very smallest commercial brewer we know of. Spencer Hill Cottage Brewery is Norm Chapman, a retiree working out of his detached former two-car garage. He makes 100 bombers a week, all of which are instantly spoken for. To acquire one, we visited the BC Liquor Store in Grand Forks, and sure enough, they carry it. That puts Norm in a category that this otherwise homebrewer is certainly unique in. If you'd like to visit him, you can do it between 12 to 4 PM on Saturdays. It's worth the planning if you enjoy listening to an intelligent man discuss his craft.
>> Beerseekers on tour
Kamloops Cont'd from North & Central Okanagan
Staycation BC: all reports by Ivana & Dave Smith idea how well regarded her husband was amongst veteran BC brewers. As we continued to tour the interior and heard the name 'David Beardsell' over and over again, it confirmed that this family operation (with daughters Lara and Tess, and now in memory of their red-collared dog Goose) came with an exceptional story. David & Annamarie were behind the creation of legendary '90s firm Bear Brewing and local Kamloops brewpub Noble Pig. It pains us to cut that story short here, but the extended version will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, they've got a great thing going with their 'New Wave' location. Red Collar falls into the minority of small breweries whose core brews include nothing mainstream. Of the four main beers on the chalkboard (aside from seasonals), two were Belgian: a Tripel and a chocolaty Dubbel (dark and somehow befitting a guy still famous for Black Bear). Open Tuesdays to Sundays.
Chalkboard mural underscores the canine tribute When we arrived at this well-appointed-but-seemingly-typical modern tasting lounge, we didn't realize that we were stepping into the home of BC brewing royalty. Speaking to Annamarie Beardsell for a short time, it became evident that we had no
Noble Pig Red Collar has light fare but isn't a full restaurant, so you'll eventually want to move on and fill your belly. Set your mind on this excellent brewpub (no longer owned by the Beardsells),. Complete with tiny brewhouse and very drinkable beers.
Homebrew Happenin's >> Warren Boyer
A Warm Weather Brewing Surprise
have had conversations in the past with homebrewers who do not have a temperature-controlled fermenter and are opting to not brew during the summer while ambient temperatures are in the mid 20’s to 30’s Celsius. I do not have a temperature-controlled environment for my fermenters so I know the struggle. In the past I have avoided brewing during warm stretches, until two summers ago when one of the homebrew clubs I am involved with had a club challenge to brew a Saison. The club issues challenges several times a year and we agree on a style or category. At a future meeting we judge the beers and the winner gets to keep the trophy until the next challenge. The idea behind the challenge is to get brewers out of their comfort zones and brew something they would otherwise not consider or would avoid. I have personally had great success from these challenges. In the spring of 2015 the club issued a challenge for light hybrids. From that category I chose American Wheat Ale. In this case I decided to make it a bit more interesting by adjusting the grain bill to be approx. 1/3 barley, 1/3 wheat, and 1/3 rye. I used a couple of US hops that start with a C and an English ale yeast. This beer turned out very good and won the club challenge. I entered it into the Vanbrewers contest and it won runner up best in show. I went on to brew that beer at Old Abbey and P49 last summer and that beer is now being brewed at Foamers’ Folly. If the challenge had not been made I would never have made that beer, nor had the opportunity to brew at P49 and have my beer served in their tasting room. Saison is not my favourite style and is something I have never considered brewing. Challenge accepted. First stop, my good friend Tony Dewald. I asked him for a bit of direction in mak-
ing a Saison and the first thing he told me was “Ferment at high temperature, like 35 C”. At first I was a bit confused as I have always fermented ales around 20C and I know that lager yeasts ferment closer to 12C, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. Saisons are all about funky and interesting flavours. Sometimes barnyard is an appropriate way to describe a Saison. I looked up Saison yeasts and found that some prefer temperatures of at least 32C. It was still spring time and the ambient temperatures were still fairly cool, so I fermented in my 100 sq ft den using the thermostat and electric baseboard to heat the room and maintain a steady temperature. The thermostat only goes to 33C so that’s the temperature I fermented at. The beer fermented out completely in three days. I left it for a couple more days before transferring to a secondary briefly and bottling. The beer turned out good but the biggest complaint I received on it was that it was too clean and not funky enough. To me that says it could have been fermented at even higher temps with good results. What does all of this mean? Two things: first, there is a style that you can brew in the middle of August without fermentation temperature control or air conditioning. Second, to improve as a brewer you need to go outside of your comfort zone and try making something that you may not have previously considered. Now go make some beer!
Warren Boyer is an award winning homebrewer, Certified Beer Judge, Past President of CAMRA Vancouver, and and occasional Professional Brewer. Reach Warren at email@example.com
Staycation BC: Faces of Craft legend (see p. 25) 1.
Barley Station: Stu and Kathy Bradford
13. Marten Brewpub: Pearl & Stefan Marten
Fisher Peak: Viola and Meghan in the kitchen
14. Bad Tattoo: Harry and MaryAnne welcome you
Red Collar: Tess & Lara Beardsell
15. Fernie Brewing: Abi, Courtney and Robyn
Torchlight Brewing: Gita in the taproom
16. Tree Brewing Beer Institute: Brewer David with Kristina
Arrowhead Brewing: Chelsea & Leanne
17. Spencer Hill Cottage Brewery: Norm Chapman
Kettle River Brewing: Brewer Brandon Amond
18. Boundary Brewing Co: Oliver Glaser
Mt. Begbie: Darryn Shewchuk at the tasting bar
19. Scenic Road Cider Co: Caroline Sebastian
Tin Whistle: Matt Farmer, Mike Nagy and Jeff Todd
20. Nelson Brewing Company: Jerry, Matt, Simon and Mark
Craft Corner Kitchen: Owner/Mixologist Jonathan Cote
21. Barley Mill: Ray Huson, the original brewer
10. Local Lounge + Grille, Proprietor Cameron Bond
22. Dominion Cider: Mike Harris
11. Rossland Beer Co: Owner Petri Raito at the bar
23. Cannery Brewing: Owner Patt Dyck
12. Highway 97 Brewery: John Kapusty
24. Summerland Heritage Cider: Kim and Ron Vollo
Beyond the Grape has Greater Vancouver’s largest selection of home brewing products! (Some items may be special order)
Online shopping available at shop.beyondthegrape.com What’s Brewing special: use the discount code whatsbrewing to receive 10% off your grain order (sacks excluded)
All Grain Brewing with Warren Boyer
October 15th, 2016 Register online at beyondthegrape.com/events
3030 St. Johns St., Port Moody • 604.461.8891 (2 minute walk from Port Moody Westcoast Express Station)
Ullage and Spillage >> J. RANDOM
It's R&B, But Better!
&B Brewing is back baby! If you want proof, crack open a bottle of their Vancouver Special IPA and smell the hop aroma.
Of course, die-hard friends of R&B know they never really went away, despite what you may have read. Yes, there was a very rough patch, but thanks to the involvement of Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Company, R&B was saved as a going concern. All credit to the Fenn family for coming to the rescue. I was lucky enough to bump into Dave Fenn during the soft opening of their Pizza and Alehouse (right next to the brewery at 54 East 4th Avenue). I was able to thank him personally for saving R&B and revitalizing it, rather than simply turning it into Howe Sound’s Vancouver production facility (though they did need extra capacity to service the Vancouver market with their Howe Sound Lager during the summer months).“We had an affinity with the R&B story, as we both started at about the same time, and we knew Rick and Barry and respected all the work they undertook through the years. But most importantly, we felt that R&B was an integral part of the East Vancouver brewing scene, and we wanted to make sure that this brewery had the capacity and vigor to continue”, says Fenn. The décor is a modern/retro eclectic mixture with laminated veneer lumber counters, and a variety of old light fixtures and speakers re-purposed from the brewery. They have 12 taps, including one cider, two handpumps, plus two taps for the wine drinkers. The stylized tulips on the beer board indicate the style of serving glass, not the use of tulips in the beer, or any Netherlands connection. Thoughtful touches include the library of National Geographics and novels; the Pokemon-character-like food-customer locators (even more weirdly, the underside revealed it to be Spöka, from IKEA), and the self-serve water station, handy if you are on 20 oz pints rather than the 4-taster flights (cute taster glasses). I particularly liked the fact there was a marker pen note on the stainless steel splashback beside the taps recording when the lines were last cleaned. It took 8 months of hard work and hard wrangling of permits to get the tasting room, one of the few in the city that is Food Primary, up and running. Because they really wanted to go with this type of license, partly so they could have a patio, there were a whole bunch of unexpected (to put it politely) requirements, such as: • Two separate signs outside to identify the presence of the brewery and the restaurant/tasting room. • People must not be able to see the growler-fill station from the tasting room. • The restaurant/tasting room could not use R&B coasters.
The R&B Ale and Pizza House R&B co-founder Barry Benson took us for a quick look at some of the improvements in the brewery: additional floor drains, a more powerful boiler, a glycol chiller and a new refrigeration system for the expanded cold-storage room (the Christopher Walk-in). Most of those old horizontal milk tanks that some of us will remember from brewery tours have gone. With their huge surface area, they were ideal for the truly top fermenting yeast R&B were using for their British Style ales when they first started up, but were probably unnecessary for modern top-fermenting yeast which do not create such a surface yeast crop. They also work less well for Pacific Northwest IPAs where you want to retain as much aroma as possible. Much credit must go to head brewer Patrick Moore. No, not the former Greenpeace Patrick Moore who figured out “Forests are the Answer” long before most people realized that climate change was a bigger issue than the size of clear-cuts. No, not the astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, who wrote the Boy’s Book of Space in 1954 (showing my age). The Patrick Moore who was a rep for Tree Brewing and Nelson Brewing back in the early days. Thanks to Patrick, R&B beers are now much improved with tweaked recipes, new yeast strains which are replaced regularly, and new stubby conical fermenters and bright tanks which are a lot easier to keep clean. It is the end of an era. The two milk tanks remaining still work well for the Sungod Wheat Ale, which is—for those who have not tried it—a crystalweizen, so don’t expect a white haze. With a new yeast strain, “I would not have thought it” said Benson, “but I believe it’s better. It won silver at the North American Brewing Awards this year.” I would have to say that the Red Devil (an English Pale Ale, 5.0% ABV), the Raven Cream Ale (a strong dark mild 4.8%) Continued on page 38
A View from the Cellar
>> Adam Chatburn A Crash Course in Cellarmanship Pt. IV
he first three parts of this series were about the history and use of casks. Part Four is about Beer Engines.
A beer engine, also known as a hand-pump, is the ideal way of serving a cask. Gravity taps can do in a pinch or at a festival, but if you’re serious about casks an engine is essential. Hand pumps do not use any CO2 or Nitrogen to push the beer; they have a small tank at the back and a valve which draws the beer directly from the cask. They are very low tech and are pretty easy to set up and use, with no electronics and very little plumbing. The engine should be mounted on a table or bar using the vise grips at the back. Sometimes they can be built into the bar. The line should be as short as practically possible and, if possible, quite wide using a braided hose - regular hose tends to collapse under the vacuum of the pull and can lead to CO2 separation. Regular beer lines are quite narrow so that the beer can be transported by gas pressure over long distances. I use wide-gauge hose so that the pull is easy, the beer doesn’t warm up as quickly due to the lower surface area/volume ratio. Most engines come in either half- or quarter-pint pulls - that is to say one pull should pump about 500ml or 250ml. I prefer half-pint pulls as they fill a pint glass quickly and smoothly. The cask must be stored below the engine otherwise the entire cask will siphon out, hence the use of a cellar for storing casks rather than balancing them on top of a bar in a hot pub. Some engines have a cooling jacket around the tank which can have water or glycol circulating, keeping the beer chilled in the pump, This is worth considering if you would like your beer kept colder or if there are long gaps between uses. To pour the perfect pint put the end of the nozzle as close to the “Can I have a flake for that please?” [Ed. note: UK humour. Meaning: ‘this beer looks like an ice cream’]
bottom of the glass as possible, then slowly start the pour. Once the head has been submerged beneath the beer, you should pull a little bit faster. Keep the nozzle head at the bottom of the glass all the way. Once the glass is full, set it on the drip tray and wait for it to settle; this will reveal how much of the beer is head. When ready, put the nozzle back into the beer and slowly top it up; if the foam runs over the side, it’s no problem. Leave a good-sized head but no more than ½” to ¾”. If you receive more head than that, please send it back for a top up - anywhere that takes cask beer seriously will happily do this for you. Often the end of the swan-neck will have what is known as a “sparkler”; this small plastic screw-on shower head is the subject of much discussion in the UK. Commonly used in the north of England and Scotland but less so in the South, it acts a little like an aerator. The beer is pushed through many tiny holes; this pushes the CO2 out of solution creating that beautiful nitro-style cascade, creamy body and lasting head that is characteristic of a well poured pint of real ale. In fact the Nitro Continued on next page
Ullage & Spillage cont'd
View from the Cellar cont'd system pioneered by Guinness was an attempt to artificially recreate this natural effect from a keg beer.
Milk tank being removed from R&B Brewing and the East Side Bitter (read the initials, 5.5%) are all much improved while remaining true to their original styling. Benson says “I feel the quality of the beers has improved 100%”, and I never thought I would hear him say that. The best thing is that Barry seems really happy with how things are going. Note: co-founder Rick Dellow moved to Newlands Sytems Inc., and is happily doing work related to his early days: testing Newlands’ equipment on new brewery set-ups. Back in the tasting room, my spouse and I had now downed, between us, 20 oz pints of Dark Star Stout, East Side Bitter and Vancouver Special IPA (6.0% ABV). And, yes there is a reason the IPA is that good: Simcoe and Citra topping off Columbus and Chinook. However, I decided to have a Raven Cream Ale with my personal vegetarian pizza and for dessert. I had not had one for years, but I am really loving the revitalized Raven, so I made sure to toast a stuffed bird present in the taproom (who looked like he might give me a hard time if I did not).
The downside of the sparkler is that the overall carbonation is reduced and hop aroma can be reduced, so it’s very much a personal taste. It is interesting how different the same beer can taste when poured through a sparkler or not - try it!. At the end of service the sparklers should be removed and put into a glass of soda water overnight to be kept Sparklers clean, and run through a glass-washer as often as convenient. Beer lines should be cleaned every 2-3 weeks but cask lines benefit from more frequent cleaning, usually 1-2 weeks. This is because there is comparatively more organic material travelling through the line, which can build up in the line and engine. A lighter cleaning agent used more frequently is preferred because there are delicate parts of the engine which can be damaged by harsher abrasives. More on line cleaning in a few issues time.
The pizza we had was excellent, packing a punch with fresh ingredients and lots of fresh basil. As well as great pizzas, they also have a selection of wines for the non-beer drinker in the family. To the delight of us old-timers, Christina Willis (formerly of DIX and High Mountain Brewing) is one of the restaurant managers. Considering this was a soft opening, the place was hopping on a late Tuesday afternoon so the rumor mill (and fortunate timing for the monthly CAMRA newsletter) must have been working well. Derrick Franche, long-time brewer at High Mountain (and also formerly of DIX) had dropped in on his way to do a few City tasks, so it was almost like old-home week. Quite appropriate, because R&B were the first to provide guest brews to the seminal Vancouver monthly cask nights at DIX. Great to see all that history has not been completely lost. R&B has managed to avoid becoming extinct, and has evolved to stake a place in the modern BC craft brewing landscape.
Pump clips are the small shields that are affixed to the pump handle so that customers can easily see which beer is on which pump - similar to the way that tap handles are used by breweries to advertise. These clips don’t get used often in North America as there’s rarely more than one cask on at a time, but these are considered collectable artworks that go missing from pubs in the UK frequently.
J. Random does indeed exist, but only randomly.
Adam Chatburn is Head Brewer at Real Cask Brewing and a former President of CAMRA BC's Vancouver Branch.
Our final cask masterclass in the next issue will focus on troubleshooting the many things that can go wrong. If you have any feedback on this series or would like more information please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BCâ€™s Newest Ale & Pizza House R&B Brewing
54 East 4th Ave Vancouver, BC V5T 1E8 email@example.com
ALE & PIZZA HOUSE NOW OPEN Sunday - Thursday 11am-11pm Friday - Saturday 11am-Midnight
GROWLER FILL STATION Daily 11am-11pm Order Desk: 604 874 2537 | www.randbbrewing.com | 54 E 4th Ave Vancouver, BC
Head Brewer Jon Pouring at Near Wall
Ancient Wonders and New Tastes in Xi'an, China >> Brian K Smith
n the heart of China is the ancient Silk Road city of Xi'an. According to Cultural-China.com it is one of the four Great Ancient Cities, along with Athens, Rome and Cairo. Nowadays its number one tourist attraction is the Terracotta Warriors, an archaeological gem on most people's list of "must sees" on a typical Shanghai/Xi'an/Beijing tour. Xi'an was the capital of China through 13 dynasties and was known as Chang'an (Eternal Peace) in historical times. With the new sleek HST trains it is only 6 hours away from Beijing or Shanghai. The ancient 12 meter high wall of the city has a circumference of 14.3 km; it takes just under 5 hours to walk around on the outer pathway. The wall has 4 main gates on the North, East, South and West. Within the restored Ming Dynasty wall are traditional temples and markets that seem to resist the rapid growth that has overtaken many of China's cities in the last 10 years. There is a moderately-sized Muslim Hui population that provides unique customs and flavorful food in the Muslim Quarter, street stalls and small restaurants around the city. The smell of far-eastern spices wafts through the air as you take in the sites. Stop by a food cart to taste spicy lamb skewers, lamb dumplings, BBQ squid, Chinese hamburgers and Eight Treasure Rose Mirror Cake, to name a few. The current restored city wall dates back over 600 years.
Just 300 meters from the city's South gate is a wonderful opportunity to have a rest and treat yourself to some amazing craft beer. Opened a little over two years ago, Near Wall Bar & Xian Brewery has 5 taps of craft beer brewed on site. Brewmaster Jon Therrian arrived in China 2 1/2 years ago and has just opened his second brewery in the arty and fashionable district of Qujiang near the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Brewery Xian has a main floor brewery/taproom, an upstairs restaurant with 12 taps and full kitchen, and a third floor nanobrewery; everything is bigger and better than the original. I was fortunate to be able to spend some time chatting with Therrian on two separate trips to Xi'an in the last year. My first meeting was at the original Near Wall Bar and Xian Brewery in September 2015. It was a busy day with brewing in full swing and a homebrewers club weekly brew-up meeting happening at the same time. Jon's roots are in Ohio, where he started his career by going to college to study finance and entrepreneurship. The finance side wasn't to be a lasting pursuit. Shortly after college, he ended up in Portland OR and found his passion. Jon discovered that he loved drinking West Coast craft beers and experimenting with his own homebrewing. Through a friend's recommendation, he decided to do a 15-week course at Brew Lab in Sunderland, North East England. Returning to his hometown in Ohio, Jon kept in touch with a fellow class-
mate from China, Xing Lei, who would eventually become his business partner in Xi'an. A few years later, while working at Cellar Rats in Madison OH, Jon received an invitation to go to China and make nanobrews for a 12-seat lounge. Two years later, he is serving up the best beer in Xi'an, with two separate breweries and 12 different beers. Their new facility can seat up to 200 guests. To ramp it up even more, Jon and Lei have partnered with a restaurateur, Zhang Huan, who has two Western-style cafes producing the best North American menu in the city. I had a Mushroom Ham & Cheese burger with fries and a Cobb Salad. I would have to say it surpassed what I have eaten in some Vancouver brewpubs. I was interested to find out how running a brewery in China works with a North American at the helm, relying on local talent to make it all work. Jon states "At Near Wall Bar, we have a handyman and his wife that open up every day. Slowly,but surely I've let him do more and more, and he has become a great brewer. Also another—a nineteen year old that works at the bar and can fix any motorbike—is doing a great job. I think in another 6 months these guys will be able to brew on their own." Therrian continues, "I also run a homebrewer club where we meet every Tuesday to make 20 litre brews, then on Mondays we taste it." Ingredients and space are donated by Jon. He recently hired one of the club members as his chief assistant in the new brewery pub. Sounds like a win-win deal! Craft beer in China is now found in many of the larger cities. I asked Jon about an overview of the craft brewery scene in China. Jon replies, "the craft scene is really moving along. I was just in Shanghai at the end of May for Shanghai Craft Beer Festival. People like Michael Jordan from Boxing Cat have been around forever—he has an amazing pedigree and is making great beer! Up in Beijing you have Karl at Great Leap who makes 15 beers and has 3 locations and then Slow Boat with Chandler [Jurinka]. The guys that are doing it right—we know who we are. Craft in China is a little underground, but it is there, it is vibrant, and if you look around, you are going to find a lot of great beers. There is talk of an association to help people collaborate and work together. Individually we are all making beer in our own cities really well. Drink fresh; drink local; local craft beer is healthy." I asked Jon about the technical side of brewing in China. "We are lucky the water is good in both of our bars. We had it tested - it doesn't need much adjustment. We filter it also. The ingredients such as hops are now being purchased from
Yakima Valley, New Zealand, and some parts of Europe. Malt is sourced from Australia, Holland and Germany." Jon states that “as craft brewing gets bigger around the world the brewer needs to be more creative with the sources." New Zealand produces lots of great hops; he’s experimenting with best ways to use them. In his 60 litre nanobrewery, Jon experiments with different recipes which he serves as limited releases to test the market before committing to a 1000 L brew. There seems to be a perfect mix of culture and craft 2600 year old Tankard beer emerging in China. A typical day of touring can start in the street markets that open at sunrise, with a breakfast of famous Xi'an street food, followed by sightseeing and lunch, then late afternoon at a craft brewery for a tour and a flight of beer. Settle in for a pint or two of your favorite selections off the beer list and enjoy some music and great pub food. Some of the beers currently on tap include Kolsch, Classic Wit, Citra IPA, White Warrior IPA, Milk Stout, NZ Brown Ale, and Coffee Stout. Sound good to you? During my visit to China I also traveled to Zhengzhou - a nearby city with a history going further back than Xi'an. In the museum I found a display of drinking vessels. A few looked like beer tankards from the Xia Dynasty (2070 bc - 1600 bc). The Chinese brought us the Four Great Inventions: compass, gunpowder, writing, and paper. Could beer be the 5th Great Invention?
Brewery Xian #9 Yannan 1 Lu, Man Di Guang Chang Xi Ce (029) 8955 7872 10:00am – Midnight Near Wall Bar and Xian Brewery No.40 West Section of Shuncheng South Road South Gate, Beilin District Xi'an, China
Brian K. Smith, MPA is a PPOC Master of Photographic Arts and a member of the BC Association of Travel Writers. He offers historical/ culinary/craft beer tours to China and other asian destinations. Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org
>> Lynn McIlwee A Copenhagen Beer Celebration lized, but perhaps that correlates with how expensive it is to live there. If you’re visiting, bring a big bucket full of money. Then get another bucket, fill that one up and hope it’s enough. My credit card had to take an Epsom salt bath to recover from the workout it got but I don’t regret visiting. In fact, I’d return. So there, crappy Canadian dollar.
openhagen - home of the Little Mermaid and about 100 Mikkeller beer destinations. Ok fine, maybe not 100, but there’s Mikkeller and Friends, Mikkeller Bar, Warpigs, Koelschip, Øl & Brød, Ramen to Bíiru, not to mention the bottle shop and Mikropolis. Wait, did I hear the sound of Spontanbeerbar hatching? I think another one just opened. In some cities, dominance by a brewery or company can mean one thing - the same menu and atmosphere in every location. Not so with the restaurants and bars that Mikkel Borg Bjergsø creates. It’s evident that he wanted to change the beer landscape in Copenhagen (and later, the world), but not by cloning his bars and just plunking them down in different areas of Copenhagen. Warpigs is BBQ heaven and I’m guessing you know what Ramen to Bíiru is; both, in their own right, are good restaurants with great beer lists. The beer bars all vary as well and host numerous special events. Mikkel brings all the special beer to the yard. We were in town for the Copenhagen Beer Celebration (the other CBC) and as this is a week-long celebration of beer, special events were plentiful. Even the infamous Shaun Hill from Hill Farmstead came out and brought a mind-blowing number of bottled beers and kegs from his Vermont brewery. To say that Warpigs was packed that day is an understatement. We watched people heading to the table with a pour of every beer. That’s right, 20 glasses for the table, sometimes supplemented with bottles, marching past us as we stood in line like kids waiting to visit Santa. Not sure Shaun was up for us sitting on his lap to take awkward photos, but I hear he’s a pretty easy-going guy, so he’d probably be cool with this. Copenhagen, originally a Viking fishing village, is populated with over two million people covering the metropolitan area, 600,000 of which inhabit the municipal area. As with many European cities, it’s very bike-friendly and the roadways are structured to play nicely with the bicyclists, unlike Belgium, where I was almost run over thanks to my own stupidity (not looking left as I stepped out on the sidewalk. Almost became tourist roadkill there). Copenhagen seems much more civi-
If you have a penchant for amazing bottle lists, hit up Himmeriget Ølbar, owned by Mikkeller’s own Evil Twin, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø. Himmeriget translates to Kingdom of Heaven - take me now, sweet baby Jesus, if this is where I get to rest in the afterlife. This may be the best bottle list I’ve come across in any city. Page after page after page of beers. Sigh. The tap list and bourbon selection are top notch, or as the kids would say, on fleek (did I do that right?).
Click to view your personal tour map Denmark is renowned for its cuisine, from smørrebrød (openfaced sandwiches) to world-class restaurants such as Noma. We were fortunate enough to try out two: Ida Davidson for smørrebrød and Relae for the upper-end meal. Unlike Noma, Relae was easy to get a reservation on a Tuesday evening and didn’t make my wallet recoil when the bill came. It has a down-to-earth feel and a relaxed, yet impressive, service team. Plus, you get your own personal silverware drawers at the table. You choose from four or seven courses, paired with wine if you choose, and relish in the simplicity of the flavours. I highly recommend Relae, which has been honoured as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. If you’re planning a European trip, add Copenhagen to the list as you can’t go wrong with the scenery, food and, of course, beer. For a more detailed review of the venues, visit my website HopsCanary. Here’s a bonus map for your use http://bit. ly/2aUBgpr. Cheers!
On HopsCanary.com, Lynn writes about our beer related travel around the world, beer festivals, local beer events and other beer topics of interest.
Books In Review
>> Ted Child Reading Fiction #1: The Misfortunates
he front cover of The Misfortunates, written by Belgian Dimitri Verhulst, depicts four small, indistinct men floating in a gigantic glass of beer. As they look on, a huge wave is about to engulf them. This image is an apt metaphor for the lives of the four characters as depicted in the book. The book is a group of loosely-linked stories about being raised by a heavy drinking father and his two equally heavy drinking brothers. If you’re looking for a nice, pleasant summer beach read this might be the perfect one, provided your pleasant is black, almost gallows, humour and your summer beach is a dank, dark pub. Some of these pages are so soaked in swill you can almost smell the cheap lager, Interestingly, before the book starts, Verhulst denies that any of the characters are based on real people but on “an understanding of human nature”. This is intriguing since it would be very easy to read this as a semi-autobiography. For instance, the main character is called Dmitri, and there are a bunch of other details that make one think these stories are mostly based on real events. There’s also the nature of the stories, very honest looks at life, aging, dying, poverty, self-destruction and the effects of drink, that give the impression that much of the book is semi-autobiographical. That said, there is a lot to be said for reading this more as fiction. Some of the anecdotes are so grim that it might hurt less to read them as fiction. Also, some of the stories are so absurd and/ or include what could only be considered a punch line that, even if the stories are based in reality, there is clearly some fictional manipulation going on. One important question, at least for this column, is the big one of, “Does it drink?” (i.e. can or should you have a beer in your hand while you read it?). I found this book works both ways, with or without a beer. In general, the beer-soaked stories seem to alternate with non-drinking related stories, maybe to give the reader a chance to recover. In many ways, this
book is relating a lifestyle or cultural way of life that might be lost to us, that of the male-centric heavy-drinking pub culture. In many ways Dmitri’s father and uncles, at least in how they drink, remind me of my own father and uncles. Nostalgia is too kind a word for a generation of absent husbands/fathers but yet it does provoke something to remember those long jovial hours in the pub. Mostly though, as I sipped on my beer (‘cause I’m no guzzler) and read these sometimes outrageous drinking stories, I felt glad I wasn’t going to wake up with a hangover. Some of the drinking described in this book just sounds like a lot of hard and painful work, which might be why it’s more enjoyable to read about it than to experience it. Verhulst is a solid writer whose major strength in this novel is his ability to create strong emotional effect. One can read many novels and feel almost nothing, ever. In The Misfortunates Verhulst is able to manipulate his stories into creating powerful emotional resonance, from laugh-out-loud humour to a sincere melancholy, specifically at the mental deterioration of his grandmother. This is a rare skill, not only to provoke one emotion in a reader but to then create a completely different one in the next story. This book might be dark at times but there has to be something said for this much unflinching truth about life. The Misfortunates is an undeniably powerful, well written book with loads of emotional punch that might be even be more powerful if the reader can relate more closely to the tiny figures shown on the cover. As a post script, there was a Belgian movie made. It is a fairly faithful adaptation that unfortunately loses most of the humour and affection, specifically in the characterization of the father, who is portrayed as violent, abusive and selfish. It is quite somber and doesn’t drink at all, in my opinion.
>> John Rowling A harvest of BC beer news of marketing and sales at Central City Brewing in Vancouver. Barry Fisher said that the long-term plan is for all operations and decision-making to remain on Vancouver Island and that the brewery will continue to operate independently.
Canadian Brewing Awards The Canadian Brewing Awards were held in Richmond (near Vancouver) in late May 2016, with over 3,000 beers entered in 55 categories. British Columbia breweries took home 52 of the 163 medals awarded. Vancouver's Four Winds Brewing, last year's Canadian Brewery of the Year, won Beer of the Year for its delicious Nectarous Dry-Hopped Sour. Four Winds won two golds, a silver and a bronze. Brewery of the Year went to Side Launch Brewing Company of Collingwood, Ontario.
Vancouver Island Sold (the Brewery, Not the Island!)
n mid-June, Barry Fisher announced that the venerable Vancouver Island Brewery (VIB) had been sold to Bob MacDonald, from Ontario. This is big news for Victoria: when the brewhouse (140 hectolitres, or 120 barrels) was installed at the brewery, it was the largest craft brewing plant in British Columbia. Since then, it has been mostly underutilized, and indeed, the brewery management never seemed to have a clear vision about what direction they were taking the company. VIB was started in 1984 as Island Pacific Brewing at an industrial site north of Victoria. In 1986, Barry Fisher became a partner and eventually took over as president of the company. In 1992, the name was changed to Vancouver Island Brewery, and in 1995, the entire brewery was moved into downtown Victoria in an attempt to become more involved in the community. â€œVancouver Island Brewery's new owner, Bob MacDonald, says he intends to make Vancouver Island's beers competitive in the rapidly evolving craft beer market.â€œ Bob MacDonald, the new owner, is a partner in Muskoka Brewery and the founder of Wakefield Canada, the Canadian distributor of Castrol motor lubricants. Gary McMullen founded Muskoka in Bracebridge, Ontario in 1996 to realize his passion for making beer. The brewery has been a great success, and when McMullen saw that an expansion was needed, he brought in Bob MacDonald as an investor. MacDonald says he intends to make VIB beers competitive in the rapidly evolving craft beer market. To this end, he has hired Tim Barnes to be the new president of VIB. Barnes was formerly vice president
bc beer beat
Also from Vancouver, Off The Rail Brewing won two golds and a bronze medal. Townsite Brewing in Powell River did very well this year, with a gold and two silver medals. Powell Street Craft Brewery won two silvers and a bronze medal. Altogether, 31 British Columbian breweries won a medal, which means that wherever you are in the province, you are not far from a prizewinning brewery.
World Beer Cup Congratulations to all of the breweries that entered the World Beer Cup competition (also held in May, in Philadelphia). First off, the odds are phenomenally stacked against you. With 6,596 entries and some classes loaded, it takes guts to enter and a great deal of brewing skill to win a medal. So a special tip of the hat to a couple of Vancouver breweries: 33 Acres won a silver medal for its Belgian-style tripel, called 33 Acres of Euphoria, and Powell Street Craft Brewery won a bronze medal in the Extra Special Bitter category for Old Jalopy Pale Ale. A new Alberta brewery, Troubled Monk of Red Deer, won a silver medal for its Open Road Brown Ale in the American-Style Brown Ale category.
HOPoxia The 2016 HOPoxia festival featured some very interesting beers. The sixth edition of this festival really was "Hoppy Beer Heaven in the Phillips Backyard." The first beer I tasted was one of the best. Suckerwit, as it's known at Swans in the pub, was a blend of a couple of Andrew Tessier's seasonals: Tessier's Witbier and Sucker Punch (dry-hopped with Citra hops and made with a mix of Lactobacillus strains). Tessier says that customers love the blends he has been putting on tap. Especially popular is a blend of the IPA and the Wit, known as Half Wit IPA.
John and Carol Rowling, pioneers in the BC craft beer scene, have been testing and tasting BC beer for 25 years. Read John's column in Celebrator.
Out and About
>> Scottie McLellan On the Summer Trails
hat’s Brewing attends a lot of events. The craft movement is so large there are continually events everywhere, so we try and catch what we can. Here are some of our most recent adventures in Summer 2016. John has already covered Phillips Hopoxia. This hop-centered event showcases BC beers from everywhere we can imagine around BC. Let’s face it, we’re pushing 140 craft breweries in BC. Breweries get themselves into the mix. As always the food truck was excellent and the DJ had good real beer flow going on for this outdoor annual event. The Phillips Team put on a good gig and all the regulars of the hop are about. Homeboys. Owner Matt, friend to all of us, is always on hand.
Great Okanagan Beer Festival May 14, Kelowna Yes we were here again. People now say “Hey, its What’s Brewing!” when they see me in our yellow t-shirt. Well organized, great volunteers, no drinking for servers as is the law. Craft Brewers spread out throughout the grounds and waterside trails. Kelowna Rocks and so do the folks. We met great people walking the beer walk. Ya’ll are a good lot. Thanks for talking with What’s Brewing -we love you. Please look us up and join us. Thanks to the beer folk around Kelowna and the local breweries, Tree and BNA. The Beer spots of choice for What’s Brewing: The Curious, The Train Station, Mission Tap House and all around town on Festival Weekend; great vibes. We all know now that real beer is here to stay. Yet the discussion now is with the people who don’t realize there is a whole new world of taste and flavour swirling around them. They always buy what they always buy and no one will make them change kind of rap. Hopefully they’ll go through a period in their life when they have to go seek out the beers they swear by. We pioneers did and life always comes around full circle and you’ll have to go to another planet to get ****. We all know someone who is in this category. It’s fun. The current scene, to see events and tastings, dinners, stores, and pubs doing everything they can to push the beer movement to new heights.
1st Annual Beer & Food Fest Aug 06, Chemainus At Waterwheel Park in downtown. This was their 1st go round into doing a festival. It lived up to its name, bringing together great beers and local foods in a spirit of easy going community . Like I remember in the UK, outside the pub on summer nights with friends, having a jar and talking about beer, that feeling. What’s Brewing thought the energy was relaxed and many educated questions and discussions were being had throughout the festival square. The back ground music was entertaining and food was just excellent. In attendance for this first annual: Don Bradley original Bowen Island Brewing co., Barry Ladell original Longwood, Paddy Trevor CAMRA Powell River and so it goes. Organizing Vice Chair of this event was our own Gary Saville beer pioneer. Living and bringing it to Duncan. Thanks for, when seeing our distinctive What’s Brewing shirts, saying you’ve had a look at our publication. See you on the circuit. If you’re a business, advertising in whatsbrewing .ca is the bargain of the year. We are all volunteers and make nothing. Bring your beer friendly skills, join us!
Scottie is a longtime supporter of of BC’s Craft Beer Movement, and has been reporting for What's Brewing for 25 years.
bc beer beat
A BC Craft Cider Primer
ou, as a fan of good beer, are keenly supportive of the ‘craft revolution’ that has seen the rebirth of small breweries in North America and elsewhere over the past generation. You will be proud to know that this beer renaissance has helped pave the way for the growth of similar craft beverage categories such as distilled spirits, mead, and today’s topic: craft cider, a classification with a lot of upside.
Back to the the future The “modern” craft cider scene is, in a way, not modern at all: it’s largely about retracing the past, and (as it was with the craft beer movement) going back to the roots of what the beverage used to be. A new wave of small BC cideries are largely adopters of century-plus-old approaches: namely, growing apples, crushing them and fermenting the juice by hand. Fact #1 that you learn in Cider School is that most of the apples you’ve eaten in your life belong to a category called “dessert apples”. These eating apples tend to be on the sweet side. On the tart side, you have crabapples (maybe you ate those as a kid) and even more palate-challenging species that aren’t sold for eating, but which are dandy for pressing into fermentable juice. Fruits in the latter category are often known as ‘cider apples’. Part of the discovery of past methods has involved the recovery of long-forgotten heirloom cider apple varieties.
The macros take a bite Seizing on any trend, of course, is Big Beer; they’re smart enough to know that it’s time to squeeze some ever-rarer growth opportunity out of those juicy apples. In the US, everybody’s friend AB InBev has marketed a brand named Johnny Appleseed for a few years, and MillerCoors has an equivalent Smith & Forge Hard Cider brand. Sales performance has been mixed, The closest thing to these industrial giants that qualifies as craft is Boston Beer Co. Apparently the makers of Sam Adams still have the craft sensibilities to pull off a massive cider play; their Angry Orchard banner has at times owned close to 50% of the US cider retail category. Of course, these monolithic brewers are not what we call ‘craft cider’ here at What’s Brewing.
How our BC scene took root As was largely the case with our beer scene, the seeds of our BC cider culture sprouted toward the South end of Vancouver Island a few decades ago. Widely known as BC’s first estate cidery, Merridale Estate Cidery (in Cobble Hill, south of Duncan) dates back to 1987, placing it amongst the very pioneers in the modern BC craft beverage scene. Longtime patrons of the Great Canadian Beer Festival are well aware of how long Merridale has been a fixture there; for 20+ years they have manned the ‘token cider booth’ at Beerfest. More recently, Sea Cider of Saanichton came along in 2007, and has stuck it out with their distinctive, highly-decorated hard fruit beverages. Along with Tod Creek and Saltspring Wild Cider, these trailblazing constituents reflect the Island region’s famous capacity for independent thinking. Now the BC hotspot seems to be the Okanagan, with its immense capacity for orchards, leading to the feature on page 10.
Growing Hops cont'd Steve figured brewers would value variety, but later discovered diversity worked against him. Alpha Acid tests are used to standardize use of hops, but cost $80 annually for each strain. As this would have greatly reduced his profit, he’s never had this done. This year he replanted, focusing on Chinook, Centennial and Cascade. He kept a few original plants for his own brewing purposes and the rest were sold. Hopefully, being able to do Alpha Acid testing will attract more interest in his hops this year. The setup of his yard was pretty DIY, sourcing the most affordable materials he could find and enlisting help of friends and family. While AGWASHY is not certified organic, it’s not far off either. He hasn’t sprayed at all this year, and although there are some aphids, the local ladybug population seems to keep them at bay. There is a flurry of work once the shoots come up - setting up the strings, training the bines, and cutting back all but the strongest two shoots. During the fall he has help from family and friends to pick, dry, and pack the harvest. I asked Steve if he would recommend backyard hop farming as a home business after his five years of trial and error. He chuckled and said that maybe for a home brewer planting several varieties using a maypole trellis system could be fun and economical. One of the challenges of being a small-scale commercial grower is the expensive infrastructure, such as harvesting equipment. Steve built his own picker and sorter last year, but it didn’t quite do the job, so he’s back to the drawing board. Producing the final product is labour intensive at this stage, and risky without a committed customer at the end of the year. Breweries have been fickle in their interest so far and Steve feels that selling his crop to another producer or a co-op would offer him the best chance of success.
A New Model I spoke with Sam Quinlan, who founded Bitterbine Farm in 2009. Located in the unique microclimate of Lillooet, it was the 2nd commercial hop yard of the new wave. The business has now expanded to include 6 other farms in the area in a type of cooperative. Harvesters Of Organic Hops uses a central processing facility and sells the hops collectively. Sam said that a hop producer needs at least 20-40 acres to be competitive. Small hop yards struggle with infrastructure investment and may not have the marketing ability to interest breweries. A cooperative structure provides guidance to growers and produces the volume necessary to get commitment from a brewery. Currently, Dogwood Brewing is using their hops and is a huge supporter. Sam is also working on starting an Organic Hop Association of BC, which will further develop the industry’s collective interests, give BC hops a brand, and maintain quality standards. He feels that hop growing is “sexy” right now, but the picture isn’t all rosy; too many people go into hop farming without having a clear understanding of what is required to be profitable, especially in the long run. There are many failures that no one hears about, and the BC industry still needs to prove itself to local breweries and beyond. Certainly his insights provide some food for thought for the developing industry in the Thompson Okanagan and beyond.
Chelsea McDowell is the communications manager for CAMRA South Okanagan; more of her writing can be found at www.brewtifulbc.ca.
South Okanagan cont'd still going strong with 5 year-round brews and a seasonal regularly on tap. The biggest seller is the Mustang Pale Ale, named after a horse (as are all the beers) in reference to the past owner's love of all things equestrian.
was, complete with patio and pool access via sliding glass doors. But the best part had to be its beer-centric casual dining restaurant, known as the Kettle Valley Station Pub.
Where To Eat: Kettle Valley Station
Did you know that the Mill packages beer? We were fortunate enough to get a personal tour from original brewer Ray Huson, who showed us how they can their Classic Draft Lager. In addition to being a great food & beverage spot, The Barley Mill is a shrine to sports memorabilia, especially hockey; former owner and Penticton native Larry Lund played alongside Gordie Howe in the World Hockey Association. His passion has left its mark on the walls of the brewpub, which is worth a wander around after youâ€™ve finished your meal.
Things To Do: HooDoo Adventures
Chef James Bryan: way more than pizza at KVS If you're lucky enough to meet the guy pictured above, you're in for a good conversation. Down to earth, but with skills well beyond those of your average pub chef, James Bryan brings his wide international experience to bear at the Ramada. He can rattle off stories from European kitchens and dish on the BC craft beer scene, one which he's long helped support. No wonder CAMRA South Okanagan had its first meetings here.
Where To Eat: Craft Corner Kitchen This new addition to Pentictonâ€™s culinary scene follows three main principles: Sharing (ie, small plates encouraged), Experimenting (Chef James Holmes is given free rein; try the vegetarian tacos with crumbled potato chips) and sourcing Local. That goes for their beer and beverage selection too.
Your host Mike Hill knows his stuff OK, you've just spent a couple of days doing nothing but eating and drinking. Let's look for something more active to do while in Penticton, but without getting too adventurous. Hoodoo Adventures has the perfect plan: the Spirited Brews Cruise. This easy, guided cycle tour down the Kettle Valley Rail Trail includes stops at 2 craft distilleries and 2 craft breweries. We enjoyed beer and pizza at Bad Tattoo at the end of our trip. See? More eating and drinking. We've got your back. Housed inside a large warehouse space with a climbing wall, Hoodoo specializes in various outdoor activities like biking, kayaking, climbing, or hiking. You can just rent a bike or kayak from them, get a ride with their shuttle, or book one of their other guided tours. Mike Hill, shuttle driver, tour guide, and husband to owner Lyndie Hill is quite knowledgeable about the local history and geography, and will regale you with facts and stories as he drives you to the beginning of your adventure.
Where To Stay: Ramada Inn Coming to Penticton? Look no further for accomodation than the local Ramada. It punches above its weight in terms of quality; we were shocked how beautiful our (regular) room
Owner Jonathan Cote is a mixologist working hard to support local distillers and bring back the craft in cocktails. He has a special interest in the Tiki culture of the mid-20th Century. If you ask, he's sure to make up something special for you. Make a note: CAMRA BC members get 15% off.
Summerland Of course the entire Okanagan area is dotted with wineries, but an even better idea (we think) to visit Summerland is for its two significant craft cideries. Turn to our feature on page 10 for more about Summerland Heritage and Dominion Cider. Cideries abound throughout the Okanagan. Visit our BC Craft Map for more listings.
Where To Eat: Local Lounge + Grill After visiting Summerland's cideries, a stop for lunch or dinner at the Local Lounge is a must. Set on the shores of Okanagan Lake, Local is an upscale pub and restaurant that focuses on serving fresh, local food with BC wines and craft beverages. If you're a pizza fan, don't be shy to try a 'flatbread'; unlike most tiny pub meals tagged with that name, it's immense. Proprietor Cameron Bond is deeply knowledgeable about the craft beer scene, so tell him you're a fan of beer magazines.
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