A BRAVE NEW WAVE 0s Sampler
Four examples of BC brewers whose reputations were defined during the 1990s by then-ambitious creations such as those shown at right: Gary Lohin, Bill Herdman, James Walton and Iain Hill
t the root of the 1980s craft beer revolution was a desire to restore traditional beer styles. Case in point: CAMRA's stated focus on 'real ale', and UK expat John Mitchell's interest in serving a "proper pint" with help from Frank Appleton. Over at Granville Island Brewing, and especially Okanagan Spring with brewer Stefan Tobler, 1980s brewers would pay respect to German traditions as well. In the 1990s, a new generation who had learned their skills both as homebrewers and on the job at 1980s-era breweries broke away from those traditions. They followed trends coming from the increasingly hops-centric Northwest USA, experimented with stronger UK and Belgian beer styles, and pushed the limits of brewing long before the craft beer audience was ready to support them. Compare the sampler pack above with what most breweries and brewpubs were turning out during this era, when Pale Ale was still adventurous for the general public. Like listening to Hendrix 50 years later, it's easy to underestimate just how ahead of the curve these beers were in context; many would have been downright commercially unadvisable to brew. However, a key definition of this sampler listing is that these now-celebrated creations were not just obscure, forgotten one-off brewpub experiments. Certain brewers had the freedom in their workplace to run more adventurous brews on a somewhat regular basis, and they pushed their management, staff and clientele toward accepting new styles. For that reason, most of the examples above were "committed to" (released for sale in packaged or kegged form, or put into recurring taproom rotation) and many are still being made today in the same or reworked form.
COQUITLAM BREWING CO (LEGENDS, 2000)
FAT CAT BREWERY
LONGWOOD BREW PUB
OLD YALE BREWING COMPANY
18 WHAT'S BREWING S U M M E R 2020
Tall Ship IPA Bengal IPA A Hurricane IP eam IPA B d an ck ri B Coffee Ale Continental oked Por ter Tall Ship Sm e Stout Black Plagu Stout sian Imperial us R Tall Ship l Wheat Hill's Specia ream Ale Raspberry C ur Ale ders Red So Imperial Flan bic Storm Lam Oud Bruin Ale age Strong Storm Dam ine W y 1 Barle Tall Ship No. ine W y le mer Bar Thor's Ham Iain ill, James & xoxo Gary, B
Who else is somewhere on this mountain? It is exceptionally bold to paste these four heads on a photo of Mount Rushmore when there are dozens of other highly skilled and motivated BC brewmasters of this era who could be recognized. There were other '90s brewers who could push the envelope, but some will not have had the opportunity to be as widely celebrated for it. Nevertheless, the list of outstanding '90s BC brewers includes respected names such as David Beardsell, Shirley Warne, Harley Smith, Barry and Lon Ladell, Sean Hoyne, Bart Larsen, Mike Kelly, Don Moore, Michael Stewart and Rick Dellow. Around the turn of the century, Matt Phillips, Conrad Gmoser, Derrick Franche, Tony Dewald, Tim Brown and many others were becoming known to their breweries' fans. Victoria's brewpubsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Spinnakers, Swans and Canoeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;turned out numerous great brewers, as did the Mark James platoon on the mainland. However, we'll have to save the comprehensive list for the coffee table book version of this retrospective. For now, accept the disclaimer that our mountain is limited to a very specific and sparsely documented moment in BC beer history. Now, let's hear what a few of the aforementioned brewers can tell us about working in the 1990s.
BIG RIVER KELOWNA (FREDDY'S, 2001; MILL CREEK)
PHILLIPS BREWING COMPANY
THE CANNERY BREWING COMPANY
CENTRAL CITY BREW PUB
FERNIE BREWING COMPANY