What's Brewing Fall 2020

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Virtual Industry roundtable • Session Beers • Travel During COVID • Kelowna’s Beer Districts • Susi Foerg • Welton Brewery Vol. 30 Issue 3 Fall 2020

BC's Beer Influencers:

GETTING THE WORD OUT AT A PIVOTAL TIME

BC BREWERIES ADAPT TO SURVIVE



IS VOL.30

SUE 3

Photo: Brian K. Smith

FALL 2020 THE JOURNAL OF BC'S CRAFT BEER MOVEMENT It's been this many years for Canada's original beer radio show

What's Brewing

CONTENTS LOCKDOWN LOGBOOK 5

OPENING REMARKS THESE UNUSUAL TIMES

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AN IN-CIDER'S VIEW DELIVERING THE GOODS

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A PIVOTAL MOMENT OUR VIRTUAL INDUSTRY ROUNDTABLE

THE INFLUENCERS 11

WHAT'S BREWING BIOGRAPHY STILL HERE FOR THE BEER

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CRAFT BEER SUPERFANS AN INFLUENCER MEETUP

DRINKING SMART IN ISOLATION 19

STREET LEGAL CUTTING OUT BOOZE, BUT NOT BEER

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TASTING PANEL COCOONING IN SESSION: LOWER ABV BEERS

TOURING, TRAVEL & REGIONAL REPORTS

Produced by Line49 Design Group Inc. 300-1275 West 6th Avenue Vancouver BC V6H 1A6 info@whatsbrewing.ca www.whatsbrewing.ca Social: @whatsbrewingbc Editorial Group Editor & Publisher: Dave Smith Co-Editor: Paul Morris Associate Production Editor: Navin Autar Copy Editors: Wendy Barron, Ivana Smith Contact: editor@whatsbrewing.ca Hopline & Newsroom Associate Editor, Events: Edward Kaye Contact: events@whatsbrewing.ca Associate Editor, Newsroom: Navin Autar Contact: newsroom@whatsbrewing.ca Contributors: Mike Ansley, Adam Arthur, Warren Boyer, Adam Chatburn, Ted Child, Lundy Dale, Ed Kaye, Kim Lawton, Stewart 'Scottie' McLellan, Leif Miltenberger, Jeff Nairn, Mathieu Poirier, J. Random, Brian K. Smith, Paddy Treavor, Carnell Turton, Abby Wiseman, Malcolm Yates

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HAVE CAMERA WILL TRAVEL TOURING IN A TIME OF CHANGE

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BEERSEEKERS KELOWNA’S EMERGING BEER DISTRICTS

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A VIEW FROM THE CELLAR SIMON WELTON BRINGS BRITISH BEER BACK TO BC

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WOMEN OF BEER SUSI FOERG OF RUSTIC REEL

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BEERSEEKERS STRIKING GOLD IN KAMLOOPS

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BEERSEEKERS COMING HOME TO PENTICTON

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HIDDEN GEMS OF BC BREWING UP NEW MEMORIES IN THE EAST KOOTENAYS

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NORTHERN BC COMMUNITY, COLLABORATION AND CRAFT

Advertising & Corporate Sales sales@whatsbrewing.ca

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BOOKS IN REVIEW ALBERTA GETS ITS OWN BEER BOOK

© 2020 What's Brewing

Chief Photographer: Brian K. Smith Illustrator: Emile Compion @montevarious Cover background image: kjpargeter / Freepik Web & Admin: Navin Autar, Ligia Margaritescu, Susan Jones


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OPENING REMARKS THESE UNUSUAL TIMES

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e all know how much trouble things have been for small breweries during these very difficult times. It is written, spoken about and covered everywhere, including throughout this issue. I want to be brief on this matter as we’ve all had our fill of the daily doom and gloom.

COMMUNITY SUPPORTERS COULDN'T DO THIS WITHOUT YOU Here's a tip of the hat to the corporate supporters who bring this magazine to you.

We consumers have done our share to make the case for the Government to support craft brewers, and with great amazement the industry got extremely creative finding ways to make all kinds of things happen. It takes a strong constitution to face difficult times in business and yet persevere. Tip of the hat to all. We have followed in The Hopline all the diverse events and ways breweries have put their creative talents to work. New beers continue to roll out and new ideas continue to emerge from our wonderful BC Craft Beer industry. But it’s still the consumer that drives the business with their buying fresh and local. Now more than ever that has become the saving grace. Keep on, keeping on buying beers from your local brewery. You will continue to help the economy and an industry employing many people. From big cities to small hamlets, craft brewers provide a strong contribution to the economy. I don’t have any sage and wise words of wisdom to offer other than keep buying fresh and local; like it was from the start of the movement. That’s the key to the future. Scottie McLellan is a craft beer industry veteran and longtime supporter of BC’s Craft Beer Movement.

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LOCKDOWN LOGBOOK

AN IN-CIDER'S VIEW | column

DELIVERING THE GOODS IN QUARANTINE

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>> JEFF NAIRN

t’s amazing to think through the last six months – yes, March was six months ago – and not be humbled by what has happened to our world.

Nathaly and I were talking about how swiftly our worlds changed during the second and third week of March. The first week of March, we were astonished by how fast the coronavirus ripped through Italy. The second week, we watched as it took hold here in North America. My family enjoyed a great day of skiing up at Whistler one weekend and the next week, the virus seriously took hold. That Saturday, Vancouver’s brewery tasting rooms, restaurants, and bars had one of their biggest days of the year. Some brewery friends recorded their biggest revenue days since opening. Sunday, Whistler shut down. Monday, the bars and restaurants shut down. Tuesday, we were in lockdown. The 24-hour news cycle changed as lockdown after lockdown was announced, Donald Trump held the most astonishing press conferences, and our Prime Minister’s wife was diagnosed with the disease. It wasn’t a 24hour cycle anymore, it was hourly. And it was scary. 2020 was to be a big year for us at Windfall Cider. We doubled our sales in 2019 over 2018, and 2020 was going to be a breakout year–a triple over the last year. The Windfall Wagon Good fortune allowed us to front-run over half of our production for the year late in February, but we were now sitting on pallet after pallet of canned product and over 250 full kegs that we looked increasingly unlikely to be able to sell. No-one knew if the lockdown was going to last for a month, two months, or six months.

Nathaly Nairn: bringing the cider to you er Brewing, Sundown Brewing and later Powell Brewing. Deliveries included our cider, beer from the three breweries, and Girl Guide Cookies, which turned out to be a big hit! It’s hard to overstate how important this pivot was to our business, our family rhythm, and our sanity during that two-month lockdown. It certainly helped generate some much-needed cash flow for all our businesses and it gave us something to do every day besides home schooling our 10-year-old daughter. We came to a point of delivering two days a week as we divided the work between all the organizations. From nine to noon every day was home schooling, then putting together deliveries at Container. Our social bubble during those two months of lockdown included the skeleton staff of each of the breweries. Our favourite part of the day was being at home at 7 pm, cheering and making noise for healthcare workers. Our nook at Woodland and 10th Avenue was particularly boisterous.

We’d gotten fairly close to the group that opened Container Brewing over the previous months: Terry, Dan, Katie and the rest of the team. My wife, Nathaly, and I had visited the brewery regularly since they opened in November and had good conversations about business that formed friendships. Their tasting room was now closed, their keg accounts were done, and there was no way of knowing how long their liquor store contacts would still be ordering their beer. We faced much the same prospect, as did every single small beverage operation in the province and across the country.

A day of deliveries took us through most of the city and many outlying areas. We put a lot of mileage on as things ramped up over the first two weeks of our lockdown, and would eventually have two drivers on the road during peak days. I’ve talked to many people since things began to reopen. Those who were still commuting to their workplaces felt like they were moving around a ghost town. Streets were empty. Buildings were boarded up. On delivery days, we almost had the road to ourselves, but there were still some crazies on the road; speeding, U-turns, running lights and stop signs, you name it. Traffic decorum went out the window in those times.

The lockdown happened on a Monday. We had a home delivery option up and running by Wednesday, teaming up with Contain-

Every one of us came away from the experience with some interesting stories. Delivering to folks that lived alone and hadn’t been Continued on page 41

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XXXXXXXX LOCKDOWN | XXXXXXXX LOGBOOK

A PIVOTAL MOMENT: BREWERIES COMPARE NOTES IN OUR VIRTUAL INDUSTRY ROUNDTABLE Patio at BNA Brewing in Kelowna

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or BC breweries, 2020 has been a year like no other. To get specific about what the industry has been through, we reached out to management at .

Our province-wide panel includes Andrés Amaya of Yeast Van's Andina Brewing, Jill Jarrett of Kelowna's BNA Brewing, Arnold Tobler of Langley's Farm Country, Susi Foerg of Rustic Reel in Kelowna's North End, Megan Durno of Mighty Peace in Fort St. John, Sam Payne of The Parkside Brewery on Port Moody's #BrewersRow, Chris Bunnage of Freddy's Brewpub in Kelowna, Chloe Smith of Townsite Brewing in Powell River, and the two Kents: Mr. Donaldson of Golden's Whitetooth Brewing and Mr. Orton of Wheelhouse Brewing in Prince Rupert. Appropriately for the moment, we present their responses in virtual group chat format. Direct your eyes also to our website for full-length one-on-one interviews with these industry insiders.

HOW BAD WAS THE INITIAL SHUTDOWN? Susi Foerg: Oh gosh. It has been haaaaaaard. Kent Donaldson: Does anybody anticipate a pandemic? You quickly adopt a siege mentality because your very existence as a going concern is at stake. Arnold Tobler: Shutting our doors after only 3 months was a real blow! Megan Durno: We went from about 15 staff members to 4. Andrés Amaya: We had to lay off 95% of our staff. Jill Jarrett: Having just completed a large tasting room expansion, we were frankly just lost. Almost everything we had invested into this business was aimed at having people in our space. It definitely felt like we had the rug pulled out from us. Chloe Smith: The chaos was incredibly difficult to navigate. I used our barrel room as a refuge for tears when I got overwhelmed. 8 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

WHAT WAS LOCKDOWN LIKE? HOW MUCH WERE YOU ABLE TO PIVOT TO PACKAGING, RETAIL, AND ONLINE SALES? We were fortunate to have a new canning line running in January. So when March lockdown started, we were able to quickly pivot to selling more packaged beer. I hadn’t planned to focus much on distribution, so when we shut down there was no other revenue stream coming in. We lost 100% of our draft accounts, including our own tasting room. Sam Payne: We went to 100% retail and off-sales. Zero tasting room sales. Luckily, our customers were extremely supportive and demand was steady [for retail sales]. We saw many of the same faces coming through the doors every week. An unexpected positive of our taproom closing was that our wholesale program really took off. Kent Orton: Closing our lounge meant a big reduction in revenue and took some soul-searching. Thankfully, we were able to quickly get our online store open. Like most others, we scrambled to get an online shop up & running. We’re definitely keeping it going, as there are many who don’t feel safe to venture out yet and they still need good beer! Chris Bunnage: This year, Freddy’s is undergoing a major renovation. Originally we were going to keep the brewpub side open during renovations, but with COVID capacity limitations that changed [the brewpub stayed closed, while the bowling and dining areas stayed open].


Susi Foerg

Megan Durno + Zach Mirosevic

Sam Payne

Kent Donaldson

Andrés Amaya

Arnold Tobler

Jill Jarrett

Chris Bunnage

HOW MUCH STAFFING HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO RETAIN?

In the week of March 16th we laid off 75% of our staff. We were able to bring back half of those, and have added a couple of tasting room positions as well. We consider ourselves extremely lucky; we did not lose any of our staff as they all returned to work with us. We have been able to bring back everyone who wanted to come back and actually had to hire a few more part time staff.

WE’VE HAD MANY CUSTOMERS ASK FOR STAFF TO REMOVE THEIR MASKS - JILL J.

We have been able to keep almost all our staff, but with half capacity we do not have the same number of hours to give.

Chloe Smith + Cédric Dauchot

It has been difficult with only 50% of occupancy in our lounge. Having to ask customers to follow the protocols has certainly been a challenge. Unfortunately, some people simply do not follow the rules.

Kent Orton

The most inconvenient thing is the increased cleaning and constant monitoring of seats in the tasting room. This requires additional staff but we can only have half the [customers], which equals less revenue. The only inconvenience we experience is spacing. We have a cozy taproom, and cannot fit as many tables as we once had. Transitioning to a table service room instead of the usual counter service has been a challenge but has gone really well of late. Inside, we are down from 100 seats to approximately 24. Outside, the inconvenient part specifically has been the rain.

We were very lucky to have positions for everyone to come back in some way once the doors were allowed to open again. We ended up hiring five new staff to be able to re-open!

HOW DID THINGS GO WITH REOPENING? WHAT WAS THE MOST INCONVENIENT ASPECT? Oof, it's been tough. The changing landscape of health orders has been hard to muddle through. HUGE shout-out to Ken Beattie and Monica Frost for communicating that info.

Social distancing on the Whitetooth patio. Photo: Kim Lawton

Closing the first time, then the aftermath of the Canada Day outbreaks in Kelowna damn near broke my spirit. It has been absolutely exhausting, heartbreaking, and scary as hell.

On one of our best sales days, it drizzled for 6 hours but customers were just stoic about it; they planted themselves at a table and persevered. Must have been some cabin fever being vented there.

Things have been a bit rocky. We’re trying to balance what guests want vs. what’s best for them while keeping our staff safe. For instance, we’ve had many customers ask for staff to remove their masks.

The lockdown definitely did delay our construction timeline on a few occasions, but we have an incredible team that is working hard to meet our re-opening date at the end of September in the brewpub area (see feature on Freddy's in this issue). Continued on page 10

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Continued from page 9

HOW IS TASTING ROOM TRAFFIC FOR YOU NOW, INCLUDING TOURISM VISITORS? The community has been so supportive over the past months. They have really shown up for all of us on #BrewersRow. Our lounge currently sees about 50% of the normal traffic pre-COVID 19. Things have been extremely erratic since opening back up. It has been really hard to find a steady flow; one weekend we are very busy, and the next extremely slow. Normally we'd have a lot of international visitors visiting the national parks by now, so that has entirely disappeared, but we've noticed Alberta traffic picking up for us. In the weeks since reopening, business had been increasing until Kelowna’s outbreak at the beginning of July. We are now organizing ourselves to start getting into distribution this Fall, because I need to be prepared if another wave shuts us down for some time. We’re grateful for the tourism, however I think the people coming in are keeping a lot of locals at home. Of course there are responsible tourists, but there are also many that think since they are on holiday, so is coronavirus, and obviously that’s not the case.

LOCKDOWN LOGBOOK | virtual roundtable

ARE YOU WAITING ON ANY LEGISLATION? WHAT DO YOU THINK GOVERNMENTS SHOULD BE DOING NEXT? We need a major 'support local' campaign. The BC LDB needs to step up and put BC craft beer front and centre on its shelves. The BC government stepped up big time with the school tax reduction for property taxes. The Federal and Provincial governments have been great about making money available for those who need it. Taking advantage of programs, particularly the Canada Small Business Financing Program through our bank, has helped. What people might not realize is that as a brand new startup, new breweries like ours don’t qualify for the COVID wage subsidy. Right now we are dealing with some issues for our temporary patio application with Langley City, but we hope to have that resolved soon so we can add 20-30 seats. Here’s hoping they leave the new patios all over BC, as I think it's been a relief. The patio/lounge extension allowance should be extended beyond October 31st, for at least one year or permanently. We've been trying for years to convince our municipal government to reduce the light industrial property tax rate, perhaps to harmonize with a much lower local business tax rate, but so far no traction. Frankly, we have fallen through almost every crack there is to fall through, and are digging ourselves out of a hole we didn’t create. Relying on the government is not a fun position to be in as a business.

ANY OTHER THOUGHTS? Andina Brewing: ready to serve

WHAT'S YOUR POLICY AROUND GROWLERS AND REFILLS? We have suspended all growler fills, even for new growlers, mainly due to logistics. Growler filling is labour intensive, and to have one more staff on shift just isn't feasible, so something had to give. We are providing growlers fills, but we advise customers that we are sanitizing them pre and post filling, making this a whole new process. Instead of just rinsing the inside of the bottle, we do spray a bit of sanitizer in there before we rinse. Our filling system has a distinct advantage over many others due to the fact that our hoses are detached and sanitized between every fill. 10 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

COVID-19 is here to stay and is not going anywhere until a proper vaccine is found. We all need to learn to live with this virus. With re-opening, it’s inevitable that we’re going to see more cases. We have to continue to make the smart decisions that allowed us to re-open in the first place.


THE INFLUENCERS

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AFTER TEN YEARS: STILL HERE FOR THE BEER >> DAVE SMITH British Columbia is home to many firsts in Canadian craft beer history. The province gave birth to the nation’s first microbrewery, its first brewpub and its oldest beer festival. In our last issue, we examined another pillar of the craft revolution: beer writing, in which passionate advocates document their experiences in print—or, using today’s technology, on their social media channel, blog or podcast. Podcasting. It’s the radio of the Internet. But craft beer is on the real, old-fashioned radio too. Google ‘Canadian beer radio show’ and you’ll find something called Just Here For The Beer, Canada’s original and longest-running all-beer talk show. It’s the broadcasting equivalent of just-referenced Horseshoe Bay Brewing, Spinnakers and Great Canadian Beer Festival. The story of Just Here For The Beer has special meaning for this author. It involves young people embarking on a bold adventure. It’s about pursuing a dream, even in the face of tragic loss. The tale begins 32 years ago when two college students become friends for life.

WHEN RICK MET COLIN

I

n 1988, Rick Mohabir enrolled at what is now Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Richmond campus. There, fate introduced him to a fellow with whom he had a lot in common. Like Rick, Colin Jack lived in Richmond’s Ironwood neighbourhood. Like Rick’s, Colin’s family was of Caribbean extraction, and both their fathers were teachers. “I used to give him rides home, because we lived not even a five-minute drive from each other,” Mohabir reminisces. “Our friendship just naturally evolved from there.” They remained friends well after their time at Kwantlen. Colin eventually transferred to the University of British Columbia in pursuit of his teaching degree, then in August 2004, he took a part-time job there as a mini school coordinator.

Photo: Brian K. Smith

In higher education, ‘mini schools’ handle basic non-credit general interest courses like photography, web design, and guitar. A popular theme at the time was wine tasting. Colin conspiratorially shared this tidbit with Rick, noting, “I don‘t know anything about wine. Why don’t we do a beer course?” Today, Rick admits that it seemed like a dumb idea at the time. But Vancouver did have a tiny craft beer movement, and the idea of beer tasting was just beginning to catch on. Somehow, Colin sourced a brewer to help teach the proposed course. One problem: nobody signed up for it. So, five buddies— Colin, his brother Byron, Rick, and their friends Zayvin and Roy—used its scheduled time slot to hang out, drink beer, and talk about what they tasted. Kind of like beer geeks will do on a bottle share, or on a podcast (that’s foreshadowing, folks). Colin didn’t give up on the idea of teaching beer appreciation. In early 2005, the course was offered again, and this time 17 people signed up. He broke the news to Rick: “Holy shit, what are we gonna do now?” They didn’t really know anything serious about beer, and they needed to learn fast. So they got to know a fellow named Dave Varga from Taylor’s Crossing brewpub in North Vancouver. Varga was kind enough to show the neophytes around the brewhouse and kickstart their learning. Today, there is much more of a network for this. A newbie who experiences their beer epiphany and decides to become an evangelist has a whole community of beer fans to help them along (as we’ll explore in this magazine’s next story). The JHFTB guys were not connected to any such network. There were small groups of beer fans like CAMRA BC, which produced a newsletter called What’s Brewing that members could write for, and which occasionally organized educational events. But there was no template for teaching a course about beer. “Slowly, we started to evolve the curriculum,” Rick recalls. “Zayvin and Colin and I just kind of split up the different areas based on our specialties. Coming from a business background, I handled the marketing and advertising side of it.” Through sheer enthusiasm, the youngsters made the idea work, and Just Here For The Beer Ltd. became an official entity. Continued on page 12

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Continued from page 11

Rick recalls, “In the five years we offered that course, we had people coming back each term. The students would travel during their summer break and bring back beers from Europe, Australia, or Southeast Asia for us to sample in class. The curriculum didn‘t really change, but the beers we brought in did.” Over time, the beers they brought in also got better. Asked what he considers his gateway to really appreciating craft, Mohabir identifies Central City’s Raspberry Wheat Ale as a turning point. He and Colin developed the ability to evangelize about beer, becoming self-styled ‘beer ambassadors’. The pair naturally found themselves attending some of the beer festivals available at the time. This led to thoughts about expanding their young beer business in a new direction.

SERVING VANCOUVER A BIG CUP OF BEER This author’s initial acquaintance with Colin Jack and Rick Mohabir was through our shared Caribbean ancestry. Once Colin and I discovered we were both beer fans, I learned what he and Rick had started with Just Here For The Beer. I watched what these two younger guys were doing with curiosity, impressed how they fearlessly waded into the “beer expert” pool and found acceptance. Going well beyond the initial idea of teaching a course, Colin and Rick began to think about putting on their own beer events. One of the first they attempted was a wine and beer festival at UBC’s Student Union Building in March 2005. Rick characterizes it as a success. It led to bigger things. In September 2005, I ran into Colin and Rick roaming the grounds at Victoria’s annual Great Canadian Beer Festival. They and their friends were all wearing Just Here For The Beer T-shirts and looking around in a purposeful manner. I found this curious and snapped a photo.

WHAT'S BREWING BIOGRAPHY | cover

ENTER THE VOICE Joe Leary always wanted to be a disc jockey. Growing up with two older sisters smitten by the British Invasion, he realized early on he didn’t want to be one of those mop-tops on stage. He wanted to be the guy spinning their records. Specifically, he wanted to be the classic screaming Top-40 DJ, but as he likes to say, he’s always happy with “any format under the sun except country.” Even as a youth, Joe could discern a Joe Leary talented radio host. Although he’s a Columbia Academy graduate, he credits a lot of his learning to listening to the classic jocks on stations like CFUN and CKLG and patterning his communication after them. He sounds like a radio broadcaster even when he’s just standing around with a vodka soda in hand. Leary’s resume in mainstream and independent media is extensive, with prime broadcasting roles such as long-time weatherman at CKVU-TV and anchor at major sports radio stations. He’s also a freelance writer who has written weekly columns for publications like The Province and 24 Hours. One of Leary’s favourite work memories is getting a call one lonely night shift from the uber-classy Fred Latremouille, who complimented Joe on a nice segment. Connections with people like that are a big part of what Joe loved about his time in traditional broadcasting. Before his tenure as an employee came to an end, one such connection gave Leary the key to his future career.

THE STARS ALIGN It wasn’t pre-ordained for Joe Leary to get to know Colin Jack and Rick Mohabir. But let’s say that, in hindsight, the chances of it happening were reasonable. After all, the two young guys were running beer festivals, and Joe didn’t mind the odd beer. Joe got talking to them at some of their events. “I went to one of their early beer fests at the Edgewater Casino”, Joe recalls, “and I just found Colin was a very likable guy.” That Colin was, but there was additional motivation to befriend the event proprietors. “If you get to know the guys behind the table, they‘ll probably give you more beer tickets, right? That was kind of my initial game”, Leary admits.

Just Here For The Beer pals scope out Great Canadian Beer Fest 2005: Kris Meisterman, Rick Mohabir, Zayvin Haqq, and Colin Jack About nine months later, I understood the significance: they’d been on a reconnaissance mission. The friends had travelled to Victoria to study how to put on a major beer festival, and GCBF’s outdoor format became the template for their newest bold venture: the first Canada Cup of Beer took place in July 2006 at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium. It would become an annual tradition, with 10,000 attendees over the years. 12 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

At the time, Joe hosted a talk radio show on CFUN. As he got to know Colin, he threw out a thought: “Hey, come on and talk about beer some time.” By this point, thanks to promoting JHFTB, Colin was an old hand at media appearances, so he took up the offer. After a couple of these visits, Leary’s boss, Stu Ferguson, said, “Hey, that person on your show knows his stuff. Do you think there‘s any money in a beer show?” What Ferguson was getting at is that, when you tune into dedicated programming like a beer or wine radio show, the people and products being showcased are paying a fee to be there. (To those gentle souls who might be offended by such a notion: sorry to burst any beer bubbles.) Non-prime-time radio and TV have many such situations.


WHAT'S BREWING BIOGRAPHY | cover

Serendipitously, around the same time that Ferguson nudged Leary, Colin Jack did the same with his pal Rick. Not satisfied with the success they already had as educators and event promoters, Colin had his eye on a bigger stage. “Colin and I had this drunk night where we talked about doing a TV show,” Mohabir recalls. “But that‘s big money and sponsorship, and we‘re not there yet. Why don‘t we do a radio show?” Rick suggested, “Well, Leary‘s on the radio. Why don’t we talk to him?” And in one of those perfect courtships where both sides were the suitor, they did. The original concept the radio folks had been working on in the summer of 2010 was a Beer & BBQ Show. “I think we put the pen to paper in September, near the end of barbecue season,” Joe recalls. “There was no point waiting a full year to try it again, so we said, ‘Screw it, let‘s just do a beer show.’” Just Here For The Beer Radio kicked off October 2010 as a one-hour monthly show, broadcast live from CISL’s studios on a varying schedule. You can see the early episodes on YouTube, with Colin and a young-looking Leary. You can see that Colin was a little green but wasn’t afraid of the microphone at all. This would surprise nobody who knew him. In the early going, the pair interviewed guests pulled from Colin’s contacts at beer industry stalwarts like Whistler Brewing, Russell Brewing, Pacific Western and Legacy Liquor Store. Joe says, “Colin was my access to beer, and I was his access to airtime.” It was a match consummated on the airwaves.

I got a phone call from the editor. I thought he was calling me to say, ‘We didn‘t get your file’. But it was, ‘Hey Joe, just curious: you do that beer show with Colin Jack. Have you heard from him?’ Leary recalls, “I had a bad feeling because Colin was usually pretty punctual. And the last time I saw him, after the [February] show, he had seemed slower and more laboured. “I can‘t get ahold of him,” the editor continued apprehensively, “And I just saw something on Facebook that says ‘RIP Colin Jack.’” --Colin Edward Jack passed away on February 26th, 2011, at the age of 40. What a blow to his father Moseley, brother Byron and sister Arietha; they received the news while away in Trinidad. They had lost Colin’s mother not long before, and now Colin was gone, too. Colin’s memorable Celebration of Life was held at the Vancouver Alpen Club on March 6th, 2011. Both Joe and Rick spoke to the large room, absolutely packed with Colin’s students and fellow teachers, the Caribbean community, beer folk and others. Rick’s tearful testimonial to his recently-departed friend concluded with a vow to keep their young beer enterprise running. I thought, that’s a big commitment to make. I hoped that Rick would not come to regret taking that burden upon himself. I wondered how things would turn out.

CAN THIS SHOW GO ON? Joe Leary and Colin Jack had only done three radio shows together before Colin’s death. But they had a series of 2011 episodes booked and paid for at the radio station. Joe was shaken by Colin’s death, but knew these shows didn’t come with refunds. He said to Rick, “This is an awkward conversation, but we‘ve got a show booked for next week and we‘ve got to do it. We can‘t let the show fall apart.”

At CISL for the third show, February 2011.

A STUNNING LOSS As 2010 turned to 2011, Joe and Colin did shows in January and February. Colin was also writing a weekly column about beer for the hip, new, free newspaper 24 Hours, and Joe was doing just the same on the topic of music. In late February, Joe was planning the March beer show, and sent Colin a message. “We were about a week away from doing a show,” Leary remembers. “I‘d called Colin and didn‘t hear back. I texted him the next day and didn‘t hear back.” Joe wanted to know who Colin had lined up for the March 15 show. “He was my beer conduit. I didn‘t know beer people at all.” At that time, both Joe and Colin had a column due at 24 Hrs. “I remember distinctly, I was in Red Card sports bar downtown, and

As a business partner in Just Here For The Beer Ltd., Rick understood that the show must go on. But it wasn’t going to be easy. “Colin was the face of the company,” Mohabir admits. “He was the Just Here For The Beer guy, and I kind of liked it that way. It gave me an opportunity to handle everything on the back end. When we did things like Canada Cup of Beer, I‘d be the one meeting with the insurance guy, the table rentals, the porta potties. I was sort of second-tier with most of the brewers. When Colin passed away, that kind of pushed me to the front.” It probably helped Colin that he’d done a number of media appearances over the years before the show debuted. Now Mohabir, until then the quiet partner, would have to step in as “next man up” and take on this role…and there wasn’t much time to grieve. Only nine days after delivering a eulogy, the next radio show loomed. Rick was up to the challenge. In his favour was his naturally warm and outgoing disposition. Like many others of Caribbean heritage, Rick is easy to talk to, and he quickly became a natural complement to Leary’s interview style. He also had the business side which allowed him to step in and run the admin aspects of Just Here For The Beer. That was great for Joe, who could focus on the content and broadcasting. Continued on page 14

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WHAT'S BREWING BIOGRAPHY | cover

Joe and Rick in October 2012 As the years have passed, Rick has grown into the talk show cohost role. Colin was a big personality, but Rick has a big voice that is great for radio and his good humour brings positivity to the biweekly proceedings. Although it can’t be seen on radio, he’s quick to flash a broad smile that sets guests at ease. That’s important when asking people to speak on the airwaves. “Our role is to make them feel comfortable talking about their brand, because a lot of times, radio is a new environment,” Leary confirms. “Most people deal with it well, and some have become superstars. We‘ve cultivated a good roster of people who know what to say and not say—we’ve only had two F–bombs in ten years.” Shows were held in the kitchen area at CISL. “Folks would come down and bring beer and have food run in,” Leary recalls. “It was a big old kitchen party. Meanwhile, we‘re on a live show and we‘ve got a hard 60-minute deadline.” That could lead to some interesting times keeping things moving when a segment was over and the hosts had to get the guest out so the next one could come in before the show went back on-air. “When you‘re talking about beer people who have been drinking for a good half hour waiting their turn, you‘re herding cats,” Joe remembers. Joe likes to joke that the show was always going to stay live, until one afternoon when Cariboo Brewing brought in a beer called Big Black Bock, and the ensuing hilarity caused a rethink about the wisdom of walking that tightrope. Soon after, the show began pre-recording the episodes. That led to another major tweak which changed the character of the show: recording on location. “When we started, we were in a very sterile radio station studio environment,” Joe points out. “You could bring in some beers but there was no ambiance.” “Then I was laid off by Bell Media in 2013, at which point I didn‘t want to even go in the studio”, Joe continues. “So, we found a bar to do the show, and then we found the fact that bars would pay us to come there…and we‘ve never looked back.”

Recording the shows on location has changed their dynamic

GROWING WITH THE INDUSTRY As the show became established, so did BC’s craft beer industry. “Our show could not have been timed better,” Leary enthuses. “It was 2010. I think there were 51 breweries in BC at the time. Now we‘re north of 200.” The show struggled to fill time in the early days, but the growth means there are enough clients now to develop a solid roster. The radio show represents a niche opportunity for smaller advertisers to get on radio in a way that would normally be impossible. “Let‘s say you walked into a major radio station” to enquire about commercials, Joe explains. “They might be looking for a fifteen-thousand-dollar advertising buy or something like that.” On Just Here For The Beer, small businesses can access a major radio station with an audience of beer drinkers, many of whom are on (or ready to join) the craft beer bandwagon. Each sponsor gets around 10-12 minutes of airtime with which to showcase their new releases. Joe calculates, “We do 24 shows a year. Each show has four segments for breweries.” “We buy the time, and (in the pre-COVID world) it came with a dedicated producer (their master of the mixing board, Justin Kwan) included in the price”, which Joe adds has not increased since 2010. Rick says of their microbrewing clientele, “Since we are so craft heavy, and because they helped us grow, we owe them some loyalty.” What’s Brewing readers might not consider every guest of the show to be “craft beer”. Sponsors such as Pacific Western Brewing and their Cariboo brand may raise eyebrows among those whose beer ethic was formed in recent years. But PWB is BC’s oldest independent brewery, and their willingness to support a show that mostly showcases the much smaller craft breweries who compete with them—and who could in theory throw shade at them—has to be admired.

Now, Leary's favourite part of the show is the social aspect. Case in point was an episode at Coquitlam’s John B. Pub in which management reminisced about pub stories and listeners got engaged.

Their lack of pretentiousness is a result of the founders’ formative years drinking suds, back when good beer was something people didn’t have a lot of access to. Joe’s introduction to beer was stealing his dad’s Lucky Lager. He’s come a long way.

The show moved to AM 1410 (then TSN’s second station, now BNN Bloomberg Radio), then to TSN 1040 in September 2017. Joe notes that it grew exponentially in that time period: “It‘s morphed a long way but had just the humblest beginnings.”

“I think the first craft beer I ever had was Shaftebury,” Joe recalls. He thought it wasn’t bad, which was a good reaction for a noncraft drinker. He credits Granville Island’s Winter Ale for being the gateway beer that finally pushed him into discovering better

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WHAT'S BREWING BIOGRAPHY | cover

so many women: “Because it’s 2015.” Joe’s take on why the current liquor law advances like extended patios, curbside pickup and restaurant beer to go should remain: “Because it’s 2020.” Joe has empathy for what these businesses have gone through. “Every bar is trying to do their best to survive. Let ’em survive.” Rick agrees, “Let ’em survive...and thrive.”

LOOKING BACK ON TEN YEARS After Colin’s passing, Rick kept his memorial promise and the Canada Cup of Beer was held a few more times. But Rick noticed that newer Vancouver festivals were drawing people and sponsors away, making an already burdensome marketing challenge even tougher. Rick and Joe with the show’s technical producer, Justin Kwan beers. “When we started the show, I hated IPAs,” Leary confesses. But his palate grew on the job. “Now, that’s all I drink.” That might explain the recipe selection when it comes to JHFTB’s collaboration series with BC breweries. Doing its part over and above the radio exposure, the show’s beer series has featured creations like Lighthouse Brewing’s Just Here For The Beer Imperial IPA and Fuggles & Warlock’s The Four Hops IPA, sporting a classic label featuring Rick and Joe front and centre.

GOING INTO LOCKDOWN With all the obstacles JHFTB Radio had faced, nothing could have prepared it for 2020. Of course, the same went for its clientele. No brewery business plan includes a pandemic contingency. “The thing that really concerned us when this COVID thing hit was that we do all our business at pubs and tasting rooms,” Leary thought, “I’m screwed.” “We shut the show for two months,” Joe continues. “We lost one show in March, we did no shows in April, and then we started to call around. The bars and restaurants and breweries were pivoting and doing home deliveries and take-out. I talked to a couple of sponsors and they said, ‘Hey, we’re doing okay. Let’s bring it back up again.’” “I'm so glad that the industry survived”, Leary summarizes, noting that there have actually been some benefits. “It made a lot of people think more about supporting local.” Social distancing on set

At the time of our interview, JHFTB had done four post-COVID shows. “We've had no problem getting brewers slotted in, paying money; they're all doing well,” Leary reveals. Although tasting room traffic remains limited, he feels that many breweries may now be better positioned for the future than they were prior to COVID. For instance, JHFTB supporter Old Yale added a massive patio and has been hiring to keep up with demand. About the sudden patio licensing, Joe wonders, “Why does it sometimes take governments six to eight to ten months to approve something that you're able to turn around in 72 hours?” Of course, there is no guarantee that advancements like these will continue after COVID. Will governments permanently allow these changes? Leary’s thinking on this echoes Justin Trudeau’s response to being asked why his highly diverse cabinet featured

CCOB eventually succumbed to the inevitable. The final festival was held on July 13th, 2013 under a clear blue sky at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium. Bottles of Antidisestablishmentarianism Amber Ale, created at Dead Frog Brewery by family friend Tony Dewald, were sold to raise money for the Colin Jack Scholarship Fund. It was a fitting finale, but thanks to radio it wasn’t the end of Just Here For The Beer. Joe’s broadcasting career has taken him from employee to entrepreneur. On this he says, “When you‘re a career broadcaster you face a lot of unemployment, because formats change and personnel changes. I just wanted to stay employed.” “It comes back to Stu Ferguson”, says Joe of his former boss at CFUN. “He was the visionary that suggested this concept.” It may seem de rigeur now, but beer radio certainly wasn’t in 2010. As a business arrangement, JHFTB Radio has worked out well for Joe Leary and Rick Mohabir. For Joe, it’s provided countless contacts and become the launchpad to a mini empire of four liquor-oriented shows on three radio stations. Joining the biweekly TSN 1040 beer show are monthly shows Through The Grapevine and Hand-Crafted Spirits on BNN Bloomberg Radio 1410, as well as Ciders, Sodas and Cocktails on Sportsnet 650. In total, the franchise provides a replacement for his former broadcasting career. For Rick, who works at Coast Mountain Bus Company, JHFTB allows him to be part of an industry he happens to enjoy. Leveraging skills from his day job, Rick has added Just Here for the Beer Brewery Tours to the mix. Pre-COVID, the beer bus could handle up to 20 guests for tours on Saturdays and Sundays. For Rick, there is also the comfort of continuing what he started with his closest friend before a painful loss. Thinking of how the arc went with the beer events and radio over the past decade, Joe wistfully reflects, “Had Colin survived, JHFTB might be an even more substantial enterprise.” “Every year on the anniversary of the show, we pay homage to him”, Leary reveals. “We always say he would be so damn proud.” Speaking for myself, I think Colin would be amazed at how his idea of teaching a mini school course has produced a 15-year-old institution his friends can continue to build on. They could pack it in anytime they choose to. But after ten years of getting the word out about beer—through all the ups and downs, the stress, and the sacrifices—as far as Joe and Rick are concerned: this show will go on. FA L L 2020 WHAT'S BREWING 15


THE INFLUENCERS

CRAFT BEER SUPERFANS

AN INFLUENCER MEETUP Pacific Beer Chat recording live on location

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n our Fall 2017 issue, What's Brewing shone a spotlight on a few newcomers to the world of 'craft beer media.' Three years later, getting the word out about supporting independent BC craft beer seems more important than ever. So, once again we celebrate the contributions of of BC's volunteer beer advocates. We've selected a sextet who became craft beer influencers during the 2010s, and asked them what they think of their personal craft beer fandom in 2020. Here are some of their abridged takes in virtual meetup format. Keep your eyes on our website for individual spotlights!

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A CRAFT BEER BOOSTER? Mike G: Mike’s Craft Beer was founded June, 2012. Pacific Beer Chat's first podcast was March 2015. Mike A: Telling the good word since February 2014. Carnell: I've been going since late 2014! Matt: I started around mid-2016, mostly on the education side. Alana: First D + A Instagram post: May 2017. Malcolm: I also became an official beer booster in May 2017. But I've been boostin' bottles of craft since the early aughts, amigo.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO CRAFT BEER? WAS THERE A 'GATEWAY BEER'?

I had a hollow leg that I filled most nights with Kootenay & Bud. Malnourished and neglected, the leg began to atrophy. Thankfully a good doctor prescribed me modest doses of BC's finest beers, and now the damned thing's bionic. Growing up in Campbell River, BC, I may have been surrounded by Lucky, Canadian, and Blue drinkers, but I would always look for smaller, more independent beer options, like Vancouver Island Brewing and occasionally Shaftebury. The original Granville Island Winter Ale was a big eye opener for me. My brothers and I would eagerly await its arrival every year.

WHAT STYLES ARE YOU INTO TODAY? These days, I find myself seeking out a good ESB or Gose. I love a good bock, especially a doppelbock or an Eisbock. There's something about the rich, malty nature of the style that just draws me in.

HOW DID YOU COME TO BLOG ABOUT BEER? My friend Steve Hoffmann was my catalyst into craft beer, basically. When I told him I was starting to share and blog about beer he was jacked to join in. Full story online As for podcasting, I started to search for beer-related podcasts and found Four Brewers Podcast from California. Four guys with a wealth of knowledge of beer but also a funny side. I branched out from there.

Initially, I was much more into wine. In early 2015, the staff at my local West End liquor store urged me to try a new ale they were carrying: Nectarous by Four Winds. It was in a champagne bottle with cork & cage, so this lured the bubbly fanatic in me like a moth to a flame.

I began my foray into reporting on beer in December 2013 with an International Beer Advent Calendar. Most of the beer being sub-par, I posted about it on my personal Facebook page, and people thought it was funny. My wife-to-be, tired of hearing me spout off, said "Why don't you write a blog about it." So I did.

On a trip to Australia I was offered a beer described as "Australia's best". I wondered if it really was the best and spent the rest of the trip seeking out comparisons. When I arrived home I had a similar goal for Canadian beer.

In 2016, I took time off work and immersed myself, passing the first level of the Cicerone Certification Program. I knew I wanted to take the base knowledge and passion I had and expand it, so I dove in with both feet and haven't looked back.

16 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020


MIKE G.

MIKE A.

MATT

CARNELL

ALANA

MALCOLM

MEET OUR PANEL OF CRAFT BEER ADVOCATES Mike Garson, founder of Mike’s Craft Beer, Pacific Beer Chat and Brew Crime, and occasional event judge. @pacificbeerchat

Carnell Turton of Breward Inlet: living his best beer life with wife Banny. If the beer's not good, he'll say it. @brewardinlet

Mike Ansley, aka The BeerRater: offering an unfiltered view on the world of craft beer. @thebeerrater

Alana Marin Bourne, aka Sour Girl: beer and wine adventures alongside Dave 'The Heretic'. @sourgirlandtheheretic

Mathieu Poirier of Matter of Beer: Certified Cicerone®, Beer Columnist for Monday Magazine. @matterofbeer

Malcolm Yates, aka Sea To Sky Beer Guy: comes out of retirement to share his eloquence with us. @seatoskybeerguy

HOW DID YOU PICK YOUR HANDLE? It was a Seussian confluence of geography and meter: Sea to Sky Beer Guy rolls off the tongue as playfully as beer rolls in. I was regularly searching for new sours, so my local liquor store staff nicknamed Sour Girl...and it stuck! @thebeerrater was originally pronounced "The Berater". Get it? It was a dumb name then, and it still is now. Watching my local Port Moody scene grow. The central geographic feature here is Burrard Inlet, so I simply smashed "Brew" into it... although many don't make the connection. First off, my name is Matt. Secondly, my passion was the subject matter of beer. Finally, it was a play on being matterof-fact, which I try to be.

WHEN COVID-19 HIT, WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS FOR THE BEER INDUSTRY? I'd be lying if I didn't say 'grim'. Not just the industry I love, but it seemed the world itself had rounded third base en route to the flaming hoop of home plate. I thought this might be how the ancient Romans felt before their empire crumbled...then I remembered those poor bastards didn't have the luxury of craft beer to wash down the taste of ash. Truthfully I really worried about the breweries and their staff. I had some doomsday thoughts in my head for sure. I didn't know what to think. With BC already losing a couple of breweries before this started, I was afraid more were on their way out. But the way the industry rallied together has given me a lot of hope. Beverage Alcohol has long been a recession and disaster-proof industry. I wasn't that worried about it dying off. I

was more interested to see how the industry would pivot to find a way through. I thought it would be tough, but I was confident the community would pull together—and it has. Things like the Four Winds collab in support of Alibi Room show this industry is strong even when times are tough. That said, it is clear that 2020 will be the start of a slow down.. While I was anxious for the breweries, at the same time I felt confident that the things that make our industry so special would help them adapt to the unexpected challenges. And so many have done just that. It really feels like they eagerly celebrate each other's successes and commiserate through the tough times, rather than simply being competitors for the same dollar.

HOW DID THIS ALL AFFECT YOUR PERSONAL CONSUMPTION? I was part of the hive mind driving liquor sales through the roof during those murky months. I've been talking about and directing people to our local BC breweries more and I am actually buying locally more. More talking, more drinking. I'm in a household with somebody who is immunocompromised, so I haven't been able to expand my bubble. I've taken advantage of a lot of packaged products, and have been focussing on supporting the industry in ways I can for the time being.

HOW MUCH DO YOU MISS THE EVENTS? I always look forward to events like Weathered, VCBW Fest and GCBF, including my volunteer shifts. It’s difficult to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose only one it would be Farmhouse Fest. Continued on page 18

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Continued from page 17

They're a major focus of what I write about and promote, so I miss them all: Farmhouse Fest, GCBF, BC Beer Awards. I miss all the events too. When you've been around the industry long enough, it doesn't matter which event you go to, you're sure to find a few friends. I miss my friends. I am a person that definitely loves high fives, handshakes and hugs so it's been weird going from lots of contact to almost none overnight.

ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT LIQUOR LAW, OR WHAT GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE DOING? The changes have been so nice to see, as the government seems to be listening. I would like to see a lot of the changes made permanent, as many of them were requested before March. I have loved seeing cities like Vancouver finally get a clue and allow at least temporarily patios and I hope they become permanent. It's also high time they allow civilized people the chance to drink a beer, cider or wine in public. I'm hoping being able to drink responsibly in public parks & beaches gains more traction. If people are allowed to light up a cigarette and have their smoke interrupt my good times, a beer that doesn't disturb anyone shouldn't be a problem. This is something I have seen work successfully all over the world, and I am confident Metro Vancouverites can partake outdoors responsibly.

YOU ARE PART OF A "BEER COUPLE". DID BEER BRING YOU TOGETHER? When I moved to Victoria to finish my degree in 2010, craft beer was everywhere. Then I found a girl [now Mike's wife Britt] who was obsessed with IPAs, and the rest is history!

THE INFLUENCERS | virtual meetup

It has been helpful for me in learning about beer, especially unfamiliar beer styles. Having a partner in your tasting experience often doubles the number of things you can both potentially experience. Also we are both terrible at taking selfies so it is awesome to have someone else who can capture the moment.

Alana & Dave

ANY PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT OR MOMENT YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF? Finally passing the Certified Cicerone® exam in 2018 was a huge moment for me. It confirmed that this wasn't just a hobby or a distraction, it was something that I had the knowledge and passion to do something with, and I feel I've managed to do that. Being invited to brew some collaboration beers (as an individual and as part of Pacific Beer Chat) has been amazing! The CraftCoHop Photo Contest (yes, it will be making a return soon!) I loved bringing together local bloggers, influencers, and instagrammers to creatively promote a local beer. The growth of the community and friendships made because of it are the best part of this whole thing!

WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE GETTING INTO BEER BLOGGING TODAY? "Back off, get your own sandwich!" But seriously, I've turned what was originally just a blog into more than a full-time job, in addition to my full-time job. It's exhausting, but I love what I do, and the amazing people in this industry. If you want to get into podcasting, do it because you love the subject. Don't give up if you are not an instant hit; if it is authentic people will listen. But if you are not passionate about what you are doing, it will die off because it is more work than you ever expected.

Banny was into beer when we met, at Twin Sails where I was working. She had been trying to get one of her photos featured by Banny & Carnell a brewery, so our first date was taking photos for Twin Sails' Instagram. A short time later she started @BrewsBabesBanny.

Find whatever excites you most and focus on that, whether it’s a beer style, or a hop variety, or the breweries closest to you.

Dave (@thebeerheretic) and I initially found each other on Twitter, as both of us regularly attended the #BCwinechat held Wednesdays on Twitter. I was a wine lover who happened to be gravitating towards beer, and he was curious about wine. We began visiting breweries and attending events together and eventually evolved into Sour Girl and the Heretic.

Be unique and don't go for the cheap growth. I've tried most ways of grabbing new followers, views, and likes, but the only thing that has really worked is honest networking, supporting my community, and loading every opportunity with as much value as I can.

WHAT ARE THE UPSIDES/DOWNSIDES OF BEING ON A BEER TEAM?

The market is saturated and the pay is shite. You will frustrate your spouse and tax your tight jeans. Your moral compass will be ever tempted to totter from true to magnetic north; from enthusiast to shill, such is the ethical indifference of declination.

The coolest thing is quickly being injected into a local community that you otherwise might not be. 18 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

Decide on an angle, and lean into it. Watch out for accounts that pop up with "DM for collaborations". Do everything you can to deliver value. It's not about you, it's about the beer and the industry.

Oh and no, we don't get lots of free beer, so it can get expensive.

Do it anyways and let the gods decide your fate.


BEER ME BC | deep dive

BEER ME BC REVIEW: DEEP DIVE

DRINKING IN ISOLATION: CUTTING BACK ON BOOZE, NOT BEER The sneaky allure of hoppy beer with body but without the alcohol

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>> DAVE SMITH

n early April, Jen Laskey of NBC News encapsulated something many of us noticed during lockdown in an article entitled Knocking Back Too Many 'Quarantinis': “It’s not just hand sanitizer and toilet paper that have been flying off the shelves — alcohol has been selling like crazy too.” Reporting for our home, it seemed like the beer cans were piling up higher than normal this spring. From what I gather, this wasn’t uncommon for the suddenly-isolated. As Laskey notes, “Under normal circumstances...most adults who drink are able to do so within responsible limits. But studies show that catastrophic events can trigger increased substance use.” Of five recommendations she provided to combat overdrinking, one is to consider low- or no-alcohol beverages. Back in the 1990s, there was a point when this author was an occasional buyer of supermarket “near beers” in an attempt to enjoy a cold one, sans-tipsiness. Back then, as is the case today with generic N/A brews, it was clear I wasn’t drinking a “real” beer, rendering the ‘enjoyment’ objective elusive. A quarter century has passed since. Through the development of technology, has it now become possible to make a brew that is sufficiently close to the real thing that a beer enthusiast will look forward to drinking it?

The search for a nearer ‘near beer’ It’s said that the reason breweries can’t produce a great non-alcoholic beer is that the methods used tend to destroy the appeal of the product. Either you arrest the fermentation before it has an opportunity to create an abundance of alcohol—and a commensurate measure of flavour—or you heat the beer to drive off the ethyl alcohol. Brew Your Own magazine notes, “If your beer had any hop flavor or aroma before the heating took place, then these flavors will be changed and aromas will most likely be driven off.” A process known as ‘vacuum distilling’ lowers the alcohol’s boiling point to minimize this impact, but it normally still requires some level of heat. If those options aren’t appealing, there’s always that other approach to reduce alcohol in your finished brew: just water it down. Central City Brewers & Distillers of Surrey has an alternative that avoids diluting or ‘cooking’ the beer. It is the first craft brewery in Canada to employ the Cadillac of methods: reverse osmosis.

Central City’s Brewmaster Gary Lohin with a Street Legal IPA Why the premium-sounding reference? Because of the expense. Refer to Beer Cartel’s review of non-alcoholic beers, with a breakdown of the three main approaches to dealcoholization. They summarize that: Reverse osmosis allows any type of beer to become alcohol-free and, since the main ingredients are not heated to oblivion, the beer’s flavour is much less affected. This method however remains fairly impractical; it’s more labour intensive and requires more equipment – both of which mean higher costs. Central City made their name by bringing a new level of hoppiness to BC beer fans back in the mid-late 2000s with Red Racer IPA. The ensuing series of related beers is their bread and butter. For a brand synonymous with hops, it only makes sense to bring to market a premium dealcoholized IPA, which they did when their Street Legal series debuted last year. And it cost them a pretty penny to get into the game—$1.5 million for the system. So far, the product is making inroads in the marketplace locally, and it seems the investment may pay off. The uptake has been sufficient that the brewery is expanding production. The odd thing is, Central City didn’t set out to become a competitive non-alcoholic beer producer. In fact, their brewmaster had no interest in the subject until it came up more or less by accident.

THC beer plans go up in smoke Gary Lohin is founding head brewer at Central City, which opened its original Surrey Central doors in 2003. Having won countless awards including multiple national honours, he’s been regarded as one of Canada’s foremost craft brewers. Also, he’s known for pushing boundaries, not only in use of hops but in industrial techniques. Continued on page 20

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Continued from page 19

BEER ME BC | deep dive

Lohin’s a big fan of the quality of Street Legal and is fond of fooling his brewer friends by pouring them a glass without telling them it’s dealcoholized. When it began pouring at CCB’s Beatty Street taphouse, he handed me a sample and insisted that the average drinker would never notice the difference between a regular Pilsner and the Street Legal version. I was skeptical but, remembering Gary’s enthusiasm for the brew, I eventually gave it an honest try at home.

The Taste Test Gary Lohin at Central City’s Bridgeview plant: not a small brewpub anymore A couple of years ago, Canada was preparing to legalize cannabis, and Central City was investigating the potential market for THC beers. At the time, Gary mentioned to this author that CCB was in talks with a Colorado-based group and learning about the technology involved. Because it would be illegal to sell a product with both alcohol and THC, the first requirement was to create a non-alcoholic beer base. Although the idea of entering the THC beer market is still pending, one of the spinoff outcomes of Central City’s research phase was a better understanding of the processes available for dealcoholization...and a taste of what was possible. GEA Group AG of Düsseldorf, Germany is a global technology supplier for the food processing industry. One of their divisions fabricates brewhouses (the shiny beer-making stuff in the back of a brewery), including a kit marketed to craft breweries. But it’s their AromaPlus Membrane Dealcoholization Unit that caught the attention of Lohin and group…when they sampled one of the products that had passed through GEA’s reverse osmosis system. “GEA gave us a sample from Klosterbrauerei Andechs, a monastery brewery in Bavaria,” Gary recalls. “They made a dealcoholized Hefeweizen. We tasted it and I was blown away. If somebody gave you that, you would not know that that was a dealcoholized product.” “GEA had just put together a test dealc. plant in Madison, Wisconsin”, Lohin continues. “We had arranged to have some of our IPA sent down. We did our regular IPA and our Super Solar, and it came out amazing. That was really the catalyst: the quality of the product on first pass-through, without even tweaking the recipe yet.” As noted, GEA’s system is not within reach of your average small brewery. Central City was first in Canada to adopt it by a year; only now is a Quebec brewery coming on board as the second, making for just a small handful in North America. For this reason, the German company had booked Gary as a presenter at the US Brewers Association’s Craft Brewers Conference & World Beer Cup in San Antonio TX, until COVID killed that April event. But with the popularity of low- and non-alcoholic beers growing rapidly over the last two years, interest will pick up. “I've been fielding calls from all over the place, because we're one of the first to truly run it with volume in mind”, Lohin confides, acknowledging that they are ready to invest more themselves. “Right now, we have two giant 20-foot-long membranes; we're going to add three more for a total of five.” 20 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

Back in January, my wife and I reviewed Street Legal IPA for What’s Brewing’s sister website, Beer Me BC. At that point, we noted that ‘Dry January’ had become a popular annual tradition, and that cutting back on alcohol is not uncommon early in the year. Little did we know that within a couple of months, self-isolation would bring alcohol consumption into focus in a completely novel way. Our first impression was “a decent head...a fairly pungent hop aroma, with a smelly, fruity funk. On the palate, it of course had less body than a regular craft ale in this style, but it wasn’t nearly as thin as the supermarket variety non-alcoholic lagers. It was actually fairly satisfying, giving the initial sensation of drinking a ‘real’ beer.” We noted that one of our friends who was off alcohol but likes her hops had been drinking Street Legal IPA regularly. Overall, we assessed the beer a score of 3.5 / 5, which is amazing for its category; consider that we would give something like an O’Douls somewhere between one to two points. The flavour can’t compete with a full-on, well-made West Coast IPA, but we can candidly say that we’ve occasionally had less impressive-tasting IPAs from craft breweries making them the normal way. Looking around, it’s not hard to find others taking note of the hoppy brew. BeerCrank says, “So far, this beer looks and smells like something I'd actually expect from Central City's Red Racer brand.” The Tomato’s craft near beer roundup states, “Simply put, this is an outstanding non-alcoholic beer, coming the closest I found to matching the full flavour and mouthfeel of an alcoholic beer, such as Red Racer’s iconic IPA.” Speaking for myself, I find that the beer has body, which is something I prefer. I sometimes let it warm up out of the fridge to bring out more flavour, just like one might with any other decent ale. Try that with a Budweiser Prohibition. To cut down on alcohol I started turning to Street Legal as my first beer of the evening, and I found it gave me that same sense of “I needed a beer” satisfaction as a regular beer would have. It made me question whether alcohol has anything to do with the sensation from taking the night’s first sip that a beer drinker craves. Gary notes its value in ‘cooling off’ toward the end of a drinking session without being a buzz-kill. “If you want to hang out with your buddies and keep drinking, and you have to drive in an hour or two, just put these back instead,” he advises. “If you went from,


BEER ME BC | deep dive

let's say a (regular) IPA to an O’Doul’s, that's quite the chasm. But if you're going to our IPA, it's not. It's still super hoppy and tasty.” Candidly, one of the reasons I often drink Street Legal up front is that it’s not actually realistic to down a dry-hopped double IPA or barrelaged stout then expect a Street Legal to make a great follow-up. All experienced craft beer drinkers understand this basic rule about sequencing. Lohin’s comments are applicable when you’re drinking something that makes for a good pathway back to a Pilsner or IPA (or you take a serious palate-cleansing break after that barrel-aged stout). For reasons like this, I’m still holding out hope for a satisfying dealcoholized stout or porter. Gary doesn’t seem to rule it out. “Everybody's got a lager out there”, he says with regard to non-alcoholic options. “Nobody's really doing IPAs. We'd like to move to a stout or whatever; really, we can do any beer. Once we optimize and get a bit bigger and quicker, we will be able to do more offerings.” Partake Brewing is another successful Canadian craft-focussed non-alcoholic brand with an IPA. There’s a great writeup on The Tomato detailing its origins. Their product has also been reviewed on Beer Me BC, scoring a very respectable 3.2 / 5 in 2017. Partake IPA comes in at 26 IBU, compared to Red Racer’s 40 IBU. Since it was brewed in BC at Vancouver’s former Factory Brewing, Partake clearly doesn’t use reverse osmosis. Reading the review, one can spot the differences the processes make: “The hop character comes through in a pleasant, lightly bitter, piney way. The body is quite thin though and the flavour lacks malt character.” The potential upside of this is that Partake happens to also be a low-calorie beverage. However, that’s not necessarily an advantage for those like me who want body and mouthfeel to their beer, with just the alcohol removed. It may turn out that calories are the secret ingredient needed to make a satisfying experience for some of us. As I write this, I’m drinking Street Legal. Being sober, there’s no ‘fogginess’ that I would normally associate with throwing back a couple of 500-ml brews. Physically, I feel like I drank a couple of beers. But I’m still productive; if I drank these at a lunch meetup, the rest of my day wouldn’t be toast. I asked Gary how literally the “Street Legal” name could be taken— can you actually drive with one of these open in your car? Lohin stopped short of recommending that. “I don’t know if it’s legal”, he admits. “But it should be!” With the gradual adoption of outdoor drinking in North American society, we’ll see if that day ever comes. In the meantime, maybe they’re not for every occasion, but it’s clear that for more and more people, more and more often, craft-quality near beers are a practical option. See review detail on BeerMeBC.com Dave Smith Editor of Beer Me BC and What's Brewing Magazine. Writing credits include The Publican, BC Ale Trail and the BC column for the Northwest Brewing News. Craft beer fan since the late 1990s, CAMRA BC member since 2004. FA L L 2020 WHAT'S BREWING 21


Cocooning IN SESSION

Concept: Lundy Dale Photo: D. Smith

A selection of isolation-approved moderate ABV beers

JAK'S BEER • WINE • SPIRITS Since 1981, we’ve worked to provide a community-first experience in our stores across British Columbia.

Locations: Vancouver, Surrey, New West, Burnaby, Maple Ridge, Coquitlam, Richmond, Campbell River, Penticton, Willams Lake Find a store at www.jaks.com


MEET THIS ISSUE'S TASTING PANEL

LUNDY

WARREN

ABBY

Lundy Dale: Founder, BC Craft Beer Month, Pink Pints Vancouver, CAMRA Vancouver. Past President, CAMRA BC. Warren Boyer: BJCP Certified award-winning home and commercial brewer, past President CAMRA Vancouver, member of Pacific Beer Chat

I

To most in the modern craft beer scene, the term "session beer" means "beer with lower alcohol content." It should be noted that the etymology of "sessionable" is "style suitable for a drinking session" where one drinks the same beer repeatedly. In other words, true session beers are "drinkable", as reflected in the chart below. You therefore wouldn't apply the term to an extremely sour beer, for instance, regardless of alcoholic content. Keep this in mind in case you ever run into a 4% ABV Flanders Red Ale.

ADAM

Abby Wiseman of Small Batch Vancouver reviews food & drink Carnell Turton of Breward Inlet: if the beer isn’t good he’ll say it Adam Chatburn: home and commercial brewer, cellarman, WB columnist and past President of CAMRA Vancouver

WHAT IS A "SESSION BEER" n the previous article in this issue, you got to know more about the non-alcoholic craft beer scene. Trending upwards rapidly over the last few years, low- or no-alcohol drinks may have found their ideal moment in 2020 with the advent of isolation and its related tendency to consume. In that spirit, our Tasting Panel is set to assuage the guilt of pandemic drinking. For the first time, we're pleased to review a handful of "sessionable" moderate ABV beers, perfect for enforced cocooning.

CARNELL

THE BEERS The beers evaluated this round included:

ABV

1.

Dageraad Field Theory Table Saison

4.2%

2.

Howe Sound Super Jupiter ISA 4.5%

3.

Persephone Hibiscus Gose

4.

Red Racer Session IPA 4.0%

5.

Strange Fellows Botanik Gin Gose

4.5% 4.6%

THE WINNER Howe Sound's Mango ISA just edged out the competition to take our coveted blue ribbon. "India Session Ale" is a term that debuted in the 2010s, popularized in BC by Central City Brewing with its Red Racer ISA, since renamed for clarity as seen above.

ENJOYMENT

CATEGORY SCORES A general overview of how these beers did as a group. Pie chart tip: start at top of legend and work clockwise from 45 degree mark (3 o'clock) >>

SCORE BREAKDOWN Panel scores include these five categories. For a full list of individual scores, turn to next page.

BALANCE: MALT VS. HOP

DRINKABILITY


WB SPRING TASTING PANEL RESULTS. MAXIMUM SCORE = 30

Dageraad Field Theory Saison 2.6/3

24 25 23 24 24

4.6/6

2.8/3

24.0/30 6.4/8

20 20 23 22 19 Lundy

THE WHAT'S BREWING

TASTING PANEL

A great version of a table saison, crisp, dry and very refreshing. Well balanced beer that finishes hoppy. Easy drinking table saison. Would be great with some charcuterie and cheese. Nice easy beer. Definitely would drink again and more than one. Not for those looking for deep flavour. A well executed flavorful saison. I can't detect the dry hopping but that doesn't negate how delicious this beer is. Super simple table saison, lightly hopped, hazy but still light with a little touch of spice. Very easy to crush. Dageraad is a mark of quality every time.

Persephone Hibiscus Gose 2.6/3

7.6/10

3.8/6

2.0/3

20.8/30 5.8/8

6.6/10

Hibiscus is a great addition to this Gose, giving it a nice colour as well as berry tartness that almost hides the biscuity malts. Floral and berry, earthy, tart. Lovely color. Tasty. A little unbalanced, but refreshing and sippable. More delicate than the other Gose of the bunch, this one looks beautiful and finishes with a balanced salt flavour. Great to see a gose with hibiscus, this reminds me of a light Agua de Jamaica. Very balanced and easy to drink. I was hoping for a little more complexity but this stunning blush is very drinkable.

Warren

Abby

Carnell

Adam

Red Racer Session IPA 2.6/3

20 25 21 16 25

3.6/6

A baby version of the West for.

This is a delicious beer. At 4 presence. The hop bitterne the spotlight in the finish. Really easy and tasty beer.

Malt dominated my sampl vour capacity. A decent bod

Central City continue to ser ISA clearly has used all qua beautifully.


SEE WWW.WHATSBREWING.CA/TASTING-PANEL FOR FULL SET OF SCORES

Howe Sound Super Jupiter ISA 2.4/3

27 24 18 28 27

21.4/30 2.2/3

5.8/8

2.4/3

Coast style IPA that Central City is known

26 21 23 26 24

le with little indication of hopping in a flady and balance were present.

rve up classic beer. Solidly dependable this ality malts and hops, brewed and packaged

2.8/3

6.6/8

8.0/10

A well done fruit session ale with a nice hop kick. This is a low abv version of a New England juicy hazy IPA. All about the hops with a fruity hazy base. The mango is subtle. Not my favourite. The aroma was really promising but the flavour was a let down and very average for something promising to deliver lot of tropical fruit. Great body and colour for an ISA. You could have told me this was a DIPA. Hazy ISA with a tropical splash of mango, summer in a can! Howe Sound's new cans are very good.

Strange Fellows Botanik Gin Gose 24.0/30

7.2/10

4% it still manages to have an amazing malt ess is up front but allows the malt to share

5.0/6

24.8/30

Appearance

4.4/6

2.6/3

6.4/8

8.2/10

A perfect summer beer that with the addition of gin would make a very refreshing beer cocktail. Tart and fruity. Good summertime choice. A really lovely beer. Acidic but balanced and a really wonderful aroma. A very drinkable Gose with a tart start and slight salt finish, sure to please. Another stone cold winner from Strange Fellows, perfectly balanced dry hopped sour. The saltiness is just right although there's not a lot of gin "botanik" flavour there's enough to add a touch of complexity.

Aroma

Body & Palate

Flavour

Overall


HAVE CAMERA WILL TRAVEL

TOURING IN A TIME OF CHANGE

>> BRIAN K. SMITH

Brewing. This Brackendale brewing team has been pushing out some great beer throughout the spring. Their indoor beer and food service were on hold at the time, but we picked up some seasonal sours in cans.

F

Beer Farmers

ollowers of my column will be familiar with my reviews of breweries and craft beer pubs near and far. I’ve been able to write about, photograph, and drink craft beer from the local Gulf Islands to Taiwan and multiple countries in Asia, but even leaving our province is not recommended during the current state of affairs. We were allowed to leave our homes again in early June, more than 10 weeks after my favourite local pub regretfully closed its doors. That first draft craft beer tasted heavenly! I ventured out into our newfound freedom in June and July, to talk to brewers, managers, and owners about their experience of this pandemic. I had always believed that BC would one day be the beer mecca of North America, and we seemed so close, and then COVID-19 struck. I wanted to know how resilient our beloved craft beer industry was in the face of such an unimaginable crisis. Would it destroy us or make us stronger?

If you haven't been to Pemberton lately, it is worth the drive to visit The Beer Farmers, about 10 km west of the town in Pemberton Meadows. I was fortunate to sit down with the key players: Will Miller (general manager), Brenda Miller (head brewer), and Bruce Miller (farmer and owner). A lot of the ingredients in their farm-fresh beer come right off their 500acre organic valley farm, which has been in the family for more than 125 years. With an expanded outdoor seating area, they have been able to operate a little closer to normal. After two months of their beer service area being shut down, they had to pick up with canning and home delivery. Will said, "We see ourselves as quite fortunate, being located on a rural farm. We've seen a huge influx of visitors putting renewed value of activities they can do close to home." Day four of this early exploration took us to Delta, the far southern reach of this beer survey, for lunch at Four Winds Brewing. A couple of cans of beer paired beautifully with their famous tacos.

With an expanded parking lot seating area and all COVID-19 protocols in place, it’s a worthwhile place to quench your thirst and appetite all at once. Besides, it's an opportunity to see what special seasonal In the second week of June, beers are available for taking Four Winds I took a four-day scouting trip away. Brent Mills has one of between Pemberton and Delta. the very best barrel programs in We headed north to beautiful Squamish. the country! Lunch at Howe Sound Brewing had to Just a few kilometres away as the crow include the satisfying combination of a flies is the new Barnside Brewing, Brewpub Burger and a pint of Baldwin & whose grand opening happened just two Cooper Best Bitter. Then we ventured a few months before the pandemic shutdown. more kilometers north, to Backcountry The reclaimed wood that was used for 26 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

Barnside the brewery came from the original White Spot Barn. Co-owner Ken Matenstyn noted, "The strong community support carried us through. One of the positives of the whole pandemic has been a recommitment to family and community. When we were able to reopen to the public, it coincided with finalizing our lounge license. People have been able to sit outside on our patio and grass area and enjoy the unique setting we are in, surrounded by farms and with hop yards directly across the street." In mid-July, I had a week to go out exploring on my bicycle in Yeast Van. Being a homeFaculty boy in this area, it can be challenging to get past one brewery in an afternoon. I sat down with Graham With (head brewer) at Parallel 49 for a pint (or two) to check on his COVID-19 situation. Their drinking lounge was certainly much quieter inside than it used to be. As with most craft beer drinking lounges, the city allowed an expansion of sidewalk and street seating. Graham said, "We were very fortunate to have installed a new canning line last year. When all the restaurants and bars temporarily closed, we were able to direct all our liquid into cans and keep production up. Also, we were able to divert some


HAVE CAMERA WILL TRAVEL | touring

vide work and safety for our employees and good beer to our customers." Up the road at R&B Brewing, Gordo Jones (head brewer) took a moment out of his afternoon to sit down for a pint with me. Using Vessel Canning, they have booked months ahead. "We went from around a 60–40 split, kegs to cans, to close to 10–90, kegs to cans.” In early April, after a brief shutdown, five staff returned to the brewery. Eventually the growler station opened, and people could pick up do-it-yourself pizza kits. In mid-July, they felt almost back to normal with an expanded street patio and sales close to normal. Graham at P49 resources to manufacturing sanitizer for the provincial government." I always feel like a kid in a candy store when I am trying to decide which beer to choose on their lit-up beer menu wall of more than 40 selections.

Jim at the new Truck Stop patio

Back on Hastings Street, I visited Nick Nazarec (head brewer) at Strathcona Beer Company. Nick's story at the start of the pandemic is R&B similar. Where he departs from the last three breweries is that he has his own compact canning line. "Lucky enough, we have our canning line and as such, we had the option of un-kegging our beer back into the tank to then repackage as cans or bottles.”

Across Main Street, on the west side of Yeast Van, I stopped in at BREWHALL to chat with Nick Menzies (general manager) and Kerry Dyson (head brewer). Nick noted that, at the beginning of the shutdown, they had to lay off 65 staff from the beer hall. Kerry had seen the Closer to home, I sat down with writing on the wall from the brewJim Dodds (general manager) ery side, did a 180-degree turn, and Justin Vickaryous (head and canned everything that brewer) of Red Truck Beer. was in their tanks. "The Jim recalls the early days brewery is too small for it in mid-March: "We had not to be always busy. We to lay off people in our worked hard to make sure Truck Stop Diner and rewe didn't slow down at duce work hours in the Just a few blocks away, on Franklin Street all." Nick adds, "It's probabrewery. We saw our packjust west of Clark, Container Brewing (anbly going to be stronger for aging volume increase." other recent addition to Yeast Van) jumped our brand, long term. Before Callister on home delivery. With an expanded patio, the shutdown, packaging was About reopening the diner, he they are operating close to their lounge a pretty small part of our prosaid, "We want to make sure we capacity. All the beers on tap are gram. We now have more varieare doing everything that the chief medtop-notch: definitely worth a ty and higher sales." ical health officer, health minister, and flight or two. the City of Vancouver require. We seat There was a theme emergeveryone as we are supposed to and take My last two breweries, coming: breweries needed names and numbers for tracing. We have pleting the circle, were Calpackaging to replace their always run a clean place, but now we are lister and Storm. The meskegs, and now it has betaking it that extra step." sage from respective owners come the norm for most. Diana McKenzie and James Many were forced to Stepping into the brewery side of Walton was to please buy from think outside the operations at Red Truck, Justin them directly. Both are very relibox. explains, "We implemented Container ant on front door sales. some policies and proceLess than a block dures quickly: social disWith autumn and winter ahead and an away, Faculty Brewtancing, room capacity, unknown situation with the COVID-19 paning was very busy on a cleaning regimes and use demic, everyone is nervous. As a beer drinkmid-July Saturday mornof personal protective er, not a brewer, I see there is a lot we can do. ing. Mile 37 Canning was equipment. Work Safe BC Support your neighborhood brewery. Get set up in their drinking just visited; they were exout and explore other beer communities near lounge and head brewer, tremely satisfied." you. More breweries are in the works; let's Jacquie Loehndorf, and her Luppolo nurture them and make our BC craft beer team were filling more than Asked about any changes community stronger than ever before. We 1200 cans. It was impressive to see coming to their beer lineup, Juscan do it! six people barely manage to stay ahead tin replied, "We are not ashamed about of the full cans that gathered at the end of it. We are about approachable beers. We Brian K. Smith, MPA the machine. Jacquie said, "We as an inare the gateway craft beer. Our flagship is an accredited member of dustry have had to be very quick to adapt beer is our lager. If that brings people into the BC Association of Travand continue to be flexible, as there is still the craft side of things, I'm doing my job el Writers, and is Chief Phoa lot of uncertainty week to week. All we right!" tographer for What's Brewing. can hope for is continued support to proFA L L 2020 WHAT'S BREWING 27


XXXXXXXX | XXXXXXXX

TRAVEL | OKANAGAN

KELOWNA'S EMERGING BEER DISTRICTS

A

>> BEER SEEKERS

s has been widely reported, too many people celebrated Canada Day together in Kelowna this year. The ensuing viral outbreak and bad publicity caused tourism to drop appreciably in late July, to the detriment of the innocent businesses there. Recently, What’s Brewing headed to the Okanagan to check in on the breweries, whose traffic was affected by this.

Downtown & Cultural District The centre of Kelowna is replete with shops, restaurants and entertainment, even in these unusual times. You’ll want to grab a hotel room downtown, and your city tour will start amid a great food & beverage scene. Your first stop is just a few minutes away. The Downtown and North End

The North End: BC’s New Brewers Row With five breweries within essentially a one-block radius, Kelowna’s North End is the new BC brewery cluster to rival Port Moody Brewer’s Row. As with Port Moody, two of them are next door neighbours, and the rest are a one minute crawl each. And that’s if you’re actually crawling.

Kelowna Beer Institute

In 2016, we visited the Tree Brewing Beer Institute along the beautiful, bustling boardwalk located along Kelowna’s Water­front Park. No, it’s not an institute of any kind, and it’s no longer branded as Tree either. Either way, the BI is an awesome space with a light menu special­izing in spent-grain pizza. You can really enjoy a beer in the relaxed atmosphere of this great two-floor room and patio near the centre of the city.

BNA Brewing BNA Brewing & Eatery is two operations: a busy brewery, next door to a massive two-floor restaurant with its own entrance and opening hours. Thus, your tour will need to involve BNA twice: have drinks in the lounge on the way to your North End crawl, then dine in the Eatery on the way back. 28 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

We recently interviewed BNA Brewing’s Marketing Director Jill Jarrett about how things went during the COVID lockdown. See our COVID Comeback feature on page 8 and check out the full story on our website.

The first stop on your North End tour is Rustic Reel Brewing. Located just a short walk from BNA, this is a must-see for the beer enthusiast. Owner Susi Foerg has put her heart and soul (and love of beer) into this place. She wanted to create a place where women felt comfortable, and she certainly succeeded. The décor is a combination of modern and “rustic cottage”, with potted plants and fresh flowers placed strategically throughout. There is a small, revolving menu, and the beers are clean and solid. Especially recommended were the Amber Ale and the Rosenheim Hefeweizen.


BEER SEEKERS ON TOUR | travel

tweaking his recipes with two goals: first, to not make exactly the same beer as everyone else and, second, to “dry out” the beers a bit to get away from the sweetness (to cut down on that hangover). Owner Matt Jewell has a vision to make Kelowna a great beer town. He is interested in bringing more people into the beer scene and endeavours to have a wide range of tasty beers to entice even those who might think they do not like beer to come in and enjoy something they make. Matt says “Regular people should have access to nice things”. Vice and Virtue is the embodiment of that philosophy.

Red Bird Brewing is a small brewery with big ambitions. This popular brewery is in a small building with a limited capacity brewing system. As a result, they currently need to contract brew most of their beer. They have a big patio, however, and it was full of happy beer-drinkers at the time of our visit. The patio is dog-friendly and they have a limited menu as well. If you visit on a weekend, you will see the expanded patio where they pull their fence across the adjacent parking lot and put out a bunch more tables to accommodate more people. Owner Adam is working on an expansion of the brewery and has bought the building next door for that purpose. Adam’s vision for the brewery includes having a concert series much like that at Vancouver’s Red Truck Beer Truck Stop. They are currently going through the long approval process, so best wishes to them as they move forward!

Brad Tomlinson at Jackknife

All breweries have their own personalities, and Jackknife Brewing is like no other. Set in a small building next to Kettle River, it has an alternative/metal kind of vibe. Owner/brewer Brad Tomlinson, founding brewer at Kettle River, went out on his own by opening up shop next door. Brad is an experimental kind of guy, and makes unfiltered, experimental kinds of beers. At the time of our visit, there were 7 beers on tap, all of them brewed with kveik yeast. The unfiltered beers are all very tasty, and a bit unusual, but without being over the top or inaccessible for the average beer drinker. A word of advice: go hungry because you need one of their incredible pizzas.

Kettle River James Windsor and Matt Jewell in the Vice and Virtue taproom

Vice & Virtue Brewing might be the home of Kelowna’s first popular kettle sour. In fact, their Love Potion Raspberry Berliner Vice has become their flagship beer, an 8:1 seller over all their other amazing brews. Vice & Virtue makes a large number of different beers on their 10-barrel system, encompassing the regular styles you would want to see in a brewery, although with a bit of a twist. Brewer James Windsor takes great pride in his beer and enjoys spending time

When we first visited Kettle River Brewing in 2016, around the corner from the monolithic Tree brewery, Kelowna’s then-newest and tiniest brewery was in sharp contrast with its largest. Since then Tree is gone and Kettle River has grown into a community hub. Kettle River now has a large, wheelchair-accessible patio with social distancing measures built in. The place was buzzing when we showed up for a couple of tasty late night brews. Great hospitality matched the great beers we sampled. Kettle River got full COVID compliance marks for keeping those masks on at all times serving guests. So did many others around town.

Kelowna’s North End: standing on one corner, you can see all four breweries listed on this page Continued on page 30

FA L L 2020 WHAT'S BREWING 29


Continued from page 29

BEER SEEKERS ON TOUR | travel

Northeast Kelowna As BC’s third-largest metro area, Kelowna is more than just the original inner town. The surroundings play host to a couple of other brewery clusters that are more than worth seeking out. For this busy day with five breweries you’ll need a designated driver. Fortunately, ride-sharing just came to Kelowna this summer in the form of Lucky To Go, one of BC’s newest independent ride-hailing operations. Once you’ve got your wheels organized, your first stop is about ten minutes Eastbound on Hwy 97.

Darla Ariss and Sean White at Copper Brewing What do you get when a home-brewing engineer and a wine-industry businesswoman happen to meet? You get Copper Brewing Co., a large, open, inviting taproom in the Landmark neighbourhood of Kelowna. Opened September 2019 by Sean White and Darla Ariss, Copper has an extensive, ever-changing list of solid, tasty beers. They’re made by Richard Fukumoto, a young, energetic brewer who came from Labatt-owned giants Mill Street and Stanley Park Brewing. Copper is an inclusive establishment, welcoming families with kids (Nintendo gaming systems in tasting room booths!) and dogs on the patio.

Freddy’s Brewpub Freddy’s is Kelowna’s original brewpub and, since the demise of Tree Brewing, the city’s longest-running brewery, period. Debuting in 2000 as Big River Brewing, then known as Mill Creek Brewery, the location now beloved as Freddy’s Brewpub is annexed to the McCurdy Bowling Centre. Lower Mainland readers will understand that concept because the same exists in Richmond, where one of the other original Big River locations became what is Monkey 9 Brewing today. This summer and early fall, Freddy’s is undergoing a major renovation (see our separate feature on that). If you visit Kelowna this fall, check in on Facebook for updates on that; in the meantime, you can still drink the beers on the bowling side.

Welton Brewery Welton Brewery is the brainchild of Simon Welton, a British expat whose goal is to bring a little bit of England to Kelowna. Adam Chatburn has the details later in this issue. Welton's first official beer to go on tap, Guilden Sutton Golden Ale, debuted during the second week of August.

30 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

Plan your Kelowna trip at whatsbrewing.ca/map

Wild Ambition Save the rideshare or cab fare! For the next stop, you can actually walk, because the unique Wild Ambition Brewing is only two industrial park blocks away from Welton as the crow flies (although there’s a fence in the way, so flying would actually help in this case). Sadly, Wild Ambition was on very limited hours this summer, opening only on Fridays for beer pickup. Hopefully by the time you make it to Kelowna that will have changed, but either way you can still get their noteworthy beers (think: ‘wild’, ie mixed fermentation brews) with a little planning.

GM Connor MacKay-Dunn at Kelowna Brewing Co. You’ll find KBC Public House on a hill near Kelowna’s UBC campus. This spacious brewpub boasts an impressive wall of windows overlooking the stunning landscape of the surrounding valley. The pub opened in June of 2019, then began brewing their own beer as Kelowna Brewing Co. in December. Brewer Josh Wyatt, formerly of the currently-defunct Boundary Brewing, is busy making a few mainstays and some rotating seasonals, including some very good fruit sours! For a new brewery, it’s already turning out some nice beers.


BEER SEEKERS ON TOUR | travel

The Lakeshore Beer Tour The next day of touring is best handled using a novel travel method: bus. Be a responsible drinker and grab a daypass from Kelowna Regional Transit System for a bargain $5. Ride the No. 1 all the way south to the end of the line, and you’re right by Barn Owl Brewing. Barn Owl is an intimate, homey little brewery inside an actual heritage barn. Surprisingly for such a small brewery, they have 15 taps of their own beers. If it’s a sunny day, you’ll love the small patios front and back of the barn. There’s a bakery next door with lunch bites if you’re peckish. After a couple of hours there, hop onto that same bus back north to Shore Line Brewing, which just opened in June. Their large taproom and giant patio are across from Boyce Gyro Park. There’s a full kitchen and 8 beers on tap. Next, hop back on that same bus one quick stop northbound, or walk ten minutes, and you’ll reach the Mission Tap House, a solid BC craft beer supporter. After a day of drinking in the sun, you’ve earned a good dinner featuring some great beers from around the province. Alternatively, you can do the route in the other order, especially if you’re ready for a big lunch to get the drinking started off right. Just be aware that Barn Owl doesn’t have dinner options (although DunnEnzies Pizza Mission is close by). Either way, when your crawl is complete, just whip out your daypass and ride that same government limo back downtown. Over in Westbank, you’ll find one more brewery: Kind Brewing. This clean, sharp tasting room showcases its brewhouse behind glass in the classic manner to good effect. Nice aesthetics complement an impressive beer menu. As stated, the purpose of the tour, aside from meeting people and enjoying great food and craft beer, was to see how Okanagan cities are dealing with the COVID crisis. What did we find? There was no reason to stay away from the breweries here. They are fully up to speed and handling COVID measures well. So if you’re on the fence about a BC beer staycation in the Okanagan, just use common sense approaches and you can have a safe and enjoyable vacation. Visit Kelowna Ale Trail for more.

HWY97BREWERY.COM

@HWY97B E E R #LIFESAROADTRIP

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A VIEW FROM THE CELLAR | profile

A VIEW FROM KELOWNA

WELTON BRINGS BRITISH BEER BACK TO BC

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>> ADAM CHATBURN

few months back, What’s Brewing reported that Kelowna’s Boundary Brewing had closed. They made great beer and had a loyal following. but the production system and business model weren’t sustainable. It’s a sad day when any brewery closes, but a second act was about to begin. Welton Brewery poured their first newly-brewed beers in the tasting room during the first week of August, beginning with the Blacon Brown Ale and the Guilden Sutton Golden Ale. Recently, I spoke to owner Simon Welton, who explained: I moved to Kelowna 15 years ago with my family and finished high school here before attending UBC in Vancouver. I was lucky enough to be immersed in both the BC and Ontario beer scenes after I moved to Toronto and fell in love with craft beer. I started getting interested in brewing at the end of university by watching home brewing videos, and my interest blossomed from there. Upon deciding I wanted to do it professionally, I considered where the best place to do it was, and the answer was obvious: Kelowna has a brewery scene that is still in its infancy compared to Vancouver and Toronto, with an influx of younger people and the potential to become the next brewery hotspot of BC. Like many ex-pat Brits craving a taste of home (yours truly firmly included), Simon thought about his past and wanted to bring it to BC’s future: I‘ve noticed for a while there was a gap in the market in BC for English ales as I remember them when visiting home over the years. You do get some English ale here, but the ones I’ve tried didn‘t do justice to the styles I remember drinking in England. We really look carefully at mash temperatures, water profiles, and ingredients to emulate English ale accurately. I‘m proud to share my heritage in my new home. Our crest is based on that of the city of Chester, the city I grew up in. It is particularly fitting as there is wheat in the crest. We are naming the majority of our beers after places important to me growing up in the UK. Guilden Sutton, Blacon, and Rhyl are all places with important connections to my childhood. However, we are using the modern hop varieties such as 32 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

Citra and Mosaic, which I think adds a unique dynamic to our product versus the traditional English brands. We will also attempt to revitalize some heritage styles, such as a spontaneously fermented West Country white beer which dates back to the Middle Ages. We will eventually be recreating some old ales and some other historical beers. Simon is opening a restaurant location, the Welton Arms, in the heart of Kelowna’s North Side brewery district later this year (hopefully late November). It will serve fish and chips as well as a variety of other classic UK pub dishes. He says it will have an English pub aesthetic with a few modern touches.

Welton in the brewhouse

I asked him why, with big plans for a city centre brewpub, he changed gears and took over the Boundary space? I started speaking with Olly at Boundary Brewing in late February, after a friend mentioned they were interested in selling. At first it seemed an odd idea, with a place already picked out downtown and plans to build a brewery there; I‘d even submitted liquor permits! Then I thought more about the potential down the road to have a dedicated production space, with room to grow, off-site from the restaurant, and it started to make sense. We have so much room to grow in the brewery location. I ambitiously hope to double our capacity within two years and spread the reach of our brand beyond the Okanagan. For now though, we have plenty of work to do in Kelowna. Great to see Kelowna giving Penticton a run for its money as the interior beer Nirvana, and I for one am looking forward to trying some of their beers later this year when I visit the Okanagan. Adam Chatburn is former president of CAMRA Vancouver. Follow him at @real_cask on Instagram and @realcask on Twitter. He doesn’t post very much but when he does it’s awesome.


WOMEN OF BEER | profile

it took to put Rustic Reel together.

Susi Foerg: Getting Reel

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>> LUNDY DALE

elowna’s craft beer scene began 24 years ago with the debut of Tree Brewing Company. Growth in brewery numbers remained quiet until five years ago, when breweries began popping up all over the city. Now with 15 breweries and counting, it has become a true beer destination. From the first time I read about Susi Foerg back in 2017, I was I intrigued! The owner and operator of the now one-year old Rustic Reel Brewing Co. seemed different, as did her approach to opening a brewery. It was a woman’s approach. Susi certainly comes across as a strong woman who has carefully thought out and planned her operation and will take on as many roles as needed to make her brewery succeed. I have yet to meet her, but until I get that chance, here is my virtual meetup with Susi Foerg.

HOW MUCH OF “YOU” IS IN RUSTIC REEL? Everything about Rustic Reel is me. When you look around our space, the comfortable, old-school vibe, with the little feminine touches were all put together and chosen by my designer, Tara Reavie, and myself. A nice touch at your table

WHY THE NAME?

The name is intended to remind you of fishing off the dock with your Dad or Grandpa; maybe they gave you their old rod and reel to use. In our Community Room, you’ll find a wall with photos of past fishing trips with family and friends. That nostalgic feeling is what I hope people feel when they come into our tasting room.

WHAT ROLE DID YOU PLAY IN THE CREATION OF RUSTIC REEL? I got the idea of opening a brewery after visiting Persephone Brewing on the Sunshine Coast five years ago. I was in banking prior to this endeavour, and I’m not sure what possessed me to

decide on this venture, but I did. I worked on putting together a business plan for over a year, took online brewing courses, moved to Vancouver to work at a craft brewery, came back and designed the entire space with my interior designer, then physically worked on the site for the eight months that

Since opening, I’ve spent countless hours in all areas of the business. I’ve worked in the tasting room behind the bar, running food, taking orders and filling growlers; I’ve worked in the kitchen dishwashing and cooking; and when my brewer went back to the US after COVID-19 hit, I spent three months handling all things brewery-related: brewing, cleaning, cellaring and kegging. I’m very happy and proud to say I have done every job in my business!

YOU APPEAR TO HAVE A FOCUS ON WOMEN, FROM EVENTS TO PROMOTIONS AND MERCH? IS THAT PLANNED? It partly was, yes. Being in a very male-dominated industry, I was clear from the beginning on making sure that women felt welcome and comfortable in my space. I’m happy to say that with my designer’s help we definitely succeeded in creating that feel. This has allowed me to hold events that are focused on women. Nothing against men! Love ‘em! But I have the opportunity to create awesome events in a space that’s usually deemed masculine, and it feels great!

The BeerSeekers were impressed by both the beer and food (See p. 28)

WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM THE MANY OTHER BREWERIES IN KELOWNA? Mmmmm, that’s a question I have a hard time answering; I don’t like to sound as if I’m bragging or think we’re better than anyone. I’ll say that we are much larger than our close neighbours, and a ‘lighter’ vibe that’s relaxed yet classy. I like to suggest people just come visit and feel the difference; it is really cool. I don’t find that any two breweries are alike, and I love that!

HOW WERE YOU TRAINED? I had originally planned on heading down to Chicago’s Seibel Institute for their brewing program, however I decided to take the online version instead and get some hands-on experience at a brewery in Vancouver. I had met one of the partners of Electric Bicycle Brewing back in 2017. When I was looking to get experience, they were in their final months before opening and needed someone to do odd jobs. I was that girl! I was able to spend time with their brewer, be part of brew days, do some home brewing, and also learn about all that goes in to getting a brewery open! It was an amazing experience. Continued on page 34

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WOMEN OF BEER | profile

DO YOU FEEL RESPECTED IN YOUR ROLE? Yes. I feel respected by my staff because they Susi brewed these! have seen that I have done every job in the building and am never above doing any task. I’ve tried to make sure to create a space where my staff can share with me, approach me with issues, and ask me for help. I also generally don’t get mad about things. Screw-ups happen, move on.

FAVOURITE FEMALE IN THE INDUSTRY? Truthfully, I’m a loner. ð&#x;˜Š I don’t know anyone in the industry outside of the Kelowna circle and Electric Bicycle. I wasn’t in the industry prior to this, and I’ve kept my head down working since, so I haven’t had much time for socializing.

BIGGEST ACHEIVEMENT TO DATE? GOALS FOR YOURSELF? My biggest achievement is that I’m able to say that all of the beers currently on tap were brewed by me, and we get compliments on the beer all the time! I used the recipes we had in place, however it’s a huge accomplishment to have been able to supply my brewery with beer myself! It was INCREDIBLY exhausting, especially since I was doing this both while we were shut down and after we had re-opened. I was running a business while also doing very physical work. I’m proud to say that I can handle anything life throws at me and still remain standing.

#meetthenewrussell

CRAFT BEER, FISHING, AND COMMUNITY.

ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR WOMEN GETTING INTO THE INDUSTRY? Don’t listen to any voice other than your own. Focus, head down, work hard, and believe in yourself! Lundy Dale Among her 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.

34 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

We're Open and Brewing! Visit us at 760 Vaughan Ave, Kelowna, BC


COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT | advertorial

Chris

Re-imagining Kelowna's Longest-Serving Craft Brewery Q & A WITH CHRIS BUNNAGE OF FREDDY’S BREWPUB Freddy’s is Kelowna’s original brewpub and the city’s longest-running brewery. But after two decades, craft beer fans around the province may still not know much about the brewery. Who is your head brewer, and what do they like to brew? Keith Bennett has been with our company for over four years. He is very versatile and thinks of the brewing process like poetry. He's done an amazing job pairing local flavors to match the Okanagan seasons. If you ask our regulars, he makes the best beer in town! Keith brews a wide variety, but he has a true passion: “Dark beers have more depth of flavour, and really showcase what craft beer is all about”, he says. Countless Kelowna residents have spent a fun night at the Bowl and Brew. What are the most attractive reasons to come in? Our facility is about socializing in a safe and fun environment. There are few places in our province to enjoy small batch craft beers, have an amazing dining experience, and get active with 30 lanes of fun (on our McCurdy Bowling Centre side).

This year, Freddy’s is undergoing a major renovation. How are things progressing with the reno, and what will be different when it’s complete?

to keep the brewpub side open during the renovations, but with COVID capacity limitations that changed. However, customers are still able to dine and enjoy a Freddy’s brew on the bowling side.

To highlight our expanded brewery, we have taken the space right down to the studs and are rebuilding from scratch. There will be brand new booth seating, expanded indoor patio and lounge area, revamped menu featuring several new food items, 15 beers on tap with as many as 10 Freddy's beers, new brewing equipment with see-through windows and large, open-concept garage doors by our bowling centre.

Our brewhouse is operational, although it will pause for expansion in October. Fortunately our cold storage is not affected, so we will keep pouring Freddy’s beers all Fall! Keith is brewing hard for this, and joining forces with other Kelowna breweries to expand from eight to 15 beers on tap for our re-opening (big thanks to Wild Ambition, Kelowna Brewing Company and Kettle River).

We have been part of the Kelowna community for almost 20 years, so this reno is our way of saying ‘Thank You’ for all the support. Our incredible team is working hard to meet our planned Fall re-opening dates. When you visit, you will experience a brand new Freddy’s Brewpub! It seems like good timing to conduct a reconstruction project in 2020. Did the lockdown have any effect on your plans? Over a year and a half ago, we made plans to break ground at the end of April 2020. Originally we were going

This Fall, our planned brewpub hours will be 3pm – 11pm Monday to Friday and extended hours Saturdays and Sundays. This will expand as COVID restrictions are lifted. Stay tuned for this Fall's re-opening! Freddy's Brewpub 124–948 McCurdy Rd, Kelowna, BC Tel. (250) 765-8956 www.mccurdybowl.com @bowlandbrewkelowna @bowl_n_brew


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STRIKING GOLD IN KAMLOOPS GM Nick Curnow serves a beer from one of Red Beard Cafe's 18 craft taps

>> BEER SEEKERS

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f you make time to visit the Okanagan for beer, it would be a shame to miss out on Kamloops, the original gateway to BC’s gold rush territory. In the brief time we were there we had a few lucky strikes of our own.

Downtown Any beer tour of Kamloops has to begin with the luminary of the local brewing scene, Red Collar Brewing Co. We don’t assign such classifications gratuitously; given the brewery’s pedigree, it fits. This first-rate outlet is operated by the Beardsell family, founders of Kamloops' original craft microbrewery (Bear Brewing, 1995) and brewpub (The Noble Pig, 2010). They no longer run those businesses, directing their energy toward Red Collar in 2014. As always, there was a wide range of styles on the board including some advanced ones, and the flights we shared were spot on. David Beardsell and crew have not lost their touch since our original 2016 visit. The primary change at Red Collar since our last visit is the obligatory spacing of seating; we enjoyed our beers on their nice patio. View Red Collar profile on What's Brewing > Strolling out the back alley and down Victoria Street, you’ll find the aforementioned Noble Pig, a very solid brewpub. Grab a pint and some dinner. If you’re out on the patio, look over the fence and listen carefully; you’ll be able to hear the crowd on the patio at the next establishment. Guess what: that’s where you’re headed next. 36 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

Walk next door to the Thompson Hotel, and you’ll be at Alchemy Brewing Company, where your crawl continues with a full menu of 8-10 beers. Then, if you want one more late-night drink, stop in at the Frick & Frack Taphouse, formerly the Fogg N' Suds Kamloops. You’ll find a few craft offerings here, but be warned that it’s no longer the tap house it once was.

North Shore As we did in Kelowna, it’s time to hop a bus on a $4 daypass for a day of beer touring. Fortunately, all of our beer targets are connected by the town’s main bus routes. Grab a ride to the North Shore; it’s about as fast as you could drive there yourself. In seven minutes, you’ll be at your first stop.


BEER SEEKERS ON TOUR | travel

unearthed one last keg of the brew that had been cellaring for four and a half years. At 11% ABV when brewed, this beer had no problem surviving its extended quarantine. Shall we just say that this was as smooth, rounded off and luxurious as you imagine it was. Of course, Red Beard isn’t just about rare, high-alcohol beers. Anyone can find something appealing amongst their 18 craft taps. But it’s moments like this that distinguish the ‘good’ beer houses from the great ones.

Bright Eye Brewing opened last year on Kamloops’ North Shore. Although completely unknown in the Lower Mainland, their well-designed brewery seems as brilliant as their name implies. Visitors are welcomed by a spacious high-ceilinged glassencased room with a large, impressive mural, and eye candy such as a wall-mounted car chassis and front-facing fermenters with colourful clipboards denoting the beers that await. This brewery has a feel similar to that we’ve experienced in some trendy US breweries. Matching the decor, Bright Eye’s colourful, unfiltered beers were also more adventurous than your typical brewpub fare. Despite the potential for pretentiousness, the atmosphere was friendly and approachable...highly necessary in a town that’s still climbing on board the craft wagon. The food menu at Bright Eye is every bit as refined as the beer list, so you’ll want to tuck into lunch. Here we have a brussel sprout pesto pizza...once again proving how great BC brewery pizza often is. Once your belly’s full, it’s time to head to one of the BC interior’s finest tap houses. For this, you can either walk six minutes, or just hop aboard the next bus heading north for a stop or two.

Red Beard Cafe is an unassuming beverage room tucked away in a suburban neighbourhood of a BC interior town. But it’s one of the best non-brewery places to drink beer in BC. Owner Mitch Forgie and GM Nick Curnow bring in brews from around the province and treat them well. While we were there, we had a classic BeerSeekers lucky find.

After spending your afternoon at Red Beard, it’s time to continue your beer journey at Iron Road Brewing. For that, you simply whip out that daypass again and ride less than 20 minutes across town to the Thompson Rivers University area.

TRU & Southwest Iron Road is a classic modern brewery. We were fortunate enough to happen to last visit Kamloops on the exact weekend they opened (more BeerSeekers luck); you’ll find a complete writeup of the resulting brewery tour in our 2017 article. Suffice to say that Head Brewer Aaron MacInnis is still producing very solid beers. Couple that with the Mexican-focussed menu (something more breweries should think about!) and this is a great spot for University students and veteran beer travellers alike. By the way, the other brewery shown on the map, Kamloops Brewing, is not part of your scheduled tour. You can pop in there if you like (we did in 2016), but as the home of NorthAm Group and its sub-labels like Whistler Brewing, Bowen Island, KB Brewing and Balderdash, it’s not considered ‘craft’ in the same way as the rest. But there’s a tie-in: the reason that labels like Whistler and the (long-lost) Coquihalla Brewery ended up being managed in Kamloops is due to mergers involving Bear Brewing, the original David Beardsell brewery we mentioned at the start of this story. It all makes a nice circle. In terms of COVID compliance, we found that all establishments visited were following fundamental protocols. However we noticed a distinct difference in the level of mask-wearing between Kelowna, which of course had just been hit by an infection surge, and Kamloops, where masks were seen more rarely.

Back in 2016, Red Beard was hosting the exclusive Kamloops may not be most people’s idea of a craft annual Péché Day, an annual international event destination. But when you want to go North or East in BC, in honour of Quebec brewery Dieu du Ciel’s worldwe recommend budgeting a couple of days here for a beer ranked Péché Mortel coffee-infused Imperial stout. A The rare find touring stopover. The hotel rates are more than reasonable, and 2016 ‘Péché Especiale’ using Red Beard-roasted coffee you won’t regret it. Visit the Kamloops, Shuswap & Vernon page was part of the celebration. Fast forward to 2020, and Red Beard on the BC Ale Trail website (bcaletrail.ca). FA L L 2020 WHAT'S BREWING 37



TRAVEL | OKANAGAN

COMING HOME TO PENTICTON The attractive grounds of the Penticton Ramada

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>> BEER SEEKERS n a hot July day, we’re rocketing like a blue streak (quite literally, actually) towards not just any town, but Beer Town.

Penticton, long the focal point for BC’s South Okanagan summer playground, is something more for us: it’s a true craft beer community. As we detailed in our last issue, the long-running Okanagan Fest of Ale (felled only in its 25th year by the damn virus) planted the seed for a strong craft beer culture here early on. As a result, Penticton developed a beer scene years ahead of its bigger cousin Kelowna.

Today, Cannery is better to visit than ever. In addition to their taproom and front patio, they have recently added “The Backyard”, a lovely, quiet green space adjacent to the north side of the brewery. The same beers are available here as in the taproom, rotating food trucks provide more solid sustenance, and one can (socially distantly) while away an afternoon with friends at shady picnic tables. Cannery continues to be the “place to be” in Penticton as illustrated by the fact that we met up with several industry insiders during our leisurely afternoon visit.

Kelowna now has double the breweries, but with only one fifth the population, Penticton easily wins the per-capita brewery comparison. That, again, helps explain why it has the nickname #BeerTownBC. Now, with that settled, let’s investigate where to find some friendly faces and cold craft beer in this warm, welcoming place.

Downtown Beer Crawl

Start your tour at Cannery Brewing. Operated by the Dyck family since 2001, it’s a rock in the tight Penticton beer community. Although Cannery was severely affected by the March shutdown order, this is a family that was too experienced to surrender to panic. After temporarily and tearfully parting with staff members they consider their extended family, they kept hold of the steering wheel and brought things back under control in the following weeks.

Bad Tattoo has had a great reputation since they opened. They make good, solid beer, some of the best pizza in BC beer, and were one of the first breweries to make hand sanitizer when COVID hit. They’ve expanded their production over the years but were hit hard by the spring closure. They laid off staff and started making sanitizer. Owner Lee Agur says that it’s been busy since they’ve gone back to beer, and they’re hiring again. Slackwater Brewing is the newest kid on the brewery block. Owners Liam and Kelsey Peyton spent much of 2019 getting married, going on a honeymoon, moving from the coast, and starting a brewery, all at the same time! By February 2020, their tasting room was frequently at 90% capacity, before everything came crashing down. Fortunately, Liam understood the significance of the virus and saw the shutdown coming, so he started working on an online delivery platform in advance and quickly shifted production to packaged product. Slackwater was therefore the first brewery in Penticton to start home deliveries.

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BEER SEEKERS ON TOUR | travel

John Kapusty at Hwy 97 On top of COVID challenges, Slackwater’s head brewer suffered a family tragedy this past spring, causing beer production to stall in May. When we visited in July, the perseverant brewery was back up to speed and serving beer and food again. Coming soon: two major new brewery locations will open downtown Penticton, right along the path between the three already present. When Neighbourhood Brewing and Highway 97 Brewery open up in the city core, Beer Town will be one of the best brewery crawls in the province.

Many thanks to congenial publican John Kapusty for another great conversation at Hwy 97. We look forward to joining John and his family when they open their new, expanded brewery in downtown Penticton, tentatively slated for 2021. When you’re ready for dinner, head back to the Station Pub and you’ll find a great beer selection to accompany the distinguished menu. Dine outside on the stunning patio. When you’re ready for a nightcap, takeout craft beer is available to enjoy from your room’s patio or balcony.

Mid-town Beer Stops Everything is close in Penticton...but if you don’t want to walk the half hour from the Ramada, you can cab it to the next destination.

Sneak peek at the new Hwy 97 Brewery under construction, across the street from Cannery. Inset: Neighbourhood Brewing sign went up just before our trip.

Penticton West Downtown may be Penticton's main beer nexus, but What's Brewing knows the benefits of staying at the Ramada Penticton Hotel, home of The Station Public House, and next door to Highway 97 Brewing Company.

Michael Nagy, Manager at Tin Whistle, repping his hometown #PenCityBeer Tin Whistle Brewing, founded 1995, is the Penticton original. It has grown along with the craft beer wave. They had to lay off staff when COVID hit, but already had a strong online presence in place. As of mid-summer, their newly-expanded tasting room was re-opened, and they were slowly hiring back staff.

Be sure to reserve at the Ramada, and when you reach Penticton, you’ll check in to one of the stunning rooms there. The beautiful layout and poolside bar belie the fact that this is technically a motel. If you haven't stayed at the Ramada, you really must. Highway 97 Brewery's current location is only a block away. Spend an afternoon drinking fresh craft beer either on the patio or indoors, where you have the added bonus of watching the brewers at work just a few feet away. Their motto is “Life’s a Road Trip”, and the welcoming atmosphere pairs well with that sentiment. It’s as comfortable as being in your own living room, with better beer and no need to clean up afterwards. 40 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

CanneryBrewing.com


AN IN-CIDER'S VIEW | lockdown logbook

The Barley Mill Manager Mike Nagy has added a few fun gadgets to the tasting area since our last visit, including a couple of pinball machines. If you’re into gaming, you’ll love hanging out on the couch with beer and a big screen TV. Following Tin Whistle in 1997 was Penticton’s second brewery, the Barley Mill Brew Pub. Unlike many breweries of that vintage, they’re still going strong thanks to brewer Shawn Voisin. Make this your lunch stop. In addition to being a great food & beverage spot, The Barley Mill is a shrine to sports memorabilia, because 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 you’ve finished your meal. < Your friendly host Paolo displays the vast craft beer selection at JAK’s Penticton Now you’ll want to head back to the Ramada to enjoy the impressive accommodations. Aside from the breweries themselves, the best place to pick up beer for your hotel room is JAK’s Beer Wine Spirits. They’re huge #BCCraftBeer supporters (and sponsors of the What’s Brewing Tasting Panel). This is where official BC beer community Legend (and Panel leader) Lundy Dale picks up her beer, so you should too.

Summerland Nathan Rosin invites you to Detonate (your taste buds) > On your way to or from Penticton, it's a piece of cake to stop in at Breakaway Brewing in downtown Summerland. It's also worth the detour to check out Detonate Brewing on a suburban hill off Highway 97. Nathan Rosin’s tasting room is exactly what the craft revolution is all about: experimental batches by a homebrew beer geek gone pro.

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out of their houses for days or weeks meant that our arrival was a breath of fresh air—almost literally. We maintained our distance and made contactless deliveries, but they wanted updates about what things were like “out there”. What does Robson Street look like? How is the tranCider packaged up at Container Brewing sit system working? And the kind lady that passed me a tip at the end of a long stick. Our work as delivery drivers kept our businesses in touch with our customers at a time when we and they needed it the most. We became better businesspeople with a much more engaged sense of what “direct to consumer” marketing meant and how better to adjust our web presence and apps like Instagram to generate incremental sales. But what it boiled down to is that our respective delivery services kept us moving, focused, and alive during this strange period in our lives. It also gained all of us some good friendships. Our group became the faces that we saw, the only people we could talk to directly, joke with, and enjoy, for months. We still operate our respective delivery services. We’re down from seven days a week to three. We’ve shrunk our delivery area to focus more on our core region of Vancouver proper. And we’ve noticed that our typical delivery patron has changed as well. It’s no longer someone who couldn’t leave their home, but someone looking for a convenient way to get their cider or beer. I’m still dealing with the after-effects of all of this. It’s been hard to watch the world turn upside-down in such a short period of time. People leaping out of your way as you walked down the sidewalk. The constant parGirl Guide cookies: a big hit anoia of catching a disease that has affected a very small portion of the local population. The sudden closure of the economy and the hobbling of almost every business that we know. This has been a crisis that hit very close to home as we saw some of our favourite establishments hit hard. Congratulations to all for getting through this mess and staying the course in the face of adversity. If cider is your thing, we’re happy. If it isn’t, be sure to check out Container Brewing, Sundown Brewing, and Powell Brewing— their beer is amazing! Jeff Nairn

The BeerSeekers Ivana and Dave Smith have searched for that next perfect pint in BC and around Cascadia for two decades.

is the co-founder of Windfall Cider, a craft cider producer based in East Vancouver. His column tackles items fermented, not brewed, focussing on issues related to BC's burgeoning craft cider industry. FA L L 2020 WHAT'S BREWING 41


HIDDEN GEMS OF BC

BREWING UP NEW MEMORIES IN THE EAST KOOTENAYS

>> KIM LAWTON Wapta Falls

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s soon as Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the beginning of Phase 3 of BC’s Restart Plan, allowing travel within BC, my husband and I started planning an adventure. With a goal of discovering some new hidden gems in BC’s beautiful backyard, we decided on a trip to Revelstoke and Golden, in the East Kootenays.

meeting the brewery team and touring the breweries. Craft breweries are community gathering spaces, and I love getting a sense and a feel for the personality of each brewery. Like each community, each brewery has its own distinct feel and I love that every brewery has its own story to tell.

At Rumpus Beer Co. in Revelstoke, we met owner Fred Orndorff. Barely a year old, Rumpus was established in June The majestic mountains, scenic views, 2019 in downtown Revelstoke. Their stunning waterfalls, and interesting cozy and inviting taproom is warm h i k e s we r e t h e p e r f e c t and comfortable, like your complement to the delicious grandparents’ rumpus room. craft beers and eats that we They have closed their small enjoyed throughout our taproom temporarily due to four-day getaway. the pandemic, but it’s still a hub in the community as We had driven through both locals and tourists stop for Revelstoke and Golden in the a chat and a visit while they past, but had not spent any pick up growlers and crowlers time exploring these charming of beer to go at the front-door mountain towns. Part of the draw beer station. They offer a rotating Fred Orndorff at to this area was that most of our selection of locally inspired Rumpus Beer Co. adventures would be outdoors. creative beers with lower ABVs. We spent a day in Yoho National Park, hiking Wapta Falls, enjoying a picnic at We had a nice visit at Mt. Begbie Brewing, Takakkaw Falls, a walk around Emerald also in Revelstoke, where we met with Lake, and the stunning Natural Bridge. We Darryn Shewchuk, the Director of Sales also hiked a short but spectacular trail called and Marketing. Founded in 1996 by Bart the Meeting of the Waters at Illecillewaet and Tracey Larson, Mt. Begbie is one of Campground between Revelstoke and BC’s early craft breweries. We enjoyed Golden. flights and delicious eats on their large, sun-drenched patio, looking out at their Whenever we explore a new area, a visit namesake Mount Begbie, Revelstoke’s most to the local breweries is a must. We are identifiable mountain peak. supporters of the concept of earning your beer, (search #earnyourbeer); Mt. Begbie will celebrate their 25th nothing tastes better than a anniversary in Spring 2021 and delicious craft beer after a they’ve grown a lot through hike in BC’s wonderland. the years and racked up On this trip, we had the quite a collection of awards. opportunity to visit all three They’ve moved locations, local breweries: Rumpus Beer rebranded, and added new Co. and Mt. Begbie Brewing equipment. With a goal of in Revelstoke, and Whitetooth being plastic-free, their most Brewing in Golden. recent addition is a new boxing Darryn Shewchuk machine. Their 4-packs of 473ml at Mt. Begbie I enjoy trying the beers at each local tall cans now come in in recyclable brewery when I travel. I also really enjoy carboard boxes. 42 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

We spent a great afternoon at Whitetooth Brewing, Golden’s family-owned and operated brewery, established in 2016. We met with co-owner Kent Donaldson for a beer, a tour, and a chat. Named after the Whitetooth peak at the ski hill on Kicking Horse Mountain, Whitetooth Brewing is on the road down from the ski hill. Celebrating mountain culture, all of the beers have a Golden reference, making the brewery and the beers special ambassadors of Golden. The large 100-seat patio offers gorgeous views of the Purcell Mountains on one side and the Rocky Mountains on the other side. It’s the perfect spot for a delicious craft beer and a visit with friends while soaking up the sunshine in a physically Kent Donaldson at distant way. Whitetooth Brewing We had an awesome adventure on our fourday road trip to Revelstoke and Golden. If you are looking for an opportunity to explore more of BC, add these beautiful mountain towns to your upcoming travel bucket list. Visit www.bcaletrail.ca to plan your next craft beer adventure in Revelstoke and Golden, on the Kootenay Rockies East Ale Trail. View full story on BC Ale Trail Until next time, cheers.

Kim Lawton is a craft beer fan, a long-time supporter of the craft beer movement, President of CAMRA South Okanagan and the Marketing Director at Cannery Brewing in Penticton. Kim can be reached via Instagram @DogLegMarketing Read more of Kim's travel stories at hiddengemsofbc.ca


NORTHERN NOTES

COMMUNITY, COLLABORATION AND CRAFT

>> ADAM ARTHUR The past few months have also included the opening of Fox Mountain Brewing Co. in Williams Lake and Ursa Minor Brewing at Ootsa Lake, south of Burns Lake. I’m looking forward to checking them both out. There are now 13 craft breweries that call northern BC home, 14 if you include Prince George’s Pacific Western Brewing. And it’s great to see local establishments continuing to support these independent craft breweries such as Nancy O’s in Prince George.

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t has been quite the unusual year in Northern BC. Normally there would be craft beer festivals taking place, such as the CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery Street Festivals and the vALEmount Craft Beer Experience. Brewery patios would also be packed full of mingling people. Things have not been normal since March, and now there’s a new normal. To counteract the COVID-19 blues, people are finding new ways to engage in the spirit of community, collaboration and craft. One unique event in particular has evoked the feelings of a music and craft beer festival, on a smaller scale and in a socially distanced way. Picnic on the Farm: A Socially Distanced Sunday Picnic took place on July 26, 2020 at the beautiful Bydand Creek Farm, located 30 minutes north of Prince George in the Salmon River Valley. This event was a great example of collaboration between three small independent local businesses from Prince George: Mad Loon Entertainment, Birch & Boar Charcuterie & Provisions, and Trench Brewing & Distilling. The event featured great local musicians, delicious locally sourced food, and tasty Trench Brewing & Distilling beer: craft at its best in many aspects. It was well organized, with successful social distancing. It brought people and community together safely to support local and enjoy something memorable. A second event is scheduled for August 23, 2020.

Many northern craft breweries have been brewing up some delicious beer to be enjoyed lately. Some of my picks include the Smithers Brewing Co. Haskap Gose, Trench Brewing & Distilling Sugar Bowl Passion Fruit Pale Ale, Mighty Peace Brewing Co. Mighty IPA, Three Ranges Brewing Co. Snowshoe Saison with Cranberries, Wheelhouse Brewing All Inclusive Pineapple and Coconut Sour, Ursa Minor Brewing Pig’s Eye Rye Ale, Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse Ltd. Skeena West Pale Ale, Barkerville Brewing Co. Sluice Juice Hazy Pale Ale and the CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery one-off cask, Pina Colada Witbier. One beer that really intrigues me is the Smithers Brewing Co. Lichtenhainer beer. Overall, it’s been an interesting time in northern BC with all of the changes caused by responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these changes have allowed people to come together and enjoy things in a new way. Hopefully, these small and medium sized local independent businesses will continue to thrive through these tough times. It’s more important than ever to buy independent BC craft brewery products, to give them a fighting chance. But the most important part is for everyone to be safe and to enjoy craft beer responsibly and in moderation. Cheers!!! Adam Arthur is a craft beer fan since 2010 who’s glad to represent Northern BC and the city of Prince George. He supports Independent craft breweries in (and outside of) BC.

Speaking of social distancing, many craft breweries in the north are adapting well to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s wise advice to be calm, be kind, and be safe. Patios are popping up for the first time and existing patios are expanding. Being greeted by a server wearing a mask is becoming the norm and applying hand sanitizer is becoming second nature. I’ve enjoyed visits at Trench Brewing & Distilling, CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery and Barkerville Brewing Co. I do want to check out the expanded patio at Three Ranges Brewing Co. You can purchase hand sanitizer at Trench and CrossRoads, two places that manufacture it. Each business collaborated to share the cost of developing the method of making hand sanitizer locally. Roughly 500 litres of the first batch was donated to non-profits around the community. FA L L 2020 WHAT'S BREWING 43


HOMEBREW HAPPENIN'S

STAYING SAFE AND KEEPING BREW SHOPS BUSY

>> WARREN BOYER

Barley's Homebrewing

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ovid-19 has affected all of us in some way or another. In mid-March we were asked to stay home and travel only when necessary. Businesses considered non-essential were closed or forced to change the way they do business. For several months, I found myself at home much more than I would have been otherwise. People freaked out and hoarded toilet paper and flour. Concerned, I started thinking about ways to be as self-sufficient as possible: how I could reduce my need to shop at busy stores where I would be in contact with other people. My first step was to start a batch of homebrew. I had the time and I knew I would need the beer. It would keep me busy and reduce my need to visit a local beer store or brewery. I brewed a saison in mid-March. I only have a few bottles left. I bottled another saison at the beginning of August. And, after writing about my 2005 IPA recipe for the last issue of this magazine, I brewed that beer, too. This got me wondering: Has anyone else been brewing more, now that they might have a bit more time to do so? I asked my local homebrew shops if they have noticed anything during this interesting time. It seems that I am not the only one brewing a bit more frequently these days. Curtis Van Marck at Barley's Homebrewing Supplies reported that he noticed a small increase in business that first weekend as the initial restrictions were announced, but he never anticipated how much busier he would get. "Almost overnight, Barley's began experiencing customer counts higher than ever before." It was exciting, sure, but it was incredibly stressful under the circumstances. He was suddenly short-staffed, running out of inventory, struggling to get orders out the door, all while worrying about the health 44 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

and safety of his staff, his customers, and himself. Curtis had to change the way he did business to keep everyone safe while staying open. He says, "It was a humbling experience and I am so grateful to the homebrewing community, and to our customers, for supporting us during this time. It became a regular occurrence to hear customers say, 'Thank you for being open'. It's not really something you expect to hear as a retail store owner." Curtis believes the lockdown was a catalyst. A lot of people found themselves with tons of extra time on their hands in a period of uncertainty. Brewery lounges and bars were closed down and lineups at the liquor store were outrageous. It was the perfect excuse for anyone thinking about homebrewing to make the leap, and it was an opportunity for veteran homebrewers to dive back in to the hobby. Michael Druce at Fraser Mills Fermentation Supplies told me that he saw a noticeable increase in people entering the hobby, or starting back up in the first part of the lockdown, which has led to more regular customers overall. Both Curtis and Michael report many people looking for distilling supplies to make hand sanitizer during the initial stages of restrictions, and sourcing ingredients for other foods like sourdough and conventional bread making, kombucha, cheese making, etc.

seeing new cases on the rise and the province could go back a phase or two, with tightened restrictions. If you have found yourself with time on your hands or need a distraction from all of the craziness in the world right now, I strongly suggest trying homebrewing. It is fun, educational, and rewarding. The best part is that, in the end, you have beer to drink. With a beer in one hand and mash paddle in the other, it is difficult to touch your face! In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry: "Be kind, be calm, be safe...and go make some beer!"

SELECTED LOWER MAINLAND HOME BREW SUPPLIES Barley's Homebrewing Supplies Website: www.barleyshomebrewing.com Website: www.shopbarleys.com Phone: 604-553-1941 Fraser Mills Fermentation Supplies 3044 St Johns Street Port Moody, BC, V3H2C5 Phone: 604-461-8891 Email: michael@frasermillsfc.com Website: frasermillsbrewingsupply.com Centennial Homebrewing Supplies 2985 Rupert St, Vancouver, BC V5M 3T8 Website: centennialhomebrewing.com

As business changed at Fraser Mills Fermentation Supplies, they shifted to a much higher number of online sales and offered local delivery or pick up.

Bosagrape Winery & Brew Supplies 6908 Palm Ave, Burnaby, BC V5J 4M3 Website: www.bosagrape.com

Michael advised that border restrictions have led to some supply problems, especially with yeast and malt extracts. Apparently Kveik strains have been more popular as the weather warmed up.

Goldsteam Craft Brewing Supplies 46126 Yale Rd, Chilliwack, BC V2P 2P1 Website: goldsteam.com

For all of us, the uncertainty continues. Curtis reports that business is beginning to slow and return to a more normal level, but attributes that to restrictions easing. He speculates that may change as we are

Warren Boyer of Fraser Mills Fermentation is an award winning homebrewer, Certified Beer Judge, former President of CAMRA Vancouver, and occasional Professional Brewer. E: homebrewboy@shaw.ca


ULLAGE & SPILLAGE | brewing

Bramling Cross: an underappreciated hop >> J. RANDOM

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or me, like Warren (previous page), staying home and stewing this spring meant staying home and brewing. I never make IPA because BC breweries have world-class West Coast IPAs, and I love ’em. I brew classic British styles because the mild, bitter, and old ales I crave are rarely produced by BC brewers. To my taste, most BC ESBs are too caramel-forward and citrussy. The caramel is presumably from crystal malt, which is used to compensate for the less robust flavours of North American base malts. This is particularly true for breweries that use pilsner malt for all their beers. While I love citrussy hops in an American Pale Ale or IPA, they do not combine well with excessive caramel in my mouth. Simon Welton’s (page 32) plans provide the potential for relief, depending on his ingredient choice. To get authentic British flavours, I use mostly imported malts and hops: Golden Promise or Maris Otter for my base malt, Fuggles in the boil, and East Kent Goldings in a hop stand after the boil. I also dry-hop where appropriate for the style, because I found out that most of the British real ales I really loved were, at least back in the 70s and 80s. When it comes to bitter, nothing beats the effect of Bramling Cross in the secondary fermenter. So it was a pleasant surprise to stumble across the Canadian heritage of this quintessential British hop. In a previous article (What’s Brewing, November 2009), I casually noted that many classic Northwest hops owe their distinctive citrussy aroma to the parentage of wild Manitoba hops. Further research reveals they were also the source of my two favourite hops during early days of homebrewing in the UK: Northern Brewer and Bramling Cross. For this I can thank a fellow British plant pathologist and a Canadian horticulturalist. Professor Ernest Stanley Salmon worked on breeding new hop varieties at Wye College, England, during the early 1900s. (Coincidentally, that institution much later merged with Imperial College, London, where I studied plant pathology.) While Salmon’s early work focussed on disease-resistant varieties, he became aware that British Brewers were having problems obtaining American hops. These days, only readers of Ron Pattinson’s The Homebrewers Guide to Vintage Beer might be aware that British recipes of the 1800s frequently included hops imported from the USA and Canada. They found these higher alpha-acid varieties could be economically used in smaller quantities and preserved the beer better than local hops. Salmon set about trying to add in these desirable qualities to British hop varieties. In 1916 he received seeds of Manitoban wild hop plants from Dr. William Terill Macoun, Dominion Horticulturalist for Canada. This worthy gentleman oversaw Manitoba’s Morden Experimental Farm, among others, and these hops were found growing alongside a creek through the town. Supposedly hops had never been grown commercially in the area, so these were a native variety.

Once these seeds had grown into mature plants, one of them, coded BB1, was open-pollinated (unknown British male hop parentage) to yield Bullion, Brewers Gold and a male variety OL45. Brewers Gold is a key part of the heritage of Northern Brewer and many highSecondary fermenter with alpha American varieties, including hop sock, in a repurposed Citra, Mosaic, and Sorachi Ace. wine cooler for year-round Salmon used OL45 to pollinate brewing. a Bramling Golding, yielding Bramling Cross. While its cousins tended towards citrus notes, this variety enjoys a flavour and aroma like blackcurrants. I was introduced to Northern Brewer by the flatmate who taught me home brewing. He went on to brew for Truman in Isleworth, then John Smith’s in Tadcaster, the largest supplier of cask-conditioned beer in England at that time. I bought Dave Line’s Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy and found the recipes for a couple of my favourite ales used Bramling Cross. However, a psychologist might suggest my fondness for its black-currant notes could be related to excessive childhood consumption of Ribena. So, there I was at Imperial College, being subtly drawn by my homebrew to Canada, though not, thankfully, to Manitoba. More than 40 years later, I occasionally encounter that distinctive taste in a BC-brewed bitter and upon enquiry, confirm they used my favourite hop. Persephone Brewing’s Best Bitter and Main Street Brewing’s Hare and the Dog Best Bitter are two great examples. I strongly suspect that this is a style that would sell better in BC if it could only shake off the B word (What’s Brewing, Summer 2016). I would therefore like to formally propose “British Session Ale”, a much more accurate description than “bitter.” I would also love to see Bramling Cross more widely used and grown in BC. For a while, Scotland’s Brewdog made a heavily hopped ale called Bramling X (IPA is dead), the recipe for which I recently found on their dedicated recipe web site. Now that is an IPA I might brew, and so might you (with apologies to Warren for treading on his homebrew turf). J. Random is a former VP of CAMRA Vancouver, beer fan for 4 decades and occasional homebrewer. Has been penning the Ullage & Spillage column for What's Brewing since 2003. 45 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020


BOOKS IN REVIEW | beer iq

TAPPING THE WEST BY SCOTT MESSENGER

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>> TED CHILD o doubt all of us stuck at home in 2020 are dreaming about our next major road trip. Beer tourism is essential travel, isn’t it?

Good news: Touchwood Editions has published Scott Messenger’s first book, Tapping the West: How Alberta’s Craft Beer Industry Bubbled Out of an Economy Gone Flat. This great little book might well get snobby West Coast beer drinkers to dream about a trip to (gasp!) Alberta to taste craft beer. For a regionally based beer book, what would be a greater mark of a job well done? The subtitle gives some indication that Tapping the West is not like the regional beer guides we’ve seen before. Messenger avoids profiling all 100+ Alberta craft breweries, and gives only quick tasting notes on a few beers in passing. Instead, he tells the story of beer in Alberta, including a good look at pre- and post-prohibition brewing history. He uses a more personal style of journalism, including himself and his responses in his interviews and explorations. Messenger’s style is affable and effective. He digresses in a way that many beer fans will relate to, as he describes the unique personality of those he interviews and the experiences he had while researching the book. By not profiling every single brewery, Messenger is able to focus on the breweries that most represent the themes he is following—the main one being craft beer’s relationship to Alberta’s “boom and bust” economy. It’s refreshing to see a writer take a wider view of beer, including regional politics, culture, and economics. Since he isn’t just interviewing owners and brewers, Messenger also has a chance to take solid looks at the periphery of the business, including college brewing programs, Alberta’s incredible barley, and the small but significant industries of hop growing and small-scale malting. Knowledgeable BC beer fans will note many similarities and significant differences in the history of craft beer in the two provinces. As with BC, 2013 was a big year for craft beer in Alberta, specifically when the government threw out a moldy piece of legislation that required breweries to have a 500,000 litre annual minimum capacity—undoubtedly the work of Big Beer lobbyists. The change allowed for much smaller breweries to exist and thrive, particularly when using Alberta’s world-class barley. BC has had a huge uptick in craft breweries since 2013, and so has Alberta, meaning mainly one thing: great beer. BC beer nerds should rejoice that their neighbouring province has so many great breweries right now. Which brings us to a small criticism that is largely political in nature. Throughout the book, Messenger refers to the Alberta legislation change as deregulation, a term that will invoke heavy political undertones for many. Is this the correct term for a government scrapping an outdated law (one of many prohibition hangovers that continue to plague North American liquor law)? After all, Alberta still maintains other liquor laws, e.g. minimum age, quality assurance and so on (it’s not the Wild West for brewers in Alberta!). BC also reformed some outdated liquor laws in 2012 and 2013, but no one refers to this as deregulation. 46 WHAT'S BREWING FA L L 2020

Another point: quoting the right-wing think tank Fraser Institute as a data source for a discussion on the age of entrepreneurs may seem odd to some readers. But these are personal political qualms with an otherwise wonderful book. There is no book on BC beer equivalent to Tapping the West and what it represents for Alberta beer journalism. Joe Wiebe’s classic, Craft Beer Revolution, is quite a few years old now and is more of a traditional beer guide. Island Craft by Jon C. Stott might be closer to the style and tone of Messenger’s book, but it only deals with Vancouver Island and profiles every brewery there. It would be great to see a widely scoped book about BC beer in a similar vein to Tapping the West. Hopefully, someone is busy working on it as we speak. Nevertheless, Messenger will have you scanning the liquor store shelves for more Alberta beer. Additionally, you will know exactly what breweries you want to hit the next time you’re in our neighbouring province. As previously noted, what higher praise could a BC beer snob give? Ted Child is a Recognized BJCP Beer Judge and awardwinning homebrewer. He is also What's Brewing's in-house book reviewer. Look for his assessments of the latest beer books and publications in each issue


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