Here are some of the highlights from a great year for BC’s craft beer industry.
7 New breweries!
BC craft beer drinkers welcomed seven new breweries in 2012 (eight if you count Hoyne which opened in late December 2011). Most of these new breweries have already made a mark on the brewing scene, and some have even established themselves as major players in their regions:
- Arrowhead Brewing (Invermere)
- Bridge Brewing (North Vancouver)
- Coal Harbour Brewing (Vancouver)
- Firehall Brewery (Oliver)
- Parallel 49 Brewing (Vancouver)
- Powell Street Craft Brewery (Vancouver)
- Townsite Brewing (Powell River)
I had the pleasure of visiting each of these new operations this year, and the common thread shared by them all is a love for good craft beer, a strong sense of community and a desire to play a supporting role in the province’s craft beer industry.
Innumerable & Diverse Seasonal Beers
British Columbia is a hotbed for seasonal/limited release beers. Craft breweries compete with each other to slake beer lovers’ thirst for variety, releasing eclectic special releases such as pumpkin-infused or fresh-hopped beers in the fall; barrel-aged imperial stouts and Christmas beers each winter; berry beers, saisons and weizens each summer; and other creative inventions throughout the year.
Top marks in this category in 2012 has to go to Victoria’s Lighthouse Brewing, where brewer Dean McLeod produced several incredible special releases this year, including the Belgian Black, Belgian White, and Siren Red Ale. Newcomer Parallel 49 also wins kudos for creativity with unique brews like Salty Scot, Black Christmas CDA, Ugly Sweater Milk Stout, and Seedspitter Watermelon Wit.
Some other great seasonals were: Vancouver Island Brewery’s Flying Tanker White IPA; Phillips Brewing’s Pandamonium 11th Anniversary Beer and Puzzler Belgian Black IPA; Driftwood’s Sartori Harvest IPA; Granville Island Brewing’s Imperial IPA; Tree Brewing’s HopHead Black IPA, Captivator Doppelbock and Redwood Wine Barrel Aged Ale; Townsite Brewing’s Charleston Tripel and Shiny Penny Belgian IPA; Howe Sound’s Total Eclipse of the Hop; Central City’s Saison; R&B’s Darksnout Bacon Stout; and I could go on…
I raise a virtual beer glass to these bloggers who achieved great things and/or raised great sh*tstorms in 2012:
- Barley Mowat (one word: Cascadian!)
- LeapBeer (366 beer reviews in 2012!)
- VanEast Beer Blog (Paddy not only stepped in as President at CAMRA Vancouver but also conducted some in-depth investigations and started some very effective consumer advocacy campaigns)
- Brewed Awakening (Jan Zeschky blogs about beer for the Province and continues to be the best beer writer in BC in my humble opinion).
- BC Brews (Rick Green is former CAMRA Vancouver president and founding member of Vancouver Craft Beer Week).
What to look forward to in 2013:
The explosion in craft brewing in BC is going thermonuclear with the addition of at least eight new microbreweries, most of them in Vancouver, which is poised to take over from Victoria as craft beer central. Here are the eight new breweries that should open in 2013, along with new expanded facilities for Central City Brewing (Surrey), Red Truck Brewing (Vancouver) and Steamworks (Burnaby):
33 Acres Brewing (Vancouver)
Bomber Brewing (Vancouver)
BrassNeck Brewery (Vancouver)
Dogwood Brewing (Vancouver)
Four Winds Brewing (Delta)
Main Street Brewing (Vancouver)
Sapperton Brewing (New Westminster)
Wheelhouse Brewing (Prince Rupert)
This will bring the total of craft breweries in BC to 58 by my count (give or take one or two depending on whether you count Granville Island and Turning Point as craft/micros or not). I know of three others in the works that aren’t quite ready to start up this year and I have heard of several other possibilities, so it’s pretty likely we’ll top 60 before too long. Two years ago, there were 41. That’s right – the industry will have grown by nearly 50% in just three years. There’s never been a better time to be a beer lover on the west coast – and British Columbia’s craft beer revolution shows no sign of slowing down.