The Best Time to Drink Beer in B.C.
“There has never been a better time to drink beer in British Columbia.” – Gary Lohin, brewmaster, at the Central City Brewing tap takeover at the Moon Under Water brewpub on May 9, 2013. I couldn’t agree more.
The Canadian Brewing Awards were held in Victoria earlier this month. It was the first time the event has taken place west of Toronto in its 11-year history—perfect timing with the boom of new breweries we are enjoying here in British Columbia: seven new microbreweries opened in 2012, and a dozen or more are expected to open in the next year—six in metro Vancouver alone.
Overall, B.C. breweries did very well at the Awards, winning 35/116 awards handed out. Central City Brewing won three golds and a silver; Parallel 49 Brewing won one gold and three silvers in its first year of competition; and Howe Sound Brewing won four medals as well—two golds, one silver and one bronze.
But Vancouver’s Powell Street Craft Brewery stole the show by winning Beer of the Year for its Old Jalopy Pale Ale, which also won gold in the North American Style Pale Ale (Bitter) category. It was a stunning accomplishment for this tiny nanobrewery that just opened last December—making it B.C.’s youngest brewery. Here’s owner/brewer David Bowkett, still buzzing off his big win back on May 11.
Powell Street Craft won’t be the new kid on the block for long—a string of new breweries is set to open over the next few months. I will profile each of these new operations in this column as they open.
Four Winds Brewing
Opening: June 2013
First out of the gates with beer flowing will be Four Winds Brewing, a family-run operation led by brewer Brent Mills, who previously learned his craft as part of the team at Vancouver’s R&B Brewing. Brent’s two brothers, Adam and Sean, are involved on the sales and marketing side, and their dad, Greg, is handling the administration.
Four Winds will release four core beers to start with—a saison, IPA, American pale ale, and a Czech pilsner—all packaged in four-packs of 330-mL bottles that will be priced at $8.99. The idea is to appeal to consumers who usually just buy single 650-mL bomber bottles, spurning six-packs because of the lack of variety. I tasted the saison and IPA early in May when I visited the brewery, and both were excellent, and I have no doubt they will be well-received in the craft beer community.
The brewery will also put out limited releases in bombers or 750-mL corked bottles, depending on the style. Mills plans on brewing a saison aged with Brettanomyces yeast right off the bat—talk about trying to hit it out of the park on the first pitch. He wants to put out a mix of old-world (unfiltered, bottle-conditioned) and newer craft beer styles from everywhere—hence the brewery’s name.
Next month, I will profile North Vancouver’s Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers, which is opening right across the street from Bridge Brewing, which itself just opened last summer, and 33 Acres Brewing, the first of a trio of new breweries set to open in Vancouver’s historic Brewery Creek neighbourhood.