Summer of Beer
Summer is beer season, and what a great summer we’ve enjoyed this year throughout British Columbia. I was lucky to enjoy incredible weather as I travelled around BC promoting my book, Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries. Following its publication in May, I launched the book at events with breweries, brewpubs and craft beer pubs in more than 20 communities around the province, from Cumberland to Fernie and many places in between. Everywhere I went I found the revolution alive and well: breweries working round the clock to keep up with demand and consumers loving the quality and variety of craft beers available here. New breweries are popping up all over the place, too, following the lead of Four Winds Brewing, which I profiled in May, the last time I had a chance to write here.
The second new brewery to open in BC this year was the Heid-Out Brewhouse in Cranbrook, which I visited just after it launched in mid-June on my way from Nelson to Fernie. Previously Heidi’s Restaurant, its conversion to a brewpub was handled by David Beardsell, the owner/brewmaster of Kamloops’ Noble Pig Brewhouse, who made the 6-hour commute (!) on a weekly basis for the past several months. As with the Pig (see my description in last September’s column), the food and beer are both top-notch, while the vibe is modern and comfortable. It’s a great place to stop on your next road trip along the Crowsnest Highway.
Next to open in BC was 33 Acres Brewing, one of several breweries expected to open in the Vancouver area in the next 12 months—including three in the historic Brewery Creek neighbourhood along Main Street. 33 Acres is the creative vision of Josh Michnik, a heavily bearded 30-year-old who decided to open a brewery two years ago after several years working as a film/television art director in London and Los Angeles. He says the name means “success through hard work,” a philosophy that has definitely driven him as he created the brewery from scratch, doing much of the work himself or with the help of friends. Brewmaster Dave Varga, who moved over from Red Truck, released two excellent beers off the mark: 33 Acres of Life, a California Common (Steam) beer that merges off the drinkability of a lager with the deeper, rounded flavours of an ale; and 33 Acres of Ocean, a Northwest Pale Ale with a decidedly hoppy edge.
North Vancouver’s Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers will launch on Friday, August 23. Founders Shae de Jaray and Shawn Bethune hired brewmaster Kevin Emms away from Coal Harbour Brewing and Trish Garratt, previously of Central City, on the sales and marketing side. Right across the street from Bridge Brewing just east of the Second Narrows Bridge, Deep Cove will offer three core styles—Loudmouth Pale Ale, Wise Crack West Coast Lager and Quick Wit Wheat Ale—along with numerous seasonals and distilled products.
Also about to open to the public is the new $25-million production brewer for Central City Brewers and Distillers, a mammoth, airplane-hangar sized building near the Pattullo Bridge in Surrey. I toured the facility in July shortly after brewmaster Gary Lohin had started crafting new batches of his famed Red Racer IPA using its computer-automated system. Once the public tasting room and storefront is open, I highly recommend dropping in for a tour. Central City will be producing a lot more of its excellent beer in its trademark cans as well as in 341-ml bottles and 650-ml bombers, as well.
Still hoping to open later this year include Brassneck, a storefront tasting room and growler-focused brewery from the Alibi Room’s Nigel Springthorpe and Conrad Gmoser, the longtime brewer at Steamworks Brewpub; Bomber Brewing, an East Vancouver operation owned by the folks behind Vancouver’s Belgian-themed Biercraft restaurants; Persephone Brewing (previously called Beachcomber Brewing) in Gibsons; Main Street Brewing in Vancouver; Three Ranges Brewing in Valemount; Wheelhouse Brewing in Prince Rupert; and the Four Mile Brewpub in View Royal, just outside Victoria.
Finally, I want to offer congratulations to the newest branch of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, which just opened in Powell River on Sunshine Coast, home of Townsite Brewing. Chapter President Paddy Treavor, who moved to PowTown from Vancouver earlier this summer, was CAMRA Vancouver’s President prior to Adam Chatburn, who currently holds that position, and he also blogs about beer.