But that’s OK, I write to start conversations and lists and rankings start conversations. So here we go.
A little about the rankings… This is about QUALITY of beer… nothing more nothing less. A bad beer diminishes overall quality in my eyes. That said this is my Monolithic view of the quality of beer coming from a brewery… no math.
Breweries within tiers are equal in my eyes.
Not all Breweries are listed, but rest assured I would never say no to a brewery that is listed, as for the others…
These are my personal opinions, they won’t match yours, feel free to be angry anyways
Tier 4 (Solid Lagers & Ales)
Doan’s Craft Brewing
The Beer Farmers
Coast Mountain Brewing
Howe Sound Brewing
Trading Post Brewing
Central City Brewing
R and B Brewing
Coal Harbour Brewing
Main Street Brewing
33 Acres Brewing
Tier 3 (Breweries who I can count on to crush it often)
The Parkside Brewing
Field house Brewing
Silver Valley Brewing
Demi-God Tier (breweries I’ll always make a point of visiting)
So, I’ve been considering how to explain this for a while. These awards were supposed to be voted on the public, but they are now a Critic’s Awards. So maybe I’ll just tell the truth.
The awards were open to the public.
Any body could vote multiple times.
While at first votes came in and made sense something clearly changed.
After a few days of regular voting, entry after entry was returned within a few hours or two that voted for only one brewery… and most often listed that brewery’s founders as Personality of the year.
As no other entry had ever voted completlry for any one brewery it really seemed like a ballot stuffing measure. Of course I have no proof and I am not going to name the brewery.
Because these entries seemed so fishy and because they totally screwed up the data collection I opened up a new survey for Craft Beer Writers and Personalities only.
This decision quickly vindicated my belief the earlier entries were bunk as the brewery who was the subject of the ballot stuffing received only a handful of votes overall.
Without further adieu the Critic’s Choice Tri-City Craft Beer Award Winners are:
BEER OF THE YEAR
The one the only, Twin Sails Con Leche. Twin Sails has had created 48 different releases this year but none grabs you so viscerally the first time you have it as Con Leche. Sweet Rich, Spiced, and oh so well balanced.
Best Tasting Room
The Parkside Brewery
Inside, outside, inside-out, The Parkside has a great space for all weather types and all occasions… not to mention shuffle board, Off road Arcade Games, and Astro turf!
In what would turn out to be a dog fight with The Parkside, Twin Sails takes it. Who could really complain with the slick minimalistic white can and symbol combo, juxtaposed against the even more rare bright and zany Tasting room only releases?
Despite an Honourable mention for Brewers Row Local @BrewsBabesBanny there really hasn’t been a bigger or cooler personality in Craft Beer this year than @CraftTourist Tim Lahay! thanks for all you do buddy!
Best New Brewery
In a category I hope grows next year we have Coalesce Beer taking home what might just be their first of many awards for their Oaked Brewed Beers. All the best to Coalesce who is proof of the ever maturing Vancouver Beer Scene!
Brewery of the Year
Who else could is be? It has been a good year Twin!
Also big thanks to the Writers and Personalities that voted:
@thegrowlerbc @CraftEatsbc @vancitydrinks @captainohkirk @BeertifulBC @TheBeerdShow @Whatsbrewingbc @hoppa_fett @Brewsbabesbanny @HopsCanary @fermentationproj @seatoskybeerguy @vancitydrinks @bccraftbreweries
I usually give an annotated list of winners from each BC Beer Awards but I’m not this time, because I was actually pretty impressed with the winners. This year’s winners were much more in line with my personal thoughts, and lets face it, when preaching to the choir you are unlikely to criticize them in the next breathe.
…but… Mount Arrowsmith somehow won brewery of the year… How? Well let me just say I didn’t like that they won. They won on the backs of their BLONDE Ale and a Saison… not exactly inspiring. But you should all know that story by now. You see it was a point based system. 5 points for gold 3 for silver 1 for bronze (or something to that effect).
Surely you are asking: “Shouldn’t Dageraad have won in that case?” Not quite, you see each breweries points were averaged by how many beers they submitted in total. No doubt an attempt to give small breweries a chance against the big boys like Phillips.
So for example if you submit 4 beers, and win 1 gold and 1 bronze you would receive 6 point (5 and 1). Your points would then be divided by 4 so you would be left with a weighted score of 1.5. This was done for all breweries who won an award and evidently had the highest weighted score… sorry Dageraad… I’ll drink an Anno in your honour.
So no annotated list but perhaps something better instead…
A BIG OL’ SPREADSHEET
It lists each brewery that won a beer medal.. no industry awards like Brewery of the year
How many total won, and breakdowns of Gold, Silver and Bronze
It also pools winners in to regions and subregions* So a medal can be counted in a region and subregion, BUT NOT IN TWO REGIONS OR SUBREGIONS… A brewery maybe listed in a region but not a sub region.
Conclusions and Thoughts as a result of the spreadsheet:
What the heck happened to Steamworks? Flagship IPA became extremely popular after winning beer of the year in 2016, so much so I have heard through the grapevine they had to change the recipe to keep up with demand. Could this be the reason it didn’t appear anywhere and Steamworks won only one medal?
For that matter what happened to other past winners like Central city, Storm, Foamers’ Folly, 33 acres, 4 winds (do they even compete even more)?
The wave of Cool new Vancouver Breweries who open between 3-5 years ago seems to have crested. Suburban breweries won nearly as many medals as Vancouver Breweries and seem to be winning the more interesting categories… Twin Sails, Yellow Dog, Steal and Oak, and Dageraad are clearly leading the way.
That doesn’t mean Vancouver doesn’t have something to be proud of. New Schoolers Superflux and Boombox both grab medals for very progressive beers.
Vancouver Island and Victoria seem to be losing ground to the mainland… then again Swans just won beer of the year… and it was great!
Brewers Row tied Yeast Van for most medals… but Twin Sails also won an industry award so even math agrees… Brewers row is the best place in BC to grab a pint!
Once Again a very impressive and fun night of beers an recognition, hats off to the volunteers, brewers and organizers who are a credit to the industry!
So not too long ago I took a hard stance on beer awards in the article“Beer Awards are Dumb and You Should Stop Caring About Them” . Surprisingly people cared what i said for once and agreed and disagreed to varying levels. One person said i was writing the article for views… which was true, I’ve never heard of writer not wanting people to read their work. The crux of the article was that Beer Awards don’t act as many people might imagine. Beer awards are not a critics favourite beer but rather the beer that is closest to a pre-described style as laid out in the Beer Judge Certification Program style guide lines.
So, here comes the 2017 BC Beer Awards (sold out by the way) and I attempt to get media Accreditation. Can you guess what happened? If you guessed they told me to take a hike, you are surprisingly wrong. No the people behind the BC Beer Awards are actually very open minded kind people and they invited me to check out the judging process at the Direct Tap Headquarters.
I was able to view the incredible process that is the judging for the BC Craft Beer awards. Kudos to the Volunteers and Organizers who really put in some labour and do it for the love of beer. The best part of the experience was to pick the Brain of one of the long time judges, and all around Vancouver Craft beer great Chester Carey.
I paraphrasing here but I did take notes during our conversation, and Chester was able to answer or speak to many of my concerns regarding Beer awards generally in relation to the BC Craft Beer Awards specifically.
Any Beer brewed in BC can compete. This is really a non-issue but its interesting to know that brands like Cariboo are in the thick of things with crafty beers like Stanley Park and Granville Island, and ultra craft orientated like Strange Fellows.
The brewery picks which category their beer will be judged in. To me this is a positive and a negative. A positive in that breweries can decide where their brews should be, but I was also told the story of a beer that was under consideration for winning a category but lost out because it used a wild yeast which was considered an off flavour for the style.
BJCP is a starting point and baseline… not an overarching framework. BJCP guidelines are a way of objectifying when the need arises. An example given was when two beers are fighting it out for top spot. The most enjoyable beer in a Category is still going to win according to Chester – that I can get behind.
Yes there are more categories for Lager and basic Ale than there are for IPA despite the later driving the craft market…
….But the system is imperfect… I can buy that, its impossible to totally objectify a thing such as beer so we do our best and realize the limitations… that’s fair, if not unfortunate.
They aren’t concerned about driving the market. Winning beer awards is big business for small breweries andean lead to great success (see Powell Brewery winning Canadian Beer of the Year a few years back). Even so, Judges and organizers try not to be aware. I see this as a Catch 22 impartiality is a lofty goal, but I would like to see awards push for creativity and innovation.
So as I revisit beer awards knowing what I know now of specifically the BC Craft Beer Awards I am more forgiving. Is it a perfect system? No, personally i would love to see the awards become fully subjective, a simple “which beer do I enjoy most”. That said, I am confident that despite loose adherence to the BJCP guidelines that 99 times out of 100 the beer that wins is subjectively the most enjoyable, furthermore I laud the organization of BC Craft Beer Awards for having some pretty even keeled thinking in the world of beer awards. More to that point the BC Beer awards is introducing awards based simply on what people think are the best, including BEST BREWERY. I really enjoy these sorts of things and this will be a personal highlight for me on the evening.
Now lets see who wins on Oct 21.
-Special Thanks to Monica Frost who set everything up!
There was a time when I would excitedly wait for the results of beer awards, reading the pages and assigning power rankings in my head to beer and breweries alike. It was a fun way to bring beer into the world of sport… but it was stupid.
See, I learned early on that beers and Breweries were not awarded for the subjective best beer in each category but rather for closest to style guidelines… Some of you are probably saying “what the hell does that mean?” Well in most beer competitions beers are rated on their ability to meet style guidelines like this:
Who came up with this guidelines? Beer dorks many years go (not to say I’m not a beer dork myself, but when they came up with this stuff I was a Power Rangers Dork). So, to continue on my sports analogy that would be like awarding the Stanley Cup not to the team who won in subjective circumstances (the playoffs) but to the team that best resembled a hockey team according to Toe Blake. That’s stupid…
Moreover ,it also means that innovation is rendered insignificant until some beer dork decides it is worth create a new box around the new style (Style Guide).
Of course some will say the brewers are not beholden to these style guide lines and can brew what they want. Sure, but winning an award such as brewery of the year or best in show or for some stupid reason European Style Amber to Dark Lager (actual stupid category at the Canadian Beer awards) often means sales to the breweries. This means there is an incentive for breweries to brew boring similar beers. This is the same logic that got us to MACRO LAGERS. Furthermore, the depth of awards for different lame versions of German lagers and English ales and the contrasting dearth of awards for sours and new styles of IPAs (y’know the shit people actually drink) again incentivizes brewing boring beer.
Now, I’ll pause for a moment because I’m sure you might recognize many flaws in my argument, foremost that no one is forced to brew anything. But i’ll stop you there because my argument is simple – “Brewing boring beer is lame, and beer awards that incentivize boring beer are lame.”
I reject all your objections to this opinion because my opinion is not objective, its subjective just like tasting beer is. It is imperfect and impossible to replicate, and to do so would be foolhardy (dumb). So if you are going to award a beer do it because you like it not because it totally hits those SRM guidelines (SRM is the colour of the beer… THE COLOUR).
My Case Study- Mount Begbie Brewing out of Invermere. A small brewery who’s stuff I’ve had I’ve generally liked, good beer. Mount Begbie won awards for:
German Style Kölsch
Gold: Mt. Begbie Brewing Company, High Country Kolsch
Bronze: Mt. Begbie Brewing Company, Brave Liver Scotch Ale
Gold: Mt. Begbie Brewing Company, Begbie Cream Ale
Brewery of the Year
Hold Up! you won brewery of the year hot on the heals for Gold medals for your Kolsch and Cream Ale!? Can you imagine bringing those beers to a bottle share down in Bellingham? or New Westminster even? You’d get laughed out of town. Kolsch, Scotch Ale, and Cream Ale are figuratively the old white guys of craft beer they literally are consumer examples of fucking colonialism – but hey Canada, this is the best god damn beer we make! Don’t be bothered by a Hill Farmstead beer or a hazy Monkish IPA, oh no, you come take a seat on the beach in your pantaloons and sip on a fucking scotch ale, like fuck, when did you turn 124?…
There are many options get a drink in Port Moody these days, and I really do hate it when people choose a crappy one… So, I might as well tell you where to go!
(This list is made of places where beer is served at least as near equal to wine, so you won’t find food forward restaurants on my list)
C’mon, where else could it be? Brewers Row is arguably the best place in Canada to get a beer with Twin Sails and Yellow Dog making world class stuff and Moody and Parkside making sure there is quite literally something for everyone, not to mention beautiful views and places to hang out AND delicious food trucks. This is easily THE place to have a beer.
St. James’s Well:
Questionable spelling aside this is as close as you will get to a British/Irish pub (those words should never be so close) in Port Moody. Great Pub Food, Solid taps, The bar staff and manager will know you by the third time you walk in. They also have a simply rad Tuesday night trivia going on at the moment, and if its sunny maybe even try the patio.
3. Browns Social House
Ok a shocker, heres the thing, good ambience, great patio, great food (better than many of the pubs) and a tiny but decent enough draft list… Ok there isn’t many great places to drink in Port Moody, but if you are into mediocre we got’chu.
4. Brew Street
They claim 100 beers on tap (in my experience that hasn’t been the case) and even though most of them are simply core beers from local breweries that is still a massive list to find something you like. The food is good too but often its the crowd that kills this place… A bunch of guys named Brett drinking Corona in jeans with flaps on the back of the pockets… nothing wrong with that of course… just not my scene.
5. The Burrard
Not much to say here, some odd posh decorating married to a perfectly normal functioning pub, decent smaller taps (20 ish taps) decent well priced food, odd chairs and faux fireplaces… its all here.
6. The Rocky Point Tap House
This is a dive that doesn’t realize its a dive… and it could be so good, if only it realized it was a dive! Every city needs a dive and that is what the Point needs to be. We have a “Craft beer bar”, a “upscale bar” an “Irish bar”. We need a place with cheap local taps and wings every night. To be fair there are great food specials here and a decent selection of local if not boring brewers rows taps, it would totally shoot up the list if they would stop sweeping up the peanut skins I keep throwing on the ground.
7. Romer’s Burger Bar
Did you notice all the spaces? That’s because Romer’s simply sucks. Bad service and terrible food can’t make up for a boring local tap list, just don’t go.
Don’t believe me try yelp https://www.yelp.ca/biz/romers-port-moody
See your way out kettle sours, there is a new style in town, whose name is hard to pin down and who likes things opaque… the New England/Vermont/East Coast IPA. This new style is pushing the scene forward and i have been searching them out as fast as I can to get the freshest “JUICE”. If you want to get in on it, take a look of my hits and misses.
Ok, what typifies this style? Well it depends what circles you run in but relative a west coast IPA the New England/Vermont/East Coast IPA is:
often more diverse in grain bill, and therefore could result in a more balanced beer.
very often very opaque, often more so than a wheat beer, this occurs for many reasons. It could be due to different grains leaving more micro-sediments in the beer, it could be the yeast by the brewer, it could be fruit particles, in most cases its due to the large amount of dry hopping or lupulin powder.
often fruit is added to accentuate flavour, and occasionally lactose is added (milkshake IPA) to play with the sweetness further.
Often they taste much less bitter than your west coast IPA.
So, they are supposed to look like this:
Don’t Forget this beers are best fresh and can often sell out so here are the ones worth searching out and here are… some others
Super Flux Shape and Colour– OK, I must admit this is the only one one on the list i haven’t got my hands on… but thats because its gone nearly as quickly as its released. Even so, its had near universal acclaim from those lucky enough to get some. So, if you get some let me know.
Boombox Brewing- A spiritual successor to Machine/Superflux (at least in my head), brewing out of Callister is Boombox. Boombox doesn’t only do Juice Bomb East Coast ETC IPAs, but they usually have one on tap. I’ve had enough to know that when I see “Boombox” and “NE” near each other its a definite Pint. Releases happen on wednesday… get there.
Twin Sails Brewing pretty much all their tall can releases- A BREWard Inlet staple that totally reinvented itself Twin Sails has released a plethora of Hazy Juice bombs since summer time with no signs of stopping. In fact words a new line of beers will start to be released tasting room only, making the beers even rarer. Personal Favourites include Space Armadillo, Slam Dank, and newly released in collaboration with Boombox Brewing Tone Def.
Steamworks Flagship IPA- This BC beer of the year is the only juice bomb sold as a 6 pack and perhaps is the best suited to be sessioned. This Hazey IPA is in my opinion a better bridge from the west coast style than the others mentioned here, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a juice punch. Its also likely the most widley available so if you are new to Juice, start here.
Yellow Dog High 5 Hazy IPA- I’m not sure if this one is still around, but if it is its worth having. I personally feel the first batch was better than the second but both are great beers. This one, when it is around, is also available in cans.
Bridge East Coast IPA- All I remember about this one is i liked it. Wish i could be more specific.
I hate to do this, but at this point early in the Hazy game i’d stay away from these guys… or convince your buddy to buy it for the bottle share… anyways…
The Brewers Row Beers and Brewery of the year. There were 50 responses to the poll and despite some surprising results I am happy with the sample size. Honourable mentions were given when the first runner up was within one vote of the winner…
Every Brewery on the Row won or was an honourable mention which shows the quality of this place!
Without further Adieu…
Best Brewers Row Core Beer
-YELLOW DOG PLAY DEAD IPA
It wasn’t even close, this is without a doubt THE BEER of Brewers Row
Best Limited Brewers Row Beer release (the choices given are the respective top rated beers from each brewery according to untapped)
-TWIN SAILS SPACE ARMADILLO DOUBLE IPA
The first of a few wins for Twin Sails… Props to Moody Ales Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, which also did well.
This win surely comes on the back of the tall can releases
Yellow dog followed a little behind
Best Tasting Room
Finally some intrigue, I was sure PARKSIDE would win this category but alas the came just short and win the Honourable Mention
Surprise, Surprise the winner is:
Best Customer Service
Another close one but MOODY ALES grabs an Honourable Mention nod congrats!
But once again TWIN SAILS wins by one vote!
IPA is King in BC which was the best of the year on Brewers Row? (top rated IPA on untappd with more than 150 ratings is listed for each brewery)
Its not even close TWIN SAILS SPACE ARMADILLO IS KING! hopefully it comes back soon!