CraftcoHop Episode 5 – I Participated

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So a while back i was invited to participate in The Beer Rater’s newest Venture CraftcoHop. CraftcoHop is “A series where The Beer Rater gets a bunch of the local Craft Beer personalities to answer ridiculous questions about beer!”

There is also a competition via instagram where you can vote on my favourite which you can access by clicking right here.

Anyways here’s my submission.. I participated:

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Nothing better than cooking with beer, especially when it goes well! The “when” is the tricky part. I guess, sometimes thats just how it @centralcitybrew Lime margarita Gose.
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An Inside Look at Selling Your Soul to the Crafty Beer Devil

Before I go further can I qualify the title as being purposely hyperbolic? There has been a trend in the recent year or so for people to describe my writing as view seeking, and purposely controversial… IT IS! My goal is to start a discussion, and if that happens because you strongly disagree so be it. So the above is not intended to single anyone person or brewery out but simply to  start a discussion… the more voices the better.

Marketing in Craft beer is hard, breweries are, at the end of the day, small businesses with little money for any sort of commercial advertising. They are also in competition with large breweries with multi-national marketing campaigns.

Craft Breweries often rely on influencers, people with large followings who are seen to be able to influence others. Think big bloggers and people with massive Instagram followings. Yes I am in this group too (although not to the same extent as some). In most cases influencers promote independently because they enjoy the craft.

Sometimes small brewers, realizing the value of influencers, will offer the influencers a product with no expectation of favourable promotion. I would say this is the most common form of influence peddling.

Sometimes breweries will offer free products in exchange for coverage, this is often the case for beer festivals, (I am currently covering the Coquitlam craft beer festival in exchange  for attendance). I would guess that 90% of influencers only accept these arrangements when they believe in the product.

Sometimes influencers will attempt to sell their influence too. For the record I have no problem with this as long as it is reasonably clear that some sort of exchange has taken place.

Sometimes Crafty beer companies owned by multi-million dollar corporations attempt influence influencers with a six pack…

I recently became privy to such an arrangement and I’d like to share of the broad strokeds of the arrangement with you my loyal readers.

So what does an influencer get for a 6 – pack of crafty seasonal ale? A bunch of headaches and 20 hours of unpaid work.

Crafty Beer companies are happy to give you six seasonal ales if:

You consider their values:

Make sure you read all about their branding and keep it in mind as you work like an unpaid intern all weekend. Don’t forget to have people in your totally candid un-candid photo and make sure you include lifestyle too. Lifestyle is a big deal and they want as much lifestyle as humanly possible, because their brand is really about lifestyle.

You follow the rules like, no filters (gets in the way of the lifestyle), the brand (which is lifestyle) is front and centre, not overly posed (they want authentic lifestyle), Beer is unopened, Glasses are full, one beer per person… it goes on and on.

by the way you MUST NOT SHOW ANY DRINKING… because drinking is not part of the lifestyle they wish to portray (ok I’m pretty sure this is a law thing but whatever).

So you do all of this for a multi-national corporation worth millions… and you get 12 bucks worth of mediocre beer. More than anything I think we are under valuing ourselves.

 

Conclusion:

What I enjoy about craft beer, among any other things, is that so much of it is sold by word of mouth. A friend or friend of friend whose taste you are just in sync with, a beer that blows up on Instagram, a name or label so infamous you just have to know… Craft Beer remains authentic in our hyper commercial society, but this style of inauthentic blatantly posing as authentic is a step too far from me… I wasn’t asked but i won’t participate.

 

 

 

A Reply to The Growler’s GUIDE TO THE B.C. BEER BLOGGERS OF INSTAGRAM – @BrewsBabesBanny

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OVER 900 likes

“Also, gratuitous cleavage, which might account for her huge following.”

So, this may come off as a salty reply to not being featured in the Growler’s Guide to BC Beer Bloggers of Instagram (despite being recommended for the piece my fair share might I add), But I’m really more salty about how my close personal friend Banny was described in the short piece.

I want to begin by saying I don’t think the Growler ever intended any ill will by what they said, and would like to further point out that there is obviously great benefit to being featured in a great Craft Beer Media format, but I would also like to point out good intentions can have ill effects. These issues are worth talking about in depth and that is what I intend to do.

Not everyone knows Banny like I do. I was there before there was BrewsBabesBanny and I hope I am there after. Banny is ardent advocate for refugees, Banny is a serious champion of women’s rights, and Banny loves craft beer. BrewsBabesBanny, her online persona, Is the good times, the evenings out, the newest release, but BrewsBabesBanny is still Banny.

That is why it is so frustrating for me to read Banny’s description in the Growler:

      “Banny’s photos usually feature new B.C. releases and craft beer classics from across the continent. Also, gratuitous cleavage, which might account for her huge following.

      Yea, Banny seeks out the best craft beer the world over, and if we are keeping tabs she’s one of the best in BC. It’s the second sentence that really irks me here, because, she has cleavage. All women have cleavage. We don’t Say Malcolm of Sea to Sky Beer Guy (my personal favourite blog at the moment) has a gratuitous amount of height which may account for his social media following… the guy is tall. So then why can we so easily, fall in the trap of accounting for Banny’s success in Craft Beer media, through male-projected-sexualization of her body? This statement, all one sentence of it, does so many shitty things at once:

It cheapens Banny’s Success,

It sexualizes and affirms objectification of women’s bodies,

and finally, sorry boys, it’s lazy writing.

When Banny first got into Craft Beer Media she told me she just wanted to give a women’s perspective on craft beer, I wish people could view it that way.

Note – The article has since been changed, but i feel this needs to be said.

Tri-City Craft Beer Awards

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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:

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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

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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!

Best Branding

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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?

Coolest Personality

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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

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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

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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

Factory Brewing and Craft Beer Labels

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Factory Brewing is the contract brewing arm of Direct Tap located in their legitimizing East Van space just off Clarke. This Brewery does not brew their own beer rather they brew beer for others… like who?

Well have you seen a lot more Doan’s beer available? That because most of the Doan’s beer is brewed out of Factory Brewing.

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Happy Packs don’t get made in small former houses in East van Breweries… they get made in factories.

Its a fairly simple system Doan’s develops a recipe, they hand it over to Factory, Factory’s brewer with the guidance and oversight of one of the several Doans brews the beer and package it. Ok sounds pretty good… more Doans right?

Who else, well there was talk of some of the larger American craft producers producing some of their beer at factory to skirt tax and import duties just like a branch plant you remember learning about in grade 10 social studies, y’know prior to NAFTA when Canada could put duties on cars imported to Canada so American car manufactures opened up plants in Oshawa and Windsor and gave a generation of high school graduates good paying jobs that pay for homes they would use in their twilight years to lament the laziness of those damn millenials? REMEMBER THOSE? Anyways I haven’t seen anything of that sort yet…

What we have got in spades is Craft Beer brands. Craft Beer made without a home brewery or craft beer companies producing beer on contract basis with another brewery.

Have you heard of Two Wolves? They are all over the place blasting e-mails and facebook announcement anytime another bottle shop takes them on… well they don’t have an actual brewery.

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That’s some slick marketing, slick indeed.

Ever heard of Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks? Nope, no one has they are really bad at social media, and well any media generally… Again no Brewery.

So is this a big deal? Well yea a little. The person executing your recipes isn’t beholden to you, he doesn’t care about your ridiculously named fantasy brewery (Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks? did you just pick 3 alcohol related words from a list and then tack on “works” at the end?) So lets put it to the test and give these a go shall we?

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“So, does anyone know how do a website?” “Well i had a pretty sweet myspace back in 03” “Ok just make sure our logo is a vague rip off of the Vancouver Giants logo”

First up Two Wolves Great Plains Brown Ale

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Dark with good body, and fairly rich. Not especially interesting but a fine example of the style!

I give this a B+ would drink again.

We’ll leave the Smugglers Cove until next week…

Twin Sails 2nd Anniversary

They grow up so fast don’t they? Twin Sails which started as quaint suburban spot for continental ales and Lagers, has become one of the most innovative spots in BC. This Saturday, mere weeks from winning seven BC beer awards Twin (As its known on The RowCelebrates year 2. Twin will be having a party on Friday night, and a big release Saturday morning.

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What to expect on the Friday:

If you are planning on going… GET THERE EARLY. Last year there were lines, this year there will be more.

Incredible Beers… There is no less than 8 releases on Saturday and I would expect most if not all on draught Friday.

What to expect on Saturday:

More LINES… people will line up, things could sell out, be ready for people to mule beer, and get there early if you have to have something.

RELEASES:

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– Space Armadillo – Double IPA
– Boysen The Hood – Boysenberry Double Milkshake IPA
– Bière de Crabe – Saison w/ Crab, lemon peel & sea salt (Dunham Collaboration)
– Farmhouse Saison – Aged 1yr in red wine barrels on Cherries & Blackberries
– Dry Hopped Sour IPA – Fermented on lacto in Chardonnay barrels for 3 months, then blended and dry hopped before bottle conditioning (Field House Collaboration)- Home Ec – Tiramisu Imperial Stout (SOV collaboration)
– 1yr Bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout
– 1yr Rum barrel aged Imperial Con Leche

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BC Beer Awards… Afterthoughts and Analysis…

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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).

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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.

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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

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  • 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. 

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Conclusions and Thoughts as a result of the spreadsheet:

  1. 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?
  2. 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)?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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!

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Judgin’ Don’t Stop!