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.

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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…

New Breweries

Name: Fraser Mills Fermentation

Projected opening: I’d estimate 1 year at least

Progress: My understanding that the space not be possessed yet

Notes: Looks to produce a full range of fermented drinks including meads and ciders. https://www.facebook.com/frasermillsfc/

Location:  United boulevard area.

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Name: Tin Shed Brewing

Projected opening: 6 months-1 year

Progress:  Equipment has arrived

Notes: 

Location: Fremont Village PoCo

 

Name: Fremont Village Brewery

Projected opening: Unknown

Progress:  Unknown

Notes: 

Location: Fremont Village PoCo

 

Name: The Bakery Brewing Company

Projected opening: Months?

Progress: Have Space

Notes: Focus on wild ales sours on Brewers’ Row

Location: Between Moody Ales and Parkside

 

Name: Rec Room Brewing Company

Projected opening: Based on the posting for a “Brewmaster” I’d say 6-8 monyhs

Progress: Unknown

Notes: Article up coming

Location: Port Coquitlam, this could be the unknown brewery in Fremont Village

Port Moody Breweries

 

Name: Twin Sails Brewing

Address: 

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Established: 2015

Style: Progressive (NEIPA, Pastry Stouts, and an barrel aged sour program)

Tasting Area: Approx. 50 seats, Snacks, frequent food trucks, 30 seat patio (Dogs Welcome), Brick interior. Ciders yes

Core Beers: Dat Juice (Hazy Citra Pale Ale), Single Whammy (HAZY NE IPA)

Twin Sails is no longer the new brewery on the block, but they are producing some of the newest styles in beer today. Originally known as maker of traditional german style Twin Sails has more recently been known for its ultra progressive ales like Space Armadillo and Two Straws Milk Shake IPA-New beers usually drop every Saturday… but don’t stick around long.

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Name: Yellow Dog Brewing

Address: 2817 Murray St. Port Moody

Established: 2014

Style: West Coast

Tasting Area: Approx. 100 seats, outdoor seating, Small fare food, Frequent Food Trucks outside food ok, CIDER-NO.

Core Beers: Play Dead IPA, Chase My Tail Pale Ale.

Yellow Dog was the First brewery in Port Moody and burst on the scene winning best in show for their Shake a Paw Smoked Porter. Since then Yellow Dog has won a litany of awards and is arguably a top 3 brewery in BC.

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Name: The Parkside Brewery

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Established: 2016

Style: Contemporary

Tasting Area: Approx. 100+ seats, Outside food is OK, snacks, Frequent food trucks, video games, Front Picnic area (Dogs Welcome).

Core Beers: Dawn Pilsner, Dusk Pale Ale, Graffiti IPA.

Parkside is the newest Brewery on the Row putting out a range of contemporary ales and lagers to please just about everyone! Guest taps are also available so there is something for everyone.

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Name: Moody Ales

Address: 2601 Murray St, Port Moody, BC

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Established: 2014

Style: Eclectic

Tasting Area: Approx. 75 Seats, occasional live music, snacks, WINE & CIDER AVAILABLE, outside food is ok, front picnic area, frequent food trucks,

Core Beers: Hardy Brown Ale, Sociable Pale Ale, Affable IPA, Chipper Blonde.

Moody Ales opened mere months after Yellow Dog in fall of 2014. Their beer list is ever Changing and you are sure to find something you like on tap.

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UPCOMING – Bakery Brewing

See the new breweries page for more info.

 

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!

 

Coalesce Beer Joins the Fold

Well after months of keeping it under my hat it’s finally time to let the cat out of the bag (two cliches, one sentence…) Coalesce Beer has its first release on Saturday. Coalesce has a very cool focus, and I wont try to speak for them so here is how the family run brewery describe themselves:

“family brewing company specializing in mixed fermentation and wood aged beer”

“Seasonality means a lot to us, and for us brewing seasonally is not about brewing a beer for the season, but rather using local produce and ingredients that inspire us and are at their best in that season. Today we brewed a beer with a variety of heirloom squash from @sapobravoorganics which we charred over wood coals. 
This beer will ferment and rest in barrels until maturity, whenever that may be, and may be very “unseasonal” upon release, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

These guys have a clear philosophy that will no doubt be reflected in the beer. I expect see most if not all beers from Coalesce spend some time in barrels and again most if not all be bottle fermented.

 

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Coalesce Beer Instagram

 

Where to find

Coalesce Beers share space with Twin Sails Brewing and will undoubtedly release on weekends that Twin Sails brewing does not. It seems they will have a keg on draught to try with this release but I doubt that will always be the case. The First release “Foreward” a “mixed fermentation ale inspired by the historical saison style. Foreword was brewed with oats, spelt malt and raw wheat and hopped judiciously with Hallertau Hersbrucker and Saaz. The beer was fermented dry with a mixed culture of Sacchromyces, Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus in freshly emptied BC Chardonnay barrels, where it rested for 3 months until mature. It was then refermented and conditioned naturally in the bottle for an additional 3 months.”

Vitals:

Release 12pm 500mL, 6.2% abv, and 21 IBU. 45 cases for sale, 10$ per bottle and a 6 bottle per person limit.

I expect line ups and a sell out.

Brewers Row, the best place to grab a Pint in Canada, just got even more Dynamic.

BC Beer Awards… What I Learned

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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.

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Direct Tap is super cool, this is all craft beer

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.

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Gotta be organized to drink beer!

     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.

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THE ACTION… HAPPENING

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.

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Now lets see who wins on Oct 21.
-Special Thanks to Monica Frost who set everything up!