This is the End

This is the end of BrewardInlet.com.

I recently made the decision to mothball the site.

There is no major reason to close her down beyond I simply don’t write enough to Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 5.56.23 PMwarrant a site anymore(, Although this has been the biggest year yet for traffic).

I wanted to say thank you to all those who have taken time to read, hate or like what I had to say.

This site began as a way for me to blow off steam and talk crap about beer as a break from University. I never expected more than 50 people to care.

Nearly 25,000 views, a top 200 and a top 100 beer blog award later I’m completely floored (mostly because so many of you willingly suffered through my poor, spelling, grammar and writing structure).

So thank you, for reading, interacting and completely disagreeing with me, it’s been a blast!

All the best,

Carnell

P.S. Jars are the worst

 

If you are interested please enjoy a selection of my favourite articles:

Stanley Park

Beer Awards 1

Beer awards 2

Believe the hype

Pop Punk

Mission Springs Rebrand

Wet Hops

VCBW is Upon Us and It’s Time To Take Stock.

I am a big fan of Vancouver Craft Beer Week. It’s fun and it brings the whole community together.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 2.13.59 PM

With nearly all the Lower Mainland Region breweries in one place it is  a really great opportunity to consider the Craft Beer trends moving forward. Of course this can’t really be done in advance of VCBW. Even so it is fun to project or guess what the trends will be, and I’ve always thought that the VCBW beer gives us a hint of what is to come.

Two years ago Brewers brought us a Hazy Pale ale which to me announced to the community that Hazy beer was a major part of the industry and here to stay. Secondarily it might have also signalled the success of the suburban and regional Craft beer communities.

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 6.38.09 PM

Last year, we had the Sea to Sky breweries affirm the rising prominence of regional craft beer communities, and perhaps surprisingly they made a Lager. To me this signalled that our craft beer industry was ready to move past the anti-establishment roots and include all beer drinkers.

BCB_VCDB_DDH_Pilsner_Can_BlackBG
This year, the 10th anniversary of VCBW we have Four Winds, in collaboration with Powell Beer and Dageraad brewing brewing a dry-hopped table saison.

D6pML3pUIAEfVvx

I typed that beer style in lower case, because to my mind it is an understated style in the often violently reactionary world of craft beer.

What I take from this, and what I would predict as a major trend in the Vancouver and wider region is a push for higher quality.

It is no secret that I have been fairly vocal about beers that don’t mean my expectations but after the proliferation of craft breweries throughout the lower mainland comes a more competitive period where brewers are selling to an inclusive mature consumer base who are able to tell the difference between OK and great craft.

I believe the choice of three of the Lower Mainland’s 3 most respected breweries in Four Winds, Dageraad, and Powell beer and their choice of a simple yet dynamic style signals to the community at large that things are about to get more competitive. If you are a brewery who wants to stick around you better commit to quality.

With more breweries comes more competition, and since the backbone has of craft has always been its improved quality over macro the competition amongst Craft Brewers will hopefully yield ever high plateaus of quality.

We might also look at the expansion of high quality production in the region to consider the arms race in quality.

-Twin Sails sour program intentionally does not include Kettle Sours. committing to higher labour and cost methods of souring.

-Whole breweries committed to specific styles like Bakery, House of Funk, and Temporal.

-The commitment to high quality Lagers including Foudre and barrel aged versions like those created by Four Winds and Strange Fellows.

We might also consider the results of mistakes

-Riot Brewing on the brink of closing as sales don’t add up

Clearly all of this is guess work and conjecture bused on anecdotal evidence, but if i was forced to hazard a guess… I’d expect your average beer to rise in quality this year.

 

Tiering the Breweries of Vancouver and Sea to Sky

I am going to get shit on for this…

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

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 12.43.56 PM

Tier 4 (Solid Lagers & Ales)

Doan’s Craft Brewing

The Beer Farmers

Strathcona Brewing

Coast Mountain Brewing

Howe Sound Brewing

Trading Post Brewing

Central City Brewing

Ravens Brewing

Storm Brewing

R and B Brewing

Hearthstone Brewing

Coal Harbour Brewing

Brewhall

Main Street Brewing

33 Acres Brewing

Britannia Brewing

Bomber Brewing

Bridge Brewing

Callister Brewing

Tier 3 (Breweries who I can count on to crush it often)

Parallel 49

The Parkside Brewing

Steamworks Brewing

Taylight Brewing

Northpaw Brewing

Field house Brewing

Silver Valley Brewing

Demi-God Tier (breweries I’ll always make a point of visiting)

Dageraad

Beere Brewing

Strange Fellows

Steel and Oak

Brassneck Brewing

Yellow Dog Brewing

Luppolo Brewing

God Tier (Breweries I get stoked to go to)

Twin Sails Brewing

Boombox Brewing

Superflux

Backcountry Brewing

Temporal Brewing

Four Winds

 

 

2018 Breward Inlet Awards

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 4.08.55 PM

A crack team of influencers got together to give you the goods on the Tri-city beer scene… heres how things shook out!

Beer of the Year – Tri-Cities (PoCo, Port Moody, Coquitlam)

This category had a great Variety of responses but usually lead back to one brewery – Twin Sails.
Heavy Weight Champ is the Champ here!

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 9.00.41 PM

Best Tasting Room

The Parkside repeats as the best place to craft beer and chill..

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 12.51.42 PM

Best Branding

Another repeat but can you argue with this branding Kaleidoscope?

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 9.04.35 PM

Coolest Personality in brewing (Brewer, Blogger, Beer-tender, instagrammer… etc)

Man, Myth and Legend Sea to Sky Beer Guy isn’t even of this region… But he sure has made an impact on it!

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 9.11.37 PM.png

Best New Brewery

There were a few new kids on the block (and more to come), but PoCo Brewers North Paw take the “W” here.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-7-07-52-pm

Brewery of the Year

There can be only one…

screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-10-59-52-am

Thanks to these fine people:
@beerpunkbc
@hopperazi
@ls_karl
@lifeisabeerexpedition
@thebeerdshow
@crafttourist
@theflyingbeergirl
@thirstyexplorersclub
@pacificbeerchat
@thebeerrater
@brewsbabeabanny
@Vancity_beergirl
@seatoskybeerguy
@RedArmyNic

I Was Offered Free Beer, I Said No

I got offered free beer, and said “no”.

 

Occasionally I am offered free beer. It’s a nice gesture and its always appreciated. Often times it is informal and comes after I have already written something or have in the past made it clear it’s a product I enjoy. More rarely I get an e-mail offering me beer with an implied coverage exchange. I’ve said yes in the past, but this time I said “no”.

 

The first reason is basic, I already have enough beer. I know the beer geeks out there will say there is never “enough”, but there is. I have trouble getting through all the amazing beer I have, and I often have to force myself to drink things before they go bad.

Screen Shot 2018-05-01 at 11.07.22 AM

There is a feeling of obligation to provide some sort of positive coverage when given the free beer. This is basic human nature and in most cases a good thing… a little reciprocity never hurt anyone. Even so, in the last few years since I changed the focus of this blog I’ve realized what I really enjoy is pulling back the curtain on the beer industry just a little bit, and telling people when I think stuff isn’t great. There are so many great blogs out there telling people all the good things about beer, and I can’t out do them at that, I might as well do what I can do and get a little meta on the beer scene here and there. I know I can’t do that when I accept free beer in formal  exchange(just look at this article I wrote about Big Rock Beer years ago).

So, if you want my honest opinion on beer follow or continue to follow my instagram.

Screen Shot 2018-05-01 at 11.11.25 AM.png
I once used this crappy photo in a blog.

 

Finally, I don’t rate beer. I’ve explained why before but the gist of it is the experiential gap between me trying a beer and you trying a beer wherever is just too large to bridge well through a blog, beer is experiential I can’t tell you how to feel about it.

 

So what did I do? I recommended some great blogger friends who could help. I’m not lying when I said I appreciate what the brewery in question did when they offered me some beer. So much buzz is built through influencers (not so much me but the bigger blogs and instagrammers) it’s great to see a brewery trying to reward and get ahead of the curve.

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

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 9.07.29 PM
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.

Factory Brewing and Craft Beer Labels

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 8.51.28 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 8.49.46 PM.png
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.

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 8.52.18 PM.png
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?

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 8.48.17 PM.png
“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

25351999_10208835250151994_2377651291807776542_o

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…

BC Beer Awards… What I Learned

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 7.11.45 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 7.36.03 PM.png
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.

20170922_191703
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.

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 7.46.39 PM.png
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.

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 7.33.08 PM

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

Beer Awards are Dumb and You Should Stop Caring About Them

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:

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 9.33.47 AM.png
Really oozes cool doesn’t it

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

Scotch Ale

Bronze: Mt. Begbie Brewing Company, Brave Liver Scotch Ale

Cream 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?…

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 10.02.17 AM.png
“Go Fetch me a cream ale and that article about how trickle down economics help the poor”

https://www.bjcp.org

https://www.canadianbrewingawards.com/