I’m going to let the Tri-City news take this one away, the article does a great job of breaking down the whole business plan. Their Plan has some really cool parts and some I’m concerned about and will break down at a later date… Until then the Tri-City News Presents:
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!
Best Tasting Room
The Parkside repeats as the best place to craft beer and chill..
Another repeat but can you argue with this branding Kaleidoscope?
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!
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.
Brewery of the Year
There can be only one…
Thanks to these fine people:
Before we get started pretend this page opened like myspace and you are now listening to “Ohio is for Lovers” by Hawthorne Heights… the colour scheme is black and red too… Alright lets do this, this article is not gonna be backed up by stats and references, no for this one I’m gonna ramble until I feel done.
Years ago (this blog has been going on for years! that’s crazy) I wrote a blog about craft beer being Punk Rock, its one of my favourite things I’ve ever written, but it was years ago.
“As I mentioned craft beer is part of a punk rock diy counter culture, it represents a tangible way to reject corporatism, and it is a tangible affordable way to consume art and culture. So sit back and accept some learning.”
Well, just like Punk Rock found a market for their authentisism, and someone else found a way to mass produce it while maximizing profit… we now have the TAKING BACK SUNDAY of Craft Beer.
It shouldn’t get to me but it does! I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the difference between Pilsner and Lager, and how Black Pilsner is not really a style of beer. I’ve enjoyed learning and realized there is more I don’t know about Craft beer than I will ever know. To be honest when new breweries show up with more money than sense I get kind of choked.
Now before some redditor on R/Vancouvercraftbeer tells me to shut up and “talk about a beer I like” or something chill.
I like some pop punk… Seriously, Fall Out Boy’s “DANCE, DANCE” is a banger, and I freakin’ love the early 90’s Simpson’s reference… just don’t mention that when I finally make it to see NOFX. I also like the beer these guys put out with a decent level of consistency.
Its just weird to me when I live in a world where both Storm brewing and 33 exp exist…
33 acres, its beer, not Star Trek The Next Generation’s First season.
its like wait… you know I really used to like D.O.A. but do I also like the Postal Service… wait is the Postal service better…?
The bottom line is who cares? Me, evidently, I think… Drink beer you like and pour one down for the 2nd wave of Craft beer in Vancouver (the first wave was blues or something in this metaphor).
I’ll argue ’til the cows come home that the appeal of craft beer is built in large part due to consumer fatigue for consumerism itself, that we are willing to pay more for a product just because we know the profits are going to a neighbour and community member rather than a faceless multi-national. But big business is aware of this too. Hell, small business people who want to become big business people know this. In fact the creation of faux-community or faux-place is big business in marketing.
This commercial really makes it seem like Blue Moon is an independent brewer with an independent founder but its always been owned by Coors, proof:
“Blue Moon Belgian White (branded as Belgian Moon in Canada) is a Belgian-style witbier brewed by MillerCoors under the name the Blue Moon Brewing Co. It was launched in 1995, and was originally brewed in Golden, Colorado.
Originally called Bellyslide Belgian White, the beer was created by Keith Villa, a brewer at the Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field, Denver, Colorado (owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company). Blue Moon brewed at the Molson Brewery in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is sold in the USA, as well as exported to Europe. Blue Moon Brewing Co. is an entity of Tenth and Blake Beer Company, the craft and import division of MillerCoors.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Moon_(beer)
So to spell it out for you this is common practice in beer… if you want local examples think Stanley Park, Bowen Island, Sneaky Weasel (oh snap the last two are the same brewery).
Anyways, I fear this might be happening locally. A new brewery is setting up in PoCo calling themselves Rec Room brewing (cause people often drink beer in rec rooms! well not if you are of age…)
Here comes the Analysis:
Take a look at the Brew Master posting for Rec Room, https://beermebc.com/job/head-brewmaster-new-brewery-in-poco/
- Utilize skills to craft creative recipes and produce the best, most exciting beers possible
- Select and maintain quality ingredients
Maintains all equipment to “like new” standards
Maintaining the equipment to “like new” standards often requires a mechanic especially if your equipment comes from China.
Create lasting relationships with vendors and customers
Maintaining relationships with anyone is tough when you are cleaning and brewing all day.
Initial and ongoing training of all management and service staff
Cultivate a positive work environment for all staff
Consistently strive to produce new innovative beverage items to fit concept
Takes lead role in developing concept with regards to training material
Brewers aren’t creating training material! They are too busy brewing, cleaning, and ordering brewing supplies… especially in the early going.
- Continually train, develop and motivate quality employees
When you have one, maybe two brewers, beneath you this is little more than marketing speak.
- Ensure high quality of beverage presentation/preparation
This one is fair.
- Consistently increase profitability
How? Profitability in my estimation generally decreases when breweries increase in production… Your highest margins are in beer sold from tasting room and they decrease when you package and distribute. In the city of Port Coquitlam where tasting rooms are maxed out at 35 seats packaging and distribution is key! Thus, profit margins are reduced and reduced until if and when it becomes feasible to purchase a canning room and integrate distribution vertically may 3-5 years in at best. Breweries at this level are few and far between… P49, Central City, Phillips…
Thus, the only way to increase profitability in the short to medium term is to sell more quickly or reduce the cost of established recipes… this in nearly all cases means sacrificing quality.
- Accurate reporting of all costs
- Meet or exceed all budgets
Yea shit happens in a brewery, sometimes your hops don’t give the right flavours, and you need another dry hop addition, sometimes your fermentation get stuck, sometimes you need to dump beer because it taste bad… Also “exceed all budgets” just reads really poorly.
- Ensures all accounts are up to date with no “past due” bills
- Conduct profit analysis where needed
Nope, that’s your production manager/owner/founders job… yea your brewer should be able to give you some number but their background is biology not business.
- Write schedules within budget
Do you guys mean brew schedules?
- Monthly P&L review with ownership group
Name: Northpaw Brew Co.
Location: Port Coquitlam’s Fremont Village industrial space behind Wal-Mart
Tasting Area: 35 seat tasting area and adjacent growler room.
Core Beers: Jamaican Pale Ale and likely more to come.
After a long gestation period North Paw’s Physical brewery has finally been born into life. With it come a tasting room in a prior to underserved area of the Tri-Cities. North Paw is ps proving to be very popular with locals and may just be an instant classic.
Name: Taylight Brewing
Location: 402 – 1485 Coast Meridian Rd, Port Coquitlam, BC V3C 5P1
Tasting Area: The PoCo Standard 35 seater
Core Beers: Too soon to tell but the beers have come from across the spectrum and are well executed. The Hazy Pale Ale is a personal favourite
PoCo’s second brewery has ales crafted for the time being by the brewer formerly of Hearthstone brewing in North Vancouver. It seems Taylight are in the market for a brewer to take their fledgling business into the future.
UPCOMING – Several New Breweries
See the new breweries page for more info.
Alright, So VCBW is quickly approaching! What is VCBW? It’s the best beer bash in Vancouver, or really BC! Just take a look at some of the offerings:
VCBW 2018 Festival Highlights
- 100 + breweries and cideries pouring more than 300 beers and ciders
- Festivalgoers can create a list of must-try breweries and favourite standout beers in advance through the VCBW website
- More food trucks
- BC Ale Trail-er pouring 8 or more craft breweries from the furthest reaches of B.C.’s Ale Trail
- Craft Beer Market lounge and games area
- BC Farm Crafted Cider Association’s cider row featuring 10 cideries pouring 16 different ciders
- United States Brewers Association has chosen the VCBW as their exclusive Canadian festival partner three years in a row. They are crossing the border to pour 30+ beers, many of which have never been poured in Canada
- Live interactive painting with Vancouver Mural Festival
- Floral leis and crown-making from the Leis de Buds solar powered flower bus
- Dedicated Evo valet parking
- Live music lineup includes DJ Hebegebe, Dakota Pearl, the Prettys, Youngblood, Mark Woodyard & Friends, the Great Speckled Fritillary, the Spillionaires, Tanglers and GI Blunt
VCBW 2018 Festival
- Saturday, June 2 from 2p.m. to 7p.m., and Sunday, June 3 from 12p.m. to 5p.m. at the PNE Fairgrounds, Vancouver. Single day, weekend passes and VIP tickets available now at VancouverCraftBeerWeek.comstarting at $39.
Why do I love it so much? Because with so many Breweries in one spot you really begin to see where the leading Edge is in Vancouver Beer, you can taste the trends, ride the flavour wave, and vive en vogue (I don’t speak French so I really went out an limb with that one).
For example, Hazy beer really made a splash at the event last year, not only were several breweries pouring the stuff, The VCBW beer (A collab amongst Brewers Row) was a delicious Hazy pale ale with passion fruit and guava.
This year I’ve heard over and over this is the year of the Lager… I’ve heard this before too, but people are saying it again so lets address it.
Craft breweries have started putting out a lot of Lagers lately, lets list some: Slow Hand Pilsner, Haus Lager, Good Company Lager, Sneaky Weasel, P49 Lager, Back to Basics X 2, there is some older one’s too like Pixel Pils and various Granville Island offerings. Hey Even the next VCBW Collab Beer is a Lager (which I honestly can’t wait to crush at the Opening Night Crusher.)
(Respective instagrams: @goodcompanylager, @slowhandbeer and @haus.beer)
Even so a lot of releases a trend does not make, here is why:
- People need to actually want it.
Yes everyone who drinks craft beer wants to convert all their friends to craft beer. We all think that finding just the right transition beer is gonna be the trick, except why would it? If I’m trying to get my friend to enjoy a bison burger instead of Mcdonalds, does it make sense to take out all of the flavour from that bison burger, and make it really thin? Nah because what makes that bison delicious and what makes craft beer delicious is the flavour. If they don’t want it, they don’t want it.
- Macro Beer is probably better at making Lagers.
Yea so here is the crazy thing about making craft beer, craft beer brewers have no comparative advantage relative to Macro Brewers in terms of production. Macro Brewers are much more efficient, or in other words make beer much more cheaply. The reason we love craft beer isn’t because its cheaper but because its of higher quality… I know you all know this. But Macro Brewers can probably make better lagers, here is why:
- Lagers need to be aged (or lagered) much longer than ales. Usually around 6 weeks… That is often double what a craft brewery does with ales and thus makes it much more expensive to produce, so often lager is released young by craft brewers.
- Lagers have nothing to cover up flaws and thus really need to be flawless to be good. Craft brewers are great but not perfect, often times those ales we all love have minute problems overcome by hopping or malt or more emphasized flavours. This cannot happen the same way with a Lager, and most craft breweries don’t have nearly the same depth of knowledge to get it just right.
- Macro Brewers have a lot of resources in order to get it right. Macro breweries have huge teams to ensure quality (relative term) and consistency. They have sensory analysts, bacterial scientists, and they can afford to dump a tank (something few craft brewers will do).
So am I saying go grab a Coors or Bud Light? No (but some of Vancouver’s best brewers would happily enjoy a Coors), But do check out Pilsner Urquell and Czechvar if you are interested in High Quality Lagers. Unlike American Macro’s who use substandard ingredients (rice) these European behemoths still seem somewhat committed to the craft… maybe I’ll explain why someday (communism and stuff… maybe another live video?)
To end this thing I will say Hopped lagers have a chance. The hops may cover some imperfections and make them more flavourful to new drinkers. The key will be imbibing at the right time, maybe 6-12 weeks. In any case I’ll be first in line for the VCBW hoppy Lager.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
First up Two Wolves Great Plains Brown Ale
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…
Name: Twin Sails Brewing
Address: 2821 Murray St, Port Moody, BC
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.
Name: Yellow Dog Brewing
Address: 2817 Murray St. Port Moody
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.
Name: The Parkside Brewery
Address: 2731 Murray St, Port Moody, BC
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.
Name: Moody Ales
Address: 2601 Murray St, Port Moody, BC
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.
UPCOMING – Bakery Brewing
See the new breweries page for more info.