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.

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With nearly all the Lower Mainland Region breweries in one place it isĀ  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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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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

 

 

Brew Street Craft – Kitchen First Impressions

A new craft beer bar has entered the arena and its fighting out of the ‘burbs, with a claimed tap list of 50 beers!

First Impressions

SO GOOD… Wow thats a lot of beers! Its a nice selection of local Vancouver Beers to boot with very few macro offerings. Highlights include BC beer awards best in show Yellow Dog “Shake a Paw Smoked Porter”, Four Winds Wildflower Saison, and Canadian Beer awards Beer of the year Old Yale Sasquatch Stout.

Not so good… NOT 50 BEERS! by my count there are 45 of which some are ciders, and no prices or serving sizes. Most importantly there are very few hard to get beers here. Nothing jumps out at me here, are any of these seasonals? With 50 taps it would be nice to see belgians, doubles, triples, quads, imperials, barrel aged… anything that i couldn’t normally get at the liquor store or my other local.

In any case lets give them time, this is only the opening weekend and i’m sure much will change in the coming weeks.

What Craft Beer Bars Should Be Like-According to Me

Whereas Craft Beer Bars have been a thing for years in the city, they have only recently started to take hold in the suburbs where I live. More often than not suburban dives have simply added another 5-10 taps with craft and claimed to be part of craftom. Thats fine with me, but what is also starting to happen is full on redesigns closing for months and starting from anew. Well if you are going to do that i have some basic demands!

Demand 1

You Must Have Local Craft before any Other Craft.

Craft beer bars in the city can get away with this because there are 5 different breweries within cycling distance, but out in the ‘burbs you have one maybe 2, tops 3, and god dammit if you don’t have at minimum at least 1 staple beer from that (or those) brewery(ies), and 1 seasonal you will be dropping the ball, and I won’t be dropping any as much money.

Note: after chatting briefly with mike of mikes craft beer I want to make it clear I also want to see out of region stuff from my local suburban craft pub, But priority one is a local option… then priority two is getting the good out of town stuff/

Demand 2

You Must Have Reasonably Priced Decent Food.

Look the star here is the beer, not some korean-kosher fusion. Make simple food well and I’ll be happy! Poutine, Burgers, steak, some traditional british food like gammon steak would be good too. But here’s the kicker… PRICE IT REASONABLY! I come to spend money on beer, and ill continue to sit and buy beer longer if you have reasonably priced food. If you decide to get elitist and add truffle to that poutine and make it 20 dollars I’m going to stop buying and go home… Fact.

Note: a great example here is the alibi room menu, short, to the point, well produced and well priced.

Demand 3

Have an up-to-date Beer Menu and Post it Online.

Heres a thing that happens all too often these days, wine lists online… no beer list. If you consider yourself a purveyor of craft beer tell me what you have.

Demand 4

TAPS

I don’t go to bars to drink from cans or bottles… I can do that anywhere anytime. I go to bars for draught, because I like to pretend its special, it isn’t really but i like to pretend. So if I’m spending 7 bucks a beer it sure as shit must come from a pipe.

Demand 5

All Taps Must Rotate

If you want regular customers (you do) you need to keep me interested. To keep me interested you need to change your beer’s regularly, sure keep steady accounts with breweries but change the beer, cause i can only enjoy a good brown ale so many time before my tongue begins to wander.

Abide by these simple demands and i will patronize your establishment, deal? DEAL!