Partner Profile: Vessel Liquor Store

Vessel Liquor Store is a locally owned and operated retailer of wines, spirits, and ales. With a comprehensive selection of quality crafted products, the team at Vessel strives to offer knowledgeable, outstanding customer service.

“IT’S A REWARDING FEELING, HELPING GROW BEVERAGE CULTURE IN THIS CITY, AND SEEING THE ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE. THAT’S WHY WE’RE HERE.”

-Ross Borland, Managing Partner

Vessel at Fresh to Death in 2019.

Opened in December of 2015 at Oak Bay Junction, one of the core mandates of Vessel is to contribute to the community. Besides their curated beverage selection, featuring both local and global raves and rarities, Vessel also hosts wine and beer seminars in their custom-built classroom called the Cru’s Nest. These seminars are held regularly to teach attendees about the processes that go into creating their favourite libations through expert-led tastings. Industry-related courses for professionals, including Vessel’s own staff members, are also offered to help spruce up or maintain a wide breadth of knowledge.

Ross Borland, managing partner at Vessel, brings his expertise from more than 25 years in the hospitality industry to the team. He’s been every- thing from a bellman to a hotel manager and understands the value that a wisely selected drink has when hosting events.

With a lot of thought and design going into both the space and the team at Vessel, the liquor store has fast become a community favourite. See what their service is all about in store or at one of the shops they host at events throughout Victoria, like the one found at Victoria Beer Week’s Lift Off!

For info about what Vessel is up to, head to their website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Partner Profile: Nimble Bar Co.

Nimble Bar Co. began where many relationships do— in a bar. After a bit of a disjointed start, Kyle and Nate, the company’s two drink-slinging founders, progressed from competition to cooperation.

Leaning on their years of experience in bartending and hospitality, the business partners have worked to develop the “bar school” that they wish existed when they were just starting out. Whether they’re working an event or teaching hosting venues, businesses, and organizers what makes a bar work and what doesn’t, Nimble’s mission is to “eradicate bar inefficiencies and elevate drinking culture everywhere.”

Nate and Kyle

Award-winning professional bartenders, bar consultants, marketing experts and managers, and local food and beverage talent make up Nimble’s instructor ranks. The team offers training sessions in Victoria and Vancouver regularly to impart their expertise to others.

Covering everything from pouring techniques to on-the-fly cocktail creation, even the most seasoned bartender can pick up a few new tips and tricks while improving their garnish, bitters and tinctures, and spirit, beer, and wine knowledge. Palate development, effective guest communication and assertiveness, responsible alcohol service, and how to maximize establishment or event profitability, among other topics, are also covered in Nimble’s full-service Bar School.

Gain the confidence and knowledge needed to be an entertaining, effective, and well-informed host at any event featuring a bar, no matter the setting, and step up your service game with Nimble Bar Co.

Interested in attending some classes? Find out more on their website, or follow them on Instagram.


In the Spirit of Beer returns to Lure Restaurant + Bar for another year. Join eight of Victoria’s bartenders as they get creative with mixing craft beer and Vancouver Island spirits. Each participant brings their own unique experience to the competition, showcasing their skills and flavour profiles as they create a signature craft beer cocktail. Coached and curated by Victoria Beer Week sponsor, Nimble Bar Co., the evening is set to be a concoction of clever beverage crafting.

Attendees will get to sample each bartender’s creation, accompanied by bite-sized snacks from Lure’s kitchen. Once each beer cocktail has been tried and tested, samplers get to vote for their favourite before the judges decide who deserves the victorious title of “Best Craft Beer Cocktail Creator” for another year.

Who is BC Beer Memes?

Whether you like what they’re saying or not, it’s undeniable that the BC Beer Memes Instagram account has a voice in the BC craft beer scene. Gaining nearly 4000 followers in just 6 months by “meme dumping” with consistent regularity and sharing their opinions, often with brutal honesty. Their indiscriminate targeting of all manner of people and industry, their cutting posts, and their involved level of insight into BC craft beer have led many people to speculate: Who is BC Beer Memes?

Meme from @bcbeermemes

So, as a service to the BC craft beer market, we decided to undertake some reconnaissance work to find out more about BC Beer Memes. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to pry the mask and cape off of our mysterious memer, so no identities were revealed during our interview. However, we did chat about a spectrum of topics: from their most hated trends to more philosophical topics like, What is the BC Beer Memes origin story? And what’s in store for the BC craft beer landscape in 2020? While we don’t agree with all their sentiments, we do respect their “warts and all” view of an industry that they clearly care about.

Let’s get into the interview.

Victoria Beer Society: You started your meme page on July 28th 2019. What is the BC Beer Memes origin story? Why now? What straw broke the camels back? Had the page been brewing up for a while like a well conditioned lager? Or did you churn it out like a buttery diacetyl packed ale?

BC Beer Memes: First off this feels like a Miss America interview, some of these questions are kinda rinky dinky and fluffy but I guess that’s where the common listener is at in BC for the beer game!

There was not a particular watershed moment that led to the creation of the page. But to play into your metaphor, I suppose the origin is more akin to well-conditioned lager. Being in and out of the industry and a “Craft” Beer Lover, a lot of the issues tackled on the page is common talk around the industry. Everybody is trying to make their buck off this so-called craft industry, and after hearing and seeing some of the wonky practices being dealt it seemed fit that an internet based response was the best way to comment and still let the world (BC) decide for themselves what to listen to or not. It was pretty quick and the internet decided the fate of the page in a short period of time.

Originally, I came across BCwinememes (need to give that POS a shout out or will never hear the end of it), that GUY/Girl, whoever they are, were speaking out about a lot of crazy industry centric situations in public that was resonating with the wine community. They stood their strong stance on the topics presented and that was very credible (ie. drinking Oculus with Coke). The groundwork already laid by pages such as dontdrinkbeers and bcwinememes helped establish the fact that there was perhaps a market within BC craft beer for a silly meme page.

You’ve been very vocal about areas of the BC brewing landscape that need improving. Eg. Pay to play, lazy bar managers, marketing trends that need to die. What does the ideal BC craft beer landscape look like to you?

This is a bit of a loaded question, and this answer will be filled with pipe dreams, but I will attempt to be MODERATELY succinct. A good beer scene has relatively low barriers to entry from a governmental/bureaucratic point of view. There should be room for a full spectrum of producers, in terms of production capacity. This is where BC’s market is pretty interesting and kind of messed up. The BC beer Mission statement was always to run BIG BEER out. However, with the fast growth of the industry, it seems like this world is about your survival and not about the beer. The practices to bring down the AB inBevs of the world turned into bringing down the fellow “craft” brewer instead and it is more dog eat dog than ever.

We have plenty of breweries that compete on the municipal, regional, national and international stage. Big isn’t necessarily bad, but goddamn, the quality still has to be there, and that’s where too many don’t live up to the expectations of what “craft beer” is supposed to be. We all say “craft” is better, but there are plenty of sub-par craft beer options out there, and frankly, the further out it goes the more the quality suffers, and that’s purely from the realities of shipping volatile product far away.

In short, a decent beer scene consists of a multitude of players (NOT infinite) operating in a free market, with plenty of cold storage and shipping solutions to retailers and on-premise licensees that operate with integrity, and respect for product and producers.

If you could relocate any brewery in the world to BC who would it be and why?

The whole nostalgia/charm/stigma of a brewery is where it dwells. Great Notion is Great because of the personality Portland brings to it. The trek to Cantillon is a pilgrimage/right of passage for those who love and respect what they have done throughout over a century. Steel and Oak is in New West lol. Hill Farmstead, Jester King, Fremont, Treehouse, The Veil, Cloudwater, Brewsky, Tilquin and so on, are all who they are because of where they are, if they were anywhere else they would not be that. With the lovely “Craft” Collective Factory in our backyard, we have clearly seen that trying to recreate a brewery here from far away is not all it’s cracked up to be.

You love to make fun of trending styles. What trend in BC craft beer do you hate the most? And what trend (if any) do you secretly love?

Hate: Kettle sours with Fruit (Strawberry mostly, there should be a law about putting that in beer in BC, sorry Tristan). The whole adjunct thing is really becoming an issue TBH. Pastry stouts, fruit in Wheat beers, all the BS is creating a whole Basic soccer mom vibe and 9 out of 10 adjunct beers are a useless waste of money. In my unholy opinion. Any brewery that just throws bad beer in a barrel and waits it out for a future release can burn. With everyone and their sister starting up a barrel program these days, as a consumer, I’d be very conscious of sussing out who is being strategic and who is being bandwagonney. If that’s a word. Also, any brewery pursuing the low-cal, light beer trend should just quit before they get left in the dust.

First day brew problems, @bcbeermemes

Love: the trend of Dageraad lol. That Brewery can do no wrong. Honestly not one for trends, if you make a good product, then the money is yours. If your Gose is balanced with a nice balance of salt, tart and a fuller flavour from the wine grapes you fisted in there, then a repurchase might be in order.

Experimentation is cool, and throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks is cool; as long as the thought process behind smacking ingredients together makes sense. If you just couldn’t wait for the yeast to eat all the sugars from your quintuple dry-hopped IPA with hops nobody knows about cause you already printed the labels and needed to start a new IPA in the brew schedule then down the drain it goes!

If you could turn any building in BC into a brewery, which would it be?

Maybe the one fuggles and warlock are in IDK. Kidding. Sort of. I’m going to have to go with Science World.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing in BC beer?

Besides the loss of some really great breweries, hmmm maybe hard seltzer?? Seems more sustainable than Spirits. There is a lot to explore in the world of Kveik yeasts, and I hope breweries continue to push the boundaries in that realm. Hazy IPA is here to stay for 2020, but there should definitely be a higher focus on balancing the best of both worlds of “East Coast” and “West Coast” style IPA.

There are obviously a lot of players in the game at this point. Hundreds of breweries, festivals, tap houses, brewing publications, etc. So who’s doing it right?

The ones who are making money, I guess. We are all in the money-making industry so if you are making it, then maybe you’re doing it right, or you are just Foss who has butt tuns of money and doesn’t have to worry about it. But, there is also a difference between who is doing it right, and who is doing it successfully. Monetarily speaking. Nickelback makes lots of money, and everyone still hates them. The opinion of this page on who is doing it right really doesn’t matter. There are 5.1 million people residing in BC minus the Celiacs… that’s a lot of beer drinkers. If I said that Driftwood is doing it right that would only really resonate with like 5 people (JK), but it would start a colossal outpour of angry nerds. Is Superflux doing it right? Who knows?

You have obviously gotten the attention of a lot of the influencers in the industry. Arguably becoming one yourself. Now that the industry is listening, do you have an end game or goal? Or is your page derived from more of a Joker: “some men just like to watch the world burn” sort of philosophy?

The primary goal of the page was for a self-sufficient supply of shits and giggles. If anyone else gets a laugh out of it, then that is fine too. I suppose, the real goal is to have industry folk take a step back and look at where they belong on the tapestry and decide whether they are happy with that position or not. For non-industry folk, I hope there is also laughter as well as maybe a touch of enlightenment in the sense that we shouldn’t blindly praise everything just because it is craft. Holding breweries to a higher standard of accountability for their product is more important than ever as the industry continues to grow.

Any predictions for what 2020 holds in store for the BC craft beer landscape?

@bcbeermemes

Again, besides great breweries shutting down? I am noticing more and more Beer Share pages out there. Lots of people have reached out to the page asking similar questions here today, and are seeking truths about an industry they care about. People are gaining more access to worldly quality products and are being able to make their own decision on what “Craft” Beer should be. So I am interested to see how that affects BC Beer sales.

Also, every year we seem to make slight improvements on the provincial level towards eradicating archaic laws and regs, and enabling more flexibility and freedom for producers to market and sell the way they see fit. I hope that continues into 2020.

Will you ever hang up your cape and mask? What is your exit strategy?

Man, really want a cape now. If it gets less funny to put out these memes it will be over, even if Murder Toad, Sadrock, and Russell are still around.

Ever seen how The Sopranos ended? Hoping to go out that way.


Thanks to BCBeerMemes for indulging us. If you want to check out the BCBeerMemes account for yourself, you can find them on Instagram.

Victoria Beer Week Returns March 6-14, 2020!

Victoria Beer Week returns, March 6-14, 2020! The festival celebrating Victoria’s craft beer culture includes a mix of 14 events over 9 days, including some favourites from past years along with some bold new twists. The week opens with Lift Off! on March 6th and closes with Saturday Night Casks on March 14th, both at the Victoria Public Market. 

Tickets for this 7th annual event are on sale now atvicbeerweek.ticketrocket.co, in person at Ticket Rocket (1050 Meares Street) or over the phone at 250-590-6291 or toll-free at 1-855-842-7575.

Victoria Beer Society members get deals on tickets to Lift Off! and Lager Than Life!

VBW is offering discounts for members of the Victoria Beer Society: $10 off Lift Off! and $7 off a new addition to VBW, Lager Than Life. These tickets will only available through the Victoria Beer Society website and make sure to be signed in to your account if you’re a member! For more information about the VBS membership program, visit victoriabeersociety.com.

Expanded Beer School Program to be announced in early 2020

VBW is also planning a continuation of its Beer School program with classes happening
throughout the Victoria Beer Week. Keep an eye out for our announcement and full schedule in 2020!

Browse Our 2020 Schedule

Media inquiries please contact: Joe Wiebe at media@victoriabeersociety.com

Fresh to Death 2019 Beer List

We have put together a delicious assortment of fresh hop beers, including IPAs, pale ales, sours, and even a grisette (light saison). And as a bonus, we’ve included a couple pumpkin beers and some Oktoberfest-style lagers to fit with the harvest theme of the event.

  • Category 12 Brewing – Fresh Data Fresh-Hopped Hazy IPA
  • Container Brewing – Pour Les Mineurs Frais Grisette
  • Dageraad Brewing – Wet Hopped Blonde
  • Driftwood Brewery – Sartori Harvest IPA
  • Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks – Chrono Wet Hop IPA
  • Howl Brewing – Harvest Fresh Hop IPA & Harvest Moon Fresh Hop Pumpkin Porter
  • Hoyne Brewing – Wolf Vine Fresh Hop Pale Ale
  • Longwood Brewery – Hopposites Attract Wet Hop Pale Ale with Kveik (collab. with White Sails Brewing) & Full Patch Pumpkin Saison
  • Mount Arrowsmith Brewing – Harvest Fresh IPA
  • Off the Rail Brewing – Fresh Hop Harvest IPA & Nur Ein Kölsch
  • Parallel 49 Brewing – Cashmere Comet IPA
  • Phillips Brewing – Green Reaper IPA
  • Red Arrow Brewing – Sunset Empire Fresh Hop IPA
  • Small Block Brewing – RyeCycled IPA
  • Strange Fellows Brewing – Hop Devil Fresh Hop Kellerbier & Juke Festbier
  • Strathcona Beer Company – Cashmere Hopped Sour
  • Twin City Brewing – Tangent Fresh Hop Tangerine Sour
  • Wheelhouse Brewing – 1000 Mile IPA
  • Whistle Buoy Brewing – Homegrown SMASH IPA
  • Yellow Dog Brewing – Alpha Dog Fresh Hop Pale Ale

Wanna try some of these beers? We still have some VIP and GA tickets available (see bottom of post)! VBS members get $5 off their GA ticket too!

What: Fresh to Death: Victoria’s Harvest Celebration of Fresh Hop Beer
Where: the Roundhouse at Bayview Place
When: Saturday, October 12th from 2pm – 5pm (VIP early entry at 1pm)
Tickets: On sale now!

Why you can’t get that beer here (and why that’s a good thing)

by Sonia Montisca

Victoria, BC’s capital city, is also the capital of BC’s craft beer movement. Home to the Great Canadian Beer Festival, Canada’s oldest beer fest, and Spinnakers, Canada’s first brewpub, the movement has been brewing in our little city for nearly four decades. We’re about to welcome Herald Street Brew Works, our 17th craft brewery to the fold, but even since its humble beginnings, it’s been clear that craft beer has an avid audience in Victoria. 

The great news is that the audience is getting bigger, not just in our city, but in the province as a whole. Craft breweries are opening up in small communities across BC, creating the same type of craft beer culture that we’ve been lucky enough to imbibe in for a while now.

The state of BC’s craft beer industry

Craft beer in British Columbia has become quite the phenomenon in the last two decades. According to the BC Craft Brewers Guild, a “craft beer” is defined as being produced in BC at an annual quantity of less than 200,000 hectolitres (hL) in a brewery that is at least 51% BC-owned. Small-scale breweries, also known as “microbreweries,” usually produce up to 15,000hL. With more breweries focused on small batches of quality craft beer opening up, the phenomenon is evolving.

BC currently has around 180 craft breweries and the number ticks upward with every passing season. Organizations like CAMRA BC, the BC Craft Brewers Guild, and the BC Ale Trail, to name a few, have also established themselves and grown in support of craft beer’s proliferation. The BC Ale Trail, a marketing project that promotes craft beer-focused tourism, has recently launched its very own app that gives users points when they check in at a participating brewery which can then be redeemed for special rewards. Other businesses that produce brewing ingredients, manufacture brewing equipment, or make use of brewing byproducts like spent grains have been able to develop on the periphery of the industry too.

Victoria and Vancouver showcase what craft beer can achieve, given a few decades to work with. In both urban centres dozens of craft breweries are open, sometimes even side by side like they are on Brewers Row in Port Moody where four breweries operate within a span of three blocks. These businesses have become allies in the craft beer movement instead of competitors.

In smaller, more remote communities where the amount of consumers is much more limited and access to larger markets is more challenging, the opening of a craft brewery has had similar results. Consumers in both urban centres and rural communities are able to enjoy top quality beer right where it’s made, supporting what are often hyperlocal businesses.

Oversaturation in the market?

With more craft breweries opening across BC, it’s reasonable to expect that the market could become oversaturated with quality craft beer (the horror!). However, the rise of the craft beer industry has made it a prime example of how focusing on local sourcing, production, and limited distribution can actually be better for everyone involved.

With “locavore” culture becoming more prevalent in the purchasing habits of consumers, as well as the production processes of businesses, growth becomes an interesting question for most small-business owners. As more people prefer to eat, drink, and shop local, a mutually beneficial relationship is developing between craft beer producers and consumers and it’s a relationship that should be paid particular attention to.

The distribution dilemma

A problem for many small breweries comes in the form of distribution. Reaching a larger consumer market is important when aiming for growth in sales, but a larger market in an already large province comes with its own challenges.

The starting costs of a brewery are high and rigid rules and regulations make finding or constructing a suitable location expensive as well. Add tapping into established distribution channels on top of that and it’s easy to see why most small breweries shy away from distributing beyond their immediate vicinity.

While this might be much to the consumer’s chagrin when leaving a tap takeover event with the thought “Dang, I wish I could get more of that beer here…”, it turns out not focusing on wider distribution is actually better for everyone involved. It reduces the environmental impact of greater production and emissions created from shipping products far distances. It also means that consumers need to visit a brewery to sample its brews, drinking them while they’re at their freshest, best quality, while also contributing to tourism revenue by spending their money at a local business with local employees and perhaps staying at a local hotel and checking out other nearby attractions.

Craft beer works for its community

A new craft brewery opening in any community is exciting, but the first or second in a small town is especially impactful as the brewery’s tasting room takes on the role of a new community gathering space. Becoming a hotspot for locals and visitors alike, as well as an ideal events venue for local groups and organizations, the opportunity for further economic stimulation in the form of business partnerships develops as well.

Perfect examples of the impact that a craft brewery has on a small community can be found all over the province – take Chemainus, Cumberland, Port Alberni, Powell River, or Prince Rupert, to name a handful. Each town is home to one craft brewery at the moment. Since opening in their small communities, populations ranging between approximately 3,000 and 18,000, locals have rallied around these businesses to help them take off in what are often trying economic environments. Many of these places were built around extraction industries, with pulp mills or mines being the main employers. As these industries have slowed, closed down, or automated, the communities around them have been affected too.

But craft breweries add more than just new jobs and quality beer to a place. They add a deeper level of education about beer that encourages a different mindset towards how products get made, sold, and enjoyed. Being able to engage with a brewery’s owner, the brewer, and/or the server as they teach you about their beer styles, their particular history in the community and industry, and their own personal brand becomes a much more lasting experience for patrons.

Get a taste of the movement at GCBF

Victoria has been an influential player in the evolution of craft beer culture in BC. Its history and ties to the movement’s earliest beginnings make it an amazing place to familiarise oneself with what craft beer has to offer. If you’re looking for a taste, all of these things – history, locavore culture, and great Canadian craft beer – can be enjoyed at the Great Canadian Beer Festival.

And if you can’t make it out to that, check out one of the seventeen (and counting!) BC Ale Trails for inspiration and start exploring the hometowns of community-focused craft breweries to get your fill.

Partner Profile: Specific Mechanical

Specific Mechanical Systems Ltd. (SpecMec) has been designing, manufacturing, and maintaining advanced brewing systems since 1984. The Victoria-based company focuses on crafting high quality breweries, distilleries, and custom metal fabrication for other industries, including pharmaceuticals and oil and gas.

Founded by two tradesmen – a welder and a machinist – the pair worked initially as contractors for a few of Victoria’s first breweries, doing maintenance and light fabrication work where needed. As the brewing industry experienced growth, the company expanded its capabilities, focusing on the manufacture of new equipment for new breweries. The company has grown to a team to over eighty-five members  and now manufactures brewing systems well over 100bbl in size.

Known for their extensive experience and customer service-focused approach, SpecMec has manufactured over 1,000 quality handcrafted systems for customers around the world. 

With the craft beer industry’s growth, we’ve grown significantly as well. Our reach is global. We’ve built systems for Asian, South American, and European customers, but our primary markets are Canada and the United States.” -Chad MacIsaac, Sales & Marketing Manager at Specific Mechanical

About 10 years ago, SpecMec began manufacturing systems for the emerging craft spirits industry, specializing in copper welding. SpecMec also invested in the development of systems automation, maintaining a staff of several automation engineers. The shop is certified by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), permitting their certified welders to build comprehensive high pressure systems for industries such as dairy, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and more. The company is moving into the cannabis extraction market as its next frontier.

Collaborating directly with clients to design, build, and install systems that are customized to a project’s requirements and needs, SpecMec offers onsite installs and commissioning for larger systems and remote support for smaller ones. 

When it became obvious that we needed a new brewhouse, we wanted to ensure that we would be able to not only maintain the beer quality and consistency that we were used to, but also use the opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of our brewhouse. We were thrilled with how Specific Mechanical Systems was able to accommodate these requests and build us a brewery that incorporated heat recovery, a mash press and hot side centrifuge – and do it all on a very short timeline.” -Matt Phillips, Founder and Owner of Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.

With a team of highly skilled tradespersons and a compliment of mechanical and automation engineers, Specific Mechanical Systems is able to design, build, install, and help maintain breweries and distilleries, both small and large and manual or fully automated, for customers worldwide.

To learn more about SpecMec and their services, visit their website!

Top Beer Picks from the GCBF 2019 Beer List

Perhaps you missed all the announcements about the upcoming Great Canadian Beer Fest that is happening next weekend. You might also have overlooked the part where there are over 90 breweries, more than 275 beers and the BC Ale Trail-er in attendance. Where does one start? Start by drooling over the beer list, which is searchable this year by style and description keywords. Still overwhelmed? Perhaps a few recommendations from notable local beer enthusiasts. 

John Rowling and Gerry Hieter.

Gerry Hieter, previous GCBF Chairman, what are you looking forward to trying this year? “Anyone who knows me also knows that I haven’t had a drink of beer at the GCBF since 2002 so the most important beer I try will be the first one, no doubt. Hopefully I won’t horrify the beer world when I say that my first beer will be from the first brewery I can get to once I arrive. After that, I will get more serious about what I sample. The first adventurous beer I try will be from Slackwater Brewing in Penticton, which is a new brewpub owned and operated by a friend of mine and well known beer guy, Liam Peyton. After that I am all over the Nova Scotia breweries and will hang around that pavilion for a bit before I soldier on.”

Perhaps the next logical person to ask for beer recommendations is John Rowling, past GCBF co-Chairman. “I’m excited to see what the new crew have come up with for this year’s GCBF. There’s everything for everyone. Personally, I’m going to start with an English-style pale ale from 9 Mile Legacy Brewing from Saskatchewan — something traditional to get me going. Also an early beer will be the Friday cask from Mount Arrowsmith (Parksville) – Blackberry Porter.”

“Also, I love Citra hops so next I’m going to search for beers brewed with those hops. Kind of an educational thing — can I really identify a particular hop? I’ll start with Ontario’s Bench Brewing’s Citra Grove Dry Hopped Sour because that’s the only hop in that beer. Then I’ll try some more complex hop bills, such as Blindman Brewing (Alberta) Dry hopped Kettle Sour #12 and Strathcona’s (Vancouver) Big Sexy Funk IPA. For a bigger taste challenge I’m going for Penticton’s Highway 97 Brewing’s Peated Scotch Ale, and finally, the very big Tatamagouche Brewing’s Toro – Bourbon barrel aged Quad with Brett.” Wow. That is a man with a plan!

If, like John, you love the Citra hop then head over to booth 42 and sample Annex Ale’s Pale Ale. Perhaps they will display the multiple medals this beer has won.

Matt Poirier.

Great beer minds think alike: Certified Cicerone and Monday Magazine beer columnist Matt Poirier is also excited about that big Tatamagouche beer. “This does not sound like a simple beer at all. The description, ABV, and expected flavours will likely make this a sipping, thinking beer that will get everyone talking.” He is also keen to try Big Spruce Brewing’s Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout: “Between the name, and the fact that this brewery is coming all the way from Cape Breton Island, this stout has come too far not to be tried.”

Again, Matt will be lining up with John at the Mount Arrowsmith tent to taste the Friday cask. “By taking their Low Pressure Porter, already a favourite of mine, and adding the rich sweetness of late season blackberries, the description alone just makes me think of a rich chocolate cake with a berry coulis.”

Poirier has a solid strategy for the rest of his picks. “With nearly 300 beers available over two days, the only way to narrow things down is to have a system, and mine has three parts. First, I want to try some of the breweries that have come from a distance. Then, I’ll look at the casks, and finally, I take a look at the local breweries that have something exciting to try.”

Smithers Brewing.

Here are Matt Poirier’s other top beer picks:

Smithers Brewing Nitro Coffee Lager (5.1%): “Putting coffee in beer isn’t an easy task. Putting it in a lager is even harder. Putting that on a Nitro tap just adds to the degree of difficulty.”

Twin City Vanishing Act Pineapple Coconut Sour (5.4%): “Do you like pina coladas? Twin City has been absolutely crushing it with their beers, so the idea of a fun take on a classic cocktail (which isn’t the only one at the festival) should just add to the experience if the weather holds. Tiny umbrella not included.”

Brazen Hall Brewing Jarpur Amber Ale (4.9%): “I’ve heard amazing things about Brazen Hall, so the opportunity to have them here is one not to pass up. This may not jump out as something different, but the ability to brew an enjoyable amber ale is usually a sign of a good brewery overall.”

Torque Brewing Witty Belgian (4.7%): “A nice Belgian Wit on a hot summer day just hits the spot, and this 2019 CBAC Gold Medal winning beer has to be doing something right.”

Moon Under Water Year VII Wheat Wine Cask (11.9%, Friday Only): “This beer, released around GCBF every year, has become almost a tradition to have under the lights of Royal Athletic Park. Warm, rich, and full of depth, it’s a great choice once it starts to get a bit chilly.”

Sooke Oceanside Brewery Strubarb Strawberry Rhubarb Golden Ale Cask (5.0%, Saturday Only): “I like pie, and I like beer, so the idea of a bright fruity pie beer in cask form just makes me want to dive in.”

Parallel 49 Brewing Cosmic Slop (6.8%): “Once you get over the name, this beer sounds so complex, and just piques my curious side. Here’s hoping the name isn’t an apt descriptor of the beer.”

Ian Lloyd.

What are my choices? I thought you would never ask. I am a fan of low alcohol and heritage beer styles. I plan on sampling the Pour Les Mineurs from Container Brewing, at 3.2% ABV. Crannog Ales is back after a few years’ absence, and I must try their red currant ale. Can’t say that I have ever tried a Haskap berry sour, so off to Booth 42 to present my token to Saskatchewan’s Nokomis Craft Ales. Contrary to John, I will be visiting Booth 69 and Tatamagouche Brewing for two beers below the 3.5% ABV range. A Berliner Weisse with Enigma hops? Sign me up. The last on my list is Winterlong Brewing from the Yukon. Last year their Spruce IPA was my favourite. Looking forward to trying their mixed yeast, hop-forward saison.

Whatever beers you try, just remember to sample responsibly and plan for a safe trip home. Hint, hint, use your provided BC Transit pass. Visiting the many food trucks might be helpful. Did someone say “Taco Justice and L’Authentique poutine at the same venue?”

Partner Profile: CAMRA

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was formed in 1971 in St. Albans, the United Kingdom in an effort to reinvigorate a slowing brewing culture. Since then, membership of this independent, voluntary consumer organization has reached nearly 200,000. 

In British Columbia, the society was first incorporated in 1985 under the British Columbia Society Act. There are three local branches: South Okanagan (est. in 2015), Vancouver (est. in 2001), and Victoria. Our very own CAMRA Victoria branch has been operating since 1990, thanks to a contingent of British expats. 

Phil Cottrell was a fan of English beer and put a note in several home brew stores regarding forming a branch of CAMRA in 1990. A few of us met in April 1990 at Spinnakers and formed a society along the lines of the UK CAMRA. Phil was elected secretary, and I became president. 

We put the word out and, in May, about a dozen of us met at Swans. In June, we had our first brewery tour at Vancouver Island Brewing and about 60 people showed up. That summer, we held a BBQ and decided to formally incorporate as a BC society. It was a largely educational group at first because we really didn’t know much about beer and brewing – we just knew that we liked craft beer a lot more than the bland stuff produced by the mega breweries. -John Rowling, CAMRA BC’s founding president

With a mission to “act as champion of the consumer in relation to the BC and Canadian beer and alcoholic beverage industry”, the non-profit society works to achieve a number of things. Beyond maintaining consumer rights and promoting quality, choice, and value for money, the organization also aims to support the public house as a focus of community life. They campaign and seek to educate consumers to have a greater appreciation for traditional styles of beer made using traditional ingredients and produced in a traditional way. 

Strong supporters of the craft beer movement, CAMRA BC promotes the production and consumption of “real ale”, defined as beer that is allowed to condition in the barrel or bottle and has not been filtered, pasteurized, or pressurized. The society advocates for responsible enjoyment of simple, yet great quality beer and cider throughout the province. 

CAMRA BC operates using membership subscriptions, sales of merchandise and educational products, and proceeds from beer festivals. Membership is open to all individuals and is governed by an elected unpaid executive, chosen by members. Members are also able to show their valid CAMRA membership cards at partnering breweries, brewpubs, and liquor stores for special offers and discounts.

Visit CAMRA online!

Eats & Beats at the Beach Beer Menu Curated by Cascadia Liquor

Come down to Esquimalt Lagoon Saturday, June 20th for Eats & Beats at the Beach! We’ll be there with our Beer Truck in tow, serving up a wide selection of BC craft beer and a feature flight. With taps curated by Cascadia Liquor, everything pouring will also be available at Cascadia Liquor store locations, so be sure to use their tasting notes booklets to keep track of what you like!

Below is the full Beer Menu, expertly put together by Cascadia Liquor to give you the best BC craft beer experience at the beach.

LIGHT

  • V2V Black Hops Blonde Ale (4.7 %)
  • Driftwood Brewery Cry Me A River Gose (5 %)
  • Four Winds Brewing Vélo Hazy Pale Ale with Lemon & Salt (4.5%)
  • Vancouver Island Brewing Juan de Fuca Cerveza (4.8%)

REFRESHING

  • Fernie Brewing Campout Pale Ale (5.4%)
  • Cannery Brewing Drupaceous Apricot Wheat Ale (5.0%)
  • Hoyne Brewing Summer Haze Honey Hefeweizen (5.1%)

HOPPY/HAZY

  • Yellow Dog Brewing Chase My Tail Pale Ale (5.2%)
  • Category 12 Brewing Juicy Data Hazy IPA (6.1%)
  • Lighthouse Brewing Shipwreck IPA (6.5%)

SPECIALTY

  • Axe & Barrel Brewhouse Fruity Mother Pucker (4.0%)
  • Moon Under Water Brewpub Creepy Uncle Dunkel Dark Lager (5.4%)
  • Faculty Brewing 250 London Fog Tea-Infused Ale (5.1%)

CIDER

  • Merridale Ciderworks Mo’Moro (6%)
  • Tod Creek Craft Cider Tod Cider (6%)
  • Spinnakers Raspberry Rosé (6.5%)

NON-ALCOHOLIC

  • Cultured Kombucha Nettles & Petals