I am going to be doing some serious beer traveling during July. Stone Brewing Sour Fest 2010, Churchills Sour Party, Oregon Brewers Festival…whew!
While I am in lovely California, I have been invited to shoot some footage with my good friends New Brew Thursday. I hope to enlighten the folks in the US to some of the great beer being brewed here in British Columbia.
I recently sent an email to many of the local breweries requesting beer samples to help lessen the financial impact. The brewers have responded in a big way!
At current count, I have been sent 40 large format (650ml, 750ml and 1 liter) bottles, two cases (24) of 335ml bottles and 2 20 liter kegs!
Canadians have a reputation for being incredibly nice and friendly. Can’t argue with that!
Now if I can just get someone to donate the shipping…
You guys rock!
Andy The Beerman
As many of you know, there has been recent legal action between Bear Republic Brewing of Healdsburg, CA and Central City Brewing of Surrey, BC.
In a nutshell, Bear Republic filed suit against Central City over possible copyright infringement regarding the use of the “Red Racer” branding for Central City’s canned beer. Bear Republic felt that Central City’s branding infringed on or was purposely designed to confuse people in regard to 2 Bear Republic beers/service marks; Red Rocket Ale and Racer 5 IPA.
The court ruled that although “RACER 5 is a strong mark deserving of broad protection, and the RED ROCKET is a weak mark deserving of only limited protection“, “Bear Republic has failed to show a likelihood of success in establishing that Central City’s RED RACER mark infringes the RACER 5 or RED ROCKET marks.”
And “the way in which a typical consumer would encounter the products in the marketplace does not support a finding of likelihood of confusion.”
Bottom line, the court denied Bear Republic’s motion for an injunction against Central City.
“Bear Republic has not shown a likelihood of succeeding on the merits in establishing its infringement claims”
As a regular consumer of craft beer, I always felt that there was little merit to the Bear Republic claim. I’ve drank plenty of both brewery’s beer and have never been confused about the two in any way, shape or form. In reading the decision my favorite part is as follows:
“While it is true that beer purchasers are not likely to exercise a high degree of care in purchasing a relatively inexpensive item like beer, it seems likely that drinkers of craft-brewed beer may be generally more discerning drinkers than average beer drinkers, and they would be likely to remember correctly or recognize at least one of the several distinguishing elements between RACER 5 and RED RACER.”
In essence, the judge says that craft beer drinkers are smarter than the average beer drinker! (Leaving out that apparently Bear Republic thinks craft beer drinkers are too stupid to tell the difference between the 2 brands)
I always knew we craft beer drinkers were smarter and more discerning, but now we have a judge’s decision to back it up!
The full court decision can be found here:
Andy The Beerman
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had just about enough of faceless government functionaries having WAAAAAY too much influence over our lives.
News is filtering down that the European Union aka EU is trying to influence the way North Americans drink.
This is Awesome!
Vancouver Craft Beer Week is a celebration taking place throughout metropolitan Vancouver from May 10 16, 2010. It aims to inspire a broader interest in all aspects of beer in order to cultivate a flourishing craft beer culture in the region. This video is in honor of the tireless efforts of craft brewers from British Columbia, as well as the rest of Canada.
Visit the webpage for event updates and tickets for select events;
Follow VCBW on Twitter; http://twitter.com/VCBW
For Immediate Release ——
The Vancouver Craft Beer Week organizing committee is proud to announce the first ever BC Beer Awards by Brewery Creek. On Monday, March 22nd, an expert judging panel will review over 150 beers from all across British Columbia at the Alibi Room, Vancouver’s premier tap house. Judging for the event is NOT open to the general public. Media are invited to join judges and volunteers at 9:00am to witness the judging process, as well as learn about the intricacies of craft beer and to find out more about the upcoming Vancouver Craft Beer Week.
The only blind judged beer competition in British Columbia, the BC Beer Awards judging panel boasts such beer experts as:
- Don Tse – A BJCP Certified beer judge, freelance beer writer and consultant, Don has been writing professionally about beer for seven years. His articles have appeared in beer publications such as All About Beer, Ale Street News and Beers of the World.
- Abram Goldman-Armstrong – A beer writer in Portland, Oregon, Abram has been a BJCP National Rank Judge since the age of 21, judging at competitions such as the Great American Beer Festival, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ales, and Portland’s Spring Beer and Wine Fest. He co-organizes the North American Organic Brewers Festival, the world’s largest organic beer festival.
- Megan Flynn – The publisher of Beer Northwest, a quarterly magazine covering beer, food, and lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest, Megan travels North America in search of the best beer and beer personalities, continuing to develop her pallet into one of the most diverse on the continent.
- James Nevison – Columnist for The Province newspaper, where his “Wine Guy” column appears weekly each Thursday. He is the co-author of five bestselling wine books, the latest is Had a Glass: Top 100 Wines for 2010 under $20, $25, and $30. Recently James was named a “Top 40 Foodie Under 40” by Western Living magazine.
Winners will be announced at the BC Beer Awards by Brewery Creek award show on Friday, May 14th, one of Vancouver Craft Beer Week’s signature events. For further information please contact:
Vancouver Craft Beer Week
Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Location: Alibi Room
157 Alexander Street
Vancouver, BC V6A 1B8
Andy the Beerman
If you haven’t heard, Vancouver is hosting Canada’s FIRST EVER craft beer week, May 10-16 2010!
Vancouver Craft Beer Week will be a celebration of all things craft beer, featuring brewmaster’s dinners, pub crawls, brewery tours and tastings, a homebrew competition, a Women in Beer event, The 1st Annual BC beer Awards and a slew of other great events.
Brewmaster dinners will include local luminaries like R & B Brewing, Russell Brewing, Storm Brewing and more. In addition, there will be dinners/pairings hosted by some of the best brewers from the US including Green Flash and Deschutes. Restaurant’s slated to participate include some of Vancouver’s best and most cutting edge fine dining establishments like Salt, Refuel, The Irish Heather, Habit, Cascade, R.T.L, Jake’s Steakhouse and more!
The BC Beer Awards will feature over 150 entries from ALL of British Columbia!
The Vancouver Homebrewer Awards and cometition will feature some of the best and brightest local homebrewers. The Best of Show brewer will be given the opportunity to brew a batch of their award winning beer at either The Mark James Group’s Yaletown Brewpub or Dix BBQ!
The pub crawl will cover some great local breweries and brewpubs on a walking tour and then shuttle across the water to Granville Island to enjoy even more great locally brewed beer!
Save the Dates: May 10-16 2010!
Be a part of Canadian Craft Beer history
Andy The Beerman
If you were around in the 1980′s you probably watched at least of few episodes of “Cheers”. An enjoyable sitcom set in a neighborhood bar in Boston, MA. Among the regulars were 2 ‘bar hounds’; Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin, played by George Wendt and John Ratzenberger respectively.
Norm was a quick quipping sot who always occupied the corner seat at the end of the bar, and always perched to his right was Clifford R. Clavin. Cliff was a middle-aged, know-it-all mail carrier who lived with his mother for most of the duration of the show. Cliff always had along-winded explanation for everything, including alcohol consumption.
The reason I tell you all this is because Cliff Clavin (and the brilliant writers of “Cheers”) are responsible for one of the all time greatest diatribes about alcohol I’ve ever heard.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with The Buffalo Theory;
“A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. When the herd is hunted, the slow and weak at the back are killed first. The speed and health of the herd keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.
In the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as its slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. Naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.
In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”
There is something in the twisted, yet simple logic of the Buffalo Theory which has always made me chuckle.
It also sparked in me a process similar to the Buffalo Theory. I’ve always looked at alcohol intake as akin to gardening; to keep a plant or tree healthy, you must regularly trim away the older, less healthy branches. By occasionally trimming the plant, you make sure that the new growth will get more essential nutrients, thus resulting in a fuller, more vibrant, healthy plant.
As I regularly tell my wife: “I’m not getting drunk, I’m pruning!”
Andy The Beerman
If you were fortunate enough to be in attendance for the Vancouver screening of the documentary film “Beer Wars”, count yourself lucky. If you couldn’t make it, shame on you!
It was a gala event put on by CAMRA Vancouver at District 319 , a wonderful private event venue. Special Guest for the evening was the inimitable Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing Company. Greg was kind enough to bring a good supply of Stone Beer; their signature ‘Arrogant Bastard’ and ‘Ruination IPA”. For the price of admission, you also got to sample beer offerings from Central City, Driftwood, Granville Island, Howe Sound, R&B, Red Truck, Steamworks, Swans, and Yaletown Brewing. (And if you were really fortunate, some homebrew from yours truly and Adam Henderson)
It was a veritable “who’s who” of the Vancouver craft beer scene. Brewers and owners of all of the above listed breweries, plus folks from DIX Brewery, Storm, Alibi Room, St. Augustine’s and God knows how many more! Brewers, homebrewers, beer geeks, beer snobs, beer enthusiasts, fanboys and girls, you name it! All in all, a very diverse and enthusiastic crowd.
The evening began with a ‘cocktail hour’ of sorts, with all of the brewers above pouring their offerings, hors d’ouvres, and some great beer conversations. It was also a chance to meet up with friends new and old. One my my favorite parts of the evening was the number of people who approached me and introduced themselves. They recognized me from my Twitter avatar! That was freaking cool!
Once seated, we were treated to an brief intro from CAMRA President Rick Green. Rick introduced the masses to a new project; Vancouver Craft Beer Week, being held from May 10-16! This will be our chance to showcase local beer, beer and food pairings, beer tastings, beer themed events, a homebrew competition, BC Beer Awards, and the promotion of craft beer in general. Looking forward to a tremendous week of beer!
After Rick’s introduction, we were treated to a keynote from special guest Greg Koch. Greg shared a brief history of Stone Brewing, the trials and tribulations of growing a craft brewery, and the glorious success of Stone. Stone opened a restaurant/bistro at their new facility in Escondido, CA in 2007. In the 3 years since they opened The Bistro has become San Diego County’s number 1 purchaser of local organic produce. That shows me how we can all make a difference in how our beer AND food are produced.
From there we moved to the main event, the screening of ‘Beer Wars”
“In America, size matters. The bigger you are, the more power you have, especially in the business world.
Director Anat Baron takes you on a no holds barred exploration of the U.S. beer industry that ultimately reveals the truth behind the label of your favorite beer. Told from an insider’s perspective, the film goes behind the scenes of the daily battles and all out wars that dominate one of America’s favorite industries.
Beer Wars begins as the corporate behemoths are being challenged by small, independent brewers who are shunning the status quo and creating innovative new beers. The story is told through 2 of these entrepreneurs – Sam and Rhonda – battling the might and tactics of Corporate America. We witness their struggle to achieve their American Dream in an industry dominated by powerful corporations unwilling to cede an inch.
This contemporary David and Goliath story is ultimately about keeping your integrity (and your family’s home) in the face of temptation. Beer Wars is a revealing and entertaining journey that provides unexpected and surprising turns and promises to change the world’s opinion on those infamous 99 bottles of beer on the wall.”
While the film focuses primarily on the US Beer Market, pretty much everything in the film applies to Canada as well. At the time of filming, the independent brewers were facing the might of ‘The Big 3′; Anheuser Busch, Miller and Coors. Since then, through consolidation and takeover it’s really just ‘The Big 2′; AB-InBev and Miller-Coors (Molson-Coors in Canada). Remember; these corporations do not have your best interests as a beer drinker in mind. The underhanded (and sometimes illegal) tactics practiced by these behemoths of brewing are astounding.
Canada has been adversely affected, just take a look at this list. Recognize anyone? Molson, Kokanee, and countless others that you’re sure to find being poured at your favorite restaurant or pub (Except for Vancouver’s finer beer establishments, of course!)
For a detailed view of ‘who owns who’ in Canada, check out Dave’s Vancouver Beer Guide 2010
Pretty scary, isn’t it?
To see more truly local, independent beer flowing from your local taps, make your voice heard! Let your local establishments know that you prefer to drink fresh local products. Many Vancouver resaurants promote the fact that they serve local food, ask them why they don’t serve local beer! If they throw “We serve Molson/Canadian/ Kokanee” back at you, let them know that those aren’t truly local beers. If they support local independent farmers, why don’t they support local independent brewers?
My favorite quote from the movie is from Jim Koch (no relation to Greg, by the way), founder of The Boston Beer Company (aka Samuel Adams) ;
“Almost all our beer knowledge comes from Budweiser, Miller and Coors. It’s as if all we learned about food came from McDonalds.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to know more about my beer; where it’s produced, what goes into it, and who really makes it!
If you were unable to make it out for the screening, want to share it with your macro swilling friends or just want to see it again, Beer Wars is now available via On Demand and Digital Download. CLICK HERE
For a more in-depth review of “Beer Wars” click here:
And remember; Support Your Local Brewer!
Andy the Beerman
From the Brewery:
“With five different varieties of superior hops, Hop Head Double IPA (8.0% ABV) packs in the hoppy bitterness like no other. Similar to its award-winning, best-selling little brother, Hop Head IPA, Hop Head Double IPA also boasts citrus aromas and sweet malt undertones with a slightly darker, copper colour. This strong hops taste pairs well with a flavourful meal or sweet dessert.”
My initial impressions:
Pours with a very dense off-white head. Deep copper/orange color. Decent initial hop aroma, very grassy and piney. Not picking up the citrus boasted of by the brewery. Slight alcoholic/phenolic tinge to the aroma. Very malty body, as evidenced by the deep copper color. Bathes the tongue in a resiny mouthfeel. Again, lots of grass and pine, very little citrus if any. The aftertaste is not what I would expect from a DIPA. Not a lot of lingering hop bitterness, more of a metallic, briney taste that lingers for quite some time.
Like many Canadian IPA’s and Double IPA’s, it has a much more English character than a true “West Coast” IPA. Slightly sweet and malt heavy, with a body that doesn’t allow the hops to truly shine.
After all of the hype, including a Canadian Beer Award, I’m left decidedly underwhelmed.
Compared to most Canadian IPA’s and Double IPA’s it’s a strong effort. When compared to benchmarks like Central City Red Racer IPA (and it’s DIPA brother) and Phillips Amnesiac, this DIPA pales in comparison.
On a 1-100 scale I would rate Tree Brewing HopHead Double IPA no more than 86-88.
Not to say this is a bad beer, it’s just not what I’m looking for in my DIPA. If you want a turbocharged English IPA, this is your beer. If you’re looking for a West Coast style “Hop Bomb”, there are other alternatives.
Andy The Beerman
I have finally, belatedly, begun reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”.
It’s a phenomenal look at what (and who) causes epidemics, with the primary focus on social ‘epidemics’; what are the mitigating factors, who are the ‘players’ in these movements, and taking a detailed look at the cause and effect. As I’m reading through the book, being a beer geek, I keep trying in my head to apply his thesis to the craft beer movement, specifically as it applies to Vancouver and BC as a whole.
Where does craft beer fit in the “Law of the Few”? Who are the Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen? What’s the ‘Stickiness” factor as it applies to craft beer? Am I part of this potential epidemic? If so, where do I fit?
I’ve pondered this so much, it feels like my head is going to explode!
What caused Portland, OR to ‘tip’ towards craft beer over mass produced lagers? What happened in Seattle to foment a backlash against macro-swill? Having lived in and around San Diego during it’s craft beer explosion, I’ve seen some the causes and effects first hand. Did I recognize them while they were happening? Of course not!
What were the causes for the change of mindset amongst the local beer drinkers? Was it Greg Koch and Steve Walker founding Stone Brewing? Was it the opening of Pizza Port in Solana Beach? To be honest, I don’t know what the specific tipping point was in San Diego (or Portland, Seattle, Denver, etc.)
What I do know is that I am seeing some of the same changes in attitude and mindset here in Vancouver that I saw in San Diego. As I posted when I moved to Vancouver, I thought that YVR is roughly 5-7 years behind some of the other west coast beer cities. In the year that I have been here I have seen that gap close pretty quickly. We’re still behind the curve, but not by nearly as much!
What happened to close the gap? It’s not like new breweries are popping up all over town. The brewery count is pretty much the same as when I got here.
The subtitle for the book is “How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” What are the little things happening in BC?
We are seeing changes in the attitudes of the local brewers as much as anything. We’re seeing a drift away from pedsestrian English Ales and Continental Lagers, to more ‘cutting edge’ craft beer. From Iain Hill’s Oude Bruin to Gary Lohin’s Red Racer IPA, to James Walton and his crazy lambics and experimental beers, to Phillips Brewing and their special releases, Driftwood Brewing releasing more Belgian inspired brews, even Granville Island is moving forward with Vern’s Jolly Abbot. Russell, Tree, Swan’s, Vancouver Island, Crannog, Howe Sound are all brewing outside the box of staid, ‘traditional’ beer.
We are seeing a more dedicated craft beer ‘crowd’. Bloggers, writers, and flat-out beer geeks are taking the craft beer message to the streets. People like Chris Bjerrisgaard, Daniel Knibbs, Rick Green, Chester Carey, Gerry Erith, Nigel Springthorpe and myself, proselytizing and educating the masses on the joy and wonder that is Craft Beer. People like Norm Eng and Adam Henderson scouring the bushes to bring us the best and most unique craft beer that America and the world have to offer.
We’re seeing larger and larger groups of people growing bored with the same old stuff. More people filling the Alibi Room and the Whip. Cask nights popping up all over, even in the suburbs! Restaurants like St. Augustine’s changing their beer menus to strictly craft beer. I was impressed to see so many hardcore beer fans at the CAMRA AGM this past weekend.
We’re staging the Inaugural Vancouver Craft Beer Week from May 10-16, yet another opportunity to educate the masses and make Vancouver a beer destination.
Are any of these small changes the tipping point, or are they an accumulation of ‘little things’ signaling a larger movement towards the epidemic stage?
Are we in the early stages of a craft beer epidemic in BC?
I would have to say Yes, Yes we are! And you know what? That’s a good thing!
Andy The Beerman