Faith Restored

Every day we trudge, stumble or walk through life and we are amazed and appalled by man’s inhumanity to man. Whether it’s a senseless shooting, a car bomb in some place we’d never like think about otherwise, or the person with the fish or “coexist” bumper sticker flipping off the car they just cut off, we are reminded daily that people suck.

We question ourselves, we question each other, we ask rhetorically “What the f**k is wrong with people?”

Every so often we see something or get to participate in something that reminds us that there is indeed hope for this world, and there are good people fighting the fight. Last night was one such occasion.

As many of you know, I tend bar in a busy brewery/restaurant in San Diego. In the course of a normal shift I get to interact with a myriad of personality types; the quiet couple, the brazen drunk, the cheap folks that wouldn’t tip if their hair was on fire, as well as the kind and caring and generous. Last night, (a busy Friday) I saw kindness, generosity, and most importantly respect, paid in a way that brought unbridled joy to my jaded heart.

A group of current and former Navy Seals came to the bar. They caught the attention of one of our bartenders and asked a favor. It seems that one of their brethren, Travis, was a huge craft beer fan who was killed in the act of defending his country, and they wanted to honor him. They told of how he loved to introduce people to craft beer, often buying total strangers a round of beer so they could taste the wonder that is a well crafted pint. On this, the anniversary of his passing, they wanted to carry on the tradition of buying beers for strangers, as they knew it’s what he would be doing had he lived. They had a round of drinks, toasted their lost friend Travis and then made an unusual request.

They asked if they could open a tab for a specific amount and have us, the bar staff, choose people at random to buy a beer in honor of their comrade until the tab was full. All they asked is that we mention their friend Travis and explain why they were getting a beer. While it’s not something that we would usually do, we felt that it was important to honor their request. I cannot convey the emotions that were on display as random people were told that they were getting a beer in honor of a fallen Navy Seal. Some were shocked, some were emotional, and all were genuinely touched by the gesture. One guest asked how much was left on the tab, and when he was told there was only a few dollars left, he pulled out his credit card and asked to have the amount transferred to his card, so he could reset the tab at zero and start it over again.

After getting one of the ‘honor beers’ another guest asked if he could open a tab and do the same to honor his friend Greg who was killed in Benghazi on 9/11 of 2012. I’ll be honest, when I told patrons the story of why they were getting a ‘free’ beer, it got a little dusty in the bar. People were honored to have a beer in the name of a fallen US soldier, and just about all of them did a toast to our military heroes that gave their lives for our country. Every member of our bar staff took pride, honor and joy in fulfilling the requests. All told, there was close to $200 between all of the tabs.

Sometimes with all the insensitivity, callousness, and sometimes downright cruelty that we impose on our fellow man, we forget that at the end of the day, most people have good hearts. I was deeply touched by the gestures and kind words from my fellow man. And I was truly honored to be a part of it.

Maybe there’s hope for us after all…

Andy the Beerman


Top 5 ways to save time and sell more Beer

The blog is back! I’ll be posting regularly on a variety of topics relating to craft beer and the Business of Beer.


Let’s start with this:


We’ve all heard the quote “Time is Money”. We’ve heard that time is the most precious (and most wasted) commodity there is. Can we put a dollar value on our time? Even if we can’t monetize the value of time, we can all agree that like money, time is something that can and should be saved. Here are 5 easy ways to save time, save money, and make your bar or restaurant more efficient.

  1. Use your calendar. Write down what you need to do and when you need to do it. Try using a single calendar for everything, personal and professional, so you can effectively budget your personal time as well. Get an effective calendar app for your smartphone, so you can link your office, personal and mobile calendars, there’s nothing worse than trying to manage 3 different calendars. By using 1 calendar for everything, I don’t make the mistake of scheduling a teeth cleaning when I’m supposed to doing a beer pairing.
  2. Stop Procrastinating. Most often we tend to put off the little things, allowing them to become big things over time. Dealing with things when they’re small saves time now and stress later. It’s much easier to deal with an employee issue now before it becomes a major problem.
  3. Learn to love routine. Have specific places for things and always use them. If your keys are always in the same place, you won’t waste time looking for them. Not only that, block certain times of the day for certain tasks. As a bar manager, when I know that I’m seeing vendors from 8:30 – 10:00 AM and 2:00 – 4:00 PM (and sticking to it) that allows me focus on other tasks. Routine doesn’t always speed things up, but it does make it easier to find things and get things done.
  4. Reduce multitasking. According to some researchers, multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%. How? By constantly switching between tasks you can easily lose focus and become more easily distracted. When you implement steps 1 and 3 you can maintain your focus on the task at hand. Set office hours for specific tasks.
  5. Eliminate repetitive tasks. Let’s use your Beer Program as an example. How often do you find yourself updating the same things on your website, print menus, Facebook, Twitter, etc.? TapHunter is a user friendly solution for your beer program. Our tools combine online menu and print menu maintenance, social media and advanced data tools all into one easy to use interface. See how it works here.


BC Brewers Rule!

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

Bureaucrats must be stopped!

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.

The EU has sent a cease and desist notice to the Brewers Associations of the US and Canada over using established ‘regional’ names in their beers and ales.
That’s right kiddies, Europe wants North America to stop using regional terms like ‘Belgian’, ‘Scotch’ ‘English’ etc., in beer names and descriptions. No more Belgian Tripel or Dubbel. No English Milds, Pales, Browns or IPA’s. No Irish Stouts or Reds. No more French Farmhouse style ale. Even the term ‘pilsner’ could be subject to this request, as Pilsen is a Czech town! Dortmunder, anyone? Berliner Weiss…I don’t think so, that’s a protected term!
I am willing to wager that AB-InBev is behind this. Think about it; It’s the only way they can even think of slowing down the unbridled growth of the craft beer movement; through ceaseless litigation and regulation of innovative North American craft brewers!
Let your local brewers (and Brewers Association) know that you won’t stand idly by and let the EU tell you what you can and cannot drink!
Andy the Beerman

I am a Canadian Craft Brewer

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;

BC Beer Awards

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

Marketing Director

Christopher Bjerrisgaard


Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Location: Alibi Room

157 Alexander Street

Vancouver, BC V6A 1B8


Andy the Beerman

Vancouver Craft Beer Week

If you haven’t heard, Vancouver is hosting Canada’s FIRST EVER craft beer week, May 10-16 2010!

You can follow VCBW on Facebook or Twitter for updates on events.

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!

More events will be added in the coming weeks, so check back often, and be sure to follow VCBW on Facebook and Twitter

Save the Dates: May 10-16 2010!

Be a part of Canadian Craft Beer history


Andy The Beerman

Beer Wars


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”

The Synopsis

“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

Tree Brewing HopHead Double IPA

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

The Tipping Point

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