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B.C. Brews News
Pubbing Around B.C.
Congratulations from all of us in British Columbia to the Celebrator Beer News for 20 years of reporting on the beer scene. Happy 20th anniversary! Well done, Bret and Julie and Tom!

The year 2008 also marks the 150th anniversary of the province of British Columbia. In 1858, the British Parliament created British Columbia as a colony in order to establish government and to maintain law and order around the goldfields. Fort Victoria had been built by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1843. From the start, there were strong transportation and trade links between the new settlement and San Francisco. In 1857, the Fraser River Gold Rush brought thousands north from California, and by 1858 a town had sprung up around Fort Victoria.

Among the newcomers from San Francisco were immigrants from Europe. Some of them were experienced brewery workers who realized there was a fortune to be made brewing beer and selling it to the thirsty miners. William Steinberger, a 30-year-old brewer from Cologne, Germany, built the Victoria brewery at Swan Lake, three miles north of Fort Victoria, in 1858. This was B.C.’s first commercial brewery and the first Canadian brewery west of the Great Lakes. The water from Swan Lake was not good for brewing, so a year later Steinberger rebuilt much closer to Victoria (at the corner of what are now Discovery and Government Streets). Later his company merged with Phoenix Brewing to become Victoria-Phoenix Brewing.

Vancouver is now the current cask hotbed.

At the 2007 Canadian Brewing Awards, Victoria breweries won more medals than any other city: 12 of the 59 medals awarded were won by Victoria beers. Matt Phillips of Phillips Brewing led the way, gaining a gold medal for Blue Buck Ale, silver medals for Raspberry Wheat Ale and Amnesiac Double IPA, and a bronze for the Surly Blonde Big Belgian Triple.

Andrew Tessier at Swans Buckerfield Brewery won gold medals for Legacy Ale and Oatmeal Stout, and a silver for Scotch Ale. Vancouver Island Brewery won a gold for Piper’s Pale Ale and a silver for Hermann’s Dark Lager. Lighthouse Brewing won a silver medal for Race Rocks Amber Ale and a bronze for Lighthouse Keepers Stout. Sean Hoyne at Canoe Brewpub won a gold for Copper Bock.

In addition to these, nine medals were awarded to other B.C. breweries. Kelowna’s Tree Brewing won a gold for Cutthroat Pale Ale, a silver for Kelowna Pilsner and a bronze for Hophead India Pale Ale. R&B Brewing of Vancouver won silver medals for Red Devil Pale Ale and Sun God Wheat Ale. Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie Brewing won bronze medals for High Country Kölsch and Tall Timber Ale.

The 2007 Canadian Brewery of the Year was Toronto’s Mill Street Brewery, and Canadian Beer of the Year went to Garrison Brewing’s Imperial Pale Ale. The Halifax, Nova Scotia, brewery introduced this beer at the Halifax Seaport Beerfest in August 2007. Hopped with Cascades and German Magnum, this is a big beer with 70 IBUs and an O.G. of 1070.

Cask-conditioned beers are catching on in B.C. For 20 years, Spinnakers has been the only consistent source of cask ales (every Friday at 4:30 p.m.). Vancouver is now the current cask hotbed. Tony Dewald was the first to start this trend, at Dix Brewery (Thursdays at 5:00 p.m., except during Canuck home games: 871 Beatty Street, Vancouver). Derek Franche has taken over from Tony and is carrying on the tradition in his own unique style. Nowadays, casks also are available at several other Mark James Group locations.

Tony moved to a raspberry farm in Surrey and has taken over at Big Ridge, where he carries on the tradition left by Derek! (Firkin Fridays are at 5:30 p.m.: 15133 Highway 10, Surrey.) Dave Varga at Taylor's Crossing Restaurant & Brewpub on the North Shore produces a cask once a month (Fridays at 5:00 p.m.: 1035 Marine Drive, North Vancouver). The Whip has consistently promoted local brewers’ casks (Sundays at 4:00 p.m.: 209 East 6th Avenue, Vancouver). Regulars include R&B Brewing and guest casks from B.C. and Washington breweries. Boneta Restaurant (Fridays at 8:00 p.m.: 1 West Cordova Street, Vancouver) pours regularly, with casks from R&B and Crannóg.

And, since this is the winter ski season, here’s my last hint: Brewer Dave Woodward at Whistler Brewhouse has a great beer on tap for the après-ski: Bear Arse Barley Wine, a 10.5% abv mountain of a beer. Also coming up at the Brewhouse is an imperial stout at 7.5% abv




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