Tuesday, July 29, 2014

on the coast

if you missed me on cbc radio's on the coast last week
never fear!  you can still catch my talk with matthew lazin-ryder about camra's fuss campaign and how much i love radlers
follow the link to on the coast past episodes
click on july 22 and fast-forward to about 10 minutes before the end

and hopefully you'll be able to tune in next tuesday (august 5) at 5:50 p.m. for my next beer column

Monday, July 28, 2014

link love

beer geek life lessons
"Beer is an affordable luxury, and the dividends it pays in flavor and camaraderie are worth the (ever-expanding) expenditures. "

joe wiebe on canadian food bloggers
reviewing fat tug and full nelson ipas

camra president reports that the gov't is slowly realizing it needs to rework the new "unhappy hour" minimum pricing - pitchers can now be priced at $0.20 per ounce

and paddy treavor's take on the new pitcher pricing
"They cannot really believe we are that stupid to believe this small, token change fixes the EPIC FAIL that is our new minimum drink price standards."
i don't think he's impressed

i have my ticket to the inaugural vancouver craft brew cruise (8:00 p.m. session)
do you?  tix still available for te 11:00 a.m. cruise

Saturday, July 26, 2014

happy birthday

happy birthday to my mommy!

here she is enjoying a pint of mill street organic lager
she has to use two hands these days
but i love that she can still down a pint with lunch!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

tap take over

i think the elysian brewing tap take over at st. augustine's on monday was the largest i have been to
25 taps of elysian were available (out of the 60 taps at st. a's)
so big in fact that st. a's kept running out of taster glasses because everyone was ordering paddles in a vain attempt to try all of the offerings
the place was packed and kudos must go to the servers who were run off their feet trying to get us all our beers

i made it through eight tasters
(and a lobster sandwich) before i tapped out

first paddle contained:
woo-tang kettle sour
mortis persimmon sour ale
barrel aged savant ipa
zombo experimental ipa

second paddle contained:
barrel aged loser pale ale
cowabunga ipa
bombo experimental pale ale
huy five pale ale

as usual, i didn't take very good notes
but here they are regardless
and please note that i really quite liked all eight of my beer choices, despite how my notes may sound:

woo-tang kettle sour:  yup, that's a sour.  tasty, but just not the sour i was craving.  flanders reds have spoiled me for anything more subtle!
mortis persimmon sour ale:  i recall the mortis being fruitier last year.  not very sour, but quite light and refreshing.
barrel aged savant ipa - just a hint of bourbon, which is they way i like my barrel aged beers.  this one is a real winner. agreement from my table mates that this is one fabulous beer.
zombo experimental ipa - initially the finish was too crisp.  however as soon as i started eating my sandwich, this beer became absolutely perfect
barrel aged loser pale ale - ooooh, sorachi ace, nice touch!  again, not too heavy on the bourbon which pleased me immensely.  the rest of the beer shone through.  definite winner.
cowabunga ipa - i think this one was my favourite.  so citrusy, it was just what i was in the mood for.
bombo experimental pale ale - i quite liked this one.  i want to know what the "new" yakima valley hop they were using is though...
huy five pale ale - i think this was my least favourite.  a very decent belgiany pale ale, i just wasn't in the mood for belgiany

and pauline described the dread imperial stout as "angels singing" if that gives you any idea of how she felt about it

if you're interested in what others had to say about the event and the beers, search the hash-tag #elysiantto2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

beer column

here are my notes from yesterday's beer column on cbc radio one's on the coast
wherein i explained to matthew lazin-ryder what all the fuss is about:

You may have heard about the tempest in a pint glass that has hit Vancouver. Wondering what all the FUSS is about???
Who cares about accurate measuring of beer?
Frankly, YOU should.  And here's why:

CAMRA Vancouver's President and Treasurer recently (July 5, 2014) went to some licensed establishments in town and measured how much beer was being poured, and found out that very few places were actually serving as much beer as their menus stated. And they reported their findings via social media.  Why did CAMRA do this?

CAMRA is a beer advocacy group - the Campaign for Real Ale - part of whose mandate it is to "encourage the responsible enjoyment of beer and actively support laws and regulations that contribute to that objective".  
To that end, CAMRA's Vancouver Chapter has had a campaign called FUSS, Fess up to Serving Sizes, for a couple of years now. CAMRA was aware that some beer-serving establishments were not living up to their advertised beer size, short-pouring their customers.  CAMRA asked the provincial government to enforce the laws that you must state your serving size and actually serve that much beer, to no avail.  CAMRA produced FUSS cards for its members to hand out to establishments not living up to their resposibilities, but had little success in having those establishments change their practices.
As a beer advocacy group, CAMRA decided to take the next step:  measuring the amount of beer being poured and reporting the results to the public.
The FUSS campaign is a couple of years old now. It should not have come as a shock to any establishments that at some point CAMRA was going to take further steps.  CAMRA did not intend to shame any of the establishments.  They were just taking measurements and reporting them.  Some establishments lived up to their advertised serving size.  Some did not.  CAMRA reported both, with videos of the measuring to ensure there was no perceived bias in their measuring.
When they reporting their findings, they got quite a lot of feedback. Some of it negative and some of it positive. CAMRA's aim was to provide information to its membership so that the consumer can make an informed decision about where to spend their beer dollars.  And if the measuring caused an establishment that was found to be short-pouring to stop doing so, either through changing their advertised pour size to what they are actually pouring, or pouring the actual amount advertised, then the beer consumer wins.   And if I sound like I am defending CAMRA, it is because I am.  I think they did the beer drinking public in Vancouver a great service by taking measurements and reporting them in an unbiased manner.  I like being able to make informed decisions.
A couple of establishments have changed their serving methods after being found short by CAMRA. I commend them for taking the information that they were short-pouring for the constructive criticism it was meant to be and remedying the situation.
The easiest fix is to buy glassware that has a pour line on it - so that everyone knows how much is in the glass. Stateside Craft, a newly opened bar on the Drive did just that right after CAMRA informed them that their advertised serving size was not actually how much was in their glasses. CAMRA passed that news along to all of its members as soon as it was informed of the change.
CAMRA isn't the only organization to be concerned with pour sizes in Vancouver.  The Vancouver Sun went out and measured the pour size in several different establishments than those tested by CAMRA and they found similar issues. The Vancouver Sun based its measuring trip on making sure that bars that advertised a pint were actually serving 20 oz, which is the defined size of a pint in Canada.  Their findings were reported in the July 17, 2014 edition of the Sun:

A pint-sized ripoff is costing thirsty B.C. beer drinkers tens of millions of dollars annually.

A Vancouver Sun investigation of 15 pubs and bars in the city claiming to be selling “pints” of beer found that nine of the establishments — or 60 per cent — failed to pour at or near the legal requirement of 20 Imperial ounces.

The average pint purchased by The Sun cost $6.19 and the average serving size was just 17.5 ounces, equal to an overcharging of 77 cents.

If all 42 million litres of draft beer consumed last year in B.C. were sold on the same basis, the consumer ripoff would total more than $50 million, and the equivalent volume of more than two Olympic-sized swimming pools.”

“Michel Cimpaye, a spokesperson for Industry Canada, explained that pubs and bars are required by the Weights and Measures Act to “deliver the quantity of commodity that they are claiming to sell.” In Canada, a “pint contains 20 ounces” and Ottawa defines the “limits of error on a pint as 0.5 ounces (about one tablespoon) above or below 20 ounces, not including the head or foam.””

Okay, so CAMRA and the Vancouver Sun are concerned about pour sizes, but why should the average beer drinker care?

As a beer drinker, and perhaps I'm not average, it is a concern for me, especially now that the government has introduced a minimum price for beer. It is more important now than ever that the advertised beer size is what ends up in your glass just from an economical point of view. If I like two beer establishments, but know that one charges x dollars for a 14 oz pour and the other charges that same x amount for a 20 oz pint, all other things being equal, I'm going to frequent the bar that is easier on my wallet. I also want to know if a happy hour deal is actually a deal. If an establishment is offering a pint for $5 at happy hour, but the pour size isn't actually 20oz, I might as well keep going to my local where a pint is regularly $6. Mostly though, I don't want to be lied to, or mislead. I like craft beer. Most places charge more for craft beer than they do mass-produced lager. I don't love that, but I would rather drink the good beer, so I choose to pay more for it. However, I expect to be served the amount of beer that has been advertised.
It is also a concern for me because it is important to know the serving size of your alcohol, along with the alcohol by volume so that you can be aware of how much alcohol you have consumed. The government understands this, and has laws to keep the public informed. They just don't seem to want to enforce their own rules. I applaud CAMRA and the Vancouver Sun for going out and testing serving sizes and informing the public about them.

Want to report an establishment that is not actually serving the amount of beer they advertise?

Paddy Treavor suggests you contact Measurement Canada as they seem more willing to take action than the Liquor Control and Licensing Board.
He obtained the following advice from Measurement Canada:

If you believe you received an inaccurate measurement, you can find information on how to file a complaint with Measurement Canada on our website. In this case, the section “Other” applies. Alternatively, you can call Measurement Canada’s Western Region Office at 1-855-666-3834 or email Peter.Wakeland@ic.gc.ca.


Beer Picks:

I cannot get enough of Radlers!  They are just the perfect hot weather beverage (assuming our hot weather comes back again!)

So my beer picks today are all locally made radlers:

Parallel 49 (Vancouver) Tricycle grapefruit radler - 355 ml cans

Tree Brewing (Kelowna) grapefruit radler - 500 ml cans

Mission Springs (Mission) lemon ginger radler - 355 ml cans

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

on the coast

i will be on cbc radio one's on the coast with matthew lazin-ryder at 5:50 this afternoon
talking about camra's fuss campaign and why it should matter to all beer consuming folks in british columbia
and extolling the virtues of radlers

690 am
88.1 fm
in vancouver

Monday, July 21, 2014

link love

for the love of radlers
including a make it yourself radler recipe

ninkasi brewing has a space program
yes, you read that correctly
a space program
and they recently launched a rocket full of yeast into the outersphere

stateside on the drive is fuss approved!

but half of the bars surveyed by the vancouver sun are not
(you'll note that the craft beer serving establishments were the ones closest to serving a full 20oz pint... quality and quantity - yay!)

light beer is on its way out according to washington post

yummy dung smoked beer is coming to the u s of a

Thursday, July 17, 2014

legacy liquor store

newly stocked beers at legacy liquor store in vancouver:

Founded by Alex Ganum, the owner and head brewer at Upright. Alex grew up drinking his father’s German pilsners and his older brother’s Bells Porter before moving to Portland in 2002 where he decided to give brewing a go. He never looked back, and seven years later opened Upright Brewing, specializing in farmhouse-inspired beers rooted in France and Belgium but made with local ingredients and a Pacific Northwest twist. The name “Upright” is in reference to the primary instrument of Charles Mingus, a musician whose compositions defy categorization. At Upright the recipes and processes are decidedly unbound, making for a true hybrid style that shares Mingus’ spirit of creativity and craft. Each beer combines the best of French style beers with the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer, making for some truly wonderful brews.

Upright Brewing Co. Seven - $12.55
French-inspired ales with a West Coast twist to give them an identity all their own. This Portland brew has a slight haze to its brassy golden colour, and once it hits the glass you immediately plunge into an intense aroma of fruit and white pepper with a touch of Belgian malt. A dry beer with pear and apricot on the palate that hides the 8% ABV perfectly, it’s a simply remarkable offering from the state of Oregon.

Chris Bonaille | Beer Supervisor | Legacy Liquor Store

Upright Brewing Co. Six - $13.15
This dark saison is burgundy in colour and textured with spicy rye across layers of flavourful malts contrasted by delicate fruit notes that finish dry. Spicy rye takes the lead on the nose followed by caramel and a touch of alcohol. On the palate, rye, rye and more rye with a symphony of chocolate, barley and so much more in between make this velvety brew a real winner.

Evan Doan | Beer Team | Legacy Liquor Store

Upright Brewing Co. White Truffle Gose - $17.55
Based on an obscure, centuries’ old German style that incorporates salt and coriander into a distinctly tart wheat beer with a dry, champagne-like finish, this variation of a classic uses over five pounds of Oregon White truffles to lend it a more grounded flavour. Savor this bottle, as you won’t be disappointed.

Joel Wilson | Beer Team | Legacy Liquor Store

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

happy hour

the ndp's response to my letter of complaint to the liberals with respect to their happy hour legislation:

Hello Rebecca,
Thank you for copying me on your email to the Premier et al.

Small pubs, bars and restaurants are being hurt by the latest happy hour initiative from Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals, making many small business owners wonder: is the government completely inept on the liquor file?

By adopting the highest minimum liquor prices of any province in Canada, the Liberals have created a situation where many pubs, bars and restaurants are finding it necessary to raise their regular prices to meet the new minimums, let alone think about actually implementing a happy hour.

The minimum $5 price point for a 20 ounce pint of beer will work for a downtown Vancouver bar with a regular price in the $8 range. They can lower their prices to create a special. But for many establishments outside of the Lower Mainland, or more moderately priced neighbourhood facilities that sell a number of beers for under $5, there is no opportunity to offer a special price. Instead, this minimum pricing will mean they have to charge their customers more.

Any review of liquor laws needs to balance the necessary and logical modernization of these laws with questions around health and safety. Minimum pricing makes sense, particularly to help address health and safety issues like impaired driving and over-consumption. However, we know that greater education and consequences for those who drive impaired is a larger need.

For years, New Democrats have called for a comprehensive review of liquor laws in this province. The B.C. Liberals finally made a start on this process in 2013, after nearly 12 years in office, but instead of a thoughtful and balanced review, British Columbians got a rollout of policies without any evidence of proper consultation and research.

These new minimum liquor prices were put in place without meaningful consultation. Now, it is time for the government to do the due diligence that has been missing throughout this liquor reform process and establish a price that is fair to everyone.


Shane Simpson | MLA Vancouver Hastings
2365 E. Hastings St. Vancouver BC V5L 1V6 |604-775-2277 |shanesimpson.ca | Twitter | Facebook

**Please Note: From time to time, my office passes on messages from local organizations as a public service. My office does not warrant or guarantee the services or information described. If you have questions or concerns regarding this information, please contact the originator directly.

Monday, July 14, 2014

link love

more on british columbia's unhappy hour:

how did the liberals screw up happy hour?

are the liberals dumb or devious?

more on camra's fuss campaign:

more head is a good thing
or, who to contact if you actually want action taken on being short-poured
who had ever heard of measurement canada before??

what the hop shortage might mean to you:

globe and mail

seattle times

the drinks business


general good beer fun:

beer yoga?

could the big breweries be good for something?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

beer column

here are my notes from yesterday's beer column on cbc radio's on the coast:
There is no absolute definition of craft beer, but most of the industry and consumers agree that craft beer is brewed with quality ingredients, by a brewery owned by people rather than other companies and that produces a smaller amount of beer annually.  The Brewers Association defines American craft brewers as "small, independentand traditional": "small" is defined as an "annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less"; "independent" is defined as at least 75% owned or controlled by a craft brewer; and "traditional" is defined as brewing in which at least 50% of the beer's volume consists of "traditional or innovative" ingredients.  Most people agree that craft beer is artisanal vs. mass-produced.
Crafty beer is the name beer advocates have been giving to beers that are pretending to be craft beers.  These are beer brands owned and brewed by large conglomerates with a name designed to sound like they are their own smaller brewery.  A prime example of crafty beer is Shock Top, which is owned by Anheuser Busch InBev.  Nowhere on Shock Top’s website or bottle does it say that it is owned by ABInBev, which might lead consumers to believe that it is an independent brewery. 

There are other crafty beers out there that used to be independently owned breweries producing craft beers that were sold to large conglomerates but have kept their names.  Those who aren’t aware that the brewery was sold to a conglomerate probably think that they are drinking hand crafted beers when they may be drinking mass produced beer that only somewhat resembles the original recipe.
Granville Island is one of these kinds of crafty beer breweries.  It used to be a small brewery, but got bought out by a winery who made most of the beer in Kelowna and then in 2009 it got bought out by Molson’s.  Some of their beers could be considered craft as they do brew some of their beers at the brewery on Granville Island in small batches with quality ingredients to recipes developed by brewmaster Vern Lambourne.  Their regular line is currently brewed at the Molson plant, though, enjoying the marketing machine behind a big brand like Molsons and is outside the loose definition of craft beer.  However, you will still see some restaurants including Granville Island in their “craft” beer listings.  Nowhere on their website or bottles does it say that they are brewed at the Molson plant.  The website is particularly misleading as it keeps referring to the brewery, store and taproom all being on Granville Island.  If I didn't know better, I would think that all their beers are brewed there, and that when I took a tour of that small brewery that I was seeing the whole operation and drinking beers that had been made on-site.  I happen to very much enjoy drinking Vern's Black Notebook series, so I'm not knocking Granville Island Brewing.  I just think they should be more transparent about who is brewing most of their beer, and where it is being brewed.

Beer advocates are upset that the large breweries are trying to dupe the public with their faux-craft beers.  The craft beer movement is all about authenticity and quality.  If the beer is being mass-produced the likelihood of quality ingredients is not high.  And if they are willing to mis-lead you about who owns the brewery and the brand, what else might they be mis-leading you about?  What exactly is in these beers?
In 2011, total beer sales fell by 1.3% byvolume in the United States.Craft beer sales, however, rose by 13%.  The big breweries took a look at a statistic like that and decided to take advantage of the craft beer surge by introducing faux craft beers.  Independent brewers don’t have the dollars behind them to market their beers like the conglomerates do.  If the big breweries aren’t honest about owning the brands they are putting their marketing dollars behind, unwary consumers are easily taken in by the advertising.  The number of people who have told me they really like Shock Top craft beer have all been very surprised when I tell them that it isn’t actually craft beer and is owned by Budweiser.  They were duped, and aren’t happy about it.  It hasn’t necessarily kept them from buying Shock Top again, but at least now they know what they are buying.

From the AB InBev website I found a speechfrom Adam Oakley, their Vice-President of High-End brands from November 14, 2013 to potential investors.  He defines “high-end” beers as those priced 20% or more above Bud Light.  Shock Top is one of these high-end beers.  He goes on to state that their “research shows there are actually two types of craft beer drinkers, not one.  We categorize them as “Accessible” and “Discovery” draft drinkers.  Accessible craft consumers are influenced by advertising.  They’re image-driven, price sensitive, typically younger adults and often ‘new to craft’.  In comparison, Discovery craft drinkers are more interested in brewers’ back-stories.  They seek bolder beer styles and are more discerning about the beers they purchase and share with their friends.”  And AB InBev has a marketing scheme to tempt both kinds of drinkers over to their crafty beers - one they are backing with "significantly increasing marketing investment on each in 2014 and beyond".  Shock Top is their product for the “Accessible” drinker.  Their logo “Living Life Unfiltered” is aimed at the 20-29 year old consumer – tempting them to live their dreams and their lives to the max.  “It means not taking yourself too seriously.”  And they assume you also won’t take your beer seriously enough to find out who makes it, or the “back-story” of the brewer.
Consumers deserve to know who made their beer and how far their beer travelled to get to their glass.  Was it made down the street?  In the next town over?  Or thousands of miles away?  Is the beer still fresh?  How easy will it be for you to visit the brewery?  Was it hand-crafted or part of a production line?  Is there a person behind the brew, or a major corporation?

Eric Wallace, of Left Hand Brewing in Colorado, explained to the Denver Post:
“The authenticity of craft brewing is one of the cool things about it,” Wallace said. “It’s one of the things attractive to people – the fact you can come down to the tasting room, and there are the guys who work here, it’s all made here, they can have a pint and rub shoulders and talk to them about what they’re doing. There is almost a sense of ownership in the community.”

Also worrisome to the craft beer industry as a whole is losing their growing market share when formerly independent breweries sell themselves to the conglomerates.

From the Denver Post March 5, 2014:
"But perhaps no bigger hurdle exists to the growth goal than the likelihood of more craft brewers selling out to Big Beer. One significant defection could take a huge chunk of market share, potentially wiping out the gains from welcoming the likes of Yuengling and other heritage breweries.

Kansas City-based , the 12th largest U.S. craft brewer on the BA’s [Brewers Association] 2012 list, was acquired by Duvel Moortgat of Belgium in October and will be off the books. Same with of Patchogue, N.Y., which was snatched up last month by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

“There are most definitely brewers that have that exit plan in mind,” said Matt Cutter, a co-founder of in Boulder. “I’m not one of them. But that’s really the only card the large domestic players have left. They’re shrinking 1 to 2 percent a year. Craft beer is growing, 13, 14, 15 percent a year. So how do they fill up the extra capacity they have in their breweries? They buy brands. They fill up the capacity and they plug it into their existing distribution network.” "

And then there's contract brewing - when one brewery has another brew their beer for them.  Sometimes this is a brief relationship to tide the first brewery over, like when Steamworks had Dead Frog brew their bottled product for them until they got their new Burnaby brewery up and running.  Sometimes this is a way to avoid having to ship product long distances, like Double Trouble from Guelph Ontario who have Dead Frog contract brew their products for the British Columbia market.  It is a useful relationship for both the original brewery and the contract brewery.  But the jury is still out on whether it is unwaveringly good for the consumer.  But I'll save that discussion for another column.

At the end of the day, if you really like Shock-Top, I’m not going to tell you to stop drinking it.  Heck, if Budweiser is your favourite beer, I’m not going to tell you to stop drinking that either.  I would hate to be seen as discouraging anyone from drinking beer.
I’d love it if you gave craft beer a chance and tried to support your local brewers and local economy, but as a consumer it is your choice where you put your money.  I do feel strongly that no one should be duped though.  Beers should clearly state who they are brewed by, and where they are brewed.  You, the consumer, have a right to know.

Beer picks:

If you like Shock Top Raspberry Wheat - Why not try Steamworks Frambozen?

If you like Granville Island’s Pale Ale - Why not try 4 Winds Pale Ale?

If you like Budweiser and Canadian - Why not try Main Street pilsner?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

on the coast

i will be on cbc radio one's on the coast
with stephen quinn's replacement, michelle eliot
talking about craft vs crafty beer
at 5:50 p.m. today
690 am
88.1 fm

Monday, July 7, 2014

link love

more on the unhappy hour in british columbia from paddy treavor

commercial real estate's beer factor

dogfish head makes it even more worth the drive to the brewery by building an inn

not that i am suggesting you try any of these recipes... but...
just in case you have some cheap booze you need to disguise as a real drink, i'm here for you

camra bc press release:

New Happy Hour Laws Not So Pleasant, Local Advocacy Group Finds

CAMRA BC Sends Letter to Policy Makers Following Happy Hour Announcement

(Vancouver—July 2) In the wake of a policy directive released by the provincial government on June 20th that revealed happy hour would finally be coming to restaurants and bars across British Columbia, beer lovers are now finding themselves a little more than shortchanged. Despite the growing popularity of craft beer in British Columbia, many consumers were shocked to discover that a pint of beer will now be available for no less than $5.00—before tax and tip, that is. The Campaign for Real Ale Society of BC (CAMRA BC), a local consumer advocacy group, is asking consumers to speak up against this drastic and arbitrary price increase.

The group sent a
letter on Friday, June 27 explaining the impact the Liberal government’s new minimum pricing for alcoholic beverages will have on the service industry and its consumers, as well as its relation to their FUSS, or Fess Up to Serving Sizes, campaign. Addressed to Attorney General Suzanne Anton, Parliamentary Secretary John Yap, LCLB General Manager Douglas Scott, NDP Alcohol Portfolio Critic Shane Simpson and Premier Christy Clark, the letter is a reminder that while consumers in the larger metropolitan areas of the province may be used to high liquor prices while enjoying a night out, it will come as a shock to many of the province’s smaller communities.

“This policy directive will not affect the wallets of most Vancouverites or Victorians who are already used to paying exorbitantly high prices while enjoying a drink on a patio or dinner at a restaurant, but these increases, which are effective immediately, will be a shock to consumers and small business owners throughout the rest of the province,” says CAMRA BC Advocacy Committee Representative and Powell River Branch President, Paddy Treavor.

“For many independent restaurants and pubs, this will mean raising the price of their products whether they want to or not. Doing so will particularly affect those in smaller communities, whose pricing has stayed lower while in recent years the price of a pint in Vancouver and Victoria has been steadily on the rise.”

The issue extends beyond just craft beer, however. Effective immediately, the new minimum price for all draft and bottled beer purchased at any restaurant, pub, or bar across British Columbia is 25 cents per ounce, excluding tax and tip. Whether it’s Molson Canadian or your favourite local craft brew, this means business owners can’t charge less than $5 for a pint (20 oz), or $15 for a pitcher (60 oz). BC now has the highest minimum price for beer of any province in the country, well ahead of Manitoba, Ontario, and Alberta, whose minimum beer prices are 18, 16.7, and 16 cents per ounce, respectively.

“The terms ‘sleeve’ and ‘pint’ have become ambiguous in today’s service industry, the former ranging anywhere from 12 to 16 ounces and the latter from 16 to 20. This highlights the importance of our FUSS, or Fess Up to Serving Sizes, campaign, which asks the LCLB to enforce their own legislation that all requires restaurants and bars to publish the volume of every drink they serve so consumers know exactly how much liquid is in each serving. Now that BC has the highest minimum pricing for beer of any province in the country, it is more important than ever to let consumers know exactly what they are paying for,” insists Adam Chatburn, President of the CAMRA BC Vancouver Branch.

“If the LCLB insists on mandating minimum drink pricing, consumer awareness of serving volumes is imperative to ensuring not only public safety but also that restaurants and bars are not manipulating the price to their advantage. This legislation exists with good reason and enforcing it is imperative to maintaining public safety while helping prevent consumer fraud.”

CAMRA BC is urging concerned consumers to write, email and even tweet to their local MLA and express their displeasure with the minimum pricing regulations as well as the ongoing practice of being served undefined drink sizes. “We have been told that law enforcement has bigger things to worry about, but ignoring laws designed to prevent bars from misleading, and frankly overcharging, consumers while risking public health and safety is a very serious issue if you ask me,” Chatburn concludes.

You can follow the un-Happy Hour campaign as it develops by using the #unhappyhour and #FUSS hashtags. You can learn more about CAMRA BC’s stance on Happy Hour and FUSS
here and here, respectively. For other CAMRA BC initiatives and how to get involved visit www.camrabc.ca.


The Campaign for Real Ale Society of British Columbia was formed in 1985 over a pint at the Rowing Club in Stanley Park and has supported the responsible evolution of craft beer in British Columbia ever since. As the province’s only consumer advocacy group for craft beer and financed wholly by membership dues, CAMRA BC is a 100% volunteer-run and independent organization that supports consumer choice through policy reform that reflects the values of education, creating craft beer awareness and supporting home brewing initiatives.

For media inquiries and interview opportunities please contact CAMRA BC’s Communications Coordinator, Robert Catherall, at communications@camrabc.ca or (604) 454-7630.

P.O. Box 36082
Esquimalt, B.C. V9A 7J5
camrabc.ca @CAMRABC


Saturday, July 5, 2014


beers that i drank when i was in toronto for world pride
and in hamilton visiting my famdamily:
rhyme and reason american pale ale
collective arts brewing
the rhyme and reason comes with different artwork on each label
10 bitter years imperial ipa
black oak brewing company
lone pine ipa
sawdust city brewing co.
vulcan irish red ale
pluto's moon beer co.
dinner jacket o'red ipa
arch brewing company
fire in the rye single hopped roasted rye pale ale
double trouble brewing
on the whole they were quite enjoyable
but they really aren't what a west coast hop head is used to
it was definitely a very malty time in jolly old onterrible

alas, as i tend to drink a lot with my family
i didn't take notes about these beers and my memory is a little foggy on exactly what it was i thought about them individually
which i guess means that none of them really stood out for me

as for at the bar, i tended to drink mill street tankhouse ale on draught
or bubbles
or wine
or a bellini
or a mixed drink
seriously, what's with all the lousy beer choices at most events and restaurants?

next time, hopefully i have enough time in toronto to try out bar volo
and visit more brewhouses
until then, just know that i didn't bother bringing any beer back with me!

Friday, July 4, 2014


due to a lack of space in the july/august edition of the bc craft beer news
my lengthy article on the best craft beer patios in vancouver got truncated
the whole article is available online
but i'm also copying it here

Summer time and the living is easy… not to mention best enjoyed on a patio!

In a departure from my usual format and just in time for summer 2014, I bring you the very best patios in Vancouver for enjoying craft beer. The list starts with larger patios and beer menus and goes on down to smaller (but no less enjoyable) venues, with smaller beer menus. Only the heat and the hours available to you will limit your time on these patios, so there is no rating system in this round of reviews. Enjoy!

Patio drinking tips: Look for session ales—those tasty lower alcohol beers that enable you to spend a long ‘session’ on a patio. Drink water! Go for a rinse cycle after every beer; your body will love you for it. Keep your drink out of the sunlight—no one likes a beer that goes skunky. Bring sunscreen to reapply as your patio time wears on and the sun moves. Wear sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection—both for your eyes and to hide the fact that you are totally people-watching!

Tap & Barrel (Olympic Village)
1 Athletes Way, Vancouver
Web tapandbarrel.com
Facebook tapandbarrel
Twitter @tapandbarrel
Monday–Sunday 11 am – midnight
Weekend and holiday brunch 10 am – 3 pm
Taps 23 regular beer taps plus one rotating tap, and there’s also a cider on tap—all from British Columbia.
Size of pour 20 oz for $7/7.50.
Bottles 10 imports, including two gluten-free options.
Session beers available Yes. The current menu includes three beers under 5%.
Patio The patio is enormous! Or should I say patioS? There is a wraparound patio upstairs and a two-level wraparound patio downstairs. With excellent views of False Creek and all the happenings along the Seawall, not to mention a whole menu of BC beers and wines, this is one great place to lose an afternoon. And a great place for sun worshippers, as they don’t really have many umbrellas.

Tap & Barrel (Convention Centre)
1055 Canada Place, Vancouver
Web, Facebook, Twitter As above.
Monday–Sunday 11 am – midnight
Weekend and holiday brunch 10am – 2pm
Taps 29 regular beer taps plus two rotating taps, and there’s both a cider tap and a nitro tap—all from British Columbia.
Size of pour 20 oz for $7/7.50.
Bottles Nine imports, including two gluten-free options.
Session beers available Yes. The current menu includes two beers under 5%.
Patio The patio is large, with lots of shade cover and views of the Burrard Inlet, the Northshore Mountains, and Stanley Park. Watch the float planes take off and land while you pat yourself on the back for drinking locally produced craft beers.

Yaletown Brew Pub
1111 Mainland Street, Vancouver
604.681.BREW (2739)
Web markjamesgroup.com
Facebook YBC Yaletown Brewing Company - Official Page
Twitter @YBC_brewing
Sunday–Wednesday 11:30 am – midnight
Thursday 11:30 am – 1 am
Friday–Saturday 11:30 am – 3 am
Taps They have seven regular beers and two seasonals on tap in both the restaurant and the pub. You can only get YBC beer on-site, and they do growler fills.
Size of pour 16 oz.
Bottles Yes several, but they’re not craft beer.
Session beers available Not generally, but the seasonal may be.
Patio Not just one, but three patios. A small one with communal tables outside the pub, and two large patios that wrap around the restaurant, all perfect for watching the pretty people wander around Yaletown.

Steamworks Brew Pub
375 Water Street, Vancouver
Web steamworks.com
Facebook Steamworks
Twitter @SteamworksPub
Monday–Sunday From 11:30 am on…
Taps Eight taps of beer brewed in-house, using steam.
Size of pour 16 oz, 20 oz, 24 oz
Bottles No
Session beers available Yes. The Cascadia Golden Ale is 4%.
Patio Right in the hustle and bustle of Gastown. If you are sitting street-side on the patio, you have a great view of all the goings-on. If you are water-side, you can enjoy the sights and sounds of a working harbour. It’s a win-win. Plenty of umbrellas for the shade lovers, and decent sun most of the day for the sun worshippers.

Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar (Gastown)
601 W Cordova Street, Vancouver
(inside Waterfront Station)
Web roguewetbar.com
Facebook RogueWetbar
Twitter @roguewetbar
Sunday–Thursday 11:30 am – midnight
Friday and Saturday 11:30 am – 1 am
Taps Rotating taps of 14 craft beers and one cider, in a mixture of local and imported brews.
Size of pour Five 4 oz tasters for $7.99; 16 oz sleeves and 20 oz pints, as well as pitchers, for varying prices.
Bottles Three import bottles, including one gluten-free offering, plus four macro-brewed bottles.
Session beers available Currently there are four beers below 5% on the rotating menu.
Patio Located right at Waterfront Station, the patio boasts a great view of all the Cordova Street action, so it’s a great people watching spot. The downside of this is that you will be approached by panhandlers if you are sitting on the outside of the patio. The crazy craned umbrellas move at any angle imaginable, so if you crave shade, you’ll be happy all afternoon and evening long.

Local Public Eatery
2210 Cornwall Avenue, Vancouver
Web localkits.com
Facebook Local Public Eatery Kitsilano
Twitter @LOCALKits
Monday–Thursday 11 am – 1 am
Friday 11 am – 2 am
Saturday 10 am – 2 am
Sunday 10 am – 1 am
Taps Rotating taps of craft beers, four permanently serving craft beer and one serving cider (six permanently serving non-craft beers).
Size of pour Sleeves and pitchers.
Bottles Yes, but only one (of eight) is a craft beer.
Session beers available Depending on the rotational tap, there could be
Patio Right out on Cornwall Avenue, this is a great people watching spot. You have to be early to snag a seat on this very popular patio, though!

Chill Winston
3 Alexander Street, Vancouver
Web chillwinston.com
Facebook Chill Winston
Twitter @chillwinston
Monday–Sunday 11 am – 1 am
Taps Six craft beers, two ciders
Bottles 18 bottles of local and imported beers, mostly craft, including two gluten-free choices.
Session beers available Currently a couple on the menu.
Patio A good-sized patio, right in Gastown where three roads meet (sounds very Oedipal). It is a really great peoplewatching spot, and very popular—so best to call ahead for a reservation.

St. Augustine’s
2360 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Web staugustinesvancouver.com
Facebook St. Augustine’s
Twitter @StAugustinesVan
Sunday–Thursday 11 am – 1 am
Friday and Saturday 11 am – 3 am
Brunch Weekends and holidays 11 am – 3 pm
Taps 60+ rotating taps of local and imported craft beers and ciders. See their live tap list for a current listing (and how much is left in the keg).
Size of pour 14 oz for $5.75-$8, taster paddles of four 5 oz glasses.
Bottles No.
Session beers available Currently 10 beers below 5% on the rotating menu.
Patio It’s not a large patio. In fact you’d be hard pressed to fit more than two people at all but one of the tables. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in sheer choice of beers on tap. And if you are a fan of the Skytrain, you can watch one go by approximately every two minutes.

BierCraft Tap and Tapas (Commercial Drive)
1191 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Web biercraft.com
Facebook BierCraft
Twitter @biercraft
Monday–Tuesday 11 am – 11:30 pm
Wednesday–Thursday 11 am – 12 am
Friday 11 am – 1 am
Saturday 10 am – 1 am
Sunday 10 am – 11:30 pm
Taps Over 20 taps of local and imported craft beers.
Size of pour Up to 20 oz, depending on the beer.
Bottles Over 100 bottles of mostly imported Belgian beers.
Session beers available Currently two taps and several bottles are under 5%.
Patio A long, narrow patio down the south side of the restaurant, so only the first few tables offer an interactive view of Commercial Drive. But then, not everyone wants to be watched while they slurp up beer after beer!

BierCraft Bistro (Cambie Street)
3305 Cambie Street, Vancouver
Web, Facebook, Twitter As above.
Monday–Thursday 11:30 am – 12 am
Friday 11:30 am – 1 pm
Saturday 10 am – 1 pm
Sunday 10 am – 12 am
Taps 22 taps of local and imported craft beer.
Bottles Over 100 bottles of mostly imported Belgian beers.
Session beers available Currently three taps and several bottles under 5%.
Patio Just a few tables big, this is a really cute patio. Right on Cambie Street, it offers people watching opportunities without being too overwhelmingly traffic-noisy.

The Whip Gallery Cafe
209 East 6th Avenue,Vancouver
Web thewhiprestaurant.com
Facebook The Whip Gallery Restaurant
Twitter @WhipRestaurant
Monday–Thursday 10 am – 1 am
Friday 10 am – 2 am
Saturday 9 am – 2 am
Sunday 9 am – 1 am
Taps Six regular taps of local craft beers, one rotating tap, and one rotating cask.
Size of pour 16 oz for $5.50, 20 oz for $6.50, and pitchers for $19.50.
Bottles Regularly on the menu are 10 canned beers, 19 bottles, and 9 share bottles of local and imported beers.
Session beers available Two beers under 5% on the regular menu.
Patio It ain’t large, but it’s pretty. Just off Main Street, the people watching is still enjoyable without the traffic noise. And there are hops growing on the patio—I love that!

Tangent Cafe
2095 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Web tangentcafe.ca
Facebook facebook.com/pages/Tangent-Cafe/420386921358640
Twitter @TangentCafe
Monday and Tuesday 8 am – 3 pm
Wednesday and Thursday 8 am – 12 am
Friday and Saturday 8 am – 1 am
Sunday 8 am – 10 pm
Taps 10 rotating craft beer taps.
Size of pour 16 oz (smaller for high-alcohol beers).
Bottles Quite a decent list of local and Belgian beers (including a cider and a gluten-free beer).
Session beers available It is a rotating menu and not available on-line, so you will just have to try your luck! They do love their Belgian beers though, so expect to find one or two.
Patio Quite a small patio, but it’s south facing, so it gets plenty of sun. An excellent place for brunch—you might just want to have brunch run into lupper and spend the whole day quaffing Belgian beers in the sunshine.

Falconetti’s East Side Grill
1812 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Web falconettis.com
Facebook Falconettis
Twitter @Falconettis
Monday–Thursday 11:30 am – 1 am
Friday and Saturday 11:30 am – 2 am
Sunday 11:30 am – 1 am
Taps 10 taps of local craft beer.
Size of pour Sleeves and pitchers.
Bottles 18 bottles of craft and macro beers, plus Strongbow cider.
Session beers available Not currently, but there are several choices sitting right at 5%.
Patio It’s a second storey patio overlooking Commercial Drive—so it’s more of a ‘see’ than a ‘be seen’ kind of place. The heightened elevation means that you get the late afternoon and evening sun a little longer. Alas, from May through September they do not accept reservations for the patio.

Alibi Room
157 Alexander Street Vancouver
Web alibi.ca
Twitter @alibiroom
Monday–Thursday 5 pm – 11:30 pm
Friday 5 pm – 12:30 am
Saturday 10 am – 12:30 am (brunch 10 am – 2:45 pm)
Sunday 10 am – 11:30 pm (brunch 10 am – 2:45 pm)
Taps 50, and if you’re lucky one of them is a ‘one-off’ keg Nigel managed to score, sourced from across BC and the US.
Size of pour 6 oz, 10 oz, 16-20 oz depending on ABV. Flight of four 6 oz tasters.
Bottles No.
Session beers available The menu is constantly rotating, so there just may be.
Patio Very small, but joined with garage doors that open up into the main area so it feels like you’re outside even if you aren’t quite. The Alibi is not in a bustling part of town, so the people watching is better inside the bar than on the street. But really, with a beer list as long and delicious as the Alibi’s, your attention will be riveted by what you are drinking.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

amsterdam brewery

i am back from my very quick trip to onterrible
i wish i could tell you i drank a whole lot of great beer and discovered fab new places to drink it
but i'd be lying
i was not on a beercation and so my time available to devote to the nectar of the gods was precious little

i did manage to get to amsterdam brewhouse on toronto's waterfront
and pick up a few brews at the lcbo to enjoy during family time

amsterdam brewing is the low brown building at the left of this photo
amsterdam brewing:
the building is right on the water with a huge patio wrapping around it
the service is friendly
and the servers wear actual clothes, so that's nice

they were out of half of the beers on the menu
apparently they are running at capacity and can't keep up with demand
i think maybe they should keep the brewpub stocked though, before the lcbo, since people are coming out to see the brewery and drink the beers - effort that should be rewarded by actually having the beers available
like almost everywhere i was in toronto, there is no wifi


we had the pretzel, which comes with yummy stoneground mustard and a way too sweet maple dip

the margarita pizza was enormous and delicious - it fed me for three meals
the kale salad was delicious, but the pieces of kale could have been cut/ripped a bit smaller for ease of fitting them in your face

because they were out of most things, i didn't do a flight
i had a 17 oz sleeve of the boneshaker ipa
which was pretty darned good
7.2% 85 ibus
centennial, summit and amarillo continuously hopped for 90 minutes
i liked this so much, i bought a few bottles on another occasion
very drinkable for a westcoast hop lover


i also drank the raspberry wheat out of a can on the boat cruise that took me down to waterfront in the first place
brewed under the name kawartha lakes brewing, it is contract brewed at amsterdam and available on draught there
it was actually a very drinkable wheat ale
the raspberry wasn't too sweet or too overwhelming
just look how happy i am to be drinking it!

it was alright
if i'm on the waterfront again, i'll stop by