Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Beer Column

if you were remiss and didn't catch me on cbc radio one's on the coast with the one and only stephen quinn yesterday evening, here are my notes:

CAMRA BC (the Campaign for Real Beer) is a Society that depends on membership fees to keep it afloat, but that doesn’t mean that only its members benefit from its activities.
 
CAMRA BC is the umbrella organization under which the five local chapters operate (Victoria, Vancouver, Fraser Valley, South Fraser  and Powell River). A $25 yearly membership gets you, the discerning consumer, a bi-weekly newsletter, access to beer education classes, discounts off CAMRA events and discounts at many beer establishments around the Province. If you take advantage of those discounts, investing in CAMRA pays for itself each year.
 
But you should join CAMRA BC for more than just the discounts! CAMRA is a voice for British Columbians sick of ridiculous and overbearing liquor laws. And that voice gets louder with every member. At over 1,000 active members, CAMRA is getting the attention of law-makers in this Province.
 
CAMRA was recognized as a stake-holder in the recent liquor law reform and invited to a sit-down meeting with the BC Liberals last year. Several of the 73 suggested reforms came from CAMRA BC and its members, and many have been on CAMRA’s agenda for several years now.
 
CAMRA is primarily dedicated to the “promotion and responsible consumption of natural, crafted beers”, but that promotion also includes a mandate to “actively support laws and regulations that contribute to that objective”.
 
So really, CAMRA is working on behalf of British Columbians who aren’t even members.   All drinking British Columbians are benefitting from CAMRA’s existence as an advocacy group. When CAMRA gets wind of a change or proposed change to liquor laws, or has issues with current laws brought to its attention, the pens get set to paper, and the fingers to emailing, to make sure that those in charge know what the people of BC want.
 
For example last year’s Save the Growler campaign began when one brewer mentioned to one CAMRA member that the government had changed the category of tax that growlers came under - effectively a tax grab - that was costing breweries more today and which additional cost could eventually be passed along to the consumer. CAMRA leapt into action, rallied its members and sent off a petition to the government condemning the new tax. CAMRA’s voice was loud enough that the NDP added the growler tax issue to their platform for the election.  Alas the NDP was not successful in their campaign and neither was CAMRA in getting the Liberals to back away from the tax change.  However, freshly re-elected CAMRA President Adam Chatburn believes that “the campaign and the media response was a contributor to the decision to have the liquor review” held by the Liberals last year.
 
After growlers came tasting lounges. The Province agreed that tasting lounges should be allowed, but the City of Vancouver was slow to amend by-laws. CAMRA kept after the Municipal Government and the first tasting room licences have now been awarded in the City (most recently to Parallel 49 Brewing).
 
And of course there are the more recent liquor law reforms. After listening to stakeholders, including CAMRA, the provincial government has made 73 suggested amendments to Provincial liquor laws.
 
As for those new liquor laws though, please keep in mind that Mr. Yap’s list of 73 suggested reforms remains just that, suggestions – no changes have been made to the laws. CAMRA will continue to communicate with the provincial government and the Attorney General Susan Anton to make sure those suggested reforms do become law.
 
So, have I convinced you to join CAMRA BC?
 
C’mon, it has never been easier to become a CAMRA member. This past year the membership system has become automated and you can pay on-line via paypal. CAMRA Vancouver’s website is camravancouver.ca. Click on “Members”and then “Join”. You can also check out the entire list of member discounts on the website and keep up with all the active campaigns.
 
 
Beer picks:
 
Bomber Brewing’s tasting room officially opened its doors on Monday!
I suggest you stop by to try their ESB (Extra Special Bitter), IPA, Shut Out Stout and Pilsner! A flight of all four is only $7, or you can get a sleeve for $5.
They’re open 11:00 – 11:00 daily.
 
And two upcoming beer events around town you can still get tickets for:
- Hot Glass / Cold Beer at the Terminal City Glass Coop on Parker Street on March 7th from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. $45 tickets get you a hand-blown beer stein and six tasters of beer to savour while you watch glassblowers make art from molten glass.
- And Saturday’s Barrels and Bottles fundraiser for BC’s Craft Brewers & Distillers Guilds at Blackbird Pub. $49 gets you in the door to sample products from 20 BC craft breweries and 9 BC distilleries from 11:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.
 
BC Craft Brewers Guild
The BC Craft Brewers Guild represents craft brewers from all over BC. Some are small and others smaller but they all brew flavourful local beer with passion and dedication. The mission of the Guild is to support the ongoing creation and discovery of truly great BC Craft Beer.
 
Craft Distillers Guild of British Columbia
Founded as a body to increase awareness of the Artisan Distilling industry in BC, the ADG of BC is actively engaging the Provincial Government of BC in dialogue with an agenda of spurring the growth of a viable distilling industry.

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