beer column

here are my notes from yesterday's beer column on cbc radio one's on the coast with stephen quinn:

The Beer News:

I hope everyone got to celebrate Vancouver’s “Patio Day” yesterday.  The Mayor and council made it possible for restaurants to place temporary patios on the sidewalk or business parking stalls.  19 businesses took advantage, including 12 Kings Pub.

Tap & Barrel has a new location in North Vancouver.  Called Tap & Barrel Shipyards, it is Western Canada’s largest restaurant at 14,000 square feet.  It is located in a 100 year old building, using reclaimed and regional materials in keeping with Tap & Barrel’s commitment to sustainability and keeping it local.  It also has a lending library, so feel free to drop of a book or two, and to borrow one while you’re there.  Good news for patio lovers, the custom designed aluminum trays that hold tasting glasses are chilled so that you beer will stay cold longer in the hot weather.  Located at 8 Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver, near Lonsdale Quay.

The Donnelly Pubs are celebrating 30 days of IPA again this year.  There will be a different keg or cask of IPA tapped each day in August at the various Donnelly Pubs.  You can find a calendar on their website ( or wallet-sized versions at the participating venues – the Bimini, Library Square, Cinema, the Blackbird, the Butcher and Bullock, the Lamplighter, the New Oxford, and the Three Brits.  Tonight’s IPA is Four Winds Juxtapose Brett IPA at Cinema on Granville Street.

Beer Tasting:

Granville Island Brewing “Van Dame” white india session ale, from their Brewmaster series.
Available at government and private stores in 650 ml bombers.
It's a Westcoast spin on a Belgin witbier.  Crisp, clean and slightly bitter, with notes of guava, citrus and coriander. 4.5% alcohol. It has a smooth texture from the wheat and a crisp finish.  Ella hops from Australia were used at the end of the boil (hop bursting) and for dry-hopping to keep all the hop flavour, but not impart as much bitterness.

Liquor Law Changes:

Last week the Liberals announced that wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries can now sell each other’s products in their tasting rooms.  The government made the announcement last Tuesday that any establishments with an on-site tasting room or other licensed area are now allowed to serve any BC made alcoholic beverages they choose – up to 20% of their sales each quarter.  This also extends to holders of Special Occasion Licences – they’ll now only need one to serve all types of liquor at a licensed area.

But what does this actually mean for you, the consumer?  Nothing immediately.  Businesses will have to check with their various municipalities to ensure local by-laws are in line with the new provincial regulations; they will have to find partners interested in carrying their products and providing product to them; they will have to figure out how they will ensure that no more than 20% of sales come from outside product; and so on and so on.  

I think you’ll see wineries benefit first as many of them rent out their venues for events, such as weddings, and will be able to serve drinks other than wines now without having to apply for various Special Occasion Licences.

In talking to one brewery owner in town, they are non-plussed about the change.  For them to be able to serve beverages other than beer they’ll have to make changes to the tasting room serving area.  They’ll likely wait to see what others do, and how successfully, then weigh the costs vs. possible profits.

Beer nerds I have talked to see this as a sleight of hand trick.  Look at what this hand is doing – it is giving you things you asked for – don’t pay attention to that other hand, it’s busy raising prices.
An Ernst & Young report that cost tax payers $200,000 was solicited by the government for independent policy advice, and was just one of several reports used to make liquor policy changes.  With a very mixed bag of positive and negative law changes, people I have been talking to are feeling like the government wasted our money, and hasn’t listened to what consumers or the industry told the Liquor Policy Review panel.

That said, I think this change is a good one.  Cross-pollination can only be good for the profile of BC craft beverages as a whole.  Allowing manufacturers to feature each other’s products can be very beneficial to the manufacturers on both sides of the equation.  I look forward to having some beer cocktails at local distilleries in the near future.  But I’m afraid to get excited about it.  Who knows when it will actually happen and if it will be viable for most businesses.  I guess you could say I’m cautiously optimistic about it.

Also new in liquor laws is the Liberal cabinet shuffle that sees liquor taken out of the attorney general’s portfolio and moved to join small business and red-tape reduction.  Coralee Oakes takes over as Minister of the Liquor Distribution Branch.

It’s too early to say whether or not this move will benefit the consumer, but I am hopeful that the move is an indication that the Liberals have heard advocacy groups and industry spokespeople that we’re not in favour of price increases, both at the liquor store and via the higher minimum price per ounce at pubs and restaurants.  Combining liquor distribution with small business and red tape reduction will hopefully encourage more red tape reduction in the liquor laws and more support for the breweries, distilleries and cideries that are small businesses.

Oh how I look forward to being able to report good news to you soon!

Beer Picks:

I’m all about the Berliner weisses today.  So light and refreshing in the summer weather, they’re sour, but not overwhelmingly so - and absolutely perfect patio beverages:

Four Winds Pequeno Cabo tequila barrel aged berliner weisse – tequila and beer and only 4% alcohol!  Yes please!  750 ml bottles available at private liquor stores, if you can still find some.  If not, head to 12 Kings on August 7th for a Four Winds tap takeover that includes the pequeno cabo, plus six other delicious beers.

Steel Toad’s berliner weisse is available on tap at Steel Toad.  Tart and refreshing and 5%.

Machine Brewing’s Berliner weisse is available on tap at Callister brewing.  You can drink it straight up, or mix some grapefruit syrup into it.  It is also 5%.


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