Showing posts from 2018

beer gimmicks, pretentious nonsense and hipster fuckery

my growler article from back in january: BEER GIMMICKS, PRETENTIOUS NONSENSE AND OTHER HIPSTER FUCKERY REBECCA WHYMAN •  JANUARY 16, 2018 iStock photo This past fall, gruits – that ancient, hopless beer style flavoured with herbs that seems to be all the rage right now – got me thinking about the elusive line that divides fads, trends, and gimmicks from creative innovations and emerging styles. How do beer geeks decide where they categorize any given beer? Are gimmicky beers harming the reputation of craft beer? I like to think of myself as a beer evangelist (also brilliant, witty, gorgeous and humble…). It is therefore my self-appointed duty to bring people into the fold. I love finding the craft beer that makes a former macro lager drinker’s eyes light up, and introducing a non-beer-drinker to a style they can’t believe is actually beer because it tastes so good. I worry, probably too much, about how people perceive craft beer. Craft beer gets kudos for qualities lik

does beer have terroir?

my first article for the growler , back in July 2017: DOES BEER HAVE TERROIR? REBECCA WHYMAN •  JULY 13, 2017 iStock photo The concept of terroir and its influence are enthusiastically debated in the wine world. Very few of the beer geeks I asked cared one whit about terroir, and hadn’t even given it a thought before I asked. After some debate, they decided that although it was an interesting philosophical question, terroir didn’t matter to their beer drinking experience or influence their beer purchases. The casual beer drinker isn’t interested in the minutiae of which malts or hops are chosen for the beer, let alone where they’re grown. They just care that the final product tastes good. So there you have it. The beer world doesn’t care about terroir. Enter Harley Smith and Tracy McLean of Longwood Brewing. They care. They care a lot. But before we get to why they care, and why you might also, allow me to drone on about what “terroir” means. Indulge me please, I read

free the hops!

my growler article from last november: FREE THE HOPS! REBECCA WHYMAN •  NOVEMBER 24, 2017 iStock photo Of the four ingredients in beer, hops are the New World’s contribution. It seems rather fitting then, that North America has its economic paws  allll  over hops. Trademarks, patents, royalties – how are these business-y things having their way with our beloved hops? It must be big beer’s fault! I understand why you’d want to make hops proprietary – it takes time, effort and money to painstakingly develop a new hop, test it eight ways to Sunday, and devote acreage to propagating it. It can take 15-20 years before any money starts coming in, and then on only a fraction of your experiments. But do you really need 20 years of royalties to recoup that investment? Off the backs of your growers and the lovely brewers who exalt your wonder-hop? C’mon, only big beer would do such a greedy thing. Experimental breeding has brought us wonder-hops that can do it all: higher yields,

label of love

LABEL OF LOVE: THE CREATIVE WORLD OF MODERN BEER CAN ART REBECCA WHYMAN •  OCTOBER 15, 2018 Clockwise from top left: Electric Bicycle Brewing Co.; Mikkeller’s Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisee; the beer label artwork of Vancouver artist Patrick Wong; Superflux’s Superfluousness. Contributed/file photos You can’t help it, I can’t help it—we all judge beers by their labels, maybe as much as we judge the beer itself. Beer labels have been around for ages: 83 years on cans, and much longer than that on bottles. It appears we’ve been loving beer labels for that whole time—just check out all the vintage labels you can buy on eBay! Doesn’t it seem, though, that we’re loving beer labels extra hard right now? Maybe it’s that size matters. Beer cans, especially those tall boys, offer lots of real estate for labelling. Large-format bottles provide a sizeable canvas as well. Maybe it’s as simple as habituation. Humans aren’t that different from crows; we’re attracted to bright, shiny obje

a brewery by any other name

my growler article from April's edition: A BREWERY BY ANY OTHER NAME… REBECCA WHYMAN •  APRIL 2, 2018 Anyone who’s done it will tell you that opening a brewery isn’t easy. Choosing the name? Even harder. Despite all the time and effort involved, and having so much riding on choosing the right one, some of B.C.’s breweries have still managed to saddle themselves with confusingly similar names. Maybe this is only a big deal to beer geeks like me, who try to keep track of all the breweries and maniacally check off every beer on Untappd. I find I can’t keep track of who’s who any more because many of the names sound alike. My own discomfort aside, I worry that confusing consumers will turn them off craft beer. Regardless of how good a brewery’s beer is, or in how many venues it’s available, it is still down to the customer to choose to drink it. With 150ish breweries all brewing multiple year-round beers, plus seasonals, there’s a dizzying amount to keep track of. Conf

fight for your right to patio!

My latest feature in The Growler magazine is a timely little piece about why you won't easily find yourself on a craft beer patio  in Vancouver this summer.  (click the link, or see below) I found myself a great place to drink beer outdoors this past weekend - Folkfest at Jericho Beach.  True, it is where I find myself this time every year, but it struck me particularly hard this year after writing my Growler article about the lack of patios that there I was, enjoying a beer (or three) outdoors while listening to some fabulous music.  We need more of that in Vancouver.  It's a shame it takes someone a whole lot of hard work to get a special event licence to offer me that opportunity. Folkfest has always been a magical event for me, long before they added a beer garden.  And it is arguably a very different festival now that they have.  The beer garden is a laid-back place to have some beverages, chat with friends and make new ones, all while being serenaded.  Does the festiv