Barley Mowat 

Giving Back to the Community

with 14 comments

Something happened recently which will either serve to validate my nascent megalomania or further separate actual reality from how I perceive it: Granville Island Brewing has requested that I do a collaboration beer with their Brewmaster Vern Lambourne. Usually, collab beers are the brainchilds of two (or more) breweries getting together and figuring “sure, why not? seems like fun.”

These beers are a chance for a brewery to perhaps brew outside their comfort zone or even perhaps distribute further afield than normal. As craft breweries grow both in size and number, we’ve seen more and more collaborations: Storm/Russell Big Smoke, Parallel 49/Gigantic From East Van With Love, Powell Street/Four Winds Dunkleweizen are just three that pop to mind, but there are many more (including the “brewed-by-committee” VCBW beers). Collabs are chances to experiment, share ideas and cross-market the resultant product.

The hangover cause and cure, together at last! Wham: instant best seller! Right, guys… guys?

But why, oh why, would a brewery want to do a collaboration brew with me? Last time I checked, I’m not a brewery. I’m not even a brewer… oh crap, I sure hop GIB and Vern aren’t expecting me to, you know, actually do anything here. I mean, aside from sagely overseeing the brewing process and then attempting to single-handedly consume as much of the resulting product as possible in some kind of self-destructive exhibitionist performance art–that, I’m up for.

The reasons, I suspect, go back to that whole “seems like fun” aspect. Sure, there won’t be lots of this beer made, and sure, it won’t be distributed anywhere but in the taproom on the (soon to be operational) growler station but, you know what? Making it will be fun. Certainly fun for me and–I hope–fun for Vern. And, ultimately, isn’t that what making beer is supposed to be?

With that in mind, I have begun soliciting crazy ideas as to what to brew. The conversation started on my Facebook page, but if you missed that or have a new idea (no Jenn, no cat beer) please let me know below. My hope is to read all these awesome ideas and be inspired to create something awesome-r. I will then take that inspiration and go strategize with Vern (it’s 50% his beer, too; this is a collaboration, not a contract).

Budget, timelines and batch size will likely all conspire to rein in some of the crazier ideas, but I’ve very confident we’ll arrive at a recipe with which we’ll both be happy. Ultimately, we might make something awesome or we might make something awful, but either way we’ll have fun doing it, and isn’t that the most important thing?

Of course, Homer also makes a very valid point

Written by chuck

October 18th, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with ,

14 Responses to 'Giving Back to the Community'

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  1. Barrel aged bourbon vanilla porter! Something rich and meaty for those cold November and December rains.


    18 Oct 13 at 14:45

  2. @Vanonymous – Sounds great, but something to consider is that barrels have higher cost basically any way you mention it: money, materials, time and warehouse space.

    Additionally, when you barrel age something it’s generally advisable to do multiple barrels so you can blend the rough edges away.

    GIB might not be willing to go all-out on resources and risk for a nano-sized batch that won’t be distributed widely. Maybe. Maybe they will 🙂


    18 Oct 13 at 15:12

  3. Perhaps a black saison with southern hemisphere hops? Imperial light lager?
    Congrats on the recognition


    19 Oct 13 at 17:43

  4. I suggest an hefe weizen ice bock, maybe barrel aged.
    My favorite (dessert) beer is the Schneider Weizen Eisbock.


    20 Oct 13 at 19:19

  5. “But why, oh why, would a brewery want to do a collaboration brew with me?”

    Because it would be fun? Seriously, Barley? Am I going to have to be the asshole that says it? Fine, you have forced my hand:

    GI wants to to a collab with you because they are very rapidly losing relevance within the craft beer scene. Even the stuff coming from Vern’s den has been largely ignored lately. They have no idea how to deal with the tidal wave of new, exciting breweries hitting the Lower Mainland. So some Molson exec said, “You know what’s hot right now? The internet! Let’s do something with that!” So they chose a blogger to do a collab hoping it gets them some street cred.


    Nucking Futs

    20 Oct 13 at 21:52

  6. Nucking Futs has it right, I’m afraid…GIB is becoming nothing more than a tourist attraction.


    21 Oct 13 at 09:02

  7. @NF – I definitely considered all that, being the cynical bastard that I am. I suspect the truth is a somewhat more muted version of same mixed in with a bit of fun.

    GIB isn’t going to get general credibility by slapping my name on a no-distribution growler-only beer. I’m just not popular enough. What they will do is draw a little bit attention to their new growler bar, and Vern’s new efforts for interesting 1-offs, and I don’t mind helping with that.

    While Vern’s beers sell fairly well, they are still less popular than they should be given their quality.

    As to Molson’s involvement, I’d suggest there wasn’t any. Molson is very hands-off with GIB, and high-end growler-only beers pretty much fly in the face of Molson’s beer strategy.

    GIB does more business in a long weekend than a dozen Brassnecks will do in a year. Their hopes for increased sales comes at the expense of breweries like OK Spring and Pac West, not 33 Acres, Four Winds and the other newbies.

    Increased tasting room business, though, is another thing. I would say they definitely are feeling the competition there, and there is market pressure to do something interesting. This is that. The Molson execs, given a choice, would likely prefer to close the thing outright to focus on increased production. They very likely view the 10hl micro-brewery as an unsightly number in the liabilities column.


    21 Oct 13 at 09:07

  8. Gonna have to disagree with you, Barley. I’ll tell you what Molson sees: they see their market share eroding due to the explosion in craft beer. A 2% dip in their sales year over year is absolutely HUGE. They see the established, thriving craft brand that they purchased for almost $30million to help offset these trends also take a 5% hit in sales. They see the brand that they believed to be part of the solution for them very quickly become irrelevant in the craft scene. You’re going to try and tell me that the execs at Molson can’t be bothered with all this?

    GI was a piece of their plan for the future, and that plan is unravelling quickly. As I stated, I think this move is a desperate PR ploy from a desperate company trying to cling on to their last remaining shreds of relevance in the market.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. Were I in your shoes I would jump at the opportunity too. But let’s get real about what this is. Granted, I’m sure it’s a bit of an exaggeration that it was a Molson employee that came up with this idea, but you can bet your ass that Molson is leaning on the management at GI to fix their free fall and to fix it now. This is a very pathetic attempt at doing that.

    Nucking Futs

    21 Oct 13 at 13:26

  9. Nucking’s right on the money here Chuck. Gi is “Giving back to the community” by having you brew with them? Seriously?

    Do it, have fun, but don’t for a moment think this is anything other than GI trying to piggyback off your popularity in the Vancouver craft beer scene and get us nerds talking about them (and buying them).

    Oh and my my beer advice is go for broke. Blueberry lambic aged in burrowing owl merlot barrels. That would get me to visit the tasting room for a pour 🙂


    21 Oct 13 at 13:48

  10. @Tom – Well, I was more joking that it was *I* giving back to the community 🙂

    I’m building a short list for what to present to Vern, and yup, “barrel aged sour” figures quite prominently on it.


    21 Oct 13 at 14:07

  11. Go for gruit!


    21 Oct 13 at 17:46

  12. Something along the lines of The Commons Flemish Kiss would be awesome. Or how about a brett IPA?


    21 Oct 13 at 23:02

  13. Congratulations, Chuck!

    If you could only somehow get sausage in a beer, I’d suggest a three-way collaboration with Oyama.

    Seriously, though, something that’d be ‘hyperlocal’ and focused on Granville Island would be really interesting.


    22 Oct 13 at 15:15

  14. […] This isn’t my beer as it hasn’t been brewed–or even […]

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