Archive for the ‘Breweries’ Category
When you think of craft beer in Vancouver, you don’t often think of Old Yale Brewing. I mean, they’re all the way out in Mordor (the Wack), so their beer can’t possibly be any good, right? So let’s just grab another hop bomb from <insert hip hot new local brewery here> and call it a day.
Thus, when 2014’s Canadian Beer Awards rolled around, more than a few eyebrows where raised when Old Yale’s tried and true Sasquatch Stout won the coveted “Beer of the Year” award. I’ll be honest, it took me by surprise as well. 2013’s winner was Powell Street’s delicious Old Jalopy Pale Ale. I had no problem with that. Hip new breweries beat the old guard, right? Punchy Pales > Boring Old Stouts.
Or so the thinking went before everyone woke up and remembered that Sasquatch is really quite a well brewed Stout. The win looks like it might have been somewhat of a surprise for the fine folks at Old Yale themselves, as the sudden rush of sales and publicity that follows such an award seems to have jarred them into a bit of a brand modernization.
With that rebrand comes a new brew, being right now broadly distributed via the BC LDB. With broad distribution comes media samples, and for the first time ever I received some Old Yale product to open, taste, and trash/praise. So, is Vanishing Monk Belgian Wit any good?
Yup, it is. It won’t blow your mind wide open, but it is a very well brewed example of a style that’s easy to mess up. Frankly, this beer is pretty good. There’s lots of yeast complexity going on here, but not so much it becomes the focus of the beer. There’s a subtle line between a refreshing Wit and a beer that’s all gonzo “Look at me! I’m brewed with a kooky yeast! CAN’T YOU TASTE THE ESTERS?!”
Plus, at 5.59 (before taxes) at the LDB it’s not a bad option. There’s lots of great competition in the Wit Zone, but Old Yale’s is one of the better ones.
Pours cloudy yellow with a thin, instantly dissipating head.
Faint lemon zest, good Belgian yeast esters (clove, black pepper).
creamy mouthfeel, good balance between sugar and yeast complexity. A nice light summer ale.
5.0% ABV / 20 IBU / Witbier
Yes, and then find a patio by a lake for full effect.
Driftwood White Bark, Strange Fellows Jongleur, Brassneck Staircase
Ever wonder how big the breweries in BC really are? We all like to talk a good talk about huge year over year growth, but how fast are our favourite brands getting big?
Sadly, no one really talks size or growth, as most breweries are privately owned and not required to share any of those embarrassing financial tidbits. Luckily for us, the LDB is required to post their annual finances, and since all beer in BC must first be sold to the LDB this report acts as a sort of proxy for brewery size.
Below I’ve tabulated the 2014 financials for each brewery that I can identify in the report, along with their 2013 numbers, and an approximate guess for beer production in hectolitres. Previously I’d used numbers ranging from $375 to $450 per hectolitre calculation, but this year I changed it up and went with $300. This is primarily because this year I learnt a bit more about how breweries are taxed, and that these financial statements are post-tax.
The degree to which these hectolitre calculations should be trusted is reflected by how easily I just changed them out: don’t trust them. These are very approximate numbers only, and should only be used for rough relative comparisons. A major brewery like Pacific Western will be lower, and a brewery that solely sells draught and growler products like Brassneck might be higher.
All columns are sortable. Just click.
- For the first time, several breweries appear to be in serious trouble. Tin Whistle, Wolf, Craig Street, and R&B are all hurting big time. If this keeps up, expect some cheap equipment to go up for sale soon.
- Mid-sizes breweries are broadly down as a trend. Russell, Big Rock, Granville Island, OK Spring, etc are all hurting.
- HUGE years for Hoyne, Driftwood, Parallel 49 and Central City, but especially Hoyne. Great work, Sean!
- The shift in strategy for some of the smaller breweries is evident: Longwood, Moon Under Water and Spinnakers bottling efforts are definitely paying dividends.
- Pacific Western was doing great up until this year. They’re somewhat up market from Molson, so I figured that was due to adventurous drinkers trying something different. Their ~10% drop this year is likely due to adventurous drinks moving down the shelf a bit more to actual good beer.
- Holy shit. Check out Brassneck’s numbers, and then realize they weren’t even open for HALF OF THE PERIOD OF THIS REPORT. Wowza.
- I included Big Rock here, too. They’re building a brewery in Vancouver so, uh, welcome to BC guys.
- The various Mark James properties have been broken out individually. I think this has something to do with Red Truck’s massive production capacity increase and taxes.
Disclaimers (repeated from 2013):
- Because of the craziness of shadow brands and contract brewing, it’s hard to split out some of these numbers. OK Spring, in particular, also produces Sleeman locally, and those sales are blended in.
- Some breweries are missing, including Coal Harbour and others. I have no idea why. They are likely running under either a numbered company or a name I don’t recognize.
- I have excluded Labatt’s (Kokanee) simply because it would be impossible to separate out beer produced in-province from imports.
- Likewise, I have skipped Mark Anthony Group (Turning Point/Stanley Park) because most of their money comes from wine (Mission Hill)
Click headers to sort
|Brewery||2013 Income||2014 Income||alias/aka||2014 Production (hl)||Growth|
|Sleeman Breweries Ltd||100826104||97421073||Sleeman / OK Spring||324736||-3.4%|
|Pacific Western Brewing Company||37038122||33563099||111876||-9.4%|
|Granville Island Brewing Company||23597424||22831746||76105||-3.2%|
|Phillips Brewing Co||14527143||17209987||57366||18.5%|
|Northam Brewery Lp||12412210||14093947||Whistler / Bowen||46979||13.5%|
|Vancouver Island Brewing Company||8663020||8082863||26942||-6.7%|
|Big Rock Brewery Inc||6487218||5349530||17831||-17.5%|
|Fireweed Brewing Corp||5391621||5328876||Tree||17762||-1.2%|
|Lighthouse Brewing Company Inc||5156097||4962174||16540||-3.8%|
|Parallel 49 Brewing Company Ltd||1452960||4699953||15666||223.5%|
|Central City Brewing Co||2717936||4043560||13478||48.8%|
|Russell Brewing Co Limited||4162692||3917373||13057||-5.9%|
|Allen Brands Inc||2212115||2926208||Big Surf / Prohibition||9754||32.3%|
|Howe Sound Brewing||2371393||2560623||8535||8.0%|
|Nelson Brewing Company||2444327||2405093||8016||-1.6%|
|Hoyne Brewing Company Ltd||1204082||2384445||7948||98.0%|
|Dead Frog Brewery||1893880||2065463||6884||9.1%|
|Mt Begbie Brewing Company Limited||1701101||1874282||6247||10.2%|
|Fernie Brewing Co||1468056||1670146||5567||13.8%|
|Cannery Brewing Co||1391236||1338593||4461||-3.8%|
|R&B Brewing Inc||1218933||1047154||3490||-14.1%|
|Tuff City Brewing Ltd||532850||956717||Tofino||3189||79.5%|
|Townsite Brewing Inc.||561253||799821||2666||42.5%|
|Steamworks Brewing Company Ltd||788268||2627||100%|
|Gulf Islands Brewery Limited||494823||656752||2189||32.7%|
|Spinnakers Brew Pub Inc||386987||611865||2039||58.1%|
|Salsbury Drive Holdings Ltd||514694||Brassneck||1715||100%|
|Longwood Brew Pub Limited||250872||495047||1650||97.3%|
|Crannog Ales Limited||367742||399852||1332||8.7%|
|Four Winds Brewing Company Ltd||365473||1218||100%|
|Bridge Brewing Corp||58606||354781||1182||505.4%|
|33 Acres Brewing Company Inc||341586||1138||100%|
|Storm Brewing Limited||353287||336433||1121||-4.8%|
|Moon Under Water Brewery Ltd||97534||310847||1036||218.7%|
|Arrowhead Brewing Company||69882||301396||1004||331.3%|
|Old Yale Brewing Co Limited||178992||248412||828||38.8%|
|Persephone Brewing Company Inc||247804||826||100%|
|Powell Street Craft Brewery Inc||137405||458||100%|
|Mission Springs Developements Limited||39391||114057||380||189.6%|
|Tin Whistle Brewing Co||449938||100515||335||-77.7%|
|Wolf Brewing Company||200198||100045||333||-50.0%|
|Big River Brewing Company||46422||76883||256||65.6%|
|Bomber Brewing Corporation||69503||231||100%|
|Deep Cove Brewers And Distillers Inc||68699||228||100%|
|Green Leaf Brewing Corporation||66654||222||100%|
|Shuswap Lake Brewing Company||52840||62931||Barley Station Brewpub||209||19.1%|
|Yaletown Brewing Co||44347||147||100%|
|Craig Street Brewing Co Ltd||63910||43137||143||-32.5%|
|Patricia Hotel Vancouver||38787||40202||134||3.6%|
|RDO Brewing Ventures Ltd||36046||Barkerville||120||100%|
|Big Ridge Brewing Company||32591||31508||105||-3.3%|
|Three Ranges Brewing Company Ltd||28436||94||100%|
|Freddy’s Brew Pub||26466||88||100%|
|Barley Mill Brewpub||27327||0.0||0||-100.0%|
|Plan B Brewing Co||111483||0.0||0||-100.0%|
|Avalon Brewing Co||353808||0.0||Old Red Truck Location||0||-100.0%|
* Arrowhead and Bridge numbers are adjusted to approximate annual production, as they were not open for the entirety of the reporting period.
I’ll admit that I’ve been a lazy ass, and have been sitting on this review for a while—a few months, even. However, sitting inside while the wind is blowing through Vancouver seems like the perfect time to write this sucker up. Beats the tar out of going outside, at least.
So… another Stanley Park brew, eh? What does Chuck think? Well, before we can talk about what’s inside the can, let’s spend a bit of time talking about what’s outside the can.
Turning Point Brewing (the actual brewery behind the Stanley Park brand) has elected to reinforce their completely fictional relationship with the park whose name they’ve appropriated by releasing a hoppy pale ale to commemorate what is one of the worst tragedies to ever strike Stanley Park.
For those new to the city, in December 2006 a series of massive storms touting winds as high as 120 km/hr tore through the iconic Vancouver park, and uprooted over ten thousand trees. The damage was wide spread and jaw-dropping. Entire acres of wooded rainforest were laid bare, turned into chaotic clear cuts. The emotional toll of this event on Vancouver natives was tremendous. People were literally brought to tears by the footage.
So now, eight years later, to have a brewery commercialize this tragedy for profit is… well, let’s just say it takes a certain insensitivity to think this is a good idea. However, Turning Point rampant desire to build any sort of association themselves with their namesake trumps any sort of good will.
Not to say there isn’t actual good will here. Turning Point is donating 25 cents per can (or per pint of draught) to the Stanley Park Ecology Society and, while 25 cents doesn’t sound like a lot when you consider that the can in question cost you $2.50 at the LDB, believe me it’s eating a pretty hefty hole in their bottom line (although, don’t get me wrong, this beer is still very profitable).
Perhaps I’m being too harsh? Maybe they can pull this one off and treat this touchy topic with all the decorum and sensitivity it demands? Let’s go watch this promo video to learn more.
Well fuck. Seriously, guys? In addition to all-but-implying that the brewery has any sort of actual relationship to a wind storm that occurred a four full years before they opened shop, that video lays down a sentence of marketing copy downright laden with wind-theme adjectives: “An unexpected storm of tropical fruit and earthy pine-hop character that bends to a gust of citrus on the palate and a rewarding bitterness that finishes clean.” That is verbatim from this video, and is printed on the side of their cans.
You can do a benefit ale. That’s a thing you can do. Central City has done several versions of their IPA whereby profits are donated to Autism research. However, the beer is simply called “IPA for Autism” and they donate $2 per 650ml bomber compared to Stanley Park’s $0.25 per 500ml can (approximately 6x Turning Point’s offering). If you go read the description of the beer here you’ll see that CC has avoided using tie-in words. Imagine how horrible it would be if they described their beer as having “strong aromatics that can look you in the eye.”
Unimaginably horrible and tasteless, that’s how it would be. And yes, a wind storm in Stanley Park is not even remotely the same thing as a child with Autism, but they’re two tragedies that two breweries have responded to with two benefit beers, and the two different approaches couldn’t say more about each of those businesses.
Nothing more clearly demonstrates Turning Point’s true feelings about Stanley Park than this beer. Stanley Park is not a treasured gem or a source of civic pride to Turning Point. Nope, it’s a marketing opportunity, pure and simple. It was that in 2010 when they created the Stanley Park Brewing brand and it still is today. If they were serious about rebuilding the park, they would have released a tastefully marketed brew and donated 100% of the profits, not 25 measly cents.
What about the beer itself? Yeah, it’s okay. Actually, the nose on this thing is amazing. You should have a sniff. Don’t actually drink the beer, though, as it’s not that great, but merely good. Even so, it might be the best beer Stanley Park has ever produced, but until they change their marketing game I’m going to spend most of my time talking about the packaging.
Oh, and to save you time: skip their winter ale too. It’s frankly bad.