Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘Breweries’ Category

BC Breweries By Production

with 8 comments

I’m obsessed with numbers, and as such I was very curious about finding out what the annual production for all our local breweries is. While this is generally published in the US as a sign of pride, in British Columbia the micros tend to keep this info fairly well guarded.

I suppose the implication is that big=bad, and while historically those two things have been strongly correlated, the rise of such huge breweries as Dogfish Head, Boulevard, and Deschutes have shown that it is possible to grow large while still producing good, nay, excellent beer.

However, with the locals keeping their mouths closed we’re stuck, right? Well, not really. You see, the LDB is a government body, and government bodies tend to publish their budgets as a matter of course. As part of that budget, the LDB also publishes the amount of money it pays out to breweries in BC. Since all beer sold in BC must first, by law, be sold to the LDB, these numbers are a decent indication of brewery size.

Using a few breweries that were willing to (privately) give me their production numbers as a starting point, I took these payout numbers and produced a best guess as to brewery production.


  • See that word “guess” up there? That’s what these numbers are. If breweries would like to give me the real numbers, I’d be happy to correct them.
  • The value that seems to best translate dollars to hectolitres for my control breweries is $325. Obviously this is a very rough guess. Draught-only producers will have their production adjusted higher, while bottle-focused producers will be lower.
  • Yes, the final production numbers smell like ass because that’s precisely where I got them from.
  • 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.
  • Hoyne is a complete guesstimate, as they had not completed a full year of brewing when these numbers were issued. I’ve adjusted their numbers up to account for this, but who knows how their year went.
  • Some breweries are missing, including: Coal Harbour, Steamworks, Townsite, Parallel 49 amoung others. I have no idea why.
  • I have excluded Labatt’s (Kokanee) simply because it would be impossible to seperate 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)
  • Breweries with no distribution to speak of (mostly brewpubs) have been dropped from the list.

Fun facts:

  • The largest producer in BC is not Molson, as many might have guessed, but rather OK Spring–by a lot.
  • Consider this. The three US producers I mentioned above have these production values:
    • Deschutes: 258,000 hl
    • Dogfish Head: 88,000 hl
    • Boulevard: 184,000 hl
  • Lots of breweries run under slightly different names on the books.
    • Red Truck is Avalon
    • Tree is Fireweed
    • Kamloops, Bowen and Whistler are all shadow brands for Northram
    • Barley Station is Shuswap Lake Brewing
    • Tofino is Tuff City Brewing
    • Steamworks is Quarterdeck (or rather was, they no longer appear in the 2012 numbers)
  • It’s a good time to be a brewer. Virtually all breweries are seeing large year-over-year growth in sales. Except Molson. And Granville Island. Also note I said sales, not profits.
  • Driftwood is by far the fastest growing brewery since 2009. How fast? They’re doing 16x the sales of just four years ago. Second place goes to Phillips at 3.2x.
  • If Driftwood somehow were to continue their extreme rate of growth, they will be the largest brewery in BC in two years. 🙂
  • Since 2009, over 150,000 hl of new market has been created in BC. Of that new market Pac West has grabbed 33% and OK Spring 24%, meaning there’s some truth to there being room to grow slightly up market from macro (Molson lost 32,000hl of market in the same period).
  • Next in relative new growth are Phillips at 16% and Driftwood at 5%. Despite Driftwood’s 16x growth, they were a much smaller brewery 5 years ago than Phillips.

Brewery Income Production (hl)
Red Truck 985213 3000
Cannery 1238733 3500
Central City 2508961 7500
Crannog 332799 1100
Dead Frog 1680211 5250
Driftwood 2653713 8100
Fernie 1134768 3400
Tree 5415175 16500
Granville Island 24732615 76000
Gulf Islands 308883 750
Howe Sound 1924350 5500
Hoyne 391032 1000
Lighthouse 4684083 14250
Molson 57240081 175000
Moon Under Water 67124 150
Mt Begbie 1484419 4000
Nelson 2383267 7000
Northram 10469291 31000
OK Spring 93446929 285000
Pacific Western 32725605 95000
Phillips 12142566 35500
Plan B 107520 400
R&B Brewing 1428113 4300
Russell Brewing 3682097 11000
Spinnakers 179447 500
Storm Brewing 375628 1300
Tin Whistle 472565 1350
Tofino 360314 1200
Vancouver Island 7689047 23500
Wolf Brewing 217347 650

Written by chuck

October 26th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Breweries

Hoyne Voltage

with one comment

On paper it sounds great: craft brewed, high-quality coffee beans (and hand-pressed at that), extremely limited batch, and even a slick label. What’s not to love about this beer? The problem comes in that quirkly little thing called execution.

The coffee half of this beer is thick and lucious. Usually the kind of coffee that winds up in beers is not exactly high grade, but even after being turned into stout and sitting in a bottle for a month you can tell that Habit Espresso is the kind you need more of.

And that’s the problem. The coffee so outplays the stout here that we quickly forget what we’re drinking. The beer half of this equation is thin with a disappointing mouthfeel. I wanted a massive punch of chewy, roasted malt to balance out that espresso, but alas it’s just not there. All I get is a watery stout that disappears behind the (great) coffee with each sip.

In the end this beer, much as the label hints, cannot decide if it’s beer or coffee, and it suffers for it. What had the potential to be an amazing home run from Hoyne on their first birthday winds up just being an okay version of an admittedly hard style to nail.

However, at the price point of $5-7 that’s what you’d expect. Even so, I just can’t help wanting more from this one, but that’s just the sort of beer geek I am, I always want perfection.

Since only one tank was made, and Sean Hoyne uses 10 hectolitre tanks, get this sooner rather than later. Even with the slow sales, those ~125 cases will be gone forever before you know it.

Coles notes:

Brewery Hoyne Brewing
From Victoria, BC
Name Voltage
Style Espresso Stout
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential N/A; Table beer
Drink Now
Recommened cut off for drinking espresso in beer 8:30 PM
Availability Some LRS, zero at LDB
Cost $5-7 per 650ml bottle
Similar Beers Elysian Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout
Chuck says Buy 1 or 2 to drink now, then more as required. If it still hurts in a week, come back to see me.

I get the feeling I won’t use the silver much.

Written by chuck

October 23rd, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

Driftwood Mad Bruin

with 2 comments

Yesterday, Driftwood put out their most recent one-off release: Mad Bruin. This sour/wild brown ale is the second in their Bird of Prey series, inspired because a Coopers Hawk flew into the brewery or some such. Hey, if you need a story behind your series of sour ales, you could do worse, I suppose.

And yesterday, Mad Bruin landed with a resounding thud. Unlike other Driftwood releases like Sartori, Singularity and Twenty Pounder, no one seems interested in picking this one up. So, what do I think? Well, it’s hard to gauge. This beer is clearly structured for aging, and that makes it hard to review, but I’ll try.

Right off the bat, this sucker hits you with a sweet astringency that settles in the back of your throat. That’s the lacto at work here, producing a bit of a puckerfest. After that, the malt lingers over a few sips, building a nice caramel tone.

A few sips later and you can tell where this bastard spent the past few months: in oak barrels. Used wine barrels, to be exact. Maybe something pinot-y. The oaking is very intense, and slowly grows to dominate the beer, so that by the end of your glass you’re pretty sure you just licked the hardwood floors.

So, right now it’s not much of a looker, but how will it age? Well, I think. It’s unfiltered, so the sourness should continue to develop while the extreme oakiness fades. The malty caramel will slowly come forward to play down the sour, but don’t be worried, this beer is definitely heading towards sour funk-town.

Overall, this will not be a top flight beer, but it will definitely be an interesting one, given enough time. Put a few in the back of your cellar and start pulling them out around April. If this plays out like similar beers I’ve had, look for a peak in July/August 2012, with a massive sour tone balancing out a slightly oaky sweet, but pronounced caramel.

Aside: What’s with the labels guys? You buy a $10 clip art CD and figure “Yeah, that’ll do”?

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood Brewing
From Victoria, BC
Name Mad Bruin
Style Sour/Wild Brown
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential Silver
Drink Spring 2013 to Late Summer 2013
Chance of this turning
to vinegar in 6 months
Availability Very good at LRS, zero at LDB
Cost $11-13 per 650ml bottle
Similar Beers Upright Late Harvest
Chuck says Buy 1 to drink now, 6-12 to cellar

Look at me! Reviewing beer like a pro!

Written by chuck

October 16th, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with