Brewing Revolution: Pioneering the Craft Beer Movement is Frank Appleton’s tale of brewing history in British Columbia. Considered by many to be the father of the craft beer industry in BC, Frank Appleton’s memoir is as insightful and informative as it is witty.
Fittingly, Frank chose Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) for one of the launch events for the book. Frank is one of many key figures in the BC brewing industry that form part of the advisory committee at KPU’s relatively new Brewing and Brewery Operations program.
Reading to an assembled group of students, old and new, Frank shared the story of his emigration to Canada and his career leading up to the founding of the Horseshoe Bay Brewery in Horseshoe Bay, BC.
Appleton describes the challenges he and John Mitchell faced when they set out to create the Horseshoe Bay Brewery in 1982, a brewery that would become the first of its kind in Canada. There remain so many “what-ifs” around the tale, which Frank described in detail at his reading and in even greater detail in his book. What if Appleton had never written “The Underground Brewmaster” article for Harrowsmith magazine in 1978? What if one of Mitchell’s friends hadn’t shared that article with him? What if the John Mitchell and his wife were unable to visit Frank in the Kootenays, convincing him to get on board with their idea? Many more such scenarios surround Appleton’s tale, each of which could have derailed the idea before it started.
Yet here we are amidst a Brewing Revolution that began with Frank Appleton and John Mitchell over 30 years ago and continues to this day.
Appleton’s career doesn’t start and end with the tale of the Horseshoe Bay Brewery. Rather he describes the multitude of other brewery projects he has worked on over the years, the numerous breweries he’s set up – most of which have succeeded, but some of which have failed. He also goes into some of the specifics of the science of brewing, a topic that he is well-versed in having studied brewing and microbiology at university in Manchester, England.
Brewing Revolution is Appleton’s memoir but he does not shy away from bringing things into the present as the Craft Beer Revolution has picked up steam in BC.
Indeed, Frank offers some wisdom and sobering thoughts regarding the current state of craft beer in BC. The drinking public are more savvy and more opinionated than they used to be, largely from having been exposed to so much more quality, local beer. But he also advises that brewers can’t be too starry-eyed when they start out in the brewery business: with so much more competition, and less brand loyalty, it can be difficult to stand out enough to get noticed.
Listening to Frank tell his tale was enlightening, especially as the industry continues to grow and we all realize what a fundamental shift he began in the industry in BC. His story and his message were not lost on the group assembled to listen, being as most of them were current students in KPU’s brewing program.
Whatever your relationship is with the brewing industry in BC – be you brewer, consumer, or anything in between – a debt is owed to Frank Appleton as he forged the path that led us from a market dominated by light, flavourless, adjunct lagers, towards a new state where consumers are demanding flavour, colour, and something both classic and different.
Frank Appleton’s Brewing Revolution is a must-read for any beer lover. Be sure to get yourself or your favourite beer geek a copy of Frank’s book and be part of the revolution.