Well the 2016 BC Beer Awards have come and gone. The trophies have been handed out, Instas have been grammed, and now everyone gets back to the business of making and/or drinking beer.
It must be said that this year’s awards were special. Incredibly well-organized, it was just a great place to be on Saturday night. Among peers and colleagues in the industry this event is definitely one of, if not the highlight of the year.
There were a couple of things that stood out for me this year as different from years past. Firstly, it seemed that there were somewhat fewer people in attendance and this was a good thing. Last year in particular I felt the crush on a number of occasions where there wasn’t quite enough room to move around, particularly if you were near the booth of a popular brewery with a great beer.
Second, last year they had added another room to the festival, making space for even more breweries to share their brews with the crowd. The second area had live music and long tables to sit at, but this space consisted mostly of breweries that were new or unknown and so the two separate spaces felt unbalanced as a result. This year, it seemed that the ‘heavyweights’ were well spread out throughout the venue spaces, which meant mixing new and established breweries together in both rooms. This has the knock on effect of ensuring that new or lesser known breweries are seen among their peers as opposed to separate from them. This move in particular helped to make everyone feel included.
You may have already seen or heard about the results, but if not you can check out my post over on Beer Me BC.
Dustan from Beer Me BC also made a great post ranking the awards and determining an overall winner – there were after all a number of breweries that won quite a few awards so how do you determine who won the night, if indeed you feel the need to do so at all?
There were definitely some surprises too. I liked seeing Nelson Brewing winning a few awards since these folks are definitely part of the old guard of craft brewers in BC. Back when I first got into drinking craft beer – what we called micro-brewed at the time – Nelson stood out as one of only two organic breweries. Further, their Paddywack IPA that won Silver this year was one of the first IPAs that started turning me into a ‘hop head’. It was excellent to see them get some well-deserved recognition in an industry largely dominated by up-and-comers.
Speaking of up-and-comers, Abbotsford locals Field House Brewing snagged a couple of awards – Bronze for both their Sour Wheat Gose and their Dutch Pale Ale – and also took home the Rookie of the Year award, which was great to see. Two years running a new Abbotsford brewery has won in their first year with Ravens Brewing winning big for their Farmers Ale last year. To me this shows that great things are brewing in the Fraser Valley. Are we to see Chaos and Solace or Hathi Brewing pulling one out of the bag next year, perhaps?
While I laughed at the time, mostly because it took me a minute to get it, the host for the evening Stephen Quinn from CBC pointed out that it was great to see so much of BC represented in the awards. I mean obviously, I thought, we’re at the BC beer awards. But looking at the breweries that were recognized for outstanding beers this year, they weren’t all from Yeast Van or Brewery Creek. Four Winds didn’t even win an award this year, which must be a first since they’ve opened their doors. Instead, the awards were spread fairly broadly across the province, something that bodes well for the future of BC Beer if we’re beginning to see exceptional brews being produced across the province and not just in Vancouver and Victoria.
And with that thought, you may wish to check out some of these breweries especially now that their achievements and hard work have been recognized in award form! Check out the BC Ale Trail and plan a trip to visit some of these great breweries around our beautiful province.
Here’s to another year of great BC beer!