Saturday, March 15, 2014

Join the Craft Beer Revolution

In case it wasn't clear already... I love craft beer. My path towards loving local really started with realizing I really liked Phillips Maple Cream ale... and that there was a real difference between something that was being imported from Esquimalt and something that was being imported from far away. As the years have progressed my ability to keep up with the craft beer scene was eclipsed by just trying to keep my finger on the pulse of the food scene, but I still try to pick up the best of the new releases from Victoria breweries and hit up the cask nights when I can. 

I got a chance to chat with local beer writer Joe Wiebe to go into glorious detail about the publishing process for his BC bestseller Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider's Guide to B.C. Breweries. Joe is the Thirsty Writer, a longtime BC beer writer who is in talks with the CBC to do a regular radio column on craft beer. 

This is one of those books that feels like a fantastic deal. I mean, you could spend years painstakingly researching every new brew, making notes, drinking more beers than Joe wanted to think about, drive across the entire Province and leap at any chance to dry a pint of something new. There is a certain appeal to the nerd in me for that kind of dedication and fastidious frontline research, but it is neither practical nor possible for most of us. Thankfully Joe has taken one for the team and served it up on 228 pages of ink and paper. 

His book is pretty much a primer for everything you ever needed to know to truly live local and drink exclusively British Columbia brewed craft beer. He starts with the basics - an introduction and glossary of terms - and moves into regional chapters, each with a little bit of history and a breakdown of available breweries. I love how this book is laid out - it has the same aesthetic and feel of my Tastebud Guides project. It is definitely meant to be used as a guidebook, not just read once and kept collecting dust on the shelf.  Joe told me he hopes that people carry the book with them on their beer adventures, and that it becomes beer stained, earmarked and notated. 

We started our conversations by laughingly acknowledging his Author's Note that the book was pretty much out of print the moment it hit print. It's true - even in the few months since publications numerous breweries and brewpubs have opened up all across the Province. Although he has plans for a 2nd edition next year, there is more than enough selection in the 1st edition to keep you busy until then! 

The change in our local food culture and the change in our local beer culture really have gone hand in hand. Brewpubs like Spinnakers, which was really one of the first (and the most enduring!), have brought along the local food mission along with their craft beer mission. We are so lucky to live somewhere like Victoria where we are spoiled for choice for locally brewed beers, but reading Joe's book made me realize that the same revolution is happening around the rest of the Province, too! I look forward to using it on my next adventure outside of my stomping ground! 

As I said above - I have trouble keeping up with our Island beer scene, let alone the whole Province. Craft beer has just gotten too big! But somehow Joe has managed it. The research in each chapter alone is enough to make a sober person very, very thirsty. Visiting Vancouver for the weekend and curious where to drink? Chapter 4 should suit you quite well. A quick reference chart on page 83 will get you started to find exactly the right location to meet your current needs - whether you plan for just a quick growler refill or you are looking for somewhere to eat, drink and perhaps (if you've had a few to many of the latter) stay the night. Once you have arrived at the ideal watering hole a quick reference of recommended selections and facts accompany the history of the establishment should not only help you order efficiently, but earn you a few smalltalk tidbits to open the conversation with your barman! A win for beer drinkers, socially awkward nerds or those of us who are in the venn diagram overlap of both. 

If you have any road trips planned this year Joe’s book is definitely the guidebook to have as your trusted companion. Copies are available through his website (, at local bookstores as well as Spinnakers Pub and Cascadia liquor stores or online via Amazon


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