The bees are buzzing, the sun is staying up longer, the weather is getting nicer, and sometimes all you want to do after a long day of work is crack open a nice cool can of beer.
And what better place to do it than right here in Vancouver?
Metro Vancouver is home to dozens of local craft breweries, and that number is only expected to grow in the next few years.
Central City Brewers
“We’re going to be at 120 breweries in BC…I think by the end of the year. And that’s a lot of breweries for, you know we’ve got a little over four million people. It’s a fairly small market and there’s a lot of breweries.”
Tim Barnes, the Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Central City Brewers describes the industry in one word.
“Fun. A lot of fun. It’s such a great industry. I’ll give you an example: We’re facing a bit of an issue right now with some regulatory stuff, and I’ve talked to no less than six different craft breweries that are all supporting and helping. We all help each other, and it’s not…we’re not vicious enemies, the way I think some of the larger breweries are. We help each other, we’re supportive of each other, we all want the other ones to succeed. And that culture is pretty unique.”
Don Farion, the owner and operator of Bomber Brewing also describes the industry as a community, and says that when one craft brewery succeeds, the whole industry succeeds.
“All ships rise with the tide. So as craft beer grows so do we all. Everybody’s very much adopted that feeling that, if we band together and we build this market, then everybody’s going to be successful. There’s no point in fighting to try and get them, we should try and get them to drink this beverage before we start worrying about who’s (brew) they’re drinking.”
Although it seems like craft beer is everywhere you go in Vancouver, Farion says they are still a very small market.
“We still only represent 20-25% of the beer drinking market.”
And because of that, Tim Barnes says there is tons of room for growth in the industry.
“There’s lots of room and I’ll give you an example. So there’s styles of breweries…you know we haven’t seen a lot Breweries pop up that are “specialist” in certain types of beer. So let’s call it Belgians or let’s call it Sours or Barrel Aged. So I think there’s expansion opportunities in styles. I also think there’s opportunity geographically. If you look at cities outside of the Lower Mainland, you’ve got lots and lots of opportunities for growth. Port Moody is a great example of that. I mean, it’s in the Lower Mainland, but look at the hub that’s being created in Port Moody with all the new breweries that are popping up there, it’s crazy. It’s awesome and great, and creates a bit of a community, within that community.”
Family of brewers
“I don’t even think vineyards are that close and that friendly. I think they’re definitely friendly and close but I don’t know if they’re at the level that we are in terms of that community. It’s an awesome, awesome industry to be a part of.”
Both Barnes and Farion agree that the best part of the craft brewing industry is the community feel.
“Not only are we around beer, but we’re around people that love beer. So when you love something and then all your customers love something and all the people that work in the industry love something…it’s hard to be not friends with everyone. A beer festival is like a family reunion. Whenever there’s a big beer festival and everybody shows up there, everybody gets to see each other…we’re all so busy when we’re in our own breweries, that those are nice times to get together with all the other brewers.”
BC Craft Brewery Listings: Every brewery in British Columbia listed here
And both Central City and Bomber Brewing make sure they give back to the community they are a part of.
“When you’re building a brewery, and operating that brewery, and growing that business in that community…you’re creating jobs…for a Craft Brewery like Central City, any profits we make go right back into the BC economy. Whether it be through the folks that own the brewery, or through the taxes that are generated through that.”
“We’re (Bomber Brewing) right on the bike path…we do a lot of work with the Bike To Work Week and all of those really community based programs. We do a hockey tournament every year which is to support the Britannia-after-school hockey program.”
So whether it’s a cold brew after a yoga class, a nice lager after a bike ride, or a cool ale at a BBQ – break out the craft beers this summer.
Your taste buds – and Vancouver’s economy – will thank you.