The craft beer industry is booming in B.C.
Hot on the coattails of Oregon (often regarded as the craft beer capital of the new world), there are now over 50 craft breweries scattered throughout B.C. from Tofino to Fernie.
With such a vast range of breweries and beers being produced in communities of all sizes and locations "The Thirsty Writer", Joe Wiebe, embarked on what he calls his "Craft Beer Odyssey."
Over eight days Wiebe set out on a road trip covering 2,364 km in a clockwise loop around the lower half of the province stopping at every craft brewery, brewhouse, tap house and hop farm he could find.
Since B.C. lacked an exhaustive guidebook on the subject, Craft Beer Revolution (CBR) became a passion project of Wiebe's designed to get craft beer aficionados to hit the road themselves in search of B.C.'s best beers.
From his research he has catalogued all 50 breweries that were open at publication time in early 2013, and grouped them in the regions of Sea to Sky, Victoria, the Islands and the Sunshine Coast, Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey and the Fraser Valley, Thompson-Okanagan and the Kootenays.
While the book is laid out in guide format with a rundown of each brewery and its beers, there is plenty of personal reflection from Wiebe about his experiences in each region, such as his first move to Vancouver's Main Street and discovering the rich beer-brewing history of the area.
Wiebe likely wrote this book for craft beer nerds like himself, but the language and voice make it accessible to anyone who has enjoyed a tasty pint of suds. Though most people will leaf through the book looking to visit a particular region, working through it cover to cover is surprisingly entertaining.
Interesting factoids fill the pages between the chapters with profiles such as B.C.'s only Belgian-born and trained brewer, Cédric Dauchot, rundowns of certain standout venues like Vancouver's Alibi Room taphouse and craft hotspots like Victoria's Beer Mile.
Wiebe even explains his selection criteria for included breweries in CBR, not afraid to take a dig at Turning Point (makers of Stanley Park Amber and Pilsener) for reasons such as "its spurious claims that its single wind turbine somehow generates enough power to run the whole 'sustainable' brewery."
Interestingly, Whistler Brewing Company was a debatable inclusion for Wiebe. He said he wouldn't have done so had the brewery not returned its operations to Whistler in 2009.
In his Author's Note, Wiebe does acknowledge the elephant in the room of writing a guide for such a fluid industry — the book was already out of date at the time of publication in the summer of 2013. He does, however, include prospective breweries such as Wheelhouse Brewing in Prince Rupert and Skeena Brewing in Terrace — both of which are yet to open — and writes openly about the need for more craft breweries in the province's most far-flung corners.
CBR is a must-own for any B.C. beer nerd and works equally well as full read or bookshelf reference. It may not be as up to date on the latest seasonal beers, but is far more interesting to read than a bunch of pretentious tasting reviews found on so many user-generated beer websites.
Craft beer Revolution is available at Armchair Books for $19.95.
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