This was the first time Luke and I have attended the BC Beer Awards, and it definitely won’t be the last. Miniature glasses were raised, smiles were wide, and trophies were won. It was an unforgettable evening to celebrate the best local craft beer that this province has to offer, and to shine some light on how massive this industry has become in BC.From a media perspective, the awards offered a perfect opportunity to chat with industry folk and fellow beer nerds to get their take on the state of BC craft beer and discuss their latest brews.
Each year the BC Beer Awards challenges the breweries to create a beer of a particular style for the awards night, with the a BCBA trophy up for grabs. This year’s choice was the SMaSH (Single Hop and Single Malt) style. Prior to the event opening up to the public, media had a chance to try a selection of SMaSH beers from a few different breweries. This tasting was guided by Paul Pyne from Drink Smarter. Paul shared his tasting notes and some insight into the brewing process for this beer style. One takeaway was that SMaSH beers allow brewers to better highlight the aromas and flavours of one particular hop and malt. With most beers in the market using a combination of different hops and malts in their recipe, it can be difficult for beer drinkers to attribute what taste/smell comes from what hop/malt. The winner of this year’s Brewer’s Challenge was awarded to Postmark Brewing for their Bohemian Pilsner SMaSH.
Now…on to the awards. To highlight a few of the major awards winners:
- Brewery of the Year: Mount ArrowSmith Brewing
- Mount ArrowSmith is a brewery based in Parksville that opened earlier this year. This is a massive accomplishment for their team, and can only be a sign of great things to come! Now I just need to try some of their beers!
- Best in Show: Swans Brewery x White Sails Brewing – Oktoberfest Flammenbeer
- A Vancouver Island collab beer that I’ve yet to get my hands on. It’s awesome to see a collaboration beer win best in show, as we’re seeing more and more BC breweries work together to produce some top-notch products. A great reflection on the current state of the craft beer industry in this province.
- Innovator of the Year: Twin Sails Brewing
- If you’re a craft beer fan you’ve probably heard the name “Twin Sails” at least a few times in 2017. They’ve taken the limited release model to new heights by coming out with a new, often experimental, beer almost every weekend. If you’re a NE IPA fan, you should definitely check them out as they’ve been cranking out some delicious, hazy, fruit-forward, single and double IPAs all year. This year they managed to sweep the Imperial IPA category; with the gold medal going to their “Bachelor Pad” Double IPA.
- People’s Choice Award: Boombox Brewing – Rad Seeker
- Once housed out of Callister Brewing in Yeastvan, Boombox now works out of Dogwood Brewing’s facilities near Marine Drive. I tried “Rad Seeker” for the first time at the awards and quickly became a big fan.
- Rookie of the Year: Backcountry Brewing
- My first experience of Backcountry Brewing was sampling their Widow Maker IPA at the VCBW Festival this year. Widow Maker won silver in the North American IPA category this year, which had an astounding 82 entries. They also one gold in the North American Pale Ale category for their Trail Breaker Pale Ale, and took home the award for Best Social Media Presence. Needless to say, the Rookie of the Year award was well deserved. Get out to the Squamish and visit their brewery if you can!
There were a few breweries that garnered a lot of awards throughout the evening, but did win a premier award. Steel & Oak Brewing out of New Westminster took home six awards (4 silver, 2 bronze), Dageraad Brewing from North Burnaby claimed five pieces of hardware (3 gold, 2 silver), Parallel 49 Brewing snagged four awards (2 gold, 2 bronze) and Yellow Dog Brewing made Brewer’s Row proud with three trophies (2 gold, 1 bronze). Coincidentally, these are four of my favourite BC breweries, so it was great to see them recognized for their top-notch brews.
On the creative award side of things, Doan’s Craft Brewing Company took home a pair of awards. Their Crystal Weiss won Best Can Design and their new “Happy Pack” won Best Box Design. You’ve got to love their folklore-style characters designed by artist Ola Volo. Steamworks also picked up two Creative Industry Awards, for Best Tap Handle and Best Bottle Design via their Barrel-Aged Series Imperial Stout.
Check out the BCBA’s site for a the full list of award winners!
After the awards presentation it was time to celebrate. With so many award-winning and limited release beers being poured, it was tough to choose what to drink! Some people would call this a first-world problem…they’d be right to do so.
My favourite beer of the night, hands down, was Brassneck Brewing’s Inertia III. This imperial stout was aged in Woodinville Bourbon barrels, which added some complexity to the flavor of the beer and definitely gave it a nice kick. Sitting at 10% ABV, Inertia III is a boozy, delicious desert-in-a-cup.
Congratulations to all of the BC Beer Award winners and participants, and a big thanks to the BCBA for hosting us. I already can’t wait for next year’s awards!
Here’s a few more photos from the event, taken by Luke:
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