Vancouver craft beer week: Paving the way for inclusiveness in craft beer

I got into craft beer four or five years ago after enjoying some experiences at new breweries in Vancouver. A positive experience became, an interest, and an interest became hobby. However, in my short time in the craft beer world, I have come to realize how male dominated the industry is and have experienced some prejudice myself as a woman. I love seeing how things are changing in this ever-growing industry and am seeing more and more breweries and events making strides in changing how craft beer is viewed, marketed and enjoyed.

Ahead of Vancouver craft beer week, I was fortunate enough to interview Leah Heneghan, co-founder and festival director of Vancouver craft beer week. VCBW is known as one of the best events in Vancouver, and it takes a massive team of people to make it as special as it is. I asked Leah not only about the amazing events that will be taking place in Vancouver from May 25th until June 3rd, but also how VCBW works to create an inclusive event.

What experiences lead to your interest in the craft beer scene?

One of the first restaurant jobs I had was on Granville Island, and even waaayy back then, we had a pretty great local beer selection:Shaftebury, Granville Island, Bowen Island, Bear Brewing—that got me on board with craft beer, although, I probably didn’t realize that’s what it was. I had basically zero beer knowledge then, but I knew what I liked. =)

How did you become involved with VCBW?

I always have to thank my brother when this question comes up—he took me on my first craft beer pub crawl, and introduced me to the Vancouver craft beer scene when I moved back to Vancouver after living in England for 8 years. That fateful autumn pub crawl lead me to a meeting at the Alibi Room, where I met the fine folks I run VCBW with now.

More recently there has been a push from many stakeholders to make craft beer more inclusive of all genders, creeds, peoples, and orientations how has vcbw responded or reacted to this?

The VCBW team has always done our best to be inclusive from inception, promoting craft beer for the people, each and every one of them. We have a zero tolerance policy in regards to intimidation and harassment in all forms at our events and have an attendee safety team at the VCBW Festival to ensure that it is a safe space for everyone to enjoy. You’ll see a big increase in signage to this effect this year as well, and we are working with the fine folks at Good Night Out to really bring this message to the forefront.

We are also modernizing the traditional beer festival by working with partners such as the Vancouver Mural Festival to bring in live art demos and interactive art installations. Other activations such as Leis Des Buds also add to the experience and over all atmosphere of the festival, and of course we insure that performers and artists are representative of as many different people as we are able!

Macro beer is well known for using women as props for marketing, when vcbw first started how were women viewed in craftbeer?

From my own experience, it wasn’t easy being a female beer festival producer in a sea of men in the beginning, admittedly. I was second guessed a lot, and more often than not, people dealing with me would ask one of my (male) business partners the same question they’d asked me, hoping for a different response. Inevitably the person asking would be told to ask me, or my partners would ask me anyway, and give them the same answer. It started out as frustrating, but swiftly became a somewhat comical reflection on not only the industry but society as well.

How in your opinion has this changed and how has VCBW been a part of this change?

Our attendees were about 80% male back then, and beer marketing was certainly very different. Women weren’t as visible at events or working in the industry then. Now things have visibly changed—our festival attendees are nearly 50% female-identified, and you see more and more women leading the way in the beer industry, across the board. It’s fantastic.

We strive to have women working the event and our organizing committee (outside of my three male business partners, of course) are all women (social media, sponsorship, marketing and PR, volunteers, venues, guest relations and onsite management). We also request that our sponsors and vendors send both male and female spokespeople to represent their brands at the festival.

What does VCBW do that you are really proud of?

We do a lot of work with our charity & community partners, and are really proud to produce events that help support their causes. Our annual Official VCBW Collaboration beer raises money for a different charity each year, this year it’s Eastside Boxing Club’s(ESB) free self defence series for all female-identified, non-binary folks, and anyone who identifies as a member of the LGBTTQQ2S community living in and around East Vancouver. We also work with ESB to produce Beer Wars and now Aprons for Gloves, two great events that help to fund their community-based support programs for at risk youth.

We love our work with the Create Vancouver Society, who we partner with at multiple events through the year, most recently ARTSmash on Granville Island, and upcoming Strathcona Street Party (June 23) and the Vancouver Mural Festival in Mount Pleasant on August 12th, merging our fantastic craft beer community with the local art community.

Music Heals is a long-time partner of ours as well, we helped them to raise over $5,000 last year alone, and we will continue to be a proud supporter and advocate for all of the great work they do.
In addition to this, we pride ourselves at being a conversion engine for craft beer, and helping to grow and showcase the amazing beer scene here in Vancouver and BC.

Thanks Leah for the insightful words and for being such a great advocate for women in the craft beer world!

VCBW celebrations kick off this friday May 25th at the East Van Crusher and events run all week at various locations throughout Vancouver. The main celebration and beer festival take place June 2nd and June 3rd at the PNE! Visit vcbw.ca for more information and to get your tickets before it sells out!

Week of Logic

If you have been paying attention to my Instagram lately I’m sure you are aware that I am obsessed with Disneyland and the SoCal craft beer scene. On my latest adventure, I coincidently booked my trip during week of logic 2018!

For those of you that don’t know, week of logic is Bottle Logic’s anniversary party that lasts for a week and offers tons of exclusive beer tastings, merchandise and prizes.

It all started with a bottle release that went live on eventbrite where you could buy your bottle and pick it up during the week. The beer was “rolls for initiative”. I was able to try this one and it was unreal. Basically cinnamon bun in a bottle.

Field Journals were created and released the first couple of days if the event. For those lucky enough to get a field journal, stamps could be collected every day of the event and these stamps translated to prizes.
I don’t even know where to start with the beers. There were different stations “the variants”, “stasis project”, “evacuation outpost” and “constants”. Each were pouring a variety of different beers and some even rotated throughout the week.

The event was insane and it was so cool to see one brewery put on such an amazing event with so many different beers to try. Next time I’m going to have to try to make it to each day of the event. So who’s coming next year!?

How to Turn Your Family Disneyland Trip Into a Beercation

I do not claim to be an expert on beer. I love beer and I have tasted a lot, but do not claim to know all that there is to know on the subject. I am however, a self proclaimed expert on Disneyland. So I have found the best way to mix my two greatest loves, craft beer and Disneyland. Here are my best tips and tricks for how to make the most of your vacation.

1. Hit up Monkish brewing

Monkish brewing are known for their incredible juice bombs and quickly sold out can releases! This brewery also happens to be 15 minutes away from Los Angeles international airport. Usually I get a cheap rental car from the airport and drive there on my way to Anaheim. Going to Monkish is usually the highlight of my trip. Go try some of their amazing brews on tap or plan your trip around a can release. Those lineups can get long, but I’m sure just being there for the experience is worth the waits. Plus its just getting you warmed up for those long Disney lines and at least you get a delicious brew at the end.

Side note: Around the corner is Smog City brewery if you are looking for some more great brews.

Lineup at Monkish for new glassware release
Smog City Brewery

2. Try some craft beer and grab the best Disney beer photo at California adventure.

California adventure and Disneyland are right next to each other. Both offer great rides and a totally different vibe from one another. Disneyland does not offer any alcoholic beverages , but California adventure does! I usually hit up the Karl Strauss brew truck in the pacific wharf area to get the perfect beer photo and taste some of their delicious beers. There are other areas of the park that have beer available, but this is always my go to.

Side note: Recently, it was released that Ballast point will be opening a brew pub in the Downtown Disney area (shopping district between the 2 parks). Can’t wait to be able to try some of the sculpins on Tap as Pineapple sculpin or Grapefruit sculpin are always my go to hotel room beers when in Cali.

3.The Anaheim beer crawl

Disneyland can be exhausting if you tackle it hard like I do. I mean you’ll be racking up the steps and will be in need of a refreshing beverage by noon. My tip is to get to the park early to enjoy the shorter lines and cooler temperatures and leave the park around 1pm for a break. I usually leave the park from 1 to 5 as it seems to be the busiest time. Anaheim has some of the best breweries within a 10 minute drive. Grab an Uber during your break and head to Bottle Logic, Green Cheek and Noble Ale Works. There are many other breweries in that area if you want to make a night of it, but these three are my absolute musts.

4. Set up some trades

Can releases in California can be huge events with long lineups and cans that sell out in hours. It is next to impossible for people travelling to time it right and get there on a release day, so ask some locals for trades! People are usually open to trading some of their hard to get cans for other cool beers that they have never tried. I always bring beer when I go on these trips. Grab a couple 4 packs of your best local cans and bring them with you. I use Instagram to ask people if they want to trade and will usually meet up with people at breweries.

California is a craft beer lovers paradise so have fun on your trip! I’m sure there are many other amazing breweries close by that I haven’t explored yet and I haven’t even touched on the downtown L.A craft beer locations.

Best of 2017

2017 was an amazing year for me that began with me starting an instagram account chronicling my craft beer adventures.

1. Trips to Cali

Lucky me, I not only was able to do one trip to socal but two this past year. Mostly because I have a freakish obsession with Disneyland but also because California has one of the most advanced craft beer scenes that I have experienced! My first trip was awesome because not only did I go to Monkish brewing and try some of their famous juice bombs, but I also brought some beers and got myself into the beer trading game.

Stay tuned for an article of how to turn your familys Disneyland trip into a craft beer tasting adventure.

2. Vancouver Craft Beer Week

Vancouver craft beer week was so much fun! I got tickets to the opening night at Roundhouse center in Vancouver. There they had live music, food and all the beer you could drink from our amazing BC craft breweries. A nice bonus was that Rocky point ice cream was also there serving up the brewers row, hazy pale ale, VCBW collaboration beer flavoured ice cream. Such a fun time.

I also went to the IP-hazy event. All of the best hazy beers from the BC breweries paired with a crawfish boil at the Lamplighter Pub in Vancouver 👌

Tickets are on sale now for VCBW and if it’s anything like last year they will sell out quick! Hope to see you there.

3. Eurotrip

If you followed my instagram in the summer, you were probably aware that I took to the streets of London, Edinburgh, Barcelona and Paris looking for the best craft beer to drink. Well believe me, I found it thanks to endless wandering and instagram friends giving me tips.

4. British Columbia beer awards

Definitely a highlight of 2017! BC beer awards got all of BCs breweries and beer fans out in one place to try all of the amazing brews and watch our favourites get recognized for their brews. Can’t wait till next year!

5. Bachelorette party in whistler!
My sister got married and the beer babes all went up to whistler for a blury weekend. Whistler is home to some of my favourite breweries so any excuse to get up there is good enough. We checked out Coast Mountain brewing and Whistler brewing and of course hit up Back country brewing on the way home!

6. Hangover hike

Okay, so I know this technically happened in 2018, but what a way to start the year! On January 1st a group of 30 craft beer lovers organized by @bccraftbreweries hiked up quarry rock in deep cove, North Vancouver. Trading post beer so generously sponsored our reward beers for the hike. Hanging out with people who love craft beer as much as I do was pretty rad and led to many photo opportunities. The group met up afterwards at Strathcona brewing to keep the good times rollin and beers flowing.

I’m sure there will be more hikes in 2018 so follow @bccraftbreweries on instagram to find out when and where.

5 highlights from the British Columbia beer awards

BC has the best craft beer scene in Canada. Last weekend the Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver was the host of The 2017 BC beer awards. A cacophony of BC craft breweries descended upon the two ballroom floors showcasing their best and lucky me, I got a chance to be a part of it! So I thought I’d write about the highlights from this amazing event!

1. Flammenbeer

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This beer from Swans brewery and White Sails brewery on Vancouver island won best in show. That means that out of all the individual category winners, this one was judged to be the best of the best. It was the first and last beer I drank at the event. It had a lovely smoky quality and sort of reminded me of a Sunday breakfast. It has almost a fatty flavour like bacon and was slightly savory. Pure deliciousness and a true event highlight.

2. Boombox all star line up

Lets just say I made many trips to the boombox booth! They brought their three newest releases that I swear they were the hardest to get beers in BC. Juicy AF, Rad Seeker and Ultra Deluxe. Where else do you get all 3 of these amazing brews at the same time? Needless to say, it was a moment of indescribable happiness when I saw this line up.

3. Fieldhouse and Twin Sails collaboration dry hopped sour
I think I tried this one 3 or 4 times. A perfect beer in every way.

On a side note, Twin Sails swept the Imperial IPA category and won bronze, silver and gold and also took home innovator of the year. If 7 awards doesn’t prove you to be a top BC brewery, I don’t know what does.

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Brando, Twin Sails Tasting Room Manager extraordinaire very excited.

4. The judging

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Okay, so I was lucky enough to get yo go see the judging of the beers at direct tap. It was so cool to see all of the entries from the many BC breweries and the judges hard at work tasting the beers. All of the judges are BJCP certified and scored the beers based on a variety of factors in a blind taste test. So cool to learn about the judging process.

5. The Venue

The Croatian cultural center in Vancouver hosted the event. This turned out to be such a fantastic venue not only because its walking distance to the skytrain (drinking and driving isn’t cool), but it was big enough to host so many different breweries in its 2 main halls.

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6. The food
I know I said 5 highlights, but I have to talk about the food! Tap and Barrel was serving bratwursts and pretzels that were delicious and reel mac and cheese was on site with their unreel mac and cheese dishes (personal favourite is jurassic pork). The perfect foods to go with your beer.

Seriously people if you love craft beer make sure you get your tickets early next year because this event sells out quick! Thanks to all the amazing organizers, volunteers, sponsors and breweries for making this event happen. Already can’t wait until next year!

photo courtesy of @vcbw twitter

Re-purposing your growing pile of growlers

 

If you’re anything like me, you find it necessary to have a growler from your favourite breweries. Either that, or you find yourself at a brewery without a growler and desperately needing to take home some of that bomb.com milkshake IPA that you’re drinking. So, what ends up happening is you have 20 or so growlers piling up on the floors of your kitchen and an unhappy significant other yelling at you to please stop buying new ones. Enter Banny. Here are some “do it yourself” growler re-purposing projects and decorating ideas for those growlers that you just can’t let go of.

Growler Lamp

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Okay, so this was the hardest one to make, but also looks super cool and makes a sweet gift for the beer lover in your life.

What you need: Glue Gun, Growler, Make your own lamp kit from home improvement store (found in the lighting section), glass drill bit, lamp shade.

I started with washing and drying the growler because nobody wants a moldy lamp. Use the glass drillbit to drill a hole in the back of your growler (this is for the electrical cord) . Assemble to do it yourself lamp kit ( there are instructions and that part is pretty straight forward. Use glue to secure the lamp to the growler and voila, you have yourself a cool growler lamp.

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Vase

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This one was super easy .Just buy some fake flowers or pick some real ones and put them in a growler. On a side note, this also makes a cool background for all of your sweet beer photos.

Photo wall/ mantle art

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And worst case scenario, you can always use them to water your plants

#instabeer

So @brewsbabesbanny has decided to enter the blog world. I figure I drink way too much beer to keep my opinions to myself, but I wanted to pay homage to the beginning of brewsbabes banny. I started in the Instagram game about 9 months ago. And to be honest, it sort of started as a joke between my friends and I. 20170225_214737

At the time, we were basically living at the breweries. Brewers row is pretty much at my doorstep, so it was not unusual to find this group of girls and an adorable French bulldog puppy named Gus, hanging out at Yellow Dog, Twin Sails, Parkside or Moody most days of the week. If I wasn’t at the breweries, I was hiking or finding a place in the river to hang out for the day, always with a backpack full of good beers. So, I somehow ended up filling up the storage on my Samsung s7 with photos of the girls, the Gus and the beer. Lets just say the hashtags #brewsbabesbanny #brewsbabesbulldogsbanny #brewsbabesboobsbanny, were being used frequently at the time.

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Sometime in January, we were throwing back a few at Parkside brewery and we decided that I had enough photos for 3 years worth of Instagram posts. How hard could starting a beer Instagram be? Little did I know that those photos would last me approximately 2 months and in order to keep the beer current, I was gonna have to be on top of the beer drinking. Luckily, beer drinking is one of my favourite things to do and 220 instagram posts in and over 6000 followers, i’m feeling pretty proud of the amount of beer drinking I have accomplished. This past 9 months has been awesome and so much fun. I’ve met so many cool people in the beer world and learned TONNES  about beer and now I cant wait to start writing about it!

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