On October 1st 2015, BC Craft Beer Month kicked off with an event at the new Red Racer Pub. What’s Brewing got in touch with BC Craft Brewers Guild Executive Director Ken Beattie to find out more about what to expect this year.
WB: I understand that the BCCBG has gotten involved in BC Craft Beer Month this year. What led to that, and how do you see the Guild’s role in it?
During the past two years, [BCCBM founding Director] Lundy Dale and I had discussed the Guild’s involvement in this. Lundy secured the designation from the BC government four years ago, and has done an admirable job of getting the whole concept off the ground. I reached out to Lundy to make the program a truly provincial month-long celebration. I see our role as taking Craft Beer Month to the next level involving our member breweries as well as licensees, retailers, tourism organizations and government in order to support all the activity.
WB: I seem to sense slightly more buzz around BCCBM this year. What has the reception been in the community so far?
Thankfully the community is extremely supportive and has an almost insatiable appetite to experience BC craft beer. Ticket sales have been at or near capacity for our Kickoff event at Red Racer, the BC Hop Fest in Abbotsford, and Brewphoria in Kelowna on October 8th. We know that the BC Beer Awards always sells out, which I would say indicates a buzz in the community. Victoria Beer Week is also doing two events in October that should be similarly successful.
WB: Are the Guild’s members demonstrating interest and support for continuing to expand and grow Craft Beer Month?
The reception has been excellent with many of our members organizing their own events. In the coming years I envision a model along the lines of Dine Around Victoria or Dine Out Vancouver where we split the province into 4 regions and each region holds at least 1 event every day resulting in 124 events throughout the province. This can be a simple as a food truck in front of a tasting room, a seasonal beer launch, a beer dinner with an on-premise partner or a tasting at a retail store.
We also plan to continue the marquee events we already have in place. This is our first year working directly with BCCBM so we want to crawl before we run. It is important to understand what types of events we can handle and that are interesting and unique for our loyal customers while attracting new customers.
WB: BCCBM seems focused on events for beer lovers. Is there any discussion of further leveraging it to help increase craft beer awareness and/or drive craft sales in the general marketplace?
That is certainly one of our goals moving forward. In the past year, we have spent much of our time on government policy, as well as establishing ourselves as a key stakeholder on industry issues and consultation. Several of our recommendations from the initial consultation to the Liquor Policy review have been accepted. A number of these specifically address marketing, promoting and supporting BC craft beer in the all retail stores but also as a viable tourism driver. We are once again working with the provincial government and Minister Oakes to review these recommendations and to execute the opportunities we feel our breweries can deliver in the over 50 communities where we are currently brewing.