The correlation between beer and sports is obvious, but local craft beer geek culture is not necessarily aligned with professional sports. As detailed in Beer League: Part I, the exception to this rule is the odd overlap between Vancouver Whitecaps supporters and craft beer enthusiasts.
In that light, What’s Brewing caught up with Paul Sabourin-Hertzog, Director of Internal Communications with the Vancouver Southsiders supporter group. Aside from applying his formidable writing talents to an ongoing series of classic pre-game emails, Paul can be seen at ‘Caps matches in his role as Capo, enthusiastically directing chants in the ‘South Side’ of BC Place.
WB: You are an avid ‘Caps supporter who is also a craft beer fan. How much overlap do you notice between those two interest groups?
Paul: There’s quite a bit of overlap between craft beer fans and soccer supporters, no doubt from our penchant for spending time in pubs watching our beloved teams. But even further than just enjoying the wide varieties of craft beers and ciders, many supporters are actively involved in the culture around craft beer. There are Vancouver Southsiders members that are or have been in leadership positions within CAMRA, members that are heavily involved in Vancouver Craft Beer Week and other industry events, as well as of course members who are brewers or employees at local breweries themselves.
WB: ‘Caps supporters gather before each match to apply liquid cooling to their throats in locations such as the Belmont Bar, 12 Kings Pub and Devil’s Elbow. From your experience, are these fans content with traditional macro beer choices, or are they helping drive the demand for more interesting taps?
Paul: As with any large group there will be a wide range of tastes, but overall it seems that there is a great appetite for the sheer variety that the craft beer scene provides. There’s also a social aspect to it as well. We’re discussing the new seasonal offerings or new breweries right along with the latest results from around MLS or European leagues. And of course I’m personally much more likely to linger for another pint after an away game viewing if there are fresh and quality beer choices available where the supporters are gathered.
WB: How do you feel about the change in beer selection at BC Place in 2015?
Paul: I don’t usually drink much beer in stadium – a combination of being put off by the inflated cost and a habit of being busy with supporter business when I’m at BC Place. I usually prefer to have a couple of pints at Doolin’s or the Belmont Bar before the march to the match and leave it at that. But those that I know who do are pleased with having more choices from local breweries. However I can say that last year at Whitecaps FC 2 matches, the Southsiders’ and other fans’ appetites for better quality beer rapidly depleted the stocks of the local craft brews. A common complaint at the rail near the away bench (when we were taking a break from heckling the Thundercaps’ opponents) was that the concessions were out of IPA by halftime. We weren’t often willing to lower our standards to the macro brews on offer, except in the real heat of summer.
WB: How would you say it compares to the selection in Seattle and Portland stadiums?
Paul: Both Washington state and Oregon have done well encouraging businesses to support their local brewing scene and it shows through in their stadiums. Both Seattle and Portland have craft brews from local breweries on tap all over their stadiums rather than just being available in cans or at limited locations as is the case in BC Place. Hopefully we will see similar options available here in the future, as there’s definitely interest in having more craft beers on tap at Whitecaps home games, and we’re not happy to be lagging behind the other Cascadian teams in any aspect.
Well said, Paul! To read more about craft beerand sports, see our Beer League series here,