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How The History Of BC Craft Beer Is Especially Relevant In 2020
30TH ANNIVERSARY SERIES

How The History of BC Craft Beer is Especially Relevant in 2020

What’s Brewing Vol. 30 No. 2 Summer 2020, released June 1st, celebrates the publication’s 30th Anniversary. In this special issue, we’ve compiled a new and original history of BC Craft Beer, chronologically organized by ‘chapter’ into a story. We reveal how What’s Brewing’s origin coincides with the development of BC craft beer culture’s first firm roots. And we present a running tribute to every microbrewery opened in this province since 1982.

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This issue is also different because it’s presented in context of the events of 2020.

What We Did For Homework During Isolation

In the past few months, you may have noticed that many forms of sports and entertainment have come to rely on reruns and revisiting their past to fill programming time. In that spirit of looking back, our long-planned 30th Anniversary retrospective is oddly trendy.

But given the struggles breweries have faced this spring, one might wonder how celebrating a birthday and talking about old times is relevant to BC beer fans and industry right now.

Turns out, we found out exactly why when we began digging into the past.

Coming Back Strong, Again

When you study the history of BC craft beer, you come to appreciate that it’s been a story of struggle and triumph. In the beginning, it was about breaking through barriers, and blazing a trail for all of Canada. Then it was about trying to educate and convince a disinterested public. Then, for a while in the 1990s, it seemed as though the craft beer wave was actually catching on…only to recede into a decade of stagnation as public interest waned. It took consistent pushing on a number of fronts for the success of the 2010s to become possible. It’s a story that hasn’t before been told quite the way it’s laid out in this issue.

Our retrospective is presented as a reminder of the challenges the BC craft beer industry has faced before, the ways they overcame them and the good things that came out of it. Now, in summer 2020, the priority for breweries and cideries around BC is adapting and healing, as both people and businesses rebound from a life-threatening situation. There may be some solace in knowing what the industry has survived in the past.

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The Story of BC Craft Beer, In Chapters

This latest magazine contains countless previously-unpublished images and vignettes, sequenced into a seamless story arc:

  • In The Beginning:
    BC Beer Awards–certified ‘Legends’ Gerry Hieter & John Rowling help recount BC Craft Beer history up to and including when What’s Brewing and Great Canadian Beer Festival were founded. | Pages 11-17
  • The ’90s Wave:
    Long before “craft beer” was a mainstream term, a gold rush of microbrewery openings took place between 1994-99. Trailblazing BC brewers such as Gary Lohin, Iain Hill, James Walton, Shirley Warne and Rick Dellow recall those heady days. | Pages 18-21
  • The Lost Decade:
    The ’90s wave crashed at the turn of the century, followed by ten years of minimal growth. But beer boosters and community leaders like Rick Green, Lundy Dale, Joe Wiebe, Jan Zeschky, Leah Heneghan, Amanda Barry-Butchart and Warren Boyer help reveal how interest in craft beer was rebuilt. | Pages 26-35
  • Craft Beer Goes Mainstream:
    Momentum from that grassroots support finally forces government to green-light the changes needed to ignite BC’s beer scene. Brewery chiefs Jim Dodds, Graham With, Chloe Smith, Darren Adam and Jorden Foss share the excitement of the 2010s explosion. | Pages 36-44

This issue is dedicated to the >250 microbreweries that have opened in BC since 1982. For that reason, you’ll find every single one of them acknowledged in this magazine.

If you spot a printed copy of the magazine, you might want to grab it because there won’t ever be another one like this. But first, you can browse it online right here:
whatsbrewing.ca/summer2020

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Dave Smith

Editor of Beer Me BC and What's Brewing Magazine. Writing credits include The Publican, BC Ale Trail and the BC column for the Northwest Brewing News. Accredited Member of the BC Association of Travel Writers. Craft beer fan since the late 1990s, CAMRA BC member since 2004. Along with wife Ivana, he travels Cascadia as half of the beer duo BeerSeekers.


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