Above: VCBW Fest Year 2 (at the time, known as the Brewery Creek Beer Festival): Beatty Street Drill Hall & Armory, May 2011
One of the pillars of the craft beer movement is events, including annual festivals and other beer events. As part of our 30th Anniversary series, we present to you this excerpt from the Summer 2020 Special Issue of What’s Brewing magazine.
By the late 2000s, it was clear that craft beer momentum was growing again in BC, especially in Vancouver. However, there wasn’t a specific touchpoint to bring the movement into mainstream awareness. That would all change in 2010, when a series of annual events made its debut.
Canada’s First Craft Beer Week
Rick Green & Leah Heneghan
In conjunction with a growing number of events that CAMRA Vancouver hosted beginning in 2008, membership expanded. The next step was to garner a higher profile for craft beer in the mainstream media.
This finally came together when the Vancouver Craft Beer Week team was established in November 2009. With the first VCBW held the following May, we succeeded in achieving significant mainstream media exposure. Interest in craft beer in BC subsequently soared. – Rick Green
When we started VCBW in 2010, it was truly a labour of love. Just a dream of our team of self-professed beer nerds hoping to change the beer culture of Vancouver—an idea first nurtured over pints at the Alibi Room. How perfect is that?
I don’t think any of us could have known how quickly the craft beer scene would explode in popularity, but it has been an incredible honour to be part of the history of craft beer in BC. – Leah Heneghan
A Decade of Recognizing Excellence
For the past ten years, we’ve grown BC Beer Awards to accommodate the needs of the BC beer industry. My first event as an executive member was over seven years ago, hosting around 300 people. We nearly tripled that for our ten year anniversary. It’s just wild!
On top of all the amazing and well deserved wins, some key highlights include launching BCBA merchandise, presenting awards to our beer community Legends, our Starter Kit Collaboration Bursary Program, Kwantlen Polytechnic University winning Brewery of the Year…and, of course, attending every single event, even before I was an Owner and Director.
Our community is full of incredible talent, creativity, compassion, collaboration and hard work. Being able to celebrate that through the BC Beer Awards is a true honour. I can’t wait to see what each next year of craft beer has in store for us.
Craft Beer Month in Year 10
In 2011, three CAMRA presidents—Phil Atkinson, Martin Williams and I—founded BC Craft Beer Month. Our idea was to designate October as a time to celebrate and raise awareness of BC Craft Beer and say thank you to the breweries creating those award-winning beers we all enjoy. I got the Society name approved and registered while Phil organized the official proclamation. A ceremony to welcome BCCBM was held at Steamworks with John Mitchell.
At the time, Vancouver Craft Beer Week and BC Beer Awards were in year two, and CAMRA BC membership was growing. The BC Craft Brewers Guild still had under 30 members.
Now, as BCCBM enters its tenth year, there are two Beer Weeks during October: North Shore Beer Week and Penticton Beer Week. The Guild organizes an annual collaboration beer, and there is a Beer of the Day for each of October’s 31 days as BC Craft Beer Month continues to promote the BC craft beer industry annually.