It has been quite the unusual year in Northern BC. Normally there would be craft beer festivals taking place, such as the CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery Street Festivals and the vALEmount Craft Beer Experience. Brewery patios would also be packed full of mingling people. Things have not been normal since March, and now there’s a new normal.
To counteract the COVID-19 blues, people are finding new ways to engage in the spirit of community, collaboration and craft. One unique event in particular has evoked the feelings of a music and craft beer festival, on a smaller scale and in a socially distanced way. Picnic on the Farm: A Socially Distanced Sunday Picnic took place on July 26, 2020 at the beautiful Bydand Creek Farm, located 30 minutes north of Prince George in the Salmon River Valley. This event was a great example of collaboration between three small independent local businesses from Prince George: Mad Loon Entertainment, Birch & Boar Charcuterie & Provision,s and Trench Brewing & Distilling. The event featured great local musicians, delicious locally sourced food, and tasty Trench Brewing & Distilling beer: craft at its best in many aspects. It was well organized, with successful social distancing. It brought people and community together safely to support local and enjoy something memorable. A second event is scheduled for August 23, 2020.
Speaking of social distancing, many craft breweries in the north are adapting well to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s wise advice to be calm, be kind, and be safe. Patios are popping up for the first time and existing patios are expanding. Being greeted by a server wearing a mask is becoming the norm and applying hand sanitizer is becoming second nature. I’ve enjoyed visits at Trench Brewing & Distilling, CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery and Barkerville Brewing Co. I do want to check out the expanded patio at Three Ranges Brewing Co.
You can purchase hand sanitizer at Trench Brewing & Distilling and CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery, two places that manufacture it. Each business collaborated to share the cost of developing the method of making hand sanitizer locally. Roughly 500 litres of the first batch was donated to non-profits around the community.
The past few months have also included the opening of Fox Mountain Brewing Co. in Williams Lake and Ursa Minor Brewing at Ootsa Lake, south of Burns Lake. I’m looking forward to checking them both out. There are now 13 craft breweries that call northern BC home, 14 if you include Prince George’s Pacific Western Brewing. And it’s great to see local establishments continuing to support these independent craft breweries such as Nancy O’s in Prince George.
Many northern craft breweries have been brewing up some delicious beer to be enjoyed lately. Some of my picks include the Smithers Brewing Co. Haskap Gose, Trench Brewing & Distilling Sugar Bowl Passion Fruit Pale Ale, Mighty Peace Brewing Co. Mighty IPA, Three Ranges Brewing Co. Snowshoe Saison with Cranberries, Wheelhouse Brewing All Inclusive Pineapple and Coconut Sour, Ursa Minor Brewing Pig’s Eye Rye Ale, Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse Ltd. Skeena West Pale Ale, Barkerville Brewing Co. Sluice Juice Hazy Pale Ale and the CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery one-off cask, Pina Colada Witbier. One beer that really intrigues me is the Smithers Brewing Co. Lichtenhainer beer.
Overall, it’s been an interesting time in northern BC with all of the changes caused by responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these changes have allowed people to come together and enjoy things in a new way. Hopefully, these small and medium sized local independent businesses will continue to thrive through these tough times. It’s more important than ever to buy independent BC craft brewery products, to give them a fighting chance. But the most important part is for everyone to be safe and to enjoy craft beer responsibly and in moderation. Cheers!!!