Craft beer shows no signs of slowing down in Vancouver. 2014 proved there is an insatiable appetite for craft beer locally, and 2015 is already showing signs of being another strong year for brewery openings and sales.
2014 was a massive year for craft breweries, and if this list is any indication, 2015 is right on track to follow suit:
Maple Meadows- Out in Maple Ridge, they have their license and are in the process of building
Twin Sails Brewing– This Port Moody brewery is hoping for a 2015 opening
Dogwood Brewing– Vancouver’s first organic brewery is set to open early this year!
Off the Rail– Another brewery to add to the list in East Van; expect them to open very soon
Red Truck– Red Truck’s newest tasting room and brewery on East 1st is expected to open in March
Old Abbey– This Abbotsford based brewery should open its doors in February
Hearthstone– From the owners of Mission Springs comes this North Vancouver brewery set to open early 2015
Doan’s Craft Brewing– An ever lingering nano-brewery, Doan’s is finally near completion and should open within the next month or so
These of course won’t be the only one’s opening in 2015, expect to see some surprises come out as the year progresses and of course doesn’t include many of the openings happening around the province.
I mentioned this at the beginning of 2014, but sour beers are coming and they are coming faster than ever. With the launch of breweries like Strange Fellows, sour beer is going to increasingly become a focal point for craft beer.
Also look for craft beer makers to start taking more chances now that craft beer is part of the regular lexicon. At first the goal was to get people drinking craft beer, now it’s all about experimentation. Look for creative new seasonal blends and casks. Deadfrog is a good example with recipes like the Nutty Uncle Peanut Butter Stout. If you want to try experiments from various breweries around town, look for regular cask nights at many local bars and pubs.
It didn’t seem that long ago that craft beer was strictly for those in the know while the rest of us drank our mainstream counterparts; oh how times have changed. It’s no longer a luxury to find craft beer in local bars and restaurants and with establishments like CRAFT Beer Market it’s almost an overwhelming proposition. Expect to see bars taking a more dedicated approach at offering tailored beer menus to stand out from the crowd. It’ll be less about how many options they have, but the styles of beer they serve and how they pair with their food; almost like a beer sommelier.
That goes for consumer engagement as well. The Vancouver Craft Beer Week is growing year over year, and there’s more public engagement in groups like CAMRA. Consumers are also demanding their beer served in the right way, with many establishments under the hot seat for serving improper pint sizes. All this attention means more choices, but also more crowds; try attending smaller beer events throughout the year rather than the main festivals if you want to get to know local beer better.
As mentioned above the Vancouver Craft Beer Week is sure to be the big draw again this year, but they aren’t the only show in town. The BC Beer Awards is another annual event that draws a large crowd, and it’s likely that the Vancouver Craft Brew Cruise makes another appearance this summer. there are far too many events throughout the year to list individually, but if you want to keep up with the major events and all the cask nights, I suggest signing up to the CAMRA newsletter.
Finally the other major trend that kicked off in 2014 that is expected to continue strong is craft brewers branching out into distilling. Several established craft breweries like Deep Cove and Central City launched their lines of gin and vodka in 2014, expect more to follow suit in 2015. The availability of craft distilling will rise, along with the choices with options like cassis and single malt whisky on the way. I wrote a wrap up of the best of 2014 spirits that can help break you into the craft distilling scene.
No matter what happens in 2015, the craft beer scene in Vancouver is an exciting one to be part of. I for one am very interested to see how the year shapes up.
Feature image by Ryan Tessier/Vancity Buzz