There’s the beer. Great craft beer. And the breweries. Amazing breweries all around this province working together to grow the craft beer scene.

Plus there are fantastic craft beer and cask events where we go and try an incredible selection of these beers.

But behind all of these breweries and events are the inspiring, passionate people who live and breathe craft beer.

They don’t do it for the money, they do it for the love of the craft. And they do it together. It’s a collaborative community of people working toward the collective goal of showcasing the very best of BC’s craft beers.

This Hops Among Friends series introduces you to these people. The people that make up the craft beer scene on the BC Ale Trail.

As the marketing director at Cannery Brewing in Penticton, I thought I’d kick off this series with an interview at my home brewery, and then we’ll hop along the BC Ale Trail from there.

So first off, let’s get to know Ross Thompson, head brewer and co-owner at Cannery, part of the newly launched Penticton Ale Trail in the heart of the beautiful Okanagan Valley.

Ross Thompson, Cannery Brewing
Ross Thompson, head brewer and co-owner of Cannery Brewing in Penticton.
Photo: Tarynn Liv Parker/ thefieldguide.ca

How did you get into the craft beer industry?

RT: I tried [Cannery’s] Naramata Nut Brown Ale at the Naramata Pub [just north of Penticton] in 2008 and fell in love with the beer. So I bugged one of Cannery Brewing’s owners, Patt Dyck, weekly until she finally caved and took a chance on a kid who knew nothing about craft beer. I completed a one-year online diploma in brewing science from Siebel Institute based out of Chicago. Over time I was promoted to head brewer, and when we built our new brewery in 2015 I joined Patt, Ron and Ian Dyck as one of the owners. The rest is history.

What do you love most about craft beer?

Drinking it, of course! Oh yeah, and I love the creativity and also being able to share what we do at Cannery Brewing with people.

Ross Thompson, Cannery Brewing
Ross unwinds with fellow staff after a day in the brewhouse.
Photo: Tarynn Liv Parker/ thefieldguide.ca

What are some of your favourite craft beers right now?

I am really digging craft lagers and pilsners. Not just because it is summer, but because of the time and effort that goes into creating these styles that are clean, refreshing and crushable. Right now I’m enjoying the Dawn Pilsner from the Parkside Brewery [Port Moody] as well as the Craft Lager from Parallel 49 [Vancouver].

If you aren’t drinking craft beer, what else do you like to drink?

Rum or bourbon. Usually in a cocktail. Also the occasional shot of good tequila.

What do you love about the place where you live?

The breweries, of course! Having five different breweries in Penticton allows for a lot of thirst-quenching options. Oh, and the roughly 170 wineries in the valley are pretty awesome as well. I love the Okanagan Fest of Ale, the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, plus the great climate and lifestyle here in Penticton.

Ross Thompson, Cannery Brewing
Ross Thompson at work in the brewhouse.

What do you love about the craft beer scene where you live?

We are all trying to accomplish the same goals, which leads to great co-operation and collaboration. We share resources and information because we don’t see each other as competition. Instead we just want to spread the good word of craft beer.

Who else in the craft beer industry do you find interesting?

One of the things that makes this industry so amazing is how eclectic and interesting absolutely everyone is. From beers to personality we might be the most diverse group of people, so it’s hard to just pick one. But if I have to pick one, I would pick Paul Hadfield from Spinnakers [Victoria] because he is one of the key originators of craft beer in North America.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Hops Among Friends series, where I chat with Paul Hadfield from Spinnakers. Until then, cheers!

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