It takes a lot of hard work, determination and sweat equity to build a new brewery. That’s why it’s been so exciting to watch over the past several years as beer-loving entrepreneurs have opened their own breweries in communities all throughout British Columbia. Since 2014, the industry has grown at a rate of about 20 new breweries annually.
But when the dust from all that construction settled at the end of 2017, we realized that the previous record of 21 new breweries set in 2014 had been smashed. Last year, 28 new craft breweries opened in British Columbia!
It was a big year for expansion in the Okanagan region with the opening of Boundary Brewing in Kelowna and Detonate Brewing in Summerland, along with Highway 97 Brewing in Penticton, which opened just in time for the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale in April. Later in the year, a few more Okanagan breweries managed to get their doors open: Red Bird Brewing in Kelowna; Elevation 57 Brewing at Big White; and Kind Brewing in West Kelowna. Perfect timing considering we launched the Penticton Ale Trail and Kelowna Ale Trail earlier this year.
The other regional hotspot for new breweries was Vancouver Island where five new breweries opened over the course of 2017: LoveShack Libations (Qualicum Beach); Twin City Brewing (Port Alberni); Mount Arrowsmith Brewing (Parksville); and Sooke Brewing and Bad Dog Brewing (Sooke).
The summer of 2017 saw craft beer’s reach extend farther north in BC than ever before with the opening of Jackson’s Social Club & BrewHouse (100 Mile House); CrossRoads Brewing (Prince George); and Beard’s Brewing (Fort St. John). That northern expansion should continue in 2018 with more new breweries planned for Smithers, Prince George and Fort St. John.
Over in the Kootenays, Trail welcomed the Trail Beer Refinery; Angry Hen Brewing opened in Kaslo; and Backroads Brewing joined the busy beer scene in Nelson, becoming that city’s fourth brewery.
Two more breweries joined the community on the beautiful Sunshine Coast: Gibsons Tapworks and the 101 Brewhouse & Distillery, both in Gibsons. You can get a taste of their beer, along with Persephone Brewing, Townsite Brewing and other special guests, at the Sunshine Coast Beer Festival at the Gibsons Public Market on February 17.
A busy summer of beer culminated in the 25th annual Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria in early September, which featured 66 craft breweries. Later that month, the BrewLoops festival was celebrated in Kamloops, featuring a bike parade to the three local breweries, the Noble Pig Brewhouse, Red Collar Brewing and Iron Roads Brewing, that finished at a fun carnival-themed street party outside Red Beard Café.
Vancouver welcomed two new breweries, Andina Brewing and East Van Brewing, as well as the comprehensive Vancouver Ale Trail. And several more opened elsewhere in Metro Vancouver: Mariner Brewing (Coquitlam); 3 Dogs Brewing (White Rock); Silver Valley Brewing (Maple Ridge); Beere Brewing (North Vancouver); and Monkey 9 Brewpub (Richmond).
The BC Beer Awards were held in October, which is also BC Craft Beer Month. Brewery of the Year honours went to Mount Arrowsmith Brewing while the Rookie Brewery of the Year was awarded to Backcountry Brewing in Squamish. The Best in Show was awarded to Flammenbeer, brewed collaboratively by Swans Brewpub (Victoria) and White Sails Brewing (Nanaimo). The Innovator of the Year award went to Twin Sails Brewing (Port Moody).
Towards the end of 2018, the beer scene in Sooke tripled in size as two new breweries joined Sooke Oceanside Brewery there: Sooke Brewing and Bad Dog Brewing.
Looking ahead to 2018, it’s difficult to predict exactly how many new breweries will open in British Columbia, but rest assured there are plenty more under construction right now. Keep an eye out here for announcements about new openings and events.
Cheers to an amazing year!