The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
Get our free newsletter
Sign Up
Culture
  |  
Food
  |  
Environment

The Most Local BC Breweries and Beer Right Now

From Delta to Pemberton, six producers who rose to The Tyee’s 100-Mile Beer Challenge.

J.B. MacKinnon 18 Dec 2020 | TheTyee.ca

J.B. MacKinnon is an independent magazine journalist and writer, and co-author of The 100-Mile Diet (Random House, 2007, with Alisa Smith), a bestseller that is widely credited as a catalyst of the local foods movement.

The Tyee issued the call in July. Who in B.C. makes a 100-mile beer?

No one, was the answer back in 2005, when the 100-mile diet was launched in these pages. My partner Alisa Smith and I carried out that year-long experiment in local-only eating to gauge regional food security and explain how globalized agriculture helps drive the climate crisis. We had another purpose of course — to sample the tasty pleasures of all things made close to home.

And now it can be revealed. Today there are nearly a dozen 100-mile beers for the quaffing in B.C. Six brewers, in fact, met the rigorous demands of The Tyee’s challenge. And so it fell to me to test each of their offerings in a selfless act of public interest journalism, my findings shared below.

To learn about the challenges and pleasures of making beer with all-local ingredients, read this companion piece in The Tyee.

Honourable mentions

Most if not all B.C. craft brewers use some local ingredients some of the time. Pick up a fresh-hopped craft ale, for example, and those fresh hops were probably grown locally or, at least, somewhere nearby in the province.

A number of breweries are well known for their dedication to the local.

Crannóg Ales Brewery in Sorrento uses fruit, hops, herbs and even potatoes from local farms (especially their own), and even malt their barley locally — but so far does not have a supply of local barley.

Victoria’s Driftwood Brewery was a pioneer in using Vancouver Island barley in beers like Clodhopper Dubbel and Pilsner Doehnel (named after equally groundbreaking barley farmer and maltster Mike Doehnel).

Phillips Brewing & Malting is using more and more Vancouver Island barley and, as their name suggests, they malt it themselves.

Shaken by the pandemic, Four Winds Brewing in Delta decided to spend more of their money closer to home; they started with Meli, a 99-per-cent B.C. beer made with barley, oats, hops, honey, bee pollen and even hay from within the provincial frontiers.

BC’s most local

As our honourable mentions demonstrate, there is more than one way to be local. But for The Tyee’s 100-Mile Beer Challenge, we tracked down the most local of local breweries and beers, the ones that truly offer a taste of the soil, water and weather they sprang from. Here they are.

LONGWOOD BREWING
Nanaimo

Longwood describes itself as “obsessively local,” and at any given time will have several entirely local beers available. Here are five recent brews.

Pinot Noir Wild Ale: A barrel-aged ale that mixes grain and grape, including wild winery yeasts. Sour (in a good way), juicy and refreshing, this is beer you could put ice cubes in: a global warming beer.

The Big One IPA: A good example of the kind of IPA that ruled the West Coast fifteen years ago and went on to become a classic style. A bit of malt sweetness, bitter but not too bitter, more floral than juicy or fruity.

582px version of LongwoodBrewery.jpeg

Quince Tart Lager: Smells like quince, which means that it smells divine. Tart without being sour, and made dry by the quince’s tannins, this is Nanaimo’s better answer to popular citrus and fruit beers like the radler or shandy.

Island Time Lager: A straight-shooting summertime pilsner, but one that showcases the thirst-quenchingness of beer made with fresh malt. The taste of honey in a beer with no honey in it is a bit of magic.

Independent Pilsner: A boozy pilsner? Meet the imperial pilsner. Sweeter, stronger, maltier, more bitter and darker than its familiar cousin.

STRANGE FELLOWS BREWING
Vancouver

Strange Fellows has one distinctly local beer, made in answer to The Tyee’s 100-Mile Beer Challenge. They’ve been moving more toward local barley and malting, though, and recently acquired a “coolship” — described as a wading-pool like object used to capture free-ranging local yeast.

100MilePaleAle.jpg

100-Mile Pale Ale: Dry bitterness against smooth sweetness that somehow transports you into a temperate rainforest. An all-season, all-purpose, resoundingly fresh-tasting beer. Absolutely local, and available only on tap at the brewery.

THE BEER FARMERS
Pemberton

The Beer Farmers grow their own organic barley and hops, and always have highly local beer on tap at their mountain-view farm. Once they start malting on the floor of an old potato root house early next year, they will have taken the final step toward producing 100-per-cent local beer.

582px version of BeerFarmers.jpeg

Barrel-Aged Saison with Grape Must: Effervescent, light and tart, with a hint of good funk from the must. A beer for any occasion that needs a lift — like pretty much any day during a pandemic. Commercial (non-local) yeast was used at one stage in the fermentation, but the wild yeasts of Pemberton were involved, too.

PARALLEL 49 BREWING
Vancouver

East Van veteran Parallel 49 brewed its first entirely local beer this year, with no ingredient travelling farther than 77 miles. It is currently featured in the brewery’s advent beer calendar, and if enough of us let them know we want it, they say they’ll brew some more.

582px version of Parallel49Beer.jpg

Planetary Blonde Ale: A lighter beer that is also robust enough to work as a winter brew, with a bit of fizz and a bit of bitterness. A good beer for the longest nights of the year.

BARNSIDE BREWING
Delta

A farm brewery that produces all of its hops and most of its barley, along with additions such as honey and cranberries. They brew highly local beers, obviously, but so far their malting is done in Armstrong and they use commercial yeast.

582px version of BarnsideBrewing.jpg

Tailgate Light Ale: Barnside’s most local beer is levitatingly light, with hops that add a nip of bitters and pleasantly floral aftertaste. Responsibly low in alcohol, for those who are into that kind of kink.

LOCALITY BREWING
Langley

Locality won’t open until spring 2021, but the farm brewery gave us a sneak preview of one beer made with their own hops and barley, grown using ecologically-minded permaculture techniques; the barley was malted on site.

582px version of LocalityBrewing.jpg

Duality Belgian Single: Exceedingly fresh tasting, with a whole lot going on but all of it with a well-balanced touch. Highly approachable without being one bit boring. Every ingredient comes from the farm, including honey, with the exception of the yeast.

So there you have it. Six B.C. brewers making 10 beers that either meet The Tyee’s 100-Mile Beer Challenge or come damn close — with more surely to come. A toast to a truly local beer revolution!

What are the challenges and distinct rewards of making beer with truly sourced local ingredients? Read this companion piece to find out.  [Tyee]

Read more: Food, Environment

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Do not:

  •  Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully, threaten, name-call or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, downvote, or flag suspect activity
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities

Do:

  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls and flag violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Stay on topic
  • Connect with each other

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll