5 things you (probably) didn’t know about beer in Vancouver

Clockwise from top left: The Balmoral Saloon in 1904, John Mitchell pouring a pint, Bob Kronbauer holding an invisble can of beer. City of Vancouver Archives/Contributed/Bob Kronbauer photos

Vancouver and craft beer goes together like Vancouver and expensive real estate, it’s one of those things that’s come around in the last few decades but seems to be written into the city’s DNA.

Beer wasn’t here as settlers moved into the area; ‘Gassy’ Jack Deighton, who’s credited as central to the founding of the city, arrived on the Burrard Inlet’s shore with whiskey for his makeshift bar, but no ales or lagers.

It didn’t take long, though, for brewers to arrive, and there were a few in the late 1800s as the city began to grow.

However, between prohibition and industrial consolidation, none but the big corporate players were around until the mid-1980s when B.C.’s craft beer revolution started. And it’s a revolution that struck a chord, with more craft breweries opening all the time. It’s gotten to the point there are multiple ale trails in the city, brewery districts are being built, and the term Yeast Vancouver exists.

So here are five facts about brews, both ales and lagers, in Vancou-beer.

1. Bars used to be open 24 hours a day

Before prohibition hit B.C. (from 1917 to 1921) alcohol laws were pretty loose.

While they’ve loosened up somewhat in the last 100 years, there are still some things that never returned, for better or worse. One of those is the 24-hour bar.

Prior to prohibition, bars and saloons were allowed to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

2. Brewery Creek was named after all the breweries along it

Brewery Creek is, or at least was, an actual creek in Vancouver, running down to False Creek through Mount Pleasant.

The little waterway was filled with fresh water; fresh water is the main (if not star) ingredient in beer.

In the 1890s several breweries opened up along or near the creek, relying on its waters for their operations. It wasn’t just in the beer, it helped power some breweries as well. However, the creek and Mount Pleasant’s brewing industry disappeared decades ago.

These days the name Brewery Creek is still in use in some places, including a liquor store in Mount Pleasant.

3. Canada’s craft beer revolution started in a Metro Vancouver pub

Craft beer in Canada, as it’s known now, can trace its roots to Horseshoe Bay, and specifically the Troller Pub.

Two men, pub co-owner John Mitchell and former corporate brewer Frank Appleton, weren’t happy with the state of the beer industry in 1982. After fighting to change the laws, they were able to launch Horseshoe Bay Brewing in 1984. It had to be run separate from the pub though, due to the laws.

According to the story, they needed to sell a keg of the beer per day to make it viable. On the first day they sold seven kegs.

In the early days few joined the industry (some of the earliest places to open were Granville Island Brewing and Spinnakers Brewpub in Victoria) but it slowly built steam through the 1990s and 2000s into what has become a defining feature of Vancouver.

While defunct now, the impact of Mitchell, Appleton, and their brewery can be found across Canada, especially in Vancouver.

4. One local brewery created $1,000 bottles of beer, and sold out

While Storm Brewing has been in the news lately for its art, it was getting noticed for something else back in 2015.

That’s when they made Glacial Mammoth Extinction and sold bottles for $1,000.

To be fair, these were special bottles hand-made by a local glass blower. They included ivory made from a 35,000-year-old mammoth tusk and a gold clasp.

The beer was a unique brew, too. It was made by freezing a strong sour beer and aging it for two years. When it was finished it had a 25% abv (compared to most beers which sit between 5% and 8%). Only 400 L were made.

If a bottle was too pricey, they did do growlers of it, with 1L going for $80.

5. A brewery made ‘invisible cans’ for sneaky video-call drinks

Back all those years ago in 2021, with video calls becoming common in the workplace, Vancouver’s R&B Brewing released a unique can of beer.

It was dubbed the Green Screen IPA, and while the beer was a fairly standard IPA, the can itself was the talking point, as it disappeared on video calls using things like Google and Zoom.

V.I.A.’s Bob Kronbauer tried it out, and it did indeed disappear from his hand when he held it up.

—This story by Brendan Kergin originally appeared on Vancouver is Awesome

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