Canadian Brewing Awards lands in Vancouver

Image courtesy of Canadian Brewing Awards.
Image courtesy of Canadian Brewing Awards.

If you read the headline, you’ll know that the Canadian Brewing Awards are coming to Vancouver. If you didn’t read it – well, how did you get here?

Whatever the case, the Ontario-based CBAs are a huge deal for Canadian brewers. It’s the only Beer Judge Certification Program-sanctioned event in the country, which means, in some ways, it’s the only one that really matters (if you’re snooty about these things). It’s about as prestigious an event as the beer industry can muster, which will all come together at the CBA Awards Gala on Saturday, May 28, where Canada’s latest winning beers will be announced.

I expect BC to do very well. I also expect great merriment to ensue, even from the losers, because the beer supply will be endless.

Sounds like fun, right? Well too bad, because it’s for industry people only. Also it’s sold out. I didn’t mean to kill your buzz, but I think I’ll have to do it again when I tell you that the CBA’s are being held in Richmond.

Richmond! And not even the River Rock Casino Resort – which is actually a really wild time at 1:30am on a Saturday – but at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport, a location that might cause some cynics and conspiracy theorists to think the location was strategically chosen by the CBA’s Torontonian organizers so they could beat a hasty exit as soon as possible, so as not to spend even a wasted minute longer than necessary in the dreaded and flaky West Coast.

Which of course isn’t even remotely true, and the Sheraton Vancouver Airport is a fine place to hold an awards gala. The CBAs will take place over three days starting Thursday, May 26, and will include a multitude of industry-only goings on, which includes many workshops, a boat cruise, a pub crawl, and of course the awards gala itself – not that you’re welcome to attend any of them.

However, the gala will be streamed live for the benefit of anyone who A) couldn’t afford to make the trip to this year’s event; B) failed to get tickets before it sold out; or C) have a strong aversion to Richmond.

And if you want to try the winning beers, you’re in luck. The CBAs are partnering with the BC Craft Brewers Guild to throw the Best of BC event as part of Vancouver Craft Beer Week on May 29 at Central City on Beatty Street. All CBA winning beers from BC will be available on tap, and all proceeds of the event will go to support the BCCBG.

Rob Engman, president of TAPS Media Inc., which produces the Canadian Brewing Awards, along with TAPS Magazine, says that there were over 1,200 submissions this year from breweries across the country – the most yet. The CBAs brought in over 40 BJCP-certified judges from all over Canada, the US and Europe to evaluate the large number of entries.

“We’ve had double digit increases every year in the submissions,” Engman says. “I think there were 84 entries 10 years ago, so that’ll give you and idea of the growth.

“I think it’s somewhat reflective of the growth of the brewing industry in Canada, and also reflective of what we’ve done to make the judging and the awards more relevant and credible.”

Brent Mills, brewmaster at Four Winds Brewing – AKA 2015’s CBA Canadian Brewery of the Year – says it’s been hard to tell if winning the top award has impacted sales at all. The brewery had been growing steadily before they won, and it continued on to what seemed to be the same path they’d been on since opening in 2014.

What the award did do, he says, is light a fire under the butts of everyone at Four Winds to prove to the country that they actually deserve it.

“I think we’re a good brewery, and we may have deserved that award, but now it’s show the country that we deserve it and improve everything that we do,” he says. “We’re not going to settle down be like, ‘Oh, we won! We’re great!’ It’s going to make us have to be better because everyone’s eyes are on us.

“It put us on the map for sure.”

Tickets for The Best of BC are $50 and include beer samples and canapés, along with a year subscription to TAPS Magazine. Tickets are available through the Vancouver Craft Beer Week website.


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