Craft beer community mourns passing of Canadian brewing legend John Mitchell

John Mitchell at the dedication of the first scholarship for Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s brewing diploma program provided by the John Mitchell Foundation in 2016. Contributed photo

Canadian craft beer pioneer John Mitchell has passed away at the age of 89.

The “Grandfather of Canadian Craft Beer” was born in Singapore in 1929 and raised in England, before immigrating to Canada in 1953. Inspired by his love for the rich, flavourful ales of the U.K.—and their complete absence in Canada—Mitchell pioneered the country’s first craft brewery in Horseshoe Bay in 1982. That meant years of lobbying all levels of government to allow craft breweries the right to legally exist, thus setting the stage for the coming craft beer revolution.

Mitchell was one of the founding partners—and the original brewer—of Spinnakers Brewpub in Victoria, Canada’s oldest continuously operating craft brewery (which celebrated its 35th birthday last week). Today, you can still find hand-pulled pints of Mitchell’s ESB on the beer list, named in his honour. Mitchell was also instrumental in the founding of Howe Sound Brewing, and its Troller Bay Ale pays tribute to his original brewpub.

John Mitchell serving a real ale from a beer engine at Spinnakers circa 1984. Contributed photo

As a craft beer pioneer, Mitchell “started an economic and cultural revolution that went on to challenge the dominance of the major beer brands and changed the way people think about and consume beer,” according to the John Mitchell Foundation, a non-profit charity named in honour of Mitchell and dedicated to advancing the pursuit of brewing excellence. Founded in 2016, the foundation was created to provide endowments and scholarships for students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s brewing diploma program in Langley.

Today on social media, Mitchell was remembered by the craft beer community for his impact not only on the craft beer industry, but on Canadian culture.





In memoriam donations to the John Mitchell Foundation can be made by contacting the KPU Foundation at 604-598-6005 or via mail to KPU Foundation/John Mitchell Scholarship, 12666 72 Avenue, Surrey, BC, V3W 2M8.

You may also like