On Vancouver Craft Beer Week and the Firing of a Friend…
As you might expect with a burgeoning global media entity like seatoskybeerguy.com, the road to success sometimes suffers potholes. The latest bump along the way involved the firing of a friend. But as the experience is too fresh for me to deal with right now, I’ll tell you the Who and the Why at the end. Although, I’m fairly certain you’ll figure out the Why soon enough: it becomes quite apparent. As in, “a picture is worth a thousand words” -type apparent. Or in this case, “a lack of decent pictures is worth three-fifths of fuck all” -type apparent. But here I am getting into it when, as I CLEARLY stated, it’s still too fresh to process. Let us continue, shall we? If you missed Part I of my VCBW trilogy you can find it here. On with the show…
“Good people drink good beer” – Hunter S. Thompson
Part II: Jubilation
My faithful photographer and I found our way to Friday night’s VCBW Opening Night via Sky Train. As I am not a resident of Vancouver and haven’t lived in any major metropolitan area during my tenure on this planet, I always feel like a bumpkin when faced with transportational marvels like a Train that runs in the Sky. Thankfully, my photographer was also my guide in this fair city that he calls home. And while he did miss our stop (a forerunner to future deficiencies?) we hooved our way to 181 Roundhouse Mews in no time flat. As she did at the VCBW Hazy Pale event last week, the delightful Katharine Manson met us with a smile and a wristband.
“Hey Katharine! Great to see you again.” I said.
“Hi Malcolm! Great to see you.” Katharine said. “Did you solve that little problem you were suffering thru when last we met?”
For the briefest of moments my eyes left hers, moving of their own volition down to my shorts and the absorbent material that lay beneath.
“Depends.” I said.
Braced with bracelets and tickled with tickets, me and my photographer (who, from here on in, I will refer to as Brent) made our way inside like twin Charlie’s to the Chocolate Factory. With 19 Breweries and 1 Cidery to choose from it really was an embarrassment of riches that would require guile to safely navigate. We decided to button-hook right (into the Powell Street booth) and drink and conversate in counter-clockwise fashion. We drank deeply from our tiny cups and sampled the spectrum far and wide, all the while Mark Woodyard sang and performed his trans-dimensional, pan-galactic-gargle-beats in a way that was most pleasing to the senses not sated by beer. And the beer WAS good. If anything, this Opening Night event was training for the Festival itself the following weekend. But to accurately compare the two, you would need to multiply the degree of difficulty by FIVE: there will be over 100 breweries set up on the PNE Fairgrounds. Holy-Hanging-Hop-Bines, Beer-Guy!
Mid-way thru the night we stepped outside and ate from the food truck to absorb some of the alcohol in our slowly bloating bellies and to sit and take stock of all we’d experienced thus far.
“How are we doing for photos, Brent?” I asked.
“Counting the two that I took with your phone?” said Brent.
“Ya, sure.” I said.
Brent took a bite from his lamb wrap and ruminated. “I’d say we have at least two winners.”
Once we finished eating and talking with friends, it was way past time to touch base with two breweries close to my heart and home: A-Frame Brewing and Backcountry Brewing. While it’s not fair to either party to write about them collectively (as each is deserving of their own accolades) I’m doing so now due to a lack of space and time (it’s 5:15 in the morning and I have to get ready for my “real” job, which starts at seven).
Newcomers to Squamish (A-Frame & Backcountry are 5 & 2 months old, respectively) both breweries have added a vibrancy that resonates up and down the Sea to Sky Corridor. Our town is blessed in that we have the veteran, Howe Sound Brewing (not here for Opening Night but definitely on hand for the Festival) and I adore all that they do, make no mistake! But the addition of A-frame and Backcountry to Squamish has elevated our reputation so that it’s less Squampton and more Squawesome. I don’t care for either appellation, by the way, but you get the sentiment.
From A-frame, owner Jeff Oldenborger was on hand pouring the sweetness while Brewmeister Andrew Sawyer was caught in the mosh: pressing the flesh and talking shop. From Backcountry Brewing, co-owner Mark Roberts was pouring the sweetness while co-owner Ben Reeder and his lovely wife were walkin’ the walk and talkin’ the talk (and giving me shit for not wearing my Backcountry Brewing hoody. Sheesh, Ben! I’m a “professional reporter” now! I can’t just wear my bias on my sleeve!) Needless to say, I was thrilled to see my hometown heroes, A-Frame and Backcountry, at VCBW’s Opening Night gala and it was a great topper to a great night.
And now for the unpleasantness. Brent, I’m going to have to let you go. You are not a great photographer, nor are you prolific. I guess that last part’s a blessing: if you have to take mediocre pictures, it’s best not to take too many of them. You are a great friend and a superb beer drinker but as a visual chronicler of the times I’m afraid you fail quite miserably. If only you had some other career to fall back on. Oh, I don’t know…something like highly regarded physiotherapist, business owner and author. Whatever comes, I’m sure you’ll land on your feet.
Okay folks, the time is upon us. We are right in the centre of the Cascadian Gyre that is Vancouver Craft Beer Week. There are events underway all week and the Festival itself takes place on Saturday and Sunday, so what are you waiting for? Take some time off work (I did) take a gander at the breweries available on tap (I have) and drink your face off in a responsible fashion (I will).
Actually wait- don’t drink your face off. Treat each 4 ounce sample like it’s the last of its kind and you’re recording it’s properties for prosperity: sniff deep enough to froth up your nose, swirl fast enough to spill on your shirt, sip just enough to coat your palate, swish just enough so that gawkers think your slingin’ Scope, finally let the liquid to trickle down your throat, pause for dramatic effect, then pontificate on your findings for all to hear.
Shit, do what you want. It’s going to be a blast either way.