Don’t read this. It’s long and winded and you just don’t have the time. Want the short version? Go to the “About” page. If you insist, well, I can’t really stop you. But at the very least be somewhere comfy with a coozy-covered cold one in your hand.
Hello beautiful people, I’m the Sea to Sky Beer Guy. Delighted to make your acquaintance!
You wanna know how I got to the point where I thought blathering on a blog about beer was a good idea? You want to know my journey?
Hmmmmm… let me see.
***dramatic pause as the Author reaches back into the grey matter cracks where memories (real and manufactured) live out their days***
Really, it was two trips that transformed my views on beer. The first was to Moab, Utah, back in 1997. Moab is a mecca for mountain biking, or at least it was back then. Maybe the red rock moonscapes are too tame to appeal to the modern day downhill rider but for us it was all that and then some. We rode our spandex-clad asses off under the hot, hot, heat.
At the time, the only thing I knew about Utah was that the skiing was good, the powder was dry and so were the Mormons. Our posse was in their early 20’s at the time and were early adopters of hedonism, both at home and abroad. So CLEARLY… sobriety would not do. And So we sought out suds in this barren land and found an oasis, of sorts, in the Moab Brewery.
Prior to this, I felt I was drinking good beer when I chose Kootenay over Kokanee. And because the latter was a lager and the former was an ale, I considered myself an ale man even though there wasn’t much difference between the two. I also knew Guinness was a stout, but didn’t think I could crush too many of of those dark beauties in a sitting (I consumed quantity over quality back then) so I never really got into them. Those three examples were the breadth and depth of my understanding of beer and I really didn’t see the need to deviate. But now, here in the desert of a different country, there were options to explore! They had at least 10 different styles on tap and, if they were only sold by the glass, that variety might’ve been lost on me.
But wait, what’s this? They have samplers? I had never even heard of such a thing! It was called something cute, not a flight but… shit, I can’t remember, but you could order a custom bread board notched to hold at least ten teeny glasses of beer. So to the dismay of the bartenders, our party of eight ordered eight bloody bread boards of beer that ran a rainbow of styles past our unaccustomed lips. With the disembodied spirit of Brigham Young shaking his head in the background, I had beer epiphany number 1: there was more to this life than light lagers and ales. Enlightenment often comes at a price, though, and it wasn’t until the next morning that I learned: just because you can drink 10 different, disparate drafts, four ounces at a time, multiple times in one night, that doesn’t mean you should! Oh no, my brothers and sisters. It does not mean you should.
The second trip of note was in 2009. MBW and I took a trip with a couple good friends down the Oregon Coast to surf and see the sights, et. cetera. MBW and I had been married for two years by then, and although neither of us voiced it, I think we both knew this might be the last adventure before kids came along and
ruined changed our lives forever.
It was in the beach town of Newport that I had my second beer-related epiphany. No, not at Rogue Brewery’s HQ (although that was MOS DEF on the list) but at a little place we weren’t really looking for, called Bier One. It was one hundred percent serendipity because it wasn’t yet noon and we’d not yet been in the water, so beer was not yet on the brain. What we were looking for was Wi-Fi. We were halfway thru our trip and the ladies were getting edgy, wanting to catch up on Facebook and emails and such. So we were driving slowly down the strip, searching for signs of an internet cafe when a “We Have Wi-fi” sign jumped out at us from the window of…Bier One!
“What is this strange establishment?” I thought, as we darkened the door. Is it a liquor store? Yes. Is it a pub? Yes. Does it have Wi-Fi? Yes. Good Gods, man! Get thee to a bar stool! So while the girls hit the couch with laptops in laps, my buddy and I waded into waters which quickly found us both out of our depth and delighted to be drowning! First of all, the bar had at least 10 rotating taps of not just regional beers (and Oregon has MANY) but international as well. Not strange, in and of itself, but the bulk of these beers and breweries I’d never heard before. Behind the bar was a VERY knowledgeable woman (the owner, perhaps?) who poured some samplers (her choices, as I recall) and proceeded to put on a seminar for us that afternoon.
We learned about Belgian Monks and Russian Stouts, barrels and their usage, who Ninkasi was (the God and the Brewery) and why independence (in brewing and in life) was so important. Her words trickled down my cortex as the beer trickled past my palate and needless to say, I was Gob-smacked. I’m not saying I retained it all, but the amount of beer knowledge bestowed on us that day was life-changing. Realizing how little I knew about a topic I thought I had a handle on brought about epiphany number 2: Yes, there are many varieties of beer, that was made known to me in Moab. But more than that, each beer, each style, comes with it’s own pedigree and profile. Once confronted with this rich history, I could no longer guzzle down the drink like some uncultured frat-boy, but had to give each glass the respect due and really consider the process that went into the damn thing.
We left Bier one both enlightened and enloadend, as their Bomber selection was ridiculous and we just HAD to bring as much of this sweet elixir back home as we possibly could.* And for awhile afterwards our talk was strictly along the lines of, “We need to quit our jobs and open up a shop like that in Vancouver!” and “We need to get our asses back to Oregon just as soon as humanly possible!”
When we got back home we did spread the gospel we’d learned and spoke of the miracles we’d witnessed. But then life got in the way (remember the kids comment I dropped a couple paragraphs ago?) And while I now had a taste for what was out there and a thirst for more knowledge, for the most part I was confined to what I could find at my local BCLS, which wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as wondrous as the selection south of the border. Yet.
Fast forward to eight years later. If I thought I was at all limited in what beers were available to me, I would grant you, the reader, permission to knock on my door and knock out my teeth. In my not so sleepy town of Squamish we’ve got the BCLS (which have had to up their craft beer content significantly to keep with the times) a couple decent CB&W’s, a couple of great private full service liquor stores with amazing selections, and three Breweries to choose from: Howe Sound Brewing, A-Frame Brewing Co. and Backcountry Brewing.
Armed with Squamish’s recent brewery additions, and really the proliferation of Awesome all over BC, I knew I wanted to somehow become a part of the phenomenon. And while I don’t have the cash, inclination, or skill-set to open my own brewery, maybe I can write on the coattails of the craft community and inform (probably) entertain (possibly) and educate (doubt it) any and all who happen upon this here blog. I’ll drink some beers and write about them in my somewhat witty, mostwhat quirky way, take trips to my local watering holes, speak to people in and around the craft beer industry and generally jot down my tales in this here blog for your reading pleasure. I hope you like it!
S2SBG, April 2017
*Funny side note to the Oregon trip: For reasons I can’t remember, MBW and I put my buddie’s bombers from Bier One, together with my own, in the back of our vehicle. Maybe our friends were spending a few extra days in ‘Merica? No, that still doesn’t make sense. They needed the space, maybe? I can’t remember and it doesn’t matter. Anyhoo, at the border crossing before re-entering Canada I grabbed our liquor receipts (wine for MBW, Scotch for myself) and when the border guard asked if we had any alcohol to declare I gave him the two receipts and said, “It’s all in the back”. It was ONLY at this point that MBW and I realized AT THE SAME TIME that beer is, of course, alcohol. We’d already purchased our legal limit with wine and whisky, and I had just directed Officer Friendly to the trunk, where the first thing he would see was a Coleman cooler with approximately 25 litres (we went hog wild with the bombers!) of undeclared booze. Sweat instantly emanated from my pores. Was this a federal crime? In which country? What kind of jail time am I looking at here? Bla-bla-bla, panic-panic-panic. The border guarded handed my receipts back to me and said, “Have a nice day!” and when we were sufficiently safe in Canada’s embrace I pulled over to wipe the sweat from my brow and the stain from my shorts.