Two years ago I launched this website with a lot of passion for beer, but otherwise was fairly inexperienced in writing about it. After a lot of deliberation I started the introduction with: “Hello. My name is Chelsea and I love beer! I also love living in and travelling around British Columbia. This beautiful province is home to some pretty interesting people who make very good beer. I’m interested in not only drinking the results, but hearing the stories behind the brews”. In the time since I made this statement, I have had adventures in beer beyond my wildest dreams! I continue to love living in, and exploring this amazing province. I have also had the pleasure of drinking craft beer in some exotic locations, like Costa Rica, and not so exotic, like Toronto. Everywhere I go I’m always searching for locally made craft beer and collecting stories from the people who make it.
I live in the South Okanagan, which used to be fairly removed from the buzzing craft beer scene in the Lower Mainland. Even getting beer out here to sample was tough, and I would find excuses to visit Vancouver several times a year so I could load up on all the good beer I couldn’t find back home. Now local pubs, restaurants and cold beer stores have got on board with craft beer and it is much easier to find all my favourites. As a blogger my perspective is outside of the beer hubs of Victoria and Vancouver, keeping an eye on what is happening in the Interior regions of BC.
Nowadays, in addition to running this website, I also have several other craft beer projects that I am involved in. I am the Vice President of CAMRA South Okanagan, and I absolutely love getting involved with local breweries and fellow beer enthusiasts. It’s been so much fun being able to plan local beer events, if you are from the Okanagan, or planning on visiting I highly suggest checking out our Facebook page for details on our upcoming events.
In 2016 I was one of nine beer “experts” invited to judge beer at Okanagan Fest of Ale. Penticton is my home town, I’ve attended on and off for 14 years and I will forever have a special place in my heart for this festival. Hands down, this has been the best experience I have had in the past two years, and I will never forget how excited I was after receiving the invitation. I was so happy to be asked back in 2017, and I have to give big props to the organizers for making this event such a consistently great experience. As one of the largest and longest running craft beer events, Fest of Ale is a hidden gem in the BC beer scene, and if you haven’t been yet, you are missing out!
I am a regular contributor for What’s Brewing BC, having written articles about touring BC breweries, judging beer, the growth of the hop industry, the beer scene in Europe and Costa Rica, behind the scenes at Fest of Ale and KPU’s Brew School I’ve also been lucky enough to have a seat on the magazine’s tasting panel, having reviewed Winter Ales, Fruit Beers, Saisons and Breakfast Beers so far. What’s Brewing is available in print at many craft breweries as well as online, and is released quarterly.
Through Fest of Ale I have met several beer enthusiasts who have now become friends. One of these connections is Mike Garson, the creator of Mike’s Craft Beer, one of – if not the most – prolific beer bloggers in the province. Mike also helps organize Pacific Beer Chat, a regular podcast featuring regular beer personalities as well as guests. I’ve enjoyed discussing BJCP judged beer awards, the #FABQ challenge, beer education featuring Cicerone Paul Swope, and the new face of IPAs. Mike and I have also done on-location interviews with Trail Beer Refinery, Rossland Beer Co., Torchlight Brewing, and with participants at Okanagan Fest of Ale: part one, part two and a special chat with Brian from Crannog Ales. We also recorded a 3-part interview about the KPU Brewing Program, part one at the school with DeAnn Bremner and Alek Egi, part two with Nancy Moore, who helped develop the curriculum (and the first female brewer in North America) and part three with graduates of the program.
The BC Ale Trail has now expanded across most of the province, acting as an interactive tour guide for locals and tourists alike. I’ve written blog posts about the Kelowna Ale Trail, the Kamloops Ale Trail and a preview of the 2018 Okanagan Fest of Ale.
Since my very first taste of locally produced craft beer in 2007, I have embraced this industry. It’s not just about the beer, it’s also the values held by the independently operated breweries whose owners live in the communities they operate in. So many members of the beer community in BC place importance on supporting local initiatives such as agriculture, music, art, and food. I came for the beer, but I stayed for the people. In this way, British Columbia is so very brewtiful, and I hope the industry continues to grow and develop in it’s own unique way.
As for me, I’ll keep travelling across the province, and sometimes even the world, to visit breweries, pubs, festivals and tasting rooms in search of beers of all styles and flavours! Contact me if you have any suggestions for places to visit, people to talk to or beers to drink! Cheers!
The photo at top was snapped at Kettle Valley Pub in Penticton in 2016 prior to their renovation by Bryce Beckett. The photo at bottom is of the author after receiving 3 bottles of cold, fresh Fat Tug off the new bottling line at Driftwood in 2014, as a consolation gift for the tasting room being closed.