The biggest awards night in British Columbia's beer scene was back with a bang and the crack of cans opening on Saturday, as the B.C. Beer Awards returned for the first time since 2019.
Gladstone Brewing Company was the big winner of the night, with the Courtenay operation taking the Brewery of the Year award along with an impressive haul of four gold awards and one silver for its individual beers.
Several Vancouver breweries were also toasting success, with Parallel 49 taking Best in Show for its 10th Anniversary Brett Saison along with two other individual awards, while Brassneck, Steamworks and Main Street Brewing each scored two first-place prizes.
The awards, hosted by the CBC's Stephen Quinn at the Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver, adopted a different format from their pre-pandemic days, with tall cans of beer offered to attendees to share instead of the usual small tasting glasses.
A total of 1,000 beers were entered into the competition by 120 of the province's 220-plus breweries, organizers said. The broad distribution of the individual beer awards — more than 60 breweries won at least one — spoke to the depth of quality in beer across the province.
A total of 44 judges worked through the entries over several days in late September and early October. They included a record number of 10 female judges — a welcome sign of change in the industry, said Amanda Barry-Butchart, one of the owner-directors of the awards.
Increasing diversity is one of the changes that has gathered pace in the industry during the pandemic, along with a growing awareness and condemnation of harassment and abuse.
As part of that drive, Barry-Butchart said Saturday's awards show would have a predominantly female-identifying security team told to exercise a zero-tolerance approach toward harassment.
"There's a responsibility here that we have to provide a really safe space," she said. "Any sort of hate or bad behaviour, it's not going to happen. And our security knows that, too."
The pandemic, while challenging for many breweries, also allowed many people in the industry to take a step back and reassess their personal priorities and work-life balance, said Barry-Butchart, who is also a brewery sales manager.
"We're exhausted with the stuff we had to deal with during the pandemic. ... [and] we were all exhausted from before the pandemic from the long hours we had to work," she said.
"I think a lot of us are saying no to things now that don't serve us as a personal gain or growth, or company gain or growth."
That mindset informed the new format of the awards night, where the typical booths for each brewery were replaced by several bars offering cans from a range of producers — giving brewery staff the night off to celebrate themselves and each other.
Here's the full list of winners:
International Pale Lager (51 entries)
1. Czech Pilsner - Wildeye Brewing
2. Westy - Category 12 Brewing
3. Locomotive Lager - Iron Road Brewing Co.
HM: Spitfire Lager - Ace Brewing Co.
Pale Malty German Lager (26 entries)
1. Bob's Auto Lager - 101 Brewhouse and Distillery
2. Infinite Radness - Studio Brewing Corp.
3. Oktoberfest Festbier - Parallel 49 Brewing Co.
Pale Bitter German Lager (32 entries)
1. Farm Country Pilsner - Farm Country Brewing
2. Shaketown Leitchtbier - Shaketown Brewing Co.
3. 3 Month Pils - Smuggler's Trail Caskworks
Amber Lager (25 entries)
1. Marzen - Abandoned Rail Brewing Co.
2. Zoigl - Steel & Oak Brewing Co.
3. Sausage Party - Farm Country Brewing
HM: Harkrider - Freddy's Brewpub
Dark Lager (18 entries)
1. Gladstone Czech Dark Lager - Gladstone Brewing Company
2. Oktoberfest Schwarzbier - Parallel 49 Brewing Co.
3. 33 Acres of Darkness - 33 Acres Brewing Co.
HM: Dark Lager - Patina Brewing Co.
Strong Ale & Lager (13 entries)
1. Gale Force - Main Street Brewing
2. Bear Beach Baltic Porter - Sooke Oceanside Brewery
3. Hellroaring Scotch Ale - Fisher Peak Brewing Company
Kölsch (14 entries)
1. Klutz Kolsch - Brassneck Brewery
2. Seventh Day Kolsch - Ucluelet Brewing Co.
3. Kolsch - Steamworks Brewing Co.
HM: Kolsch - Patina Brewing Co.
Weissbier (26 entries)
1. Der Klassiker - Steel & Oak Brewing Co.
2. Beachcomber Hefeweizen - Vancouver Island Brewing
3. Umlaut - Brassneck Brewery
Hoppy U.K. Ale (26 entries)
1. Pale Ale - Russell Brewing Co.
2. Flaskers British Ale - Smuggler's Trail Caskworks
3. Elephant Run IPA - Fisher Peak Brewing Company
Malty U.K. & Irish Ale (24 entries)
1. Gladstone Porter - Gladstone Brewing Co.
2. Overcast - KPU Brew Lab
3. Invictus Dark Mild - Smuggler's Trail Caskworks
U.K. & Irish Stout (12 entries)
1. 52 Foot Stout - Barkerville Brewing Co.
2. Wheelbender Stout - Beach Fire Brewing Company
3. Firkin Irish Stout - Shuswap Lake Brewing
Fruit Beer (46 entries)
1. "Thornless" Blackberry Porter - Cannery Brewing
2. A Many Splendored Thing - Saison W/ Tangerines - Small Gods Brewing Co.
3. Lemon Mandarin Radler - Strathcona Beer Company
Specialty Fruit Beer (56 entries)
1. Kirsche - Steamworks Brewing Co.
2. Agua de Jamaica Hibiscus Rose Sour - La Cerveceria Astilleros
3. The Floor is Guava - Backcountry Brewing
Spiced Beer (29 entries)
1. One Piece Wonder - Tin Whistle Brewery
2. Killer Cucumber Ale - Steamworks Brewing Co.
3. Thread the Needle Witbier - Whitetooth Brewing Company Ltd
Smoke & Wood-Aged Beer (19 entries)
1. 7109 Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout - Brewhall Beer Co.
2. Sparkchaser - Twin City Brewing Company
3. Mayne Island Barrel Aged Brown Ale - Mayne Island Brewing
European Sour Ale (16 entries)
1. Roundhouse Oud Bruin - Iron Road Brewing Co.
2. Pinot - Ile Sauvage Brewing Company
3. New Brighton Dry Hopped Sour - R&B Brewing Co.
HM: Gandy Dancer Gose - Iron Road Brewing Co.
Specialty Beer (24 entries)
1. Loral - Ile Sauvage Brewing Company
2. Capacitor - Beacon Brewing Ltd.
3. Undersea Gose - Whistle Buoy Brewing Co.
North American Light Lager (49 entries)
1. North Point Lite Lager - North Point Brewing Co.
2. No Brainer - Brassneck Brewery
3. Shaketown Pre-Prohibition Pilsner - Shaketown Brewing Co.
HM: Lager - Strathcona Brewing Company
North American Light Ale (33 entries)
1. Droptank - Ace Brewing Co.
2. Gladstone Cream Ale - Gladstone Brewing Company
3. Whitetooth Session Ale - Whitetooth Brewing Company Ltd.
HM: Lit Wit - Dog Mountain Brewing
North American Pale Ale (71 entries)
1. Hazy Citra Pale Ale - 4 Mile Brewing Co.
2. Valley Trail Pale Ale - Coast Mountain Brewing
3. Salish Sea Pale Ale - Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Company
North American Amber & Brown Ale (23 entries)
1. Gladstone Red Ale - Gladstone Brewing Company
2. Blue Buck Ale - Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.
3. Mizaru - Monkey 9 Brewing Pub Corp.
North American Porter & Stout (19 entries)
1. Commander Imperial Stout - Dead Frog Brewery
2. Felix - Studio Brewing Corp
3. Ten Tonne Skeleton - Silver Valley Brewing Co.
North American IPA (62 entries)
1. West Coast IPA - Moody Ales & Co.
2. Ruff Westcoast IPA - Yellow Dog Brewing
3. Best Coast IPA - Trading Post Brewing
Speciality IPA (37 entries)
1. Unconventional Wisdom - Brassneck Brewery
2. Spruce Tip IPA - Rossland Brewing Co.
3. Little Twin - Fern & Cedar Brewing Co.
Hazy IPA (99 entries)
1. Gladstone NEIPA - Gladstone Brewing Company
2. Widowmaker - Backcountry Brewing
3. 445 Galaxy IPA - Faculty Brewing Co.
Imperial IPA (11 entries)
1. Empress Double IPA - Steamworks Brewing Co.
2. Numbskull Rakau Edition - Lighthouse Brewing Co.
3. Undertow - Steel & Oak Brewing Co.
Belgian Ale (16 entries)
1. Farmer's Daughter White - The Beer Farmers
2. Blanche Devereaux - Bayview Brewing Company
3. It's Always Sunny in East Van Witbier - R&B Brewing Co.
Saison (19 entries)
1. Field Theory - Dageraad Brewing
2. Picnic Table Beer - R&B Brewing Co.
3. Mimosa Summer Ale - Russell Brewing Co.
Belgian Strong Ale (9 entries)
1. 33 Acres of Euphoria - 33 Acres Brewing Co.
2. Brune - Dageraad Brewing
3. Blonde - Dageraad Brewing
Wild Ale (21 entries)
1. 10th Anniversary Brett Saison - Parallel 49 Brewing Co.
2. Barreled Series - Batch #001 - Tofino Brewing Company
3. Greenhorn Wild Ale - Strange Fellows Brewing
HM: Boomer Wild Ale - Iron Road Brewing Co.
Specialty Wild Ale (63 entries)
1. Circa 1775 - Main Street Brewing
2. Dinosour Blackberry - Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.
3. Rose & Hibiscus Sour - The Beer Farmers
HM: Nannie's Toasted Coconut Raspberry Tarts Sour - Bayview Brewing Company
Creative Industry Awards
Best Merch (presented by The Barley Merchant)
Rusted Rake Brewing
Best Tap Handle (presented by Smooth Edge Design)
Best Packaging Design (presented by Great Little Box)
Slackwater Brewing - Lo-Tide Lager
Best Bottle Design (presented by Great Little Box)
Field House Fresh Batch Barrel Series - Mango Plum Sour
Best Can Design (presented by Vessel)
Main Street Brewing - King Pin Pale Ale
Best Tasting Room Experience (presented by Axis Insurance)
Camp Beer Co.
Best Social Media (presented by Major Tom)
Best Website (presented by Major Tom)
Rusted Rake Brewing
Innovator of the Year (presented by Kegshare)
Rookie of the Year (presented by Glenmore Packaging)
Smuggler's Trail Caskworks
Legend Award (presented by BCBA)
BEST IN SHOW (presented by Country Malt Group)
Parallel 49 Brewing - 10th Anniversary Brett Saison
BREWERY OF THE YEAR (presented by Tap & Barrel)
Gladstone Brewing Co.
JUDGES' CHOICE (presented by CBC)
The Beer Farmers - Farmer's Daughter White