In 1982, Canada’s first microbrewery, Horseshoe Bay Brewing, opened in Vancouver. Since then, more than 200 others have launched across Canada, fuelling the popularity of the craft-
brewing industry, which has enjoyed significant growth in the past five years. In 2013, several independent publishers acknowledged its success by producing books that illuminate the social and cultural aspects of locally produced beer.
Douglas & McIntyre publisher Howard White has observed the “ebb and flow” of British Columbians’ interest in craft beer, but says it’s now at “an all-time high.” The success of Joe Wiebe’s Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries bears his point out. Weeks after Wiebe’s book was released in May, it had sold out its first print run.
Wiebe travelled 2,500 kilometres across the province to research the guide, which highlights the industry’s key figures, breweries, techniques, and tastes, and contains maps and tasting tours for enthusiasts. White says many of Wiebe’s themes are also characteristic of the province’s culture, such as “the thirst for improved lifestyles and the willingness to explore and innovate in order to achieve it.”
D&M secured a captive audience by launching Craft Beer Revolution at Yaletown Brewing Company during Vancouver Craft Beer Week in early June. Some local breweries produced a “revolutionary” beer for the event, and a few offered a free pint with a purchase of the book. Wiebe followed up the launch with a tour that covered more than 25 B.C. communities.
For the June launch of 300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba, by regional experts Bill Wright and Dave Craig, Great Plains Publications collaborated with Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Brewing Company on a batch of dark ale featuring limited-edition labels that reproduced the book’s cover.
Great Plains publisher Gregg Shilliday says he was initially drawn to Wright and Craig’s historical narrative and the inclusion of more than 400 images of rare beer bottles, labels, and ads. “I found it interesting that the first thing the British did after landing on Hudson Bay 300 years ago, [after] building some shelter, was start brewing beer,” he says.
Shilliday estimates 300 Years of Beer has sold more than 1,000 copies and expects that number to jump over the holiday season. “Not too surprisingly,” he says, its readers are mostly men.
Whitecap Books publisher Nick Rundall expects sales for Toronto writer David Ort’s The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook “to be right up there with some of our best-selling cookbooks.” Released in October, the cookbook explores Canada’s history of microbrew production, profiles various brewmasters, recommends food pairings, and features more than 75 recipes using beer as an ingredient.
Rundall believes the increased awareness of, knowledge about, and curiosity in the beverage will lead people to the book. “We’re expecting our audience to mainly be people who enjoy the taste of craft beer, but that goes way beyond just beer aficionados,” he says. “The rise in popularity means you don’t have to be a hardcore beer fan anymore to tell the difference in taste between a craft beer and a beer brewed by a big corporation.”
This article appeared in the December 2013 issue of Q&Q.