Tales of The Vancouver Island Craft Beer Creep – Part 1
You may be asking yourself what I could possibly mean by ‘craft beer creep’. Could I be talking about the guy at the bar leering from behind his chalice of porter? Perhaps this the guy who scoffs at your choice as you stand in the line of the liquor store with a 12 pack of Bud? Or is this that irritatingly outspoken person on the internet going off about how this years ‘hot beer’ isn’t nearly as good as it was last year? Or could it be something else, something completely different?
Pardon if I go a bit geeky on this next bit, but anyone who has played as the Zerg in the globally popular game Starcraft will have seen the term ‘Creep Colony’. For the uninitiated, a creep colony spreads out ‘creep’ on the play surface making it able to place new buildings on it, spreading out the species (the Zerg’s) influence on the game. (for more on Starcraft ‘creep’ see this link http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Creep )I’m using this analogy for craft beer because of a trend I am starting to see develop on Vancouver Island.
I live in Campbell River, roughly 3 hours away from Victoria BC, the undeniable epicenter of the Vancouver Island Craft Beer scene. (While there is quite a lot going on in Nanaimo and Tofino, Victoria is still where it is at). Growing up in Campbell River & the Comox Valley it felt as though this place may as well be light years away, in terms of craft beer acceptance. Comox Valley (Cumberland to be precise) has the dubious distinction of having the highest per capita consumption of Lucky Lager. And believe me, Campbell River is not too far behind them. That said, something is telling me that a change is in the air. The creep is growing, and it brings good craft tidings with it.
Allow me to explain. Last week, @CascadiaLQ announced via twitter that their new location was being built, in Comox BC of all places. Cascadia is a must stop for me every time I visit Victoria due to their excellent rotating selection of craft beer. To think that their will be one only 40 minutes away from me is heavenly. Add to that news, that a steadily rising population of various craft beers, both seasonal and new breweries, are showing up on Campbell River liquor store shelves (Merecroft Village Liquor Store and Oyster River LQ to be precise). To this casual observer the winds aren’t changing soon, but it has already begun. The true cap on my rationale fell into place the other night when I went to Merecroft Village to pick up a bottle of Evergreen Ale. As you may (or may not) know Phillips *just* released this beer in very limited quantities. Literally having been on the shelf for about 12 hours, in a previously conceived craft complacent market, it was already 2 bottles away from being sold out. While you may be thinking ‘Well that sucks, what about the others who wanted to try it?’. I say think about this, the more we as a community embrace these limited releases of craft beer the more will be produced. It is basic supply and demand. The more we snatch up a limited release beer, the more limited releases we will see here.
Nearly all Vancouver Island craft breweries have a seasonal release program, and I for one want to taste them all. Hopefully this voracious response to the Evergreen ale will bring even more small batch beers to the north island.
I say ‘Yes’ to the creep. Yes to the growing influence, acceptance, and consumption of craft beer on Vancouver Island. May the creep continue to make this area a more fertile place to grow craft beer culture. And who knows, maybe another north island craft brewery. One can only hope.
I’m planning to follow this closely and report back more as it comes in.
Thanks for reading.