5 Cool Gifts for Beer Lovers in 2017

As a beer lover myself I thought it would be a good idea to share what I would like to get for a beer related gift. There are thousands of items available on Amazon and it can be quite overwhelming if you don't really know where to start. 

I have put together a list of 5 Cool Gifts for Beer Lovers that I personally have received or would like to get in the future. We're talking about everything from a beer journal to a beer brewing kit for home. If you're budget is $20 bucks or $170, we have options in this list. 

Cooper DIY Home Brewing Kit

Becoming a craft brewer has never been easier.

Craft beer is obviously a popular segment in the beer category and one thing that every craft beer lover wants to try is brewing their own stuff. It has never been more accessible, with the brewing kits that you can scoop up online in just a few steps. 

This Coopers DIY Brewing Kit comes with everything you need to get started including the reusable, patented fermenter which can easily be cleaned and sanitized, 30 reusable bottles, full instructions, and all the small pieces that you need to successful brew a batch of craft beer. 

This little gift will get the beer lover excited and even more passionate about how beer is made and what goes into making a really amazing batch of craft beer.

Beer lovers also need a tool to help them keep track of the all the tasty brews that they try (or make) and this handy little journal does just that. I use one of these myself so I can keep track of all my frothy friends. I encourage anyone to keep notes on the beers they try because otherwise it can be really tough to recall all the details that you either enjoyed or disliked about them

I really look forward to opening this journal up in a couple years to review my notes and see how my tastes have changed and evolved over time. This particular journal allows you to track not only individual beers but also the breweries that you visit. It comes with fun stickers to accentuate your experience and have a little more fun with your beer tasting. 

This is a great gift for the beer fan you want to get a thoughtful, and usable gift that they'll certainly enjoy. 

I hope to see one of these coming my way someday soon, or I might just go ahead and pick this one up for a gift to myself. These hardcore growlers are perfect for the outdoors beer lover and beach goer. It holds your beer cold for 24 hours and looks pretty bad ass in the meantime. It is relatively inconspicuous because it kind of looks like a hardcore canteen or water bottle so hopefully the popo will leave you be when sipping your 2 litres of brew. 

All you need to do is swing by your favourite brewery while on your way out camping for the night, or to the beach during the summer. Get a fill, and you're good to go. Try not to shake it up too much as with any growler shaking your beer around will make it flat over time. This is a long term and multi-purpose gift that any beer lover will love and use.

Frank Appleton, who truly is one of the pioneers of the craft beer movement in Canada chronicles his experience in being the original craft or cottage brewers. He tells his story over 50 years working with the big brewers in his early career to the trials and tribulations of starting his own brewery. 

This fun book discusses how the craft beer segment started, and was shaped over a period of time. This carving out of this portion of the beer world was evolved into a large competitive segment in Canada and is now one of the biggest challenges to the "big brewers" in the world.

This is a great little book to provide some real background on the brewing industry and how it has been shaped in today's beer world, particularly in Canada. It's a historical review that provides humour, ideas, and how a revolution comes to be. 

Any beer lover needs the right glass for every type of beer. This is another gift I have received and it makes a huge difference in the enjoyment of my beer experience. I love pouring a dark stout into a proper stout glass, or having a proper pilsner glass to enjoy my favourite lager style. 

This is a great investment and certainly adds to the enjoyment of drinking any type of beer. You get a mix of stemmed and non-stemmed and all have very sturdy bases so we don't spill our liquid gold treasures. 

You can get into this glassware set for a very reasonable price and does really provide an extra level of enjoyment when sipping your beers.

Episode #19 - BC's Best Beer Festivals

I absolutely love beer festivals! I mean, it's an opportunity to taste and try all the latest and greatest beers from sours & dunkells, to pilsners and stouts. As a BC craft beer geek, you can't ask for too much more. Hundreds of styles of our favorite beverage jammed into a stuffy, non-airconditioned hockey rink with the drunk over 40's partying next to Bill and Ted from the UBC frathouse. It's a damn good time. If nothing else the people watching is typically off the hizzy. 

bc craft breweries image

Now, if you truly are a beer fan because of the intrigue and creativity I would suggest going to these a little earlier in the day to make sure you get the opportunity to sample, taste, and compare before the rowdy's show up, because they will undebatably spill their 12 point abv coffee IPA all over your pleated khakis, and that shit is hard to get out.

So as we cruise through 2017 I wanted to shine some light on a few of my favorite BC craft beer festivals, as well as a few that are on my hitlist. Now, what do I look for in a good beer festival? That's a good question, but the factors are pretty simple.

1) Is it primarily (75%) beer that is on offer?

I know as a promoter it's probably pretty tough to get 50+ bc craft breweries to kick in enough dough to pay the bills so I understand cycling in some distilled stuff and food vendors but let's lay off the wine and ready to drink coolers.

2) Food Vendors available

It can be a full and robust day of drinking so make sure there are some good food options there to help your attendees safely get through their night. I suggest a pizza, poutine, & taco option to build the foundation.

3) Lot's of Taxis

People will typically be consuming some booze when attending these events so let's encourage people to take buses, taxis, ubers, or any other type of transport that eliminates the potential for drunk driving.

4) Live Music

Live music adds a ton of atmosphere to an event and can bring some other form of entertainment other than binge drinking. 

5) A place to chill out

I suggest a plot or area that has picnic tables and chairs for people to sit and relax while tasting their samples. Whether it's in or outdoors people want to socialize with their friends and having a place to relax while sampling can really up the experience. 

Now, to the 3 Top BC Craft Beer Festivals that I am putting on my calendar.

Whistler Village Beer Festival

 September 13 - 17 | Whistler Olympic Plaza | http://bit.ly/2kDEnpm

whistler craft beer festival logo

Not only is Whistler one of the premier places to visit during the summer, now with the huge influx of mountain bikers, it has become a great place to try a variety of craft beers. We have seen several new breweries open up in Whistler area as well as up the Sea to Sky highway that will provide more hyper-local influence at this festival. 

The Whistler Olympic Plaza is an amazing facility that showcases the mountains of Whistler Blackcomb in the background and is easily accessible from the main parking lots. Take a few days for this one because you're going to want to visit Lost Lake & maybe go for a burn on a mountain bike down the big slopes (after the hangover has subsided).

The Great Okanagan Beer Festival

May 11 - 13 | Waterfront Park, Kelowna BC http://bit.ly/2jYWokV

great okanagan craft beer festival

The beautiful Okanagan valley is a great place to kick off the summer. Waterfront park is a place I've spent a ton of time at when I lived in downtown Kelowna and a beer festival is maybe the best way to take it up another notch. Nestled in the heart of downtown Kelowna this beer festival offers amazing scenery, central location, and lots of options for post-festival eating and drinking. 

You can skip over to see my friends at Central who have been kicking ass on the Kelowna food scene, stop into Tree Brewing tasting hall, or head to one of the many new spots that have opened since I moved to Vancouver. 

You don't want to miss this party! 

Great Canadian Beer Festival

September 8 - 9 | Royal Athletic Park, Vitoria BC | http://www.gcbf.com/

great canadian craft beer festival logo

This is the original for BC Craft Beer Festivals. If you love the BC craft beer scene then this is for you. Victoria is easily one of the mecca's of craft beer in North America and is certainly one of the hipster sanctuaries in Canada. If you don't have cuffed jeans, ragged boots, and a grim look on your bearded face, you likely won't fit in that well.

That being said, some of the original, and most successful craft breweries are hailing from Victoria or nearby on Vancouver Island. Phillips Brewing, Hoyne Brewing, and Vancouver Island Brewing are 3 that jump into my head right away but the list goes on and on. 

Now if you're looking for a cool idea you could take a week off work and head to Victoria for September 8-9 for this festival, then head to Tofino for a few days to chill out. Pack up and head back to the mainland and cruise up the Sea to Sky highway for some camping. You will eventually find your way to Whistler for the Whistler Village Beer Festival on the 15-16. This sounds like a hell of a good week to me.




Episode #18 - 3 Beer Trends for 2017 + more

Herb Infusions

beer blog vancouver

In the past few years, we've seen some weird, wild stuff in the beer category. Maple Donut Bacon Ale, Redhook and Hilliard Joint Effort THC infused beer, and the completely disgusting and horrible idea coming from Wynkoop Brewing in the form of Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. I'm all for innovation but I don't think I can get my head around this. (If you're not familiar with Rocky Mountain Oyster click here).

I predict we'll see lagers taking a new spin with herb infusion. We've seen plenty of herb infusions in the past, but I predict this year the garden spices will take a primary focus instead of the fruit flavors. Rosemary, Basil, & Cilantro will all make appearances in this year's frothy innovations and the next step in the evolution of cooking will use beer on a new level, not just beer can chicken. 

Mobile Tasting Halls

This is an idea I've put quite a bit of thought into. Imagine being able to enjoy the beer tasting hall experience that you get with your local brewery but with beers from all over the country, or even world. The idea is a physical space that has all the equipment and resources to act as a beer hall and the only thing that changes is the brewery. 

photo credit: thebronxbrewery.com

photo credit: thebronxbrewery.com

This idea gives breweries from all over the opportunity to run a tasting room for a period of time in the major centers. Ninkasi brewery can have a tasting room all to themselves in Vancouver, BC or Tree Brewing in Kelowna can bring their tasty concoctions to the up and coming city of Saskatoon. 

A pint of Joe?

Coffee is one of the world's favorite beverages, and beer is certainly up there as well. I predict a combination of both. This isn't necessarily a new thing, but the past has seen brewers using dark roasted malts which presented a coffee-like flavor in stouts and dark ales. This year I'm thinking coffee first, beer second. Caffeine and alcohol can be a great combination if done safely and I think the coffee crazed North American culture is ready for a new spin on coffee-beer. 

credit: lifehack.org

credit: lifehack.org

Additional Up and Coming Trends in Beer

Crowlers are the new Growlers

Drones Delivery Beer?

Let's see what the beer world brings us in 2017 - I personally would love to have a drone drop a frosty Crowler off at my front door.


Episode #17 - 5 Tips for Marketing your brewery

The term marketing is probably one of the most misunderstood and vague terms used in the business world. I've been studying and participating in the world of "marketing" my whole career, in fact, most of us have, whether they know it or not. I wanted to share some insights and thoughts about how to impactfully tell your story as a business owner in the universe of craft alcoholic beverages. If I take a 15-minute drive towards Vancouver I can get to around 25 different places that I can pick up a growler to enjoy over Monday night football. This little fact should tell you that it is important to tell your story because your customer have options, and lots of them.

beer marketing vancouver craft

I am going to share 5 tips that I think will support craft makers now, and in the future, and keep things relatively simple in a complex world. 

1. Don't overdo it

We see it everywhere we look. Disconnected and scrambled messages that aren't coherent or consistent with a brand's foundation. You can't chase every bright opportunity and expect to keep a consistent message to your target customer, and you can't afford to botch your message over and over again. This will just confuse your customer and keep them motivated to find something they can follow. 

What do the strongest brands in the world have in common? 

Simplicity? Innovation? Vision? 

I would say all of the above are accurate statements about some of the world's strongest brands, but I digress. The point is, don't try to be everything the everybody. Also, keep your message tight and choose your platforms wisely. 

2. Video Works

It's not easy to capture great video today, but it's a hell of a lot easier than it has ever been before. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so a video must worth tens of thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands. The point is that if you can get 30 seconds of attention from a consumer, the likelihood of converting them to buyers is a hell of lot greater using video than almost any other media. 

Pro tip - Post an add to Craigslist looking for videographers in exchange for beer. You will likely get a student, new grad, or hobbyist who can help you capture some great content and hopefully help with post-production as well. I firmly believe you can get some amazing, shareable video content for a few hundred dollars , some beer, and a little shop swag. Also, a few minutes of quality post-produced video can extrapolate to some really amazing social media content as well, just get the video editor to cut it down to 10-second segments. 

3. Don't just post - participate.

If you want to really kick some ass in the social media sphere you don't need to have the most incredible photos, video, or comments - but there is one thing that will really drive the results, and that's communicating. Treat social platforms like a social table at the tasting room and if someone says the "Love that video" or "best beer this year" or "shitty service", I would highly recommend jumping in and providing a positive comment for your audience. Not only will this have a positive influence on that person but it makes it more likely you'll get more comments and buy-in from your customers in the future. 

4. Service is the best marketing

The one thing that will drive your customers back to visit you, again and again, is a great experience, and that comes down to service. Customers can usually forgive a less than perfect beer, a chipped glass, or dirty restroom, but they can't forgive you not treating them like guests. When your customer visits your tasting room, bar, or even website they expect a service level consistent with your brand promise. It's not that hard. Hire friendly staff who care about people, and care about the business. I know it's really hard to find amazing staff but I firmly believe that if you hire people with integrity and service oriented personalities than everything else becomes easier. 

5. Strategy will dramatically increase success

Going back to my first point about keeping things simple, the one thing you can do to help keep it tight is, build out your strategy and keep it updated. What does that look like? I would say start at the beginning to ensure you have a baseline marketing plan. This might be breaking it down into a few buckets as illustrated below. This will make it easier to keep organized and focused on the main prize.

social media marketing craft beer



Episode #16 - "Barber, pass me a beer!"

Photo Credit: Adrian Lam

Photo Credit: Adrian Lam

In British Columbia, we have been struggling with antiquated liquor laws and unnecessary red tape. As the craft movement continues to grow, new companies are trying to find ways to be creative and effective in the market, but the challenge is doing things in a way that the government will allow. Guess what, the BC MLA responsible for making these recommendations over the past 18 months has said that early 2017 will mark the start of when barbershops, nail salons, movie theatres, etc. will have the opportunity to apply for a liquor license and sell alcoholic refreshments to their customers. Hallelujah!

What does this mean for the customer? A more fulfilling and enjoyable experience while getting the services that are complementary to such products. What does this mean for the business? A great way to increase revenues and help small businesses stay in business. What does it mean for producers of alcoholic products? Another place that they can sell products to the customer and increase revenues for those businesses. What does it mean for the government? More tax revenue to pay for roads, hospitals, bridges, etc. The overwhelming feeling is that this is a positive step forward for the BC Liquor industry.

vancouver beer barbershop

I can't help but take a moment to point out some of the challenges that will undoubtedly come into play with this change. All serving staff will be required to have the "Serving it Right" certification which can easily be attained, check here. Responsible consumption and drinking and driving are obviously a concern. Another point I'd like to make is, will this drive some business away from the already hemorrhaging pub business? This has been a challenging category for business owners with rising costs, increased regulation, and changing consumer needs. 

In summary., I would say this is exciting news for BC small business with an increased service offerings and new revenue stream. Do I think the positives outweigh the negatives? Indeed I do, dramatically actually. As a beer lover and representative of beer and cider, I think this is a great new way for me to sell my products and get into a new category altogether.

Good Vibes going your way BC Liquor Board.