The culture behind beer is evident in the lives of many people, from going for a beer with friends after a day of work, to being personally involved in the brewing process. People typically include craft beer as a part of their definition of popular culture. I first found myself being roped into the craft beer industry when I was 19, after a friend got me a job as a bartender in a busy downtown restaurant in Calgary, Alberta.
The restaurant, called Beer Revolution, was well known for having staff with extensive knowledge of each of the 24 rotating beers they poured. I had to learn every one, or find a new job. I was forced to expand my knowledge of craft beer and the flavour profiles associated with it, past the standard mass-produced Pabst or Budweiser.
It was a difficult process to begin with, but after being exposed to different types and different flavours, I became immersed in the industry. My interest in craft beer has brought me much happiness and fun-filled times with family and friends, both new and old. There is a relationship between the culture and ideology behind craft beer and the influences on people’s daily lives. Through examining the social interactions that come with craft beer, we can see how it is a large part of the way many people live day-to-day.
Most start out in the craft beer industry just as I did, drinking the mass-produced, cheap beer that has been popular for decades. While craft beer has made a resurgence in the last ten years, the recipes and brewing processes behind it have been around for hundreds of years. The existence of craft beer in North America has been around for decades, dating back to one of the first small-scale breweries founded in San Francisco in 1849.
In the late 1900’s, small-scale breweries, or “micro” breweries, began to flourish due to the influx of people involved in homebrewing. Many who got involved in this community eventually became so attached they wanted to produce more than one batch of beer at a time, and so began the flood of craft breweries. Following this long road to where we stand now, we can see the journey has produced a massive array of different styles, flavours, and cultures. Some of the values that people within the craft beer industry possess are commitment to quality, patience, and the ability to adapt to changing environments. When considering the meanings behind these values and their relation to craft beer, it is apparent most people involved in the industry would much rather take the time to produce a product that has true passion and quality behind it. Because craft beer producers and drinkers put so much thought into the beverage, some people may view them as being pompous or arrogant beer snobs who only drink the “expensive” stuff. This isn’t the case—we just want to drink great beer.
The Conference Board of Canada released a research report in 2014 stating that “the beer economy supports 1 out of every 100 jobs in Canada, and generates $5.8 billion in government revenues in the form of product, income, and corporate taxes.” The beer industry incorporates jobs such as servers, bartenders, and restaurant owners,and I believe jobs such as these are a crucial part in spreading the passion of beer beyond what the brewers themselves offer.
As well, the chain of jobs created beyond the brewery and restaurants is immense. Welders and steelworkers are required to make the tanks and brewing equipment, drivers are required to deliver the equipment, and there needs to be someone with the trade skill to assemble everything. After everything is put together and the beer has been made, there also needs to be distributors, sales representatives, and marketers. Many breweries also sell branded goods such as clothing, glassware, and accessories such as lanyards, sunglasses, and coozies—all which need to be produced, too.
This goes to show just how the making of beer in Canada can be one of the most productive and efficient industries. Canadians are becoming more and more aware of the positive ideologies associated with craft beer production. Even throughout the unpredictable economy, this simple product has weathered all obstacles and emerged victorious. To me, craft beer is a large part of my life and something I enjoy very much, which in turn makes it a part of my definition of popular culture.
If you’re looking to reach out to others who may share the same interests in craft beer as you, or if you’re new to craft beer and want to learn more, there’s an entire online community of craft beer drinkers that has been active for many years. There are tons of websites that bring enthusiasts of all styles together in a variety of different ways. Websites such as Talk Beer and Beer Advocate offer platforms for people to have open discussions about a wide range of beer-related topics, or even become involved in giving individual beers or breweries a rating. These types of online sources have evolved into places where you can attempt to find a specific beer in your area, retrieve information on beer recipes, and even send or receive beer from other users. The sense of community these websites generate is great for all interested in furthering their knowledge, as well as gaining the courage to pursue a potential career within the industry.
Vancouver Island has numerous (and awesome) breweries you can visit to grab a pint or a growler to go. In Nanaimo, we have Longwood, White Sails, and Wolf Brewing. In Victoria, there’s Hoyne, Lighthouse, Phillips, and Driftwood. Chemainus has Riot Brewing Co., and in Duncan, there’s Red Arrow. Cumberland and Tofino also have brewing companies too. If you’re ever looking for something to do on the weekends, grab a pint and support your local breweries.