I don’t shotgun my Dive Bomb

Powell St. Brewing’s Dive Bomb dark ale

Before my last visit to the ranch, I popped into Powell St. Brewery to inquire if I had missed the fresh hop boat. Which I had by a few days, of course. The super friendly guy behind the counter reminded me that dry hopped beer could also be awesome and pointed out the tall can offerings (my fav format). I wasn’t sure whether to go Cheeky Monkey or Dive Bomb, so my new pal let me try both. And I came away with both.  What I loved when I tried Dive Bomb on the coast was a clean, crisp maltiness that wasn’t familiar at all.  I occasionally enjoy a malty beer, but they usually are awash in those Christmasy/Wintery-flavours. Dive Bomb didn’t carry that burden. Once in the Cariboo on the cusp of Fall, on a beautiful day, this was a perfect sit-on-an-old-wooden-bench-and-bask-in-my-exceptional-privilege kind of beer. And bask did I ever. I find this beer is fantastic with a slight chill to it, and on a crisp day it seems like a pairing made in heaven. And while there were no crows anywhere to be found that could disturb my moment with a dive bomb, the faint cry of an old raven could be heard.

October is an exciting month at the ranch – shorts are no longer packed along, wood fires get stoked at night, and the window in which you can drink a beer outside in a t-shirt gets pretty narrow (like between 12 and 1).

And it’s in those brief moments when I can sit and imagine the seasonal changes. First comes the barest of dustings of snow a the top of the hills. Then (as below from early November last year) the snow line starts to get lower. And the window for a beer outside not huddled near a fire has just about shut.

And of course during that brief time when I’m sipping my glass of this delicious malty magic, I’m realizing that there is no one, anywhere in all of the Cariboo, doing what I’m doing and drinking this particular beer. I’m a pioneer once again, in my own special way. I too have brought something unique to this special place.

The next phase of Fall in the Cariboo

How I got more interested in Craft Beer

It all began in 1993 when I began at UBC. I was 18.75 years old and had 2 night classes. After my Thursday eve class I’d accompany my older classmates for some pool at the graduate lounge and we’d have the occasional beer or 2. What I had never been exposed to (having never been old enough to buy been in a bar) was Shaftebury Cream Ale. That was my gateway craft beer.

Flash forward to 2014 (just 21 years later) and I made the Telus Storyhive pitch to do a micro doc about craft beer.  Being totally not an expert, I required a sizeable amount of the grant funding to go towards research. Meeting the makers, the dreamers who were just building out their new breweries, and bringing my editor and “writer” out on frequent occasions to accompany me on my research trips.

What came out of that journey was my film Brew Love.



Getting the opportunity to chase the story and meet many of the new brewers was a lot of fun. Being that I had recently relocated to North Vancouver, I was a little North Van-heavy on my interviews (including Green Leaf Brewing, Black Kettle Brewing Company & Deep Cove Brewing), but I wasn’t exactly lazy. I even met with John Mitchell (who coincidentally lives in North Van) who co-founded B.C.’s 1st craft brewery Horseshoe Bay Brewing (with Frank Appleton). I also made it out the BC Beer Awards, met the crew from Strange Fellows who were still building their brewery, got down to Yaletown Brewing and caught Tariq’s interview just before he became a distiller, found time to grill notable beer enthusiast Dave Shea (who let me give him that title), met the Thirsty Writer Joe Wiebe (who had to summarize the history of the BC craft beer scene in under 60 seconds) and gathered a couple of cool members of the CAMRA Vancouver executive at the time. I also got into the guts of Craft Beer Market while it was being built to try and understand why someone was about to open a facility in Vancouver with 140 taps…I was doubtful at the time that it made sense, but I was clearly wrong.

Graham_WithWhat was really interesting was that Telus did not demand exclusivity, so the film was free to tour the film festival circuit. And it was just after I’d learned about a Vancouver-based easy submission platform called Film Freeway. It made festival submissions a snap, especially helping me find the free ones. And surprisingly enough the film got some serious play. Enough that I needed to make an English subtitled version and provide a timed transcript…because someone may want to show it in the Ukraine.

Dave Shea
Dave Shea speaks Russian. With the help of subtitles in a Planetarium in Ukraine.
The film played at 25 official film festivals, as well as pop-up screenings, beer festivals, and several of Joe Wiebe’s events, and even featured at a BC Business conference called The Business of Craft Beer.

The film’s continued success was satisfying – enough so that I thought we might be ready for a short piece on our local distilling scene (I had just discovered Sons of Vancouver), but traction was hard to get on that one.

Ultimately I got onto a lot of invites to really interesting craft beer events and met many more people in the scene…and it’s been hard for me to lose interest the more I learned.

So this blog, which is a pretty ego-centric concept, is my next craft beer project since I’m enamoured with the idea of bringing all these pretty bottles and cans to someplace to special.