Vancouver Craft Beer Week is fast approaching — and that means it’s time to brew up the annual VCBW Collaboration Beer.

The eighth annual VCBW Collaboration Brew took place April 20 at Yellow Dog Brewing in Port Moody. This year’s beer, a hazy pale ale, was designed by the Brewers Row breweries — Moody Ales, Twin Sails, Parkside and Yellow Dog — and is described as “magically hopped with El Dorado, Huell Melon and Idaho 7 hops, then infused with passion fruit and guava, launching this beer into awesome sauce stratosphere.”

The Brewers Row breweries are no strangers to collaboration, so it’s not surprising they were chosen as the location for this year’s VCBW beer. They recently came together to make their second annual Brewers Row collaboration beer, a Belgian pale ale, with a portion of proceeds going to the Sasamat Volunteer Firefighters. They have also each collaborated with other BC breweries.

VCBW Collab 2017 Group
Brewers from all over BC gathered at Yellow Dog Brewing to brew the VCBW Collaboration beer.

Festive, community vibe

Many BC breweries attended the brew day and Yellow Dog’s new tasting room was an ideal venue for this spirited gathering.

The initial brew process started earlier in the morning before anyone  arrived. Later in the afternoon everyone gathered in the brewhouse for the hop addition, with many taking turns adding a handful or two of hops.

There was a festive, community vibe among the group. You’d often see veteran brewmasters chatting with rookie brewers or past co-workers reconnecting. Brand new breweries like A-Frame and Back Country Brewing, as well as soon-to-open contract brewery, Factory Brewing, were attending for their first time.

Two of BC’s newest breweries were represented: A-Frame and Backcountry, both from Squamish.

Collaborations over the years

It was quite a different scene from the first VCBW collaboration brew in 2010, which took place at Granville Island Brewing. Back then, it was just Vern Lambourne (then GIB’s brewmaster, now at Parkside) and Iain Hill (then at Yaletown Brewing, now at Strange Fellows) and a photographer to capture the inaugural brew, a northwest abbey ale.

It was the start of a wonderful tradition that has now happened annually in the month leading up to VCBW. In subsequent years, collaboration brew days took place at R&B Brewing, Russell Brewing, Parallel 49 Brewing, Central City Brewers, Red Truck Beer and Steel & Oak, with a wide variety of styles brewed over that time.

VCBW Collab 2010 Vern and Iain
Vern Lambourne and Iain Hill brew the 2010 VCBW Collaboration Brew.

Brewing for a good cause

Since inception, a portion of the proceeds from the VCBW collaboration brews has been donated to charities that have been nominated by the collaborating breweries. This year’s recipient is the SPCA. Over the past seven years approximately $22,000 has been raised for various charities.

“Our annual collaboration beer has always been an opportunity for us to bring all of the brewers in BC together, to celebrate what they do, how great our craft beer community is, and of course, brew a delicious beer for a good cause,” said VCBW director Leah Heneghan.

VCBW organizers Paul Kamon, Leah Heneghan and Tyler Olson.

Collaboration beers have become quite popular in the past few years. Some of the many benefits include the opportunity for breweries who don’t package their product to work with a brewery that does.

The collaboration beers are often special one-off brews of styles that aren’t common. Sometimes seasonal ingredients are used, along with a lot of creativity. Breweries have new opportunities, community is strengthened and there’s more variety for consumers — it’s a win-win-win. Cheers to collaboration!

The VCBW Collaboration Hazy Pale Ale is due to be released mid-May in four-packs of cans.
Vancouver Craft Beer Week runs from May 26-June 4.

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