Doing it Right: The Community Brew

Since it opened its doors in November, 2013 Craft Beer Market in Olympic Village has been supporting and engaging with not-for-profits through its Community Brew program. Several times a year Craft selects a local charity or community initiative to support with the sale proceeds from a “one-off” beer produced in collaboration with a local brewery.

Launching March 1st, this season’s Community Brew has been mashed and fermented by the Granville Island Brewery, and the worthwhile cause is the Vancouver Street Soccer League. The Vancouver Street Soccer League is a volunteer-run organization that uses soccer to engage with marginalized communities in Vancouver. For every glass of draught sold, $1 will be donated to the VSSL ($0.50 from Craft Beer Market and $0.50 from the Granville Island Brewery).

To learn more about what Granville Island had in mind for the VSSL Community Brew, Alcohol & Advocacy paid the Brewery a visit earlier this month to speak with Brewmaster Kevin Emms and Granville Island’s Beer Merchant Mike Sharpham.

Mike Sharpham, Granville Island Brewert "Beer Merchant"

Mike Sharpham, Granville Island Brewery’s “Beer Merchant”

Mike, who describes his position with the company as neither sales rep nor brand ambassador (but maybe something in-between?) is nevertheless an excellent representative of Granville Island and an affable impromptu tour guide of the onsite tasting room and retail store. While stroking his substantial moustache, Mike explained that Granville Island has been partnering with Craft “since the beginning” to produce original Community Brew recipes.

The Community Brew is truly a collaborative process. Mike and Brewmaster Kevin met with staff at Craft earlier in the year to discuss not only what style of beer is popular at the moment, but also what would make sense given the season. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner a stout was the natural choice – a dry Irish oatmeal stout to be exact.

Ewen's Lucky Charms secret recipe

Ewen’s Lucky Charms secret recipe

Kevin is a fascinating guy to talk to. Not only does he know his way around a brewery, he also knows the industry inside and out. Though he’s only been the Brewmaster at Granville Island for about 10 months, he’s a veteran in the Vancouver brewing scene having previously plied his trade at the Deep Cove Brewery and Coal Harbour Brewing Company. Kevin also holds a Masters of Science in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Kevin Emms, Granville Island Brewmaster

Kevin Emms, Granville Island Brewmaster

So what are they calling this seasonal collaboration? Apparently it’s being sold as “Ewen’s Lucky Charms” named after Craft’s favourite bartender and Nova Scotia expat Ewen Coles. On the day that Ewen’s Lucky Charms was being brewed Craft sent Ewen to Granville Island to learn more about the brewing process, and get in Kevin’s way. It is unclear if he’ll be invited back.

Craft's barman Ewen trying to be useful

Craft’s barman Ewen trying to be useful

After taking in the sites and sounds of the Brewery, Alcohol & Advocacy paid a visit to Craft’s sales and marketing manager Alina Gogoescu. Alina stressed how important the Community Brew program is to Craft. Not only does working with local breweries allow Craft’s staff to gain valuable hands-on experience with the brewing process, it also creates a platform for Craft to bring attention and financial support to worthy local causes.

Only ten hectolitres (1000 litres) of Ewen’s Lucky Charms was made, and when it’s gone it’s gone. Alcohol & Advocacy encourages readers to learn more about the VSSL, and stop by Craft for a glass of limited edition stout in the month of March to support this worthwhile initiative.

*Dan Coles of Alcohol & Advocacy is a board member and volunteer with the Vancouver Street Soccer League.

Dan Coles
Retired bartender. Young lawyer. From the East, living in the West. Interested in British Columbia's producers and purveyors of wine, beer and spirits.