Craft beer bonanza hits Vancouver

Gary Lohin, brewmaster at Central City Brewing in Surrey, British Columbia, Thursday May 30, 2013, Vancouver Craft Beer Week hits the city as dozens of local breweries, including one suburban company that's going through major expansions, showcase their latest varieties. (CARMINE MARINELLI / 24 HOURS)

Gary Lohin, brewmaster at Central City Brewing in Surrey, British Columbia, Thursday May 30, 2013, Vancouver Craft Beer Week hits the city as dozens of local breweries, including one suburban company that's going through major expansions, showcase their latest varieties. (CARMINE MARINELLI / 24 HOurs

Ask Chris Bjerrisgaard what he looks for in craft beer and he’ll tell you it depends on the time of year, the time of day or even the type of weather.

“A good beer, much like a good wine or a good cocktail, is designed around the experience that you’re having,” said the organizer for Vancouver Craft Beer Week, which kicks off Friday and runs through June 8.

“If it’s a dreary evening like it was (Wednesday) night, I may be interested in putting down a high-gravity, higher-alcohol stout. Maybe something that was aged in bourbon barrels.”

And when 60 breweries descend upon the city for more than two-dozen VCBW events, Bjerrisgaard said fans of the amber nectar can look forward to everything from beer cocktail competitions to a pub crawl.

Gary Lohin, brewmaster for Surrey’s Central City Brewing, however, stressed one of VCBW’s biggest bonuses is simply educating people.

“(Craft brewers) make sure the public understands what a multitude of flavours that you can have in beer. It’s not just a Molson Canadian or Labatt Blue type of thing.”

Central City’s Red Racer ESB variety, which will be featured at VCBW, earned the top award at the World Beer Cup last year, while the Canadian Brewing Awards recognized the craft beer-maker as Brewery of the Year in 2012.

Lohin said the brewery has now “maxed out” its current facilities next to the Surrey Central SkyTrain station, where workers have to package huge orders onto pallets out on the sidewalk.

Next month Central City moves into a custom built 65,000-square-foot facility a few blocks north, near the Fraser River.

“It’s going to raise the bar for craft brewing, not only in British Columbia, but it’s going to be one of the nicest, if not the nicest, in all of Canada.”