Canadian craft brewing pioneer John Mitchell dies at age 89 in Vancouver

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      Canada’s beer industry has been mourning the loss of a Metro Vancouver man who came to be known as the “Grandfather of Canadian craft beer”.

      Alexander John Mitchell died in North Vancouver on June 16 at age 89. According to CBC News, he had been admitted to hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia two weeks ago.

      Mitchell was born in Singapore in 1929 and grew up in England before he emigrated to Canada at age 24 and established a career as a publican, entrepreneur, and brewer.

      After Mitchell sought to provide patrons of his pub with a wider range of ales in the 1980s, he began to lobby for reformed government regulations, which helped to establish the B.C. craft beer industry.

      In 1982, he opened Horseshoe Bay Brewing, credited with being the first modern microbrewery in Canada, in West Vancouver.

      Then in 1984, he opened Spinnakers in Victoria, which became one of the first brewpubs in North America.

      Together with his colleague John Ohler and Trading Post Brewing, Mitchell established the John Mitchell Scholarship to help Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) students in the brewing and brewery operations diploma program in Langley.

      When Mitchell became concerned about his health this past spring, he made a final toast to the B.C. craft brewing industry with the help of Ohler. 

      At the time of his death, Mitchell and Ohler had been working on proposed new brewery called the John Mitchell Legacy Pub and Brewery.

      In memoriam donations to the John Mitchell Foundation can be made by contacting the KPU Foundation.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook