Straight to the Pint taps those on the frontlines of our booming local craft-beer industry for stories about biggest brewing successes, dream vacation spots, and which brand was always in the family fridge.
Who are you
Ken Beattie, executive director of the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild. I represent the collective voice for our B.C. craft community and our 60-plus members in B.C. My job is to run the day-to-day business on behalf of the 60-plus brewers of B.C.—I am the voice of these women and men. That being said, in reality, I interrupt brewery owners as they work on growing their own business for my own agenda.
Your dad’s favourite beer
I will tell you about my mom and dad’s favourite beer: Carling O’Keefe Black Label. My parents were from Glasgow, so they liked to drink room-temperature Black Label, often accompanied on the weekend by a measure of Scotch—yes, the classic boilermaker. This was definitely the first beer I tried; it was warm and god-awful to me. I should explain I may have been six or seven at the time. My friend Johnny McCann and I split a bottle while my parents hosted a Scottish sing-along in our front room with a room full of ex-Glaswegians… Think So I Married an Axe Murderer and you get the idea. After that experience, it is amazing I ever drank another beer.
First go-to brand
My first go-to beer was Molson Canadian. While still in high school, I was lucky enough to play for the Kats Rugby Club in Vancouver. I played on Saturdays with the men’s team. I have always looked older than I am, which is an advantage when you are under 19, so I was able to “occasionally” sneak into the clubhouse after the games. Molson was a big supporter of our club, so the older guys and club executive made sure we knew who supported the club and who we should support. You did not want to get caught with a Kokanee in your hand by one of the legendary older Kats players, believe me.
I was working for Molson as a sales rep on the West Side of Vancouver—that brand loyalty from rugby paid off—around 1990. I was a beer lover and would always try competitors’ beers so I knew what the attraction was or how to sell my beer against them. In one of the pubs I stumbled upon a local brewery from East Vancouver called Shaftebury, and I tried their Cream Ale. It was dark in colour, roasted coffee and chocolate in taste, and so different, I thought this was some kind of wonderful. As I continued to call in that territory, I would see more Shaftebury taps around Kits. Being a good corporate team player, I made it my mission to check the quality control of Shaftebury on behalf of my big brewery benefactor weekly.
I have on my bucket list to take a riverboat cruise through Europe, most likely in Belgium, but I am open to suggestions. I found the monastic brewing traditions so intriguing and now have a real desire to experience the stories, history, and beer for myself. I can’t think of a better way to see these medieval cities than from a riverboat or from a bicycle in between stops. What better way to experience a beer culture than to travel through time sampling beer history with a river cruise waiting as your recovery station so you can get up and do it all over again… Groundhog Day!
First beer brewed
Also on my bucket list is to brew a beer. I have not done that, and the more I surround myself with all these creative and innovative brewers, the more I would like to try giving it a go. I am thinking of trying my hand at some type of Scottish-influenced style, as it is in my DNA. I am thinking a wee heavy, with a shot of single malt.
Working every day in a job I have trained my whole life for is a great sense of achievement for me. If you would have told me five years ago I would be running the day-to-day business for over two-thirds of the nearly 100 craft breweries in B.C., I would have told you to lay off the barrel-aged barley wines and get back to ISAs. The excitement is not knowing what is around the corner, but whatever it is I will have a B.C. craft beer in hand and be cheering it on—maybe even my own wee heavy!