Is there any better way to mark an occasion than with beer? In celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Georgia Straight’s annual Best of Vancouver issue, we’ve collaborated with Granville Island Brewing to bring the city we love an exciting—not to mention delicious—way to join the festivities.
Some partnerships occur out of necessity, while others come together naturally. It’s not difficult to draw parallels between Canada’s first microbrewery and its largest urban weekly newspaper.
While their pioneering may have been separated by 17 years, Straight founder (and current editor and publisher) Dan McLeod and Granville Island Brewing founder Mitch Taylor both had visions of bringing Vancouverites something they’d never had access to before.
For McLeod, it was an antiestablishment publication that would go on to break the barriers of censorship—and later hold the title of most prosecuted newspaper in Canadian history—while Taylor’s idea was a little more palatable for the general public: provide locals who were sick of drinking big-name brews with premium, natural, unpasteurized beer, brewed in the heart of Granville Island.
The brewery seemed like a great fit to produce the Straight’s special-edition beer based on its popularity among Vancouver’s beer drinkers. Granville Island Brewing is also a long-time Best of Vancouver winner.
Navdeep Chhina, the Straight’s brand manager, said the special-edition beer will serve as a unique commemorative gift for this year’s Best of Vancouver winners, chosen by our readers. The Straight’s general manager, Matt McLeod, came up with the idea.
“There are so many microbreweries in Vancouver, but we wanted something that reflected the legacy of the paper,” Chhina said. “Just like we’ve been around for a long time, so has Granville Island Brewing.”
No one could have guessed in the ’60s that a commemorative Georgia Straight beer would exist 40-odd years down the line, but since then, the publication has evolved into much more than a newspaper.
“We are always looking for different ideas, and we don’t think of ourselves as just a newspaper—we see ourselves as part of the arts community and the local food industry, so this is just another step in that direction,” Chhina said.
The process began in January, and after meeting with Granville Island brewmaster Kevin Emms on multiple occasions to decide what the beer would taste like, Chhina and team decided on a Kölsch-style golden ale.
“It made sense to make a gold-coloured beer because it seemed to match the occasion. We had to make something that would be pleasant for a lot of different people to drink, so a nice Kölsch came right to mind,” Emms said during an interview at the brewery.
“It’s a mellow, easy-drinking beer with a grainy note and a little honey character, but it’s also got a slight bitterness to it, with a crisp finish,” he said.
The brewmaster used a combination of German-style Canadian pilsner and caramel malts to provide a touch of sweetness and the beer’s rich, golden colour, while special varieties of Hallertauer Mittelfrüh and Perle bittering hops helped balance out the flavour of this easy-drinking ale. All in all, the two batches of 1,200 650-millilitre bottles were brewed over the course of five weeks, fermenting for three days and then conditioning and mellowing out for 21 days before being bottled at the brewery’s facility on Granville Island.
“It’s our little public display of affection for Vancouver,” Emms said, referring to the beer’s name, PDA, which was the result of a company-wide brainstorming session.
“We invited our staff members to propose a name for the beer,” Chhina said. “One of the ideas was ‘pretty damn awesome’, so that’s why we went with ‘PDA’. People will probably assume that it means ‘public display of affection’, but this beer is really a reflection of everything that we do, and everything about our city that is pretty damn awesome.”
Long-time Straight contributor Mark Pilon is responsible for the artwork on the beer’s bright orange label. Featuring the iconic Vancouver Free Press paperboy logo set against the city skyline, Emms said it’s a great reflection of the collaboration.
“The label has the feeling of some of the beers in our small-batch program, but it’s got a lot of Georgia Straight feel as well, obviously with a twist,” he explained.
A portion of the 2,400 bottles will be allocated to the Straight’s Best of Vancouver winners, but a limited number will be available at 18 private liquor stores throughout the Lower Mainland, including Granville Island Brewing’s retail store.
This one’s for you, Vancouver! Cheers to 20 years of bringing you the best this city has to offer.
Find Granville Island Brewing's Georgia Straight PDA Kolsch Style Golden Ale at the following locations:
Blackcomb Liquor Store (#1 4573 Chateau Boulevard, Squamish)
Jack Lonsdale's Liquor Store (433 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver)
Granville Island Brewing (1441 Cartwright Street, Vancouver)
Bimini's Liquor Store (2018 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver)
Legacy Liquor Store (1633 Manitoba Street, Vancouver)
Toby's Liquor Store (2733 Commercial Drive, Vancouver)
Sutton Place Wine Merchant (855 Burrard Street, Vancouver)
High Point Beer Wine Spirits (2769 East Hastings Street, Vancouver)
1st Avenue Liquor Store (#243 2800 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver)
O'Hares Liquor Store (5031 Steveston Highway, Richmond)
Legends at Terra Nova Liquor Store (3671 Westminster Highway, Richmond)
One20 Liquor Store (#120 8037 120 Street, Delta)
Clayton Liquor Store (18710 Fraser Highway, Surrey)
Riders Liquor Store (4143 208 Street, Langley)
College Park Liquor Store (1520 McCallum Road, Abbotsford)
Foxs Reach Specialty Liquor Store (20395 Lougheed Highway, Maple Ridge)
John B Liquor Store (1000 Austin Avenue, Coquitlam)
Port Moody Liquor Store (#4 2929 St John's Street, Port Moody)