Highlighting an Ingredient’s Seasonality with Vancouver’s 33 Acres Brewing

International Insights is a continuing series of Q&As with brewing members, but this time branching outside of the US and into the rest of the world.
In this series, Brewer will share personal insights from international breweries each week about the craft beer market in other countries, where those brewers get their inspiration, and how the market compares to craft beer in the US.

Trever Bass, Director of Brewing Operations, 33 Acres Brewing — Vancouver, Canada

BREWER: What can you tell me about the history of 33 Acres and the most popular beers at your brewery?
BASS: 33 Acres Brewing Company opened its doors in 2013. The brewery was born out of the spirit of community sharing; drink, food, conversation, space and ideas. We carry a strong appreciation for the boundless limits created by hard work. We’re influenced by the natural elements of our surroundings, fueled by creativity, and strive to make the highest quality product. Our best selling beers out of this brewery are 33 Acres of Sunshine, a French Blanche brewed with coriander and orange peel as well as 33 Acres of Ocean, a West Coast Pale Ale that is loaded with citrus, tropical aroma and anchored with a bit of classic conifer notes to pull it all together. We also offer a West Coast IPA, a California Common and a Schwarzbier, called 33 Acres of Nirvana, 33 Acres of Life and 33 Acres of Darkness respectively. In 2018 we opened our new experimentation-focused brewery located next door called 33 Brewing Experiment that is meant to compliment the classic styles being brewed at 33 Acres. We wanted a space to push traditional brewing methods, use both classic and non-typical ingredients as well as introduce a wide variety of Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus and other cultures to the brewing space without endangering the Saccharomyces focused production brewery located next door. This is a brewery where tea-processed fig leaves and foraged wild sage and yarrow have equal footing with Galaxy and Citra hops. Our most popular beers from 33 Brewing Experiment include gold medal winning Fluffy Cloud Hazy IPA, our constantly rotating green bottle, mixed-culture Saison program and our regular release of lagers such as our Vienna-style lager and Dry Hopped Pilsner. 

BREWER: What are the popular styles in Vancouver/BC? How does that compare to the rest of Canada?
BASS: Vancouver seems to be similar to the rest of North America in that the Hazy IPA reigns supreme. With Vancouver being so close to a major hop growing region, hop-forward styles tend to be dominant, with the prevalence of classic Belgian, English and German styles complementing those lupulin rich beers in bars and breweries here in Vancouver. The local Fraser Valley and surrounding areas produce an incredible variety of fruit, so you will see many local beer producers making beers that lean heavily on blueberries, raspberries, apricots, cherries and other stone fruit when they are in season. BC does like the occasional maltier beer as well and finding a classic English Pale is not that difficult. I don’t believe that the rest of Canada is very different from Vancouver in its stylistic preferences, just that individual cities and regions will have their own interpretation of how those styles should be represented. 

BREWER: Where do you get inspiration for new beers?
BASS: I love to go to restaurants and if available, get the Chef’s menu or tasting menu. I find that frequently you will have a chef try combining flavour, aroma and texture that may not have a place in a regular menu. This is often very inspirational and I try to incorporate some of those ideas in our beers. While writing new recipes in the brewery, we try to honour an ingredient’s sense of place, capture a moment in time, highlight seasonality, and challenge the idea of locality. Several of our beers have had foraged ingredients found within sight of my house. Other beers have ingredients collected from a tiny granite outcropping in Northern Coastal British Columbia or while traveling in Morocco. If we do our job well, you can experience a part of that location while sipping away at your glass. 

BREWER: How has COVID-19 affected your country and your brewery? What restrictions have been put in place by the government, and how are you adapting?
BASS: COVID-19 has been challenging in Canada on many levels. Through business and organizational closures, reduced access to basic infrastructure and a constantly shifting way of life, people have had to be very resilient. Our two breweries have been able to keep producing beer throughout the pandemic, though our taprooms closed in mid-March. Our keg sales reduce to zero overnight. We were able to make home deliveries and operate a contact-free pickup window for retail sales, as well as deliver to local bottle shops doing the same. Recently our taprooms were able to open at half capacity, and we are taking many strict precautions for our employees and customers to stay safe while in our space. 33 Acres has had to learn to pivot quickly to ensure that beer quality remains at the highest level and the business can continue to operate in the years to come.

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