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Burnaby breweries clean up at B.C. Beer Awards

Local breweries proved no one puts Burnaby in a corner, especially when it comes to craft beer. Burnaby-based breweries Dageraad Brewing and Steamworks Brewing Co. took home a total of 10 awards at the B.C.

Local breweries proved no one puts Burnaby in a corner, especially when it comes to craft beer.

Burnaby-based breweries Dageraad Brewing and Steamworks Brewing Co. took home a total of 10 awards at the B.C. Beer Awards, including the coveted Best in Show award for Steamworks’ Flagship IPA. The seventh annual awards and festival, held on Saturday at the Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver, is all about celebrating the province’s booming craft beer industry.

This was the third year in a row Dageraad had taken part in the awards, and just like last year, the local brewery improved over its previous record, according to owner and head brewer Ben Coli.

“We got one silver medal in our first year, and then we got a gold, silver and a bronze in the second year, and this year it was three golds, a silver and a bronze, so we’re trending up. It’s been really great. We’re just kind of refining our art,” Coli said.

When the NOW spoke with Coli on Monday, he was already back at the brewery working on a new batch. With the recent wins, he expects more people will be dropping by to check out their Belgian-style brews. 

But for Coli, the wins are a validation of all the hard work he and his team put in to make Dageraad a success.

“You go on a day-to-day basis and you think, ‘Yeah, my beer’s really good; it’s tasting really good right now,’ and it feels great just to get some affirmation of that,” he added.

Currently, with a staff of four, including Coli, the brewery produces about 150,000 litres of beer per year, which is relatively small compared to other Lower Mainland breweries. Coli said he’d like to see Dageraad hit about 300,000 litres before he calls it a day.

“And by that I mean, keep pounding away at this pretty manual, pretty physically demanding job that we do,” he said.

In all, Dageraad won three gold medals – one for Entropy Series No. 1, another for its Blonde IPA and a third for its Dageraad Blonde. (For full results, see sidebar.)

Moving forward, Dageraad fans can expect to see a couple new beers come December, including a new regular called Dageraad Brune, which will be a brown ale, and Anno 2016, which is an annual speciality beer the crew makes using pears from Keremeos.

But most exciting of all is the new 40-seat tasting room Coli hopes to have open by Christmas time. Expect more information about the new space later this fall, Coli said.

Meanwhile, the folks over at Steamworks Brewing Co., which is also based in Burnaby, were also celebrating on Monday. Head brewer Julia Hanlon said her team was enjoying the “emotional hangover” as they headed back to work this week.

Steamworks’ Burnaby crew won a total of five medals at Saturday’s awards, including Best in Show for its Flagship IPA, which Hanlon describes as a more “approached” and “juicy” IPA. This is the third Best in Show win for Steamworks.

“It feels amazing. You never really know what’s going to happen with awards like this. I know there was a lot of buzz in the air, around Flagship IPA in particular, … but you just never know when something like that is going to happen,” Hanlon told the NOW.

Steamworks won gold medals for its Flagship IPA and its Steamworks Kolsch. Hanlon credits the brewery’s diversity. The brewers at Steamworks come from all different backgrounds, and they are encouraged to explore their passions to see where it leads them. The brewery even has a pilot system that allows the brewers to test out new ideas.

“We’re just trying to keep the creativity going, and when something turns out really well, then we talk about turning it into a commercial release,” she said, adding she hopes her team enjoys the spotlight for the next while before everything goes back to business as usual. 

A first for women:

Julia Hanlon, head brewer for Steamworks Brewing Co., made history on Saturday night – she was the first female brewer to win Best in Show at the seventh annual B.C. Beer Awards.

That title, however, is something she doesn’t think about when she’s working in the brewery. In fact, it’s something that makes her uncomfortable to talk about, she told the NOW.

“Honestly, it’s not something I like to draw attention to. I just feel like I’m just doing my thing and other people tend to ask me about this more than I think about it myself,” she said.