Green Beer: Canada’s First Sustainable Brewery Comes to Vancouver

Vancouver was a little late to arrive on the microbrew scene, with the city’s first craft beer maker – Granville Island Brewing – opening its doors in 1984.  Since then, however, the microbrew phenomenon has clearly taken off, and now dozens of different hand-crafted, small-batch beers are made in and around the city.  One of the newest contenders on the scene brings with it a high profile name and some impressive eco-credentials.

Stanley Park Brewery, which is actually based in Delta, has opened what may be Canada’s first sustainable brewery.  A 110-foot- tall  wind turbine provides the energy for the state-of-the-art complex, which uses less water and energy than a conventional brewery.  The brewery’s somewhat confusing name refers to the original Stanley Park Brewery, which was established way back in 1897 on the shore’s of the park’s Lost Lagoon by Belgian pioneer and brewmaster Frank Foulbert.

An original Stanley Park Brewery bottle from the early 1900s.

So much for the history lesson, now on to the important stuff: How does the beer taste?  So far, Stanley Park Brewing – which seems to have opened about a year ago – only makes one beer, its distinctive 1897 Amber.  According to the brewery, this Belgian-style amber is among the most complex beers to make and required extensive consultation with brewmasters in Belgium to get just the right kind of yeast and hops required.  The 1897 Amber is available in more than 160 restaurants around Vancouver and also in stores, according to the brewery’s website.

Seduced by the label and the Stanley Park tie-in, I tried the beer downtown at O’Douls recently.  I’m not a beer connoisseur, but the 1897 Amber was refreshingly clean and light, with a mild bitterness and no aftertaste.  And I’m not alone in giving the brew a thumbs up.  Erik Wolfe and Chris Richardson, the guys behind the local blog LoveGoodBeer.com, also gave it their stamp of approval.  It’s a very drinkable, tasty summer beer.

But – in spite of its green credentials and superb ale – Stanley Park Brewery is not without a bit of controversy.  The brewery is actually owned by the Mark Anthony Group, the leading distributor of wine and beer in Canada.  This has led some beer enthusiasts to cry foul, pointing out that Stanley Park Brewery is not a craft brewery at all, but a division of the same Canadian beverage giant that makes Mike’s Hard Lemonade and dozens of other products.  Whatever the case may be, the 1897 Amber beer seems to speak for itself, offering  a welcomed addition to the local beer-scape.

Any other fans of Stanley Park Brewery’s 1897 Amber out there?  What do you think of the brewery’s commitment to sustainability?  Do you like the idea of using the city’s most beloved landmark – Stanley Park – on a beer label?  If you’d like to comment – or if you happen to have more info on Stanley Park Brewing and its product line – please weigh in below.

Remy Scalza

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