Beer craftspeople are tapping into something special in the local brewery district.
On Saturday, Wildeye Brewing and North Point Brewing Co. took top prizes at the B.C. Beer Awards. Wildeye topped the international lager category with its Czech Pilsner, ahead of 51 other entries. North Point won first prize in the North American light lager category for its Lite Lager, beating out 48 other brews.
Shaketown Brewing Co., one of the newer additions to the North Vancouver beer scene, won two B.C. awards: second place in the pale bitter German lager category with its Shaketown Leichtbier, and third in the North American light lager category with its Pre-Prohibition Pilsner.
Among 56 entries in the specialty fruit beer category, La Cerveceria Astilleros won second place for its Agua de Jamaica Hibiscus Rose Sour.
The Czech Pilsner, one of the first beers made at Wildeye, has been tweaked around 30 times from its original recipe to the prize-winning version today, explained brewery owner Sam Lindeman.
She attributes the award to the relentless dedication of head brewer Michael Friesen. “Every time he makes a beer, he dissects it. And if he thinks it needs a little more of this or that, he alters the recipe.”
As for the beer’s origins, Friesen went on vacation to the Czech Republic before Wildeye opened in 2019. There, he did a pH test of the water and was pleased to find that it matched the levels on the North Shore. That meant he could replicate the beer as closely as possible.
“People from the Czech Republic actually come into our brewery specifically, because they say that's as close as they could get to the style at home,” Lindeman said.
“The type of beer is really popular for everyone, because it's still in the lager category but it's got … a little more flavour than your average lager.”
Reflecting on North Vancouver’s burgeoning beer scene, Lindeman said it’s great for the community.
“There’s so many people moving to the North Shore right now,” she said. “Especially in my neighbourhood – we're a little bit aways down the street from [the other breweries] – we have 5,000 new homes being built, we have new developments opening every week now it feels like, so they need somewhere to go.”
“And we're happy to be an establishment that you can come for your neighbourhood beer, but you can also get a nice dinner,” Lindeman added. “So, I think, the more the better. We're excited to be here.”