Monday, August 30, 2010

Victoria: the craft beer zone

If you follow the blog, you'll know that Victoria is eagerly expecting its fourth brewpub — a traditional English-style pub called The Moon Under Water — once its rezoning hearing goes through. Well, I was one of a hundred or so people who turned up at Victoria City Hall for the hearing last week. The first bit of good news is that council voted unanimously to let the pub open. The even better news is that this city fricking loves craft beer.

As I wandered in with other-beer-blogger Eskimo Dave, I wasn't sure what to expect. The rezoning hearing was to decide whether it was OK for a brewpub to open in an area marked for "industrial production." As one astute councillor pointed out, craft brewing is a light industry. But the fact that the business planned to operate under a "liquor primary licence" (meaning its main purpose was to sell alcohol on premises) meant that the Moon Under Water's owners had to sweat it out for several months with a half-built pub, not knowing if they'd ever be able to open.

I expected a fairly quick "yay" or "nay" from a city official, but it turns out that rezoning hearings are conducted as part of council business — meaning the mayor and council are all present and the public are given forum to express their views. Bonnie Bradley (one of the owners) was called to put forward the case for the pub. Apparently Victoria has an abnormally high number of liquor primaries, meaning you really have to justify a new pub. Bonnie did a fine job convincing everyone that the Moon' is going to be a respectable watering hole.

Next, the public were invited to speech. I was impressed as CAMRA representatives, local industry-types, and several other members of the public put some well-prepared arguments in support of the pub. The highlight (I'm sure everyone who was there will agree) was the speech by Jason Meyer from Driftwood Brewery. Here's someone for whom the Moon' is technically a competitor — yet he put forward about the most  eloquent case for the social and artisanal benefits of a pub that you'll ever hear. I only wish I'd recorded it.

I was so giddy from all the craft beer love, that I even went up and spoke in front of council myself. I hadn't  expected to speak at all, so I just blathered on about how proud the city should be of its beer industry. I needn't have bothered. I was preaching to the converted. Several councilors — including one who admitted to opposing pretty much every new licence application going — gave warm approval to the plan. Councillor Phillipe Lucas — Green Party member, medicinal cannabis advocate, buddy of mine, and all-round class-act — closed things up by welcoming the Moon' to the city, and everyone left happy that craft beer has a deep support throughout pretty much the entire community.

Proud to be a Victorian. Cheers.


  1. Hooray! we are coming for the beer fest next week. I cannot wait to check out Victoria's beer scene.

  2. Oh yes. Goddamn, you hit the nail on the head.

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