Red Truck, Barkerville and Stanley Park beers go head to head on a cedar stump

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As a craft beer enthusiast and a former professional graphic designer/creative director, I struggle a bit when deciding on which British Columbia beers I should take home from the liquor store. Keeping to an all-BC-beer diet is easy (heck, the options are so plentiful I could live off of Vancouver beers alone) but all are obviously not created equal and to me there are a few factors to consider.

One of the things I look for is great packaging design. It’s not all that important to many and in fact most people aren’t conscious of it at all, but I feel that if you’re going to take the time (and money) to put together a brewery and make some local beers you think are awesome then once they come to market you’d better not be doing the branding by yourself or having your friend’s cousin’s kid design it as a school project. You’d better be getting professionals working on it, and I hope that you work with them to tell the interesting story that goes along with your product, because that’s important too. If you slack off in those areas what’s to say you’re not going to make sub par quality beer as well?

Quality and taste are obviously the most important of criteria when evaluating bottled/canned beers, and I want every BC brewery to do well, which is why I’m going to give them all a fair shake here in this new feature called On The BC Beer Stump. First up are three brews from Barkerville Brewing Co, Red Truck Beer and Stanley Park Brewery.

barkerville-ale

Barkerville Brewing Co 18 Karat Ale – 5% ABV
QUALITY/TASTE: 7.5/10
PACKAGING DESIGN: 9/10
STORY: 9/10

When I first spotted Barkerville’s bottles all lined up in the cooler at Legacy I practically passed out with excitement. Seriously, they’ve mashed up one of British Columbia’s greatest historical towns, rich with gold rush stories, and distributed those to 4 beers. Not only is the story great but whoever did the illustration and design of these bottles absolutely nailed it.

red-truck

Red Truck Ale – 5.2% ABV
QUALITY/TASTE: 8/10
PACKAGING DESIGN: 6/10
STORY: 7/10

Unlike Barkerville, the branding across all of this Brewery Creek brewed beer is the same on all varieties: it’s a red truck. Which is fine; you don’t have to get all fancy and tell me the story of why it’s a red truck, but it would be nice. The Ale is my favourite of the three (and the one I’m ranking for the purpose of this exercise), but the lager left a bit to be desired likely because it is what it is, a simple lager. The IPA was pretty much textbook great, fresh hopiness. I’m looking forward to drinking an Ale in their dining room when they open it in their new facility sometime in the next few months. It’s just a couple blocks East of the Olympic Village.

stanley-park-windstorm

Stanley Park Windstorm Ale – 5.7% ABV
QUALITY/TASTE: 7/10
PACKAGING DESIGN: 7/10
STORY: 9/10

I made a quick blog post about this one a couple weeks back simply because the story was so great: it’s all about that great big storm that took out 10,000 or so trees in our local park a few years back, and portions of the proceeds go to the Stanley Park Ecology Society. The fact that their brewery is partly wind powered isn’t lost on me and is a nice subtle touch. Not every one comes with a tree (their PR sent me this can with a sapling to illustrate the story of how they’re helping the folks who help the trees), so don’t go looking for that when you’re grabbing a tall can of this; all the “extra” money goes towards making our park a better place. The ale itself was decent, but not quite as enjoyable as the Barkerville one.

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And the winner of this first round of On The BC Beer Stump is…

Barkerville with a score of 25.5/30!
Red Truck: 21/30
Stanley Park: 23/30

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If you’re doing PR for a BC beer company and you want to send me some contenders for this feature email me at bobk@vancouverisawesome.com to arrange shipping. Please note that if I really don’t like it, I won’t write about it.