Skip to content

Brewery's bitters hit big leagues

Howe Sound Brewing Company earns high praise at international contest

Two seductively bubbly and bitter brews that locals have come to cherish as their own have now been accepted as top contenders in the world after garnering two prestigious awards at the 13th annual North American Beer Awards June 2 to 5.

The North American Brewing Awards are the second biggest annual brewing awards in North America with over 1,200 entries from five countries.

"The Howe Sound Brewing Company can compete with any company in the world now," said John Ohler, the company's vice president and manager of sales and business development. "We're recognized throughout North America as a premier craft brewery."

The Howe Sound Brewing Company took home a silver medal in the normal bitter category for its newest sensation, Bailout Bitter, and a bronze in the extra special bitter category for the old favourite, Baldwin and Cooper Best Bitter, named for Jim Baldwin and Ed Cooper - the first climbers to scale the Grand Wall of the Stawamus Chief in 1961.

"We were ecstatic," said Ohler of the win.

The brewery won a gold medal in 2007 and wasn't at the Idaho Falls event to receive it, so this time Ohler and company co-owner Dave Fenn drove down to see if they could collect a prize this time around.

"They called up the name and I said 'Oh wow, cool!' stood up and waved my arms and gave a little bit of a shouts and went and got the medal," said Ohler. "And then I sat down and the next category and we won again, so we were, needless to say, very excited."

Bailout Bitter gained notoriety last year after its creators came up with a way to make the most of the economic downturn.

Described as the most bitter of the brewery's 14 beer varieties, it is marketed a "bitter ale for bitter times." It's sold for slightly less than the company would normally charge, and its popularity reached as far as New York stockbrokers, who reportedly ordered cases of it after reading about it in the media.

Americans will soon be able to order Bailout, along with other Brewing Company selections, now that the first shipments of product were sent down south last week.

"I think the secret of Howe Sound Brewing is well, I can't tell you," Ohler laughed, however he would say the quality is in the effort. "We brew small batches, which makes a difference, and we use quality ingredients and a lot of TLC."

Ohler said it was important for he and Fenn to share the company's success with local supporters, so he immediately contacted local media to deliver the news.

"I think [residents] will be pretty proud that a Squamish, local company has reached out and kind of touched the world."

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks