“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”
|First hop harvest at Grandview Farm for Salt Spring Ales|
American statesman, scientist, philosopher, writer and inventor, 1706-1790
As the old year draws to a close, and the new year is here, many of us raise a glass or two in a toast to good health and good friends. For some like myself, the drink of choice will be beer. It is encouraging and exciting to see a local Gulf Island cottage brewery succeed and inspire on so many levels. Salt Spring Island Ales, also known as Gulf Islands Brewing, is an award winning cottage brewery that is co-owned by Becky Julseth and Neil Cooke-Dallin, located in the Fulford Valley of Salt Spring Island. The couple took over the brewery from Neil's uncle in 2008 and their goal has been to advance the cottage brewery movement in Canada and to make good beer, in small batches with locally-sourced ingredients. Brewmaster Murray Hunter has been with Gulf Islands Brewery since the early days and started out with a “Brew your own” business for hobbyists.
An added bonus to local farmers is the availability of spent grains for cattle and sheep feeding.
Just as tourists flock to the various wine regions of the planet, including the Gulf Islands, tourists also seek out the best in cottage beer. As a twist on a typical pub crawl, there are those who go from island to island to enjoy the local brews, often by boat.
But perhaps the biggest inspiration for me was to see Becky in bright pink boots, amongst the hops in a photo on their website. These are in fact quite a badge of honour among the women who are involved in making beer – whether it be home brewed, cottage brewed or commercially produced. A club was formed called the “Pink Boots Society”, whose mission is to inspire, encourage and empower women to become professionals and advance their careers in the Beer Industry. The Pink Boots Society especially believes in education for women brewers, to produce superior beer, and to increase the number of women beer judges and brewers.
|Murray, Becky and Neil planting hops (note the pink boots!)|