Steel & Oak Brewing Co. earned gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2022 BC Beer Awards.
This year’s BC Beer Awards celebrated the best beers brewed in B.C. at an event at the Croatian Cultural Centre on Saturday, Nov. 5. All totalled, 120 breweries participated in the awards, which featured 31 categories and a total of 977 entries.
Steel & Oak, a New West-based craft brewery that opened in 2014, won gold in the Weissbier category, where Der Klassiker (a Hefeweizen) came out on top among 26 entries. Its Zoigl (a keller lager) won silver in the Amber Lager category.
“It was great. We were obviously pretty lucky – we won three awards, which is good,” said Jorden Foss, co-owner of S&O. “There was a thousand entries this year, which is the most that we've seen. So it's always nice to come away with something.”
Foss said the brewery had thought it may have a shot of winning with its German-styled beers.
“The Hefeweizen and the Zoigl are both German-style beers, and German style beers are kind of what we do well,” he said. “So, we always figure when we put German beers in that we have a pretty good shot of winning something.”
Steel & Oak’s Undertow earned a bronze in the Imperial IPA category.
“We're not normally ones to make a lot of like West Coast hoppy beers, so that one was actually the one that we were probably the most shocked about that we won,” Foss said. “It’s always a nice surprise when you win for something that you don't necessarily do all the time.”
The wins at the BC Beer Awards came soon after the New West-based craft brewery won a silver award in the Canada Beer Cup, a national competition hosted by the Canadian Craft Brewers Guild. Frolf placed second in the 3G - IPA of 6.1% to 8% ABV (Contemporary) category.
Foss said Steel & Oak won for a hazy IPA, which was cool because, again, it wasn’t a German-style beer that the brewery is normally known for.
“I guess it proves to the team that we're good at making other things, right?” he said. “And we should continue to try and brew new styles and brew things that we don't necessarily drink all the time because, apparently, we're decent at it, which was exciting.”
A creative industry
While brewers have their favourite styles of beers to drink, Foss said it’s always fun to get creative.
“Half the fun is sitting down and creating a recipe of something you're trying to achieve,” he said.
With Steel & Oak putting out one or two new beers every month, Foss said its team is always coming up with new brews. It’s also thinking of situations where folks may want to enjoy a beer.
“Sometimes we'll look at situations like: what kind of beer would you like to drink when you're on a beach? Or what kind of beer would you like to drink when you finish a hike? And to kind of reverse engineer - like, what feelings are we trying to give people with the flavours that we put into something?” Foss said. “Being creative is definitely the one of the more fun parts of the job, for sure.”
While many folks are just now adjusting to the wintry weather, the folks at Steel & Oak have already mapped out their production schedule until May or June 2023. The brewery always has about six mainstays on tap in its tasting room, but it’s always working on new offerings for folks who are dropping in to its expanded tasting room.
“With our tasting room being as busy as it is, we try and keep things pretty fresh and new for people that continually come down,” Foss said.
Steel & Oak sold a lot of beer in liquor stores in the early days of the pandemic, but it’s seen that taper off in 2022 as people get back into their regular routines. And, despite some tougher economic times, its Steel & Oak’s tasting room has never been busier.
“It's definitely been a bright spot of the business,” Foss said. “We have a more robust food program now, so people are definitely coming down and being able to have dinner. And we've been able to, you know, kind of fill up those extra seats that we've built over this past year.”