Yellow Dog
Credit: BC Ale Trail

Yellow Dog Brewing has its share of fans in B.C.

The Port Moody operation narrowly beat out a couple of peers

What’s the best brewery in B.C.? It’s a divisive topic. And, like arguing about the best Spice Girl or the top Pixar movie of all time, it’s all a matter of taste.

(Posh and Toy Story for the win; sorry not sorry.)

But in a recent consumer survey from Vancouver research firm Insights West, Port Moody’s Yellow Dog Brewing topped the list of 30 beer makers and brands.

The brewery and its iconic yellow canine took first place with a 62-percent approval rating among the 850 British Columbians polled.

Close behind were Vancouver’s 33 Acres Brewing Co. and Delta’s Four Winds Brewing Co.,  both clocking in at 60 percent. Vancouver-based Parallel 49 Brewing Co. (59 percent) claimed the fourth spot, while Port Moody’s Twin Sails Brewing and Victoria’s Hoyne Brewing Co. tied for fifth with 57 percent each.

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The results don’t surprise Vancouver-based freelance digital marketing specialist Madeleine Thompson too much. “The top three, four, five—in terms of size, they’re the perfect local scale,” Thompson says. “They’ve got a large enough supply to be everywhere you’d expect them to be in Vancouver, but they’re still small enough to appeal to what I think is the millennial taste in artisanal and small-batch quality.”

Thompson also feels that the top contenders all do a good job of putting their unique spin on their brands. “Yellow Dog obviously has the dog, but it’s also very community-focused, donating to the SPCA and participating in community events,” she notes. “33 Acres has that minimalist West Coast cool, and Four Winds has the approachable sophistication to its branding. Each one of the smaller breweries is dialed in their own ways, and I think that builds brand trust.”

Although B.C.-based breweries comprise the bulk of the list, there are a few larger brands lumped into the survey as well. To that end, Labatt Blue, Kokanee and Budweiser make up the bottom three, all with approval ratings in the low 30s.

“For me personally, bigger always looks and tastes cheaper,” Thompson says. “They have weaker flavours, they’re not experimental, and they often end up looking corporate and bland.”

By contrast, she argues, craft breweries and their tasting rooms let customers experience the brand more fully and bring that with them when they leave: “It becomes more than a can of beer; you associate memories and feelings and experiences with each beer.”