The story behind the B.C.-Washington craft beer collab Border Hoppin’

It will be on tap at Stanley Park Brewing June 27-July 4, to toast both Canada Day and Independence Day

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It’s not often that the relationship between Canada and the United States feels like a 50-50 split, but if such an equitable relationship could be captured in a formula and bottled, it might go down as well as a refreshing, cold craft beer.

International relations weren’t exactly top of mind when Sung Choy, the political and economic section chief for the U.S. consulate general, and his North Vancouver neighbour, Doug Devlin, the general manager of Stanley Park Brewing, had in mind when they started chatting over their shared backyard fence.

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Rather, the conversation touched on beer, and the Pacific Northwest’s shared love of microbreweries and craft beer.

It wasn’t long until the U.S. consul’s first official act of beer diplomacy was born.

When Consul General Jim DeHart formally approached Stanley Park Brewing to ask if they were interested in creating a special cross-border beer project to celebrate the U.S.’s 248th year of independence on July 4, it took a little diplomatic wrangling to ensure good relations — after all, Canada’s birthday would also be celebrated that same week.

It would have to be a beer to celebrate both birthdays.

“We looked at it as an opportunity to celebrate our Canada Day as well,” said Devlin. “We are a key and frequent destination for our American friends, so we are hopeful they will see this as a collaboration that celebrates both of our countries.”

To create the Canada-U.S. beer-birthday “collab,” dubbed Border Hoppin’, Stanley Park Brewing and Elysian Brewing in Seattle decided on a lager.

“Border Hoppin’s beer style is a west coast pilsner, a new-world take on a classic german pilsner. It’s brewed like pilsner but hopped like a west coast IPA,” said Devlin.

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Pilsners are known for their classic, easy-drinking profile, but IPAs are the fastest-growing style in B.C., said Devlin.

Brewmasters from Stanley Park Brewing and Elysian in Seattle, Wash., picked four hop varietals for the beer, which has 50 per cent Citra and Columbus from Washington, and 50 per cent Abbotsford-grown Sterling and Triumph hops.

“The result has the classic west coast character of citrusy, piney, resinous and herbal, with a sprinkle of tropical fruit,” said Marc Mammoliti, Stanley Park Brewing’s head brewer.

The beer will be launched at an Independence Day event — think of it as a diplomatic kegger — on Thursday night at Consul DeHart’s residence in Shaughnessy, and will be on tap at Stanley Park Brewing from June 27 through July 4.

While diplomatic issues higher up the chain may remain complicated, one thing is certain: “Through the combined energies of these two breweries on both sides of the border, we are going to have some great beer,” said DeHart.

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