By some standards of decorum, it is somewhat impolite to claim the top or the most prizes at a neighbor’s party, but the judges at the 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship had no choice. Canadian breweries brought the best that they had, and they took home 24 medals to prove it. In fact, a brewery from Ontario placed in the top 10 in the world.
Evaluating Entries from Afar
Countries from near and far entered the open competition, including one country in the southern hemisphere, Australia, submitting its best. Belgium, Vietnam, and Venezuela came with exotic and delightful interpretations of a drink that is a favorite around the world. An abundance of entries resulted in 100 styles and more than 6,000 beers. The Belgian entry had a special significance for Eli Gershkovitch who made a life-changing decision after tasting a Belgian beer as a young man.
Praising Canadian Achievement in the Art of Brewing
Twenty-one of the Canadian medal winners were from Ontario, two were from Quebec and British Columbia claimed one. Cameron’s Brewing was the big winner among the Canadian entrants, making its hometown of Oakville, Ontario proud of such an outstanding achievement. Not only did the bottler win the title of one of the Top 10 Breweries of 2017 but it took home medals in other categories as well. Cameron’s four winners were gold for One Eyed Grouse, silver for New Wood Brett as well as Captain’s Log Lager and bronze for Cosmic Cream Ale. Fellow Ontario brewery Belgh Brasse won gold for its La Bittt à Tibi Amos Lager and bronze for its Mons Blonde d’-Abbaye. Lighthouse Brewing Company’s Race Rocks Ale earned a gold medal. The Open welcomes entrants who are professional or home brewers.
Taking a Life-changing Vacation
By choosing to travel in Europe instead of using his brand new University of Toronto degree as a lawyer, Eli Gershkovitch decided to visit Belgium while on his tour. Almost everyone probably has a significant experience during a first trip abroad, but his changed the direction of his life. In a pub with friends, he experienced a transformative moment when he savored the delightful flavor of Belgian beer. It provided a goal of owning a small brewery of his own, and the vision materialized with the passage of time.
Keeping a Slow and Steady Approach to Business
On his return to Vancouver, Eli Gershkovitch set up his law practice, but he kept his vision alive with plans for establishing his craft brewery. While it does not matter whether he chose to emulate the tortoise in Aesop’s fables or found on his own that slow was the right choice for him, he adopted the slower pace. While building his successful law practice, he learned about liquor licensing from some of his clients. By keeping an eye on available properties and prospective locations for his pub, he found a spot that was perfect for his purpose in Gastown even though many of his friends disagreed.
In an occurrence that mirrored the fortunate experience in a pub in Belgium years earlier, he found that the 100-year-old building had a steam heat system that gave his business its name as well as a source of power for brewing beer. By taking the long view of his steady march to success, Eli Gershkovitch responded with resolve to a Gastown moratorium on liquor licenses. The local community supported his effort to launch a referendum to change the restrictions, but it required 14 months of delay. His Belgian vision came to fruition in 1995 with the opening of Steamworks Brew Pub and the introduction of six craft beers that it proudly served.
Achieving Remarkable Success
His original location in Gastown seated only 184 patrons, but today it welcomes 754. Concerning his long-range plan to expand to meet demand as it occurred, he used an adjoining building to house his Rogue Kitchen and his Wetbar. Throughout his years in developing his business, Eli Gershkovitch was a reliable supporter of community events (LinkedIn). As an anchoring tenant, he helped transform the mixed Gastown environment into a cool place to visit. The size of his brew pub makes his original establishment look like child’s play, increasing its output from 2,000 hectolitres to 40,000 at full capacity. His beers sell well in 14 states as well as several Canadian provinces, and overseas markets include Italy, Germany and Austria, Hong Kong and Switzerland.
Honoring a Family Tradition
In an astounding twist of fate that extends the relationship between Eli Gershkovitch and European fairy tales, he re-established contact with his continental roots. An Austrian cousin who lived in Salzburg was a descendant of the family that had owned a business many years earlier. By combining their efforts, they returned craft beer to a spot close to the pub where the idea for a brewery first occurred.
Eli Gershkovitch believes that honoring the tradition, creativity, and craftsmanship of the brewer’s art is essential for success, he said. His steadfast belief in that culture helped him establish his quality product in the early days as a pioneer, and it still inspires and motivates him as a highly successful entrepreneur and owner of Steamworks Brew Pub that serves Vancouver and the world.
Enjoying the Privileges of Accomplishment
One of the perks of success that Eli Gershkovitch enjoys is his 1948 Plymouth woody station wagon. Impractical but beautiful, the sporty model made the family car before 1950 an object of art. Professional wood workers put together custom cut pieces to create a masterpiece, but exposure to the elements caused it to rot and bring an end to the production of the “woody.” Now rare and hardly ever in pristine condition, the wood-sided wagon that belongs to Eli Gershkovitch, the owner of Steamworks brew pub in Vancouver, B.C., is a source of pride and a reward for the years of hard work that he put into building his business.
With the same level of enthusiasm that he brings to his brewery, he pursues his hobbies as well. His woody Plymouth is only one vehicle in his classic car collection, and he has an equal or greater passion for flying his two airplanes. Wherever he focuses his attention, it is with an intensity that consumes his interest. His advice to young brewers is to concentrate on a primary goal and take good care of it.
More about Eli Gershkovitch at http://www.steamworks.com/brewery