His Worship Mayor Gregor Robertson taps the keg with style, Tim Pawsey photo

Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson is one of the most polished and enlightened politicos around. But he gets extra points in our book for (a) officially proclaiming Vancouver Craft Beer Week and for (b) showing up to tap a keg of Collaboration Ale.

VCBW sponsor and presenter Urban Diner's Paul Kamon shows off the official mallet, Tim Pawsey photo

Not only that, he did it cleanly and nobody got hop-washed in the process.  Turns out he’s done it before, which is probably a good thing based on a few tapped keg mishap stories being bandied about.

The 2011 official mallet, made of salvaged fir and Japanese maple by Vancouver craftsman Matthieu Leblanc is a thing of beauty. The kick-off was graciously hosted by Granville Island Brewing at their Taproom, which for beer lovers is one of BC’s more hallowed haunts. At least it should be.

Granville Island Brewing helped jump-start the craft beer revolution back in 1984, when it was nigh impossible to get a tap into your premises other than Labatts Blue or Molson Canadian … (Although GIB was the first micro-brewery, long vanished Horseshoe Bay Brewing broke through the bureaucracy as the first local brew-pub, established in 1982…)

Pretty impressive for a collaborative effort, Tim Pawsey photo

We sampled the nicely balanced, malty, hoppy Collaboration Ale (made with 28 top BC breweries). If you get a chance to taste it during VCBW, you should. Besides, proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross Society Tsunami Relief Fund.

Regarding the ascent of BC craft brewing, here’s what we had to say in the North Shore News:

“As for what’s driving the interest in craft beer, we like to think that it’s been there all along, right up with wine.

In many ways, the rise of craft breweries over the last couple of decades mirrors the experience of their viticultural counterparts. Just as consumers had become tired of bad wine and went looking for more interesting (and palatable) drops, in recent years especially, serious beer drinkers have increasingly shunned the flat, commercial styles pushed by the big brand conglomerates.

A burgeoning craft brewing industry and early blossoming of brew pubs (particularly in Victoria, where it just seemed to be easier to get started — after all, politicos do like their pints) formed the foundation of an industry that was determined to cater to taste before volume.”

Kudos to (the second annual) Vancouver Craft Beer Week organisers and volunteers for bringing such a vibrant and tasteful event to fruition in so short a time.

Dig around the VCBW web site and you’ll find tickets still available to: Cicerone vs Sommelier, at Boneta, May 9; Upright x Driftwood Brewmaster’s Dinner at the Alibi Room, May 10; and Battle of the Belgians, May 12 at Chambar. Any one of these promises to be brilliant—not to mention the wrap-up Brewery Creek Beer Festival (Saturday afternoon, May 14, Beatty Sreet Drill Hall), where you can taste a good number of BC’s best brews, with live music, D-Js and great street eats from the likes of Re-Up, Beer Brats and others …