WATCH: The federal government is mulling over changes to Canada’s beer standards. Ceilidh Millar reports.
Hops, barley, yeast and water are the four main staples of beer.
?Those are the basic ingredients but you can go well beyond those,? said Gary Lindsay of Driftwood Brewery.
The Victoria-based craft brewery is experimenting with ingredients like pepper, fruit and even lactose.
?We use lactose in our milk stout,? Lindsay explained.
With endless combinations, what really makes a beer?
The federal government is asking that question, and a major overhaul of Canada?s beer standards could be on tap in the near future.
?The old standards were really strict about what you could call a beer based on the ingredients and the appearance of it,? said Joe Wiebe, author of Craft Beer Revolution.
The move is a response to the explosive growth of the industry as craft breweries push the boundaries of taste profiles.
?They technically classified [some beers] as not beer because it didn?t look like beer, it didn?t taste like beer so therefore it wasn?t beer,? Lindsay explained. ?We?ve had to counter that to the point of this is all accepted beer styles and you need to expand your classifications.?
Under the proposed changes, beer would no longer be categorized into styles or types like ale, stout or porter.
Limits may also be set on sugar content and all ingredients would be required to be listed on a can or bottle label.
Even the definition of Canadian beer would change.
?It?s been implicated that there are some beers that are standardized that may become unstandardized, and some stuff that is standardized could become unstandardized,? Lindsay said.
However, many agree the regulations brewing are long overdue and could allow for even more innovation.
?I think the government is catching up with what craft breweries have been doing for a long time,? Wiebe explained. ?Consumers are really excited about new-age beer.?
“We do have the consumers best interest at heart,” Lindsay said. “We want to let them know what they’re getting and we want to give them as much information as possible.”
The federal government has proposed a two-year implementation plan beginning in 2019.