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New made-in-Surrey beer salutes founder of Canada’s first craft brewery, John Mitchell

‘Historic event’ July 6 at Russell Brewing and other craft breweries around B.C.
Makers of the new John Mitchell Signature Cascadian Dark Ale gathered at Russell Brewing in Surrey for a collaborative brew day June 8. (Photo:

Surrey’s Russell Brewing has partnered with KPU Brewing and others to make a beer that salutes the founder of Canada’s first craft brewery.

July 6 marks 40 years to the day since Alexander John Mitchell opened Horseshoe Bay Brewery and helped launch the craft beer industry in Canada.

On Wednesday (July 6), a new tribute ale will be unveiled during an event at Russell Brewing’s new tasting room, on 80 Avenue in Newton. The John Mitchell Signature Cascadian Dark Ale will be released in packaged format as well as on draught.

John Ohler, executive director of the John Mitchell Legacy Scholarship at KPU, calls the new brew a “gorgeous” dark ale that uses Mitchell’s original brew sheets as a guide.

Russell Brewing will donate proceeds from the sale of the beer to the scholarship. “The money will help students achieve their dream of becoming the next generation of professional brewers,” Ohler said. “It’s the same dream John Mitchell had 40 years ago.”

Canada Malting donated all the ingredients for John Mitchell Tribute Ale, Yakima-Chief Hops donated whole-leaf Cascade hops, Central City Brewing donated the yeast, and the Great Little Box Company donated labels for the cans.


In what Mitchell calls a “historic event” on July 6, craft breweries around B.C. will also be tapping kegs of the beer at the exact same time.

Mitchell made international headlines when he opened Canada’s first craft brewery in 1982. He “laid the foundation that has allowed craft beer, and other related industries, to grow into what they are today,” according to Ohler, a steward of Mitchell’s legacy.

“By spurring needed changes to legislation, Mitchell and his partners spearheaded an economic and cultural awakening in Canada’s brewing industry,” Ohler added. “From that one pioneering location, the Canadian craft beer industry has now grown to boast over 1,000 enthusiastic breweries.”

Prior to his death in 2019, Mitchell visited the KPU brewing program facility in Langley to meet students.

On June 8, makers of the Mitchell ale, including KPU students and alumni working at eight other B.C. breweries, gathered at Russell Brewing for a collaborative brew day. Photos of the event, along with images of Mitchell and others, are posted on

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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