Founder of North America’s First Brewpub Passes Away

Founder of North America’s First Brewpub Passes Away

The man who is credited as establishing the first brewpub in North America has passed away.

The craft beer landscape we enjoy in the U.S. today is an amalgam of cultures, history and hard work by many hands. And while John Mitchell is known as the “Grandfather of Canadian Craft Beer,” his work building independent beer in North America inspired generations of craft brewers.

In 1982, he opened Canada’s first craft brewery in Horseshoe Bay, British Columbia. Then in 1984, he opened Spinnakers in Victoria, Canada, the first brewpub in North America. An announcement on What’s Brewing Canada reads: Beer Styles

In November 1980, frustrated by recurrent BC brewery shutdowns and Big Beer’s lack of quality, Mitchell decided it was about time that his pub’s patrons, British Columbians and Canadians had access to a wider variety of ales …

It was at that moment Mitchell decided to take a small action that planted the seed for a new brewing industry in Canada. Over the course of the next two years, Mitchell fought against the status quo, pushed for reformed laws, assembled a brewhouse and started making the kind of beer he’d been thirsting for …

As Canada’s original craft brewer, John Mitchell was more than a beer maker; he was an agent of change. The advances he pushed for ushered in a new era of government regulation that established the BC craft beer industry and paved the way for Canada’s other provinces to follow.

The John Mitchell Foundation is a private foundation currently working to educate up and coming craft brewers.

Read more about John Mitchell’s life and love for the craft beer movement in What’s Brewing. is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.