It turns out that Vancouverites really like their beer. It really seems like we can't get enough of it. After having been online for only a few days, the comments were flowing on our Best Microbreweries in Vancouver article like draught from a keg. The people wanted a longer list, and since beer is after all the beverage of the people, we're only too happy to oblige. So without further ado, here are some more bright stars from the well-lit skies of the Vancouver craft beer scene.
Strange Fellows Enter the Mix
Strange Fellows Brewery is a newcomer to the Vancouver craft beer community. But even though they just opened their doors in December, they've generated a whole lot of noise. Embracing all that is strange, this microbrewery has captured the hearts of East Vancouver and beyond from their new location on Clark near Charles.
Not unlike some other local favourites, authenticity is at the center of the Strange Fellows ethos. Co-founder Aaron Jonckheere was nice enough to take time from running this exciting new brewery, and he explained the significance of their name, which is emblematic of their approach to brewing.
It's not that we're strange in the sense of being weird. I'm a Belgian guy, and [co-founder] Iain is a West Coast guy, and it's kind of an impossible thing to marry the West Coast with Belgium. And that's how it came about, we want to be authentic, and so we're different, a bit strange.
For Strange Fellows, being strange means, for example, celebrating Carnivale instead of St.Patrick's Day. You won't find green beer at this brewery, but you might find Carnivale dancers and unique brews celebrating other cultural festivals from around the world. Nocturnum, their dark IPA, celebrates a traditional Hungarian festival, where celebrants forego the use of utensils and showers in order to ward off nefarious wolves. Or take for instance their Guizer milk stout, inspired by a Scottish festival where participants act like vikings and burn things down. As Aaron in his poetic way puts it,
we're all a bit different, and we're all a bit strange.
But Strange Fellows has even more in store for the more sophisticated beer drinkers. In about a years time, this brewery will be rolling out a selection of barrel aged sours. With 90 barrels in action, Aaron promises us some beers that will "really challenge your taste buds."
And that's not all, because this brewery isn't just about beer. They also operate a cool little art gallery along with their brewery and tasting room. Named for where you can find them, the Charles Clark Gallery hosts a different local artist every month. You're not just consuming alcohol, you're consuming culture.
Dageraad Brewing Brings Belgium to Burnaby
Another newcomer, Dageraad Brewing represents the esteemed Belgian tradition from their relatively new location in Burnaby. While they may only have been in operation a few months, having opened their doors in the summer of 2014, Dageraad can be found at dozens of locations in the Lower Mainland.
A lot of people love Belgian beers. But Belgium is far away, and by the time it reaches our rainy shores it's been adulterated with preservatives and filtered. This process, though necessary for longer shelf-life, diminishes the potential of secondary fermentation by removing living yeasts from the bottles. This has created the niche which Dageraad has filled so enthusiastically. By offering fresh, unfiltered beers, Dageraad allows local hop-heads to experience Belgian-style beers in their full complexity.
Ben Coli, the brewmaster at Dageraad, assures me that this commitment to the Belgian tradition doesn't mean they're afraid to innovate.
Part of the Belgian tradition is wild innovation, the hallmark of Belgian brewing is the amazing variety of beers they produce. We've brewed some pretty straight-up classic Belgian styles, as well as some oddball stuff, including a kettle soured witbier, a blonde ale wet-hopped with locally grown centennial hops, a strong golden ale brewed with local pears and spiced with coriander, and in a few weeks we'll be releasing an abbey-style ale brewed with tamarind and Sri Lankan treacle.
The popularity they've achieved in such a short period is testament to their commitment to quality. As Ben puts it,
we are utterly and fussily devoted to the quality of our beers and their fidelity to the Belgian tradition.
You can find Dageraad ales in stores and pubs throughout the Lower Mainland, or you can visit their tasting room in Burnaby near Production Way station. And yes, they do growlers.
Steamworks: Working with Steam
With 20 years in the business, Steamworks has become a bit of an institution in Vancouver. A popular beer in pubs and liquor stores, almost everyone in town has had Steamworks beer at one point or another. There is a very interesting fact about Steamworks though that not everyone knows. Located near Vancouver's famous Gastown steam clock, it would be fair to assume that the name 'Steamworks' is a nod towards the neighbourhood which has nurtured this brewery. But the truth behind the name is actually much more interesting, and literal.
Vancouver, along with other cities like Toronto, employs a very clever heating system for large parts of the downtown core. Vast networks of pipes pump steam generated by natural gas to heat over a hundred buildings. This steam is also used to power the steam clock, and it is what Steamworks uses to power their breweries. Steamworks is, in fact, the one and only steam-powered brewery in Canada.
Not to be confused with steam beer, an archaic term for beer produced in California, Steamworks harnesses the power of steam to operate the brewery itself. And this brewery produces an impressive range. Of their lineup of about 10 beers, their unfiltered Imperial Red Ale with an IBUS of 80 at 8.5% ALC is great for those who prefer a stronger, bitter ale. On the other side of the spectrum, their award-winning Pilsner carries a lighter, more floral character.
Steamworks has long been known for their brew pup in Gastown, but in 2013 they broke new ground by opening a brewery in Burnaby, making them the first in town. So now you can now enjoy this craft beer anywhere you like.
The Industrious Steel Toad
Sometimes you want more than just a liquid breakfast, you want actual breakfast, too. Or maybe lunch or dinner. For those rare occasions when you step out the door on a mission for more than just a pint or six or quality local lager, the Steel Toad Brewery and Dining Hall on 2nd Ave and Quebec Street is a characteristically Vancouver choice.
Steel Toad has found a niche for themselves in Vancouver, being a restaurant that brews their own beer. Rather than being a brew-pup, this place is a full-on restaurant, housing both chefs and brewmasters. As Chris, the main man behind the brews,
the goal is to create a fantastic all around experience. We're fully licensed, but people come in not just for the beer but to have some food, catch a band, or watch the game. We're fairly unique in this city.
Located in an historic hundred-year old industrial building from which they take their name, Steel Toad is another new face on in the craft beer scene. Having just opened in the fall of 2014, this restaurant-that-brews-its-own-beer has made a name for itself in the increasingly populated world of craft beers. The secret to their success? Partly, they don't have to worry about finding a niche to compete with the other brewers. Being their one and only supplier, Chris just has to focus on making a good beer. And the selection is actually pretty broad, considering they brew it all themselves.
We have up to 9 beers on tap, and we try with half of them to provide well done standard styles — your IPAs, blondes, Witbiers — and with the other 3 or 4 taps we do something more interesting. Right now we've got a Berliner Weisse beer, a Saison, and an authentic-ish English brown ale.
As mentioned, this place also sells food. If you like the sound of Honey and Clove Pork Cheeks, or Pork and Apple Sausage Rolls, then this might be the spot for you.
The Steel Toad is the kind of place you want when you're looking for more than just a bar that serves food. This is a restaurant that brews it's own beer! The perfect date location for your hop-headed love interests.
Meet The Photographer: Kevin Eng
Kevin's passion for photography has encouraged others to see the splendor and beauty of nature right at their doorstep, as he captures the sights of the day, and colors and mystery of world while it sleeps. Many of the subjects of his work are based locally in his hometown in Vancouver, B.C., where he first discovered his fascination with night photography. Kevin is currently working as a music teacher, music director for his church, and landscape photographer.