Speaking Out Against a Murray Street (Brewers Row) Entertainment District

I finished watching recorded debates for the Port Moody Election and most of it met my expectations. One specific mention by Steve Milani and Hunter Madsen did scare me though. 

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What concerns me is the idea of creating a “entertainment district” on Murray street. The creation of an “entertainment district” on Murray Street with restaurants and other spaces would necessitate a rezoning of the area to include commercial and other non-industrial zoning. Commercial zoning is very likely to increase the relative values of leasing any and all properties on Murray street.  

Our Breweries have been very successful and have created great brands for themselves as Brewers Row. However, their leases often 5+5 years, are coming to the end of their initial lifespan in the next 5 years or so. If lease costs rise too high they will move. Breweries change location all over BC it has happened in other places, it can happen here..

Even if they decide to stay in order to keep the brand going in Port Moody it is very unlikely they will expand or even keep current level of production at their leased buildings. Imagine a Brewers Row where several brewers have left and the rest really are just pubs, with production moving to Delta or Langley and their living wage jobs with them. 

There is a social aspect to this too. There is great concern about losing the community aspect of Port Moody through development. In fact, SFU studies have spoken to fact that region is rapidly losing community. Our breweries are our community Rec Rooms, inviting old, young, new friends and old. Brewery Lounges are one of the few successful stories in creating community. To change the character of the street to incorporate commercial and other non-industrial spaces we will effectively inauthenticate the currently authentic experience of Brewers Row, we will force the brewery’s to artificially change their nature, without a doubt decreasing their community building aspect, and we will meddle in an organic success. Moreover, we will also push out the low-capital mom and pop Food Truck experiences, who are well known for their culinary prowess 

By creating an “entertainment district” in Port Moody you stand to suck out the soul of our community, I do not support any “entertainment district” in Port Moody.
I do not endorse Hunter Madsen or Steve Milani.

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Brewers Row Grows Again

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The most tightly packed strip in all of Canada is about to get more tightly packed! Brewers Row is about to Grow to 5 breweries in 400m!

The new kid on the row is actually a sister brewery to Moody Ales, it will be housed in the former Calabria bakery building nestled between big sister Moody Ales and Big neighbour The Parkside Brewery.

The Bakery Brewery will focus on wild and sour barrel aged beers, and is aptly named for both the bakery that it replaces, and yeast being the most important ingredient in Bread and wild/sour beers.

The Brewery will house 50 seats inside and 50 seats on the patio giving it a grand total of 100 seats (and Brewers Row just under 300 patio seats)

The Brewery will also house a 5 BBL system which is more like a top of the line home brew set up than a brewery but fits this project really well.

The Brewery isn’t open yet, but initial offerings are available now at Moody Ales.Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.15.00 PM.png

 

 

 

Is Inauthenticity coming to the Tri-City Craft Beer scene?

I’ll argue ’til the cows come home that the appeal of craft beer is built in large part due to consumer fatigue for consumerism itself, that we are willing to pay more for a product just because we know the profits are going to a neighbour and community member rather than a faceless multi-national. But big business is aware of this too. Hell, small business people who want to become big business people know this. In fact the creation of faux-community or faux-place is big business in marketing.

This commercial really makes it seem like Blue Moon is an independent brewer with an independent founder but its always been owned by Coors, proof:

“Blue Moon Belgian White (branded as Belgian Moon in Canada) is a Belgian-style witbier brewed by MillerCoors under the name the Blue Moon Brewing Co. It was launched in 1995, and was originally brewed in Golden, Colorado.

Originally called Bellyslide Belgian White, the beer was created by Keith Villa, a brewer at the Sandlot Brewery at Coors FieldDenver, Colorado (owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company). Blue Moon brewed at the Molson Brewery in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is sold in the USA, as well as exported to Europe.[2] Blue Moon Brewing Co. is an entity of Tenth and Blake Beer Company, the craft and import division of MillerCoors.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Moon_(beer)

So to spell it out for you this is common practice in beer… if you want local examples think Stanley Park, Bowen Island, Sneaky Weasel (oh snap the last two are the same brewery).

Anyways, I fear this might be happening locally. A new brewery is setting up in PoCo calling themselves Rec Room brewing (cause people often drink beer in rec rooms! well not if you are of age…)

Here comes the Analysis:

Take a look at the Brew Master posting for Rec Room, https://beermebc.com/job/head-brewmaster-new-brewery-in-poco/

      There is more in the online description but holy crap, there is enough HR speak in here for a fortune 500. Brewers in a new brewery spend most of their time simply making sure beer is brewed successfully in a clean environment. Unless this brewery plans to employ 3 other brewers I find it unlikely that their “Brew Master”, a designation earned through training and apprenticeship, not occupation, will be doing anything else but cleaning and brewing.
Job Description (full description here)
  • Utilize skills to craft creative recipes and produce the best, most exciting beers possible
  • Select and maintain quality ingredients
  • Maintains all equipment to “like new” standards 

Maintaining the equipment to “like new” standards often requires a mechanic especially if your equipment comes from China. 

  • Create lasting relationships with vendors and customers 

Maintaining relationships with anyone is tough when you are cleaning and brewing all day.

  • Initial and ongoing training of all management and service staff 
Training management and customers should really be the job of the owners/front end staff… if you are paying a brewer to do this you are wasting resources and don’t know enough yourself to open a brewery  
  • Cultivate a positive work environment for all staff
  • Consistently strive to produce new innovative beverage items to fit concept
  • Takes lead role in developing concept with regards to training material 

Brewers aren’t creating training material! They are too busy brewing, cleaning, and ordering brewing supplies… especially in the early going.

  • Continually train, develop and motivate quality employees 

When you have one, maybe two brewers, beneath you this is little more than marketing speak.

  • Ensure high quality of beverage presentation/preparation 

This one is fair.

  • Consistently increase profitability 

How? Profitability in my estimation generally decreases when breweries increase in production… Your highest margins are in beer sold from tasting room and they decrease when you package and distribute. In the city of Port Coquitlam where tasting rooms are maxed out at 35 seats packaging and distribution is key! Thus, profit margins are reduced and reduced until if and when it becomes feasible to purchase a canning room and integrate distribution vertically may 3-5 years in at best. Breweries at this level are few and far between… P49, Central City, Phillips…

Thus, the only way to increase profitability in the short to medium term is to sell more quickly or reduce the cost of established recipes… this in nearly all cases means sacrificing quality.

  • Accurate reporting of all costs
  • Meet or exceed all budgets 

Yea shit happens in a brewery, sometimes your hops don’t give the right flavours, and you need another dry hop addition, sometimes your fermentation get stuck, sometimes you need to dump beer because it taste bad… Also “exceed all budgets” just reads really poorly.

  • Ensures all accounts are up to date with no “past due” bills
  • Conduct profit analysis where needed 

Nope, that’s your production manager/owner/founders job… yea your brewer should be able to give you some number but their background is biology not business.

  • Write schedules within budget 

Do you guys mean brew schedules?

  • Monthly P&L review with ownership group
If you need monthly P&L review with ownership group it leads me to believe that ownership is not involved with the day to day… that will lead to disaster in its own right.
      In short this whole “Brew Master” Job description reeks of guys with business degrees who enjoy after work beers at Steel Toad reading about the growth of craft beer and hoping to cash in.
     I’m not saying that owners of this upcoming brewery aren’t independents but the way their job description reads it sounds like small time entrepreneurs trying to make big bucks in a growing market using Faux-Good Will for Craft Beer generally, and I get that’s a harsh assessment…
BUT,
     There is a real heavy emphasis on profitability throughout that job description… you could just chalk that up to industry standards, but then compare it to the more standard brewer job descriptions listed here.
     So yes, I am stirring the pot once again. There is also a better than small chance I’m wrong too (that’s fine, I’m often wrong). Even so, I thing it’s worth a mull, if not in the case of Rec Room then definitely in the case of Blue Moon, Stanley Park Brewing, Sneaky Weasel Brewing and Bowen Island Brewing. Then again you might think that all entrepreneurs are using marketing to sell beer and make money and this is just a logical extension of that train of thought and that’s a totally valid opinion too.
POST SCRIPT:
I’m really conflicted about posting this article, but i think the topic is valid and worth a discussion. That said, I pledge to post any response from Rec Room should they respond because they deserve a chance to respond.

CONFIRMED: Coquitlam’s First Brewery

Breward Inlet can confirm that Coquitlam’s first brewery is on its way (The yet to be renamed District 43 is apparently still developing but unconfirmed)! Having spoken with a representative of the company it is suggested the the City of Coquitlam has OK’d the brewery and they have plans to attends several events in the short term including Poco Blues Fest as well as the Coquitlam Craft Beer Festival. Moreover, a tap takeover could be occurring too. Until then take look at some of their branding.

 

Mangia at Luppolo

If there is one word that describes American-Italian culture best its “Mangia”, for that reason I was surprised to see it present at Luppolo. Luppolo (Italian for Hop), is far more authentic than the sort of place that usually screams “Mangia”, and if they continue maybe they can steal the word back from the cultural equivalent of a pizza.

 

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Tomatos-check, Stereotypical Italian name-check, MANGIA!

Luppolo is located just off the brewery beaten track between Strange Fellows and Off the Rails on Vanables west of both. We walked it from Clark station in the snow and rain and it wasn’t totally intolerable but perhaps we would have benefited from umbrella.

The brewery itself has none of the Italian-American Schtick you might expect and is warm and open. Its a nice place to sit and enjoy a beer.

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Given that the Luppolo is still in its early stages, its initial offerings are quite impressive, . You can view the list we chose from in the picture below.

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The best of the beers I tried was the Robust Porter which was roasty and light as a decent porter should be – 4/5

The Double IPA was enjoyable as well with some juicy notes – 3/5

The West Coast Farm House ale was ambitious and all the pieces of a great beer were there, unfortunately in the wrong proportions. I’m sure this recipe will improve with subsequent batches, but for now it was a miss – 1.5/5

We did discover the although triangles are great shapes for building bridges they leave something to be desired when carrying flights, the aesthetic killed though.

Luppolo also has some small fare for food which I did not get a chance to try but looked delicious. In short it should not be left off your East Van Crawl and defiantly is another formidable brewery worth visiting.

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Get Your Shit Together New Vancouver Breweries…

When I go to a brewery I don’t tell anyone who I am. Don’t get me wrong i don’t expect people to know who I am even if I told them, but I still don’t like mentioning I write a blog unless I am trying to get some specific information that really needs consent. I don’t tell because I don’t want to feel bad about telling the truth, when the truth is the beer sucks. I honestly believe if you are going to write a blog about anything you have to be willing to give your opinion, negative or positive… so here it is.

I’ve visited two newer Vancouver Breweries over the past several weeks and in short they were pretty underwhelming. Both Strathcona Brewing Faculty Brewing co. have a lot of work to do if they want to stay relevant.

 

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Strathcona presents as a Brand heavy brewery. Great Location in a “real”neighborhood. I say “Real” because it is, “strath” exists as one of the last Vancouver neighbourhoods with a community built outside of gentrification (even if it is on its way). Maybe thats why the cool brewery seems like an anti-septic juxtaposition dropped on the block in a “just-so” way… even the sex-trade workers seemed to give it a wide berth. I’ve been 3 times for some reason in the last month, each time I walk away less impressed. I could go on at length about the tasting room itself, but its not worth it. It’s nice, but an art room in a Strathcona brewery is just little pedantic, when you consider the local community- its just so Vancouver. The best beer I had here was the radler, upsetting as it also contained the least beer. The saison had only hints of the familiar farm house flavours, and the hoppy beers, the British IPA, Northwest Pale Ale, and the ISA, were nearly impossible to discern as distinct styles. These were definatley different beers but someone needs to take a trip to the UK. In short this brewery needs to get its shit together… because gentrification is still a few years away…

Also their website is just a video of people skateboarding… http://www.strathconabeer.com

 

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Faculty Brewing definitely has more to work with but even so has some kinks to work out. Faculty has opened in the same Brewery Creek neighbourhood as, well, everyone else. They are making decent to good beer, and their tasting room is warm and inviting. So why then do they need to get their shit together?

Because they aren’t doing anything different, and they aren’t doing anything better. I am aware of their intent to rotate beers on a structured basis, some might say this is their niche, but if Brassneck has more available and styles that change nearly as quickly does it really matter? It’s like going to a chocolate cake festival and bringing a carrot cake. Even so, I have high hopes for this fellows and wish them all the best.

Ridge Brewing- COMMUNITY COMMUNITY COMMUNITY, but actually though Community.w

*NOTE I’m going to mention COMMUNITY several times in this article get ready.*

my phone camera doesn’t work anymore so you get stock images

I recently visited the nearby COMMUNITY of Maple Ridge to visit the brand new COMMUNITY of brewers that have opened up shop there. Of course I’m talking about Ridge Brewing and Maple Meadows Brewing.

Whilst at Ridge i was able to sit down and have real chat with both the Owner and Brew Master at Ridge that was enlightening in a really positive way. But lets nail down this brewery before we go any further. Ridge brewing has a small scale brew house nearly identical to Yellow Dog’s when it opened. Nestled in a small business park just off Dewdney near the heart of Maple Ridge this brewery has the potential to become a pillar of the COMMUNITY. In fact thats the Owner Carlos’ goal. Carlos and i spoke for about an hour discussing how a good brewery can really cultivate a strong sense of COMMUNITY, noting how small village pubs in the UK double as community centres. Carlos is actively attempting to foster such a COMMUNITY at Ridge where he was hosting one of his first Open Mic Nights. That’s right an Open Mic Night. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not a music critic but it was clear that it was locals creating this great mid-week show in an outer suburb, creating culture for which there was no outlet previously, and that’s bad ass. You see COMMUNITY is something that we are at a loss for often in the city of Metro Vancouver and brewery’s often fill that vacuum through their art (beer) and art on their walls (many breweries (including Ridge) donate their wall space to up and coming artists). This is awesome, but its usually occurred organically and whilst that great its even nicer to see a brewery actively attempt to foster COMMUNITY to the extent that Ridge has, so hats off to you guys.

TO THE BEER:

Carlos and his Brew Master are both from Mexico and although there isn’t a tequila lime barrelled imperial lime stout yet (actually i think i’ll claim that beer for myself) There are lots of other great beers to choose from.

Bar Stool Bitter- Classic English Session beer, thats definitely not west coast hopped but perfect for the transitioning bud drinker 3.5/5

Gringa Loca Wit Beer- A standard and solid option wit 3/5

Green Eyes Whyte IPA- A delicious west coast IPA that is one of my favourites already 4/5

Cafe Morena Brown- Arguably my favourite Browns Produced in Metro Vancouver 4.5/5

COMMUNITY

Tap East Brewery

For many people like myself shopping centres can be the bane of our existence. To us shopping centres are not shrines to creativity and flair but behemoths of capitalist greed, and incubators of the tertiary service industry slowly destroying the former middle class. But some of them have breweries! A great example of which is Central City Brewing in the Central City mall in Surrey British Columbia, which i believe is among a handful of shopping centre breweries scattered around North America. Although the shopping centre brewery isn’t necessarily odd in North America, in more traditional Europe it is. Thus Tap East stands as an Oddity in its small brewery located in the Westfield Shopping Centre Stratford.

Classic Carnell’s Beer with the crap photo.

Despite being in a shopping centre the quality of ale served was unencumbered. In addition to the beers brewed on premises Tap east also has several beers on tap (Don’t order a grolsch) and a very high quality collection bottled and canned beers some even from America. But lets be honest, when at a brew pub you get the beer they brew… its a rule.

colourful stools

So what did they Brew?

The East End Mild- A classic british style that in the past indicated fresher rather than aged beer and now more predominately means a lightly hopped beer. This beer followed Mild guidelines and was malt forward, with a really pleasant toffee maltiness that was light on the palate. Coming in at around 3% ABV this is a great example of the classic english ale that has great flavour and allows you to enjoy a few in a single sitting.

Coffee in the Morning Stout- England in no newcomer to the coffee-d beer craze and this in another of note. The coffee itself came from just down the hall from a coffee shop called “Grind” (the official drink of westfield?) and was added in the whirlpool stage of brewing. The beer itself is full of coffee flavour, and had in my opinion some acidity which you may or may not enjoy.

Tonic Ale- This is a superb session beer. Built on a light malt base this bright blond beer has fruity hops that are light yet ever-present. A Well done beer.

The beer wasn’t the only great experience, after chatting with the assistant manger i was introduced to the brew master who graciously took me into his brew house. He explained to me many of the interesting tidbits i’ve noted such as how the coffee was added to his Stout. He noted the difficulty of his brewing in his small brewhouse and i had to agree having heard similar stories from the many similarly small brewhouses in Vancouver. But just like in Vancouver, this small brew house put out some great beer. To top it all of when i mentioned i was planning on brewing a british style ale when i returned home the brewer sent me on my way with some English Hops (Bramling Cross). So if you find yourself in a Shopping mall in Stratford or more likely in Borough Market, find tap east, you won’t be disappointed!

The Meantime Brewery

So among the wonderful human constructions that exist within our western society such as the gregorian calendar, and our conception of a year (solar or lunar or something else entirely), is the longitudinal lines. The beginning of these lines exist as a remnant of British hegemony over the world, appearing in neighbourhood of Greenwich giving birth to the phrase Greenwich meantime. As much a human construction as Greenwich Mean Time is the Mean Time Brewery itself. This brewery more than any other I have visited in Europe positions itself as North American Brewery. The brewery is actually split into two with a smaller brew-pub-ish brew pub in the Old Royal Naval College, Itself in a beautiful Park. Rather than take pictures I took it all in so I apologize but suffice to say the experience was sublime. In addition to the Royal Naval College there is the larger production brewery in a more industrial part of Greenwich which houses a proper north american style tasting room. Once again I didn’t take pictures but it was absolutely up to snuff. Of course the beers are where it was at and although i don’t want to give rating as I didn’t take proper notes I was very much impressed and believe this brewery will match the tastes of North American’s more so than any others i have written about.

The London Pale Ale was the closest to a English Pale Ale with malts clearly not two row and more than likely Maris Otter. The beer like many english ales is floral.

The London Stout is very rich and roast and has a great mouthfeel, if Guinness is the bar the meantime raises it ten fold.

The Yakima Red is a delicious beer making use of american hops from the yakima valley! This beer has the hop profile of a american pale ale on the base of  red ale giving it a great nuance.

The fact is I enjoyed this place so much I’m going to attempt to buy a t-shirt on my last day in London.