The first thing that catches your eye when you walk through the front doors of Strathcona Beer Co. is the word “Community” spelled out in gold neon. This represents the connection that Tim Knight, Adrian McInnes and Michael Nazarec have to the Stratchona neighbourhood. Strathcona is Vancouver’s oldest residential area, founded back when New West was the capital and before Vancouver became the vibrant city it is today. So, it would only make sense to establish a local brewery in the heart of our rapidly expanding metropolitan area.
Strathcona Beer Co.
On our tour of the brewery and tasting room, we first met with Adrian McInnes — who acts as the brand manager for Strathcona. Quickly scanning the space, you can see that he’s clearly great at his job. From the tasting trays shaped like vintage skateboards, to the streetwear inspired merch area, the brand’s look is cohesive and effortlessly cool. It took some real professional restraint not to cop one of the 5 panel hats then and there.
Adrian then introduced us to Michael “Fezz” Nazarec, a long-time homebrewer who recently turned his hobby into a full time job. He stresses classic, international beers and promotes the Dark Mild, the Belgian Gold Ale and the British IPA as their flagship brews. You would imagine its difficult for a new brewery to stand out amongst the competition, especially in the East Van area, but Strathcona stresses quality. They aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, just create good tasting beer that honours the traditional recipes.
Fezz acknowledges a shift in the consumer, and says “People know beer now”. While the average joe was once content walking into a bar for a pint of Coors Light, many people now are able to confidently ask for the latest rotating tap, or know that they have a penchant for a crisp, hoppy IPA. Even my own father will regularly send me photos of a tasting flight from the newest brewery to pop up back east.
World Class Brewery
The times are changing, and Strathcona caters to the craft connoisseur in search of a quality brew. Fezz talks excitedly about upcoming projects, including a Belgian double (their Christmas beer), a smoked porter in the new year, a white IPA, rye ESB and a radler for the spring and line of kettle sours aged in Okanagan oak barrels should be finished the aging process in about a year from now.
President Tim Knight built the space from the ground up. He designed an Instagram-ready tasting room with an industrial yet sleek vibe. Concrete bar and family style table tops with black leather and wood seating line the space to maximize socializing. If you’re on the go and don’t have time to stop in for a pint, Strathcona has you covered with growler fills and a cooler stocked full of bottled beers. And of course, nothing pairs better with a cold one than a delicious warm pizza from the full service kitchen.
Strathcona joins the ranks of the established “Yeast Van” family, adding yet another tasting room to this local pub-crawl. They really embody the neighbourhood, so much so that each of their 5000 litre tanks are named after a major street (Union, Prior, etc.). Tim owns a house just two blocks south of the brewery, making for a pretty reasonable morning commute. Fezz mentions that they’ve received an outpouring of local support, and that the brewing scene is much more of akin to family than competitors.
Strathcona Beer Co. is a welcome addition to the Vancouver craft brewery scene. Do yourself a favour and stop by this local hotspot that’s bringing the community vibe back to the place where Vancouver got its start.
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