by Chuck Hallett | Well, that didn’t take long. Not quite a week since the last brewery threw open its doors to make the world slightly more awesome, the new New Hot Thing is crouched at the starting line, ready to burst onto the scene in a haze of hoppy glory.
If you’re keen on ticking off yet another “Brewery Opening” on your list of Things To Do, though, get ready for a bit of a trip. Steel & Oak Brewing, the wort wizards in question, are all the way out there in New Westminster. I took the plunge and sat on the Skytrain for five hours (OK fine, twenty minutes), to trek out there last week for a bit of a preview so you didn’t have to. Well, fine plan that was. They’re good enough that you really, honestly should head out today to see for yourself.
Before we get on to the part of the brewery preview where I attempt to make yet another wood-clad tasting room sound original and inspiring, let’s take a second and review how you should actually go to S&O. Google might tell you to walk along Stewardson after leaving the weird mall/Skytrain stop that is New West Station. Don’t. Despite diesel particulate’s rumoured effectiveness as an aphrodisiac you might be better off with a short detour over to the boardwalk along the Fraser. Click here for a map.
Alright. Now you’re there. What should you expect? Co-owners Jorden Foss and Jamie Garbutt have put together a fine micro-brewery that, astonishingly, has some space left to grow. Plans are already in play for a barrel aging program and German-trained Brewmaster Peter Schulz is already concocting recipes in that precise, analytical brewing mind of his.
For opening day, S&O will have up to four beers ready to slip past your hipster moustache, and they’re all good. Damned good. Very damned good. So good that I wonder if the Fraser River is the common bond between great breweries because the last place to open of this calibre was Four Winds, downstream in Delta. In addition to the quality of the product in the tap, the balance of the brewery outside the tap is similarly fancy.
Yes, I did just compare S&O to the best brewery in BC. Now get ready for this: I think they could eventually be better. Sure, Four Winds is better right this instant, but they have a full year under their belt (happy anniversary, Mills’s!). When they first opened my reaction was “yeah, that’s a decent beer.” S&O beats that. Here are their beers:
Red Pilsner | Pretty much a perfect Pilsner nose, but a rich body that keeps on giving. I’m not a Pilsner guy, but I sorta love this beer. Start here.
Smoked Heff | Just the right balance of smoke. Not overpowering nor invisible. I’ve heard rumours of a bourbon barrel aged version, and I think it’ll slay.
English Pale | Tad young when I tried it, but had the start of a malty, chewy light pale ale that tastes exactly like Another Pint.
West Coast ESB | Also young when I tried it. Big tropical hop nose on this guy, but a bit unbalanced on the bittering. I suspect this is brewed more as a salve for the local hopheads than through any strong passion.
Steel & Oak Brewing | www.steelandoak.ca
1319 Third Ave, New Westminster
Hours: 12pm-8pm Daily (10pm Thurs-Sat), Closed Mondays
Growlers: 32oz ($6), 64oz ($11.50)
Bottles: 650ml, coming in the fall
Barrels: Yes (not yet, though)