A fair bit has changed in the local craft beer scene since I last wrote about Port Moody’s Twin Sails Brewing. New operations have come on line, stylistic trends have caught on and become pretty entrenched (think New England IPAs and ‘craft lagers’), transient brewers like Superflux and Boombox have become part of the local fabric, and large-scale contract brewing has helped smaller outfits expand production and brought a few stand-alone brands to market.
But despite all these changes, one thing has definitely remained the same: Twin Sails is still totally killing it. As I mentioned in my review of that first batch of Slam Dank, by releasing an endless spate of rotating small-batch beers, the Port Moody-based brewery has really nailed the art of maintaining the hype that surrounded their first forays into contemporary American ales, holding our collective attention, and keeping our eyes glued to their social media channels. That’s not a mean feat for a couple down-to-earth guys relatively new to this whole brewing game. And as the constant line-ups outside their Brewer’s Row tasting room on any given Saturday afternoon will tell you, the popularity of Cody and Clay Allmin’s little brewery goes well beyond the assorted chin beards and limited-release traders who go out of their way to buy up the latest batches of Str8 Flexin’ and Short Pants (although Twin Sails’ ability to keep those notoriously fickle consumers satisfied hasn’t gone unnoticed). No, as their clean sweep of the Imperial IPA category at this year’s BC Beer Awards illustrates, in the short 18 months since they came onto the scene, Twin Sails has really catapulted itself to a pretty central position in BC’s craft beer industry. And while I couldn’t really say a bad word about any of their ridiculously on-point IPAs, High Socks – their insanely balanced North East Mosaic IPA (last released about a month ago) – has to be one of my favourite IPAs being produced anywhere. I always manage to grab a few extra four packs for the cellar whenever it gets released (and you’d be well advised to do the same the next time you see it around).
With Cody leading the charge on the operations front and Clay manning the brewhouse, the Allmin brothers have managed to build up a small, successful family business that would surely make any momma proud. Look for an expanded barrel program in 2018 to showcase Clay’s love of mixed fermentation, more of Cody’s awesome limited-release labels, and the continuation of their unrelenting limited release program.
For those people out there who haven’t come across your beer before, what is Twin Sails all about?
Cody: Twin Sails opened up as the third brewery on Brewers Row in 2015. For the past year and a half we’ve been focusing on brewing progressive American ales, trying to push the boundaries of what can be done with beer in BC. We focus on quality first and foremost, but always strive to have fun no matter what we’re doing. That’s the typical answer we give to the press, but really, we’re just a bunch of guys (and girls) having way too much fun brewing beer.
What was your ‘gateway’ craft beer?
Cody: It was probably Blue Buck or Fat Tug. We had them on tap at a bar I used to work at, and I would crush a lot of those beers after work.
Clay: Gotta say Salty Scot by P49. It was also the first recipe I tried to replicate as a home brewer. For the record, it did not turn out well.
What made you decide to do this for a living?
Cody: My brother and I always wanted to work together on something. We tossed around the idea of a restaurant for a while, but when he got into home brewing, it became pretty clear that this was gonna be our thing.
Clay: A passion for creativity. I had been home brewing for a while, but no more than a hobby and a means of keeping my monthly booze bill down. A late night conversation with my wife about a cupcake cafe sparked an idea that became what Twin Sails is today.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Cody: 100% my team. We’ve been lucky to keep a lot of the same staff since day one, and after more than two years, I can comfortably say that I consider them family. Also, the free beer is pretty cool.
Clay: I’d have to say the people that I get to work with. It really is an amazing industry all around, and we’ve got a great team here at Twin Sails that I consider my second family (or actual family if you consider my brother).
What’s the worst thing about your job?
Cody: Delivering kegs. They’re really heavy, and I’m getting old.
Clay: Having to dump a batch of beer. We like to be creative at Twin Sails, and the reality is that failure is a part of that creativity. I’ve never enjoyed watching a batch of beer go down the drain, but it’s a necessary evil when you’re trying to be the best at what you do.
What other breweries’ beer are you loving right now?
Cody: Backcountry Brewing are on fire right now – those guys can’t make a bad beer. I can’t wait to see what our friends at Boombox can do with their own space too, those guys are scary good brewers. Oh, and if you haven’t checked our Beere Brewing in North Van yet, they’re definitely the new kids on the block that people should be paying attention to.
Clay: Within BC, I’m a huge fan of what the guys at Backcountry are doing right now. As well, Boom Box, Superflux and Four Winds are always staples in my fridge. Outside of BC, I’m loving the creativity going on with mixed fermentation down in the States. To name a few, guys like Holy Mountain, De Garde, Side Project, and Pen Druid are very inspirational as to the direction we want to take Twin Sails in 2018.
What’s been your favourite beer to make and why?
Cody: I can drink stouts all day but IPAs are my jam. I love playing with hop combos and using fun adjuncts to push peoples concept of what an IPA can be. They’ve seen a huge facelift over the past couple years, and I love what the industry is doing with them right now.
Clay: Tough question as we’ve made a lot of beers over the last 18 months, but I’d have to say my favourite was Biere de Crabe which we brewed with Brasserie Dunham. As unique as the beer was, cooking and eating 50 lbs of Dungeness crab was a hell of a way to spend a brew day!
Who do you most admire in the industry?
Cody: That’s a tough one to answer considering how many amazing breweries there are these days, but Tired Hands is doing some crazy stuff, Omnipollo is always pushing the boundaries, Trillium are technical kings, and Bellwoods are showing everybody that Canada has the chops to keep up with the big boys. Those are definitely some of the tops for me.
Clay: Tough to name one person. Within BC, I’d have to pick Brent Mills out of Four Winds. Those guys are truly passionate about what they do, and it comes through in every facet of their brewery.
When you’re not making Twin Sails tick what are you doing?
Cody: I live in Gastown so I’m usually hangin’ around there in my time off. I love cooking too, always been a passion of mine. Activity wise, you can usually find me on my snowboard in the winter or my bike in the summer.
Clay: Spending time with my family. I’m the proud father of 3 gorgeous kids and the most beautiful (and more importantly, patient) wife in the world. I couldn’t do what I do without their support.
If you weren’t the owners of Twin Sails, what would you be doing?
Cody: I worked in the restaurant industry for most of my life and would probably still be doing it in some facet if we didn’t open the brewery. I also do all the graphic design for Twin Sails and could see myself doing that, but I’m not a huge fan of the idea of a desk job.
Clay: Probably running a restaurant. Food is very much a passion of mine, and I’ve wanted to open a bar/restaurant since I was in my mid 20s. Maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity, but for now I’m 100% focused on getting the brewery to where we want it to be.
If you were stuck on a desert island with one album, one beer (brand or style) and one type of food, what would they be?
Cody: Haha, now we’re getting to the hard questions! Album… this is a really tough one, but right now I’d say either Allan Rayman – Roadhouse 01 or Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. For beer that’s easy – Coors Banquet, I could crush those all day. For food, ‘Super Chicken Donairs’ from Donair Town in Port Moody. I’ve had about a thousand of them since we opened and am drooling right now just thinking about them.
Clay: For an album, I’d have to say The Lumineers self-titled debut. I sang that album to my kids when they were infants as their lullaby. Every time I listen to it, it makes me think of them. For beer, a clean, crisp American-style lager. When it’s hot out, I’ll be reaching for a good lager 9 times out of 10. And for food, I’d have to say a really good Spaghetti Bolognese. I could eat that for breakfast, lunch and dinner with zero complaints.
What inspires you to make the beer you do?
Cody: My team. We come up with almost every beer as a group, we’re always bouncing ideas off each other and talking about how we can improve on the beers we’ve made.
Clay: The excitement of making something that no one around here has had the opportunity to try. We love to see people’s reactions to our beer, good or bad. It’s what inspires us to keep on creating.