The GOODS from Sons Of Vancouver
North Vancouver, BC (photo: Katie Huisman) | North Vancouver has born yet another micro-distillery. Richard Klaus and James Lester, both 25, are the carpenters, janitors, delivery drivers and now distillers behind the newly finished Sons of Vancouver Distillery and Tasting Room. These two gents earned their respective intros into the industry through years of home-brewing and bartending which eventually saw them head south to get schooled by distillers in the thriving Seattle scene.
The guys joke that they didn’t get into brewing because “all they would do is try and make Fat Tug,” but in all seriousness, what inspires them and drew them to the craft cocktail scene are spirits that differentiate themselves from the rest. There are many great spirits coming out of BC right now that are completely unique, spirits which can play a vital role in a cocktail and aren’t being made anywhere else in the world. These are the spirits that invent new cocktails. The Sons of Vancouver Distillery is striving to contribute and bolster this new BC culture.
– photo: Travis Collier
After a successful crowd funding campaign in December, their tasting room is now furnished and the doors are officially GRAND opening. While their three products are already available in a few private liquor stores on either side of the bridge, beginning March 14th, the distillery will be fully open Saturday and Sundays from 1-7pm, serving up Amaretto, Vodka and for the brave, Chili Vodka.
The first three products, all made onsite, start with a grain bill of 75% wheat and 25% barley sourced from the Peace River Region. The Vodka is fermented with champagne yeast, a process which, sticking in the vein of neutral vodkas, carries over only the lightest of vanilla notes from the wheat base. Next up is No. 82 Amaretto. A local take on a classic Italian aperitif, this liqueur is made from five simple whole ingredients: Apricots, Vanilla Beans, BC Blackberry Honey, Demerara and Orange Peel. Finally, Chili Vodka, though great in a cocktail is not to be understated. Best put, it is a delicious vodka that will burn your face off. These three products will be the Sons mainstays but there are many new ideas up Richard and James’ sleeves, you can look forward to a few barrel aged products in the near future.
– photo: Jeremy Dyson
Tasting room hours are currently weekends 1-7pm, at least until the Sons can quit their day jobs. Drop by on your next weekend off, samples are always free.
photos: Katie Huisman
James Lester | Owner, Operator, 25
Richard Klaus | Owner, Operator, 24
About Sons Of Vancouver
Sons of Vancouver is a really, really small batch distillery set to open on Vancouver’s North Shore. James Lester and Richard Klaus are the two righteous dudes dedicated to bringing you their craft Vodka, Chili Vodka and No. 82 Amaretto. How they got here is a bit of a story.
Friends for a decade, they have been brewing beer and learning the finer points of alcohol and the community surrounding it for years. Originally meeting in Northern British Columbia, James and Richard worked together in oil and gas. Promised prosperity and a good life, they were let down and quickly grew unhappy. Tired of selling their lives for dollars in an ugly trade, they took their hands-on skills in process control and vowed: to never do anything they didn’t want to ever again. With this new motto, it felt appropriate to do what any old married couple ready to enter their golden years would do, and threw a great big retirement party and headed off to Mexico. It was during the resulting 40 day and 40 night adventure down the west coast and back that the guys began crafting the idea of a business together.
This idea went on hiatus in its infancy, with James becoming a travelling bartender and Richard journeying through Latin America. However, after a healthy break of separate growth and experience, James and Richard met back up and started working with distillers south of the border to learn the market and skills. There the two gents learned how to make Vodka, Gin, Bourbon and Lemoncello. The desire to open a distillery really came organically and was a natural progression of James and Richard’s shared backgrounds in brewing, bartending and process control. James, brewing beer since junior high and Richard, who spent more time brewing IPAs in college than he did attending school; it was always clear that alcohol and the process of making it would somehow become a part of their lives. Often asked, “why not craft beer?” James will always joke that it was because he couldn’t grow a big enough beard. In reality, with a city full of great beer these two guys drew from their personal and professional backgrounds to bring great craft spirits to Vancouver, an emerging market with a great future.
After two years of blood, sweat, and man tears, the Sons of Vancouver Distillery is nearly open, and the two guys behind the curtain are ready to welcome you in with a smile. Featuring rustic repurposed stills, a beautiful tasting room, and killer product, the guys hope to be welcoming you into their new space on the North Shore in early 2015.
They intend to serve as an inspiration to all those with almost impossible dreams, that following a path with integrity and dedication, the impossible can indeed be achieved. They are excited to be a part of the growing market of distilleries in British Columbia.