by Andrew Morrison | I’ve watched with great interest the construction of Strathcona Beer Company at 895 East Hastings Street. It’s a fascinating development on several counts, not least because of the rapidly changing neighbourhood it aims to serve. With the big-money likes of Bob Rennie, Chip Wilson and other bigwigs buying up the block, it’s anyone’s guess as to who it might draw in the next five years. Will a Kit & Ace store arrive to sell $100 t-shirts? Are micro-lofts crammed with very small dogs imminent? Is an Earls restaurant on the way? Maybe, maybe not. Like most Vancouver neighbourhoods these days, uncertainty comes with the territory, unceded or not.
If a version of that cruel future comes to pass, having a 12,000 sqft brewery with a pizza oven and 67 seat tasting room might soften the blow. The sprawling place has been open for over a week now. I won’t speak to the beer as I’ve only had an introductory glass, but I’m already half besotted with the operation as a whole. It’s pretty as hell, as you can see from the shots below — all concrete and clean lines with hundreds of light bulbs on the ceiling and lots of bright yellow neon strips dancing off a lot of glass to give the entire room a unique look and feel.
Creative Director Adrian McInnes asked for a first impression when I was in. “Dazzling” was the only word I could think of on the spot with my jaw dropped, but – as a long-time resident who has been gentrified out and now squeezed back in – I’d like to add “Welcome” as well. Even if Strathcona Beer Co. is used by gentrifying forces and real estate marketing companies for Rennification purposes (I’m certain it will), there’s no denying the year-round value of accessible cold beer hereabouts (something the next door Astoria Pub can no doubt attest to), and the more of it, the merrier.
They’re still working on their lounge license, so you can’t really make a full-on night of it just yet (sit-down sales are limited for the time being). The kitchen is nevertheless open with an ex-Barbarella staffer at the helm, and when the government green light is given I trust the beer service will inspire lengthy hangouts. Until then, nurse whatever they can pour (three of five beers yesterday), browse their lean merch, marvel at the tight branding, and march with a cold 40oz of Strathcona Gold (a strong Belgian Ale). Take a look, starting with this Manwolfian promo video by Ben Burden Smith and Sheldon Barr…