Not east enough to be part of Vancouver’s brewery district and too far north to be on the Main Street brewery circuit, Pat’s Pub has nonetheless been brewing their own in-house beer – now transitioning to a new brand: “Hastings Mill Brewing Company” – since 2006, and relatively under-the-radar. About 8 years later, in December of 2014, they began construction on their current system in the basement of the adjoining Patricia Hotel, in what used to be a wood shop. The 2-barrel system remains a small but tight operation and the good people of Hastings Mill have no intention of distributing their beers beyond their own establishment.
At any time you’ll find 6 taps of house-brewed beer available in tasters, proper 20oz pints, and growler fills (all gallon fills are only $10!) including their Classic Lager, Bricktop Pale Ale and Skid Row IPA, not to mention their rotating seasonals, like the award-winning Griswold Winter Ale. Notable at the time of my last visit was a summer-perfect Strawberry Honey Hefeweizen, brewed with local honey and 60 lbs of fresh strawberries. At 4.8% and with a slightly dry tartness imbued by the fruit, it’s the perfect not-too-sweet refreshment for the park or a dark corner table. I’m also looking forward to trying their next release: a blueberry kolsch brewed with 80 lbs of Abbotsford blueberries.
New signage for Hastings Mill is still a work-in-progress, but their swanky new growler glasses are already available. The first of a planned collection – designed by Gerilee McBride – features an illustration of the original Hastings Mills plus a brief history lesson. The new logo is by Brian Liu.
In true pub fashion, Pat’s ambience comes as much from regular patrons as its unpretentious anti-aesthetic, independent spirit and heart. A lot of the latter can be credited to their tight-knit and passionate team, which includes General Manager Daryl Nelson; his sister, Front Desk Manager and Everywoman Lindsay Thomas; and brewmaster Lonnie McConnell. The man behind the beer was educated as a chemical engineer but it’s his innate creativity and penchant for nature and growing that makes his beers so inspired. When he’s not brewing, building or consulting on related projects, he might be tending to his garden and his bees, or cooking up some jam with his homegrown ingredients. Thomas also uses the brewery’s spent grain to make dog treats, which are available for purchase at the bar.
Pat’s/Hastings Mill might not have the de rigueur minimalist chic aesthetic and a fashionable crowd to match, but that’s exactly why we like it. It’s a humble un-scene for the beer drinker who’d prefer to be unseen.