Just a short trek off Hastings, a new local start-up, Powell Street Craft Brewery, opened their doors to an overwhelming crowd joining the East Village neighbourhood. Vancouver is quickly gaining the reputation as the West Coast craft beer mecca of the North, already boasting 10 dedicated brewers and now four within a one-block radius tucked in between the waterfront businesses. “We saw that the community was embracing what we were doing,” says brewmaster and founder Dave Bowkett and “near us: Storm Brewing, Coal Harbour, and Parallel 49 and everybody is super supportive over here.”
After cutting his teeth at “you brew” facilities a seed was planted. This enthusiasm was followed up by attentive home brewing, working on it every weekend. “[I was] really getting into it and reading every book and building the information,” he says. “About a year and a half ago I decided to do this.” It was the big decision to take the leap and actually sell it to the general public. What really drove this idea home was a trip south and learning of this Portland brewmaster. “Who started with small batches ten gallons at a time and selling that through his brew pub…. it inspired me to go the same route and start my own brewery and this is what you see here,” explains Bowkett.
Powell Street Brewery currently offers two brews, a pale ale called “Old Jalopy Pale” and the “Dive Bomb Porter.” Dive Bomb is a name evocative of all the crows that are in East Vancouver, flocks of thousands that make their way along the flight path overhead daily heading past Boundary Rd. towards Burnaby. Old Jalopy is in reference to Grapes of Wrath and the idea of migrating west. It’s a classic English pale ale, with a west coast hop bitterness, flavour and aroma. “So that’s where the whole thing came from, old school meets new school,” he says.
They haven’t decided on which beers yet, but special “one offs” are definitely in the future and they have beer tasting in store. “The uniqueness comes from the small amounts of beer and small batches, we try to strive for the best taste,” says Bowkett and “as you can tell by trying our beer there is a lot of flavour to it.” They sell growlers and Boston rounds in the retail space. The beer is available not only through the brewery but very soon through several restaurants and private liquor stores.
“This year, the Canadian Craft Beer awards are being held in Vancouver and we will be submitting some beers,” he says. The regional festivals and events are “definitely” supportive with BC Craft Beer Month, Vancouver Craft Beer Week and the Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria.
The front entrance of the brewery is lined with work by local artists. “We try to bring the community into our space, ” he says and “we want to support local art and artists.” They are not taking any commissions and want to give artists a venue to sell their art. “A hundred percent of the proceeds go to the artists,” explains Bowkett, and it works both ways. “The art community that comes in to see the art, gets exposed to the beer and the beer community that comes in gets exposed to the art!”
The craft brewery is located at 1830 Powell Street, just west of Victoria, accessible by bus and with one hour free parking in the streets. Stay updated through our website www.powellbeer.com, Twitter and Facebook pages for details of the festive grand opening event! This is coming up early in the new year and with food and beer, it will definitely be something big!
Story and photo by tiina liimu