Dec 23, 2012

Over the bridge to Bridge Brewing

As a car-free East Van resident, who, for the most part, lives, works and plays within a 5 km square radius, visiting some of the city's outlying areas can seem like an insurmountable challenge. That being said, nine times out of ten, when I actually burst out of my bubble and visit them, I find something awesome (Central City Brewing, anyone?). Last weekend, that something awesome was Bridge Brewing in North Vancouver.

Bridge Brewing's Black IPA (photo: Monica Frost)

Bridge is Vancouver's first nano-brewery (about 5 months older than the brand-new Powell Street Craft Brewery), and is tucked away in an industrial area just over the Second Narrows Bridge. And when I say tucked away, I mean it - as a nano-brewery, they're able to operate out of a space the size of some breweries' storage closets.

But despite being hidden away in an industrial complex, Bridge was surprisingly easy to get to on transit; we made it from Main and Cordova to their front door in just over twenty minutes. When we arrived, Leigh, who owns Bridge with husband Jason, wasted no time in pouring us some tasters of the three brews they had available: the North Shore Pale Ale, the North Shore Black IPA and The Grinch Christmas Ale.

"Welcome to the world wide headquarters of Bridge Brewing"
The Pale Ale is solid - citrusy aroma with a nice hop bitterness. The Black IPA (my personal favourite) is delish - it pours nice and black with a great hop profile. Their Christmas Ale, the Grinch, is pretty much Christmas in a glass - cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, yum (they sold all 80 litres of The Grinch the first week they released it, so we lucky enough to sample from the very last of it). Up next in the brew schedule? A west coast IPA, of course.

Tasters at Bridge Brewing
As we sipped our tasters on their gorgeous new recycled wood bar-top, Leigh filled us in on a bit of the history of the 5-month-old brewery. The idea of opening a brewery first started when they were living in Alberta; neither one brewed, but they loved drinking craft beer. They knew they wanted to move back to BC, and since they both grew up on the North Shore, it seemed like the perfect place to set up shop. So, they made the move and started experimenting with recipes ("we dumped a lot of beer", says Leigh). Fast forward through a year of renovations, inspections and approvals, and the addition of head brewer Patrick Doré, and Bridge Brewing opened its doors this July. But, why Bridge Brewing (besides their obvious location next to a bridge)? Turns out they were originally going to go with Londsale Brewing, but made the sound business decision to go with the less Vancouver-specific Bridge, in case they ever decide to expand to other cities.

Bridge Brewing's two 80 litre tanks
Which could be a real possibility, judging by how things are going for the Bridge brew crew so far. They're selling through beer as fast as they can make it - their last batch of North Shore Pale Ale sold out in a week, and just this week they sold through everything they had on hand. But luckily for us thirsty customers, they're already growing - they've just purchased a new 15-barrel tank, which will double their brewing capacity.

Amanda (CAMRA YVR), me, Monica (CAMRA BC) at Bridge Brewing
Tours don't take long at a nano-brewery, and they're even quicker at Bridge, since you can see the entire brewing area from the front door. They didn't want a separate brewery and tasting room, says Leigh - they wanted the people who come in to taste and buy their beer to be able to see where it was made and who was making it. And they get to do just that - brewer Patrick, as well as Jason and the Strattons' baby son were all on deck while we were there, filling growlers and chatting with customers (well, baby was doing more gurgling than chatting). Their goal of creating a real community atmosphere seems to be working - they've had local regulars since almost day one, and Leigh says it's not uncommon to see the same person come in on Friday after work for a growler fill and then come back on Saturday to fill it once more.

Leigh filling our glasses while Patrick helps customers
Needless to say, the trip over the bridge was well worth it. We left, armed with growlers of Black IPA and Bridge Brewing glassware, promising that we'd be back. And now that I know what's waiting for me just twenty minutes outside of my East Van bubble, I actually mean it.  

Enjoying my Bridge Brewing loot
Want to try Bridge's brews for yourself? The brewery is open at 115-2243 Dollarton Hwy on Friday 1-6pm and Saturday-Sunday 1-5pm for growler fills ($5 bottle, $12 fill). You can also buy pre-filled Bridge growlers at North Vancouver's Edgemont Fine Wines, Spirits and Ales. Or, find their beer on tap at select establishments around Vancouver. For more info, see the Bridge Brewing website or follow them on Twitter

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a cool little brewery. I only see two fermenters? The nano model is tough, hence whey they barely had 3 beers to try. Wish them best of luck.