After years of legislative red tape, Coquitlam’s first and so far only craft brewery opened earlier this month at long last. Mariner Brewing is the boozy lovechild of local couple Lauren Ang and Byron Vallis, and business partner Wim Vander Zalm (who happens to be the son of former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm).
I spoke with Ang about the long journey to make Mariner a reality and what sets them apart.
First off, congrats on opening! Tell me a bit about the process that led you to where you are now.
Thank you! It all started with me staring at my homebrewing equipment with a friend trying to figure out what it took to make better beer. I started looking into the details of what my favourite breweries were doing, and this was right around the time Coquitlam City Council was working on changing the bylaws to allow breweries in Coquitlam. I had some ideas for beers that I couldn’t find anywhere else, and the whole plan started to make sense. For the last 18 months I’ve been writing the business plan, finding a space, and getting to work on the beers. The whole process is quite a challenge but also incredibly rewarding, and the first beers tasted great!
Why beer? What got you interested in craft beer enough to open your own brewery?
I think there are very few industries that are as innovative, passionate, and community focussed as craft beer. Looking at craft beer in the region, and throughout North America, there’s a lot of great breweries making some really great beers, from unique aged products no one has thought of before to working on perfecting classic styles. The drive to make all this beer comes from the fact that there’s still a lot of great things that haven’t been done yet, beers that I think people will really like that aren’t being made yet. We’ve got a boatload of ideas that we’re excited to bring to the community.
After a short hiatus Mariner Brewing’s Northeast IPA is back on growler fills! Come on down and pick up a growler for the weekend!⠀ ⠀ Also on draft is our Northeast IPA, Sour Weisse, Amber Ale, Cream Ale and guest taps from @moodyales and @steamworksbeer⠀ #marinerbeer #bccraftbeer #craftbeer #weekend
You guys are pretty close to Port Moody, which has quickly become a craft beer boomtown. What makes the Tri-Cities a good place to brew?
We grew up in Coquitlam so it really seemed perfect to open up in our home turf. Leisure, fun, and community involvement are important in the Tri-Cities, and that’s really what craft breweries bring to the area. Yellow Dog, Moody Ales, Twin Sails, and Parkside have done a great job of transforming the Murray Street area into an enjoyable destination, and we’re excited to bring the same vibe to Coquitlam. The Tri-Cities are growing rapidly, and with it interest in craft beer is growing. The community and the culture really make it a great place to brew, and to enjoy craft beer.
How has the local response been so far?
The local response has been incredible! So many people are superbly excited for Coquitlam to have its own brewery! Coquitlam is an active and diverse city and we’re having a great time getting to know everyone and bringing our beer to the community.
How big is your operation? What size batches are you brewing?
We’re brewing on a 23 hectolitre (2,300-litre) brewhouse into 46 hL fermenters. We’ve already squished a lot of brewery, taproom and kitchen into our 3,000-sq.-ft space and have even more plans for the next two years. At this point I’d say we’re very modestly sized but we’ve got room to grow if there’s enough interest in our beer.
What beers will you be offering? Will they be available outside of Coquitlam?
We’re currently pouring a Northeast IPA, cream ale, amber ale, and a sour weisse. Cans are currently available as far as New West and Maple Ridge and we’re venturing out into the world at a steady pace. We’re nurturing a couple new beers already in progress and we love four-pack tall cans, so there’s lots more coming!
What makes Mariner unique?
We’ve taken a unique approach with our beer lineup by focusing on making beers that are aromatic, full flavoured, and have a balanced profile. We only make beers that we want to drink and can’t find anywhere, so the liquid is really influenced by our team. Our brewer, Kevin Wilson [formerly of Surrey’s Russell Brewing Company], really likes classic styles and malt forward beers, and our founder, Byron, really likes new shiny things and hop blends no one else is using. The results have been great so far, we’ve got a ridiculously quaffable dry-hopped Berliner weisse, a snappy, dry-hopped cream ale, and a Northeast IPA that smells like a Gulf Coast fruit salad.
Our tasting room is bright and open and we’ve got a kitchen dishing out sharable plates and a lineup of gourmet hot dogs.
In true Mariner fashion, we’re looking towards the future and excited about what we can bring to the Tri-Cities, and the region. We’re planning to open two separate patios next spring, have a bunch of plans for new IPAs, stouts, and sours, and are looking for new ways to build community excitement involving craft beer.
Anything else you want to share?
We would like to thank everyone who has helped bring Mariner to Coquitlam. The amount of support, interest, and assistance has been surreal. Our families and friends have gone to unbelievable lengths to help us out, and our customers and fans impress us every day as they continue to support and enjoy this adventure.
1100 Lansdowne Dr., Coquitlam