BRIDGEVIEW — The brand spanking new Central City Brewers + Distillers’ facility is now open to the public, offering up tastings of its many craft beers in a tapping room, as well as providing tours of the brewery and selling merchandise.
Located in Bridgeview, the shiny 65,000-square-foot building houses millions of dollars of equipment to make the company’s many award-winning craft beers – and even spirits, now.
The tapping room offers beer tastings and draught beer sold in “growlers,” which are two-litre “grab and go” containers. The site also sells packaged beer.
From Central City’s signature Red Racer IPA, to a full lineup of ales and lagers, and seasonal pours such as the current pumpkin ale, there are many types of beer to sample, or take home.
Just a step in the front door, Seraph, a large winged man made of metal, greets those who enter. Seraph is going to be on the company’s vodka and gin labels, once they finalize those products.
“It’s definitely the wow factor,” Tim Barnes, Central City’s VP of marketing and sales, said of the art piece.
And the wow factor continues throughout the $35-million facility. Whether it’s the floor-to-ceiling wall of glass and cedar siding on the east side of the brewery, or the rows of silver fermentation tanks, or the large door built into the ceiling of the plant to allow for more tanks to be dropped down by crane, it’s an impressive operation.
For the last decade, beer was brewed at the rear of the company’s pub located at Central City Shopping Centre. The company was maxed out at that facility for years, Barnes said.
The new site dwarfs the old operation – the cooler alone is larger than the old brewery. But it’s not just the size that’s meant to impress. As part of its research, the company toured many U.S. craft breweries and wineries to see what worked and what didn’t.
“We said, ‘How do we create an experience that’s better than what’s out there?’ And that’s really what we’re here for,” Barnes said.
“We want to have a merchandise store that could be a stand-alone retail store on its own, we want a tap room where people can feel comfortable and enjoy a great pint, but in an atmosphere that feels a lot nicer but also welcoming. We tried to make it warm as well as premium-looking.”
Barnes said he sees the operation becoming a tourism draw.
“We believe that B.C. craft breweries in general could be more of a tourist destination. And this could be one of the best to see,” he said.
The company’s beer has won plenty of international, national and local awards, including the Best Local BrewPub and Best BC BrewPub awards from CAMRA this year; the company also earned gold in the Canadian Brewing Awards 2013 for its Red Racer Extra Special Bitter, Imperial IPA and Bourbon Barrel Imperial Porter beers.
While the brand has taken off, Barnes said the company isn’t as big as it wants to be. The new plant is the engine it needs to deliver once sales increase, he said.
“It’s our platform,” he said. “It’s like we’re on the diving board and we’ve got that bounce going.”
Barnes said Surrey has been good to the company, and has been an amazing partner in the project.
The company partnered with the Surrey City Development Corporation (SCDC) to construct the building on city-owned land. Central City Brewing is currently a tenant in the building.
To initiate the relationship, the company’s founder and president Darryll Frost invited Mayor Dianne Watts to the old brewery to share his vision.
“She was a step ahead of me the whole way,” Frost said. “She moved quickly to have the city interact with us to get the information required to justify building this building.”
He said Jim Cox, president of SCDC, and Watts should get a lot of the credit for the project.
“Without those two people, it certainly wouldn’t be what it is today and it may not have got off the ground.”
Both the company and the city has benefited from the partnership, Frost said.
“The city has gained an amenity, I don’t think there’s any question about that. It’s a magnificent project... As you exit the city (toward New Westminster), it’s the last building you see as you come down the hill. I think that bodes well for Bridgeview and I think it bodes well for the city both as an amenity, as a new tax base, as a new employer, so there are many reasons why the city benefits,” Frost said.
The facility, located at 11411 Bridgeview Dr., is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., for tastings and sales. Tours are scheduled at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, by reservation.
New SFU course will use Central City’s old brewery
Simon Fraser University will soon have a new course on tap. And yes, it has everything to do with beer. The course, called the Science of Brewing, is set to launch next January.
Classes will be held at SFU’s Surrey campus, and also at Central City Brewers + Distillers former facility behind the brewpub and its recently opened headquarters in Bridgeview.
The credit course will explore the chemistry, biology and microbiology involved in the brewing process.
Claire Cupples, Dean of Science for SFU, said the pilot course is “transformative” in many ways.
“Not only does it involve a close partnership with industry – in this case, Central City Brewers + Distillers – but students will also ‘learn science by doing science’,” she said.
Biological Science 372 is one of the inaugural products of the $2-million INSPIRE initiative that Cupples launched last year to stimulate change in the way science is taught at SFU.
With files from Tom Zillich
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