Coquitlam has long been waiting to get a piece of B.C.’s craft brewery action. Until recently, restrictive liquor laws had prevented anyone from establishing a brewery in the city. With “Brewers Row” in Port Moody, consisting of Twin Sails Brewing, Yellow Dog Brewing, Parkside Brewing, and Moody Ales, the local brewery scene has been alive and well in the Tri-Cities for a few year now, but had left Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam out of the picture.
With the city’s restrictive liquor laws finally in the rear view mirror, a pipe-dream started to become a reality for Coquitlam local and experienced home-brewer, Byron Vallis. An Environmental Science graduate from Simon Fraser University, he saw potential for craft beer in his hometown and jumped at the opportunity. Alongside his girlfriend Lauren Ang, and with tons of support from their business partners and families, they founded Mariner Brewing. Luke and I were fortunate to visit Mariner prior to it’s opening to get a sneak peak of their facility and beers, and chat with Byron and Lauren about how the brewery and their vision came to be.
Mariner Brewing’s name pays respect to it’s local roots – Coquitlam’s Mariner Street, to be exact. But the inspiration for the name isn’t that simple. Byron described their vision and products as an exploration of craft beer; navigating different beer styles and flavours, as a sailor or mariner would set sail to discover new worlds.
Although Byron and Lauren were busy mapping out Mariner’s path in BC’s craft beer industry, he needed someone to steer the ship (i.e. brew the beer). In came Kevin Wilson, former brewer at both Russell Brewing and Deadfrog Brewery, to take on the role as head brewer. Bryon described Kevin as an experienced and talented brewer who is very comfortable brewing at a large scale. After minimal pilot brews Kevin started brewing on Mariner’s full system, sporting a 20 barrel capacity. He’s also a “numbers guy” which was a great fit for Mariner, as Byron shares a similar scientific approach to brewing; undoubtedly influenced by his science-focused studies at SFU.
Bringing Mariner Brewing’s products to life is the clean branding and design work of the reputable local creative agency Glasfurd and Walker. Byron and the Mariner team worked meticulously with them to develop the brewery’s identity; from their logo to merch to can design, and everything in-between.
According to Byron, their can design alone took nine months to finalize. Although that seems like quite the lengthy process, packaging has become vital to BC craft breweries as they attempt to stand out in a market that may be reaching it’s saturation point. As customers have increasingly more local beer options to choose from, having an eye-catching label is often one of the deciding factors in a consumer’s purchase.
What came from this nine month period are a set of clean, consistent, and eye-popping designs. A unique feature is the three words used to describe the beer’s flavour (located under each beer’s name). This is a common practice for coffee packaging, however, Mariner has adopted it in their designs to give consumers a snapshot of each beer’s flavours.
Mariner has started off with a diverse lineup of four beers – three of which I would describe as extremely approachable. In a city that is only now receiving their first craft brewery, having beers that taste great but also appeal to wide range of beer-drinkers who may not be as exposed to craft beer as East Van residents, for example, is a smart play. Although they may have a wider appeal, Mariner’s range of beers shows their willingness to experiment with different styles. Byron spoke to how their beer development process was very collaborative. They regularly sat down with family, home-brewing friends, the brewery’s partners, and staff to bounce around ideas and sample different recipes until they nailed down their first four releases.
ABV: 7.5% | IBU: 67
Just when you thought, “I’ve had enough NE IPAs for one summer”, Mariner releases this gem! As an IPA fan first, this is definitely my favourite beer from Mariner Brewing. Featuring tropical fruit and delicious resiny hop flavours, this should be your first pour or pick-up from Mariner Brewing. It’s an IPA that makes other IPAs jealous.
ABV: 4.5% | IBU: 5
Lightly tart, mildly sweet, and refreshing. This beer is a perfect introduction for people looking to try sours. Already into sour beers? Take this as a break from the lip puckering madness and enjoy the delicate flavors that make this beer special.
ABV: 4.8% | IBU: 12
When I heard that Mariner was making a cream ale, I was honestly surprised. Other than R&B Brewing’s Raven Cream Ale (which is fantastic), I don’t see or hear about this beer style in B.C. very often. Mariner’s take on the cream ale is fairly unique, as it’s crisp and more hop-forward (featuring Sterling hops) which results in a refreshing and gentle bitter finish.
ABV: 5.1% | IBU: 30
This beer is smoooooth. A light-bodied amber ale with subtle spice notes. I didn’t pick up on the coffee flavour…maybe because I’m too used to hefty coffee porters where it’s a little more obvious. Mariner’s amber ale is a great sessionable option too look forward to after a long day at work.
If you’re not into craft beer or are looking to switch things up, Mariner also offers cider from West Coast Cider Co. based out of Port Coquitlam. They’re also looking to bring in craft soda options. Fingers crossed that they eventually carry Philips Soda Works.
Not only does Mariner Brewing pour a diverse selection of tasty brews, but they also serve some great food that is made in-house. I dabbled with the Perogy Dog ($8) and Spinach Dip ($8). Both were delicious and paired well with the beer.
After five hectic months of construction, Mariner Brewing’s Grand Opening is set for today at 2 p.m. Make sure you stop by for a flight or two (they have a full lounge license) and a bite to support Coquitlam’s first craft brewery. For those that are transiting, you can take the Evergreen Skytrain line and get off at Coquitlam Central Station. From there, it’s a short walk to the brewery. If you aren’t able to make it out to the brewery, keep an eye out for Mariner’s beers on tap at local Coquitlam pubs, and soon, popular Vancouver watering holes. Cans of their NE IPA and Cream Ale are currently available in the tasting room and will start to roll out to select private liquor stores and eventually BCLs as well.
A big thanks to the Mariner team, especially Byron and Lauren, for giving Luke and I a tour and sharing their story and beers with us. With their enthusiastic team and awesome family and community support, Mariner Brewing is sure to be a success.
H-1100 Lansdowne Drive
Coquitlam, BC V3B 5E2
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