Steel & Oak Brewing Co Ltd
By Christine Rowlands

A Modern Brewery with a Respect for Tradition

A part of the booming Vancouver craft beer scene, Steel & Oak Brewing Co. opened to much acclaim in spring 2014. Beer fans are making the trek to this craft brewery in New Westminster to try unique beers such as the Smoked Hefeweizen, which exemplifies Steel & Oak’s combination of new flavours and traditional European brewing methods.

“The name Steel & Oak plays on how we feel about brewing, the new and old ways, the Old World beers done in a New World style,” says co-owner Jorden Foss. “It’s also a nod to New Westminster’s rich brewing history – the first breweries in the Lower Mainland were here – and to the way the city itself has grown in the past few years. We’re proud to continue that heritage.”

Not to be confused with New Westminster’s “Brewery District” development at the site Labatt Brewery had occupied for decades, Steel & Oak is tucked away in an industrial area just off Stewardson Way. Jorden and his co-owner James Garbutt wanted their business to be in New Westminster, not only tapping into the local brewing heritage but also capturing the modern spirit of the city.

Steel & Oak is a nod to New Westminster’s rich brewing history – the first breweries in the Lower Mainland were here – and to the way the city itself has grown in the past few years. We’re proud to continue that heritage. - Jorden Foss, co-owner

Beer Tastes Better with Friends

Steel & Oak’s layout reflects its name, too. In back are the huge, shining steel fermentation vessels in which German-trained brewmaster Peter Schulz brews hops, grains and malts to create beers such as Royal City Pale Ale, Dark Lager, Red Pilsner and West Coast ESB. In the front is a modern, woodsy tasting room where visitors can sample the available brews, listen to music – something’s always on the turntable behind the bar – and visit with friends.

“We wanted to create a place where people can come to get together and have a conversation,” says Jorden. “Beer is social, it’s a common ground people use to get together. You have a bad day, you say, let’s go for a beer. Something great happens, you say, yeah, let’s go for a beer and celebrate! We wanted to create an atmosphere that works for all those occasions.”

Keeping the Flights and Fills Flowing

And the people have certainly come, locals and tourists alike. In the first few weeks of opening, Steel & Oak sold almost double the amount of beer they initially projected, mostly through the tasting room. Jokingly, they declared “beermageddon” and shut down temporarily to make more beer for the thirsty hordes.

But not to worry, craft beer fans: they soon reopened and Jorden and James adjusted production and added additional brewing equipment. They are also planning a bottling line sometime in the next year as well as a barrel aging program. Steel & Oak beers are also available at select pubs in New Westminster and Vancouver.

The widest selection is found at the brewery, anywhere from four to six beers depending on availability. If you’re planning a visit, check Steel & Oak’s Facebook or Twitter feeds to find out what’s currently on tap. Pull up a stool and order a flight of four samples or a pint of your favourite. To take home Steel & Oak beer, bring or buy a “growler” – a reusable glass jug – to fill, enjoy and refill.

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