By Tim Pawsey
The craft beer revolution has made itself at home along the Fraser River, down from the hills in New Westminster. Steel and Oak Brewing Co. is a delightful discovery, tucked away in a still fairly industrial part of town, cheek by jowl beside automotive repair shops and train tracks – yet a short walk away from the bustling River Market and the rest of Downtown New West.
Steel & Oak arrived with a bit of a bang upon their arrival into the scene in the summer of 2014 by quickly scooping first place in the 2015 BC Beer Awards Amber / Dark Ale category with its gently bitter and quite floral Flagship Royal City Ale.
Step inside and chances are you won’t be alone, as the word is out on S&O, which has already built a strong following. Open for just over a year, this compact, wood-trimmed tasting room sports smart metal chairs, foundry-style tables and a polished long bar. Cozy lighting and co-owner Jorden Foss’s photography complements the very west coast décor. The service is laid-back and friendly, with no shortage of beers to sample, as well as a range of bottles and growlers for sale.
The brewery (right behind the tasting room) makes a wide range of styles using English, American and German techniques. Firm favourites made by brewmaster Peter Schulz range from the easy drinking Red Pilsner, with a subtle sweet note, to a chocolate and malt toned Dark Lager, a Dry Hopped ESB to keep discerning hopheads happy, an extraordinary Smoked Dunkelweizen and more.
Kids are welcome: There’s lemonade on tap, which also means those less inclined to drink straight beer can quaff a radler, which is half lemonade and half beer. It’s the perfect summertime thirst quencher, especially when made with pilsner or weizen. While grounded firmly in the classics, there’s no shortage of modern expression, with everything produced unfiltered and unpasteurized.
If you’re feeling peckish after a few tasters, there’s excellent jerky and popcorn on hand or, on busier days, an obliging food truck parked outside.
With its solid-to-the-core industrial setting and artful blend of old and new furnishings Steel & Oak revels in having one foot in the past and one in the future. And there’s no better proof of that than the turntable that’s always playing a selection from the truly impressive library of vinyl—within easy reach of the taps.
To discover this mildly hoppy haven, take Skytrain to New Westminster station, cross over to the River Market and walk west for 15 minutes along the shores of the mighty Fraser to the foot of 3rd. Avenue. You’ll be well rewarded.
Steel & Oak Brewing Co.
1319 Third Ave.
New Westminster, BC