If you’re like me and you follow @jantweats on twitter, you’ll know that craft beer is experiencing a bit of a boom these days in BC. However, while those of us living in Vancouver can just hop on our bikes or walk down the street to fill up a growler at 33 Acres, Powell Street, or Storm, if you live outside of this fair city or maybe Victoria, filling up a growler with fresh, local beer often just hasn’t been possible. Until now. With a spate of new breweries opening up across the province from New West and Burnaby, to Terrace and Quesnel, pretty soon craft beer lovers across BC will be able to enjoy something that us spoiled Vancouverites may have already started taking for granted.
So, of all the great new breweries opening up across the province, which one have I been most excited for? That, friends, would be none other than East Vancouver’s own, Bomber Brewing. Let me tell you why.
I first heard about Bomber through a good friend whose buddy plays for the same ‘beer league’ hockey team that Bomber is named after (the ‘Bombers’). I then had the pleasure of meeting Bomber’s owners during Vancouver Craft Beer Week, which was when I discovered where they were going to set up shop. As soon as I heard that Bomber was leasing the old Adanac Seafood building across from Woodland Park, I felt like a kid counting down to Christmas. You see, I’m an avid cyclist, and every day I ride into work along the Adanac bike path. For a craft beer loving cyclist (who usually has an empty growler in his pannier on the ride home), having a craft brewery right on my daily commute is about as good as it gets. Sure, my reasons are purely selfish, and yes, the location is great, but let’s not underestimate the good things brewing on Adanac Street.
Even before I fell in love with their ESB during Vancouver Craft Beer Week, I had a feeling that Bomber would hit the ground running. Like Parallel 49, Brassneck and Main Street, the people behind Bomber have an established vintage in the local food and beverage scene. Co-owner’s Don Farion and Dean Mallel are the good folks who brought us BierCraft, Don is a Certified Cicerone, and brew master Blair Calibaba is a decorated home brewer and the former owner of West Van’s Ambleside Brewing. In other words, they know a thing or two about good beer.
Well, just after the BC Beer Awards last October, Bomber slapped its logo on the side of the brewery, and ever since I’ve been craning my head as I bike by, eagerly hoping to see an open sign or at least some signs of activity. After some great press from Chuck Hallett in Scout Magazine, Bomber had its soft opening on Valentine’s Day, and I had the pleasure of popping by shortly after they opened their doors for the very first time. I’ve been back numerous times since, and after so much anticipation, I’m happy to report that Bomber’s managed to exceed my lofty expectations.
Every time I’ve dropped by, the tasting room has been full with the kind of eclectic mix of locals, cyclists and craft beer aficionados that I’d expected to see at Bomber. The room contains a couple communal seating areas, and has a nice long bar that looks right onto the brewing floor. The brewery itself is running on a 15-barrel brewing system with six 30 barrel fermenters and one 15 barrel fermenter, and when I popped back for a look, I was happy to see a number of used wine barrels (which I’m told contain a brown ale souring with Rodenboch yeast). Bomber’s current line-up consists of the aforementioned ESB, a pilsner, an IPA, a Belgian blonde, and their current seasonal, an oatmeal stout. As I anticipated, Bomber has hit the ground running, and not only did they have their lounge license in place for their hard opening on February 17th, but cans of their ESB, IPA and pilsner are already being distributed by the LDB.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve really been enjoying all of their offerings, but the stand out for me has been their ESB. Coming in at a sessionable 5.2% ABV, Bomber’s take on the classic English style seamlessly blends the hop-forward character of the Pacific Northwest with the sweet, bready malts and mild fruity bitterness that we’ve come to expect from a traditional English ESB. Bomber’s ESB pours a clear mahogany with a light beige head, and has subtle notes of honey, malt and pine on the nose. With great body, low to medium carbonation, and a smooth mouth feel, it makes a strong first impression, delicately balancing flavours of bready and roasted malts with sweet toffee, caramel, and passion fruit. It finishes with a pronounced bitterness characterized by lingering notes of citrus, and tapers off with subtle flavours of honey, biscuit and fresh, baked bread. This is a very, very drinkable beer, and like Old Jalopy, Gypsy Tears and 33 Acres of Life, has already become one of my ‘go to’ local beers. An absolutely brilliant first effort from one of BC’s newest breweries.
As I was enjoying a pint of their pilsner at home the other night with some friends, I couldn’t help but think about how great it’s going to be this summer to pick up a 6-pack or fill a growler on my way home from work to enjoy on the deck, down at the beach, or as I while away the evening with a game of ‘beer league’ softball at Woodland Park. I don’t know about you, but I have a feeling that my summer just got a whole lot better thanks to the good folks at Bomber Brewing.