Brewing beer at Steel & Oak is part science, part art, and a whole lot of toil.
Since opening in the summer of 2014, the craft brewery next to the Third Avenue overpass has already expanded its beer making capacity to 270,000 litres and added a bottling line. The tasting room has become a community gathering place; even baby and momma groups meet there on some afternoons, their strollers parked akimbo amidst the tall industrial steel stools and wooden tables.
But it’s in the back where the magic happens.
In 18 months, brewmaster Peter Schulz has concocted 23 different beers, including new pilot beers every four-six weeks. “The explosion of craft brewers in Metro Vancouver has made it a very competitive business,” said Schulz.
“The pressure is on for brewmasters to offer unique recipes.”
Schulz is grooming two young brewers to meet the demands of the brewery.
Brew day at Steel & Oak is controlled chaos. Hoses are detached and reattached. Temperatures, sugar content and clarity are checked and checked again. Hops are weighed and added to the giant 1,700 litre brewhouse tanks. Water spills and sprays, running down the gently-sloped concrete floor to a trough amidst the forest of seven tall stainless steel vessels.
Schulz said making beer is very water-intensive; about seven litres is used for every one litre of beer that is produced.
It takes Schulz and his crew four weeks to brew ales, six weeks to produce a lager. “That’s longer than most breweries,” said Schulz.
But the wait is worth it. His beers have won numerous awards, including best amber/dark ale at the 2015 BC Beer Awards last November.
Check their website for what beers are currently on tap. Starting Friday, February 5, Steel & Oak will also be pouring Sunday Cider in the tasting room. Steel & Oak is located at 1319 Third Ave. It’s open 12pm to 8pm Sunday to Wednesday and 12pm to 10pm Thursday to Saturday.
Click on the photos below to open a gallery documenting the brewing process.