Photos: Andina Brewing Company brings South American hospitality to East Vancouver

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      After almost a year of delays related to licensing and permits—not to mention the setbacks that come with renovating a 107-year-old property—Andina Brewing Company is finally ready to open its doors at 1507 Powell Street.

      Situated steps away from Powell Street Craft Brewery and Callister Brewing in East Vancouver, the unmissable, sunshine-yellow building takes mucho inspiration from South America—particularly Colombia—where co-owners and brothers Andrés and Nicolàs Amaya were born.

      In fact, Andina refers to the name given to a woman who hails from the Andes. Meanwhile, the company’s “La Pola” logo—a smiling woman wearing a swinging, red-and-white dress and carrying a clay vase above her head—is a nod to Policarpa Salavarrieta, a Colombian heroine who helped liberate the nation from the Spanish regime in the 1800s. Pola is also Colombian slang for beer.

      Lucy Lau

      “We’d like to give people a sense of the seven countries that the Andes Mountains cover, from Argentina to Colombia,” Claudia Amaya, Andina’s communications and marketing director, tells the Straight during an interview alongside Andrés and her husband, Nicolàs, in the spacious, 2,000-square-foot tasting lounge.

      “We want a total sensory experience in terms of that,” adds Andrés. “But we also want to be very respectful of the tradition of craft beer on the West Coast, especially in Vancouver.”

      This “fusion” means a mix of easy-drinking ales like the Totuma—an aromatic Kolsch—and hop-heavier varieties such as the Monita, a citrus-tinged blonde IPA, and the Ay Ay Ay, a “hybrid” American pale ale crafted with Belgian yeast. Seasonal suds like a milk stout and a passionfruit black IPA, which uses passionfruit sourced from South America’s equatorial states, will also be among the six brews on tap.

      All of Andina’s beers are made with Patagonia malts from Chile, which, according to the Amayas, is a first for a brewery in Canada. The family has plans to work with brewmaster Andrew Powers—formerly of Red Truck Brewery—to incorporate South American fruits like guava and lulo, a nightshade with a tangy, rhubarblike flavour, into future batches of beer.

      Clockwise from left, Andina Brewing's Totuma Kolsch, Ay Ay Ay pale ale, Melcocha mild ale, and Mapalé milk stout.
      Lucy Lau

      South American–inspired cocktails and wines crafted in countries such as Argentina and Chile are available for those looking for a break from beer. Even the drinking water will be treated with unrefined sugar-cane paste, a common practice in Colombia. “It’s like a nice tea without the bitterness,” Claudia says of the beverage’s flavour. “So it’s really refreshing and sweet.”

      The tastings room’s food will also pay homage to South America with a rotating selection of sea-bass, tilapia, shrimp, and vegetarian ceviche. Pachos—nachos that use plantain instead of corn chips—and arepas, Colombian-style corn patties, will be on hand, too.

      The Amayas have taken great care in ensuring their heritage shines in every speck of Andina’s 56-seat tasting room. Designed by Simcic + Ulrich Architects—the same group behind the look of Brassneck, Strange Fellows, and Faculty—the clean, inviting space features a blend of reclaimed wood, steel, and natural-fibre elements.

      Wicker pendant lights and Quimbaya clay figurines add rustic charm, while an in-store shop carrying handmade items like sombreros vueltiao and mochilas offer patrons a way to take a small part of South American culture home.

      Lucy Lau

      In the tasting lounge, a video projector will provide entertainment in the form of Latin American music videos on Thursday nights. But don’t count on catching the Canucks on the big screen anytime soon. “If we ever show a sport, it will be soccer,” says Nicolàs.

      Sustainability is another important part of Andina’s mandate. In addition to sending its spent grain to be used as animal feed, the East Van spot will be the first brewery in the world to employ the Piranha, a heat pump developed by the Port Coquitlam–based International Wastewater Systems that recycles thermal energy from wastewater so it can be used to warm fresh water in a building.

      Like with any good brewery, of course, awesome beer and customer service are also priorities for the family-run biz. “We want to make sure that you leave this place saying, ‘Wow, that was a great experience. I want to come back; I want to be part of that family,’ ” says Andrés.

      Scroll through the remaining images below for a look at Andina Brewing. The tasting lounge is expected to open this Monday (February 27).

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