The owner of the Red Truck Beer Company harkened to a bygone era at today's grand opening of his Vancouver brewery and Truck Stop Diner.
Mark James told a crowd of employees, politicians, and media that his 34,000-square-foot facility on East First Avenue is helping revitalize the Brewery Creek district.
"We're sitting on the original site of the Vancouver Brewery on the banks and the mouth of the historical Brewery Creek, which flowed down the hill from Mount Pleasant right into False Creek," James said.
He added that at the turn of the 20th century, False Creek "would have been lapping at our back wall here".
The brewery was founded 10 years ago in North Vancouver with an old 1946 Dodge pickup known as "Old Weird Harold".
"Most appropriately, our first customer was the Vancouver Canadians," James recalled. "Our first employee, Sam Payne, would deliver kegs to Nat Bailey Stadium in the back of Old Weird Harold. Those days speak to our early beginnings and our humble roots."
He noted that it was appropriate that the beer was served at the ballpark on a summer afternoon.
"It took us back to a much simpler time when life was much, much less complicated," James said.
The company is known for its old red trucks, including a 1948 Dodge Power Wagon, which hangs from the ceiling of the brewery. According to general manager Jim Dodds, the facility will produce about 12,000 hectolitres in its first year. The overall production capacity is 22,000 hectolitres, but with expansion, it could eventually reach 44,000 hectolitres.
"We've been brewing award-winning beer, so we're really excited about what the future holds for us," Dodds told the Straight.
On June 13, Red Truck Beer Company will hold the first of four summer events as part of its Parking Lot Concert Series. Dodds referred to the brewery as "our number one marketing tool", noting that it's close to downtown and accessible by public transit (via Main Street Station).
Among the politicians in attendance was Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, who oversees liquor licensing. She pointed out that there are 26 craft breweries in Vancouver, which is double the number in early 2013.
"From dropping a red truck from the sky to break ground for the new location to opening a diner that serves Red Truck–only beer to hosting summer concerts, you really are thinking outside of the box," Anton said to company executives and employees.
Anton also encouraged any entrepreneurs in attendance to consider launching breweries on industrial land in her constituency of Vancouver-Fraserview. (In fact, Wesgroup Properties executive David Wesik mused about that possibility in an interview with the Straight last month.)
Vision Vancouver councillor Heather Deal was also at the opening, and she called Red Truck "a fabulous brewery that's employing lots of people".
"We're starting a planning process for the False Creek Flats and this is exactly the kind of business we want to see down there," Deal said. "We're going to have live music. It's going to be a hub for fun in a great new neighbourhood."