Mariner Brewing puts Coquitlam on the craft beer map
Coquitlam’s first craft brewery opened its doors officially last week and I got a sneak peak of the brewery at their media open house.
From the start, Mariner Brewing brings four beers to the table – a sour weisse, a cream ale, an amber ale, and a north east IPA – a good range of styles to showcase what they’ll be doing down the line. None of the beers at this point will blow your socks off, but that’s also not the expectation. Mariner are in some ways plying uncharted waters in Coquitlam so how the community responds to these offerings may help steer their ship in a new direction.
Nautical puns aside, that is the one thing that wasn’t clear to me at Mariner: namely what differentiates them from other breweries. This can evolve and solidify as the brewery finds its sea legs (yep, keep ’em coming). That said, in an as yet untested market, I can definitely understand Mariner treading carefully as they grow. After all, it took some time to get everything sorted out, from licences and permits through construction, so not trying to rock the boat too much may be the best tactic to employ here.
What’s being done well
Does any of this mean you should forgo a visit out to Mariner? Absolutely not! Mariner has done so many things right I believe they’re already setting themselves up for success. Their bright and open tasting lounge is welcoming with plenty of seating options. Tables that aren’t (yet) fixed to the floor offer flexibility as the brewery grows to create seating areas that accommodate whatever the crowd is like on a particular night. The staff and ownership are as friendly and welcoming as the space they’ve created, and underestimating the importance that key ingredient plays at your brewery can sink you before you’ve even left port. In this quarter, Mariner have themselves covered.
Given Coquitlam’s hit-and-miss transit accessibility, the fact that Mariner is only 10-15 minutes walk from the Coquitlam Central station is excellent news for everyone. This makes it a relatively easy stop on your way to or from Brewer’s Row in Port Moody.
That proximity to the well-establilshed and well-loved breweries on Brewer’s Row may also be the thing that tempers the initial reception to Mariner Brewing by those seasoned beer sailors. Many of us recall when Yellow Dog burst onto the stage, immediately taking home awards for their smoked porter. The breweries that make up Brewer’s Row are doing well individually and collectively and it can be tempting to measure any new brewery in the region against those giants of the industry.
But doing so is not quite right, at least not yet. Mariner Brewing is serving a different city, and a different audience. They are trying to bring Coquitlam into the craft beer world, not necessarily to bring the craft beer world to Coquitlam. While that should in no way suggest that they don’t have aspirations towards the latter, in the short term at least their focus must needs be on their home town. Capturing key draft accounts and simply getting locals in the doors will be what kickstarts the rise of craft beer in Coquitlam, and hopefully with Mariner Brewing at the helm.
Oh, and the hot dogs! I didn’t even mention them yet. Those damn, tasty buggers will certainly help get folk in the door. It’s unusual to get wowed by sausage in a bun, yet here we are.
Seriously. Visit Mariner Brewing and get yourself one. Paired with a pint and some friends and you’ll be setting sail.