This week’s Canada’s Craft Beer post comes from our BC craft beer guy, Bryan Clegg. Today Bryan visits a brewery that's at the front of the latest in craft brew trends, Twin Sails Brewing in Port Moody, BC.
The notification light on my phone went off. I picked it up and read the message from my good friend Colin: “Dude, have you been to Twin Sails yet?”
“Hmm. No, not yet. Why?” I typed back. Colin is in Winnipeg, but he’s always on top of the beer market. The dude has an impressive array of beer sources.
“Oh man! You need to go. I just had their Milkshake IPA and it’s PHENOMENAL. They’re making some wonderful stuff. Way ahead of the curve.”
“Nice! I’ll check them out!”
So I did, and my first sit-down at the brewery on Murray Street in Port Moody was very ... enlightening. Two Straws, the Milkshake IPA, was sadly out of stock. But there were a few other new releases for me to try: Str8 Flexin, an Imperial Stout; Big Boy Pants, a Double IPA; and No Fun Zone, a Blonde Stout. They were all fantastic. Every. Single. One.
No Fun Zone — made by taking a blonde ale and piling in coffee beans, coconut, cocoa and vanilla — immediately became a legend among my friends. Two or three are calling it their favourite beer of all time. It’s that good.
It took me less than 10 minutes inside Twin Sails to realize something special was happening there. It seems Colin was right.
* * * * *
But it wasn’t always like this. Before becoming the Maestros of Murray Street (I just made that up), Twin Sails was primarily a German-style brewery. But let’s step back even further than that.
Before founding Twin Sails, twin brothers Cody and Clay Allmin were homebrewers, and after placing well in several competitions they decided to make a go of it at a professional level. The original plan was to find a space in the East Van brewery district, but eventually they were forced to look elsewhere. They found a spot in Port Moody, across from the popular Rocky Point Park and right beside the well-respected Yellow Dog Brewing, with Moody Ales soon to open just down the road (a road that would become known as Brewers Row). With that, and the Skytrain Evergreen extension being built with a station right behind them, the brothers knew they’d found their location.
Next they built a team of young, passionate people. And then they picked a niche: German styles. Outside of Steel & Oak, German styles weren’t getting a lot of representation.
So they went that way, and things were going ok. But, in the words of Cody, “It was good, but there was nothing ‘Wow!’”
* * * * *
I messaged one of my friends just after leaving Twin Sails for the first time, “Have you been to Twin Sails?”
“Yeah, ages ago, why?” she replied.
“I was just there! Amazing beer!”
“Umm. Are you sure? I didn’t think they were that good? Everyone I know says they’re boring.”
“When I went there they just had a few ok beers, nothing special. They’re all German styles, aren’t they?”
“No, I don’t think so. Maybe they used to be? They’re way different now! I’m telling you this beer is so good!”
“I guess. Maybe I’ll give them another shot.”
* * * * *
It all changed with the limited release of Day-Blink, fruit-forward Simcoe Pale Ale. “Day-Blink was the first beer that really started our momentum into new styles,” Cody said. It was so popular it sold out almost immediately.
They decided to keep up with the limited releases, and they kept selling incredibly well. “At first it was a side thing, but then it became our main thing,” he said. Meanwhile, the new releases were generating more and more buzz.
Another big part of Twin Sails’ ascendance has been their focus on making quality beer, without a focus on cost or timelines. “When we have an idea, the question isn’t ‘How much will it cost?’ or ‘How long will it take?’. The question is ‘How do we make this the best possible beer?” Cody says. That means buying the highest quality ingredients, and using as much as needed. If that means using 800 pounds of blueberry puree (2 lbs per gallon) to make a blueberry beer, then so be it. He admits this can result in higher selling prices, but the result is well worth it. “You’ve gotta spend money to make great beer.”
Twin Sails boasts a very young, highly motivated crew that loves to experiment. The result is a brewery at the front of the latest in craft beer trends. The lactose-infused Milkshake IPA is one of the current "it" styles right now, and Twin Sails has already nailed it. Three times. First with Two Straws, made with pineapple and mango, then the raspberry-based Frooty Call, and most recently a pineapple and coconut DIPA named Volcano King.
They’ve already dipped their toes into what could be the next big trend as well: hopping beer with lupulin powder. Lupulin powder is “a purified concentration of the resin compounds and aromatic oils in whole hop flowers.” This results in a highly aromatic brew boasting flavourful, juicy characteristics without vegetal qualities. Their lupulin-hopped DIPA release, All The Right Moves, immediately rose to the top of the list as one of my favourite IPAs.
The crazy thing about Twin Sails is that since that day in their tasting room a few short months ago, they’ve managed to produce several "that just blew my mind" releases. And after spending some time with Cody, I’m confident there will be quite a few more before the year is out.
In my humble opinion Twin Sails may just be the most interesting brewery in Metro Vancouver right now. With that in mind, I heartily recommend them as a place to visit. To that end, I’ll leave you with the instructions I was given by Colin:
“Don’t walk. RUN.”
Check out all our Canada’s Craft Beer articles.
Bryan Clegg is the beer columnist for VanFoodies.com. Bryan has a wide and accommodating palate; whether it’s a tasty low-IBU ale or a ride on the IBU train to Hop Country, he’s happy to drink and share a story about the ride. Follow @vanfoodies on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.