Rank in Vancouver: 5th place (out of 25)
Rank in Metro Vancouver: 12th place (out of 48)
Rank in Southwestern B.C.: 18th place (out of 77)
Formerly branded as Powell Street Craft Brewery, they made a big splash in 2013 when their ‘Old Jalopy’ Pale Ale won the top prize at the Canadian Brewing Awards within six months of the brewery opening. The quality of their beer has managed to keep pace with increased local competition since, and for a place that’s now a relative veteran in the B.C. brewing scene, they still are churning out an impressive amount of new experiments.
The backbone of all Powell’s core beers is a hoppy twist on a traditional style. The ‘Old Jalopy’, ‘Ode to Citra’, and ‘Dive Bomb’ are all variants on choosing the right kind of hops to give an ale some needed depth. The regular lineup is complimented by seasonals like the White IPA and Amarillo Sour, both tasty, their fresh hop IPA knocks it out of the park every year, and more recently, they produced an entire series of kettle sours and a single-batch series of saisons, which are, shockingly, very good.
But notice the repetitiveness in the list above, and you understand why Powell hasn’t conquered the market, despite their solid distribution and head start on their rivals.
One needs a certain kind of punchy, hop-friendly, sour-friendly palate to appreciate the beers at Powell. Fortunately for them, it’s a pretty common palate in the Pacific Northwest, but that there just isn’t enough variety in style to appeal to a broad crowd, which is a very real consideration.
The tasting room is fine, with the seating, selection of snacks and atmosphere par for the course in East Van, but it’s not the type of place to spend an hour and be slowly persuaded that you secretly loved Powell all along.
But those are small caveats for a place that continues to make things that tickle our taste buds, with the Ode to Wallflower Pale Ale and the Southern Belle sour weisse standouts in the last two years alone (not to mention their new tradition of a Pie and Beer Pairing Week).
All of which is to say that Powell keeps pushing itself — a sign a key cog in Vancouver’s brewing industry will remain so for years to come.
Quality: 16.1/20 (11th)
Standout: 4.2/5 (7th)
Diversity: 5.8/10 (44th)
Innovation: 3.4/5 (15th)
Experience: 7.0/10 (34th)
TOTAL: 36.4 (18th)
Next in Metro Vancouver/Southwest B.C.:Foamers’ Folly
Categories: Brewery Rankings