Location: East Vancouver
Year Opened: 2014
Flights of Four: $7.5
BC Beer Award Wins: 2016 – Belgian Ale (Jongleur Wit), European Sour Ale (Reynard)
Canadian Beer Awards Wins: 2015 – Wheat Beer (Hefeweizen)
Strange Fellows has an intense vision that drives everything: the look of the tasting room, the types of beers they create, what beers are on tap.
It’s all tied to a feeling of the woods – the space is serene but alive, the beer styles are familiar, though the takes are unique to their Clark Street location. A Strange Fellows beer has a particular flavour, and a good one at that.
Their attention to detail is obvious, broad, and impressive. The tasting room is tall and narrow with dim lighting and high, thin windows that immediately impress that their space is intended to be a temple … but the idol-like masks of animals and occult characters staring down when you enter clarify that the religion is mysticism. The light is perfectly even, the stools are higher-end and more comfortable than usual, and the glass-enclosed views of the production facility makes clear where the magic happens, while obscuring the process and emphasizing that it’s inaccessible to outsiders.
Okay, you liked the space, we get it. What about the damn beers, you ask?
Well, they’re also conventional though with a skewed take, much like the space. Brewmaster and co-owner Iain Hill, who cut his teeth at Yaletown Brewing (while also making beers on the side for the Alibi Room), doesn’t veer into gimmicks or overly flavoured options – the farthest thing from Storm — but the taste profiles are different yet exemplary. The Jongleur Belgian Wit is the best in the city to our tastes, while the Grisette and Reynard Oud Bruin would likely be the same for the entire province (though those styles are more rare).
They do wheats and sours best, in a variety of styles, so if that’s your jam, you’ll love it. Yet their focus on seasonality and the ephemeral also means that if it’s winter and you don’t want hoppy or dark beers, there are a few options for you. Their beers are intentionally distinct from each other, but nothing is off the rails — what they give up in innovation or creativity, they make up for in execution.
(That being said, they’re not afraid to offer up something odd, like an unaged Russian imperial stout, even if it may not be the best as a result.)
Strange Fellows is 3rd because Brassneck and Four Winds still have more great beers: they may be more polished than the intentionally unflinching Brassneck, and have a much better location & diversity of beers than Four Winds, but it’s not (yet) enough to make up the difference.
Nonetheless, Strange Fellows hit the ground running (possibly because a divisive, controversial shaman removed bad spirits from their brewery before opening?) and they’ve quickly cemented themselves in Vancouver’s beer scene.
Get their beer and visit their shrine to brewing tasty, strange stuff.
Quality: 16.9/20 (3rd)
Standout: 3.9/5 (7th)
Diversity: 7.7/10 (2nd)
Innovation: 3.4/5 (11th)
Experience: 7.5/10 (12th)
TOTAL: 39.5 (3rd)