Back in December, we featured the first post in our Straight to the Source series, a series devoted to highlighting tasting rooms and other hot-spots that feature delicious craft beer. The plan was to try to continue this series at least semi-monthly. Then, life and school got in the way. We are happy to say the series is back though and should figure prominently throughout the summer. With that said, our next Straight to the Source feature is Vancouver’s Andina Brewing Company.
The Tasting Room
Located on Powell Street, right in the heart of Vancouver’s famed “Yeast Van District,” Andina is one of the newest breweries to open in the Lower Mainland. Unmistakeable due to its bright yellow exterior, featuring a 60’ by 30’ representation of brewery figurehead “La Pola,” Andina is equally as bright and cheerful on the inside, as her facade projects. Opened in early 2017 by Columbia-Canadian brothers Nicolas and Andres Amaya, the brewery is all about celebrating and providing the warm hospitality endemic to South American culture, as well as, of course, delicious craft beer. Andina’s interior is spacious, colourful, and lively. Ample seating awaits thirsty customers and the large windows open up the room, providing plenty of natural light that helps to maintain a vibrant yet easy-going atmosphere. Andina’s also features an array of specially commissioned pieces, such as: photographs, claywork, and woven baskets, which help emphasize the brewery’s South American roots, while also tying together with Andina’s consistent branding.
Naturally, when new breweries approach their opening date, most of the anticipation rests on what kind of beers they will offer. While this was definitely true in this case, Andina also had beer lovers salivating over the prospect of pairing ceviche with their beer. Featuring a rotating menu of various ceviches with recipes from Columbia, Peru, and Mexico, Andina definitely has a leg-up on the competition, in regards to unique food options. They even feature a vegetarian option, their Ceviche de Mango, which consists of fresh mangoes in a lime/ketchup sauce. For those feeling a little less adventurous, Andina also offers Chifles (fried green plantain chips, with a second option featuring fried cassava chips) and Arepas (white corn flour and cheese patties). You can also indulge in an order of Pachos, which is Andina’s take on nachos, featuring their plantain chifles.
As much as I personally love ceviche, the beer is clearly the star of the show, at Andina. During our visit, six beers were on tap: four Principales, which make up Andina’s flagship lineup and two De Temporada, or seasonal beers. Between the two of us, we were able to sample all six. The overall goal at Andina seems to be to provide a regular lineup of easy-drinking beers, that pair nicely with food, while also offering a couple of experimental options.
As mentioned, this lineup consists of four beers: their Melcocha Andean Mild, Monita Belgian IPA, Totuma Kolsch, and Ay Ay Ay Pale Ale. At the time of our visit, the Melcocha was not featured, instead we had the Andina Session Ale, an ISA. All four were pleasant offerings, that were perfect beers to enjoy with the ceviche. Light and bright, but also full of flavour, these are ideal beers to enjoy with company. My personal standout was the Monita. Drawing more inspiration from Belgium, than from its geographic brethren, Monita features a prominent grain bill that grants it a solid malt body of honey and biscuit. This helps to gently guide the hoppiness of the beer from start to finish, without a lingering, palate destroying bitterness.
Andina’s two seasonal beers at the time, were the Maraca Passionfruit Black IPA and the Mapale Milk Stout. Overall, I would say these were the stars of the tasters. Not because they were objectively (or even subjectively) better than the Principales, but because they brought something different to the table. Maraca is everything I love about black IPAs with a refreshing twist. Dark and roasty, with the perfect touch of hop bitterness, the inclusion of passionfruit adds a pop of zesty, tart freshness that keeps your tastebuds on their toes. Mapale is a wonderful milk stout, a style that I hope the brewery continues to offer. South America is well-known for its rich coffees and this beer showcases this in spades. Creamy and bold, it’s like a nice little dessert in a glass, the perfect way to finish your visit.
Go. Now. Seriously. If everything I have said above isn’t enough to sway you, I’m not really sure what will! Andina is bright, beautiful, inviting, and cheerful. They’ve done an excellent job of creating a brewery that embodies aspects of their heritage, while seamlessly fitting in with the already established beer community in Vancouver. From the ambience of the tasting room, to their menu, as well as the distinct ingredients and flavours that feature in their beers, Andina is a little slice of South America, come alive in East Vancouver.