Colombian Flavour Meets BC Craft Beer: Andina Brewing Set to Open

There’s a new brewery on the #yeastvan block and they’re bringing something unique to British Columbia’s craft beer scene – the fusion of West Coast and Colombian flavours. Andina Brewing is the passion project of Nicolás and Andrés Amaya, who moved from Colombia to B.C. nearly 20 years ago. Coming from a country dominated by the big beer industry, exposure to B.C.’s local products sparked Nicolás’ interest, which then rubbed off on Andrés. Over the years, their interest in the industry grew tremendously and eventually got them thinking, “how can we start our own craft brewery?”

Andina Brewing Company BC beer craft beer vancouver yeastvan columbia

The amazing art installation sprawling across the front of Andina Brewing was designed by Leo Espinosa and manufactured/installed by True North Signs.

Fast forward to February 2017 – one and a half years after securing a massive ex-plastic manufacturing plant on Powell Street as their brewery’s home – and Andina Brewing is set to open its doors. With the help of Nicolás’ wife Claudia (communications and marketing wiz) and Andrés’ wife Rocio (financial guru), and an experienced brewer in Andrew Powers, the family-owned and run business has rounded out a solid team that is ready to make their mark on the craft beer industry.

An important part of the birth of Andina Brewing has been the development of their brand. Not only is it the face of their products, it is a reflection of their Colombian heritage. Their name is derived from the people, specifically the women, of the Andes Mountains. When it came time to develop their logo, the Amaya family turned to Leo Espinosa, an award winning illustrator and designer who’s work has been featured in The New Yorker and Wired, to name a few. It turns out that Leo also happens to be an old friend of theirs from Colombia, so it was a perfect fit. When Leo presented a few logo options to the Andina team they knew right away that the design featuring the Andina Girl, ‘La Pola’, was going to be the face of their brewery.

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‘La Pola’ has become a signature part of Andina’s brand. Also, ceramic growlers > regular growlers

Equally important to Andina Brewing as the representation of their Colombian roots in both their beer and branding is sustainable brewery practices. The Amayas have invested in a special ozone cleaning device to limit their consumption of chemical cleaners, and are acting as the industry guinea pigs for a commercial heat recapturing system that offers massive energy savings – the first brewery in the province to have this installed.  Further, the beautiful tasting room tables are made of wood reclaimed from large beams removed during the installation of their fermentation tanks.

I reached out to Andina with the hopes of getting a sneak peak of the brewery prior to their official opening. Luckily, Claudia was extremely welcoming and allowed Luke and myself to check out their space and hear the story of their brewery. Upon entering the tasting room, I was delighted with what I saw.

Andina Brewing Company tasting room Vancouver B.C. craft beer brewery

The reclaimed wood tables featured in Andina’s tasting room are a thing of beauty.

Beautiful wood floors and tables accent a clean, white canvas of a space. Original wooden support beams, left untouched during the construction of the tasting room, add character. The red and yellow of Andina’s brand and the photos displayed on the wall provide vibrant splashes of color throughout the room.

Everything is clean and tasteful and has been designed to compliment what I, and soon many others, will come through their doors for – the beer.

Andina’s website coins their beers as a “tasteful balance of the unexpected”. After sampling four of their offerings, this statement definitely rings true. Each beer I tried held up to it’s particular style, was very balanced, and had an added twist.

Andina Brewing Company craft beer B.C. vancouver powell street Columbia

Andina Brewing’s uniquely-shaped tasting paddle

TOTUMA KOLSCH

(4.5% ABV, 22 IBU)

Andina Brewing Company; kolsch; totuma; Columbian; craft beer; B.C.

Totuma is Andina’s most approachable beer. Whether you’re just starting to experiment with craft beer, or you’re a seasoned sampler, this kolsch hits the spot. Undoubtedly a good post-hike chaser or beach companion. Consider this a significant upgrade from your run-of-mill lager.

MONITA BLONDE IPA

(6.5% ABV, 60 IBU)

The West Coast is known for being an IPA haven. Andina’s first take on this style offers something outside of the hop-bomb norm that many B.C. natives are used to. The Monita Blonde is a light-bodied IPA that is crisp and refreshing with a balanced hop profile. I’d say this beer is session-worthy, but sitting at 6.5%, it’s still a solid kick in the pants. Not something to be bitter about though…I’ll see myself out…

AY AY AY  PALE ALE

(5% ABV, 36 IBU)

Andina Brewing Company; craft beer; vancouver; columbia; pale ale; B.C.

Nicolás filling up a growler with Ay Ay Ay for Luke and I to take home. Salud!

Contrary to its English translation, things are not going ‘wildly amok’ with this beer. Ay Ay Ay is a very balanced pale ale with a nice hop flavour. What makes this beer truly unique is the Belgian yeast, which introduces a subtle fruity aroma and creamy mouth-feel. After enjoying a couple pints you’ll probably be screaming “Ay Ay Ay!” though. I encourage your enthusiasm!

MARACA BLACK IPA

(5.7% ABV, 50 IBU)

One of their first seasonal additions, Maraca is a delicious, hoppy black IPA with fruity notes and a tart finish. I would never have expected passion fruit to be added to a black IPA, which is why I absolutely love this beer. Maraca has everything you expect in a quality black IPA, with a pleasant surprise. It’s a must try!

Andina Brewing Company; BC; craft beer; yeastvan; brewery opening

Tasting the Andina beer lineup for the first time

Andina will also have an Andean Mild Ale dubbed ‘Melcocha’ that features panela (a raw, unrefined whole cane sugar from Colombia), and a milk stout known as ‘Mapale’ which is part of their seasonal selection. Aligned with many other B.C. breweries, they will also have two rotating ‘guest taps’. I’ve always been a huge fan of guest taps as they celebrate the collaborative and supportive nature of the craft beer industry.

Andina Brewing Company; BC; craft beer, brewery opening

Custom tap handles in the tasting room.

In addition to their lineup of craft beers, Andina Brewing will feature some Colombian inspired cocktails, such as mojitos rimmed with panela paste, and a mixture of lulo (naranjilla or ‘little orange’) juice with white rum or Sambuca. For those that prefer not to drink, they will also be offering some tasty and traditional non-alcoholic beverages. Designated drivers rejoice!

Andina’s menu doesn’t end there. Andrés Amaya is known to be quite the cook and has whipped up a solid ceviche list for hungry customers. Each day there will be a rotating fresh fish dish and vegetarian option available. If you’re looking for a salty snack instead, don’t worry…plantain chips are a plenty! Be warned though, as one plantain chip is never enough. I speak from years of snacking experience.

The brewing/warehouse portion of Andina Brewing was equally as cool as the tasting room. Nicolás and Claudia mentioned that when they consulted other breweries during their search for a brewery space, most people told them to “go big”. If you want to expand your operations at some point, it’s much easier to do when you have space to work with. The Amayas took this advice to heart when securing a building, and now have ample room to grow.

Thanks again to Nicolás and Claudia for allowing Luke and I to tour Andina Brewing and sample some of their delicious brews. I look forward to heading back to the brewery for their opening next week. I hope to see you there!

UPDATE: Andina Brewing will open its doors to the public today (March 1) from 11am – 11pm. A huge congratulations to the entire Andina team.

Salud!

P.S. – Check out Andina’s recently updated website. It’s beautifully designed and is full of great content!

Words: Chris

Photos: Luke Mikler Photography (Instagram: @mshrms)

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