With an ever-growing amount of breweries available to craft beer goers, it’s becoming a battle for consumer attention and increasingly difficult for breweries to stand out. For Electric Bicycle Brewing, being unique isn’t a goal; it’s who they are. Upon looking at the building that once housed an electric bicycle manufacturer (hence the brewery’s name), you get a strong sense that they’re doing things differently.
The story of Electric Bicycle started two years ago when they gained possession of the building on 20 E 4th Ave, Vancouver. After around eight months of waiting to secure permits, they were finally able to start construction (classic permitting).
The EB team comprised of Elliot McKerr (Owner), Leigh Matkovich (Marketing) and Matt Ryan (Operations & Front-of-House) put in countless hours during construction/renovation, handling a majority of the build themselves. Leigh spoke to the long hours of painting the taproom and brewery walls, especially the painstaking taping. When you visit the brewery, you’ll understand the significance of their pre-paint tape job!
The Tasting Room
The EB team adopted a “design-as-we-go” approach for the taproom, which led to a lot of random and interesting features. Each time you set foot in Electric Bicycle Brewing, you’re likely to discover something new. Their wild taproom setup includes elaborate fake flower installations on the walls and roof, warped mirrors straight from a fair fun-house, a deer mount with sunglasses, a faux fish tank that doubles as a table, and crazy geometric paint patterns on the walls that might leave your head spinning…or maybe that’s from the beer.
Elliot dubbed the brewery a “crazy psychedelic experience”. After walking through the space ourselves, I’d say that his description is on point. Their bar-top is even out of the norm, using black and white tiling that they stumbled across when searching for tiles for a flooring fill. The pattern nicely aligns with the triangular shapes that adorn their growlers and mural that sprawls across the front of the building.
The Artwork & Creative
The brewery’s kick-ass mural was painted by local artist, Rory Doyle. Rory handles Electric Bicycle’s graphic design and is responsible for the brewery’s logo, growler artwork, and more. Elliot spoke to the creative development process with Rory, drawing inspiration from the Rolling Stone logo for their mouth and tongue creative displayed above the brewery entrance, growlers, “Ouiji Board” beer flight cards and other elements. This nod to the music media powerhouse fits right in with the Electric Bicycle brand.
Music is one of the Electric Bicycle crew’s passions, so expect the tunes to be cranked as you sip your fresh suds. The EB team spoke to us about wanting the tasting room to have more of an upbeat, party atmosphere. Their goal is to create a buzz among their patrons and the craft beer community as a whole. Ultimately, they hope that Electric Bicycle is the spot where people want to start and end their night.
As we’ve seen in recent years from the B.C. craft beer industry, more breweries are starting to push style boundaries as local consumers develop diverse palettes. With this in mind, Electric Bicycle has a rotating lineup of experimental beers with no “mainstays”. Growler fills are available with future plans of limited release cans. Their focus is to keep things interesting and continue to push the craft beer envelope.
Bringing their beer vision to life via their ten barrel system is former Spinnakers brewer, Paddy Russell. Paddy was hired about three months ago, and according to the EB team, has been a perfect fit. Elliot praised Paddy’s brewing knowledge and flexibility to bring their crazy beer ideas to life, in addition to offering many of his own.
Although Electric Bicycle will largely focus on creating some outside-of-the-box beers, they still have some approachable options on tap. Their hazy, sessionable “Smash-O-Matic” S.M.A.S.H. Pale Ale is a single hop and single malt beer that features light citrus notes and a mild bitter finish. Consider it a polite introduction to the madness.
Traditional styles will also be on tap, but expect a twist. Take for instance their “Mermaid Man” Black Kolsch (ABV: 4.9% | IBU: 22). It’s without a doubt the most interesting beer that I’ve tried of this particular style as it has many of the traditional kolsch flavour characteristics, but an added savory (almost bacon-like) layer.
So far, Electric Bicycle’s stand out beers are without a doubt their two IPAs. The “It’s No Game” IPA (ABV: 6.7%|IBU: 47) is thick and juicy with flavours of pineapple and tropical fruit, and sports a balanced bitterness throughout. The bitterness is actually quite mild compared to other hazy IPAs in the BC market.
Electric Bicycle has also introduced a process to developing truly unique beer recipes. Their Think Tank beers stem from randomly drawn recipe ideas submitted by people via direct message on Instagram. The first #EBBThinkTank is courtesy of Daniel L. It’s a Sorbet IPA (ABV: 6.2%|IBU: 39) with mango, pineapple, and toasted coconut and a creamy mouthfeel. Forget the taste for a second…doesn’t that just sound amazing?! This beer’s ingredients weave together beautifully, thanks to head brewer Paddy. It’s a must try in my opinion.
One of EB’s crazy concoctions in progress is a S.M.A.S.H. pale ale rested on pineapple and oak staves. The coolest part? The beer is naturally blue in colour from the addition of butterfly pea flowers. Keep your eyes peeled for this upcoming release.
While Electric Bicycle doesn’t have a full kitchen, they are offering various types of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches brought in from Salt & Earth Catering. They also have an array of snacks, including one of my childhood favourites, FRUIT BY THE FOOT! For those looking for a tasty non-alcoholic beverage, various flavours of La Croix are also available. Yes, sparkling water is so hot right now.
After our tour and checkout out the brewery on opening day, I think it’s safe to say that Vancouver has received an awesome addition to it’s well established craft beer scene in the form of Electric Bicycle Brewing. A big thanks to the guys at EB for sharing their story and beers with us.
Electric Bicycle is open from 3-10 p.m. this week, serving 12 ounce beers and filling growlers. They’ll be back to regular hours this weekend with flights available as well. Go check them out, a couple of doors down from R&B Brewing, at 20 E 4th Ave, Vancouver!
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