New On Tap: Vancouver’s Coal Harbour Brewing Company

Inside the brewery. Photo by Deanna Ladret

Triumph Street, East Vancouver. It’s an unassuming block, an industrial neighbourhood filled with warehouses, jam spaces, big trucks, broken televisions. But, one look inside the garage doors of newly opened Coal Harbour Brewing Company and you know you’re in the midst of a serious operation. Rows of behemoth fermentation tanks, gleaming in stainless steel, are noiseless but busy. To the left, bags of assorted malts lie on a wooden shipping pallet and logo-sprayed kegs stand in orderly stacks.



Brewer Kevin Emms with a Rye Ale culture

Near the mash tun, brewer Kevin Emms is gathering a digital readout from a frothy rust-coloured liquid that appears to have been drawn from a nearby tank. In an adjacent room, a microscope sits alongside a petri dish and an array of glass vials of various sizes. Replace Emms’ Whistler Bungeetee and flannel plaid button up with a lab coat, and I’d mistake the warehouse for some sort of clandestine laboratory (although, the pungent smell of fermenting beer would seem rather out of place).



A recent graduate of Heriot Watt’s Master of Science in Brewing & Distilling in Edinburgh, Scotland, Kevin is credited with developing the initial recipes for Coal Harbour Brewing Co.’s three inaugural releases: Triumph (Cascadian Rye Ale), Vancouver Lager (Vienna-style Lager), and Three 11 (German Helles-style Lager). Alongside Coal Harbour Head Brewer Douglas Rae, Emms and the rest of the team are excited to finally get their beer pouring throughout Vancouver and beyond.



Brewer Kevin Emms displays the clarity of the Vancouver Lager in the brewery's refrigerated room.

Now, about the beers. Rather than jump aboard the already well-populated West Coast IPA train, Coal Harbour has decided to carve out their own niche as a purveyor of “classic lagers and unique ales”. Hopheads, stay with me––you’re still among friends. The Triumph is a copper-coloured “Cascadian Rye Ale”, made with rye malts (rather than the traditional barley) for a “spicy and unique fruity taste”, with a “moderate bitterness” courtesy of Zythos hops. The Vancouver Lager is made using a manual 3-step mash process, incorporating German pilsner, Vienna malts, German lager yeast and premium German hops “to impart a lingering hoppy aroma”. In other words, light in colour, with brilliant clarity and a satisfying aftertaste. Last but not least, Three 11 is Coal Harbour’s easy-drinking lager at a low price point, created in accordance with Germany’s ReinheitsgebotPurity Law of 1516. Essentially, this is a party-proof brew that’s actually good. Three 11 currently goes for $3 a pint/$10 a pitcher at some Vancouver watering holes––for a local craft beer, that’s pretty much unbeatable.



Eventually, Coal Harbour Brewing plans to bottle their product for retail. Until then, you can order a cold pint at a growing number of establishments across Vancouver, including Zawa’s, The Astoria Pub (769 E. Hastings), St. Augustine’s, The Whip, and The Alibi Room.


Coal Harbour Brewing Co.

1967 Triumph Street, Vancouver, BC

(604) 251-0724


The brewery’s website is still under construction, but in the meantime, follow their Twitter account for up-to-date details on where their beers are available (@CoalHarBrew).


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