First Look: Red Truck Beer & Truck Stop Diner Soft Opening

Red Truck Beer and their Truck Stop Diner finally soft-opened last week in the historic “Brewery Creek” area. They’re located on 2nd Ave, about a 5 minute walk east of Main St. Lots of other beer places already exist in this neighborhood, including Brassneck, 33 Acres, Main Street Brewing, Steel Toad Brewpub, CRAFT Beer Market, Tap & Barrel, and Big Rock Urban Eatery. They haven’t announced their grand opening date yet, but they’ve already announced their Parking Lot Concert Series, which starts June 13. The concerts are sponsored by CFOX and JRfm, so that sorta gives you an idea of the kind of target marking this brewery is aiming for. Will they stand out in Vancouver’s increasingly saturated beer market? Have we reached “peak beer”? More importantly, would I come back here?

DSCF1403

Here we are, at 295 E 1st Ave,. in the middle of a semi-industrial area. Their parking lot doesn’t have as many spaces as I thought it would. I wonder how they’re gonna prevent people from wandering into their ticketed parking lot concert events?

DSCF1406

Red Truck Beer has actually existed since 2006. Their previous brewery was a smaller one in North Van. They always seemed to focus more on supplying restaurants with their very small portfolio of mainstream beers. Now with this huge facility, they’re going full-force with bottles for the retail market.

DSCF1414

I was excited to see what their Truck Stop diner was like. I’m always interested when food intersects with beer! I wonder if that water tower is functional.

DSCF1416

One of their many red trucks.

DSCF1419

It’s just their soft-opening phase right now.

DSCF1422

Already shipping out product. These guys are going big right out of the gate.

DSCF1496

Once you walk into the diner, there’s a front area with tons of merchandise, bottles for purchase on the right, and a small growler-filling station on the left. The growler station already had activity even though it’s still soft-opening phase.

DSCF1495

Tons of shirts already printed up.

DSCF1494

Yeah…

DSCF1497

Coolers jam-packed with cold bottles.

DSCF1498

Their new 12-packs.

DSCF1499

This sorta came out of left field. I wasn’t expecting them to brew a tripel. I don’t see it on the label, but apparently their tripel contains chamomile and lemon?

DSCF1500

Trucker hats (of course), glassware and growlers.

DSCF1501

I gotta give it to them…they’re really consistent with their trucks, wrenches, cargo-type theme.

DSCF1443

View of the diner. Not quite like a diner cuz there’s no counter seating with those round stools. Too bad.

DSCF1425

Another view of the diner.

DSCF1427

A slightly different and possibly superfluous view of the diner. There’s some counter seating at the windows. Notice that they’ve cut up a shipping container to house the kitchen. Kinda cool!

DSCF1447

They have their beer list duplicated next to the kitchen where the condiment station is. Self-serve water with (of course) red cups.

DSCF1448

The kitchen with plenty of deep fryers. Cuz it’s diner-type food.

DSCF1493

Another decorative element on one of the walls. I don’t think it actually opens up.

DSCF1424

I think these guys have been ready for months, just waiting for the final permits to fall into place. It felt like this place was born already fully-formed.

DSCF1441

Ok, enough blabber, let’s get some beer!

DSCF1428

It’s counter-service here.

DSCF1429

Aside from their core “Red Truck” beers, they also do a Belgian Blonde, Belgian Tripel and a Vancouver Craft Beer Week collaboration beer which is a “Campfire Kolsch”. They misspelt “kolsch”… I assume the beer is a smoked kolsch, which could be interesting because I usually find kolsches to be meh.

DSCF1431

Interesting that they went with hangtags to identify each tap.

DSCF1434

The menu! Lots of diner classics like chili, BLTs, burgers, mac ‘n cheese, hot dogs, and all-day breakfasts.

DSCF1445

Closed my eyes and pointed. Mac ‘n cheese it is!

DSCF1461

I like these numbers. Later, I would buy a Cantus Fermus sour beer from Main Street Brewing that was bottle number 88 🙂

DSCF1454

My Craftmaster 4 taster, which included the Kolsch, ISA, IPA, and Tripel.

DSCF1459

First few sips of the Kolsch (5.4%) didn’t reveal any smoke at all. Otherwise a crisp, slightly sweet German lager. For what it is, I actually liked it. About halfway I started getting a whisper of smoke in the finish. Or it might’ve been mental suggestion.

The ISA (India Session Ale – 4.2%) had a very sweet and fruity hop aroma. Very light body. Not bad for an ISA.

The IPA (6.3%) was a very, very easygoing IPA, more like a British IPA than a North American IPA. So much so that I’d call it a Pale Ale rather than an IPA. To compare, Main Street Brewing’s Session IPA (4.8%) has much more impact on all fronts than Red Truck IPA does. It does have a good balance of hops though, without any single hop characteristic jutting out at you. (Man, am I getting soft on these guys??) If your friends say “I don’t like anything bitter!”, then this might just be the IPA for them.

DSCF1455
Don’t trip over this tripel!

The Tripel (9.5%) needs work. Too bad cuz they’ve already bottled it! Very sweet candy aroma, with prominent sweetness on the palate and a too-obvious alcohol presence on the finish. Not much behind the two pillars of sweetness and alcohol. For me, the very best tripels hide their alcohol VERY well behind layers of sweetness, yeastiness, effervescence, and complexity. Even though tripels ARE sweet, it’s that particular balance that makes them so easy to drink.

DSCF1469

Diner-type sqeeze bottles of ketchup and Louisiana-style hot sauce.

DSCF1465

Mac ‘n Cheese served in a foil container. If you’re one of those people who get a “tinny” feeling from forks that have touched tinfoil, you’re gonna hate this.

DSCF1482

It’s a good, straight-ahead mac ‘n cheese. It’s on the creamier side rather than cheesier side. Most of the cheese flavour was on the top. The creamy part was a touch too wet and runny. On the whole, it could’ve used a bit more of a cheesy, salty hit. The noodles were on the softer end of the acceptable range.

DSCF1486

Trying out their hot sauce. Tastes like a good, basic Louisiana-style/Tabasco-type hot sauce. Good on the mac ‘n cheese.

DSCF1489

I’ve had ketchup on my Kraft dinner way back during my high school days, but never on a more “upscale” (lol) mac ‘n cheese. The combination is not bad!

DSCF1492

The service here is already very good. It’s counter-service-PLUS cuz they come around to see how everyone is doing, and they clear tables quickly too. Friendly staff that are still learning but already seem to have a handle on things.

For me though, the beers here are good (except the tripel) but unexciting. This place would not please the beer geeks, but then not everyone that likes beer is a beer geek, so I can see which segment of the market this place is aiming for. If you like listening to CFOX and JRfm and like to giv’r, then this place might be up your alley.

Red Truck Brewery & Diner on Urbanspoon

One thought on “First Look: Red Truck Beer & Truck Stop Diner Soft Opening”

Leave a Reply