First Look: Britannia Brewing in Steveston

Britannia Brewing Company has been open a bit more than a month as of this writing. Aside from Hog Shack and Gudrun, there aren’t many other serious craft beer places in historic, slightly touristy Steveston. Britannia fills a niche that I think will work for them.

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Man, people love their patios! We sat inside and had the dining room all to ourselves. This place used to be Paesano’s Italian restaurant.

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It’s true that the craft beer landscape in BC is getting more and more crowded, BUT having one place that pays equal attention to both the beer AND the food is still a rarity. Steel Toad tries with their food but has a sheen of corporate casual fine dining written all over it. Belgard Kitchen/Postmark Brewing apparently have great food but I just cannot get over their blanderific beers. Strathcona hits it out of the park with their pizzas but their beers are currently shaky at best. Big Rock showed big promise as a brewpub concept when they opened up in April 2015 but then after my first visit I had the harsh realization that it’s still Big Rock beers with its characteristic house yeast and gaggy sweetness à la Granville Island Brewing that makes everything they do taste the same, and not in a good way. The tasting room and food truck combination is great (Brassneck x Community Pizzeria being one muscular example) but to have a small, unique, self-sustaining brewpub here reminds me of the hundreds of little brewpubs that dot Washington and Oregon State. If Britannia can make it work here in Steveston, that’ll be awesome.

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Britannia Brewing doesn’t actually brew anything at this location. They have a production brewery in the Ironwood area, in the same semi-industrial complex as Fuggles & Warlock. So in that sense, this restaurant is a “tied house”, similar to Howe Sound Brewing’s smokehouse/pubstaurant Devil’s Elbow in Crosstown.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Hog Shack, but I gotta work myself up for a big barbecue meal. For the majority of the time, I like to eat something smaller and lighter. This menu looks great. Nice range, and quite reasonable pricing. Approachable food, nothing too fancy, but still has attention to quality ingredients. A grass-fed burger and fries for $14? You could easily charge $16 or $18 for that elsewhere.

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The room is the most fantastic tasting room/dining room/brewpub room that I’ve seen in BC. Beautiful light from the south-facing windows (same direction as 33 Acres big-ass windows), lots of white with blonde woods, and touches of black accents.

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I love how the chairs DON’T look like they came from Ikea! Whoever did the interiors knew what they were doing.

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They’ve kept the number of taps small. Only six, but for a place this size, it would be hard to keep anything more than six fresh.

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On the day I went, there were three house beers and three guest taps (Four Winds Pilsner, Big Ridge Red Ale, and Main Street Saison). They also offer snacks, including bierbeisser meat sticks by D Original Sausage Haus (whose brick & mortar location is just a few blocks away).

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Flight ($10) from left to right: Britannia Rye Porter (5.1%), Big Ridge Red Ale (5.1%), Britannia XPA (5.6%), Britannia Blonde (4.7%). The blonde was a clean and easy blonde ale with a subtle floral and fruity aroma. The XPA (Extra Pale Ale) is maltier, hoppier, bigger than the blonde. The Rye Porter has a light, roasty coffee note and is on the sessionable side. The one guest beer I had, the Big Ridge Red Ale, was roasty, caramelly, and a bit sweet.

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So from my first sampling, Britannia beers are solid, approachable, with no obvious flaws. It’s not gonna thrill the beer geeks who like to chase XXXTREME beers, but for the other 80% of the beer market, I think their portfolio is gonna work.

While sitting at the counter, we chatted with one of the owners (I assume) Trystam, who is Australian. I didn’t clue in until afterwards when I factored in the name “Britannia”, that their beers are coming from the British/Australian tradition of brewing with its lower ABV. However, they’ve got other things in the works too, like a Sour Cherry Berliner Weisse:

 

We went here after a big dim sum meal, so I wasn’t going to get food but then the head chef Alex Newton told me about their fried anchovies and I got excited. Anchovies are such an underrated seafood (same with local sardines).

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Fried Anchovies with Romesco ($12). Egg wash and crunchy breadcrumb coating.

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These are uncured anchovies, so the flesh is actually fresh and light in texture, and not heavy, fishy, or oily at all. These are like the Spanish-inspired cousin of Chinese deep fried smelts (ah, that Chinese greasy spoon classic).

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The beers are solid but it’s the food menu that excites and tips this place into being a worthy destination. I’ll have to come back soon with a group to help me eat the menu 🙂

Britannia Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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