East Van Mini-Crawl: Andina Brewing, The Pie Shoppe, and Luppolo Brewing Company

We killed three birds with one stone on a sunny but cold Saturday. Wicca and I checked out the brand-new South American-themed Andina Brewing (opened March 1, 2017), the new larger location of The Pie Shoppe (opened August 2016), and the Italian-inspired Luppolo Brewing Co. (which opened in late October 2016). Just as with the foodie-worthy Fraserhood area (Fraser & Kingsway), the same “cluster effect” is happening in “Yeast Van” and is delivering some exciting eating and drinking opportunities. No soulless, corporate chains in this area (yet)! Andina and Luppolo, in particular, are bringing a much-needed cultural influence that’ll help make them stand out in this extremely crowded craft beer market.

NOTE: I must apologize for mispelling “Colombian” as “Columbian” throughout this post. It is now corrected. Thanks to grayelf for pointing this out to me 🙂

Andina Brewing

The “Andina Girl” on the side of the building is classy and beautiful. She’s called “La Pola”, and according to their website is explained thusly: “Pola is a Colombian slang word that means beer, and most significantly, is the nickname of Policarpa Salavarrieta, a heroine who helped Colombia gain independence from the Spanish regime.” Amazing. Gotta say that she’d kick Red Betty’s ass. Or be best friends? Or maybe frenemies? I dunno…

You can’t miss Andina Brewing’s big yellow building on Powell St., located in-between Powell Brewery and Kessel&March. Within walking distance are Callister Brewing, Odd Society Spirits, Doan’s Craft Brewing Co., Storm Brewing, and (once they reopen) Parallel 49 Brewing. Foodwise, there’s the aforementioned Kessel&March, Bistro Wagon Rouge (fuck I need to check this place out), The Pie Shoppe, Yolks (with their perpetual lineups), and (if you really wanted) Pelican Seafood. Strawberry Prawns, anyone? (Barf.) Basically what this means is, there’s plenty to choose from if you want to choose-your-own-adventure in this neighbourhood.

I must mention the Andina website. It’s one of the best brewery websites I’ve seen. Lots of content, clean and consistent branding, and lots of videos too! You should check it out cuz it really lays out what they’re all about and doesn’t feel at all corporate or inauthentic.

Yeah, we tried walking in their front door. No dice. You gotta use their side door. It’s pretty much street parking around Andina, so if you’ve got a partner wearing heels you might wanna warn them that you’ll be walking a bit. Heck, it’s nice out, right?

CORRECTION: In addition to street parking (pay attention to the signs), there is a small parking lot on the right side of Andina, with 11 spaces reserved to Andina customers. Thanks to Claudia for clarifying. Here’s a photo of their lot:

Photo of Andina parking area, courtesy of Andina Brewing.

Andina’s main entrance on the right side of their building. Ecosan did a bang-up job on their restrooms. Props. (I didn’t get paid to say that. I just like clean washrooms.)

You can see and feel the Colombian heritage once you walk in the door. We joked about these nipples. I’m not gonna say that I was the target.

I could stare at these figures all day. Wonderful.

View of the tasting room from the growler-filling side of the bar.

They currently have four year-round beers (described on their website) and two seasonal beers. They also have cider, wine, cocktails (Andean Mojitos and Lulazo), and the non-alcoholic Agua de Panela. What opens my eyes is the CEVICHE on the food menu. They also have Arepas (not filled, just topped with cheese), Plantain & Cassava Chips, and their version of nachos with cheese called Pachos. Prices for growler fills are a smidge high.

Those Andina growlers look great! I was really impressed at how clean and ready everything was. They haven’t been wasting their 1.5 year lead-up time — they’ve been working hard!

All their swag, ready to go.

Glassware.

I guess I’m an ellos?

And Wicca is an Ellas?

View of the tasting room from the entrance.

The kitchen where the ceviche, arepa, and plantain chip magic happens.

The main seating area with windows facing Powell St. Within an hour, this place was packed. As with all brewery tasting rooms, service is at the bar. Although the staff were very friendly and hands-on, bringing out food and clearing tables. It’s a very family-run place. It’s almost like they could be running a restaurant, but it’s a brewery instead.

They do the bar-style you-order-food, they-give-you-a-number type system. We’re number one!!!

No complaints about the chairs and tables.

Flight of four 4oz beers ($8.50) — the ones that piqued my interest.

Their branding and graphic design is solid as f***. You can read about their year-round lineup on their website.

I got their Andina Session Ale (4%), Monita Blonde IPA (6.5%), Mapale Milk Stout (5.6%), and Maraca Passionfruit Black IPA (5.7%). I believe their Session Ale is the same as their “Melcocha” Andean Mild Ale that’s listed on their website. So think mild/session…same thing.

All the beers I tried were solid, with no off-flavours. The session ale uses panela, a raw unrefined cane sugar from Colombia. I really did taste and smell a prominent molasses/brown sugar essence, although the beer doesn’t come off as sweet per se. It almost edges into a British ale sorta flavour. Very full-flavoured for a 4% beer. The blonde IPA is crisper and drier than the session ale, with a fruity hop edge. More typical of west coast IPA style beers. Well done for the style.

The seasonal milk stout was also well done for the style with chocolate, coffee, nutty, and sweet creamy notes.

The Maraca Passionfruit Black IPA was the most interesting and unusual beer that I tried at Andina. Passionfruit came out during the long finish, with a dry tartness. I didn’t get much overt hoppiness though. I feel that most Black IPAs (aka Cascadian Dark Ales) have their hoppiness masked by the roastiness (Strange Fellows Nocturnum is a local exception) but this was otherwise enjoyable.

Overall some solid beers with interesting twists. Pleased to see this in a brand new brewery. Andina’s head brewer used to work at Garrison Brewing in Nova Scotia, and was previously at Red Truck (*the* definition of pumped-out, serviceable, mainstream beer), so it’s great to see the brewer spreading his wings a bit and trying something different.

The food menu. They only have one kind of ceviche per day. You can read their menu online here.

Wicca is allergic to alcohol, so she got a little sample of their Agua de Panela, which uses the same cane sugar that’s in their session ale and also includes lemon. It’s so good she got a full glass:

Agua de Panela (17 oz for $4, non-alcoholic). The straws look a bit tiger-stripey. It tasted a bit like ice tea, but next winter they’re gonna serve it hot with cinnamon and cloves, Colombian style. Not just a good option, but a great option for your designated driver. Not too sweet. That panela cane sugar has got some nice complexity to it.

Ceviche of the day: Ceviche de Camarón Coco (Shrimp Ceviche with Coconut Milk, $15). It’s cooked shrimp in lime juice and coconut milk with green onions, red bell peppers, red onion, and cilantro.

It’s served with plantain chips, which were crispy and fresh-tasting. You can order the chips on their own, with “Hogao sauce” (it’s like a cooked salsa) on the side. The seasoning in the ceviche is laid back so you can really taste the sweetness and freshness of the Oceanwise shrimp. I’m excited to try their other fish ceviches. Too bad they only do one kind of ceviche per day…but it’s another reason to come back.

Arepas de Queso (Cheese Arepas, $8), topped with cheese and green onions and served with “Hogao Sauce”, which is like a cooked salsa with tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, tomato paste, spices, and sugar.

Arepas are like a thick corn tortilla. I had an arepa at El Camino’s on Main St once and it was hard and dry as hell. These were much softer. Best eaten immediately while the cheese is warm. I do wish they were browned a bit more on the outside, but maybe that’s how Colombians like to eat arepas?

Since the hogao sauce is lightly cooked, the sweetness of the tomatoes really comes out. The Pachos (plantain chip nachos) are also served with this sauce, so I think next time I’ll try those.

Lineup at the bar. Andina has their own virtual radio station, which you can listen to online. The same stream plays in their tasting room, and is a mix of current hits, Spanish/Colombian music, and classic rock. While we were there, they played this:

Nice.

Ridge…Big Ridge…Bridge…Big Bridge…Ridge Bridge…Red Bridge…Red Ridge…Central Ridge…Yellow Bridge…Twin Bridge…Red Steel Bridge Ridge…breweries whose names are way too close to each other.

Competent beers with a VERY interesting food menu means they’ll stand out in the craft beer scene. Very promising start for Andina.


The Pie Shoppe

The Pie Shoppe moved out of Chinatown into a larger space on Powell Street (right beside Bistro Wagon Rouge) in August 2016. The old Chinatown space is now dubbed “The Little Pie Shoppe” and has been used as a pop-up and chef-in-residency space. Their new larger space has allowed them to serve a bigger variety of pies, have more seating, and increase their record collection.

It’s a great, bright space for a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. Wicca is crazy about pie but at the same time verrry picky.

Their seasonal winter menu of pies, also available on their website. Slices range from $5-7, whole pies from $25-30 (some seasonal pies might be as much as $40). They also had a few take’n bake savoury pies in their freezer, along with pelmini by Hey, Dumplings!

What I assume is a one-off seasonal pie cuz it’s not on their winter menu: Apricot & Apple Pie with Amaretto Orange & Almond Streusel ($6 per slice). Wicca said this pie will come back during the summer.

Something more up my alley: Pork, Corriander, Cumin, and Orange Handpie ($5).

Salted Honey with Wildflower Honey ($7 per slice). There were lots of other options in the display case, but Wicca spied a lonely last slice sitting behind the counter:

Matcha Custard Pie ($7) with green tea and vanilla bean. Little dollop of whipped cream on top. You can also get a scoop of ice cream for $3.

I’m not big on sweet pies (or desserts in general) but Wicca said that she enjoyed this pie. Could’ve used more matcha flavour but otherwise a very fine pie. Not too sweet. Crusts are all well-baked. No soggy bottoms here!

Pork, Corriander, Cumin, and Orange Handpie ($5).

I’ll never turn down a savoury handpie. This one could’ve benefitted from being warmed up (I like all my ground meat products warmed up, such as meat pies and sausage rolls) but otherwise good. I like the rustic, handmade, comfortable nature of these pies.

A couple slices to go (top-to-bottom): Apricot & Apple Pie with Amaretto Orange & Almond Streusel ($6) and Salted Honey with Wildflower Honey ($7).

The takeout pies reheated and partially eaten by Wicca before I could get to them.

I made sure I ate the Apricot & Apple Pie (right) before the Salted Honey Pie (left) because the Apricot & Apple one was much more tart and way less sweet, while the Salted Honey was quite sweet — plenty sweet for a savoury-focused guy like me, and while I enjoyed the honey custard flavours with that touch of flake salt, I probably wouldn’t eat something this sweet again for at least a month. Wicca said the Salted Honey Pie tasted good cold too.

Super happy to have The Pie Shoppe accessible for beer crawls. They even had copies of Bon Appétit and Lucky Peach for reading!


Luppolo Brewing Co.

Luppolo is conveniently located right beside Landyachtz Skate Shop & Pinball Arcade, and a mere half-block away from La Casa Gelato (the pukey pink building!).

Luppolo opened late October 2016 but I hadn’t had a chance to try them out until now. Luppolo offers solid beers and an Italian food menu that helps set them apart from other breweries.

Good range of styles. Very reasonably priced too. The beers that day didn’t seem Italian-inspired, unlike some of Andina’s beers. As long as the beer is good, that’s enough. No bland Italian lagers please 😛

Special things on offer that day.

Sfogliatella, an Italian flaky pastry filled with ricotta. Don’t know how much this was…sorry. (This blogging thing is hard.)

Focaccia & Salami ($4).

The food menu. I’d be open to their Aperitivo Italian (Cheese & Meat Platter) for $15, but I already had my eyes on their Piadine flatbread sandwiches:

They’ve got three savoury options and one sweet nutella(!) option.

The beers.

Some very interesting artwork by Allan Dobbs. Looks like someone bought one!

The counter and their famous triangluar tiles.

My flight (clockwise from top left): Northwest Red Ale (5.6%), West Coast Farmhouse with Citra (4.5%), Gin Barrel Aged Red Ale (6%), and Wild Saison with Pear (5.5%). Beers ranged from good to quite good. Standouts were the Gin Barrel Aged Red for its herby/medicinal/woody gin character, and the Wild Saison with Pear for its funky yeast quality melding with the funky, sweaty pear quality. Solid beers, brewed competently with no off-flavours.

Piadina Classica ($10) with house-sliced prosciutto di parma, fior di latte, arugula, and cherry tomatoes.

Fairly generous portion of delicious prosciutto. Not as salty or one-dimensional as some prosciuttos I’ve tried. Would love to eat the ham straight-up as part of a meat & cheese platter.

That Emilia-Romagna-style flatbread looks and tastes very much like a thick wheat flour tortilla, although I’m sure Italians will swear that it’s very different from Mexican tortillas 😉 The way it tastes and chews in the mouth is very similar though.

It tastes pretty much how you’d imagine it to taste — cured meat with a bit of clean, delicious fat, spicy arugula, sweet/tart tomatoes, mild semi-melted cheese in a wheat flour flatbread. It’s that Italian sense of simplicity. They have a deal on Wednesday nights where you can get one of these with a beer for only $12.

We’re getting really spoiled here for craft beer in Vancouver. But with so much to choose from, it’s hard to avoid this bland middle ground that inevitably develops in any scene. I’m glad places like Andina and Luppolo are doing their bit to push the food side of things a bit. I’m excited to see what spring and summer bring!

One thought on “East Van Mini-Crawl: Andina Brewing, The Pie Shoppe, and Luppolo Brewing Company”

  1. Strawberry prawns, ack! Thanks for the great reviews. I’m looking forward to the ceviche at Andina though I’m gonna hafta check their Twitter before I go to get the one I want. I had a savoury hand pie from the Pie Shoppe a while back that was v tasty but I heated it up at home. Must be heated!

Leave a Reply