Note: This article has been amended since original publication to reflect a change in staffing at the brewery.
A new establishment in North Vancouver’s burgeoning waterfront Brewery District is adding some unique flavours to the neighbourhood.
Food and beer flights are now available in the tasting room at La Cerveceria Astilleros, a craft brewery inspired by the flavours of Mexico. The new brew crew is not, however, simply sticking a slice of lime in a tepid lager and calling it a day. Their Mexican roots go much deeper than that.
Their head brewer is from Mexico, their hand-painted flight paddles are from Mexico, the tiles on the walls are from Mexico, almost all of the workers in the taproom speak Spanish, with nearly half of them hailing from Mexico. Even the salt for their flagship beer – a Salted Lime Lager – comes from, well, Spain. The salt, at least, speaks the same language as the rest of the brewery, adding another layer to its Spanish foundation. The idea was to make it as authentic as possible, said taproom manager Cecelia Osorio, herself a native of Puebla, Mexico.
“It reminds me a lot of back home, honestly,” said Osorio, noting in particular the distinct blue and white tiles that line the walls. “Whenever I come in here and I see the tiles I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is home.’ I have a lot of tiles like that in my house back in Mexico. It really makes me feel like I’m home.”
You’ll likely hear a lot of Spanish spoken between the taproom staff members at the craft brewery, and they’re happy to chat with customers in Spanish, even if someone doesn’t know much more than “dos cervezas, por favor.” Whatever language you are speaking, brewery staff will show you some classic Mexican hospitality, said Osorio.
“Whenever you go to a restaurant in Mexico, everyone is super welcoming and super happy and they try to talk to you as much as they can. And we try to do that here as well,” she said. “We always have music in Spanish. Between the staff members, we’re always speaking Spanish. … It’s just to make it feel like you’re in Mexico even when you’re not in Mexico.”
The Mexican connection starts with head brewer Carlo Baroccio, a veteran of the B.C. craft brewery scene who joined with food and beverage industry expert Andrew Doyle, the brewery’s owner, to create La Cerveceria Astilleros. (Doyle also owns Garden of Granite winery, a sister business that operates out of the same Lower Lonsdale building).
Baroccio grew up in Guadalajara, and his personal touch is evident before you even enter the brewery. Those distinct white and blue tiles that line the walls of the brewery were made not far from his hometown. The beers stick closely to the theme as well. Valle Salado Salted Lime Lager is the flagship beer, with a touch of that speciality salt from Spain along with real lime added in to a Mexican-style lager.
“It’s like Mexico in a beer,” said Osorio. “It’s real lime, which makes a lot of difference.”
Other current beer offerings include a Papaya Hibiscus Gose, a Horchata Porter and a Mango Lager. Mexican food is also on offer, including tacos, churros, chips and guac, and Jarritos soft drinks.
Osorio said the folks at La Cerveceria Astilleros are thrilled to be part of the growing craft beer scene in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale area, joining other breweries such as House of Funk, Beere Brewing, Streetcar, and North Point, all of which are located within a block or two of each other. The name La Cerveceria Astilleros literally translates to The Shipyards Brewery. The plan of attack for all the breweries in the neighbourhood is to create a destination where people will come for pub hopping, hitting multiple establishments in one trip.
“They’re so nice and so friendly,” Osorio said of the staff members of the other breweries, many of whom will often stop by to share stories or swap six packs. “They’re not our competitors, they’re just our neighbours.”
The tasting room for La Cerveceria Astilleros opened in late December, now with hours running from noon until 8 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and noon to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. They are currently waiting for their full liquor license to be approved, so for now are only able to serve one flight of beer per customer per visit.
The brewery is located at 226 Esplanade East in North Vancouver.