When the area’s buzziest brewery set up shop in North Vancouver three years ago, they put away a choice selection of beer to condition in kegs.
If you make it down to the east end of the city’s brewery district this weekend, you can sip on some of the most left-field flavours House of Funk has served up yet.
Kicking off at noon on Saturday (May 14), the acclaimed beer maker is holding an anniversary bash, with Jackpot Tattoo, Downlow Chicken, Duncan Smith of the Funk Hunters and “human jukebox” Mark Woodyard on site.
Despite its meteoric rise, this is the first such celebration House of Funk has been able to hold.
“So we're trying to smash three years into one,” said co-founder Darren Hollett.
For the event, the micro brewery has expanded its capacity to 202 people, and will be pouring pints inside the tasting room and from a truck outside. The licensed area will extend to the surrounding sidewalk as well as the entrance to the parkade around the side of the building.
Now a household name among local beer enthusiasts, Hollett attributes House of Funk’s growth to his team and their singular approach to the craft.
“It’s been organic,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of people who’ve been with us since Day 1. I think the style of beer that we're producing here does attract good brewers and good people, because it's interesting, it's different, it's fun.”
Hollett notes that his brew system is small, and it’s small for a reason.
“It's small so we can take chances. And so that I think that in and of itself is an appealing space to work in,” he continued.
But House of Funk’s experimental brews aren’t just interesting – they taste great too.
While all the offerings hold a certain je ne sais quoi true to the brewery’s name, they’re at the same time fun and drinkable.
A prime example on tap this weekend is Aion, a 2019 farmhouse ale named after one of the five 1,000-litre oak vessels called foeders (pronounced “fooders”) living at House of Funk. Hollett said each year they take beer from their foeders and barrels, and make a blend that’s the best representation of what they want to put forward that year.
The result is a complex but bright ale with a hit of acid, fruit and – well – funk.
When House of Funk first opened, only Beere Brewing had set up down the block. And at the time, they could only get licensed to serve tasters.
Soon after, Streetcar and North Point started moving in, and the growing group of Shipyards micro breweries came together to present to city council, which ended up fast-tracking zoning changes to allow lounges in what quickly became the local brewery district.
In 2022, the block is booming. Just in the past few months, beer Shaketown Brewing, Windfall Cider and Copperpenny Distilling have opened their doors to the public.
“The North Shore has grown exponentially,” Hollett said. “We have 10 producers just in this area.”
When it comes to local brewery hopping, a lot of people think about Port Moody. “We now essentially double the amount that they have in brewers. That's crazy.”
The future of funk
So what’s next for the funkiest brewery in town? Something less funky, turns out.
About a year-and-a-half ago, Hollett and his team started working on a side brand focused solely on lagers.
“All of us brewers, what we were drinking predominantly was really top-notch lagers,” Hollett said. But there wasn’t a place for the cold and clean brews within the House of Funk brand. “So we started the House of Lager brand.”
It was all packaged up, and distribution was going really well, he explained, but they hit a production issue with cross-contamination.
While details aren’t finalized yet, Hollett said he’s looking for a place to set up his lager-dedicated business.
As hoppy, hazy IPAs have slammed the palates of craft enthusiasts over the past decade, there are signs that appetite for a more straightforward, but challenging-to-execute, style is gaining popularity.
“We're excited because I think with craft, we're now entering into a stage where it’s come full circle – where lagers are seeing some of the spotlight again.”
For now, taps will continue to pour the funk.