Steel & Oak Brewery had a big night at the 2019 B.C. Beer Awards.
Steel & Oak took second place in the German Pils category for Simple Things and in the Amber European Beer category for its Red Pilsner. Royal City Ale placed third in the North American Blonde Ale category.
“It was a really good night for us. You never know with those things,” said co-owner Jorden Foss. “I’d kind of thought we’d win something. We have been pretty fortunate over the last few years.”
The New West brewery is no stranger to winning awards, having racked up wins annually since Foss and Jamie Garbutt opened the Third Avenue brewery in 2014.
While Steel & Oak tends to do fairly well at the B.C. Beer Awards, Foss said the competition has only gotten tougher, as there are now more than 200 breweries in the province.
“There are 1,200 entries now. It’s only getting more and more competitive,” Foss said. “You should just be fortunate and happy if you win one. Winning three is great.”
The Steel & Oak crew was pleased to get a win for its Royal City Ale.
“It’s nice to be able to win an award with our city’s nickname attached to the beer, so that’s kind of cool,” Foss told the Record. “It’s the first time we have ever won with it, which is funny because it is our best-selling beer.”
The B.C. Beer Awards marked the second big win of the year for Simple Things, which won a silver award at the Canadian Brewing Awards earlier this year.
“That one is, internally, our favourite beer that we make,” Foss said. “When you are in the industry you tend to like to drink pilsners because we drink beer so much that a pilsner is a nice, refreshing, easy-to-drink beer. But we designed this beer to have a bit more bitterness on the finish. A lot of times people equate a pilsner beer with being boring. This one isn’t. It packs a punch on the finish.”
So what’s coming up on the beer front for Steel & Oak?
“We are actually going to launch a full-time flagship IPA which we have never done. It will be out in November, and it’s called Shiny Things,” Foss said. “That’s exciting for us.”
On the business front, the brewery is focused on becoming more efficient.
“We are out of space here so we are just trying to maximize efficiencies and become a more well-run business,” Foss said.
Steel & Oak is also working on a joint collaboration with Drake Eatery, a craft beer bar on Vancouver Island.
“It’s called Herald Street Brew Works,” Foss said. “It will run independently, but we are hoping to get it set up. I am hoping it will be a cool spot. It has 178 seats inside of it which is great for a company like us. It’s so capital intensive to open one of these things, so the best thing you can do is sell as much beer through the front door as possible. With 178 people, it should be a fun venture, for sure.”
Steel & Oak is always on the lookout for new ventures in New West.
“We always have our fingers in a couple of different pots to see what might stick and what opportunities there might be,” Foss said. “It’s never been a secret that we would like a satellite tap room or location closer to downtown New West. Downtown New West does seem perfect for us, but the timing has to be right for us. We both have young families as well, and we are also doing this brewery in Victoria. That will really be the thing that decides which other projects we hop on in the short- or long-term.”