Barley Mowat 

Postmark Brewing

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It’s been about three weeks since Main Street Brewing opened their doors and claimed the title of “newest brewery in Vancouver” so it’s high time they stopped hogging all the attention, stepped off the podium, and let someone else bask in the limelight.

Enter Postmark Brewing. Postmark is the final puzzle piece of the destination resort of alcohol known as The Settlement Building (55 Dunlevy, at Alexander). Housed within its approximately 15,000 square foot interior you will find a fully operational brewery (Postmark), winery (Roaring Twenties) and restaurant (Belgard Kitchen). If they had rooms for rent some folk would never leave.

Pic shamelessly ripped off from Scout Magazine

The space features soaring ceilings, stacks of barrels (for wine, sorry folks), skylights, a giant (yet non functional) fire place, and the mother of all bars practically bristling with steel-headed taps. From those taps flow all sorts of both rotten grain and grapes, as closely aligned with all these establishments is former Settlement occupant freshTAP, whose business plan of simply pumping wine out of barrels and into kegs and calling it a day has proven fabulously successful.

So, are they worth a damn? Should you spend all that effort walking down Alexander Street only to keep walking past The Alibi Room? Sure. Go once. The space is great, and the novelty of the combined services are definitely worth a visit.

If you’re looking for great beer, though, you aren’t going to find it at Postmark. Much like the wine, the oat soda here is definitely downmarket. We’re not talking macro swill by any stretch of the imagination, but neither will it set the beererati reaching for their phones to rate it 5/5 on Untappd.

Oh, let’s face it, they’ll check in anything at any time

The two beers I sampled yesterday were… okay? I guess? Probably the better of the two was their Saison. Don’t get all excited by the style, though. While some Saisons can be fruity, estery, flavourful glasses of sunshine; this guy was fizzy, yellow, fluid. Sure, it’s technically a Saison and, if handed it blind I would likely identify it as such. However, if other Saisons can turn the flavour knob up to 11 this one is solidly stuck at 3. The dry balanced finish was the highlight of this beer, but again it was very restrained.

At least it was better than the Red IPA. To be honest, I’m not sure what they were aiming for with this beer; it almost tastes under attenuated. Lots of sugar almost obscures the chewy malt, but the heavy handed bittering leads to a roller coaster on the palate: “too sweet, too syrupy” yields to “whoa! bitter! bitter!” Low aromatics means the bitterness just sits on your tongue and leaves your nose wondering what all the fuss is about.

The beers didn’t blow me away, but that’s not what Postmark is aiming to do. They’ve put their sights squarely on the newly craft-curious macro drinking public. With that in mind, a dialled down Saison and a sweet IPA might be exactly the sort of beer Postmark should be making. The upcoming Pilsner, still conditioning during my preview, was described as “half way between a mainstream lager and a craft Pilsner.”

So yeah, they have that going for them. The question, though, is this: “Is this a good business model? Can they make a go of it?” I’m going to come out and say “Yes” here. Sure, it’s basically blasphemy to me for a brewery to deliberately brew boring beer, but that doesn’t mean it won’t sell. The thing about craft-curious macro drinkers is that they’re real, they’re tired of the Same Old Stuff, and holy shit man, there are a lot of them. Also, they drink a LOT of beer.

Like, I mean a LOT.

Granted, if someone branches out a bit and tries a Postmark “Not Quite Canadian” Pilsner and likes it they’re much more likely to try a different craft lager for the next six pack, and that different lager will be even better. This eventually will lead our craft-curious beer drinker to drop the “curious,” become a full-on hophead, and leave Postmark behind as they discover the several dozen other breweries producing good beer in BC.

This might sound like a flighty, temporary client base to build a business upon until you realize that just as the first wave is completing the transition to/from Postmark, the second wave will be just starting. And–if current trends in macro beer are to be believed–the second wave will be bigger than the first. And the third than the second. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Eventually the macro-drinking public will have exhausted its craft-curious supply and Postmark’s client base will dry up. That day is a long way away, though. Should that glorious future ever arrive, luckily they could always just brew better beer.

Coles notes:

Postmark Brewing
55 Dunlevy Street, Vancouver
Hours: 11am-11pm daily.
Growlers: 32oz ($5.50-6.50), 64oz ($10-12)

Written by chuck

June 18th, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Breweries

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