Want a taste of the Andes without leaving town? Head on down to Andina Brewing for some tasty beers and bites crafted with some Latin soul. All of the South American flavour, none of the pain on your wallet.
It’s nearly 7,000 miles to Colombia. The South American country, with its lush, Andean mountains, and rich, vibrant culture is certainly worth a trip. You could take a couple weeks off. You could book a flight, arrange for hotels, and taxis, and consult all the guidebooks to line up your adventure. You’d be welcomed by warm, hospitable people. There would be food and music everywhere. Or, if you only have an afternoon to spare, you can check out Andina Brewing Company in East Vancouver.
Located on Powell street, right in the heart of Vancouver’s craft beer district, Andina has brought to our city, and the craft beer scene, a little bit of that South American flare. And it is, in every way, a family-run affair. (Seriously, two brothers married two sisters, and the four of them started Andina.)
The beers on tap at Andina are purposefully mellow, all with a slight, fruity flare to them. It’s not overwhelming – it’s interesting. A new, novel approach to beer all the way up here in Canada. But you’ll still find the greatest hits of the craft beer scene. They’re just tweaked by some South American ingredients.
We tried the Monita Blonde IPA. This is Andina’s best beer: toned down hops, a slight, fruity tone, and the familiar kick of a traditional IPA thanks to it’s 6.5% ABV. Great for a pint. We also tried their Lulosa Gose. This is the most interesting beer on offer, and surprising to see on the list. But it works! The tangy sourness familiar to the gose drinkers of Eastern Germany – and often the scourge of casual beer drinkers – is complimented well by Andina’s lightened, floral approach. It isn’t too aggressive, which is nice.
Then out came the food, which really ramped up the Andean experience the brewery is going for.
We tried one of Andina’s eight different rotating ceviches, all complimented with a plantain chifle – a nice Colombian touch. The fish option depends on the catch of the day, which means it’s always fresh. And the tilapia we tried was amazing. The small, but incredibly delicious empanadas also pack a punch. They come in fives, and you’re likely to find yourself in a standoff if you split an order. Play it safe and get two.
The food was accompanied by their Totuma Kölsch, a familiar beer that’s not too sweet, as is often the case with kölsch’s in the small-batch craft beer world. But Head Brewer Andrew Powers nailed it. Its easiness makes it a perfect beer to pair with the South American cuisine.
“The craft beer industry has been good to us,” says Claudia Amaya. “They have helped us with a lot, from advice on where to locate various suppliers, and small day-to-day stuff.” We got the sense that she saw the scene as an extended family, all in it together. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” she said.
And for what Andina is going for—a South American-inspired, welcoming, family-run business—it’s perfect. A big family beer experiment. One of the great things about the craft beer movement is when you strip all the marketing, finances, trends, and buyouts from it, it’s about small business owners doing what they love. They’re all DIY projects. And you can see this everywhere at Andina, from the tasting room, hand crafted by Nicolás Amaya from reclaimed wood removed during their brewhouse installation to their in-house, personally-curated music station, Andina Radio.
The Amaya family is bringing their passions and South American traditions to life down on Powell Street. And they’re having a blast while doing it. As they continue to experiment with their own take on classic brews, look for some fun, innovative seasonal beers coming down the line.
It’s warm, welcoming, and a great time. You can feel it the moment you walk in the door. Like you’ve stepped out onto an Andean veranda, with food cooking over an open fire, salsa music pumping, and thirty cousins all raising a glass to you.
And no plane ticket is required.
Photos by Nicolás Amaya
What: Andina Brewing
Where: 1507 Powell Street, Vancouver BC
Open 7 days a week, 11am to 11pm