The stories are fake and the flavors are real at the newest addition to North Van’s Brewery District.
When visiting the newly opened Shaketown Brewing Co. in North Vancouver’s burgeoning brewery district, you’ll want to work up a healthy appetite for the beers on tap and a healthy skepticism about the historical facts written on the walls.
The craft brewery opened to visitors in March after a long, slow dance of construction and COVID-19 regulations, and it’s been a buzzing venture ever since as people check out the latest addition to North Vancouver’s thriving craft beer scene. Shaketown’s commercial space on East Esplanade – within a one-block radius of more than half a dozen other breweries, ciders and distilleries – offers an intriguing selection of craft beers, open and airy communal seating, and a series of windows that open onto sweeping views on the water.
The space also has a wall full of fascinating historical facts and figures, all building on the existence of a long-forgotten area of North Vancouver known as Shaketown for its local economy, which revolved around turning cedar trees into shakes for siding or roofing.
Shaketown was a real nickname for a real North Vancouver location—near where Lynn Valley Road and Mountain Highway meet—but that’s where the historical truth of Shaketown Brewing ends and the tall tales begin.
Ryan Scholz, the co-founder and driving force of the brewery, happened upon some historical references to Shaketown when he was brainstorming ideas for the brewery and fell in love with the name. He then hired a marketing agency to come up with brand ideas, and they came back with a whole Shaketown world, complete with fascinating characters, tragic events – who can forget the Great Horse Panic of 1939! – and crazy entrepreneurs.
It was all wild, and all completely made up. And for Scholz, who wanted the brewery to have a nice community feel, it was perfect.
“I was blown away,” he said. “We wanted to have one foot in reality and one foot in this kind of fantasy world. We just went for it.”
However, he had one small concern: would there be a backlash because of all the blatant BS they were spreading as historical records. To reassure him, he reached out to the good folks at the North Vancouver Museum and Archives to make sure his plan was in order.
“They laughed,” Scholz said. “They gave me their blessing, and the rest is kind of history.”
False history really.
But what’s not fake is that Shaketown produces some pretty unique beers, thanks to the expertise of lead brewer and co-founder David Varga, who teamed up with Scholz and head of sales Rohan Karnick to get Shaketown off the ground. Scholz landed Varga not long after leaving his job at Vancouver’s 33 Acres Brewing Co. had left, and Scholz said he couldn’t believe his luck when he caught such a talent.
“He’s one of the best brewers in the province,” says Scholz.
Shaketown’s core beer list includes their industry-standard versions like a wheat beer, IPA, and lager, but offers some unique brews that pack a flavorful punch while coming in with a lower-than-normal alcohol content.
There’s a very vintage tasting Golden Ale coming in at four percent, an Itty Bitty IPA at 3.5 percent and a Leichtbier coming in at three percent. Varga said it’s those two “low-gravity” beers, the Itty Bitty IPA and the Leichtbier, that he’s most proud of because of the difficulty involved in packing a lot of flavor into a low-alcohol beer.
“Everyone likes that Leichtbier,” he said. “It drives them crazy… they see a three percent lager and they think of Coors Light or Bud Light or something like that, and then they try it and you can almost see the gears spinning in their heads.”
Those beers, especially the Leichtbier, have brought them some street value in the craft beer world, Scholz added.
“It’s hard to make a great tasting, low alcohol lager,” he said. “You can’t just throw in a bunch of hops – it has to be the process of the beer shining through it. … All beer nerds and beer nerds respect that beer because they know how hard it is to make. And that’s all in the process – we don’t put rice or corn in it, it’s just malt and the traditional beer ingredients.”
And speaking of beer aficionados, Scholz said he’s thrilled to find a commercial space in the center of the City of North Vancouver’s Brewery District, with other spots like Beere Brewing, House of Funk, La Cerveceria Astilleros and North Point Brewing just steps away. distance.
“We think the more the merrier because people come down and they just go down and jump around and just work their way down,” he said. “It’s perfect.”
Shaketown has an open concept space with long communal tables, which provides an atmosphere that should fit perfectly in a world emerging from a pandemic, Scholz said.
“Our whole idea is to go out with more friends than you came with,” he said. “That sense of community, I think that’s what the world is missing right now.” Plans are also in the works for a patio overlooking the water, as well as in-house entertainment.
Shaketown Brewing Co. is open Monday through Wednesday from 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM, Thursday through Saturday from 12:00 PM to 11:00 PM, and Sundays from 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM. When you visit, don’t forget to take a grain of salt with you, not for the beer, but for what’s written on the walls.