BC Craft Beer Spotlight: Mariner Brewing, with Byron Vallis

From What’s Brewing magazine’s Winter 2020-21 issue

BC’s 200 craft breweries were built to be community gathering places, forgoing TV screens in favour of long, shared tables and mingling. For now, that is no longer the advantage it was.

In this issue of What’s Brewing magazine, a group of industry members discuss how BC craft breweries will survive hospitality’s harshest ever winter with slashed capacity, frozen patios and a raging virus, and what awaits them in 2021 if a wary public continues to stay home. Today, we hear from Byron Vallis of Mariner Brewing.

Mariner during good times in 2019

Q&A with Industry Panellist Byron Vallis of Mariner Brewing

Q: The last time we checked in with you, there was no pandemic. Now, there is no end in sight. How are you holding up, and how busy is the brewhouse these days?

Byron Vallis

A: All things considered we’re really happy with how things are going for us this year. There was a lot of (concerning, difficult) changes in March and April but our customers supported us through it and we feel stronger than ever. The brewhouse isn’t any busier than last year but we think 2021 will be a great year for beer!

Q: How are things going in front of house operations? What is your capacity reduced to, and how is traffic for you?

A: Our front of house is doing great, actually! We were working on a taproom and patio expansion last Winter that finished up right as covid hit, so even with distancing measures our capacity has stayed around 50 people because we added a new seating area. We’ve also been diligently developing our food program which has helped us grow steadily this past year – we’re serving a lot more than just beer these days.

Q: Winter is a big concern for many hospitality businesses. How much outdoor capacity do you have, and do you have a plan for the colder weather?

A: We have a good sized patio since our expansion this year and some of it is covered and heated. It’s cozy for winter, as is the new fireplace and couch we’ve added inside ;).

Q: Have you held many “virtual events”, or do you plan to in the future? Do you see much of a role for “online gathering spaces” in craft beer marketing going forward?

A: We haven’t moved to virtual events, although our brewer Jason has been virtually meeting friends for beers recently. This is a fun idea, we might just have to plan something!

In the tasting room, 2019

Q: Do you think that COVID will permanently change people’s behaviour, and make society less trusting of close face-to-face interactions with strangers, even after vaccines emerge? Do you think craft beer drinkers are more likely or less likely to be mindful of keeping their distance than the general public?

A: Regardless of what happens, we can never go back to the Before Times. But I think that most Canadians are as excited as ever to get back to bustling breweries, house parties, and meeting new people once it’s safe again. If we’re all careful for a bit longer and smart about vaccines, the second half of 2021 might shape up to be a tremendously fun time. Let’s do it together!

Q: What’s next on the horizon for you? Any other topic, product, community activity, or recent successes you’d care to highlight?

A: More delicious beers, food, and good times in 2021! Entering our 4th year now, our team is more dialed-in than ever. I’m confident that Mariner and our customers are about to have the best year yet and I can’t wait for it to unfold. Cheers!

Mariner Brewing
H – 1100 Lansdowne Dr, Coquitlam, BC

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Mariner Brewing

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Beer Me British Columbia: since 2012, BC's #1 resource for craft beer reviews, BC beer industry insights and career opportunities.

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