Considering the brief history of Vancouver’s craft beer revival, 33 Acres Brewing Company enjoys relative longevity. It’s been five years since Joshua Michnik pulled the window coverings off his West 8th Avenue establishment, close to the original course of Mount Pleasant’s now-vanished Brewery Creek.
A graphic designer and photographer by trade, Michnik’s passion for craft beer first sparked when he was working in film production in Los Angeles; the brewing industry was thriving across California. But Michnik and his spouse Kleah eventually grew tired of working for other people and decided to make the move back to her home of Vancouver (he grew up in North Battleford, Saskatchewan). After helping Kleah establish her Chinatown womenswear boutique Charlie & Lee, Michnik struggled to pin down what he wanted to do next. A believer in the need for any enterprise to interact meaningfully with its neighbourhood, he co-founded This Space, the genesis for Strathcona’s Harvest Community Foods. He says the experience showed him “what can be done by creating a ‘life space’—by inviting the community to offer input on what that space should be, whether retail, local service, or restaurant.” Around that time he also befriended Gerry Hieter, co-founder of Victoria’s Great Canadian Beer Festival, and it was then Michnik realized “craft beer is not this mythical thing that gets created, but a whole new, fast-growing industry.” An idea was starting to take shape.
Michnik’s love for craft beer fermented with his desire to create a meeting place, a true “people space.” 33 Acres, therefore, was conceived not solely as a brewery but also as an avenue to bring people together. And for five years it has done just that, becoming a successful neighbourhood haunt offering everything from coffee, to brunch, to wood-fired pizza, to delicious beer—each refusing to compromise on freshness or quality.
So, when the opportunity arose to take over the space next door, Michnik and his team—including brewmaster David Varga and operations manager Dustin Sepkowski—decided to expand. But instead of just inflating 33 Acres, they settled on a whole new concept.
The result, 33 Brewing Experiment, opened quietly in October 2018. It is, Michnik explains, precisely what its name implies: an experimental establishment, built on free thinking and creativity. The rationale behind 33B, as they call it for short, is fundamentally different from 33A. “33 Acres is our core. It’s where we started. It’s the six-pack that you pick up on your way home,” Michnik says. “That was always our vision: to be very drinkable. We’ll remain very focused there. But at 33B we want to let people in and experiment. We wanted to build a place to pull the curtain back on our world.”
Of note so far: an unfiltered Hazy Pilsner, citrus-toned with a measured, hoppy close; and a delightfully esoteric but well-conceived Orange Oat Pale Ale with soft fruit and generous texture. The two beers’ characters embody the house style: edgily innovative but also considered, clean, and well defined, with freshness and balance at the fore.
Artfully minimalist, with branded surfboards made by Victoria-based Barracuda, 33B’s tasting room showcases its brewhouse tanks through a glass wall behind the counter. Bathed in natural light, the space offers the perfect complement to the neighbouring 33A. With regularly-changing products on tap, it truly is an experimental mecca, a gathering hub for beer lovers—and one more magnet for the modern-day community of Brewery Creek.
Eat and sip your way through life.