Brewing in East Van before brewing in East Van was cool.
Clearly proud of its roots, R&B has been a self-described “East Van Original” since 1997, when it was opened by Rick Dellow (R) and Barry Benson (B). The east side of the city was grittier and far less developed then, but Benson and Dellow found a loyal local following and later became granddaddies to the beer scene bubbling up around their Mount Pleasant location.
R&B was bought by Howe Sound Brewing in 2015 and a consequent injection of funds has given it a fresh lease on life, including a cozy, retro-styled restaurant full of trinkets, ornate lighting, vintage speakers and thirsty staff from Hootsuite’s nearby headquarters. The kitchen specializes in attractively priced personal pizzas and enticing bar snacks including pretzels, kettle chips and olives. The brewery, meanwhile, holds fast to its heritage with classic, multiple-award-winning brews like Raven Cream Ale and Vancouver Special IPA, while branching out into more daring styles like Brizzy’s Grizzy Grisette and New Brighton Dry Hopped Sour.
The cask beer movement was a major part of Vancouver’s craft beer renaissance during the 2000s — and R&B Brewing was one of the first breweries to provide cask-conditioned beer to local restaurants on a regular basis. Indeed, co-founder Barry Benson remembers tapping a cask of Auld Nick Winter Ale in 1998 at the old Fogg n’ Suds restaurant on West Broadway, an early haven for Vancouver beer lovers. Later, R&B helped develop a regular weekly cask event called Real Ale Sundays at The Whip restaurant (6th off Main), which now is virtually surrounded by breweries — with Brassneck just around the corner and Main Street Brewing a block away. Today, cask beers proliferate throughout BC’s breweries and tap houses, largely because of R&B’s pioneer efforts.