This is the latest installment in the Hops Among Friends series, which is designed to showcase the people that make up the craft beer scene on the BC Ale Trail.
My most recent Hops Among Friends interview was with Roxanne Cartwright, the Head Brewer at The Bakery Brewing in Port Moody. At the end of our discussion, Roxanne picked who I would interview next, and she suggested Marinna Perry. Marinna is one of the Lounge Managers at Strathcona Beer Co., which opened in 2016 in East Vancouver on the Yeast Vancouver Ale Trail.
Marinna and I had a great discussion. I always enjoy the opportunity to connect with other women in the craft beer industry. I have been to Strathcona Beer Co. a few times, so it was great to reminisce.
Kim: How did you get your start in craft beer?
Marinna: I started working at St. Augustine’s in 2012 as a hostess. I moved into a bartender role there for about three years. St. Augustine’s was a real leader in the craft beer industry and a hub of the growth of craft beer at that time. Working there really opened my eyes to craft beer. That’s where I saw the growth and passion of the craft beer industry. At the time, we had 54 taps of craft beer and six taps dedicated to wine. It was such a staple in the community. I learned so much about craft beer here. We did Cicerone training as servers, so that really gave me a great craft beer foundation and knowledge, especially when I was starting my career.
From St. Augustine’s, I went to Moody Ales in Port Moody. This is where I met Roxanne. I was a bartender at Moody Ales for about two years, serving up craft beer and providing customer service. From here I got a job at Strathcona Beer Co. in 2018. I’m an East Van girl. I grew up in the area, so it’s nostalgic for me to be working back in the area. It’s so nice to be back in the Yeast Van hub. It’s really comforting and it’s amazing to see the growth in the area. Craft beer has really changed the dynamic of the area. In the ’90s when I lived there, it was very industrial, and we knew to avoid certain areas. Now the area has changed significantly. You can walk any direction and find a craft beer.
I started at Strathcona Beer as a server. We have food service and table service at Strathcona Beer, so it’s fun to be able to work with both craft beer and food. I slowly moved up and just before the pandemic hit, I started getting a lot more responsibilities and I became one of the Lounge Managers.
When the pandemic hit, it was just me and Conor, who is now our GM, doing to-go food service and to-go beer for those three months during the early part of the pandemic restrictions.
I’m one of the Lounge Managers now. I have a lot more responsibilities in my role these days. I’m always expediting the food orders as well as mentoring our lounge staff. Having said that, I’m also still very hands-on with customers.
Kim: What do you love most about working in the craft beer industry?
Marinna: The innovation of the beers. I love seeing what different breweries bring to the table. I really enjoy the diversity of the beer and I love that there are so many different styles and flavours. I also really love the camaraderie of the industry, especially in the different neighbourhoods. We do have a really good support structure with the other breweries, which I appreciate.
Kim: What do you love about working at Strathcona Beer?
Marinna: Our staff and our team, our bosses, and our clientele. I just love the community of Strathcona and what we have created here at Strathcona Beer.
Kim: What can people expect when they visit Strathcona Beer?
Marinna: Customers can expect to feel very comfortable. They can walk in like it’s their neighbourhood local space. We get a lot of word of mouth that brings people in the doors. Customers can expect to have a good meal and delicious beers. Whether coming in with family or friends, I love seeing the connection of people in our space. It’s such a nice mix of diversity when I think of those that come in. We have a range of older and younger generations, people that like beers that range from Lagers to intense IPAs. I love seeing people come in that don’t normally drink beer, and then they end up loving The Beach Radler and how approachable it is.
Kim: What is it like being a woman in a predominantly male industry?
Marinna: It’s good. I do understand a lot of the challenges, but I feel very fortunate. At Strathcona, it’s such a supportive environment. Moody Ales was also very supportive of women. I got to brew a batch of beer there, and I felt very supported there.
I bring a lot of craft beer knowledge to my role, and so I feel very confident working in craft beer. I’ve always found this to be a supportive industry.
When I was working at St. Augustine’s, there were a lot of great women that helped give me a really solid foundation. I’m happy to be a part of the industry. From every establishment I’ve worked at, I’ve learned so much. They are all so different. I think it’s a great industry for women to work in. I respect the women that are in this industry, and I like to support what they are doing. For example, Roxanne at The Bakery Brewing, and Kristy at Fraser Mills Fermentation Co. Both of them are women and they are both head brewers. I love supporting them in what they are doing.
Kim: How is it managing the lounge in such a public-facing role during COVID?
Marinna: It’s been stressful. It’s been such a learning curve. Chris, our GM at the time when the pandemic started, was so supportive. The management team was very hands-on. We all just did what we had to do to keep things going through it all. It’s been very unpredictable, so it’s harder to predict when we’ll be busier or less busy. Sometimes slower days are busier than we expect. I’ve found that customers have been very understanding of the changing requirements, such as the vaccine passport. People feel comfortable in our space, which helps. We have big, beautiful bay windows and a patio which creates a feeling of openness. This helps customers feel more comfortable.
Kim: What are you most proud of at Strathcona Beer?
Marinna: I love what we stand for, and the community that we’ve created, from our customers to our staff. My favourite is definitely our regulars that love what we are doing. I am really proud of the range of beers that our team creates. I really enjoy it when people come to our space and enjoy both our pizza and beer.
Kim: What do you have planned for fall at Strathcona Beer?
Marinna: Our seasonal Beach series is coming to an end, and it will return next spring. I’m really excited about our newly-released Fresh Hop Sour. Nick, our head brewer, does such a phenomenal job with our sours. He has such a love and passion for sours, as do I. I’m also really excited about the latest addition of our Head Banger series.
Kim: What do you love about the Yeast Van area?
Marinna: The diversity of restaurants, pubs, and distilleries are amazing. We have great distilleries including Resurrection Spirits and Odd Society Spirits nearby. From Strathcona, you can go towards Gastown for some amazing food, cocktails, and live music. Or you can go in a different direction towards Commercial Drive and find the same things.
Kim: Tell me about some hidden gems in your area?
Marinna: If you are going towards Gastown, I’d recommend The Diamond for cocktails. Guilt & Co for live music. Gringo Gastown for some great tacos. I also suggest checking out Lonsdale Quay or Amplified Beach in North Van, biking around Granville Island, and doing some shopping up Main Street. There are some great local shops there.
Also, I love Lynn Valley, in North Van. You can cross the suspension bridge over the river there. It’s so refreshing and beautiful. You’re in the middle of nature, in the heart of a big city. It’s easy to get to, it’s accessible, and it’s gorgeous. I also think it’s awesome that the suspension bridge is free and open to the public.
Kim: Who else in the craft beer industry do you find interesting and why?
Marinna: There are so many great people in this industry. I’d like you to interview Ashley Brooks, the Quality Control Manager at Four Winds Brewing next.