2019 is poised to be a very BIG year for the craft beer community in Langley. With two existing breweries and four more currently under construction, it’s making a pretty good case for becoming BC’s next craft beer boomtown.

This thriving and prosperous community comprised of the City of Langley and The Township of Langley (Brookswood, Murrayville, Aldergrove, Walnut Grove, Willoughby and Fort Langley) is  located in the Fraser Valley in the heart of the Lower Mainland. Geographically, it is almost the exact middle point between West Vancouver and Chilliwack. It covers over 300 square kilometres and has a total population estimated at over 150,000 yet until this year, it has only had two breweries to call its own. Dead Frog first started offering locally brewed beer in Aldergrove way back in 2007. This was well before the craft beer boom that kicked off in March of 2013 when the BC liquor laws were relaxed and tasting rooms were finally permitted at BC breweries. For nearly nine years they were the area’s only craft brewery until Trading Post Brewing joined the scene in February of 2016.

Fast forward to present day, over three years later, and even though around the province it seems there is a new brewery opening every couple weeks, in Langley, the players have remained the same. This is about to dramatically change in the coming months. There are currently four breweries under construction in the Langley area. Camp Beer Co., Five Roads Brewing and Farm Country Brewing all found homes in existing buildings that they are currently renovating and all of them anticipate being open by mid summer. Up in North Langley,  Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks is being built from the ground up and is working hard to be open before the end of the year.

bc ale trail - craft beer tourist - langley breweries
This graphic illustrates the route suggested by Google Maps with all 6 breweries plugged as destinations. With a designated driver at the wheel, you can visit every brewery in the area in just 26 minutes of drive time, in average Langley traffic.

Starting at Farm Country in the heart of Langley City and ending at Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks in the very northwest corner of Langley you can drive door to door to all six breweries and only cover 11.6 kms with Camp Beer Co., Trading Post and Five Roads all located within a one kilometre stretch along 64th avenue. I clocked it the other day when I dropped by each of the breweries to check in on the progress of the ones under construction as well as the other two where I got to say hello to some familiar faces.

I really wanted to get to know the breweries a bit better and learn some of the back story that brought them to where they are right now. They all welcomed me and gave me a tour of their space while painting a picture of what’s to come. I asked them all the same set of questions.

The team from Camp Beer Co. have been collaborating with other local breweries while their new space is under construction. (Pictured from left to right: Dave Henry, Kevin Larsen, Jamie Schreder)

CAMP BEER CO.

19664 64 Ave, Langley

Located in a portion of what used to be Langley’s Bingo Hall, Camp Beer Co. will have a south facing 5000 square foot space with three distinct areas to enjoy your beer. Inside, the tasting room will feature 23-foot ceilings with communal tables, big glass roll-up doors that open up to the patio as well as a more intimate area with lower ceilings, a fireplace and comfy seating. Outside, the patio licensed for 55 people will be surrounded by landscaping, with picnic tables, Adirondack chairs and a fire pit because at Camp, they feel beer tastes better outdoors. They will have a 20 Hectolitre brew system with 5 x 40 Hectolitre fermenters as well as 6 x 15 hectolitre serving tanks above the bar. I spoke with owner and general manager, Kevin Larsen about some of the details behind his path to get to this stage.

 

What is the story behind your brewery name?

“We wanted something that people would instantly recognize as comforting. An escape from the daily grind. We’re both longtime campers and enjoy cracking a beer while sitting around the fire. Beer is better outdoors.”

Does the ownership have a connection to Langley?

“Both partners, brewer and investor group are all longtime residents of Langley and have a strong desire to grow something really cool here in our own backyard. We’ve been regulars at Trading Post and the local craft beer lounge and have become well known in the Langley craft beer scene. Our focus is to grow this beer community into something special so that enthusiasts from this side of the river have somewhere close to gather.”

How would you describe your brewing philosophy? 

“Make the best product possible. We love traditional beer styles but are open to experimenting with new styles and would like to keep the taps changing as much as we can. We will always have some sessionable beers available and will offer everything from lagers to sours. We want folks to have a reason to always stop by to see what’s on tap.”

Who is your head brewer and what is their history in the industry? 

“Dave Henry is new to commercial brewing but is well known in the industry. He has a long homebrewing history and has brewed his recipes on a number of different pro systems. He started Langley’s first homebrew club with Tristan Stewart (now of Temporal Artisan Ales and Luppolo) which went on to win a Pro-am festival during the first year. Dave is well known for his wild and farmhouse style ales but he is skilled at brewing pretty much any type of beer. He has had some opportunities to turn pro but this was just the perfect fit.”

What are your thoughts on the growth of craft beer in Langley?

“It’s long overdue. The population is booming here but there are still folks who are just discovering craft beer. We believe there is room for us all and we can now begin to really grow the craft beer culture in Langley. We know all the players well and often share beers with some of them regularly. We’re excited to work together and make Langley the next great beer destination in BC.”

What makes your brewery unique?

“Right from the planning stages, we wanted something a little different. We envisioned a nice outdoor space and we found it. We will have a large, south facing beer garden patio with a gas fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs and picnic tables. The dog and kid-friendly outdoor space is over 2000 square feet and away from the road. We’re hoping it becomes an oasis for all craft beer enthusiasts in the heart of downtown Langley.”

bc ale trail - craft beer tourist - dead frog brewery
Brewmaster Cole Smith and good friend Dan Bratton, Dead Frog’s production manager, are always full of energy and never shy away from a camera, especially on brew days!

DEAD FROG BREWERY

#105 – 8860 201 St, Langley

In the summer of 2018, Dead Frog closed the doors at their Aldergrove location and took a giant step forward with their new, state of the art brewery and tasting room location near Highway 1 and 200th street. At 12,800 square feet, Dead Frog is by far the largest Langley brewery. The shiny new tasting room, with its industrial feel, has seating for 65 inside and 25 outside on the patio. The menu is focused on snacks that pair well with their beer and is constantly evolving. They offer live music, trivia nights, cask nights and Tom Cruise Tuesdays where they offer a $1.00 off of flights. 

 

What is the story behind your brewery name?

“Our name comes from our Founder Derrick Smith’s sarcastic, irreverent, and occasionally abrasive sense of humour.  At a time when breweries were all named after family names and locations, Derrick wanted something that was different and stood out.  After many hours brainstorming, and more than a few Nut Browns, the name Dead Frog leapt off the page.”

What is the ownership history/connection to Langley?

“Dead Frog Brewery was established in Aldergrove in 2007 by Derrick Smith and his family.  The Smith family grew up in and around Langley, loved great craft beer, and wanted to bring it to the area.  We have a number of long term employees that were born at Langley Memorial, went to school in the area, and with the recent move, now proudly brew and serve craft beer in the area.”

How would you describe your brewing philosophy? 

“We think brewing craft beer should be all about creativity, innovation, and having a hoppin’ good time, and that’s what we strive for. We believe quality ingredients make quality craft brews, and we spend a lot of time making sure we choose the perfect ingredients for each of our brews.  We’re also committed to informing people about the brews they’re enjoying, so we put all of the ingredients in each beer right on the label.  We want everyone enjoying a Dead Frog brew to know exactly what they’re drinking – premium malts and hops with no artificial anything, ever.”

Who is your head brewer and what is their history in the industry? 

“Cole Smith – owner/founders son. Completed the KPU brewing program and has been brewing for us for the last 4 years. Before school, Cole spent time touring the world trying different beers and breweries!”

What are your thoughts on the growth of craft beer in Langley?

“We think it’s great, and we’re happy to be a part of it.  We always knew Langley was thirsty for great craft beer, and we’re glad to finally be able to bring it to people with our new Tasting Room.  We can’t wait to keep growing the market here with all of the other existing breweries, and the new ones coming up.”

What makes your brewery unique?

“We’ve been brewing for about 10 years now. Our brews are innovative, creative and always made with premium malts and hops with no artificial anything, ever. Our brewery is family owned and operated, born and raised in the Fraser Valley! Our approach to brewing is to create unique, one of a kind brews like our Nutty Uncle Peanut Butter Stout and Blueberry Blast Kettle Sour.

With our new brewery and tasting room, we’ve brought the same approach to the food served.  All of our ingredients are locally sourced, all of our sides and sauces are made in-house.  Most importantly, over half of our menu options include our brews in the recipes.  We’re just about to launch our Chicken Wings, with one option being Hot Wings made with 4 pepper hot sauce infused with our Blueberry Blast Kettle Sour, and another being Lime Ginger Wings with sauce infused with our Moscow Mule Lime Ginger White Ale.”

bc ale trail - craft beer tourist - farm country brewing
These three guys have been hard at work preparing their space for construction. The Farm Country team so far is, from left to right; Arnold Tobler, Jack Bensley and Travis Keyworth.

FARM COUNTRY BREWING

#5 – 20555 56 Ave, Langley

Located in Highland Centre just steps away from the Cascades Casino, Farm Country Brewing will be the first official brewery within the city limits of Langley City. The 8000 Square foot space is projected to have seating for 80 inside, a 20 seat patio outside their front doors a stage for local live music and a special event space behind the building they will be able to use 8 – 10 times a year. They will also be the only brewery in Langley to have their own canning line! I had a chance to speak with owners Arnold Tobler and Travis Keyworth as well as Jack Bensley the brewmaster about their journey.

 

What is the story behind your brewery name?  

“We struggled with this for a while as we are sure many others have. At one point we had a long list of different names but none of them really felt like the one. We wanted to find a name that tied into the history of Langley and represented our memories of growing up in the area and what we wanted our brewery to be. After much debate, Travis finally came out one day and said “I think we are overcomplicating this, why don’t we just call ourselves Farm Country because that’s what the valley has been and in many areas still is today. Once you come over that bridge and exit the highway that’s really the first thing you think, this is farm country. The name stuck and the rest is history.”

Does the ownership have a connection to Langley?

“Both of us were born and raised in Langley and went to the same elementary and high schools together and have been family friends from a very young age. We spent our younger years playing a lot of ball hockey together and as we got older also played on a co-ed slo-pitch team in Langley for a few years. We have shared a lot of good times together over the years from house boating, camping, many nights at Roosters and the Merritt Mountain Music Festival to name a few. We have both developed a strong love for craft beer and although we both separately pursued vastly different career paths we realized that together we possessed all of the skills and passion necessary to build a successful business together.”

How would you describe your brewing philosophy? 

“Our focus first and foremost is to brew beer of the highest quality and to brew that beer consistently time and time again. We want to celebrate our community and those individuals and families that make it such a great place to live and to reward them with great beer to accompany all of the great moments and achievements in their lives. Langley has historic roots as a farming community and is now one of the fastest growing areas for young families in all of B.C. It is this unique blend of tradition and youthful enthusiasm that inspires us to create beers that are fresh, flavorful and innovative, yet still, stay true to old-world styles. “Do you want another?” Our goal with every beer we brew is for you to answer yes to that question.

Our core beers will be traditional recipes with slight variations and twists to make them our own. Our goal is to brew beer that you can drink multiple of while enjoying the company of friends and family. We will use nothing but the finest ingredients and give our beers the extra time that it takes to reach perfection.”

Who is your head brewer and what is their history in the industry?   

“Words really can’t express how excited we are that Jack Bensley decided to join our team as our brewmaster. After a number of years of teaching in the public school system (at Langley Secondary nonetheless) Jack started his brewing career in 2008 with Russell Brewing and remained there until 2013. Jack then joined the team at Main Street Brewing and helped them build the brewery from the ground up and spent the past 5 ½ years as their brewmaster. Over the past 11 years, Jack has won multiple BC Beer awards, Canadian Brewing awards and World Beer Cup medals and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with at Farm Country.”

What are your thoughts on the growth of craft beer in Langley?

“We love it! It is long overdue and we are super excited that we are going to be a part of making it happen. About 4 years ago we were down in Portland for Travis’ bachelor party, which surprise surprise centred around breweries. When we came home we said why do we not have any craft breweries in Langley? Knowing the demographics of the area and the rapid growth in population we were positive that the area could support it so we started putting a business plan together. We soon found out that Trading Post was in the works. We will be forever grateful to them for leading the way and being so helpful to us in our journey!”

What makes your brewery unique?

“I think what will make us unique is our deep connection with Langley and its surrounding communities and that we have a really good sense of what the local consumer is looking for. We are very excited to be joining the local business community in Langley and plan to entrench ourselves in our community and give back in as many ways as possible. Our belief is that ‘craft’ is about the care and effort that is put into the products you are creating. Our beers will please the pallets of both craft beer enthusiasts and newcomers alike.”

bc-ale-trail, craft-beer-tourist, five-roads-brewing
Five Roads owner Aaron Fourt (left) and longtime BC brewmaster Patrick Moore (right) are already brewing beer and are poised to be the first of the new wave of Langley breweries to open their front doors.

FIVE ROADS BREWING

6263 202 St #1, Langley, BC

Five Roads is just around the corner from Trading Post and has a cozy tasting room licensed for 50 seats. They will be brewing on a 10 hectolitre system and will have 14 fermentors so they can always offer a good variety of exciting beers. The plan is to always have 10 or 11 taps pouring their beer as well some local cider. They will also have a small kitchen and will have a menu of locally sourced cuisine. There is also discussion of putting in some shuffleboard and possibly some old arcade games. I had the pleasure of meeting the owner Aaron Fourt and brewmaster Patrick Moore who were nice enough to show me around and give me some insight on where they are at. After a very long journey, they anticipate being the first of the new breweries to open for business.

 

What is the story behind your brewery name?

“The name Five Roads Brewing was inspired by the historic Five Corners intersection in the Township of Langley. We wanted to incorporate something local that could also apply more broadly to anywhere but we discovered a Six Corners Brewing in Alberta so we decided on Five Roads, which in the end we like even more! Our thinking behind the name also came from the fact that there are five of us involved in the project and we thought it was a cool way to describe the space and our beer as a meeting point of sorts where roads and people intersect and the community can come together. Historically this was the case where crossroads brought people from far and wide together and remains true to this day. Langley is a place experiencing a great deal of change and growth in this phase of its history so what better way to signify this by creating a new community hub that allows everyone to come and meet. We want people to see our brewery as a welcoming space to cross paths with friends, both old and new! In the same sense, we incorporate both historic and contemporary elements of this area in our brand influence so we reflect the intersection of old and new, urban and rural, and past and future, all the things that make this community so vibrant and awesome!”

Does the ownership have a connection to Langley?

“We have all lived and worked in nearby cities but in the same way, as our name suggests, we found a happy meeting point and a place where things jelled right here in Langley. It wasn’t until we set up here that things really came together and we attribute that in huge part to the community and the Township. There is something special here and once we discovered it we knew we didn’t want to be anywhere else and so we have found a very happy home. We are looking forward to collectively raising the awareness that Langley is becoming the next craft beer boomtown and definitely the quality of brewers and breweries established already and in the process of setting up speaks to the great things that are coming for the region.”

How would you describe your brewing philosophy?

“In the dynamic craft beer market in BC, we want to do things well and stick to producing high-quality craft beer products. Importantly, we are focused on creating an environment and space that is both a reflection of the local community and brings people here to experience the uniqueness of Langley and the Fraser Valley. Our brewing philosophy aims to pair the products, the people, and the space into an experience that is more than the sum of these parts.”

Who is your head brewer and what is their history in the industry? 

“Our head brewer is Patrick Moore who has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of the craft brewing industry from being an exceptional brewer to sales and marketing, and building and managing a range of breweries. He recently opened Crossroads Brewing in Prince George as head brewer and manager and was previously at Howe Sound Brewing for a number of years as well as R&B Brewing.”

What are your thoughts on the growth of craft beer in Langley?

“It’s fantastic! Langley is a fast changing and growing community that deserves its own craft beer scene that reflects what’s going on here. The collection of breweries in Langley, both established and upcoming, will certainly inject some excitement into the local beer culture and carve out a place in BC for Langley’s craft breweries. It’s very exciting to be a part of this especially since a boom appears to be imminent and we have already established great relationships with the other breweries here. It does seem like something special is taking shape and with Langley already positioned as a culinary and winery hub, craft brewing is going to help round out this amazing diversity of food and drink available in the region.”

What makes your brewery unique?

“Definitely the space and environment we have created are conducive to socializing and being open to new things and that’s really what we want to enhance in the experience people have here. It’s a place where you will always be able to find a rotating lineup of great beers that offer up new tastes and certainly is a physical space that is a true reflection of a vibrant and growing community, full of life and always a place you can cross paths with friends and good times.”

bc ale trail - craft beer tourist - trading post brewing
Trading Post’s owner and general manager Lance Verhoeff (left) and the legendary “rockstar” brewmaster Tony Dewald (right) stand outside their Langley brewery and tasting room. Before becoming a brewer, Tony really is a bonafide rockstar. He played drums for Canadian rock’n’roll hall of fame inductee Deja Voodoo! – photo by Chris Ruiter

TRADING POST BREWING

#107 – 20120 64 Ave, Langley

Trading Post now boasts three locations in the Lower Mainland. The brewery and tasting room just had their third anniversary but they also have a well-established eatery in historic Fort Langley as well as a brand new 190 seat Eatery in West Abbotsford that opened its doors this past December. With fresh, locally sourced menus created by talented chef Andi Cruise paired with their own beers, they offer a true adventure in gastronomy. If that isn’t enough, they also host the Annual Fort Langley Beer & Food Festival coming up on May long weekend. Last year they sold out 3000 tickets so don’t delay on grabbing your tickets for this year. I spoke with marketing manager Hannah Brown about Trading Post’s history and about getting some new neighbours around town.

 

What is the story behind your brewery name?

“We wanted a name that related back to our community and celebrated the history here but didn’t keep us stuck in one place as we knew we would have a couple of different locations. Trading Post is a nod to Fort Langley which is a former trading post of the Hudson’s Bay Company” 

 Does the ownership have a connection to Langley?

“Lance and Paul (our co-founders) and their families live in Fort Langley so building the Brewery close to home was a natural choice. Lance fell in the love with craft beer and the craft beer community he found in Tasting Rooms when he and his wife Marissa were living downtown while she went to school at UBC. When they moved back to Langley to start a family, they realized that nothing like that existed here, so they decided to bring craft beer to Langley and open a brewery here.”

How would you describe your brewing philosophy? 

“Our brewing philosophy revolves around a balance of creating fun styles that we like to drink, and what the people in Fraser Valley also love to drink. We focus on creating beer that fits with the season, as well as highlighting some of the amazing local ingredients that we can forage in this agriculturally rich area.”

Who is your head brewer and what is their history in the industry? 

“Tony Dewald. He’s been brewing for almost 30 years after he moved from Montreal to Vancouver. He started brewing at Dix Brewery downtown where he helped develop Vancouver’s cask beer scene and was one of the first to brew a big, hoppy IPA in BC’s craft beer market. After moving to the Fraser Valley, Tony asked to switch to MJG’s Big Ridge Brewing which was significantly smaller than Dix. Looking for more opportunities, he took an offer from Dead Frog brewing where he worked for a year before moving on to Old Abbey Ales.  then to Dead Frog in Langley. Shortly after he was approached by Lance and Paul to join us at Trading Post.”

What are your thoughts on the growth of craft beer in Langley?

“Having been the only brewery in downtown Langley for the last 3 years, we think that the craft beer scene in Langley is ready for more craft beer! We’ve seen the industry and market grow so much here and are happy to have some brewery friends joining us to make Langley a craft beer destination!” 

What makes your brewery unique?

“It’s our beer and our food. We brew all the beer on site (which is the norm), but all the food we serve comes from our Eatery just down the road in Fort Langley. The ingredients are from local farms and suppliers and it’s all made fresh. We believe great food and great beer are the perfect pair and want to provide a place where people can get together with their friends, families, coworkers etc. to spend quality time together.  We also have our own beer festival in May, the Fort Langley Beer & Food Festival, that we put on to celebrate the craft beer and food scene here in the Fraser Valley!”

bc ale trail - craft beer tourist - Smugglers trail caskworks
The smile on Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks Co-owner Jamie Overgaard’s face says it all. After contract brewing their beer at Craft Collective Beerworks for the last year and a half, he and partner Steve Gregorig and finally building their own brewery in North Langley.

SMUGGLERS’ TRAIL CASKWORKS

9339 200A St., Langley

Longtime friends and rugby buddies Stephen Gregorig and Jamie Overgaard had been homebrewing together for some time on a pilot system in Stephen’s garage. They often talked about opening their own brewery and in the winter of 2015, they finally decided to do it. Finding their ideal location in the  Langley area proved to be quite challenging but thanks to the opportunities available at Craft Collective Beerworks, they were able to scale up their recipes and get some of their beer to market while they continued the search for the perfect spot. With four beers currently on the shelves around Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, they finally found their new home on the border of Port Kells and Walnut Grove in North Langley. The 5400 square foot space will feature loads of natural light, 28 foot ceilings and a 30 Hectolitre brewhouse. They plan to bring back the British style of real ales with multiple bar mounted beer engines. At Smugglers’ Trail, every night will be cask night! The construction of the building is in the very early stages but things seem to be progressing quickly. 

What is the story behind your brewery name? 

“Jamie is a history teacher and was intrigued by the name of an old trail that he saw on an old map on the wall in one of the local stores.  We did a bit of digging and got into the story of the Smugglers’ Trail – the old name for much of Hwy 10 and Glover Road.  We really liked the thought of charismatic individuals finding different ways to get things done.  Good guys with bad streaks.  Also, a real attachment to the area and for generating commerce.”

Does the ownership have a connection to Langley?

“Both Steve and Jamie are relatively new to the area coming here from other areas of the lower mainland and quickly adopting their new homes!”

How would you describe your brewing philosophy? 

“We want to perfect familiar styles and focus more on the drinking experience and quality rather than experimentation or following brewing fads.  We also plan on making beers that folks like us will drink!”

Who is your head brewer and what is their history in the industry?   

“We currently contract brew our recipes through Craft Collective Beerworks.  We have not hired a brewer for our location yet.  The four beers that we currently have  commercially available have been written and developed by the Smugglers themselves.”  

What are your thoughts on the growth of craft beer in Langley?

“So excited. Langley is primed and ready for a thriving brewery scene.  The people in Langley are social, they have a strong sense of community and they are craft beer lovers!  Also, selfishly, more breweries in Langley means less travel to other brewery districts…local is better!”

What makes your brewery unique?

“We have a couple of unique things happening at Smugglers Trail: the honour house series fundraiser beers, a tasting room featuring hand pumped ales and a full-time cask-conditioned beer program.”

 

The common theme that appears in these responses is clearly that everyone is excited for the growth to take place and very eager to put Langley on the map as a craft beer destination. They believe that the people of Langley are more than ready to support a few more brewery options. As a lifelong resident of Langley and hardcore craft beer enthusiast, I would have to agree with them!
If you are interested in taking a look inside all of the new breweries, check out the video I made after visiting them during their construction. Take a tour of each space with the owners and brewmasters themselves. It’s an awesome opportunity to dive further into Langley’s brewery scene explosion!!
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