Craft beer and pizza? R&B Brewing’s Ale & Pizza House is here

Something delicious this way comes

August 30, 2016

By Willem Thomas / Photo: Willem Thomas

East Van legends R&B Brewing have finally unveiled the fruits of their recent labour. At Quebec and 4th Ave., the same space the long-standing Mount Pleasant craft brewery has always occupied (since 1997, making them an elder statesman in a young industry), a seismic overhaul had been taking place. Behind closed doors, they had been working full-tilt since November 2015 on what would eventually become their new Ale & Pizza House. The team, led by designer and general manager of the establishment Brent Cummings and R&B co-founder Barry Benson, actually had the space in an operational state as early as February, but delays due to licenses and dealing with the provincial government in Victoria sank things into a bureaucratic quagmire. After many back-and-forths and nervous excitement, approval came in July. The Ale & Pizza House threw open the doors almost immediately with a very soft opening. On August 8, R&B went into “full open” mode—and word has been quickly spreading.

The atmosphere at the Ale & Pizza House is a melting pot of vibes (think Commercial Drive coffee shop meets jam space meets Gulf Island cabin). The industrial theme—it is a working brewery after all—runs concurrent to the casual, living room feel. The 800 Sq Ft space, attached to the existing brewery itself, offers seats along the bar as well as stools and booths. The light fixtures, provided by nearby Mount Pleasant Furniture, are intentionally all different, and the back wall of (recycled) speakers isn’t just for show. Every single one is able to play music from their sound system.

The food program, created and overseen by head chef Archie Retieffe, follows the same casual but calculated methodology. The main component of the menu, the pizzas, are done with creativity, spirit and zero pretension. These are honest pies with pizazz. Upon Van Mag‘s visit, Retieffe and co. had five pizzas available, and Benson says they intend to introduce new styles every few weeks—rotating flavours in and out. The careful process of selecting the proper pizzas included the arduous task of sampling over 50 different types come up with by Retieffe. The prosciutto pizza is especially worthwhile, topped with thick morsels of shaved parmesan. Also available are a few bar snacks such as pretzels and a charcuterie board, salads, sandwiches and a few desserts.

And of course, the beer. At the Ale & Pizza House, R&B’s well-established core lineup (Raven Cream Ale, East Side Bitter) is available, but Benson says they intend to provide much more than that. The bar is equipped with 11 taps of R&B’s brews, and one is generally marked as a guest tap (Category 12’s Disruption Black IPA is a recent example). Two casks (Fruit of the Devil Orange Pale Ale and The Mountain Explorer ESB were hooked up when Van Mag stopped by) will provide patrons seeking a cask-conditioned ale with the hand-pumped goods. An ongoing effort by R&B is their “Mount Pleasant Series,” designed to showcase many different styles of beer in rotational, limited releases. Recently tapped was No. 8 in the series, a Vienna Lager; No. 9 will be a Belgian Sour. And Benson and R&B’s new head brewer, Rod Hughes, have got plenty more in store for the Mount Pleasant series going forward.

As for the Ale & Pizza House itself? Benson hopes it will be a “place for the whole neighbourhood to meet, hangout in and imbibe.”

R&B Ale & Pizza House
54 E. 4th Ave. | 604-336-0275 | randbbrewing.com/alehouse

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