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'It's a tough biz': This Port Coquitlam brewery is closing after just three years in operation

Boardwalk Brewing, in Port Coquitlam's Dominion Triangle area, opened in July 2021.
Boardwalk Brewing - Port Coquitlam - BC Ale Trail
Boardwalk Brewing in Port Coquitlam is is closing its doors, just three years after opening in July, 2021.

Port Coquitlam’s brewery trail is getting a little shorter.

Boardwalk Brewing, in the city’s Dominion Triangle area, is pulling its last tap Sunday, July 14.

The three-year-old craft brewery, renowned for its cotton candy Belgian ale that earned a silver medal at the 2023 Canadian Brewing Awards, announced its closure on its Facebook page Monday, July 8.

“The rising costs in this economic climate are too much for us to sustain,” said the post. “We are so grateful for all of our customers’ support over the years.”

Boardwalk is the second of the four breweries in the city that are located in close proximity to the Traboulay PoCo Trail to be closed, although Taylight Brewing was able to reopen under new ownership in November 2022, a year after shutting its doors. The other breweries along the trail are Northpaw and Tinhouse.

Patina and PoCo Brothers are the other breweries operating in the city.

Boardwalk opened in July 2021 after a slight delay when two of its one-tonne fermenters were stolen from the brewery’s parking lot prior to their installation. They were recovered from a scrap yard but one was so badly damaged, it needed to be replaced.

“It was just more of a hiccup,” said owner-operator Phil Saxe, a veteran of the restaurant business in Vancouver who targeted the nearby Fremont Village area “as an up-and-coming neighbourhood.”

Boardwalk’s fans were quick to react to the brewery’s demise.

“Very sad to see you guys go,” said one.

“I enjoyed having you in the community and serving some of the best beers around,” added another.

“It’s a tough biz right now for sure,” said one commenter on the Vancouver Craft Beer subreddit.

That sentiment is bolstered by Ben Coli, who owns Dageraad Brewing in Burnaby and sits on the Board of Directors for the BC Craft Brewers Guild.

He said the organization’s more than 240 members are being squeezed by inflation, high interest rates, rising rents for industrial spaces, more expensive packaging and changing consumer tastes.

“There are a lot of headwinds in the economy right now,” he said, adding the challenges have been amplified because many of the breweries that have been struggling opened just before or during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That meant they had to burn money just to keep their doors open rather than put it towards paying down debt, Coli said.

“A lot of them just had terrible luck with the way that events unfolded,” he said. “They didn’t stand a chance.”