One year ago, the news that Taylight Brewery in Port Coquitlam shut its doors devastated the Tri-Cities' growing community of craft beer enthusiasts.
All over social media, fans of the PoCo business expressed their sadness of the closure, which was blamed on the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry.
Now, one year later, the brewery, located at 402-1485 Coast Meridian Rd., has fired up the tanks and re-opened the tasting room, according to head brewer Goldwin Chan.
Chan, who has been with Taylight since 2018, and stayed to oversee the transition to new owners, said customers were piqued by a "cryptic message" on Taylight's Facebook page.
They headed over to the brewery for its re-opening date on Saturday (Nov. 26).
"We brought most of the team back. I was very happy with them coming back and they expressed graciousness for being able to be back, and we had a lot of our locals visit us," said Chan.
Devastating shutdown and layoffs
A Burnaby resident, Chan said his family has a history in Port Coquitlam, running Salty's Fish and Chips at Coast Meridian Road and Prairie Avenue from 1998 to 2007.
Chan spent his high school and early university years at the shop; now, he's back running Taylight.
Chan admitted the last 12 months have been difficult, describing it as a series of challenges, beginning with laying everyone off and informing customers about the closure.
For several months, a prospective owners' team that seemed "legit" offered to purchase the business from the original owners, but then backed out after stringing them along.
Finally, the business was sold to a group of Lower Mainland owners who Chan said prefer to work behind the scenes but are pleased to be able to breath new life into the PoCo brewery.
"I feel very grateful we got through this and now we're opening back up and seeing the familiar faces, that’s kind of the real beauty of it and I'm happy to have my team back.
"Last year was a blur, I literally remember us closing, it was a blur and now we’re opening again."
Chan said two staff members came back after finding jobs in other Tri-Cities breweries, and though he feels a bit guilty about "poaching" them, he said he's "glad to have his boys back."
There are a total of six staff at the operation with Chan crafting the beer, with the help of an assistant brew master.
Chan becomes a brew master
Chan has an interesting background as a brew master.
He graduated from SFU with a degree in analytical and organic chemistry and did co-op work with Chevron as a gasoline tester and at Molson's Brewery, where he was in quality control.
After the two working stints, Chan said he had to make a decision, he could work in the lucrative gasoline industry or follow his heart.
Acknowledging his decision with a bit of tongue in cheek humour, Chan told the Tri-City News the choice came down to lifestyle.
"If I’m going to get liver cancer from breathing all these fumes, I decided I'd rather get it from drinking beer."
While working at Molson's, Chan obtained a diploma with the Institute of Brewers and Distillers, at which point Molson's announced it was packing up and selling the Kitsilano brewery location for housing.
Chan went to work at the Stanley Park Brewery, honing his skills, eventually joining Taylight, when his mentor at Stanley Park Brewing took a job at another brewery.
Despite the difficult past year, Chan is pleased with his decision and loves the sense of community he gets at the PoCo brewery.
"I show up in the tasting room [and] everybody was happy that they saw me back and I expressed I’m happy to be back.
"That’s one of the best feelings."
Taylight has five signature craft beers
Taylight has five signature beers, which include:
- Loco PoCo Czech Pilsner
- Slack Tide Hazy Pale Ale
- I’m Juicy IPA - New England IPA
- Freight Hoppin’ West Coast IPA
- Root Beer Porter
For more information and operating hours, you can visit the brewery's website.