Port Moody’s newest craft brewery will be the first off ‘Brewers Row’

Tri-City News

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While Fraser Mills Fermentation’s name is based in Coquitlam’s history and its owners considered a Port Coquitlam location, the new brew business will make its home in the birthplace of craft beer in the Tri-Cities.

March 1, FMF took over the former Yamaha Marine dealership on St. Johns Street in Port Moody, two doors from Beyond the Grape, owned by FMF partner Michael Druce. The owners sectioned off part for Beyond the Grape’s home brewing supplies while opening the rest of the ground-floor unit for a 99-seat tasting room plus a 25-seat outdoor patio.

Fraser Mills Fermentation owners Tim Vandergrift (left) and Michael Druce, a Port Moody resident who owns Beyond the Grape. They and the other owners hope to open their craft brewery — the first in PoMo outside of Brewers Row, at 3044 St. Johns St. — in July. Photo by Janis Cleugh/Tri-City News

On March 26, Port Moody city council unanimously granted FMF’s permit to start manufacturing in the basement, with the goal to open the lounge sometime in July, making Fraser Mills Fermentation Moody’s first craft brewery outside of busy Brewers Row.

“There’s never too many breweries in Port Moody,” Coun. Meghan Lahti said to a round of applause from the gallery at the meeting.

FMF co-owner Tim Vandergrift, a White Rock resident who, with Druce, is part of the Tri-City Cask Festival, said the journey to open their business has been long but he’s happy it finally has a home.

They’ll have the typical suds on tap — lagers, sours, saisons and IPAs — as well as ciders, wines and a mead for guests who aren’t partial to the craft beer taste but want to gather in a brewery with their family and friends.

Next month, their brewmaster will start creating the liquid magic onsite while renovations to the 2,800-sq. ft. tasting room continue.

The owners — who also include Dan Parent of Port Coquitlam and Port Moody’s Steve Sheldon, Warren Boyer and Ian MacKerricher, all established in the beverage and hospitality industries — will decorate the premises with old images of Fraser Mills and other saw mills around the Lower Mainland.

Vandergrift said FMF owners didn’t think it was necessary to rebrand when they set up shop in Port Moody: The Fraser River has played a role in each of their lives and they’ve had relatives or friends who worked on or near the water.

“The idea behind our name is that the Fraser River is a working river, where people put in a honest day and build up a thirst,” he said.

As for the word “mill,” it’s also a term used in beer making, referring to the crushing of malt kernels.

Vandergrift said FMF owners are also OK with being outside of Brewers Row, which is currently made up of Yellow Dog, Moody Ales, Twin Sails and Parkside Brewery, with Bakery Brewing set to open this spring.

“It’s fantastic with what they’ve done and have transformed that area of town,” he said, “but it’s a destination. Here, we’re closer to the homes. We’re 280 metres from Moody Centre and we’re close to the shops.”

Still, once Beedie’s Fraser Mills waterfront development in Coquitlam is ready, FMF intends to make the area its permanent home. Its lease for 3044 St. Johns St. is only for five years (with a possible five-year extension) as the neighbourhood is densifying with more residences and commercial space around the transit hub.

And if Fraser Mills still isn’t ready in five or 10 years? “We want to stay in the Tri-Cities. That’s always been our goal,” Druce said.