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Steel & Oak anniversary party returns to kick off summer in New West

Expanded food and beverage offerings coming to New Westminster craft brewery
Jorden Foss Steel & Oak
Jorden Foss co-founded the Steel & Oak Brewery with fellow New West resident James Garbutt in 2013. They're thrilled with the return of their annual anniversary celebration. Record/File

Steel & Oak will be serving up beer (and and other goodies) and plenty of smiles at the return of its annual anniversary party.

After a three-year absence due to the pandemic, the New West-based craft brewery is holding its annual anniversary party on Sunday, June 26 from noon to 5 p.m.

“It’s the biggest event that we are able to do, where we feel the greatest connection to the community for us,” said Jorden Foss, co-owner of Steel & Oak. “The last one we did was our fifth anniversary, and this will be our eighth.”

Folks of all ages (dogs, too) are invited to attend the family-friendly event that’s taking place behind the brewery at 1319 Third Ave. The bash will include tacos and nachos from Top Rope Birria, smash burgers from Sirius Cravings, ice cream from Rocky Point Ice Cream and some fair food favourites by Tin Lizzy Concessions.

Three beer stations, wine from New West’s own Pacific Breeze, and house-made lemonade will folks hydrated, while DJ Social Medium, a children’s activity area and lawn games will keep guests entertained.

“It’s been a while since we have seen all of our past and present Steel & Oak friends and community,” Foss said. “We have a ton of space in the back parking lot that we are going to be able to open up, so there should be plenty of room for people to roam around.”

As in past years, Steel & Oak views the anniversary party as the unofficial kick-off to summer. This year’s event is a chance for folks from New West and the craft beer community and industry to celebrate their ability to come together once again after pandemic gathering restrictions of the past two years.

“This feels like the first big event in New West to us to kind of kind of kick it back off,” Foss told the Record. “We are hoping that people remember that it’s super family friendly and that they bring their kids and their dogs, and it’s just a great excuse to have a beer and smile and high five and see each other again.”

S&O encourages guests to walk, ride or take transit to this event. For those who have a designated driver, there will be additional parking added this year for ease of access. It’s free, and beer tokens can be purchased at the event.

Pandemic changes – and more to come

There have been a few changes to Steel & Oak since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

The brewery has gone from being an inside-only tasting room with room for 50 people to having two outdoor patios and an expanded capacity for 100 people.

“We are able to fit more people, but with more space and much more outdoor space, which has been wonderful,” Foss said.

In recent times, the brewery has noticed a shift in some of its clientele – some who may have moved to New West during the pandemic.

In addition to the late 20s to early 40s age group that’s always frequented the brewery, Foss said there’s “a more varied mix” in the tasting room than ever before, with people in their early 20s and 60s and 70s finding a home in the space.

“Now, it’s really all over the spectrum, which is wonderful,” he said. “I guess it means that we are doing something right as far as being open and accessible to everybody, so that even if you don’t know a ton about beer you are comfortable coming to the space and hanging out and enjoying yourself which is great.”

While Steel & Oak continues to brew award-winning beers, it’s also expanding its offerings to improve the customer experience. That begins with a more robust food program that’s set to launch within a couple of weeks.

“We definitely want to make sure that even if you don’t drink beer, you can come down here and have something to drink and have something to eat and still enjoy the vibe,” Foss said. “We just want to double down on being a community space. We happen to make beer, but we are for everybody.”

On the food front, the brewery is teaming up with Party Pizza Worldwide on menu items.

“They will be kind of an homage to the pizza pops that you used to eat as a kid – but on a much more elevated and larger scale,” Foss said. “So, something that is fun, that is easy, that is handheld, that kids and adults will like.”

Steel & Oak currently serves Front Street ginger beer, kombucha and its own lemonade, but it’s also looking to expand its non-alcoholic beverage offerings.

“It may sound kind of funny, but we are going to start up our own sparkling water program,” Foss said. “There has been a big uptick in flavoured sparkling water out there, and it’s actually pretty fun for us to play around with because we get to play with different flavourings and stuff like that.”

New sparkling water and other non-alcoholic beverages offerings will likely be launched at S&O in the fall.

“We are constantly going to be adding some new things – just to make it a more enticing and enticing space for people,” Foss said.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus