Vern Lambourne returns with the Parkside Brewery

Photo by Jan Zeschky
Photo by Jan Zeschky

Alas, the prodigal son returns! Prodigal brewer? Or maybe it’s that absentee brewer?

Whatever you want to call him, Vern Lambourne is back. After close to a year of speculation as to what his next move would be, the former Granville Island Brewing mastermind has emerged from “the rock” he’d been hiding under (his phrasing) to announce plans for his new Port Moody brewery, the Parkside Brewery.

Lambourne will handle all brewing operations, while Sam Payne, former sales manager for Red Truck Brewing, will handle front-of-house and sales. While both men will act as faces for the brewery, Parkside is Lambourne’s baby, through and through.

“I started thinking of this before I left Granville Island,” he says. “I started thinking about what I wanted to do next, but wasn’t really thinking of this particular project. It had always been sitting there as a dream to open a brewery.”

For fans of local craft beer, this is a big deal. While at GIB, Lambourne was influential for developing a lineup of quality craft beers for mainstream consumers, and created some of the brewery’s most memorable recipes. After leaving, people in the industry were constantly asking each other about Lambourne’s movements, as if it were some closely guarded state secret. What’s he doing now? What’s he doing next?

After he left GIB, Lambourne did some consulting for various breweries, while mostly laying low and spending time with family. All the while, he slowly plotted what would become Parkside. Officially, the project has been under way for about two months, but has been kept under wraps until now.

Parkside will be located on Murray Street, between Yellow Dog Brewing and Moody Ales. This will be the fourth craft brewery open along that strip in less than two years. (Twin Sails Brewing opened next to Yellow Dog last month.)

Lambourne says he chose to set up shop in Port Moody mainly because he’s lived there for 15 years, but says also that the city’s cluster of breweries will actually be good for business.

“Look at the different areas where you have more than one brewery. You’re drawing all kinds of people there,” he says. “If we can have a brewery district out here, maybe somebody will build a distillery next. Who knows, right? Maybe another couple of breweries, y’know, or whatever the city will let us do and whatever there is room for.”

Likewise, he says he has no hesitation about opening another new brewery in an increasingly competitive market.

“You always wonder if things are already too crowded in the market in general,” he says with a laugh, “but I don’t think that’s the case. There’s lots of room for growth. The big breweries are still selling a lot of beer in this region and in this country. I think there’s room to take away some volume there.”

While the actual beer lineup has yet to be sorted out, he says he’d been toying with some homebrew recipes all summer. He plans to have some  “nice hoppy stuff” on the roster and to have a small batch program with seasonal bomber releases. He also says it’s unlikely they’ll be souring any beers, but beyond that, he plans to brew as many styles as he can.

“We have our work cut out for us! But it will be fun,” he says. “I’ve never worked with Sam, but he has a good reputation in the industry and he can sell some beer. I just hope I can keep up.”

Parkside Brewery is slated for a Spring 2016 opening.

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Vern Lambourne returns with the Parkside Brewery

Vern Lambourne returns with the Parkside Brewery

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