If you want to geek out on beer, you can talk endlessly with Dan Colyer, brewmaster and resident wizard at Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks (11220 Horseshoe Way). In 2006, when Colyer was working as a graphic designer, he began to tinker with home brewing in his free time, poring over YouTube videos as he taught himself the craft. “The initial stuff was terrible. I couldn’t even drink it,” he laughs as he recalls his first concoctions.
The turning point in Colyer’s brewing journey occurred when he met Tony Iaci, a manager at a bar that Colyer used to frequent. The two hit it off due to their common love of beer, videogames, and science fiction, and decided to brew together.
Of course, the dynamic duo needed to rechristen themselves, with Colyer becoming “Fuggles,” named ironically after his least favourite classic hop. “It was my go to swear word. I’d always say, ‘Fuggles!’” explains Colyer. Iaci transformed into “Warlock,” named after a character from the cult trading card game, Magic the Gathering.
In 2012, the two began brewing commercially by collaborating with different craft breweries, both locally (the former BRB Brewery, Dead Frog Brewery, Powell Street Craft Brewery) and in the US (Las Vegas, Washington State). Their first substantial hit was the Nintendo-themed IPA Super 8-Bit they released through the Alameda Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon. Demand was huge. The two knew that they were onto something.
Fuggles & Warlock was co-founded by Dan Colyer, Tom Orange, Cam Slade and Glen Hutton in November 2015. Five short months later, they were in business with a full tasting lounge located in the Ironwood neighbourhood of southeastern Richmond.
Richmond was an immediate choice for their production site since all four partners grew up in Richmond and were enthusiastic fans of the city. “We thought that Richmond was in need of a good brewery,” says Colyer.
Colyer feels that Fuggles & Warlock is able to produce such diverse beers because he and Iaci have such opposing brewing styles. Plus, the synergy between the two allows them to get really creative and sometimes crazily zany with their flavour combos. “We try to separate ourselves from other breweries. Our motto is ‘Keeping beer weird.’ We try to invent styles, and nothing is done true to style.”
Colyer adds that they, of course, aim for beer that tastes great, as well as being “weird.” Case in point is The Last Strawberry, a Belgian wit (wheat) which is brewed with fresh strawberries, something that’s unique to Fuggles & Warlock.
Colyer and Iaci are constantly experimenting with their beer line-up, trying to come up with new products that will dazzle the palates of their customers. At any given time, they have their five core beers, including Personas West Coast Common (their take on the Californian Common) and the Destiny IPA (with a light malt profile); four seasonal ones, such as The Last Mango Wit (a Belgian wit brewed with fresh mangoes) and the Icarus Mosaic Saison (Belgian-style saison hopped with Mosaic hops); a one-off experimental IPA, like the Chrono Wet Hop IPA; and their limited series sour beers, such as the Rei Boysenberry Sour, which are particularly popular with wine and cider drinkers.
Besides designing the marketing material and beer labels, Colyer spends most of his days refining his brewmaster knowledge. He basically boils down beer making to a combo of malt, hops, and yeast, which he can play around with in order to produce huge differences in flavour. “Like cooking, you get to know your ingredients and aim for a certain flavour profile,” he explains. When designing a new beer, Colyer often is very specific about the characteristics he wants, such as colour and dryness, and then works, sometimes for years, trying to make them coalesce into a single beer.
Fuggles & Warlock also prides itself on sourcing local ingredients, such as their fruit from Abbotsford and their espresso from Vancouver’s Notch Coffee for their Bean Me Up Espresso Milk Stout. These high quality ingredients can be pricey, especially if Colyer is aiming for pronounced flavour, but, ultimately, he thinks it’s worth it. “If the beer has fruit, we mean it,” he says emphatically.
Those interested in tasting this intense flavour can find Fuggles & Warlock beers at private liquor stores and restaurants around the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, as well as in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Taiwan, South Korea, Las Vegas, and China. Closer to home, their tasting room is a great spot for sampling, as well as getting a peek of their impressive production facility.
The tasting room includes a variety of seating, as well as video game consoles and board games for fellow gaming nerds.
Glen Hutton, Director of Hospitality and Business Development, has been working in the food and beverage industry for over twenty years, including as a manager at the former Sportstown BC in Richmond. Before getting involved with Fuggles & Warlock, Hutton actually swore off beer for seven years because he explains, “I was sick of beer with no flavour.” However, with the rise of local craft breweries, Hutton began to fall back in love with beer.
Hutton is especially a fan of the Pixel Pils, a Czech-style pilsner, which he has everyday because of its refreshing, citrusy, light, and hoppy profile. He also says that it goes particularly well with many of the available food items at the tasting room. Hutton explains that the aim was to find local food that showcases the brewery’s offerings. “Nothing is overly filling. It’s about people experiencing the beer,” he says.
Pepperoni, sandwiches on pretzel bread, and bulettes (pork patties) come from Steveston’s D Original Sausage Haus; chicken, beef, and veggies samosas are handmade in Surrey; and tourtière and cheese and onion pie come from Simon’s Specialty Foods in Richmond.
A crowd favourite is the bulette, a German pork patty served with a pickle and mustard. Hutton recommends drinking this fairly rich dish with the Pixel Pils since it offers a light contrast. Meanwhile, he suggests pairing the samosas with the Chrono Wet Hop IPA, whose medium bitterness adds another flavour note to the spiciness of the samosas.
Overall, Hutton has been surprised and impressed by the range of people who come to the tasting room to enjoy Fuggle & Warlock’s beer. Besides continued expansion of their product into other markets, he envisions opening a restaurant in Richmond within the next couple of years. Like his partners, Hutton is proud to bring beer to his hometown city and can’t wait for its beer culture to keep on growing. Stay tuned!