Meet Juan from Bandit Brewery

A lunch that led to brunch

What do you love about working here?  

I love the team I work with, I love what they bring to the table. The goal from the beginning was to make great beer and bring people together; you’ll see families at communal tables next to people clad in leather.

So how do you create an environment like that?

I think part of inclusivity was important to us, for example my boss is Indian, and Stephan is French, more than half of our customers are women, and a lot of our staff are gay. It was really about bringing everybody to the table and inviting everyone for beer and having that in common. It’s just about being welcoming, and I mean physically, I think the large picnic tables invite that kind of environment. When it comes to the product, it's about making beer—good beer—a conversation.

What do you think has been the biggest change in terms of the language associated with craft beer and the craft beer culture?

I think people are really excited to talk about it, and you know it makes it even easier for us. For example, a month ago we had a release, it’s actually our second bret beer. Are you familiar with bret beer?

No, we’re not.

Bret is a kind of bacteria. In the wine world they hate it because it spoils wine, but in the beer world it kind of brings a bit of funkiness. A lot of the flavour notes are like barnyard or leather, so things that don’t sound great on paper, but are actually quite interesting. I ended up loving it. Craft beer has really elevated the conversation around beer, in general. It’s no longer just your dad sitting on the back porch drinking a PBR, but at the same time, it’s a thin line that we don’t want cross, like wine culture. We want the casualness. We want people to be here to have a chill, fun day because that’s what beer is. It’s a good time.

What’s the biggest pressure you face with craft beer, especially when everyone is trying these strange, new things? Is there a pressure to out-do what you’ve done before?

No, I think it depends on what brewery you are. We like to try new things, like the bret beer and our sour apricot gosa, which is one of our most loved beers and has been since the beginning. We should try it actually.

Yeah, let’s do it! We’ve been on the fence about sour beers.

This is a very acceptable sour, I’m going to order one right now for us. But for example, there has to be at least 15 breweries in this area now, and they’re all very good. Some of them are a bit more experimental than others and doing really interesting stuff, but we never see it as being in competition with each other. If anything, it’s like a big community. It sounds cheesy but it’s totally true. People will come here and grab two of their favourite beers and then walk up to Burdock, or Halo, or Henderson and grab their other two favourites there.

What’s the crystal around your neck?

It’s rose quartz. Somebody touched my crystal today, and now I’m like shit, I have to wait for a full moon to cleanse it. Now you have me sounding crazy.

Oh no, we’re totally on the same page. I brought crystals with me on the trip.

Oh okay, so I’m in the right kind of crowd. The other thing I brought up at a bar the other day was Saturn rising. Someone was like, I’m 28 and my life’s falling apart, and I’m like, well, of course it is. My mom’s a kundalini teacher, so this was the type of conversation that was happening when I was growing up. It’s hard for me to disconnect.

You shouldn’t disconnect, the world is catching up.

Right? I’m like why isn’t everyone meditating?

Totally, that’s why so many people are losing their shit.

Anyways, this area isn’t the most trendy, but we like it here.

We’re loving the vibes. We got dropped off by one of our friends, actually, he owns 1066the dispensary here.

Wait, there’s a dispensary near here?

Yeah, right down the road.