Twin City Brewing will be moving into the City of Port Alberni’s historic train station.
After a long Request for Proposals (RFP) process, the city announced on Feb. 7, 2024 that local business and brewery Twin City Brewing has won the lease for the train station.
Twin City Brewing—which was last year’s BC Brewery of the Year winner—opened its first location on Margaret Street back in 2017. Owner Aaron Colyn says the Margaret Street location will continue to provide a casual neighbourhood taproom experience, while the new train station location will provide “a more dining-focused counterpart.” There are no plans to brew in the new space.
“We can still provide a casual, after-work brewpub experience at our Margaret Street location,” said Colyn. “The train station will be a little more dining-oriented. It’s an exciting area of town,” he added, referring to the city’s waterfront. “It makes sense for us to do something here.”
Work will begin on the dining area in spring 2024.
The city-owned Port Alberni Train Station is a registered heritage building that was originally constructed in 1911. Over the last two years, the city has invested in seismic upgrades and added a new roof to the building, as well as some exterior modifications to allow the construction of a commercial kitchen.
City CAO Mike Fox says the city still has a bit of structural work to finish on the train station, and Twin City Brewing’s lease will begin in April.
Colyn said he has had an eye on the train station since 2019. There are different pathways breweries can take when they want to expand, Colyn explained, but Twin City Brewing wasn’t interested in expanding their production capabilities.
“We have not maxed out production at our current location,” he said. “We decided we wanted more spaces for people to gather, instead. We want this to be a space for the community, as an extension or counterpart to our current space. This is the culmination of our dream, to expand into a place like this.”
Colyn hinted that the menu will be a little different at the train station—offering much more than pizza—and it will also offer more taps with beer from all over the province, not just Twin City Brewing. Colyn says he is hoping to experiment with beer and food pairings, as well.
“Over the years, we’ve had a lot of time to try out lots of different food,” he said. “We have built this backlog of ideas. Having these notebooks full of information to build off is going to be very cool. If people like what we’re doing at the brewery, I think they’ll really like what we have planned.”
Plenty of work still has to take place before the new space can open, said Colyn, but he is tentatively planning for a fall 2024 opening.
“It really is a shell right now,” he said. “The vision is a slightly upscale pub atmosphere. We can host larger groups than we can at our current location, and there’s a courtyard by the water tower that we can hopefully utilize for outdoor events.”
If the city’s steam train fires up again, Colyn says he has a plan for that, too.
“We’ve made it clear to the city that we’re very open to collaborating if the train starts running on the tracks,” he said.