There are probably few people more qualified to talk about the transformation of Vancouver’s Uptown Village than Bryan Shull, the owner of Trap Door Brewing on Main Street.
Shull, who grew up in Vancouver and graduated from Hudson’s Bay High School, spent plenty of time in and around Uptown as a youth, as his father lived in the area.
So how does Uptown Village compare from then to now? It’s almost enough to make Shull laugh.
“15 years ago … you could roll a tumble weed down Main Street,” Shull said.
Not anymore, as Uptown Village continues to emerge as the latest hot spot locally, where you can get much more than a delicious scoop of goodness at Ice Cream Renaissance.
Hold on, downtown. Uptown Village just might be the next destination for beer fans in the region.
Last November, Shull opened Trap Door, where their IPA and Tiger Trap Coffee Stout have been big hits. On July 1, Washougal’s Doomsday Brewing Company opened a tasting room – Doomsday Safe House – in Uptown while The Thirsty Sasquatch, a cozy beer bar, has undergone a dramatic facelift.
While downtown has a handful of breweries within walking distance of each other (Trusty Brewing Company, Loowit Brewing Company, Heathen Brewing and Feral Public House), Uptown has its own boozy spin, as Trap Door (2315 Main St.), Doomsday Safe House (1919 Main St.) and The Thirsty Sasquatch (2110 Main St.) are within a few blocks of each other.
And, Shull said, the word is out.
“Uptown is going to be the next thing,” Shull said. “…There’s nothing but upside here. It’s a destination. Just last Friday, we were packed and Doomsday down the street was packed. Thirsty Sasquatch was also busy.
“Someone came in and said that downtown was dead and that everyone was in Uptown,” he added.
This is something Doomsday owners Erik Cloe and Jake Walton discovered when they were scouting potential locations for a tasting room. So before settling on a space that was formerly occupied by Mini Mozarts’ Preschool, the two devoted a few days to see what the vibe was like in Uptown.
“We checked out the area for a couple of days before we moved on it,” Walton said. “We took the family down there … the kids got ice cream. We came on a sunny day, a rainy day. And every time we went, lots of people were out.”
Doomsday Safe House is a 3,000-square-foot space that not only can accommodate eight of Cloe and Walton’s own beers, a few guest taps and cider and cold brew, but has an outdoor space out back to envy.
The space, Cloe said, is essentially modeled after Base Camp Brewing in Portland.
“We’ll put up some tents out there, we want to have a movie projection screen, fire pits and food carts in the outdoor area,” Cloe said.
Doomsday, which brews in Washougal on a seven-barrel system, offers several beer selections, including four IPAs, including their signature beer, Nuclear IPA. The KillBox Key Lime Kolsch was originally set to be a one-off beer but proved so popular that it’s been moved into the regular Doomsday rotation.
The Thirsty Sasquatch has a cozy indoor and outdoor space – and that outdoor space has previously come in handy on those warm afternoons. But that was before a new air conditioning unit was installed. There’s also a patio expansion project in the works. There’s a fancy new sign above the door, making The Thirsty Sasquatch easily recognizable from Main Street.
There are 28 taps at The Thirsty Sasquatch, though not all are devoted to beer – there’s cider, hard root beer and an extensive spirits menu.
“We are seeing a lot more pub-based activities here; we’re seeing people doing pub crawls,” Walton said. “I think that in a year, this [Vancouver] is going to be a real craft beer destination spot … and it will be pretty equal to Portland.”
As for Shull, whose sons Zane Singleton (Trap Door’s head brewer) and Zackary Singleton are investors, the development of Uptown certainly warms his heart to see what the area has become – and what it is becoming.
It’s no surprise Shull opened a brewery. His father and grandfather both worked at the Great Western Malting Company in Vancouver. Now Shull and his sons are putting their mark on the area.
“I think before too long, a Tuesday night will look like a Friday night here,” Shull said. “I can see more and more foot traffic coming this way. I don’t so much see the face of Uptown looking different, but I see it getting busier.”