Vancouver’s budding beverage company Wize Monkey is joining forces with another local company to keep the innovation stream flowing.
Wize Monkey creates coffee leaf tea beverages that are sold in more than 800 stores worldwide. The company has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings on a $12,000 Kickstarter campaign in 2014.
Recently, Wize Monkey announced they would be partnering with craft beer aficionado and local industry educator Faculty Brewing Co. to make the world’s first Coffee Leaf Tea beer.
Faculty Brewing is no stranger to exploring strange brews, previously testing out an earl grey tea leaf beer, which garnered the brewery several awards. Additionally, the company tried out a coffee beer with Milano Coffee Roasters.
“This is the world’s first coffee leaf infused beer,” said Max Rivest, co-founder of Wize Monkey. “If it goes well, we will brew some more, and if it goes even better, then eventually [Faculty] could start doing some bottling and getting labels and start to actually sell it in a bottle.”
The partnership, according to Rivest, is also a product of Vancouver’s bustling beverage scene and the industry’s rare collaborative spirit.
“First and foremost, Vancouver’s beverage innovation is crazy; there is so much going on, and it is such a cool city for that,” said Rivest. “Even in L.A., there are not even that many craft breweries relative to Vancouver.”
“A lot of craft brewers are a lot more collaborative than other sectors. Whether it’s food or other products, they are just way more open to playing around and learning from each other, and that is just a sign of a new industry that is still booming and still trying to figure things out.”
The news comes at a time when craft breweries are fighting to remain within the scene that they started.
Recently, it was announced Storm Brewing, one of the pioneers of the craft beer scene in Vancouver and the longest running craft brewery in the city, would be forced back into the renter’s market given their 25-year lease being up. The company told CBC News that industrial land has become unaffordable, something Faculty Brewing Co. knows is looming just around the corner.
“We are on a pinch. We have this ticking clock that is not just higher cost of living, higher cost of wages…inflation, higher cost of ingredients – on top of that, our rent keeps going up,” said Mauricio Lozano, owner of Faculty Brewing Co.
Faculty is in a 1,450-square foot, one-story building in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. Lozano, originally from Mexico, met Rivest through the progressive food education program Feeding Growth at the University of British Columbia.
Both have weathered the struggles of start-up culture in Vancouver and attest to collaboration being a key component in surviving, at least in the food and beverage business.
“How do we stay on top of the game? That’s where being unique and being creative comes in,” said Lozano. “Our brewery is focused on education, collaboration and innovation, and this [partnership] is where it all comes into play.”