12 Kings Pub
The Spotlight is a series of interviews with the craft beer heroes behind local organizations who are helping grow the beer scene in our fine city. This week’s spotlight is on 12 Kings Pub.
Two years ago, brothers Armin and Mony Sodhi started looking into a possible business venture – they wanted to buy a pub. At the time, it didn’t really materialize, which worked out because in late 2014 they got an offer they couldn’t refuse. They were given the chance to buy the Locker Room Pub on Kingsway. Armin asked his beer buddies Adam, Jeff, and Derek if they would be willing to invest in the pub with them. They agreed, and before you know it, 12 Kings Pub was born!
All five of these owners are big sports fans and big beer nuts so it seemed only logical to have a beer focused sports bar. Armin explains, “One that thing that we found Vancouver lacked was a craft beer sports bar. You can get either or, but you can’t get both. We wanted somewhere you can go and watch any game that’s on and have an awesome craft beer.” Armin was quick to explain that they didn’t want to be a one-team bar. In fact, the night I sat down to interview him, I saw distinct pockets of Oilers, Canadiens, Canucks, and Senators fans all huddled around their respective TVs watching their games in the pub. There was a constant flow of cheers and boos coming from all directions. As a sports fan, I have to say, it was really something else.
The ownership group’s original plan was to be more like St. Augustine’s or Alibi Room, where they would have 20 or more taps showcasing a wide range of beers. But when they settled on the name 12 Kings Pub, they realized that they had 12 taps, so they decided to run with the theme. They thought, why not put a BC focus on those 12 taps? “When we started, it was around the same time that Steel and Oak, Yellow Dog, Moody Ales, all these new places were opening up. They wanted to get their beer out of the suburbs and into the city. We were starting up, they were starting up, so why not start up together?” That’s when they decided to keep it local. In fact, Yellow Dog’s Play Dead IPA is a mainstay and listed as their house IPA. A fine example of two young businesses starting an early relationship that grew into something great!
People that frequented Locker Room Pub before it became 12 Kings can tell you that the culture was much more heavily focused on major beer labels like Molson, Coors, Bud and other macro. Armin told me that they were mindful of this when they came into it, “We knew there was a big macro following, but at the same time we knew there were alternatives for them to drink. We brought in the 12 Kings Lager (Coal Harbour Helles Lager) so we don’t lose that clientele and we have another option for them.” Ultimately, the opening of this pub was a great opportunity to educate non-craft beer drinkers on some entry level beers local to the area.
They are also very fortunate to have Adam Chatburn on their team who spent time as a Cellarman in the UK. His main focus in caring for the beer at the pub is “making sure that the beer gets to the customer as the brewery intended it.” This includes proper care of taps, lines, and glassware. But Adam also says it goes for their beer engine on the bar, “We see casks served so often in Vancouver where they put it up on the bar and pour it out – which works on a pinch. But if you’re going to be doing it regularly, you really should be putting it through a beer engine. It makes a huge difference because that’s how those beers were meant to be served. You will taste a huge difference in the quality of the beer.” And Adam is always happy to talk to people about the cask process, or how a beer engine works, so head over to 12 Kings, give the cask ale a taste and pick Adam’s brain on the subject.
Now that 12 Kings has established itself, they are very excited to be hosting some community events. They will be hosting a CAMRA Cask Meetup on Sunday, January 25th at 2pm. We encourage our members to come out and check out the casks, meet the 12 Kings staff, as well as the outgoing CAMRA executive and some hopefuls running for executive positions at our February AGM. 12 Kings will also be hosting a Super Bowl extravaganza on Super Bowl Sunday complete with a specialty menu, prizes and giveaways. Make sure you check it out, as 12 kings has quickly become a huge haven for the Seahawks 12th man to unite!
If you can’t make it for that, there is plenty of other stuff going on weekly: Wednesdays and Saturdays are karaoke night, Fridays have a live DJ and Sundays are Comedy Night! I guarantee there is always something to enjoy at 12 Kings Pub. The icing on the cake, of course, you get a 10% discount on your bill with your CAMRA card. Pretty nifty! Go check it out!
David Perry – @davidjp87
Community Liaison – CAMRA BC, Vancouver Chapter