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Food for thought: Arcadia Brewing

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Darren McGeown first knew he wanted to open a brewery when he was sitting in a pub with his parents in Northern Ireland at the age of six. The atmosphere, camaraderie, and community are what inspired him to take his own place in the hospitality industry. Then the idea of Arcadia Brewing was born, and the Arcadia Brewpub was opened in November of 2020.

The unfortunate second wave of the pandemic caused them to close down the same month they opened. McGeown remained optimistic and was ecstatic to open Arcadia’s doors to welcome Edmonton locals once again to share their favourite beer. “I have always loved the sense of community being in a pub,” McGeown says. His Irish background inspired him to start the brewery which took four years to plan. Arcadia features six original craft beers, all sentimentally named. McGeown says, “it gives a sense of pride when creating something.”

McGeown strives to create a unique image and brand of easy drinking beer that even novice beer drinkers will love. One of the most popular beers on tap is The Whistling Pig Hazy Pale Ale. The name is derived from McGeown’s love for The Libertines, an English rock band. “You don’t want to be a cover band your whole life, you want to create your own stuff,” McGeown says. The brewery features local favorites such as the Ruff Riland Road Irish stout, the Cuppa Coffee Kolsch, back to the… West Coast IPA, and the Love Ire & Sour beer, all crafted for easy drinking. One of the most approachable beers is the Coliseum blonde ale, which has a light malt sweetness.

“Everything is accessible and approachable,” McGeown says. The coliseum theme is seen present throughout the brewpub, as McGeown purchased old seats from Rexall Place, and uses them at tables throughout the restaurant. Arcadia Brewing is committed to creating a unique atmosphere where you will see familiar faces. The craft beers can be sold on tap in the house, in cans, or growlers.

Arcadia is not only committed to creating a community, but to giving back to the community as well. McGeown has worked with Boyle Street Community Services for eight years, doing clothing drives and helping raise money for homelessness and poverty in Edmonton. He has created a strong relationship with the Boyle Street community and takes pride in giving back to them. “Arcadia is about building a community in-house, and also outside of my business,” McGeown says.

Arcadia accepts winter clothing donations at the brewery and drives the donations down to Boyle Street on a regular basis. McGeown says he brought in a lot of donations during the first week of the brewery opening and will continue to donate as long as clothing keeps coming in. Even when it starts to get warmer, he is determined to help out. “Even minus eight can be cold when you’re outside all the time,” McGeown says.

In the next 10 years, McGeown plans to expand the community by opening up new locations with different concepts and designs. Arcadia is determined to create a safe space for everyone to come and enjoy a cold craft beer. The brewpub offers curbside pickup for those who are not comfortable going out to restaurants just yet. Arcadia’s goal is to remind you that “there were no good old days, these are the good old days.”

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