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News / Business / Clark County Business

Victor-23 Brewing ready to take flight

Aviation-themed pub in Rose Village hops on legend of D.B. Cooper

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 29, 2016, 5:47pm
5 Photos
Owner Bryan Ward hangs aviation-themed pictures with the help of general manager/head chef Paul Durazo at Victor-23 Craft Brewery on Thursday morning.
Owner Bryan Ward hangs aviation-themed pictures with the help of general manager/head chef Paul Durazo at Victor-23 Craft Brewery on Thursday morning. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Craft beer is a full-fledged identity for many in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s about to be combined with a man whose mysterious identity has captivated people for almost 45 years.

Victor-23 Brewing, at 2905 St. Johns Blvd., is a new D.B. Cooper-themed brewery and restaurant slated to open at 4 p.m. Thursday. The brewery moved into the 2,500-square-foot space, formerly home to a Smokey’s Pizza location, and rebuilt it into an aviation-style pub.

Owner Bryan Ward, who founded the Ridgefield construction company Skyward Construction and is himself a pilot, said he borrowed the infamous skyjacker’s legend in hopes of capturing some of the intrigue.

“Vancouver sort of owns D.B. Cooper,” Ward said. “I wanted something that people from Vancouver could embrace as their own.”

As it’s been told thousands of times, a man who claimed to be Dan Cooper boarded a Northwest Orient jet the day before Thanksgiving in 1971. Purporting to have a bomb, Cooper ransomed the lives of passengers on board for $200,000 and parachutes before telling pilots to fly slowly at low altitudes before he opened the plane’s rear stairway and jumped, perhaps somewhere over Clark County.

The brewery takes its name from the flight path from which Cooper disappeared: Victor-23. Its interior features a beer tap tower modeled after an airplane wing, with the handles themselves shaped like a plane’s throttles. And there’s a large, custom mural of the Boeing 727 that Cooper held hostage.

Cooper’s true identity was never discovered, and the FBI formally closed its investigation this summer. But people keep speculating.

“You give (people) a cool-themed place they can relate to, and then you also give them good beer and good food and that’s hard to resist, right?” Ward said.

The restaurant seats about 36 people inside and has two large picnic tables out front. The menu will consist of just a handful of entr?es that Ward said will be top-shelf meals. Food will be made by Paul Durazo.

“Everything is going to be fresh; nothing’s frozen — we don’t have a freezer here,” Ward said. “I think our motto is: You come here for fresh beer, and we go out of our way to find super fresh ingredients; why would we do anything else in the kitchen? It’s the same philosophy.”

The brewery will offer a blonde ale, an IPA and an amber ale from brewmaster Eric Rolerkite, formerly of Alameda Brewing Co. in Portland, with plans to make more beers down the road. Rolerkite said there will be something for everyone.

“We have experience throughout the years, and I’ve taken stuff I think the public would like, not just the hop-heads and enthusiasts,” Rolerkite said.

Columbian staff writer