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Saturday, December 2, 2023
Dec. 2, 2023

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Vice Beer brewery aims to open this summer

By , Columbian Associate Editor
3 Photos
Michael Perozzo, from left, and Cameron Johnson of Vice Beer chat with Eldy Prado of El Viejon Taqueria & Mariscos in the former Barlow's Brewing location in southeast Vancouver.
Michael Perozzo, from left, and Cameron Johnson of Vice Beer chat with Eldy Prado of El Viejon Taqueria & Mariscos in the former Barlow's Brewing location in southeast Vancouver. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A local brewer and a marketing business owner are starting a new brewery in Vancouver called Vice Beer, occupying the former Barlow’s Brewery near Mountain View High School.

The brewery, at 705 S.E. Park Crest Ave., aims to open in early summer and specialize in experimental, small-batch and collaborations with other local breweries, hopefully making a new beer a week. Former executive head chef of The Hammond, Eldy Prado, is also opening a new food truck called El Viejon, in the parking lot specializing in high-end tacos and seafood.

Vice Beer co-founders Michael Perozzo and Cameron Johnson met at the Washington Brewers Festival in Redmond in 2017. Perozzo, the founder of ZZEPPELIN media and the Brewcouver app (which was recently ended), and Johnson have a deep network in Southwest Washington’s beer scene. Johnson founded Spokane’s Young Buck Brewing and most recently was the head brewer of Barlow’s.

The two decided to partner after former Barlow’s owner Brian Rummer urged them to collaborate by buying the brewery. Perozzo and Johnson began the buying process only two months ago, they said.

They approached 15 to 20 potential investors from their brewing network to join them with the business. It’s not a traditional model for starting a brewery, but it allowed them to involve the community to a greater degree. Johnson explored a similar model with Young Buck Brewing in Spokane, he said.

Naming the brewery Vice comes from the idea of a “wholesome indulgence,” Perozzo said.

“Everyone has a vice, but vice can be an enjoyable hobby,” he said.

The two and their wives, who are also co-owners, are renovating the taproom to have an ’80s and ’90s retro theme that captures the spirit of the “A-Team,” “Star Wars” and similar pop-culture themes.

The two are awaiting permitting before they can start brewing.

Barlow’s at the Waterfront Vancouver is not involved in Vice Beer and was taken over by the Waterfront Taphouse.

Prado is renovating an Oregon-permitted food cart to make it acceptable to Vancouver’s code, which is a more intense and expensive process than in Oregon, he said. The fire-suppression system is especially more advanced in Vancouver.

“Right now, food trucks are on another level of quality,” Prado, 40, said. “They’re easily staffed and have better quality.”

Perozzo, 40, and Johnson, 35, are going to focus on retail much more than distribution — getting their beers in as many stores as possible. By focusing on retail storefronts, events and expansion, they can retain a better profit margin and grow the business more, Johnson said. They plan to open a service-style sit-down spot with Prado within a few years.

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