Skip to content

Surrey’s new Wayback craft brewery could be the first of more to come

‘We are ground-breakers here in Surrey’ following zoning bylaw changes, owner Mark Woodall says
Wayback Brew Co. operators Chris Meyer, left, and Mark Woodall under the glare of a sign inside the new tap room, in the Panorama area of Surrey, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Surrey is known for many things, just not craft breweries. The city is home to some larger beer-making operations including Central City and Russell, but smaller-scale brewers aren’t really on the radar like in some neighbouring cities.

That could change, however, now that Surrey has made changes to address some barriers that brewers and distillers face when looking to open here.

A zoning bylaw amendment made in May 2022 allows for liquor tasting lounges in highway commercial industrial and light industrial zones.

“These changes mean Surrey has some of the most flexible allowances in Metro Vancouver for breweries and distilleries,” trumpets a news release posted to

Operators of Wayback Brew Co. were first to jump in with a new brewery and tasting room in the Panorama area, in a warehouse area on 54A Avenue, kitty-corner from Excellent Ice.

“We built it from scratch, and we are ground-breakers here in Surrey,” owner Mark Woodall said of the tap room, opened in early December.

“It’s been 32 months in the making, start to finish, nearly three years,” he added. “It’s a huge breakthrough at city hall that a true craft brewery is open in Surrey and survived all the red tape. Surrey is now understanding what many other municipalities have known for years. This is big news.”

Inside Wayback Brew Co.’s new tap room, in the Panorama area of Surrey, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Woodall, a sports-loving South Surreyite involved in the speciality-insurance business, has partnered in Wayback with Chris Meyer, who helped run some of Vancouver’s finest dining establishments. Together they also operate Resurrection Spirits in East Van.

The Wayback name was originally something else.

“We had it registered as Ballpark Brewing, that was going to be our way,” Woodall recalled. “And then we brought in Chris and talked about not wanting a testosterone-filled sports bar. One of the great things about this place will be our patio in the summertime. We wanted to be in a position where two ladies could come on a Saturday afternoon or a Saturday evening, have a beer or a glass of wine and not feel intimidated. Wayback was just a better name.”

The tap room includes 50 seats in a nostalgia-themed space and, when the weather is right, another 50 on a south-facing plaza, where a trailer/kitchen will cook speciality pizza.

A cooler full of beer at Wayback Brew Co.’s new tap room on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

So far, Wayback’s beer options are Lager, Lite, IPA, Citrus Wheat and Baja Dark. Cocktails on tap are Negroni and Old Fashioned, both made with Resurrection spirits.

Meyer said Panorama is a great area for a craft brewery.

“There is a lot of residential here, and it’s growing with that, down the street and across the highway,” he noted. “People are also willing to travel if it’s something new.

“The number-one comment this week from people who’ve come through our doors is, we’re excited for you to be here,” Meyer added. “They’re willing to walk, bike, roller-skate or Uber here. We have our store here and people will come have a beer, visit, then grab a six-pack on their way out. We’ll have our kitchen set up soon, too, focused on pizza and some other offerings. We’ll start small and go from there.”

City hall’s zoning bylaw amendments mean Surrey has opened up more than 4,000 acres of land previously inaccessible to breweries who want to do business.

Woodall applauds the changes, but also laments how long it took to open Wayback and delays in getting approvals.

“It was a long, expensive haul,” he said. “One of the main things that I see is that the (city) council and the city staff aren’t on the same wavelength. The council has an idea of what they want to see for the City of Surrey, how they want the City of Surrey to develop and promote, and the staff have more of a conservative approach and don’t always follow the direction that they get from council. With a (bylaw) amendment like this, there’s still a lot of interpretation into the application of the amendment.

“It was a long process,” he added, “but I can say now, absolutely worth it.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
Read more