The craft beer industry is booming in B.C. and in Nanaimo, a pair of breweries are helping fuel the desire for local beer.
The Longwood Brew Pub began packaging beer in bottles four years ago to test the market.
It did very well, prompting the opening of the off-site Longwood Brewery on Boxwood Road, something brewmaster and brewery partner Harley Smith said is a route many brew pubs are taking.
All the beers served are ones that people will be familiar with in Nanaimo, Smith said. There are five core brands that have been rebranded for marketability: Stoutnik (Russian imperial stout), Steam Punk (Dunkelweizenbrau), Berried Alive (raspberry ale), The Big One (India pale ale) and Extra Ale (Longwood ale).
“We do come out with a new seasonal beer about every two months and so far we’ve done a pumpkin ale, called Full Patch, Winter’s Own Weizenbock, The One That Got Away Red Wheat and we’re just about to release the Independent Pilsner, which is an imperial pilsner, which is hoppy and a more aggressive pilsner than what you would find at the brew pub,” Smith said.
The Longwood Brewery has a large capacity and Smith said it can brew 5,000 hectolitres a year, which should carry it for a few years before it needs to expand.
Across town, Wolf Brewing Company is at full capacity. There is a waiting list and everything that is brewed is already pre-sold, according to head brewer Kev Ward.
“We decided that it was time to expand, so we’ve got a brand new brewhouse and new tanks all being hand-built up in the Okanagan. We like to keep everything as B.C. as possible – grain, hops, everything, and that includes getting our tanks built as well up in Okanagan by a fellow named Ed Ripley, who’s a really excellent fabricator,” Ward said.
In addition to the Okanagan, Wolf Brewing will expand its space on Old Victoria Road, allowing it to double its floor size and triple capacity and add a tasting room.
Ward, who originally hails from Liverpool, England, has been on the job for about a year and changed all the recipes. Wolf Brewing still uses old-school techniques in its brewing.
“Here it’s me and a paddle and getting stuck in there. Everything’s done by hand here and we’ll continue to do that,” Ward said.
At the moment, Wolf brews four beers – Golden Honey Ale, Red Brick India Pale Ale, Rannoch Scotch Ale and Black Tail Porter – but it will be able to bring on an additional three beers thanks to expansion.
“We’re going to bring out a pale ale, which is going to have another twist to it, quite West Coast, it’s going to be a lot of aroma hop in it,” said Ward. “It’s going to [have] a mid-range bitterness … quite a citrus, lemony [flavour].”
An extra special bitter ale is on the way as well as some one-off beers that are being kept under wraps, Ward said.