COASTAL LIVING: Brewing a new batch

NANAIMO – Wolf Brewing Company is tripling capacity and adding extra brews.

It won’t be long before craft beer enthusiasts off the Island and abroad will be cracking open some suds from a brewery already well known for producing local favourites.

Wolf Brewing Company unpacked a truckload of stainless steel conditioning vessels, a brewhouse and other equipment that are now being installed to triple the brewery’s capacity to 210,000 litres per year.

The equipment, fabricated by Ripley Stainless in Summerland, B.C., arrived last week.

“We had some delays and had to wait a few months for the equipment to be built because Ripley was busy filling orders in the U.S.,” said Dean Lewis, brewery co-owner.

Lewis and his wife, Jennifer, founded Wolf Brewing Company after purchasing Fat Cat Brewery’s building and facilities at 90 Old Victoria Rd. in 2010.

Timing was on their side. Consumers developed a taste and strong demand for high-quality craft beers that has fuelled rapid growth in the craft brewery business in Canada and the U.S.

Wolf Brewing Company currently sells its beer to pubs, restaurants and liquor stores across Vancouver Island and Powell River on the Sunshine Coast, and several liquor stores in Vancouver.

“There’s a great demand,” said Kevin Ward, head brewer. “We’re sort of spreading our wings in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland as well.”

The extra capacity will hopefully also allow the brewery to pursue production of additional flavours as well as unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated beers.

The brewery currently produces Porter, Scotch Ale, Black and Tan among other brews and uses artwork produced by local artists and photographers for its labelling.

Wolf Brewery had to wait a few months for its order to be filled, Lewis said, but the brewery wanted to deal with a B.C. firm rather than farming the work out to an overseas producer.

The shipment was further delayed in September when the brewery wasn’t ready to receive it because of renovations to the portion of the building the brewery has expanded into, which included jack-hammering up the building’s concrete floor to install new water and sewerage lines.

The brewery is waiting on a second shipment of equipment from Ripley Stainless to arrive next week so workers can complete the final assembly and start getting the system up and running. Ward said when the entire system is functioning, it will offer greater efficiency and the brewery could produce up to three brews every 24 hours.

The maiden brew from Wolf Brewery’s expansion should be on tap by the end of January.

“It’s a big expansion for us and it’s a huge investment that we’ve done,” said Ward. “We’re all pretty excited about it down here.”