Prince Rupert Poised to Emerge from the ’70s
Many of you may not be old enough to recall the dark days of beer in BC. That was when the only choice one had was which lager you wanted to drink. Prohibition was so successful in destroying traditional brewing that it turned North America into a virtual beer monoculture. This was reflected in the common drinking ritual of going into a bar or pub and saying to the bartender, “Gimme a beer!” Even food recipes that used beer would list it in the ingredients as something like “1 cup beer.” (That still happens today, which goes to show we still haven’t fully come over from the dark side.)
I visited northern BC last year and found out they lie in the rainshadow of craft beer, still swilling macro lager. It sort of reminds me of the Japanese holdouts after the end of World War II. However, the time for surrender may gradually be approaching. A Prince Rupert resident has set his sights on opening a brewpub there this year.
Triple Island Brewing is the result of a Eureka! moment Rod Daigle had after he read Sam Calagione’s Brewing Up a Business. Always entrepreneurial, Daigle had struggled up to that time to find something he had a passion for. As he explains it,
I thought of the common threads in my life, looked around at my decor and wardrobe (beer t-shirts, beer mugs, beer coasters, brewery tour ticket stubs…), and realize[d] where my values lied (sic).
Of course, once you decide to start a brewery, what kind of operation are you going to open? Regional? Local? After working through visions of a four hectolitre copper-clad system, Daigle and his two business partners decided on a brewpub designed around a twin 38-litre Sabco Brew-Magic systems. It may take some time to convert the residents over to full-flavoured ales with character, so it seems sensible to start out modestly. There should be a growth plan in place in case business expands rapidly, but it’s not like there will be a lot of competition up there.
Daigle plans to launch with two beers — a blond ale and probably something hoppier. Several styles will follow; hopefully, he’ll introduce cask-conditioned ale at some point too. The pub menu will be beer-driven with the intention of having suitably paired appetizers, entrées, and desserts. The brewpub décor will emphasize the historical aspect of brewing and pay tribute to North American craft brewers.
Sounds like there will be a good excuse to visit Prince Rupert once Triple Island is open. Your luggage will be lighter — you won’t have to bring your own beer.