B.C. Beer Blog

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of B.C. craft beer

Posts Tagged ‘Douglas Rae

Red House Rollout in Comox

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BC’s newest brewery is now open for business. Surgenor Brewing in Comox held a soft launch celebration on March 21 attended by family, friends, and local dignitaries. It was a proud day for owner, Bob Surgenor who has realized his dream after seven years and $2 million.

Surgenor hired brewing consultant Mark Simpson to help design the brewery and formulate the recipes. Douglas Rae is Surgenor’s brewmaster. Both Simpson and Rae have experience working at Granville Island Brewing and Molson.

Abbotsford’s Newlands Systems Inc. fabricated the lauter/mash tun, brew kettle, and tanks, while Surgenor Industrial Electrical Contracting installed the state-of-the-art automated process controls. The 24 hl system is operated from Allen-Bradley PanelView 1000e graphic terminals mounted on the brewer’s platform and in the brewhouse office. This allows Surgenor to achieve the consistency of an industrial brewery while producing a craft product.

The brewery currently produces an Irish red ale and a Czech pilsner — Red House Ale and Steam Donkey Lager. The ale is brewed with Chico yeast and Cascade hops, while the pils uses Saaz hops, Caramalt, and Augustiner yeast. While both beers are quite accessible, they have depth of flavour and pronounced hop bitterness that distinguishes them from macro American lager. A stout and a wheat beer are contemplated additions to the Surgenor lineup. For the latter, Simpson is thinking of using local wild blackberries and grape must.

Bob Surgenor standing in front of his brewery beer cooler at the brewerys soft launch, March 21, 2009.

Bob Surgenor standing in front of his brewery beer cooler at the brewery's soft launch, March 21, 2009.

Surgenor will be the first BC brewery to utilize Exal aluminum bottles. These were chosen because of their unique design, light weight for reducing shipping costs, opaqueness to provide protection from sunlight, low energy requirements for recycling, ease of chilling, and safe portability as use of glass outdoors and in various facilities becomes increasingly proscribed.

Currently, the brewery is shipping its beer in kegs. Early customers include The Old House Restaurant, The Pier Pub & Bistro, and the officers’ mess of 19 Wing, CFB Comox. Packaged product in open six packs is expected to ship in four weeks. Red House Ale and Steam Donkey Lager already have LDB listings.

In the meantime, feel free to stop by the brewery for a tour and tastings. The tap room wasn’t yet hooked up to pour beer when I visited, but that should be taken care of soon. If you are interested in carrying Surgenor Brewing beer, contact:

Bob Jeffery
Sales Representative
bob.jeffery[at]surgenorbrewing[dot]ca
Tel: (250) 339-9947
Cell: (250) 898-7862
861 Shamrock Place
Comox, BC V9M 4G4

See Flickr for more photos…

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Craft Beer Comes to Comox

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With forestry having played a large role in the economy of Vancouver Island, it’s not surprising that as the industry took a nose dive, many people found themselves facing the prospect of unemployment. Bob Surgenor was one of those people. He depended on the forest industry for much of the work that engaged his Comox-based industrial electrical company. Not wanting to lay his employees off, he decided to start a brewery to keep them working. Last month, after a number of delays, they began shipping beer.

Not a brewer himself, Surgenor has hired Douglas Rae as his brewmaster. Rae began his brewing career at Granville Island in 1984, before moving on to stints at Labatt and Molson. He’s starting off with two beers — Red House Irish Red ale and Steam Donkey Lager — to ween the “Lucky Lager crowd” from macro lager onto craft beer. A stout and a wheat ale are next in line.

Surgenor is concentrating on developing the nothern Vancouver Island market over the next nine months, followed by the south Island, before expanding province-wide. The brewery will host a soft-opening celebration on March 21. The grand opening is planned for some time in July.