B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Surgenor Brewing

The Business of Craft Beer

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BCB Business of Craft Beer EventAccording to Jan Zeschky’s reckoning, there will be 22 new craft breweries opening in British Columbia this year — that is, 22 he is aware of. This will bring the total number of BC craft breweries and brewpubs to 85.

So if we assume, on average, that each brewery will produce six beers annually (four core, two seasonals), that amounts to 510 BC craft beers. That is equal in number to 84% of all beers currently sold in the 197 BC government liquor stores, only you won’t find even close to that number of local craft beers actually sold there.

This makes for an increasingly competitive landscape, putting more pressure on startups to have a solid business plan. Read the rest of this entry »


Moving Mountains

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Sometimes, changing a culture feels like trying to move a mountain. You put all your strength into it and it doesn’t budge. Of course, being that lone wacko on the fringe is like battling windmills with a toothbrush, you can easily be dismissed. Having acquaintances with earth moving equipment, though, begins to lessen the odds.

Fun at the Fest-of-Ale

Modelling beerwear at the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale, Penticton - April 4, 2009.

In BC’s craft beer scene, we witnessed a slight tremor in the mountain in 2009. Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub inaugurated their first cask ale festival on March 14, which quickly sold out. They followed with another fest on November 21. Both days of Penticton’s Okanagan Fest-of-Ale on April 3 & 4 were completely subscribed. Summer Caskival at Dix Barbecue and Brewery in Vancouver garnered a full house. The Great Canadian Beer Festival always sees full attendance on both days. CAMRA Vancouver’s Oktoberfest celebration at the Granville Island Tap Room sold out. X-mas X-treme at Dix on December 5 had to close its doors less than two hours into the event because of reaching capacity. Now we find that the third annual Feast of Five Firkins at Vancouver’s The Whip Restaurant & Gallery sold out in a day!

This can be a bit of a problem for CAMRA members and their circle who have supported many of these events from the beginning. Venues are at capacity when you visit, or events are sold out with even a day’s delay. What’s a poor beer aficionado to do? Well, it indicates an expansion of capacity is necessary. Events may have to grow or become more frequent. More establishments will have to be persuaded to part with their slavish 10 taps of crap and begin offering a rotating selection from other parts of the beer spectrum. Pioneers have to venture out to tame the frontier, bringing living colour to the glasses of macro-lagerdom.

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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
Tel: (250) 339-9947
Cell: (250) 898-7862
861 Shamrock Place
Comox, BC V9M 4G4

See Flickr for more photos…