Craft beer fans in the Comox Valley will receive an early Christmas present this year, as Gladstone Brewing Company plans to increase its production capacity by 40 per cent.
The Courtenay-based microbrewery has invested in a new “brite tank” and two new 30-barrel fermenters. The additions will bring the brewery’s production up from the 1,550 hectolitres of beer it produced in 2017.
The new infrastructure is expected to be installed after Dec. 22.
A brite tank is a vessel in which beer is stored once the primary fermentation and filtering process is complete. The tank allows beer to further mature, clarify and carbonate, as well as be stored for kegging, bottling, canning, and packaging.
Gladstone co-owner Daniel Sharratt said the reason for the investment is that the microbrewery has struggled at times to make enough beer to meet customer demand, particularly in the summer.
“At the end of the summer we decided it was time to take the plunge and increase our capacity so hopefully next summer we won’t run out of beer again,” he said.
The struggle to produce enough beer is not a new one for the microbrewery. When Gladstone first opened in January 2015, the brewery ran out of beer in its first week.
According to Sharratt, the brewery’s popular beers can sometimes be tapped out in two weeks. With some of Gladstone’s brews taking up to eight weeks to produce, it can be out of a specific kind of beer for as long as a month.
Sharratt acknowledges that it’s a good problem to have.
“Within a week of opening, we ran completely out of beer,” he said. “And then our new beer came out and we ran out again. So we had to get new tanks then, and now we don’t run out of beer completely, but we run out of styles that we’d like to have all the time, but we can’t make them quickly enough.”
The investment will help Gladstone expand its market for its packaged beers, which are currently only sold at liquor stores in the Comox Valley.
“We’d like some of it to move to Campbell River and down to Parksville,” said Sharratt.
Sharratt declined to say how much the brewery spent on the new infrastructure.
Gladstone Brewing Company is located at 244 Fourth Street in downtown Courtenay. The microbrewery focuses on producing Belgian ales, European lagers, and Pacific Northwest style India pale ales.