Forbidden Brewing Company granted temporary relief from forfeiture

Two weeks after being issued termination notices, the Forbidden Brewing Company (FBC) is back in business.

A temporary court ruling in Vancouver on Feb. 22 granted relief from forfeiture to the Courtenay-based nano-brewery and that access to its premises be returned immediately.

The beer was flowing on Thursday night for the first time in two weeks as the brewery’s staff and patrons celebrated the judge’s decision.

“It feels great to be back in business,” said FBC owner Michael Vincent.

The FBC had been issued a notice of termination on Feb. 8 over failure to pay just under $2,000 in hydro bills between October and December 2017.

Read More: Forbidden Brewing Company evicted over bitter lease dispute

The brewery and its landlord — the Best Western Westerly Hotel — have disagreed on the amount of additional rent owed and other aspects of the FBC’s lease agreement since 2016.

The two sides have already been to court over some of the issues cited in the Feb. 8 termination notices. In September 2017, the Supreme Court of B.C. ruled in favour of the FBC being allowed to stay at the hotel as a tenant.

The court’s 2017 ruling did find that the brewery owes the hotel money, but that the exact amount was unclear. The two sides are awaiting an appointment with the B.C. Registrar’s Office to determine the amount of owing.

Rick Browning, the manager of the Westerly Hotel, said the judge’s decision on Thursday is only a temporary measure and that the parties are awaiting another court date.

“The judge ruled that he did not want to deal with the numerous default issues,” said Browning. “He only wanted to deal with the non-payment of rent. He found that if the tenant paid the rental rears, that he would give notice that the tenant should take possession of the space, which he did yesterday afternoon.”

“It’s an interim solution, I guess, is how you’d describe it.”

Browning said the FBC is currently late on payments for January and February this year and that the hotel would supply the brewery with another default notice on Feb. 23.

“If he doesn’t cure that default within the next 30 days, the bailiff will issue another termination notice,” he said. “It should be duly noted that the judge instructed the tenant to keep paying the rent on time.”

The Forbidden Brewing Company opened in 2015 and has occupied the space at the Westerly Hotel since July 2014.

Disagreements between the hotel and the brewery arose in 2016 when the brewery applied to renew its lease. Hotel management cited a series of breaches of the brewery’s lease agreement, including non-payment of hydro, offering live music, operating exterior signage without prior approval, and not providing customers with designated parking stalls.

Browning also mentioned hotel customer reviews that complained about the noise and odours associated with the brewery.

The FBC’s lease runs until September 2019, with options for renewal until 2024.

Spoiled beer

Also at issue is 2,000 litres of beer that the FBC now claims is ruined due to the recent lockout.

When the bailiff locked the doors on Feb. 8, the power was turned off and the locks were changed.

Vincent claimed $20,000-worth of beer (retail value) was fermenting when the bailiff shut off the power. Though electricity was restored later that day, the brewery staff were locked out of the building, leading to the beer’s spoilage.

Vincent said the brewery will be seeking damages for the spoiled beer.

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