Comox Valley winemakers diversifying into beer

Beaufort Winery owners Jeff and Susan Vandermolen are preparing to launch another business.

JEFF AND SUSAN Vandermolen

JEFF AND SUSAN Vandermolen

Something is brewing in the Comox Valley.

Beaufort Winery owners Jeff and Susan Vandermolen are preparing to launch another business, and this time they’ve set their sights on brewing beer.

“We’re excited and we want to bring this to the Valley, and from what I’ve heard, there’s a lot of thirsty beer drinkers out there that would welcome it,” Jeff says of the couple’s planned micro-brewery.

“Clearly there isn’t one (in the Comox Valley) and…I think we really need to catch up with our peers to the south in Nanaimo, and Campbell River, and have a micro-brewery here.”

The Vandermolens are busy putting a business plan together for the new venture, and unlike Beaufort Winery, they will look for investors for their company, called Comox Glacier Brewing Ltd. A number of local businesspeople have already shown interest, adds Jeff, who is still deciding on a location for the brewery, which will be a completely separate entity from Beaufort.

“We’re fielding some inquiries from a number of different people and we’re going to pick the best location, so it’s still up in the air at this moment,” continues Jeff. “But, ideally, it’s going to be somewhere where people have easy access so they can come in and buy the product without having to drive too far.”

The couple plans to use barley, wheat and hops to craft Weiss beer, which Jeff describes as summer beer that is “nice and light and lovely.”

He adds if everything goes as planned, the micro-brewery could be up and running within a year.

“I’d like to have it up and running by the third quarter of 2014 — that’s realistic I think,” he says. It’s easy to get equipment and it’s just a matter of pulling the key people together. We would definitely bring in a brewmaster that has a lot of credibility and experience and so, we’ve got to find the right team and, if we get that all in place, it could happen even sooner.”

The Vandermolens will likely try growing some hops in test plots, but Jeff says due to the capital investment needed for equipment to grow barley and wheat they won’t be growing those crops any time soon. However, he notes all ingredients they buy will be sourced as locally as possible, and if they can source ingredients like wheat and barley from farmers right in the Comox Valley, they’d be interested in doing so.

But, “there’s another element to barley, which means, basically it has to be malted before it’s turned into beer and I think the nearest malting facility is in the Interior, so I think there’s some infrastructure that would have to be put in place for that to happen,” he continues.

“But, you know what, there’s a growing number of micro-breweries on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, and who knows, there’s the possibility that if you’ve got enough critical mass you can get one of those facilities put in here. We’ll just have to put a little pressure on our local MLA.”

Jeff says the micro-brewery could expand at some point, but he and Susan plan to start very small, and focus on their product, just like they did when they started Beaufort Winery in 2006, which has been successful.

“I think we can leverage our success from Beaufort and, really, I think we have the potential to do with beer what we did with wine, which is really create a world-class product that’s handcrafted right here in the Comox Valley,” says Jeff, noting they are already busy with Beaufort, but are confident they can make a successful micro-brewery in the Valley.

“Our plate is really full with the winery quite frankly, but they say if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. So we’ve going to instigate this and take it as far as we can and then, ideally, we can do a handoff to somebody else, but I think the key is to get it going and get people excited, and so far so good.”

For more information, check out Comox Glacier Brewing Ltd. on Facebook.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One of the rescues at CATS - Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society’s new location on Knight Road in Comox. Photo by Erin Halushak
Feline rescue organization growing into new space

Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society opens new facility on Knight Road

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Neighbours have reached out to media on several occasions with complaints about the property

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Tentative COVID-19 vaccine site chosen in the Comox Valley

B.C. is moving into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 mass immunization plan

Cumberland is considering downtown densification proposals, and with that comes questions around parking, among other things. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Water bottling ban, parking key changes for Cumberland zoning

Bylaw on amendments still need adoption following March 2 hearing

Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. LUSH Valley was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Photo by Bill Jorgensen
LUSH Valley recognized for collaboration with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market

They won Partner of the Year award by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

VIDEO: Courtenay Nissan hosting YANA fundraiser

Courtenay Nissan is hosting a special YANA fundraiser all weekend long, from… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

The Courtenay Fire Department hopes to start a new recruit training program in mid-2021, pending Provincial Health Orders. Scott Stanfield photo
Courtenay Fire Department gets creative

Due to public health orders resulting from COVID, the Courtenay Fire Department… Continue reading

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read