West Kelowna man hopes to start nano-brewery in his garage
Becoming a master brewer and opening a cool craft brew pub is something that doesn’t just happen overnight.
West Kelowna’s Brad Kotnik started brewing his own beer about 14 years ago and, until now, has been sharing it with friends and winning recognition at small competitions.
But, by the May long weekend, he hopes to launch into his first sales of his Last Mountain Brewing Company out of his garage.
Brewing only one barrel of beer per week makes him a nano-brewery, he said.
“We’re only talking about 117 litres per week so there’s not much production there to start with,” Kotnik told iNFOnews.ca. “This is step one in creating that tribe, that customer base and the local presence of West Kelowna and the family history with Last.”
Kotnik lives on Coventry Crescent which borders on Glen Canyon Park. Last Mountain Park is at the end of his street with Last Mountain rising above that (also called Crystal Mountain or now Bull Mountain).
Herbert Last was the postmaster in the area in the early 1900s, he said. That’s where the name comes from.
The brew is something he’s developed over the years and he has finished in second spot in competitions at the South Okanagan branch of the Campaign for Real Ales.
That’s an organization that started in the United Kingdom in 1971 to “have quality real ale, cider and perry and thriving pubs in every community,” it’s website states.
Kotnik has a temporary use permit application that’s going to West Kelowna city council tomorrow, Feb. 9 and has the support of city staff.
While he’s in a residential neighbourhood, his garage backs onto Glen Canyon Regional Park and a city water pumping station.
Initially, he’s planning to make one batch a week and bottling it in 1.89 litre glass growlers.
It will only be sold out of his garage three days per week for only two hours each day or at farmers markets.
This will be a manufacturing-only business with no sampling or bar on site and only the limited sales times.
He has looked at studies out of the U.S. that say having such a facility in a neighbourhood increases nearby property values.
“Having a craft brewery in the neighborhood minimizes people’s need to commute by vehicle to purchase quality craft beer,” he wrote in a letter accompanying his application.
If he can sell all his product to his neighbours, he won’t have to take it to farmers markets.
As he builds his client base, Kotnik hopes to expand to four brews a week so he can sell into liquor stores and ski hills in the region.
“My plan is, once that tribe is created and the buzz and the product and the story all matches, then to go commercial, to go big, to go substantially larger,” Kotnik said.
That, obviously, would mean expanding beyond his garage. The temporary use permit is for three years.
His plans are to start off the May long weekend with a pale ale, an India pale ale, a chocolate milk stout and a seasonal beer.
Once permits are all in place he’ll be launching his web site along with Facebook and Instagram pages.
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