“It’s a marathon. It’s a roller coaster of ‘Wow! We made so much progress today,’ and ‘Wow, we made no progress today.’ But it’s going very well. We’re kind of right on track.” That was Tim Vandergrift, Director of Marketing for Fraser Mills Fermentation Company, a brewery that’s slated to open later this fall. And while the brewery is new, the business isn’t.
Beyond the Grape was originally a wine on premise, before getting into homebrewing supplies about five years ago, a good move at the time. “About 40% of all the wine on premise stores in British Columbia have closed since then, and homebrew supply shops are pretty much thriving,” pointed out Vandergrift.
But after that, rent started exploding in the lower Mainland and it came to a point where the lease on Beyond the Grape became too high to support the business model of a wine on premise. “So [Michael Druce, principal at Beyond the Grape], along with me and four other guys, got together, and wanted to realise our dream of having a craft brewery, because we’re all craft beer enthusiasts.” And that’s how Fraser Mills Fermentation Co. was born.
The interesting thing about Fraser Mills Fermentation Co. is that they’re planning to be brewing beer as well as making wine, cider and mead. “On our team, we have people who are skilled wine makers, skilled cider makers, and award winning mead makers. Since you have to have a winery license to produce cider in British Columbia, we thought we’d make wine as well. And the mead a natural expansion of that. We think that as a model, having something for people who aren’t craft enthusiast, is going to be really good. You’ve gone out with friends, and someone, they just don’t care for beer. Nothing wrong. Just nothing for them in a craft brewery tap room. We’re serious about being inclusive.”
The team is joined by head brewer Kristy Tattrie who is a graduate of KPU. “She was a brewer at Yellow Dog, here in Port Moody. And most recently, she’s been brewing at Molson Coors in Vancouver. So not only does she have the KPU diploma, which is awesome, but also experience in a craft brewery in Port Moody, and a high paced brewing environment at Molson Coors,” enthuses Vandergrift.
The crossover into the brewing business was a natural one. “Homebrewers comprise the majority of people who wind up craft breweries. It’s kind of where the eggs come from…homebrewers who one day say, ‘Wow. I should make this and sell it.’ That’s why it’s natural to have the homebrew supply in here.” With the homebrew supply store still running, they plan on encouraging the hobby of brewing as well. “One of the features of our brewery is going to be ‘Did you like that beer you just had? Go over to the homebrew shop and we will give you the recipe, the mash schedule, the hop schedule, and everything you need to replicate it at home.’ I mean, haven’t you ever wanted that? You taste a really great recipe, and you go, ‘I wish I could get that recipe!’ We don’t think that craft brewing supports the idea of copyrighting a recipe or being greedy and stingy with your ideas. It’s about sharing. And if someone wants to go and make our beer, we love ‘em! You go! The secret truth of being a homebrewer is, you don’t spend less money on beer. You actually spend the same amount of money, or more, if you make it as well!”
CHA members receive 10% off all ingredients in the homebrew supply store.
Fraser Mills Fermentation Co.
3044 Saint Johns Street
Port Moody, BC
The Canadian Homebrewers Association is a non-profit dedicated to promoting and advancing the hobby of homebrewing in Canada. Established in 2018, it currently has more than 330 members across most of Canada's provinces and territories.