Craft Brewing and Distilling

Craft breweries and distilleries are becoming increasingly more popular in British Columbia and Hope is an untapped market.  With some of the best tasting and cleanest water in British Columbia, a business-friendly local government, a growing demographic of people aged 25-50, and easy access to markets, we think the time is ripe to bring your bottling dreams to Hope, Cascades & Canyons.

Craft Gin

The number of craft distilleries in British Columbia has more than doubled to twenty-five in the last five years.  The majority of the distilleries are in Vancouver, the Okanagan, and on Vancouver Island.  These regions are particularly popular given their proximity to markets and the availability of local botanicals – both integral to the success of a craft gin production.

Gin is a popular spirit to commercially produce given its fast bottling time (gin – unlike whiskey – does not require aging; therefore, it is less expensive to produce and can get to market in months rather than years) and its profitability (due in large part to the price of ingredients and the speed at which it can get to market).

Gin’s popularity in BC is due in part to the 100-Mile Diet.  As such, sourcing local ingredients is key to the success of craft distilleries.  Hope is well-placed for sourcing local botanicals given in-town producers and our proximity to the Fraser Valley, Fraser Canyon, and Similkameen Valley.

Craft Brewery

A microbrewery has traditionally been defined as a brewery that produces less than 1800 000 litres annually.  The term ‘craft brewery’ is not entirely consistent, but is typically defined as independent and relatively small.  For this reason, craft and micro are often used interchangeably.  Hope is better suited for a microbrewery rather than a large-scale corporate brewery.

The majority of craft breweries in British Columbia are located in the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region which speaks to our region having excellent access to market and ingredients.

Like the beer they make, the needs of each brewery are unique.  As such, it is important to meet with the District of Hope Planning Department early in the process to ensure that your site is eligible and that you understand all municipal and provincial permits required to get started.

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Process 101

Before you start bottling in Hope, there are a number of steps to address.  This section is meant to provide an overview of the first steps to take.  Given the unique needs of breweries and distilleries it can be difficult to provide a checklist that works for all potential operations.

  1. Explore potential sites in the community and familiarize yourself with the current zoning using the Site Selection Tool.
  2. Schedule a preliminary layout review (PLR) once a potential site has been selected
    1. PLR is a meeting with the District Planning and Community Development Department and will help you identify any significant site issues, challenges, and/or potential development costs associated with the project
    2. A PLR helps you address issues before filing for a development application or building permit
    3. It allows the District to understand exactly what you need for your operation and helps them accommodate and address the public utilities aspect (such as costs concerning community water and sanitary sewage disposal)
    4. A PLR also helps identify development issues specific to the type (scale) and location of the proposed brewery/distillery
  3. Possible rezoning
    1. A micro-brewery or distillery in Hope would be considered a light industrial use.  A rezoning application would be required to permit such a use in Downtown Hope.  A proponent would need to apply to rezone a parcel to Light/Service Industrial (I-2).
    2. The Light/Service Industrial (I-2) Zone covers the primary brewery aspect as “beverage bottling and distribution” and “industrial operation involved in processing, fabricating, assembling, storing, transporting, distributing, testing, servicing, repairing, wholesaling or warehousing of goods, materials, and things.”

More information on zoning and the rezoning process can be discussed during the PLR or can be found online here.

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Clean Water Use

In 2016, Hope won the Best of the Best Tap Water Challenge, hosted by the BC Waste and Water Association (BCWWA).  That means it tastes great and there is no chlorine to filter out before using.

Commercial water use in British Columbia comes under the jurisdiction of the provincial government, by way of the Water Sustainability Act (updated February 2016).  Non-domestic users of groundwater are required to apply for a water license and pay an application fee and annual water rentals.

Information on eligibility and how to apply can be found through FrontCounter BC.  To estimate the cost of the application and annual water rental, check out the government’s Water Rent and Application Fee Estimator.

Wastewater

Proper wastewater management is integral to both distilling and brewing.  Our Planning and Public Works Departments are here to help you navigate the necessary regulations.

Microbreweries will need to plan for any possible wastewater issues, such as installing testing equipment or containment tanks to screen the effluent before it goes to a community sewage treatment plant or disposal facility.

In order to understand the basics of wastewater production and management for a craft brewery, we suggest you check out Wastewater Basics for a Growing Craft Brewery by John Mercer.  Mercer has over 15 years experience in managing wastewater and this article will help you understand the challenges (and solutions) in wastewater treatment and help you speak the language of wastewater treatment operators.

The District of Hope’s Pollution Control Centre (PCC) is the central wastewater treatment facility.  It is an aerobic system that relies on a certain bacteria count and biomass to break down organic material.  If water is pushed through the system rapidly from a commercial operation, then the system dilutes and becomes inefficient.  This means that the wastewater discharge into the Fraser River will contain more waste than required by the Province.  This is monitored daily.

The PCC is slated for upgrades in 2017.