The craft beer industry is exploding across the country, with many local companies here in the Kootenay region, including Invermere’s Arrowhead Brewing Company, seeing standout success.
A decade and a half ago, the Kootenay region had just a handful of craft brewing companies, but now virtually ever major municipality in the region has one — if not two or three — and most of these homegrown businesses continued to see rapid growth during the April 2015 to March 2016 financial year, with the B.C. Liquor Control Board’s most recent financial report showing a 36 per cent increase in liquor stores sales for the craft brewing industry in the Kootenay region compared with the April 2014 to March 2015 fiscal year figures.
The total value liquor store sales by all Kootenay craft brewers, according to the report, was more than $9 million — and these figures cover only beer sold through B.C. liquor stores, not the substantial direct retail sales carried out right at the breweries, or the breweries’ wholesale business.
A recent Kooteany Business magazine story covering the topic highlighted four Kootenay breweries with more than $500,000 in liquor store sales, Invermere’s Arrowhead Brewing among them. The report showed the Fernie Brewing Company as tops among Kootenay breweries with $2.9 million in liquor stores sales in the April 2015 to March 2016 fiscal year, up 41 per cent from $2 million in liquor stores sales the previous financial year; followed by Nelson Brewing Company, with $2.8 million in liquor stores sales, up almost six per cent from 2.65 million the previous fiscal year; and Revelstoke-based Mt. Begbie Brewing Company with $2.3 million in liquor stores sales, up more than 12 per cent from $2.1 million during the previous fiscal year.
Arrowhead Brewing Company was fourth among Kootenay breweries, with more than $580,000 in liquor store sales, up 30 per cent from $450,000 the previous fiscal year. Arrowhead owners Shawn and Leanne Tegart were unable to be reached for comment prior to The Echo’s press deadline.
Other Kootenay brewing companies with strong growth that were highlighted in the report included the Rossland Beer Company with $180,000 in liquor store sales (up almost 70 per cent from $110,000 the previous fiscal year); the Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery in Creston with $120,000 in liquor store sales (up 63 per cent from $73,000 the previous year); and Torchlight Brewing in Nelson with $75,000 in liquor store sales (a 33 per cent increase from $56,000 the previous fiscal year).
As Kootenay Business magazine pointed out, the trend could easily continue for the foreseeable future, with new brewers such as Kimberley-based Over Time Beer Works, Golden-based Whitetooth Brewing Co., Cranbrook-based Fisher Peak Brewing Company and a third Nelson beer maker — Backroad Brewing Company — all having started up in recent years, including Trail-based Columbia Gardens, Fruitvale-base SOAHC Estate Wines and Wynndel-based Wynnwood Cellars.