It’s not official quite yet.
They’ve applied for the necessary licences, got all of the equipment and provided their plans to the liquor board to open a brewery and distillery in the Hudson District.
Now it’s a wait and see game for Yates Street Taphouse owners Dan Lau and Grant Turner, who are finally putting their long-time plan of opening a brewpub into action.
“It’s exciting, it’s daunting and it’s a little bit scary,” said Turner about the new business venture. “You can always blame the brewery in the taphouse if you get a foamy or flat keg, but when it’s you doing the work, you better provide a good product because there’s nobody to pass the buck onto.”
The Yates Street Taphouse currently offers 40 different types of draft beer on 12 taps that are rotated every six weeks, but Lau and Turner always wanted to have their own products flowing through the taps some day.
Many years ago, they hatched a plan to make that happen, and have been keeping a close eye on the growing craft beer industry. But they also wanted to have a distillery in order to create other products such as vodka, gin, root beer and tonics.
In 2013, the B.C. government established two categories of distilleries in the province — commercial and craft, paving the way for a distillery boom. A craft designation allows distillers to keep a larger chunk of their sales free of markup by the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch. Since 2012, the number of distilleries in the province has grown from less than 10 to close to 40, with more than a dozen set to open in the future.
According to Turner, the new rules made entry into the game considerably easier, prompting him and Lau to put their plan into action.
The plan calls for 7,000 square feet of space for the business, which also includes retail and a pub. The 10 hectolitre brewing facility would amount to about 2,200 square feet, with vodka, gin and moonshine first on the list of products, before advancing to bourbon and whisky.
With the help of craft beer legend Paul Hoyne to set up the facility, close to 8,000 kegs of beer are expected to be produced each year. And as their expertise in the industry grows, Turner and Lau want to invite other local brewers to create their own signature batch.
“It’s that artisan village approach. You control all aspects of your product. You can do a lot of signature things,” said Turner, noting it’ll be the first distillery downtown and can only use B.C. products. “You’ll get a sense of what it means to be a B.C. brand. It’ll become a tourist attraction.”
The plan still needs approval from the city in order to proceed and is slated to go through the rezoning process within the next 30 days. If all goes well, construction would begin in July and the facility would open in early 2018.
Once the entire Hudson District is complete, it will include five buildings with close to 2,000 residents living in 900 units.