Spinnakers is crafting plans for more brewing capacity as the industry becomes more challenging.
“It’s a big shift,” said Paul Hadfield, owner of Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub and Guesthouses at 308 Catherine St.
“We made a decision 18 months ago that we needed to be selling more beer off premises because the industry is more and more difficult as time goes on.”
Hadfield plans to maximize capacity at the current site of Spinnaker’s and indicated he is studying the option of building a new brewery, but did not disclose details about financing or a potential site.
The economic downturn, B.C.’s harmonized sales tax and changes in drinking habits have all contributed to making it more difficult to succeed in the brewing sector, he said.
As a result, Spinnakers has “become more production and distribution-oriented than we ever had been,” Hadfield said.
The change in business focus dovetails with an expanding market, he said. “There’s this huge interest in craft beer in B.C.”
More breweries are opening and more beer styles are being created, Hadfield said.
The goal now is to be able to meet demand from buyers. New equipment is expected to be installed before summer, he said.
Spinnakers has spent the past year focusing on selling more beer outside of its Catherine Street location. The 29-year-old company, which is Canada’s oldest cottage brewery, has two retail stores in James Bay and Vic West. It also operates its flagship pub and guesthouses.
This year, Hadfield expects to produce 2,500 hectolitres (one hectolitre equals 100 litres), compared with a baseline production of 1,500 hectolitres.
Hadfield figures production could reach 3,200 to 3,500 hectolitres in the current location. Even so, he’s expecting in 18 to 24 months that it will be time to build a new brewery with more capacity.
Larger fermentation tanks of 15 hectolitres could fit into the existing brewery, replacing eight hectolitre tanks, Hadfield said. More conditioning tank capacity is also needed.
The bottle-filler and bottle-labeller are also being upgraded.
Increased efficiency is a key part of new plans, he said.
Hadfield’s counting on Spinnakers arrival at Victoria International Airport to increase its profile. Compass Group Canada will be running a Spinnakers brewpub in 1,400 square feet in the lower departure lounge this summer.
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