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Driftwood Brewery moves operations to Esquimalt, opens tasting lounge, distillery

Driftwood Brewery is under one roof in Esquimalt. Finally. The craft brewer had been splitting its brewing and bottling operations on either side of the Bay Street bridge for more than four years.
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"We're hearing from people that Esquimalt really needs a place like this for locals, especially since the closure of Gorge Point Pub," says Driftwood Brewery's Gary Lindsay. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Driftwood Brewery is under one roof in Esquimalt. Finally.

The craft brewer had been splitting its brewing and bottling operations on either side of the Bay Street bridge for more than four years.

This month, Driftwood is not only producing and ­packaging its popular beers in a 59,000-square-foot space at 836 Viewfield Road, but ­adding a new retail outlet, a 60-seat patio and 60-seat tasting lounge, commercial kitchen and spirits distillery.

The lounge, which opened ­Friday, features the fare of locally owned Dumpling Drop.

The distillery has started making gin that is expected to be available in bottles soon, with decisions still being made on packaging designs, said Gary Lindsay, a partner with Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum in Driftwood Brewing.

“It’s been a heck of a road to get here,” Lindsay said. “We’re hearing from people that Esquimalt really needs a place like this for locals, especially since the closure of Gorge Point Pub.”

Driftwood beer and spirits from the newly commissioned distillery will be available in the lounge. Wine, beer, ciders and spirits from other producers will also be on the menu.

Lindsay said the company — which has 50 employees — has been planning an expansion and consolidation of its operations for the past four years.

Now, 13 years — plus a month — since they rolled the first kegs out the door of the original brewery in Rock Bay, “plans have come to fruition,” said Lindsay.

Driftwood started brewing at its former Rock Bay ­location in the fall of 2008. Since then, it had been expanding into adjoining spaces at its original ­brewery location.

Driftwood was also leasing additional space in Esquimalt to warehouse and distribute finished product while adding a dedicated 20,000-square-foot packaging space in part of the former Wilson Foods warehouse on Viewfield Road.

For the past two and a half years, Driftwood has been using a tanker truck to move its beer across the Bay Street bridge to can and bottle at the Viewfield location. The beer tanker made its last trip in February, when the brewery completed its move into the remaining space at the packaging facility.

In addition to the ­consolidation of operations, Lindsay said modern offices with meeting rooms and dedicated staff spaces are included in the renovation of the former food-storage complex.

“Careful consideration has gone into the design and ­construction of the operation for future growth and new ­opportunities,” said Lindsay.

The lounge will be open noon and 9 p.m. daily.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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