A popular brewery in the Lower Mainland is coming to Lake Country in a big way.
Britannia Brewing opened its doors in Steveston in 2016 and expanded to Ladner in 2021. Now, the brewery is making their biggest move yet. Not only will their new Lake Country location be the Okanagan’s newest brewery, but it will also be Britannia’s newest manufacturing location.
“As the business was growing, we realized we had to scale our manufacturing and production,” said Britannia co-owner Lloyd Kinney. “We wanted to identify a location that would allow us to both manufacture and have a retail as well as a tasting room option. Doing that in the Lower Mainland wasn’t the most feasible way of growing the business so we identified the Okanagan.”
Kinney moved up to the Okanagan five years ago and fell in love with the area, driving him to bring a location up to Lake Country. During these last five years, he’s been commuting back and forth between the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland to support Britannia’s two other locations.
The Britannia co-owner also works in the construction industry and when he found out the business that was taking over this Lake Country location was having troubles, him and his team had to jump at the opportunity.
“We were hired out to build an extraction facility and at the time, there were a lot of cannabis businesses in the neighbourhood but as it fell through, we took the opportunity to buy the land,” said Kinney.
Even since, Kinney and Britannia Operations Manager Justin Fowler have been working on bringing the brewery to town.
“Overall, I think it’s been a good process and we’re really excited to be over the hump and we’re on the back side of things now which is exciting,” said Fowler. “We’re starting to get to do the fun things now like outfitting the brewery, tasting room, and more.”
Britannia Brewing is aiming to open sometime this summer as Kinney and Fowler put together the finishing touches.
Fowler also explained that this project started before the pandemic but like many businesses, have had to deal with pandemic-related delays and inflated material costs over the last few years.
Despite what they’ve had to deal with, Kinney thinks it’s pretty incredible that they’re getting close to opening.
“Being in the construction business and having worked on a number of brewery and restaurant fit outs, as far as I’m concerned in the last 12 months, to erect a 10,000 square foot building and be at the finishing stages is not far off of a small miracle,” said Kinney.
With being a building of its size, Britannia also has a large outdoor space as well.
“The place is going to be the primary manufacturing facility for Britannia Brewing,” said Kinney. “It will also be a tasting room with a full kitchen and large bar as well as an outdoor patio and picnic arena.”
Because this new location is their primary production location, award-winning head brewer Mike Nicholson is making the move up to the Okanagan as well. Also while some breweries are beer-centric, Britannia is also very food-centric, having won best restaurant in Richmond multiple times.
Britannia Brewing will be located at 8999 Jim Bailey Road, which is just a small walk away from the Okanagan Rail Trail, which is something exciting for Fowler, who was born and raised in Kelowna.
“We’re really excited to be so close to the [Okanagan] Rail Trail, we think it’s a great way to access a brewery and not have to drive,” said Fowler. ‘It’s a great access point for families and bring us back to our ‘by the water’ roots. Maybe we’re not right by the water like Steveston or Ladner but there’s quick access to Kalamalka and Okanagan Lake, Wood Lake, Duck Lake, we’re excited to keep a bit that nautical feel here.”
While right now the Rail Trail isn’t fully continuous, the nearly seven kilometre stretch between Kelowna and Lake Country is set to be approved to open soon, connecting the entire path.
“We’re literally the perfect place to stop halfway in between on that journey,” said Kinney, referring to the Rail Trail.
Britannia will also have a section outside for people to charge their electric bicycles (e-bikes) and are currently working to have rentable e-bikes on site as well. On top of that, there’s many parking spots for vehicles for people who want to drive on down.
For both Kinney and Fowler, the history of Jim Bailey Road makes their new location even more meaningful to them.
“I think it’s really cool that not only ourselves but other similar style businesses are starting to come and develop this area,” said Kinney. “It’s something we learned when we got here.”
Beside Britannia and off of Jim Bailey Road is Hiram Walker Court, who created Canadian Club Whiskey. His first location in Western Canada was at this same spot.
“It’s exciting to keep the area in the realm of brewing and distilling,” said Fowler.
With the history of the area, the history of Britannia, and the importance of staying local, Kinney and Fowler are doing everything they can to bring their Lower Mainland product to the Okanagan and localizing it as much as possible.
“Moving from the Lower Mainland to the Interior wasn’t an easy decision but we do understand craft beer and the mechanics and the importance of having a hyper-local representation,” said Kinney. “We’re definitely going to be seeding our roots here, this is home base for Britannia and we’ll still have focus on all our local communities we service.”