Skip to content

Townsite Brewing receives lounge licence

Brewery begins serving full pints after lengthy wait for approval
townsite brewing
TOWNSITE LOUNGE: Staff at Townsite Brewing, including tasting room associate Heidi McBride, are celebrating the approval of a lounge licence to serve full pints of beer at the brewery. Contributed photo

It was long time coming, but Townsite Brewing now officially has a lounge licence for its tasting room.

Almost a year in the making, the 10-seat licence allows brewery staff to serve full pints of beer to its customers.

Brewery staff recently received word from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) that its application had been approved and began serving under its new regulations on Thursday, July 21.

Although Townsite Brewing general manager Chloe Smith said she never doubted the application would be approved, she was surprised by the length of time the process took. LCLB received the brewery’s application in November 2015.

“We started talking about doing this last August, so we are very pleased,” said Smith. “We can now offer our customers what they are coming into the brewery looking for. The expansion of tasting rooms at other breweries, especially in the Lower Mainland, has created an expectation, so this alleviates a lot of stress for our staff because we can now serve our customers.”

Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Powell River branch president Paddy Treavor said he is “thrilled” for the brewery and that the lounge-licence approval is also great news for the craft-beer group, now more than 120 members strong in the Powell River area.

“It’s fantastic, not just for Townsite Brewing, but for the whole Townsite area, and for Powell River,” said Treavor. “This will put Powell River’s name on the map even more and that will have a great economic spinoff on the rest of the area.”

Powell River Tourism executive director Paul Kamon said BC’s 2013 updates to liquor legislation has helped strengthen the craft-beer industry, which is a strong trip motivator for many tourists to the area.

“Townsite Brewing has done a great job promoting our region already in their product marketing,” said Kamon, “but now they can offer the complete experience with this licence right on site.”

The licence endorsement will also tie in well with the BC-wide Ale Trail campaign, a new initiative Kamon is working on, funded by Destination BC to promote craft beer throughout the province.

“[The Ale Trail] will help provide a real boost to the regional tourism economy and the breweries themselves, which are all typically small independent businesses that keep the money circulating in their respective communities,” said Kamon.

Treavor said he has already noticed tourists in the area on the Ale Trail. “I’m meeting tourists more and more who are on it, going from tasting room to tasting room up and down the West Coast,” said Treavor. “When you go into a brewery lounge, it’s not just about the beer, it’s about the experience. Each tasting room is unique and reflects the brewery itself.”

Townsite Brewing’s lounge application was sped along in March when City of Powell River council recommended to LCLB that the licence be approved and chose to opt out of the public-information process.

“This is great news,” said city councillor Karen Skadsheim, a founder of the brewery who left the business in summer 2014. “It’s another step in the Townsite revitalization.”

Smith said the brewery doesn’t have immediate plans to expand its tasting room, but will now offer food service, a stipulation of the lounge licence.

Its previous licence allowed the brewery to stay open until midnight if necessary, but its current hours have it closing at 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 8 pm all other days, with the option to stay open later for special events.

Other than upgrades to its bathrooms to make them more accessible, the most significant change is the amount of beer staff can serve customers, as well as the option to serve other products such as cider. Previously, the brewery could only serve taster sizes of its own beer.

Treavor said local craft-beer enthusiasts are excited about the news and the lounge style is more suited to experiencing all the brewery has to offer.

“It’s a place where we can go as craft-beer consumers and drink fresh craft beer,” said Treavor. “They know the beer, they create the beer, they are passionate about the beer, and there’s nothing quite like going to the actual brewery to drink its beer.”