Though the equipment that will fill Invermere’s new brewery is still under construction, the four friends behind Arrowhead Brewing Co. are already in the lab, crafting the Columbia Valley’s addition to the microbrew craze.
Earlier this month, Shawn Tegart and Jared Babich headed to Calgary to meet up with consultant Larry Kerwin — a brewmaster with positions at Molson, Big Rock, Okanagan Springs and Sleemans on his resume. Together, they’ve begun drafting the recipe for Arrowhead’s first offering, which could be pouring from taps around the valley as early as May.
“The checklist of what has to be done is getting smaller and smaller,” says Leanne Tegart, Shawn’s wife and another Arrowhead business partner (Michelle Babich, Jared’s partner, is the fourth). “We’re still trying to hit that deadline of May long weekend to be on tap, because it’s pretty important to have the summer months where we’re in full production.”
Running a beer company has been a dream of the group for years, but Shaw says what “took it from an idea we talked about over beers to, let’s actually do this now,” was a friend’s introduction to Kerwin and his offer of help.
“He decided to take us under his wing and help us out. It was just perfect timing,” he says. “Running into a guy like Larry who we can learn from and not make those rookie mistakes is key to actually making it work.”
The group has also pinned down a space for Arrowhead across from Kicking Horse Coffee — coincidentally located on Arrow Road.
Once equipment installation is complete, Shawn says the company plans to begin brewing for bars, resorts and restaurants in the area.
“We’re going to start with ales,” he adds.
“We’ll eventually work our way into lagers, but we’ll start with ales and we’ll probably do seasonal (beers) as well. So we’ll probably do something just for the summer, then switch that up again in the winter.”
By the end of the summer, they also hope to add a canning or bottling operation for wider distribution.
“We’d like to reach from Spur Valley to Canal Flats, more or less, right away,” adds Leanne. “Once we can see what our volume is with that, we’d like to then reach out farther towards Golden and towards Cranbrook.”
With the popularity of small, craft breweries and locally sourced food holding strong, Shawn says it’s only natural the valley join the trend.
“People are becoming more educated to what beer is, and people are wanting hand made, to know where their ingredients come from,” he says.
“Each little town could have a brewery, it should. Just like you have fresh bread in your town.”
Leanne, who runs Invermere’s Mercer and Company says she’s already seeing curiosity from the community about the new business (which won’t affect the operation of her current shop).
“Mostly it’s people walking through the door and asking, ‘hey, can I get a beer?'” she says with a laugh.
To learn more about the brewery, email firstname.lastname@example.org or look it up on Facebook under Arrowhead Brewing Company.