Summerland finally has local craft beer! Detonate Brewing, owned and operated by Nathan Rosier, had their Grand Opening on February 4th. I dropped by and the place was jam-packed (This actually isn’t too hard to do considering it is a fairly small space). While I was there people were in and out filling growlers and getting flights. Clearly I’m not the only local happy to welcome Detonate to town! I tried a tasting flight of the Call the Hops IPA, Pale Ale and IPA, and found them all to be well executed and balanced.
I came back the following weekend to check in with Nathan after he closed up shop for the day. The hours are currently Friday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. He says business has been steady since he opened, and he is pleased at the turn out so far. This is pretty impressive given that it is February, which is a slow month in the Okanagan, plus the brewery is tucked away in Summerland’s sleepy industrial area. Clearly there is a thirst for craft beer in the area, and as far as I’m aware there hasn’t been much marketing aside from Facebook posts, so word is travelling fast. As well some members of the other breweries in the area have dropped by to check out the place and offer their support. He already needs to order some new growlers, as they have been flying off the shelves. He is more worried now about keeping up with demand, rather than having difficulty moving product!
Nathan lives with his wife and two children in West Kelowna, and works full time in Kelowna as a civil engineer. The price for space was prohibitively expensive in the Central Okanagan, which led him to Summerland: close enough to commute and far away enough to be affordable. He had his start as a home brewer in college, and started thinking about doing it on a professional level about 5 years ago. He had been collecting bits and pieces for a brewery for a while, and eventually reached a point where he either had to get serious, or get rid of the collection. DIY appears to be a guiding principle to the construction of the brewery – Nathan has been able to source many items used or re-purposed. 2 Former milk tanks and a dairy chiller were quite easily repurposed into a fermentor, hot liquor tank and a mash-tun. Nathan chuckled telling me “I nearly died getting my cooler off Craigslist”, when a sketchy Craigslist deal in Rutland almost went wrong. He has also invested in a few brand-new items as well, such as his brew kettle made by Ripley Stainless across the street.
Nathan’s had his current space since May, and his engineering background came in handy as he was able to do much of the renovations and set up himself. There is a lot of ingenuitive DIY happening in the space as well, and he shows me around with pride over the hard work he has put into getting the large brewing system running! You can see shades of home brewer throughout, for example, we share the same finicky grain mill (although he does have a new Monster Mill waiting to get set up). Nathan figures that as he settles into his new routine he’ll be more aware of what works and what doesn’t and can be more strategic in adapting the space, but for now he has everything he needs to make beer. The space is certainly limited, and once he starts doing bottled product it will be even more so. He recognizes that the retail/tasting space is a bit tight and is considering expanding over into the brewing space slightly to better accommodate his visitors.
For sales he hopes to do both kegs and bombers, as well as growler fills. He’s already identified a few places to get his beer into, but says the main issue right now will be production. Right now Nathan figures that between his day job and Detonate he is working 80-100 hours a week. He hopes to eventually transition into brewing full time, saying his wife and kids would probably also like to see him at some point too. Eventually he may need to hire someone to help out at the brewery as well, but for now it’s pretty much a one-man show.
Nathan has achieved every home brewer’s dream and started his own Brewery. You can see the enormous amount of work that he has put into getting this project off the ground. This is not a glitzy marketing project backed by wealthy investors, no this is creative DIY at it’s finest driven by pure passion for brewing beer! Welcome to Summerland, Detonate Brewing!
Oh yeah… and this is the part where I would post some pictures and review the beer, but I have to admit… I enjoyed the growlers I took home with me so much I totally forgot to do a formal review! I have now tried the IPA, Pale Ale, Call the Hops IPA, Citra Pale Ale and the Stout. I really enjoyed all the hoppy beers, but the Stout really took my breath away. Rich, deep cocoa and coffee flavour with a very mild bitterness. I will be back for a refill of that for sure!