Kelowna’s Tree Brewing Co. will shut down its Richter Street production facility at the end of the month as it moves much of its beer-making operations to Vancouver.
The move comes after the company that owns the Tree Brewing agreed to a joint venture with Calgary’s Big Rock Brewing Company. The agreement will see Fireweed Brewing Corp. team up with Big Rock to run the Calgary brewer’s Vancouver production facility.
The Big Rock Urban Brewery and Eatery in Vancouver is in the middle of significant renovations, which will expand its brewing capacity with new canning lines and brewing vessels.
Big Rock and Fireweed will use that new capacity to brew most of their products.
Chris Stirling, the general manager at Tree, said the equipment from Tree’s Richter production facility will be packed up and moved to Vancouver, with brewmaster Dae Gokiert staying on to ensure “nothing changes” with Tree’s beers.
While Tree is closing down its Kelowna production facility (and shedding some jobs in the process) Stirling says the move won’t affect Tree’s popular Beer Institute on Water Street in any way.
He says Kelowna is “still our home, and we’re not changing anything there.”
Stirling says the new partnership with Big Rock is “really exciting” news for Tree. Both companies will remain independent, and the agreement essentially just means they will share production resources, cutting down both of their costs.
That, Stirling says, will allow Tree to get more of its beer in front of more people, and even free up resources to create “new and exciting beers.”
“It’s an opportunity for us to really grow the Tree business. It’s really the next step in our 20-year history and I’m really excited,” Stirling says.
Stirling points out that the craft beer market is a hyper-competitive one and that it takes a certain amount of adaptation to survive.
“It’s so competitive, it’s always changing. There are always things you need to be nimble and adapt to, and this partnership is a great example of that. This allows us to be a little bit more nimble, and have more ability to adapt to those changes,” he says.
He points out that joint ventures like one between Tree and Big Rock are common in many other industries because businesses generally have a lot of the same costs and it only makes sense to share them, rather than each businesses paying it by themselves.
While Tree’s new partnership is one of the first of its kind in the craft beer industry, Stirling believes they will become much more common in the future.
“I don’t see us being the last. There’s just so many breweries and there are so many similarities to all our businesses this just makes sense,” he says.
The agreement between Big Rock and Tree is expected to become official at the end of May, with “joint venture operations” starting in June.