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Calgary’s Big Rock picks B.C. brewery site

Calgary craft brewer Big Rock Brewery has picked a vacant warehouse in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant area for the site of a bigger-than-expected second brewery.

The company had announced plans last September to set up and open a second brewery somewhere in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland region, expecting to spend in the range of $1.5 million to $2 million.

However, plans for the now-chosen location at Alberta Street and Fourth Avenue West, which Big Rock on Monday described as “in the heart of the city’s burgeoning craft beer district,” now include a “craft beer destination.”

“We’ll be opening rather more than just a brewery in Mount Pleasant this year — we’ll be opening a hub that, in addition to fresh new brews, will include live entertainment, locally sourced food, educational tours and tastings,” Big Rock CEO Bob Sartor said in a release Monday.

The “nature and size” of the facility, and its broadened scope with the restaurant and lounge component, are expected to bump up the total project cost to the range of $3 million to $3.5 million, the company said Monday.

Big Rock added it plans to have the new Vancouver plant up and “operational” by the end of this year.

The company on Monday also announced the hiring of Jody Hammel, formerly of Whistler Brewing Co. and Bear Brewing, as the planned Vancouver location’s new brewmaster.

In the company’s release, Hammel described the province as “where smaller, innovative, more nimble breweries and brew pubs are most appreciated.”

Sartor said in September the new brewery would be expected to produce some of Big Rock’s current products for the B.C. market, but also “to develop new beers that will be specific to, and exclusive in, British Columbia.”

A B.C. brewery, he said at the time, will allow Big Rock to have “fresh, local beer” in the West Coast market and would “significantly” lower transportation costs.

Big Rock, founded in Calgary in 1985, sold 21.8 million litres of product in 2012, booking profit of $4.13 million on net revenue of $46.06 million. — Network

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