I was recently flown up to Powell River, at the top end of our gorgeous Sunshine Coast, to visit a local icon that is in danger. Along the way I met Karen Skadsheim, owner of Townsite Brewing, Powell River’s first brewery that will be tapping its first keg later this month.
Located in historic Townsite, the oldest neighbourhood in Powell River, Townsite Brewing set up shop in the old Post Office Building. Before we set out on a walking tour of the area, I found out more about how Karen came to own a brewery.
“I’m originally from Vancouver so I experienced the rise of craft beer there,” Karen told me. She sold her condo in Kitsilano a few years ago and jetted off the Europe before returning home with no job and no fixed address. Being financially confident enough to enjoy one more summer off, she visited her brother in Powell River while starting a job hunt back in Vancouver.
“Before I knew it I was on every single board in town.” Karen quickly became an integral part of the community and managed a restaurant that focused on local food. All the while the old Post Office in building in Townsite kept singing out to her. “I saw this building that had a fish plant in it and I just thought ‘Ah, that building should be a brewery!‘ and everybody said, ‘I know, that would be perfect!’“.
Soon enough she was going into business with the building’s owner and by November 2010, it was re-zoned and ready to be set into action. One thing was missing at that point though, and it was someone who could make great beer. Karen put an ad on ProBrewer, a beer industry website, and received an overwhelming response. They found Belgian brewmaster Cedric Dauchot in Saskatoon who had been working with Les 3 Brasseurs Canada since 2005. He and his wife, also a brewmaster, had plans to start a local brewpub as well. “They had the business plan but lacked the financial backing and a building. We had the building and the financial backing but no brewers,” said Karen. It was a perfect fit. This is Cedric’s 7th brewery or “lucky number 7” as Karen puts it.
While I didn’t get to sample any beer just yet — it’s not quite ready — plans are in the works to incorporate local flavours and flare into the brews. Karen said they’ll most likely be doing something with blackberries in the summer around the time of the Powell River Blackberry Festival, and she has a few other ideas in mind that include locally-grown certified organic hops. Heading into their launch, they will have 3 beers ready to go this spring: Powtown Porter, Tinhat IPA, and the Zunga Golden Blonde Ale.