Radium brew pub gets zoning bylaw amendment

Owners hope to begin construction this summer

Radium council gave third reading to and then adopted a zoning bylaw amendment that allows for a brew pub to be built in the village, at its most recent meeting.

The council meeting, on Wednesday, July 8th, followed on the heels of a public hearing on the topic at which the potential brew pub’s co-owner Steven Gale answered questions about his operation. The members of the public who attended the public hearing had questions about potential noise and odour from the brew pub.

A couple who run a restaurant quite close to the planned brew pub “have put a lot of effort into building a new deck (on their restaurant) and they didn’t want their customers looking from that porch out at a three-story metal building,” Radium mayor Clara Reinhardt told the Pioneer, speaking two days after the meeting. “But the proponent (Gale) was able to address those questions. He’s not building a brewery like Arrowhead at the crossroads, but instead a brew pub, which is different. And he still needs to follow village guidelines (on building appearance and structure, etc.).”

Brew pubs, such as the one proposed in Radium, brew beer to sell specifically and only at the pub itself, whereas craft breweries, such as Arrowhead, brew beer to sell and distribute at as many pubs, restaurants and liquors stores as they can.

Reinhardt said council supported the zoning amendment because “the proponent gave reasonable responses to the concerns at the public hearing” and “as a council we are generally supportive of starting businesses and developing the downtown.”

Gale told the Pioneer that getting the zoning amendment was “a big relief…it’s a big step in the process.” But he outlined that much work remains to be done, including sorting out financing (which had tentatively been in place months ago, but which has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic) and getting government licensing (which can take up to four to seven months in some cases).

Still Gale is optimistic that if things continue to head down the right track, he and his partner Jacob Houghton can start construction soon. “The goal is to starting building later this summer. We really want to open in spring 2021,” he told the Pioneer.

Gale has been a Radium resident for the past five years, but still works as a paramedic in Alberta along with Houghton (who has been visiting the valley since he was a kid). The pair are enthusiastic home brewers and conceived of the brew pub as “an exit strategy from working in emergency medical services,” as Gale puts it.

“It’s quite a jump to go from passionate home brewing to doing it as a business, but for Jacob and I, brewing our own beer has always been a way to relax. We decided why not try it as a career,” said Gale. “Brewing is quite involved. There’s different hops schedules, different grains, different boil times. But for me there’s just something intriguing yet relaxing about the science of brewing. And in the end you get something you can enjoy, and can share with people.”

Gale and Houghton had noticed that nearby East Kootenay towns such as Golden and Kimberley have brew pubs, while Radium and Invermere had only a brewery, and so realized there was a niche that they could fill.

“It will not be an industrial establishment by any means,” said Gale, pointing out that most craft breweries produce 15,000 brewing barrels a year, while the Radium brew pub is limited (by bylaw) to no more than 1,500 brewing barrels a year.

“We want to keep it super small,” he said, adding the building will only be one story high plus a basement, that the siding will be fireproof concrete that looks like wooden planking, and that the building will be painted in tones of forest green and mountain brown to blend in with Radium’s mountain town feel. The pair are also working hard to make the building as close to net zero (carbon emissions) as possible.

And the beers? Gale said he and Houghton plan to offer their takes on all the traditional favourites: IPAs and porters, dark ales in the winter, and lagers, pilsners, kolsch, and lighter ales in the summer.

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