Nothing is set in stone, well maybe some hand and footprints in the concrete. Here are a few pictures of where Three Ranges comes from.
One of the first things you may notice as you drive through Valemount is the number of empty buildings. Fortunately, one of them was just the right building for a small brewery in the heart of the village. Armed with the knowledge learned helping build another brewery, Michael set forth cutting floors, building a plan for plumbing, visualizing the layout of all the tanks, and researching every little piece of information available on how to do all of this himself. Luckily, that turned out to not be required. There were plenty of folks who love beer and love local business. These dedicated volunteers provided a wealth of time, skills, and knowledge.
So after months of work, sourcing out brewery equipment, getting it shipped to the hinterland, and drinking lots of beer for “research” purposes, the inspector came for licensing. After an hours of nail biting tension (enjoyable conversation about how Michael set up his processes), it was granted. We were licensed to brew and sell beer in BC.
On December 6th, 2013, after almost 11 months of building, Three Ranges Brewing Company poured our first beer. The taproom was packed. This was the locals first chance to sample our starting line up of Up Swift Creek Pilsner, Derailed Pale Ale, and Swamp Donkey Brown Ale.
We now brew five flagship beers, six rotating seasonals and the occasional specialty beer. Tiny, by industry standard, the beer is brewed in 250 litre batches. We started out serving draught only, along with growler fills. By February 2013, we started the labour-intensive process of canning with our two-head manual canner. Manual really means manual. The process requires dedicated volunteers to assist in the fun work of can fills, lids and labels. Each can is touched a minimum of seven times before the process is complete!
Our dedicated employees keep the ship upright. Since early on, Clayton Gee assisted with construction. He moved in to a role assisting with brewery production and operations. Co-owner Rundi splits her time with managerial duties, marketing, pouring, and raising the two young Lewis girls. Our first spring was busy, and by summer that tempo had steadily increased. In August we received a lounge endorsement and opened a licensed patio allowing us to serve more than the single twelve ounce tasting. We brought in six part-time servers to round out a service crew. Mandy McMinn is now our full time server in the taproom.
A key part of Michael and Rundi’s vision was to be a tiny brewery serving a small community of beer lovers. This part of the dream has been realized with great local support from the villages of Valemount, McBride and the Robson Valley. Seasonal tourism puts our small brewery to the test. Visitors come during the winter months for the excellent snowmobiling, skiing and dogsled opportunities; and in summer the crowds flock to our mountains for hiking, backpacking, and white water rafting. We now have fans from all over BC, Alberta, and the world!