Kamloops may be Canada’s Tournament Capital, but until recently, there haven’t been many craft beer options there. Despite having 10 times the population of Nelson, it somehow has fewer craft breweries.
Thankfully, Richard Phillips and Jared Tarswell chose to do something about that.
Geologists by trade, the pair decided they’d rather brew beer then break rocks for a living (who can blame them), and Kamloops was the perfect place to do it.
Iron Road Brewing is the product of their passion for craft beer. I spoke with Phillips about what he’s got brewing.
Tell me a bit about the process that led you to where you are now.
We began the process a little over a year and a half ago, while thinking of a way to get into small business ownership. Both Jared and I really liked the idea of working for ourselves, and getting away from the standard workweek. Both of us also needed to find a way to get out of the Lower Mainland, where we acknowledged that home ownership was out of the question.
Why beer? What got you interested in craft beer enough to open your own brewery?
We were inspired by the explosion of breweries in Vancouver, and how great of an experience they provide for patrons who are looking for beer and something to eat. When I would meet friends for a drink, it was almost exclusively at a brewery, and we believed that there was an untapped market for breweries in other parts of the province.
Kamloops is slowly becoming a craft beer destination. What makes it a good place to brew?
Kamloops is a town that is very supportive of local businesses, and the locals are a very proud bunch. It’s an ideal town in terms of climate (hot summers, great winters for skiing), and has many outdoor activities that pair well with beer, namely golfing, mountain biking, hiking and boating.
What has the local response been so far?
The local response so far has been overwhelming. We are very thankful of everyone who has come in and tried the beer. We have gotten some really great feedback from those who have visited our lounge. People seem to really like our beer, food and atmosphere.
What makes Iron Road unique?
Iron Road is unique in the sense that we are in a unique spot in Kamloops. We are located in a mixed industrial area, where there isn’t many other options for food or beer. We are also located within walking distance of Thompson Rivers University.
Will your beers be available outside of Kamloops?
At first, we plan on focusing on the Kamloops market. We want to make sure that we grow slowly, and make beer that people from Kamloops will enjoy. We hope to expand to accounts in surrounding communities in the next year.
What beers will you be offering?
We will offer a wide range of beer styles, but will have three core brands offered year round: Locomotive Lager, Red Bridge Pale Ale and the Loop Line IPA. We plan on canning these three beers, and we will have a rotating group of beer for sale in 650 mL bottles and out of our taproom. We plan on starting a small barrel-aging program with a local winery in town, to create some really unique beer.
Why should people come check out Iron Road?
People should come and check out Iron Road (at 9980 Camosun Crs.) for the great beer and food, but also for our staff. We have a great group of front of house and back of house people, who love to talk about beer. Our brewer, Aaron MacInnnis, is always around and loves to take people in the back to teach them about the brewing process.