Bree and Ashley Stotts founded the Hornby Island Brewing Company in 2018, launched a manufacturing facility in August 2022, and opened their tasting room a month later, making this year the first full summer the tasting room will be open.
The husband-and-wife team are the only employees of the nano brewery, which in addition to providing sustainably-produced beer with a focus on local ingredients, also offers mobile canning solutions to mid-and-north Vancouver Island.
At just 464-square-feet, the Stotts believe their brewery is likely the smallest in B.C.
As part of The Growler’s ongoing “Five Questions With…” series, Bree offered some insight into what else is behind Hornby Island Brewing Company.
What’s the inspiration behind the name?
Hornby Island Brewing Company was named after the beautiful island we call home. The island elicits such a unique response in people — they either have a great story about their annual visits to the island or they know exactly where Hornby is and have always wanted to come. We are happy to now give people another reason to visit — fresh local beer.
How did Hornby Island Brewing Company come to be?
We fell in love with the island during the “off season,” by enjoying mountain biking on the awesome trails of Mt. Geoffrey, walking around Helliwell and paddleboarding at Whaling Station with our kids. We began looking for a place to call home and in 2015, we found the property the brewery is now located on. With a shared passion for excellent beer, we wondered why Hornby Island, with its two wineries, a cidery, a distillery, and a meadery, had no brewery. We decided to solve that problem and in 2018, we established Hornby Island Brewing Company. In 2019, we released our first contract brewed beer and purchased our canning line, which we use today to provide economical canning solutions to small wineries, breweries, cideries and meaderies in the mid-Vancouver Island region. We eventually opened the doors to our tasting room with our island-brewed beer in 2022.
What would you consider the hidden gem of your brewery?
Our unusual brewery size and our location. We converted an old wood shed into the tasting room and garage into the manufacturing facility. At a total square footage of 464-square-feet, we believe our small footprint packs a lot of value into a very small space — quite possibly making us the smallest brewery in all of B.C. We are located less than 400-metres from one of the best family and dog-friendly beaches on the island, Whaling Station Bay, as well as a short trail walk from the white sand beaches at Tribune. When you’re at our tasting room counter, don’t forget to look up and catch a glimpse of the Arbutus tree above our brewery, which lost a branch on a windy winter day, providing the wood for our tap handles.
How and why is your brewery part of your local community?
We feel fortunate to brew beer on the unceded territory of the K’omoks people and we enjoy providing a much-needed space year-round to locals and visitors alike, whether it’s on crisp fall afternoons, rainy winter evenings or beautiful sunny summer days. We take pride in sponsoring on-island events, including Hornby Arts and this summer’s Hornby Music Festival. Earlier this year we also produced a limited-edition beer called BIGLITTLEFISH as a fundraiser for Conservancy Hornby Island, which raised funds and awareness about the importance of protecting herring in the Salish Sea.
What five words would you use to describe Hornby Island Brewing?
Small. Island. Artisan. Local. Delicious.