Kelowna’s Boundary Brewing the first craft beer casualty of COVID-19

Boundary Brewing Co. Rob Mangelsdorf photo

Like many craft breweries across North America, Kelowna’s Boundary Brewing shut its doors last month in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it will not be reopening, says owner Oliver Gläser, making it the province’s first craft beer casualty due to the ongoing outbreak.

The nanobrewery specialized in traditional German-style beers on its tiny 400 L single vessel wooden brewhouse, the only one of its kind in Canada. Gläser said the brewery had been struggling over the slow winter months, partly due to the increasingly crowded Kelowna craft beer market, which is now home to 11 craft breweries and at least another four on the way, as well as the provincial government’s onerous liquor taxation regime.

“Coronavirus was the nail in the coffin for us,” says Gläser. “And the government makes it nearly impossible to make any money as a craft brewery. The Kelowna market being so crowded didn’t help either.”

Given Boundary’s entire business model was based around keg sales and growler fills at its modest tasting room, the COVID-19 pandemic response hit it particularly hard.

“Overnight our keg sales instantly went to zero,” he said.

Gläser said the Boundary Brewing brand will continue to exist and didn’t rule out the possibility of contract brewing in the future.

“Everything is in flux right now and nobody knows what is happening next,” he said. “We’re going to wait for the dust to settle before we make our next move.”

Boundary Brewing’s wooden brewhouse is the only one of its kind in Canada. Contributed photo

Craft beer will still continue to be brewed at Boundary Brewing’s location at #2 455 Neave Court in North Kelowna, however, with upstart Welton Brewery taking over the space.

Owner Simon Welton said the brewery plans to produce UK-style ales and West Coast craft staples, and will function as a production facility for a 100-seat English-style pub currently being built at the corner of Clement and Ethel in Kelowna’s North End.

“There are UK-style beers in B.C., but not a lot that are authentic,” said Welton, who originally hails from Chester, England. “I’m hoping we can produce something that’s unique to B.C.”

He said the plan is to focus on ales, nitro beers and eventually add hand-pulled cask ales in the future.

“But we’re still going to have the beers people want to see, like IPAs and kettle sours.”

Welton added that he plans to keep the tasting room open at the former Boundary Brewing space, and hopes to have his beers flowing by mid to late June.

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