Devastating news out of Victoria as award-winning Axe & Barrel Brewing Co. in Langford plans to close next week.
The brewery began life as the Loghouse Pub, and in 2015 after a $2.7 million renovation, reopened as Axe & Barrel Brewing Co. under brewmaster Dave Woodward. The initial concept for the brewery featured a massive brewpub with a focus on approachable craft beers and Southern-style barbecue smoke in-house. Unfortunately, locals alienated by the loss of their beloved pub, were slow to warm up to the idea, resulting in the brewery being put up for sale in 2017. The business and the land it sits on were eventually split and sold separately with the new owners deciding to bring back the Loghouse Pub name. Meanwhile, the brewery was relegated to the back corner of the building with it’s own separate tasting room.
Andrew Tessier took over as brewmaster in 2017 and soon began winning awards for the brewery, including a gold medal at the 2019 Canadian Brewing Awards in the German Style Kölsch category for King Kolsch, and a gold and a bronze at the 2018 B.C. Beer Awards for Langford Lager (International Lager) and Westshore IPA (North American IPA), respectively.
This is the second closure of a craft brewery in B.C. in the past week after Vancouver’s Coal Harbour Brewing Co. announced it would be shutting after having its manufacturing licence suspended by the province for not paying its markup taxes.
As I predicted in my annual beer trends forecast, I think we’re starting to see the increasingly crowded B.C. craft beer market begin to settle and mature, and unfortunately that means some breweries are going to close or change hands.
While the brewery will be closing its doors next week, Axe & Barrel remains for sale, so there’s hope a new buyer could reopen the brewery, likely under new branding.