Ryan Orr once had a big dream: a brewery of his own design in his hometown of Sooke.
Like any big dream, of course, it seemed hard to grasp, yet he stuck to it, head forward and the mug ready – four years later, Sooke Oceanside Brewery was born, where it is now, just off the side of the Shell gas station on Sooke Road.
A first-time brewery in Sooke made a solid impression with the locals.
“Everybody drank us dry in our first three days of opening,” Orr laughed. “It was insane, but really good, I think it was a good start.”
Between himself, his wife, the co-owner, and a professional brewer, Orr considers SOB to be “micro” on the craft brewery scale, which had him worried at first, but that was quelled instantly.
“There’s lots of thirst out there in the community for craft beer, and that’s fantastic,” he said.
One thing’s for sure: the true heart and soul of the West Coast runs deep at SOB.
Inside, one is met with a custom-built decor of solid wood, rock and steel, giving off a soothing, warm, and homely feel, much like an extended arm inviting you to grab a cold one and relax.
Orr, a professional chef of more than 20 years, hopes this is just phase one of big larger plan: bringing a restaurant and brewery to the Sooke waterfront.
“This is my phase one, to get it out there. My beer is ready, my brand was ready, and I’m really excited to finally be able to do this,” he said.
The brewery, which has six taps, offers four deeply-flavoured beers, or what Orr calls the “flagships” of SOB: Renfrew red ale, Irish red ale, Bonfire blonde ale, Boneyard IPA and Stiff Jab pale ale.
“After that, we’ll have two other taps that we’re going to play around with and do whatever we want.”
There’s certainly some good stuff in the works. Among them, a cedar juniper IPA and a coffee porter beer using Stick in the Mud coffee (called Stuck in the Mud).
It wasn’t without hard work, though. Orr did the build mostly himself, along with a friend, and designed and built the coolers and cooling systems that run the actual brewing side of things.
“I wanted a hands-on approach, and this allows me to monitor every step of the process to make sure this is the best beer we put out,” Orr said.
At the moment, Orr said he wants to get a good backlog before opening the doors to SOB again.
“We’ll have to see if we can survive the chaos of a reopening and get through that and see where the business is going to plateau at,” he said, adding that he won’t do scheduled tours yet, but offer more of a one-on-one experience.
“If you’re in here, and I got time, I’ll gladly take people through and show them around and how beer works.”
Sooke Oceanside Brewery plans to open up again in the second week of December, so get your beer face ready.
For more info, follow SookeBrew on Twitter/Instagram.
What is craft beer?
Not surprisingly, British Columbia is the birthplace of craft beer in Canada. In 1982, Canada’s first craft brewery, Horseshoe Bay Brewing, was started.
For the most part, the conventionally accepted definition of craft beer is from the Brewer’s Association in the U.S. There are three main criteria: A craft brewery should be small, independent and traditional.