Arriving in Powell River isn’t something that happens by accident.

With two ferries necessary to get to the Upper Sunshine Coast from Metro Vancouver, it’s a quest for the dedicated.

Townsite Brewing Inc. has, in many ways, embraced the can-do effort needed in a small city built on the frontier mentality. When the brewery set out to expand its tasting room, it also applied to join the Economusee network — a group of artisan producers who showcase their craft in museum-style exhibits at their workplace.

Townsite Brewing co-owners (from left) Chloe Smith, Ulrich Herl, Cedric Dauchot and Michelle Zutz on opening night of thier new tasting room and Economusee.
Townsite Brewing co-owners (from left) Chloe Smith, Ulrich Herl, Cedric Dauchot and Michelle Zutz on opening night of thier new tasting room and Economusee.

Brewery manager Chloe Smith said it was a case of “if you build it, they will come.”

Many came on May 4, when Townsite invited the Powell River community and guests from further afield to celebrate the grand opening of the new tasting room, just a couple of months after the brewery’s fifth birthday.

The space boosts capacity from 10 seats to 45 and the drink selection to 18 taps, including two rotating taps, one rotating cider tap and two kombucha taps.

“Now that we have comfortable seating and a funky room for people to wander around in, we are seeing all kinds of new faces in here,” said Smith.

The newly expanded tasting room at Townsite Brewing in Powell River.
The newly expanded tasting room at Townsite Brewing in Powell River.

Economusee turns workshops into working museums

The in-house Economusee gives Townsite an aspect that’s unique to BC breweries. The government-funded Economusee initiative, which has members across Canada and northern Europe, turns artisanal workshops into museums to enhance the visitor experience.

That includes creating a reception, an exhibition, a contemporary gallery and a showcase of the workshop. In this case, that means the brewery, Smith said.

“We worked within those parameters to create the space,” she added.

The result is an educational experience for those new to the world of craft beer, which also tells the story of Townsite Brewing and craft beer in BC.

The tasting room itself is part of the Economusee, giving visitors an insight into the craft and history of brewing.
The tasting room itself is part of the Economusee, giving visitors an insight into the craft and history of brewing.

Panels mounted on the walls throughout the entrance way, tasting room and hallway of the brewery showcase everything from how to pick the right glass for your beer to a biography of Townsite’s brewmaster, Cedric Dauchot.

“The Economic Development Society of BC approached us. They were looking to add a brewery to the network of BC Economusees and Cedric’s reputation led them to us,” said Smith.

What is Cedric’s reputation? Well, not only is he an award-winning brewmaster who creates beers loved by both Powell Riverites and Townsite converts across the country, he’s also the only Belgian-born brewmaster in Canada west of Montreal.

Jazz music on opening night was provided by a local high school band.
Jazz music on opening night was provided by a local high school band.

Tasting room provides an expanded community hub

The Economusee experience has already been a draw for visitors — and so has the expanded tasting room for even more locals.

On opening night, guests were treated to jazz music by a band from the local high school. Food was provided by the Sli City Grill, based on nearby Tla’amin First Nation land, while local art by Miel Creasey and Anna May Bennett was displayed in the Economusee. A special cask of Townsite’s Sunshine Coast-exclusive pale ale, Suncoast, was pouring, while Dauchot took guests on tours of the barrel room.

The people of Powell River now have an even bigger space in which to meet friends, run into neighbours and even bring their kids to hang out. It’s an environment that displays how craft beer can create community in small B.C. towns.

Now, with the Economusee, it can educate, too.

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