Copper Bottom Up and Running

Kings County’s first brewery opens

Copper Bottom Brewing finally opened its doors in early November, somewhat later than the husband-and-wife owners Ken Spears and Ashley Condon had hoped for. But the delayed opening doesn’t seem to be affecting interest in their taproom or beer.

“The reception has been phenomenal,” Condon said. “Everyone seems to be loving the beer and both of our beers – The Centennial Stock and The Broadside APA – are selling really well. We actually sold out of our first batch of APA, 1100 litres, in less than a week. People often come up the bar and say, ‘You know, I really like this beer!’ I appreciate this because I know that lots of people are trying craft beer for the first time and to give them a positive experience and taste is exciting for us. Craft beer is for everyone, it’s just about finding your flavour or type.”

The late opening was due to the common boogeyman—construction delays. Condon said there weren’t problems, but rather uphill treks. The building that houses the brewery has been used for a number of purposes over the years starting as the first town hall in 1938. Since then it’s been a fire hall, jail, library, hardware store, and just prior to the brewery it was the Eastern Graphic’s newsroom for over 39 years.

“Three months late seems to be the going time these days for construction delays,” Condon said. “Construction always takes longer than you think and then there were delays waiting on one certain thing to be complete before we could start the next thing.”
For example, the brewery ceilings needed to be painted to finish the plumbing and the plumbing had to be finished to complete something else.

“We were really thoughtful about the design of the space and some things took longer than normal because we decided to do a unique design element, like make our own plank floors from plywood.”

This turned out to be a major project.

“It was such a cool idea and we are super happy with how it turned out, however, it took a long time to complete because we had to cut out every individual board and put three coats of polyurethane on each plank on all three sides, and there were over 250 individual boards. It was a crazy process and awesome.”

But they rolled with the punches. “The way we overcame the delays was with patience and trusting that it would all be complete when it was supposed to be. There are still lots of little things to do that we’ll pick away at over the next little while, however, we are really happy with how everything turned out.”

Condon said there are plans for getting their beer out to other locations.

“We’ll be pushing our beer out to restaurants and bars when we get a good back stock of both beers. My husband Ken has been brewing, kegging, and cleaning 24/7 for the past 10 days.”

Ken Spears, Copper Bottom’s brewmaster, is busy keeping up with demand for the new brewery’s beer//Photo Credit: Rod Weatherbie

She said they didn’t expect to sell as much beer from the taproom as quickly as they have, “So now it’s a balance of making sure that we have lots of kegs for our tap accounts and lots for our patrons at the [Copper Bottom] taproom.”

The growlers are, of course, very popular. “We had a 94-year-old woman in last week who came up to the bar and said, ‘Now tell me about these growler things.’ It was so great. We have plans to can in the new year with beers heading out to select liquor stores and you’ll be able to buy cans directly from the brewery.”

Condon and her husband are confident that the market for craft beer on PEI still has room for more breweries.

“The market for craft brews is booming right now. If the last week at Copper Bottom is any indication and I think it is, craft beer isn’t going anywhere for a very long time. As I’ve mentioned before, there is still room on PEI for more breweries as craft beer drinkers aren’t brand loyal; they love trying it all,” Condon said.

“There is one catch though. The beer has to be good and that’s at the forefront of our minds always, delicious beer that makes you want to come back for more. Craft breweries can continue to grow by doing exactly what they are doing now, fostering a collaborative relationship with each other and promoting the industry as a whole and growing it together. We were saying how PEI is going to have to get its own craft beer association going as we now have six breweries.”

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

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