Graham Haymes of the Four Mile Brewing Company

Four Mile making foray into retail beer market

Variety of craft brews move from View Royal pub’s taps to store coolers

Fans of the Four Mile House’s craft beers soon won’t have to troop down to the historic View Royal pub and restaurant to quaff their favourite brews.

Starting this week, a handful of the fledgling Four Mile House Brewing Co. products are available in 650-millilitre bottles at its cold beer and wine store in Admirals Walk. Next week the availability of the beers goes further afield, to other private liquor stores.

Pursuing a retail customer base for its popular craft beers outside its premises has been part of the plan all along, says Graham Haymes Jr., whose family owns and operates the pub and opened the brewery in January. Pent-up demand for the product and the impending summer season accelerated that plan, however.

“There’s been kind of a groundswell. We’ve had a lot of people asking, and asking and asking when are we going to be available (in stores), “ he says. “We were going to hold it off a little longer, but we’re ready.”

Seven of the eight beers currently being brewed will be released for retail sale. Four will hit the shelves first and three more are due to be rolled out as summer progresses.

The brewery is believed to the first in the Pacific Northwest to use the Peter Austin Brick Kettle, a unique-looking piece of equipment developed by Austin, the man considered the “godfather” of English craft brewing.

With brewers relying heavily on traditional English processes and using a mix of English and West Coast hops, ales feature heavily in the Four Mile product mix, from golden, brown and pale ales to an India pale ale and its trademark sipper, Best British.

With marketing a huge part of the process for any brewer hoping to get people’s attention in the increasingly crowded craft beer market, Four Mile spent time working on its packaging.

“The labels and the art have been a big process that we really wanted to focus on,” Haymes says.

For designing the labels, the company hired Andrew Lewis, a local artist with international experience. His stark, pen-and-ink style drawings, mostly featuring animal caricatures, are part of the plan to distinguish Four Mile’s beers from others on the shelves, Haymes says.

“We really wanted to create a package that was dramatic and fit with the Four Mile’s rich history, and would also pop off the shelves, be really interesting and fun and edgy and engage people.”

The back labels, written by former TV and radio communications specialist Su Grimmer, offer whimsical descriptions for each of the seven beers, some of which touch on the colourful history of the Four Mile, which dates to 1858.

Tipplers have been able to take home the Four Mile’s craft beers in large “growler” bottles and the smaller “meowlers” almost from the beginning. There’s no immediate plans to release traditional single-serving bottles for the retail market, but Haymes says the 650 ml size allows people curious about the beers to try them and find the one they like best.

“We have enough brands to fit everyone’s palates, so people can pick a style from a malt-forward ale or a very hoppy ale or a crisp easy-drinking beer. There’s a beer for everyone.”

For more information about the beers, visit fourmilehouse.com and click on Four Mile Craft Beers.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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