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'It's a culinary approach to brewing': North Shore's first craft brewery aims to open in May

If you drove down Tranquille Road over the past 24 hours you may have seen some giant steel tanks.

No, it's not the new way to move oil from Alberta. Bright Eye Brewing got brewing equipment the same day council was looking at their liquor licence application (it'll be going to a public hearing too).

However, it was the arrival of tanks that brewers (and partners in the brewery) Bryan Craig and Tyler Windsor were excited for.

"This is a big day," says Craig. "It's a stressful day, but it's been good — for the last year we've just seen this as an empty space."

"It didn't all feel that real until now, until about three hours ago, now that we're actually seeing this it's the real deal."

The 15 tanks are the biggest pieces of the brewery and a big jump for the pair who've been working to get to this point for a few years. They're hoping to open it to the public in May.

The two met in high school at Brocklehurst Secondary School and became friends; they only lived a few blocks from each other. That friendship grew over the years. Even when they both moved they ended up only a few blocks from each other in Sahali.

"We eventually just went on a trip down to Vancouver and went to a bunch of breweries, went to one specifically called Callister, and had a couple of beers down there and were just floored by what beer can be nowadays," Windsor tells KamloopsMatters.

That was four years ago, and local beer options in Kamloops were limited to the Noble Pig and the newly opened Red Collar. They decided if they wanted the beer they found in Vancouver, they needed to brew it themselves. They've brewed nearly 300 beers to date (they lost track along the way) and are going pro.

"We didn't go to brewing school in Germany or anything, we're not held down by this classic approach to brewing and following the rules," says Craig. "We kind of go way beyond that most of the time."

They came up with the name Bright Eye when they first started; it's a take on their names — Bryan and Tyler becomes Bry and Ty which becomes Bright Eye. It's also a reference to the bright tanks used at the end of the brewing process (you'll be able to find those tanks in the taproom).

"The brights are going to be right behind the bar and we'll literally have taps on them, so the bartender will be pouring right out of the tank," explains Craig.

It's part of their plan to brew fresh, creative beers — to be experimental with what they produce.

"It's a culinary approach to brewing," says Craig. "We're doing such small batches, it's not a big risk. We're going to basically start having (brewers) here, because people can come here and experiment."

IMG_2674 (2)FILE PHOTO: Mayor Ken Christian (left), Mitch Forgie and Arpa Investments' Joshua Knaak together during press conference at the building where Bright Eye is located.
They plan on brewing five barrel batches, compared to the 25 or 30 barrels usually done by other craft brewers. Part of their plan includes getting brewers from bigger breweries to stop by and collaborate on a small batch, giving the guest a chance to take risks.

"People won't be as scared. We'll let them come here, we'll think of something funky and creative," says Craig.

"So the bigger guys aren't as scared to do these massive batches of something that might not necessarily pan out or might be amazing," adds Windsor.

They also won't be doing any bottling and they won't be carrying any flagship brews.

Like Alchemy before them, the pair are thankful to the beer community. While former Noble Pig founding partner Richard Marken and Red Beard owner Mitch Forgie are partners, others have been helping as well.

"It's amazing, the guys at Iron Road have helped us out, even with our homebrewing," says Craig. Windsor notes they've already done a collaboration beer with the brewery near TRU.

"Nick at Noble Pig is always hanging out with us and giving us advice," continues Craig. "And then, of course, to get Evan Doan from Doan's, he's been like our big brother."

The pair also want to stay connected to the Kamloops homebrew scene.

"We want to give back to them and have them come in and brew with us, and do homebrew competitions at least a few times a year when a group homebrewers come in and brew their beer with us," says Craig.

So long as things go according to plan, doors will open sometime in May. You can find the city's fifth craft brewery at 268 Tranquille Rd.


Brendan Kergin

About the Author: Brendan Kergin

Brendan Kergin is a digital reporter based in Kamloops.
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