With smoked pork belly and gingerbread beer, Alchemy Brewing Company has officially entered the Kamloops beer scene.
The brewpub, located downtown, held a soft opening Thursday night (Dec. 14), with friends and family. Tonight, it's fully open to the general public.
Owner Al Renner, who previously worked in the construction industry, is nervous but excited.
"It's a little terrifying," he says. "You want people to come in, you want people to have a good time, you want them to like the beer, the food."
While a few bugs and kinks are being worked out (he forgot to unlock one of the doors at the beginning of the night), opening night smoothed out over time.
Renner says he's looking forward to changing gears, from building the brewery to running the restaurant and brewing beer.
"You drink a lot of shitty beer when you're brewing, because you're tasting all the time to see what's happening," he tells KamloopsMatters. "It can be nerve-wracking."
He's particularly proud of his red IPA, and he's heard good things about his gingerbread stout. A fairly unique flavour, to go with the smokehouse food, is also on tap.
"I wanted to do the smoke beer because we're a smokehouse. We've got the smoker and that's part of who we are," he says. "I was a little nervous when I first tasted it."
Opening a brewery hasn't been the easiest task, Renner adds, but he's had the support of the beer community, especially from his neighbours at the Noble Pig.
"I can't say enough about Maeghan (Summers), Jared (Summers) and Nick (Murphy), they've been phenomenal," Renner says. "Especially with Nick brewing next door; I can't remember how many times I've literally called him or texted him and been like, 'Dude, you gotta come over here, I need you to look at this!' or 'Do you have any of this?'"
"It's always 'Absolutely man, I'll be right there.'"
For his part, Murphy (who was at opening night) is happy to have a new neighbour.
"It's awesome, I'm so proud of him," Murphy says. "Opening any business, especially a brewery, is so difficult and he nailed it."
Maeghan Summers, who shared a table with Murphy, is looking forward to the growing community.
"We're so pumped to have amazing neighbours and another brewery in town," she says. "I feel like we have this beer block happening now."
The Summers are also behind one of the newest restaurants in town: Forno on Fifth.
"It's been amazing, we've been open for three weeks now and I feel real lucky," she says. "I'm sitting in Alchemy helping them celebrate their grand opening while we have a line up out the door at our building."
Others from the beer community also came out, including staff from Iron Road and Bright Eye Brewing, which opens next spring.
"I think this is a beautiful spot. It's the first time this building has looked as amazing as it does right now," says Richard Marken, one of the partners in Bright Eye. "I think it's great for the beer community all around."
Renner echoes what others in the local beer community have said in the past, that they're not so much competitors with each other as they are competing for more market share from industrial brewers.
"It makes sense though, we're still trying to take a bigger portion of the market on a very large market," he says. "These types of places are going to be what help change that."
The brewery is at 650 Victoria St.