With a BC craft beer heritage spanning back 20-some years Longwood Brewery‘s Harley Smith has seen the emergence and prosperity of the industry. First brewing at Vancouver’s Steamworks Brewery more than two decades ago Harley took to the east in search of greener pastures. With experience within BC and abroad Harley returned to the west coast and now heads the Longwood Brewing Company.
The Longwood brewpub is a fixture for the locals of Nanaimo BC but just over a year ago the brewery took a side-step to be its own identity outside of the brewpub setting. The brewpub still brews on site but the beer served outside of that location comes from the close-by but completely separate Longwood Brewery. Only a year after opening, the long-time Nanaimo fans have welcomed the addition to what they already loved while BC as a whole has taken the opportunity to embrace a new brand on the shelves of craft beer retailers. Even if you have not tried any of this quality beer you have likely seen the unique and beautifully designed cans on your local craft beer shelves.
Brewing out of a 25HL, 3 vessel system the Longwood is a brewery with surprising size and capacity for its humble beginnings. In a glimmering brewery space that even Mr Clean would be proud of Harley brews the way he prefers. The manual touch is a necessary step in brewing by his standards with the control and precision that only experience can gain. While there may not be any paddling of j-strokes in the brew, manual fluid transfer and process initiation are kept as crucial, human powered steps.
From the tanks of Longwood comes staple canned beers that you will likely see at your local craft beer retailer. These include the Steam Punk Dunkel, Berried Alive Raspberry Ale, The Big One IPA and the always popular Extra Ale. In addition to these canned every-day favourites you may also find seasonal options such as the Full Patch Pumpkin Ale, Winter’s Own Weizenbock and the Stoutnik Russian Imperial Stout. As the first brewery in BC to use the 568ml size of can these beers are represent a true English Pint. If these six tasty temptations are not enough for you – keep an eye out as there will be more seasonal options coming your way soon!
In contrast to Vancouver, Nanaimo real-estate does not induce a coronary at the mere thought of purchasing land. Because of this fact, Longwood was able to purchase the building they are situated and have the capacity for growth within the existing facility and even further on the property. With an established footprint, exploding demand and an industry seeing explosive growth Harley and his team at the Longwood Brewery are onto something great.
When it comes to pushing the boundaries of anything there will be struggles and this is no exception. Association with the brewpub has had its struggles in entry to the local Nanaimo market and canned beer is not fully affirmed in the minds of craft beer drinkers. Cans do not hold the same prestige as bottles and do not always receive equal treatment on retail shelves leading to slightly slowed growth and an inability to enter government liquor stores as of yet. Cans offer clear advantage however and this team’s eye is on the long game. Consistent, quality and unique product is the key to success and organic growth is not a bad thing.
Longwood may not be a longstanding pillar in the BC Craft Beer scene but they are onto something great. This Nanaimo based brewery has the experience, equipment and prowess to be something amazing. Keep an eye out for growth and more amazing beer from the Longwood Brewery! This is a rising star on the BC Craft Beer scene!