Port Alberni resident Aaron Colyn is hoping to turn his hobby of making home-brewed beer into a successful small craft brewery. And he has med school to thank for it.
Colyn was enrolled in Vancouver Island University, on track to attend medical school when he took a course on the microbiology of fermentation. And what better examples of fermentation but beer and wine?
“It was basically a class on how beer is made,” says Colyn. When the class was finished he set up his own home-brewing system, and that set the course for his future.
“Instead of going to med school I ended up buying a whole bunch of home brewing equipment.”
Now he’s getting serious about craft beer. Last Friday Colyn put up a Facebook site for Twin City Brewing, and within hours had almost 500 likes. By the end of the first day of his crowdfunding campaign, which started Monday, Colyn had already raised 11 per cent of his total.
“I had no idea the response would be so immediate,” he said.
“We chose to launch the Facebook page before starting the fundraising campaign to generate some buzz and I think it’s been met with a lot of intrigue.”
He has 60 days in which to raise $6,800 to cover the costs of a small-scale, all-grain brewing system. It is the first step in his business plan of opening a craft brewery in Port Alberni.
Colyn graduated from VIU in 2012 and has been working steadily in Nanaimo. He plans to keep his full-time job while starting his brewery project, for now. “I would love to go into (brewing) full time; anything close to brewing to learn more about it,” he said.
Colyn frequented the Longwood Brew Pub in Nanaimo, where brewmasters were only too happy to explain the finer points of craft brewing.
Colyn has already created several of his own recipes, including Hop Mess IPA featured in his promotional video.
Others include a blond, an IPA, Belgian witbier, dunkelweizen and pumpkin spice.
He makes his experimental brews five gallons at a time.
The all-grain brewing system he would like to purchase with his crowdfunding monies is a 62-litre electric brewing system.
“Many breweries use a similar small-scale system to test recipes and new styles of beer before ramping up to a full-size batch. We want to start with a top-notch small-scale system and show the people of Port Alberni that we have what it takes to bring high quality, hand-crafted ales and lagers to the Valley.”
Once he puts the new system in place he can start perfecting recipes, but he will be a long way from opening a craft brewery. And he won’t be allowed to sell or distribute the small batches of brew.
The licensing process for alcohol manufacturing is onerous. Colyn is still working on his business plan and looking into location, zoning and licensing requirements. “There are a lot of steps involved,” he said.
Meanwhile, his online fundraising campaign can be found on the online crowdfunding website IndieGOGO.com.
“The focus of our campaign on social media and through the fundraising process is to identify the public’s interest, while keeping them involved every step along the way,” says Colyn.
The online campaign makes use of “perks” to thank contributors for supporting the initiative, including things like T-shirts, coasters and a bottle opener key-chain in the shape of Vancouver Island. To learn more about the Twin City Brewing initiative visit twincitybrewing.ca or search Twin City Brewing on Facebook.