For all you regular readers of Spotlight on Business, the names Joe Strickland and Stefan and Pearl Marten should be familiar. Stefan and Pearl are the owners of the Marten Brewing Company in Vernon, British Columbia; Joe’s the Head Brewer. It’s been a year since the husband and wife business team spoke with the magazine and, I learned, it’s been an eventful trip around the sun for everyone at Marten Brewpub on 30 th Ave. in Downtown Vernon. They’ve set-up an on-site canning line. Their beers are now available in select BC Liquor Stores and independent beer and wine vendors. They’re poised to release their newest brand in-house and on select grocery store shelves: a nitro coffee. And they’ve been touched in countless ways by the forest fires that devastated so much of the Okanagan Valley and the BC Interior this past summer.

By David MacDonald S tefan, Pearl, it’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since we spoke. I’m sure the regular readers would love to know how Marten Brewing Co. has grown over this past year – and I’m sure they’re wondering, like I am, how the forest fires in your part of BC have impacted you personally. If I remember correctly, you both grew up in one of the more heavily-affected areas. SM: Yes, it’s hard to believe a year has gone by – time is flying, David. Marten Brewing Company has had a good year overall, but there are a few things that have affected us deeply, like the fires this year in BC. PM: The Valley was filled with smoke all summer and local fires were an issue as well. We felt like we had to do our part to help, so we invited all the evacuees, all the families – all 663 of them – that were staying in the Vernon Rec Centre for free meals and beverages for the two-and- a-half weeks they were here. Most of the people were from our childhood town of Williams Lake. We hoped it gave them a least some time to get their minds off what was hap- pening at home.



SM: We also had a lot of flooding here in the Okanagan this year. The lakes were well-over their maximum capacity and they implemented a restriction for boats. So lots of tourist this year decided not to come as a result.

This was also the year the City of Vernon decided to dig up our front street, which is a six month project.

Three of the four roads leading to the brewpub were closed and we are looking forward to the conclusion of that project – it will look amazing once done. PM: There have been downs, but there have also been so many ups. One of those positives, guys, is undoubtedly the fact that your products are now available in select BC Liquor Stores. I’d imagine that your move into canning at the brewery has facilitated this arrangement nicely. SM: Well, deciding to go with cans was a huge decision for us, both logistically and financially.

Undeniably, cans are the better vessel for beer, but ulti- mately we made our final decision because of where we live.





The Okanagan is a massive playground for everyone and packing bottles around just didn’t make sense.

Nitrogen doesn’t bind to liquid as well as C02, so filling growlers doesn’t really work; by the time you get home your growler is completely flat. So, popular beers, like our Cookie Monster Stout, have to be consumed in-house. We invested in a nitrogen doser, which essentially is a machine that takes liquid nitrogen and puts a precise millidrop of liquid nitrogen into the can on the filling line just before the lid is put on. Once the lid is sealed moments after the drop is placed, the nitrogen expands in the can infusing the product with nitrogen gas. A simple light shake before you open the can will re-in- fuse the product and you have yourself smooth carbonat- ed beverage that tastes like it just was poured from a nitro faucet or tap at your local brewery. This is a huge leap for craft brewers who have always been subject to the widget technology that breweries like Guinness has had for years. Widget cans are expensive, difficult to get, not to mention that minimum quantities are virtually impossible for small brewers to achieve because of space and upfront cost. PM: We will be making our popular BC Bud IPA available in nitro cans as well. This is a great beer to have on nitro. It’s amazing the different flavours and mouth-feel you get when you compare the same beer side-by- side: one with C02 and the other nitrogen. The nitrogen softens the bitterness you typically get from an IPA and the result is amazing. SM: All that being said, we saw an opportunity at the

So, as a small brewery we took the leap and invested in cans and canning – despite the logistical challenges that lay ahead on our end. “We hoped it gave them a least some time to get their minds off what was happening at home.” PM: But yes, getting our product into local liquor stores has been single handily the biggest and best exposure yet. People used to have to come in to our brewery to get our products. Now people in neighbouring cities can give us a try. This also has encouraged many people to make the trip to Vernon to come check us out, which is great. And as I understand it, you’ve decided to take a giant leap along with this small step. Care to say a few things about the nitro-canning process and the nitro coffee product you’ll be introducing at the brewery, as well as on grocery store shelves, in the near future? SM: We are super excited about the nitro canning in general. Before, we could only offer those products on-tap, in-house. Now people can enjoy them at home as well.



Marten Brewing Company in addition to brewing clean Indy craft beers with locally sourced ingredients from the north Okanagan Valley. For us, brewing beer was a given, but being the coffee addicts that the Marten brew team Is, we began to wonder, ‘Why not set our sights on a caffeine elixir that could pass for a beer but would give us the buzz needed to keep hustling for the whole work day?’ “The Okanagan is a massive playground for everyone and packing bottles around just didn’t make sense. So, as a small brewery we took the leap and invested in cans and canning.” PM: To do this, we teamed up with one of BC’s finest and most renowned roasters – who just happened to be nice people located in our home city. They offered us a pipeline to the freshest organic and fairly- traded coffee. Using our brewing equipment we began developing coffee for brewers, creating a stellar nitro coffee now known as Chatterbox. Chatterbox is low in calories, leaving plenty of room to have some heartier beverages at the end of the day. Knowing how hard you two and Joe work, I can’t imagine



where you found the time to branch-out like this. SM: All of this was taking place in our underground cellar between beer brews and thus the birth of our Underground beverage line. If nothing else, brewing alcohol-free drinks is a great way to get through the work week. As is the case with most brewers, the question arose, ‘What else can we brew?’ The answer was tea – fermented tea. PM: Kombucha is an ancient beverage that has recently resurfaced and it’s given us the guts we’ve always dreamed of, so to speak. Its probiotic-packed, it’s full of healthy ant oxidant tea properties, and it’s deliciously refreshing. SM: We always say that the whole endeavour’s about creating a tea that pours like a beer but that makes you look good when you’re naked – how could anyone say no? We are brewers first, but we just happen to make rad coffee and tea! “Using our brewing equipment we began developing coffee for brewers, creating a stellar nitro coffee now known as Chatterbox.” Have you taken any of your new product line on the road to special events and festivals this last year? PM: We have attended every festival south and north of here this year – and it’s been a blast. It’s certainly a great way to get our name out there and showcase our products, old and new. SM: And I think it’s important that people not familiar with Marten Brewpub are made aware that we host a lot of special and private events here on 30 th Ave. We have ample space to accommodate large groups and as a result we’ve been lucky enough to have sponsored dozens of non-profit organizations and charities this year – and the list keeps getting longer. We’ve partnered with the Vernon chapter of 100 Men Who Give a Damn which means that four times a year roughly 140 guys make Marten Brewpub their man cave for a night. Every guy brings $100 and we listen to three charities give a speech on why they should receive the money and what they will do with it. We vote after listening to their speeches and one successful candidate walks away with $14,000-plus. It’s very cool! Our goal is to get to 200 and grow from there. The guys are promised a free pint from the Marten Brewing Company as soon as we get to 200 people – beer motiva- tion always works! It sounds like your in-house services like private parties have continued to grow in popularity since we spoke last.

PM: Well, that’s been part of our mission from the start. Vernon is an erratic city, with tourism having mega highs and crashing lows. Over the years, we witnessed as the people of Vernon became increasingly disconnected with their own city. Some people, locals, felt like Vernon had nothing to offer. It has been our objective to reintroduce our community to this beautiful downtown core. We have redeveloped the core corner of Main Street that had been an eye-sore for decades – and we offered some- thing for our community that they would more likely find in Yale Town, Vancouver. SM: We are still working to bring awareness to the local community. Despite media coverage like radio ads and newspaper spots, we still get local residents all the time who haven’t been downtown – and they’re surprised that we even exist. Yet people from all over BC make the trip to come check us out. Vernon’s previous demographic was primarily retirees, but recently a surge of young families have come to call Vernon home. The opportunities here are endless and the lifestyle is like nowhere else in Canada. PM: And we’re seeing the benefits of this new blood. We’re already completely booked for Christmas parties – everyone who had their party with us last year re-booked right away and any empty spots were snapped up. We’re now doing weddings in our space and we’re offering the whole package: food, beverages, and the photos in the brewery are really cool. Speaking of the brewery, have your core beers grown in popularity? SM: Exponentially, David. We’ve actually already purchased more tanks to keep up with the demand. I still get a kick when I place a call somewhere for supplies, for example, and they say something like, ‘Oh, are you Marten Brewing, home of the Rough & Dirty red ale?’ We also love to see people in places like Portland, Oregon with pictures of our BC Bud IPA that they took home with them from their vacation to BC. It’s super cool. It’s things like that that make us keep doing what this crazy job demands from us. PM: We are lucky to have thousands of wonderful guests come to our establishment. This has allowed us to listen to feedback, hear different opinions, and really develop a sense for what people prefer. Because we hadn’t packaged our product from the begin- ning, we were able to adjust and tweak our core beers to reflect something that both our guests and our brew team Since we took the plunge, no longer are the shops boarded up and ‘For Lease’ signs lining the streets.



PM: That’s definitely a popular item. We are always keeping our menus fresh and new. Part of living in a smaller com- munity is changing things up, providing different options for our regulars. However, we always have to keep our local favourites available or there will be protests! “We’re now doing weddings in our space and we’re offering the whole package: food, beverages, and the photos in the brewery are really cool.” Are there any final thoughts you’d like to leave the Spot- light on Business readership with, guys? PM: Yes, that we’re super excited to have our UndergroundNitro Coffee and Underground Cherry Smash Kombucha available in Grocery Stores all over Vancouver Island thisOctober. It has been years in the making and we are finally here. SM: We’d also love for the readers to check out Marten- . Cheers.

are really happy with today. It was a cool and fun process with an amazing result. SM: And it’s not just the core beers. It’s hops season again and we’re brewing our next pale ale with Wet hops. Wet hops are sourced locally, they’re picked in the morning and brewed the same day. Last year we made a Wet-hopped Weizen and it turned out amazing, as in going, going, gone! What seasonal beers would you like to promote going into Thanksgiving and Christmas? SM: We are bringing back our famous Tick Tock Dunkle Bock this year. I don’t think we have a choice, the demand is that persistent. I can’t even begin to tell you how often we hear, ‘When are you going to make the Tick Tock again?’ I think if Joe wants to brew in public again it has to be the next beer he makes. The glass is thick, but you can still hear the yelling! How is your Head Brewer, Joe Strickland, doing? SM: As always, often working for all to see as they eat and drink. Joe has taken the lead role here at Marten Brewing. Stefan Buhl, our former Brewmaster who your readers learned about in last year’s article, has focused his sites on consulting and brewery sales. But he still comes by all the time and checks in – and even joins us for some of our events. I noticed that both the restaurant and BBQ menu you guys sent to the magazine has a few new additions. The Brooklyn burger with the Rough & Dirty red ale burger sauce caught my eye.



many thanks to our advertisers



2933a 30th Ave Vernon BC

as spotlighted in the SEPTEMBER 2017 issue of SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10

Made with FlippingBook HTML5