The journey to Vice and Virtue Brewing Company, which is set to officially kick open its doors to the public on Wednesday at 3 p.m., began in—where else?—Matt Jewell’s garage.
“The first thing we bought as a company was a whiteboard,” Jewell said this week. “We would just brew beer and play darts and drink beer and draw things on the whiteboard.”
The garage group included Jewell, Matt Wentzell and Carey Schell, who are all friends and part of Vice and Virtue’s vast ownership group that comes from several walks of life. The one thing they all have in common is their love of craft beer, and they believe something special is brewing in Kelowna. Vice and Virtue, which is located at 1033 Richter St., joins breweries like BNA, Tree, Red Bird and Kettle River—among others—on the downtown craft beer scene.
“There’s some amazing wineries and some amazing winemakers in this valley,” Jewell said in his thick Australian accent, “and we’re thinking the same thing’s happening now with the brewing.”
Since all the Vice and Virtue partners have passions for craft beer, they have visited breweries throughout B.C. and all over the American northwest. They know what they liked, what they didn’t like, and the vibes that worked best.
Nelson Daniels came over from Waterfront Wines Restaurant to serve as Vice and Virtue’s head chef and is also now a partner. Daniels was going to open a cafe on his own, but he asked Jewell and Co. if they wanted to add a restaurant to their brewery instead.
“Go big or go home, right?” Jewell said.
Throw in James Windsor, who moved from Ontario to be the brewmaster, and Vice and Virtue is ready to roll after getting started just four and a half months ago.
“I’d be pretty surprised if anyone else has banged a project together this quick,” Jewell said. “It’s a big team effort with a lot of moving parts, but we’ve got the right team and that makes a difference.”
Jewell and Co. bought their equipment from Cellar-Tek and then used their warehouse space to set up shop. It’s an open concept, complete with a shipping container in the middle of the room that serves as a refrigeration unit.
“The boys are brewing right there. You can see them working, you know what I mean?” Jewell said. “We really wanted the people to come in and feel like you’re walking into something pretty cool. It’s an industrial area. A lot of these breweries in Vancouver or in Portland, they’re in these kind of industrial areas and they don’t hide it. We didn’t want to do it either.”
It should work out well for Cellar-Tek, too, because now it can show customers how to set up the equipment simply by taking them next door.
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