It’s not a restaurant and it’s not a bar.
But there will be great brews, good eats and an indoor bocce pit for kids and adults to have a ball in when the Trail Beer Refinery opens next year.
The craft brewery concept garnered a few guffaws when Mike Konkin first revealed his idea – but a decade later the Bay Avenue establishment is set to open by March with Trail Ale and Silver City Lager on tap.
“About 10 years ago I was at a party and told some people that one day I was going to make Trail Ale and I just signed up to do an Ironman (true story),” Konkin began. “Everyone had a great laugh at my expense.”
However, Konkin isn’t a guy who doesn’t finish what he starts.
One year later and 50 pounds lighter he did indeed cross his first Ironman finish line after swimming 2.4 miles(3.86 km), biking 112 miles (180.25 km) and running a 26-mile (42.2 km) marathon.
Now with eight Ironman triathlons under his belt and a dozen-plus partners on board, the Trail Beer Refinery is in the final stages of renos that began with a total gut of the former Sears building (1299 Bay Ave.). The 7,000-square foot space has been re-designed using new and reclaimed materials to make it a unique gathering place where patrons and families will be welcomed.
The business plan launched this spring after Konkin supervised a group of Selkirk students in a business-related match at Okanagan College.
“During the competition the instructors could not make contact with the students so I was just hanging around with some other instructors and started talking to a marketing instructor from Kelowna,” he explained. “Turns out, in his spare time, he was the owner and CEO of a brewery in Kelowna.”
In that kismet moment, Konkin divulged his story about wanting a brewery in Trail.
“Within that weekend, together we hashed out a business plan,” he said. “The students thought we were nuts (and now) I can’t wait to go back next year for the competition with some pictures and beer from the brewery.”
Over the summer the reality of such a venture hit home, so he gathered 16 locals who loved the idea and wanted to bring the refinery to life.
“They are really my dream team,” Konkin shared. “We have experts in construction, marketing, social media, business governance and human resources and now, an outstanding red seal chef to make sure we have super awesome food to go with the beer.”
Right from the beginning, their mission statement was clear – to build a brewery that will make Trail proud.
“It is really focused on the community,” he emphasized. “We want a brand and tap room that is uniquely Trail – industrial but classy.”
The brewery will be full production with multiple types of beer and a canning line.
“Our flagship beer will be an easy drinking lager,” Konkin said. “Think craft Budweiser. We are calling it Silver City Lager. But will have up to 12 different beers on tap eventually, (and) we hope to export our beer all over B.C.”
The tap room will have a capacity of 97, and notably, children will be allowed to enter in the company of parents.
“It is not a restaurant or a bar,” he added. “We are building something very unique and want it to be a place where everyone feels welcome.”