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Brewery named new business of the year

Thursday, 18 January 2018. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Brewery named new business of the year
Adam and Brittney Wilsgosh at the Pincher Creek Chamber of Commerce Awards of Excellence gala in October.   Photo by Shannon Robison

Brewery named new business of the year

By Jessica Buhler

When Adam and Brittney Wilgosh travelled, they always enjoyed visiting new breweries and often talked of how they would love to bring new and interesting flavours to Alberta.

In October, Oldman River Brewing was named new business of the year at the Chamber of Commerce Awards of Excellence in Pincher Creek, proving that dreams can become reality.

“We felt very honoured to have won beside so many other extraordinary new businesses,” says Brittney. “It was great to know that people are enjoying what we are trying to create.”

It all began with a home brewing kit that Adam started about 10 years ago, which led him to fall in love with the craft. Over the years, he moved from boxed beer to all-grain and eventually went to commercial brewing when he got a job at Olds College as an assistant brewer.

Through a shared love of fly fishing, Adam met Dan Christenen, who was intrigued by the idea of owning a brewery. Together, Adam, Brittney and Dan decided to go all in and create Oldman River Brewing.  

They were able to start moving forward with their venture after minimum production-capacity requirements for Alberta liquor manufacturers changed in 2013. They decided to open in Lundbreck because there were no other breweries within an hour’s radius, and it was close to home.

Because Lundbreck is central to Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass, along a major tourist highway, it seemed like a prime location.  

“We wanted to grab the Lethbridge and Calgary tourist traffic that frequents our area and also passes us on their way to B.C.,” says Brittney.       

Since opening their doors last summer, they have found their clientele to be diverse, usually between ages 30 and 65, from the surrounding area as well as travelling through from other parts of Alberta.

“We have a very supportive local crowd and, as we are still fairly new, we are always seeing new faces,” says Brittney. “We feel we have been well received by most people. Everyone seems to enjoy our staff and the relaxed space we have tried to create.”

The small-liquor manufacturing sector has been growing in the past few years.

“Most of the growth that has happened in the industry has occurred Calgary and north, so we have not seen much effect on the market that we are currently in,” she says. “We have not seen a change in competition since we have opened, but I am sure that won’t last for long.”

Since the birth of the Alberta Small Brewers Development Program, the number of producers has grown from 45 to almost 60.

“It’s great to see people’s views of beer changing from the mainstream,” says Brittney.“The biggest reason we wanted to get into this business was to bring flavours that just didn’t exist in our area, or if they did, you would have to pay quite a bit more than the average beer to get it.”

New developments are in store this year for Oldman River Brewery. While the beer so far has been offered on tap, soon it will also be available to take home in cans and bottles. As well, the owners hope to have the patio open for the summer, so prepare for relaxation and good company.

Oldman River Brewery will be involved in numerous events throughout the year, including Alberta beer festivals and local farmers markets.

Brittney says such events are “a great opportunity to get out to people that just haven’t been able to make the trip yet out to our location.”

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Adam Wilgosh conducts a sneak-peek tour of Oldman River Brewery last spring when the business hosted a chamber of commerce mix and mingle.   Photo by Tyler Ryan