Published On: Tuesday, 31 July 2018
Axe & Barrel Brewing Company: One of the Region's Best
WESTSHORE – The success of the Axe & Barrel Brewing Company is what happens when you combine a passion for quality craft beer with a location that has terrific local significance. Located at the site of The Loghouse Pub, the Axe & Barrel Brewery is part of a complex of structures (situated at 2323 Millstream Road) that include a revamped public house, the vast Liquor Planet liquor store and the new Axe & Barrel Brewery.
“Getting to where we are now is the result of a gradual evolution. Since it’s a two acre property, we had plenty of room. We took the small liquor store, built a big one, moved the product over and then ramped up Liquor Planet making it one of the biggest liquor stores in BC,” explained company co-owner Ron Cheeke, who works with his wife and business partner Diana Cheeke.
Cheeke, a one-time realtor and natural born entrepreneur, recognized that with the Liquor Planet outlet open and the old liquor store vacant he had a building at his disposal he could put to good use – the catalyst for the launch of his own brewery.
“About five years ago we started exploring the idea of becoming craft brewers. There we were, we already had a pub and a liquor store, so what would go hand in hand with those? Well you already know, we decided to become the first brewery in Langford, which is what we created,” he said.
But a brewery can’t exist without a Brewmaster and with Andrew Tessier at the helm as the Axe & Barrel’s Head Brewer the operation has the very best. Having been involved in craft brewing literally since he was in high school, Tessier brings more than 20 years of experience to his position.
Before joining the Axe & Barrel team he worked in various small breweries across the country, including spending a decade at Victoria’s iconic Swans Brewery Pub, Tessier uses those skills to create the Axe & Barrel’s expanding range of distinctive products.
“We have a few select brands of beer that we produce and Ron encourages me to be creative and experiment. It’s exciting to try out new things, like our Mother Pucker, our Westshore PA and our Langford Logger. It’s exciting to be able to try out new recipes,” he said.
A unique aspect of the Axe & Barrel is its distinctive 75 seat lounge, licensed to seat 35 indoor and 40 on the adjoining patio. “Having a lounge is a key component of the Axe & Barrel Brewery. This is a fairly new feature but something that’s becoming increasingly popular among craft brewers, where the brewery is allowed to have a lounge rather than just a small tap room,” Tessier said.
“In fact, we were the first brewery lounge in the Victoria area. This provides a great way for people to come to the brewery, to sit and enjoy and sample our product in a mini pub like setting. It’s a cool feature for a brewery to have a place where people can come and enjoy full servings of our craft beer, local wine’s, spirits and snacks as opposed to just a taster. You can also fill a growler, take home a six-pack of beer and purchase some great branded clothing items.”
Located as it is in a significant residential area the Axe & Barrel’s owners anticipate the expansive operation will become an increasingly popular local focal point. “With the brewery and the fully stocked liquor store on site we’re offering one stop convenience,” Cheeke said.
“Our key location, with two seven story apartment towers going in right now across the street, and another pair on the Liquor Planet side, we’re getting a lot of our neighbors and local residents who can simply walk over and join us in the lounge or on our sunny grass patio. Our goal is to become ‘the local’ for the people living in our community.”
While a relative newcomer to the Victoria areas craft beer scene, the Axe & Barrel has already earned a significant reputation. “We were recently ranked as one of Victoria’s top five breweries in a CBC survey which really bowled me over. With the summer coming up this will be great time for people to come out and join us for a quality fresh craft beer,” he said.