British Columbia

Pursuit of hoppiness: Merritt, B.C., gets its first microbrewery

The central Interior city now has its first microbrewery after the Empty Keg Brew House opened on Wednesday. 

Long-time beer maker opens a craft brewery in the Nicola Valley

Empty Keg Brew House sits on Voght Street, the main road that runs through Merritt, B.C. (Empty Keg Brew House (Facebook))

Located just off the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Kamloops, Merritt, B.C., has its first microbrewery now that the Empty Keg Brew House officially opened last week on the city's main street. 

Twenty-seven years ago, Empty Keg Brew House co-owner and brew master Kyle Hall had a young family and little money. He decided to try his hand at making cheap, homemade beer. 

Hall began with simple brew extract kits and table sugar. It wasn't the best beer, Hall says, but it was cheap.

Eventually, Hall advanced to making brews using some real grain in place of extracts, and finally full-grain brews.

"About five years ago [I thought], 'you know, everyone really likes my beer. I wonder if, just maybe, we can do something with this,'" Hall told Shelley Joyce, host of Daybreak Kamloops

Empty Keg Brew House officially opened on Wednesday, May 8, in Merritt. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

A year and a half ago, Hall and his wife Kelly Hall decided to take the plunge and work on opening a brewery. 

"The community has been very, very supportive. Not only the community, but the council, and a lot of the regulatory bodies as well. It's been a long road, but it's been encouraging."

All about beer

Empty Keg Brew House, which features a seating capacity of 60, sits on Voght Street, the main road that runs through Merritt. Hall himself made all the tables and bar tops out of reclaimed fir. He even made the sign outside.

"My personal touches are everywhere," he said. 

The business has eight new and completely different brews on tap. 

Hall says Empty Keg Brew House tries to source as many ingredients from B.C. producers as possible. The brewery buys grain from Gambrinus Malting in Armstrong, located in the North Okanagan, and hops from Northwest Hop Farm in Chilliwack, located in the Fraser Valley. 

"When you taste some of the flavours that we have here, it brings a whole new party to your palate," says brew master Kyle Hall. (Empty Keg Brew House (Facebook))

Hall grows six different varieties of his own hops, and sneaks them into his beer batches on occasion.

Hall loves dark beer, although he notes many people find it scary. He hopes to win some converts to the brewery's dark ale choices.

"When you taste some of the flavours that we have here, it brings a whole new party to your palate."

Listen to the full interview here:

On tap will be eight new beers at Merritt's first micro-brewery. 6:28

With files by Daybreak Kamloops

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