British Columbia

Long-running Vancouver brewery faces 'mind-boggling' rents in hunt for new home

With its lease nearing its end, local beer legend Storm Brewing — one of the city's longest running craft breweries — has joined the ranks of those looking for a new home in Vancouver.

'I'm going to have to pay twice as much as I'm paying now,' says Storm Brewing founder as lease nears end

The brewery is currently located in an industrial area of East Vancouver. (Storm Brewing/Facebook)

Sky-high real-estate prices aren't just affecting residential renters in Vancouver — the city's booming craft beer industry is also finding itself priced out.

Local beer legend Storm Brewing, one of the city's longest running craft breweries, has joined the ranks of those looking for a new home in Vancouver.

"The building just got sold for a lot of money — like, $6.5 million," said James Walton, Storm's founder and head brewer.

Walton's 25-year rental lease is almost up, and going back into the rental market after more than two decades is no easy feat.

"Everything is really expensive now, it's mind boggling," he told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.

"I'm going to have to pay twice as much as I'm paying now."

'Lots of closed doors'

Storm, which is located in an industrial area of East Vancouver, is not the only business being priced out in the area, Walton said.

He says he's not sure what will happen if even industrial areas are growing out of reach for businesses.

"I see lots of closed doors because no business can afford to service that amount of debt," he said.

"I guess [we'll see] more upscale things, things that make more money, or turn it all into condos."

Founder James Walton says high rental rates make him worry about the future of craft brewing in Vancouver. (Storm Brewing/Facebook)

Beer pioneer

The beer scene in Vancouver has changed significantly since Walton established Storm in 1994.

"When I started, it was complete obscurity and nobody knew what a microbrewery was," he said. "For 20 years, I was down there by myself with no other breweries around."

Back then, there were a lot more rules around brewing: no tasting rooms or growler fills were permitted, for example.

Changes to the rules a few years ago changed the landscape and helped cause an explosion in the number and popularity of craft breweries.

Storm has always been able to adapt to circumstances, Walton said, and the current challenges won't be the end of the brewery.

He plans to scale up the business by trying to sell more beer, perhaps with a canning line, and find a bigger location with a lounge.  

"I'll just have to work a lot harder," he said.

With files from The Early Edition


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