It’s been more than 20 years since Mt. Begbie Brewery opened, but Tracey Larson still gets excited seeing their beer in liquor stores.
“Wow. We did that,” says Larson, one of the owners of Mt. Begbie Brewery.
Larson has a background in zoology, but went into brewing with her husband because it provided the means by which to live and work in Revelstoke. When the couple arrived in the 1990s, no businesses in town made beer. Microbreweries had a failure rate of one for every two. They took a risk.
“No one knew what microbreweries were. People didn’t know that beer had flavour.”
Back then, Budweiser was the drink of choice.
“People would say our beer was too hoppy, had too much flavour, was too filling, too this, too that,” says Larson. The difficulty was educating that this is what beer was suppose to taste like.
That and being female in a male-dominated industry.
“It was a real struggle for me to get recognized. People wouldn’t talk to me.”
Larson says she had to prove herself. It was hard, but bit by bit she proved she was more than capable.
For example, at a trade show she had one person came back and say she was the only one in the room that knew anything about beer.
“Because I could answer the technical questions.”
Such as what is the specific gravity of her beer.
“And I answered how would he like it quoted. In degrees Plato or Brix,” says Larson with a chuckle.
“He probably didn’t even know. He was just testing me.”
Larson says you can do anything you set out to do. Whatever it is. If you work and do you’re research.
“It’s like being a scientist, where you problem solve. It’s no different than running a business.”
You have to keep teaching yourself new things as the world is constantly changing. There’s always new marketing strategies, liquor laws, and even governments.
“I had no clue how to run a business.”
Now 23 years have passed since that first keg and Mt. Begbie Brewery sells beer across B.C., Alberta and into Sask. They’ve gone from a staff of two to 23. And in 2017 they were named brewery of the year at the Canadian Brewing Awards.
“I’m still amazed everyday at how far we’ve come.”
However, running the business today is just as tricky as it was when they first opened.
“Even after many years, it didn’t get easier. It just changes,” says Larson.
“We just have to roll with the punches.”
While her husband is operations manager and brewer, Larson says she doesn’t have a job title as such. She looks at market growth, sales growth, distribution, marketing and sales. And everything in between.
“I’m the glue. I don’t have a fancy title.”
For Larson, she loves her work. It’s important to not have a boring job because work occupies the majority of our lives.
“I don’t dread going into work. I love challenges, but maybe not too many at once,” says Larson with a laugh.