Pursuing a brewer’s dream, back in the hometown
Creating jobs for Islanders -
When husband and wife team Ken Spears and Ashley Condon moved home to PEI and were looking for Island locations to establish their craft brewery Copper Bottom Brewing, Condon realized the best spot was her hometown of Montague.
The small-town locale has proved to be an inspiration, spawning a project that earned the pair a Provincial Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation for the preservation of their building.
“We started out looking at Charlottetown, thinking about different spots, but I just came to feel that the best spot for us was right here,” said Condon, an experienced touring musician and recording artist. “Being here I’m close to my friends and family, and there are so many musicians in the area who I’ve played with and who supported me.”
Copper Bottom opened its doors in November in the former Eastern Graphic newspaper office overlooking the Montague River. They offer three craft beers and an eclectic calendar of events that include live music, games, trivia and a “pop-up library” night where patrons can borrow books while jazz music fills the background.
The operation opened with support from ACOA and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. It funded equipment purchases, and renovations that transformed their building from a newsroom into a well-lit taproom, performance space, and brewery.
“I see this place becoming a kind of magnet – I’d like to see people come to stay at the hotel, walk across here for a couple of drinks, and then walk to a restaurant or enjoy the waterfront,” Condon said. “This is such a beautiful town, I think people could really enjoy coming here and just walking the community for a weekend.”
“The other brewers have been great,” he said. ”They’ll carry items from other breweries and patronize each other’s businesses. We had our staff party at Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown and they had their staff party here.”
“Ashley and Ken are great examples of the ambitious, well-connected, hard-working entrepreneurs that are helping to grow Prince Edward Island’s economy every day,” Economic Development and Tourism Minister Chris Palmer said. “We are the Mighty Island because Islanders like them are dreamers and doers who know that government will help them turn their dreams into reality.”
Condon said that same interconnectedness is evident in the people who come through the doors of Copper Bottom Brewery.
“There will be college kids who are home, there will be older couples, indie music fans and blue collar guys here for a beer. I think people who never thought about craft beer before made a point to come just to show support and to try the beer,” she said.
Spears nodded. “And once they’ve tried it, they like it.”
The PEI population action plan focuses on recruiting, retaining, and repatriating with an emphasis on growing the Island’s rural population.