Walk through Sea Change brewing’s new space, and you will see rows of large silver vats. There are flats filled with beer cans.
But, it’s clearly a work in progress. In the front of the building, a bar has been roughed in. Right now, it’s a collection of wood beams and dreams. In the production area, near the beer vats, there’s a copper still, glass door open.
Sea Change is a local brewery that’s been around for five years, and its name is well-known in the Edmonton area. It was born with the brewery and tap room near Argyll Road, and has grown to include a taproom in Beaumont and the new facility just off 99th Street, known as Happy Beer Street. But, make no mistake, it’s still a small business.
And the owners want to expand. Part of the plan is for Sea Change to expand into spirit production. Under the Shiddy’s brand, it’s already making canned ready-to-drink (RTD) “sparkling vodka” beverages. When the bar opens, it won’t just pour Sea Change beer, but clear spirits and, down the road, whiskey.
They’re part of a revolution in the provincial brewing and distilling industry. In 2013, the province repealed a rule that didn’t allow anyone to make and sell alcoholic beverages unless they produced 500,000 litres of the stuff a year. As of today, the Alberta Craft Distillers Association (ACDA) has more than 30 members on its web page.
Despite the rapid growth in the number of distilleries, make no mistake — these are anything but get-rich-quick businesses. In fact, there are many, many challenges the industry faces as a whole. The Sea Change group is finding that out.