Empty Keg Brew House your relaxed, family friendly, and socially responsible place.

Photo courtesy of EKBH.

At some point in our lives, we find ourselves in a situation when a decision is required if we want to move forward.

Empty Keg Brew House – Have you been in a situation that you prefer to delay instead of making a decision because you are not sure of the outcome? In general, it is normal to be concerned when we do not know how things will turn out.

Empty Keg Brew House – Starting your own business.

It is well known that starting a business is not easy nor is it for everyone.  In my opinion, most people have had a business idea in mind at some point in their lives. Throughout my employment as a business analyst, I have learned that every entrepreneur encounters roadblocks that slow them down or completely prevent them from starting their own business. On the other hand, I have dealt with clients that take all these roadblocks as learning opportunities along the way in their entrepreneurial path. Working with Kyle Hall of Empty Keg Brew House has taught me a way to deal with common issues in a more productive way while working on opening a business.

Build a case for Empty Keg Brew House.

Kyle and Kelly Hall are the owners and operators of our newest microbrewery in Merritt, BC, Canada called Empty Keg Brew House. While gathering more information to work on this story, I had the opportunity to learn more about the origins of Kyle’s business, and I am happy to share hoping that Kyle’s story will encourage you to take action and work on that business idea you have set aside. The fact is, there is never a bad time to launch a business if you have identified the need of your product or service.

the Rhubarb and Raspberry patch! Photo courtesy of EKBH.

Where did the idea of starting a microbrewery come from?

About 27 years ago the idea of brewing beer crossed Kyle’s mind. With only making $5.50 per hour to support his family back then, it was all about making cheap beer.  As a beer enthusiast, Kyle had never been to school for brewing, but instead he learned as he went. Kyle moved from extract to partial grain then full grain. Much to the delight of his family, that venture never took off, but his passion for beer continued to blossom. 5 years ago, Kyle remembers sitting around the table with his family and friends when someone suddenly said, “If you ever open a brewery, you will never be able to keep your kegs full”. Hence, the name Empty Keg Brew House.

Questions of a small business?

As any other entrepreneur, Kyle questioned himself: should we open a microbrewery? Could we open a microbrewery? When the opportunity came a few years later; he did not hesitate to seize it. He decided to move forward with his business idea. For that Kyle decided to further his skills in brewing, as a result, he completed the Master Beer Brewing Certificate in 2015.
Kyle envisioned creating a place where locals and visitors could enjoy various types of locally brewed beers made from as many local ingredients as possible.

Photo courtesy of EKBH.

Getting into the Craft Beer industry.

If you think the most difficult part of starting a business is taking the crucial first step, you are wrong. Just wait to learn all the different licenses and regulations you must obtain to move forward within your specific industry. I remember Kyle working hard to get his variance rezoning approved. He also had to apply for his manufacturer and lounge endorsement licenses. It was not just applying for a permit or license; it was starting over and making changes so that your application can move forward to the next phase and waiting to see if there was any other requirement at the end of the day. Many entrepreneurs ask themselves at this phase, how much longer will it take to get their licenses? They always want it to go faster to stay within their milestones.

Grand Opening July 3, 2019

What was your experience at the Grand Opening?

For most people, a grand opening can be a powerful way to launch your new business. It creates awareness and generates a buzz about your new product or service offered in your community. When I asked Kyle about his own experience after all the hurdles he had gone through, his answer was: “We were scared out of our minds.” By the end of the soft opening he recalls asking himself – “What have we gotten ourselves into? It was a whirlwind that seemed so overwhelming. We worked against a tight deadline to be ready for the big date. I was lucky to count on my wife Kelly, my daughter, my nephew and other family members and friends who helped with the renovations until the day prior to the opening.”

experience merritt

My experience during the first months in business.

Before starting your own business, you work on financial projections and cash flow based on market research. As part of this market research, you determine your target market, but it is not until you are running your business you realize how close your projections are to your actuals. While determining his target market, Kyle looked at college age and up to maybe 45-50, but they have a wide range of friends that come in. The typical attitude on presenting the idea of a local Brew House was “we don’t need another bar in town”. But Empty Keg Brew House is a place where you can go and socialize, hang out, play some games while you have a beer, glass of wine or coffee.

‘Give-Back Wednesday’ donation went to NVSSS Housing First. Photo courtesy of EKBH.

What is Empty Keg Brew House 5 year vision?

Kyle would like to continue to do what they are doing now. They have focused on a “Give back Wednesday”, which is a way for the customers and the Keg to give back to local non-profit organizations. It is very well received; it is contributing to help local organizations who are playing a key component for the betterment of our social, economic, environmental, and cultural conditions of the Nicola Valley. As mentioned by Kyle “We would like to continue helping these organizations on a monthly basis. On the first Wednesdays of the month we “Give Back” a portion of our sales to local non-profit organizations. Although, Empty Keg does not have a Kitchen, they do offer appetizers and they support other eating establishments by allowing food from those approved sources to accompany the beers they offer. For example, they have Yaki Joe’s Pizza right next door and clients often bring in food from there and have a beer when they are hanging out with their family and friends.

Photo courtesy of EKBH.

What is your favorite thing about being a business owner?

Running a small business can be very rewarding, but as I said before it’s not for everyone. There are easier ways to make a living. Are all the long hours, hard work and sacrifice worth it? It sounds like it. According to Forbes, 90 percent of survey respondents say they would do it again and 65% say they are better off financially than if they’d remained someone else’s employee.

Kyle and Kelly have worked very hard to be able to open their brew house. They have dealt with parking variance rezoning, manufacturers licensing requirements, inspections and much more. I would not be able to calculate how much sweat equity Kyle and Kelly have put into their business. For every setback they experienced while working on their business, their commitment and dedication became stronger than ever.

Merritt’s Kitchen Party.

As Kyle said “There are so many things to do, we can do whatever we wish to, the two captains (he was referring to himself and his wife Kelly) can steer the ship wherever we want. It is rewarding to see smiles on everyone’s faces when they are enjoying not only the product but the atmosphere. People say this is a great place. We’ve had a lot of visitors from out of town say that our space reminds them of a “Kitchen Party””.

Empty Keg Brew House is a small scale micro Brewery.

Empty Keg Brew House is a small scale micro Brewery located in Merritt. This Brewery has recently opened their doors in our community offering locally made craft beer. A great place where locals and visitors can enjoy various types of in-house brewed beers made from local ingredients.

If you have not visited this place, I encourage you to stop by and enjoy some of their offerings. With more than eight unique beers on tap, Empty Keg offers a variety of options that include Kilt Lifter Scottish 80, Scared the Dark Stout, Blond Ale and many more.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empty Keg Brew House
2190 Voght St, Merritt, BC V1K 1C1
(250) 315-2337

www.emptykegbrewhouse.ca

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Merritt, British Columbia, Canada bee

Camping in Merritt BC and the Nicola Valley

Harmon Lake in the Kane Valley

 

This is the second time around for this blog on Camping in Merritt and the Nicola Valley.  I previously released this in the winter but decided it might be more interesting to those looking for a great spot to camp without over crowding.  The site at Harmon Lake is a Forestry Recreation Site and therefore there are no reservations taken.  Mid week is usually the best time to arrive as the weekends can be quite busy.

My favourite spot for camping in Merritt BC Canada

I have talked about camping in Merritt BC and the Nicola Valley before but this time I want to introduce you to one of my top spots – Harmon Lake in the Kane Valley.  I know we have shifted into winter and camping is probably not high on your list of things to do, but I need to get this down on paper now so you can file this under–“remember for camping season” 

What do you like to do when camping in Merritt BC?

We like to start our day with a delicious breakfast.  There is nothing better than eating pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup and bacon beside a beautiful lake while camping in Merritt BC and the Nicola Valley! Scrambled eggs and gourmet sausages are pretty good too.

Camping in Merritt BC

Great Breakfast With Family

Post breakfast activities

After breakfast we grabbed our bikes and headed out on a little trip along Kane Valley Road.  There are many lakes to see on this road with wild life on either side, especially birds for people who are into this activity.  Bikes can also be used on the 55 kilometers of x-country ski trails with the added bonus of picnic tables and pit toilets in various places along the trail.  These facilities are not maintained in the summer so please be kind to your fellow adventurers and leave the places clean.

Merritt BC Camping

Game night while camping

We interspersed our activities with some serious reading and outstanding meals.  As well, we filled in our night time with Board Games and sitting around the fire.

Nicola Valley campfires

Nicola Valley Campfires and stories

“There is nothing like sitting around the campfire and reading a good book”–Andrea Reynolds

How to get to Harmon Lake in Merritt

From Merritt, BC you take the Okanagan Connector (Hwy 97C) towards Kelowna for approximately 14 kilometers.  You will see the sign for Harmon Lake (if you missed that sign look for the x-country ski sign–it will get you to the same place). Make the right turn onto Kane Valley Rd and follow it approximately  8 kilometers.  At this point you have a decision to make.  On the left you will see the entrance to the east campground.  If you stay on Kane Valley Rd for about 800 meters you will come to the West Campground. (link to map)

experiencemerritt

Heading west 

The west campground in my mind is prettier than the east campground and the sites are further apart.  The down side is that it can be windier than its counterpart.  The east side has more amenities such as the boat launch, the campground host, access to the lake and hiking trails.

What you need when you are camping at Harmon Lake

My family prefers non motorized activities and so we bring our bikes, kayaks and hiking boots

Harmon Lake in Merritt adventures

If you like motorized vehicles there are plenty of places to use your ATV, dirt bike or fishing boat with a small motor.

Harmon Lake in Merritt BC

Looking out from the shoreline trail at Harmon Lake

Hiking in the Kane Valley

Hiking is one of our favourite things to do.  The easiest hike is the shoreline trail that takes you around the lake.  One of the bonuses of this hike is that it is located in a Forestry Recreational Area. It has an interpretive site that provides a lot of information on the eco systems of the lake area.  This is an easy hike and takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

There are 55 kilometers of ski trails with varying levels of difficulty.  They all provide a great forest experience. Times of these hikes vary with length and difficulty.

Kayaking on Harmon Lake

Harmon is great for this activity.  The lake is small so you are usually not far from any edge of the lake so you really don’t have to worry about falling in the Lake!  It is a beautiful lake but it seems even prettier when you are looking on shore from your Kayak

Kayaking in Merritt BC

Cruising on Harmon lake

When all is said and done it is easy to see why one of my favourite places to camp in Merritt and the Nicola Valley is Harmon Lake.

Harmon Lake is camping in Merritt BC

Nicola Valley Campgrounds

Merritt Winter Attractions and Adventures

Top Winter Things To Do and Activities in Merritt BC

“… we have learned that Merritt BC Canada could very well become a top winter adventure destination in Canada!”

Merritt Winter Attractions! Yes, Merritt has many. As a result we have highlighted 5 Merritt winter attractions and adventures worthy of your time this season. In fact, Merritt winter adventures, is a hidden gem in British Columbia. However, people are beginning to take notice more and more with the increased search engine presence educating travelers on the first-class winter adventures available here in the Nicola Valley. Haven’t you heard?

“Merritt BC Canada is “Adventure Ready”!

Powder Winter Attractions

The Nicola Valley – with its vast wilderness backcountry forests, network of gravel roads and hundreds of lakes – is an ideal playground for enjoying snow and ice winter adventures. Most noteworthy our snow is generally light powder snow. What does that mean? It means it is easy to maneuver around in the snow making for good winter adventure conditions. As a result many regions in British Columbia experience fog, rain and clouds during the winter months… Merritt tends to see sunshine more than most.

“Merritt is a hidden gem for winter attractions and adventures. When the world learns what Merritt has to offer, winter enthusiasts will converge on this small winter wonderland in a heart beat.” Greg Girard

Experience Community Program

For just under 2 years I have had the opportunity to work with the many good people at Tourism Nicola Valley and in the community of Merritt, BC, Canada. Together we are building a stronger and more versatile 4-season tourism industry under the “Experience” brand. The “Experience Community” program is a very successful small and rural content marketing program we here, at eh Canada Travel, have introduced to the community on Merritt. Hence, now we have a group of positive and passionate locals participating in the marketing of their community through story telling and experiences via a living website and community blogsite.

“This has been the best thing that has happened in Merritt in the last 10 years!” Shelley Sanders – Canadian Country Music Heritage Society.

experiencemerritt

Creating Jobs In Merritt

We have learned that Merritt BC Canada could very well become a top winter adventure destination in Canada! Bold right! Well I believe it and many around me believe it too. A stronger Merritt winter attraction and adventure season has many benefits including establishing a consistent flow of new money into the community therefore supporting the current stores, accommodations, and restaurants… as well as, attracting new stores and services to the community. Consequently, there is that “creating jobs” thing too. That is pretty important. Where is the bad in that? There is none.

Learn Through Positive Partnerships 

In working with the front line businesses in the community we have met so many good people and key stakeholders who have taught us so much about the Nicola Valley. Some of the associations we have been fortunate enough to work with include Tourism Nicola Valley, Vision Merritt,  Community Futures, Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, and Chamber of Commerce. Therefore, these are the groups we would recommend working with on any Merritt BC decision making process. It has been a positive experience working with them. They are really, the true ambassadors of Merritt BC Canada!

What To Know About Merritt Winter Attractions

The top winter things to do in Merritt BC, based on my humble opinion, are listed below. I have selected 5 Merritt winter attractions and adventures which will “Wow” your socks off. Included below are links which connect you to maps, tips, photos, videos, contact information and plenty of descriptive text. The links to the preferred Merritt resources below provide you everything you need to know to plan and book one of Merritt’s first-class winter attractions and adventures.

5 Merritt Winter Attractions and Adventures

merritt snowmobiling adventures

Another great snow day snowmobiling in the Nicola Valley

MERRITT SNOWMOBILING / SLEDDING

Throughout the Nicola Valley snowmobiling is getting a lot of positive press lately. Therefore more and more people are finding out about their little snowmobile retreat. In fact, Merritt sledding has made a few top magazines in British Columbia for snowmobiling.

“Sledding around Merritt is an adventure worth seeking out.” Snoriderswest.com 2016

The Merritt snowmobiling adventure destination most noteworthy in this region is the Coquilhalla back country. You have heard of the Coquihalla Highway but did you know the backcountry is a hot spot for snowmobiling? Likewise there are other sledding destinations in the region as well. Stoyoma, Honeymoon Lakes, Hooshum Ridge and, near by, Thynne Mountain (Brookmere) are considered worthy sledding destinations as well. If you want to ride steep and deep or enjoy a day of boondocking, you’ll find plenty of sledding action in and around Merritt and the Nicola Valley.
CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SLEDDING IN MERRITT.

merritt cross country skiing - kane valley

Cross country skiing on the Kane Valley Trails

MERRITT CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

First of all remember these 2 words – Kane Valley. That is all you have to do to get your next xc ski fix in the Nicola Valley. Why is this important? Because cross country skiing in the Nicola Valley starts and ends on the Kane Valley xc ski trails. The valley has over 50 kilometres of groomed trails ideal for wilderness Nordic skiing. Consequently, the trails are well marked with signage, decorated with shelters (warming huts) and there are washrooms on site too.
CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CROSS COUNTRY SKIING IN MERRITT.

merritt snowshowing

What a great day to go winter hiking (a.k.a snowshoeing) in Merritt

MERRITT SNOWSHOEING

In our minds snowshoeing has always been a winter version of summer hiking. It is in many ways winter hiking. Likewise snowshoeing involves exploring the same summer trails but provides a winter perspective to the scenery. Personally, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your adventures through a seasonal lens. Finally snowshoeing trails are available in the Kane Valley region of the Nicola Valley. Plan properly, and one can also snowshoe the vast network of hiking trails and gravel roads available in the backcountry.
CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SNOWSHOEING IN MERRITT.

merritt ice fishing

Enjoy the solitude ice fishing in the Nicola Valley

MERRITT ICE FISHING

If you are new here, there is one thing you should know. Throughout the Nicola Valley there are over 200+ lakes! Yes, you heard me right, 200. As a result the word is getting out that you can ice fish, “A lake a day for as long as you stay” when visiting Merritt BC. Merritt ice fishing season starts in mid-December as the colder weather sets in and 6 inches of hard ice covers the lakes. And… do not forget to get your fishing licence.
CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ICE FISHING IN MERRITT.

courthouse gallery merritt

Paintings on display at the Courthouse Gallery in Merritt

MERRITT WINTER ENTERTAINMENT

After the days filled with enjoying our first class Merritt winter attractions and adventures you deserve some quality down time. What better way to enjoy the nights than by attending some of our great entertainment venues and dining establishments. Certainly one of the many pubs, restaurants, open mics, spas, junior hockey game, live music, art galleries, and/or community events will entertain you and your group. Hence why Merritt is a good host day and night. Therefore the community will keep you active and entertained during your winter vacation here in the Nicola Valley.
CLICK TO MEET OUR ENTERTAINMENT ATTRACTIONS IN MERRITT.

Top Winter Things To Do In Merritt BC Canada

Best Merritt Winter Adventures

​Nicola Valley arts and culture!

Our artistic and cultural style is full of variety, against a background of pine trees and golden grasses.

Nicola Valley Art

Artist Jean Kiegerl

Of course, we experience arts and culture wherever we are…

Nicola Valley arts and culture is worth planning an experience around!

Arts and culture feeds our soul…
And our geography informs our culture and our art.

The Nicola Valley, in southern interior BC, Canada, with its sage hills, clear creeks, and warm sun encourages the kind of slow pace that inspires art in all its forms.

And the rich history and culture of the valley elicits respect for what has gone before, and invites a sense of possibility for what is coming.

Nicola Valley arts and culture: country music, graffiti art, rock paintings, children’s books, local blogs, plays performed by theater students, dance lessons…

 

What is Culture?

Let’s define the terms we will be writing about…

Culture Definition

What is Culture?

Live Science: Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts.

So, culture is the big concept, …

A definition and opinion from Study.com: …Think about what makes you and your family special. What language do you speak? What traditions and beliefs do you have? Do you enjoy special foods and wear clothing to represent your family or history? The culture of a group of people is the traditions and beliefs that they practice in their daily lives. 

This gives us a wide range of topics to write about! Social habits! Language! Benefits of cultural diversity!

But a second meaning of culture suggests the direct interaction with social and artistic expressions, as the following quote suggests…

Huffington Post: If you can count on one hand the number of times you’ve gone to a museum in your city, a theater performance and a concert, you’re missing out on the enriching world of culture that is there to be enjoyed. Why should you turn off the TV for once and get out there to take in some culture?

“Take in some culture” like a museum tour, a concert, a theater performance, or art exhibit. It helps us absorb or comprehend our lives and experiences. And it’s fun!

What is Art?

Merritt Arts and Culture

Merritt Artist Joel Reid

What is Art? Always a lively discussion!

There are lots of quotes on this question. Lots of answers.

So art is one of our earliest expressions of culture. It helped early humans to organize their lives, to understand the world around them, and to communicate those understandings. And that is what art does for us. It helps us to understand how we feel about things and helps us to organize our world. SVCC

(I am definitely adding a reason to engage with art…get more organized! How about you?)

“Art is an expression that transcends religion, culture, country, people and time.” Amit Ray

And discussions on this question are endless, everywhere.

We often have these discussions ourselves during afternoon teas at the Courthouse Arts Gallery on Nicola Avenue. “Is this art?”

“No? How come?”

“Yes? Why? What makes it art?”

Pour another cup of tea and we’ll figure it out.

Where is the Nicola Valley?

Nicola Valley is in the southern interior of BC, near the west coast of Canada.

Nicola Valley Arts and Culture

Nicola Valley Artist Bev Veale

The town of Merritt, in the Nicola Valley, is the center of the Coquihalla highway system, with easy four lane access to large and small communities, a regional airport, and two international airports.

In this central location we have quick access to many cultural experiences not only in our own valley, but also over the mountains to other communities with engaging arts experiences.

The Nicola Valley is sunny and dry ranch country, surrounded by rolling hills, lakes, and creeks. You’ll see Ponderosa pines, sagebrush or rabbit bush, and bunch grass as you come in to our valley.

We are…

  • in a valley surrounded by hils and mountains
  • on the Gold Country Tour
  • close to the Shuswap valley
  • and just a short and breathtaking drive to the internationally-known Okanagan Valley, with its famous wine tours and art galleries.

The Nicola Valley is a hub of BC highways, and a growing hub of musicians, artists, and performers…

And What Is Nicola Valley Arts and Culture?

Merritt Street Art

Merritt Bus Bench Street Art

Our valley inspires original country music, landscape paintings, and sculptures made from natural stones and branches.

Street benches that look like wagon wheels…

We are the home of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Walk of Stars, and the country music and western themed murals of artist Michelle Loughery. First Nations pictographs and stone structures are overlooking our lakes and creeks.

We also host the Bass Coast electronic music and art festival, Home Routes concerts, and put on school wide SD58 Arts Festivals.

The Nicola Valley arts and culture style is full of variety, against a background of pine trees and golden grasses. From stilettos to cowboy boots, chainsaw carvings and beaded earrings, to flute concertos and banjos, the Nicola Valley is a center of creative expression….

Come and See For Yourself!

Experience Arts and Culture in the Nicola Valley!

Nicola Valley Courthouse Arts Gallery

Nicola Valley Courthouse Arts Gallery

Stop downtown Merritt and get oriented. Follow the Walk of Stars route, check out the murals, visit the museum. Spend time in the Courthouse Arts Gallery and gift shop, with goods like local tea and honey, guitar string bracelets, hand weavings, art on the wall.

If you come in July, tour our Art Walk with artists displayed in twenty downtown businesses and civic centers. or attend our country music “Rockin River Fest”.

Here in late November? Join us for Country Christmas and our Festival of Trees.

And if you are here on a Friday, drop into our Open Mic Night at the Kekuli Cafe. Bring your instrument, or favourite poetry.

Get in touch with us to discover featured musicians at the Country Music Hall of Fame or in our outdoor Spirit Square.

Maybe we can set you up with an arts tour!

Complete with local refreshments, of course…

  • Visit the Nicola Valley Courthouse Arts Gallery and Artisan Shop
  • Check out the Public Art Works by our local artists.
  • And next see the Michelle Loughery murals? And hear the community story of their origin?
  • Want to get a taste of our local music scene, with the likes of Bobby Garcia and Al & Denise?

We’ll see what we can do…

Nicola Valley Arts and Culture awaits!

Love the arts!

Jano

Nicola Valley Arts and Culture

       (All media here by permission)