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Shuswap couple ricochet from injury to launch new home-based brewery

Meaghan and Marc Zaichkowsky open Ricochet Brewing

A work-related injury and a passion for home brewing led to the creation of a new business for Marc and Meaghan Zaichkowsky.

After two years of planning and preparation, the Shuswap couple recently opened their new home-based brewery, Ricochet Brewing. Part of that preparation included renovating the two-car garage in their backyard and transforming it into a brewery, complete with their own canning machine.

Ricochet’s first products are Mountainside Pilsner, Grapefruit IPA, Firehouse Red Ale and Coffee Stout. Marc described the pilsner as a “light, easy drinking summer beer.” The IPA, too, is a summer favourite, heavy on the hops made with grapefruits sourced from DeMille’s Farm Market.

The Zaichkowskys partnered with neighbour and Reverend Coffee owner Steve Janz to create the stout. As for the red ale, its name is a tribute to local firefighters and other first responders.

Marc is fire chief with the Tappen Sunnybrae Fire Department, and Janz a volunteer firefighter.

The work injury Marc sustained was from falling off a ladder while running his construction company.

“I went through some surgeries and got to the point where doing my regular construction duties wasn’t a viable option,” said Marc, explaining he had to get off the tools and move more into management. It was around this time the dream of a brewery began.

“This was a hobby that started on the back deck; it soon became a viable option for a future career after I received the work injury.”

The Zaichkowskys were encouraged by friends in construction and fellow firefighters, who taste-tested their homemade brews.

“They were finding it very satisfying, and with the amount of different batches we had done and the different flavours, we decided, let’s take these into production and start a full-scale brewery in our backyard,” said Marc.

Over the next couple of years the entrepreneurial couple researched the feasibility of a home-based brewery, and then took all the steps necessary to make it happen. That included working with Specific Brewing Distilling, which provided all the brewing equipment custom to the Zaichkowsky’s floor space and specific needs.

“Our main focus for this brewery was distribution,” said Marc. “It’s on our personal property and we still have three young kids we have to attend to and we still want to live the Shuswap lifestyle. So we decided to make this a home-based business and reach out to liquor stores and restaurants to move our product for us.

“It is not the most common approach. The most profit off a pint of beer is through a tap room where you’re selling for $9 a pint. Here we’re selling for just under $5 a can, so the profit margins are different, but our overhead is a lot smaller here.”

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The cans Ricochet produces feature a silhouette of Bastion Mountain and a ricocheting ball. Asked about the company’s name, the Zaichkowskys explained it’s about transition.

“We pulled Ricochet out of taking life’s ups and downs, our injury in the construction world and making the most of what we’ve been given and taking it to its max,” said Marc.

“Rebounding from that and heading in a new direction,” added Meaghan.

Currently, the Zaichkowskys are selling their product in four packs at the Market by the Bay/Music in the Bay from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Centennial Park in Blind Bay, and at their home brewery, at 3865 Sunnybrae Canoe Point Rd. (close to Sunnybrae Vineyards and Winery), open Fridays, 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 11:30 to 6 p.m. Visitors are asked to drive through the carport and park at the back of the property – not on the road.

The Zaichkowskys will be hosting their grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 6. For more information, visit the Ricochet Brewing page on Facebook.
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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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