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The entrance to Columbia Brewery
|Location||Creston, British Columbia
|Opened||1898 (as Steele Brewery)|
The Columbia Brewery, located in Creston, British Columbia, was once a part of the Fort Steele Brewery which opened in 1898 by Fritz Sick who went on to establish breweries in twelve towns with his son Emil in Canada and the United States. The Forte Steele Brewing Company was earlier known as the Kaiser and Sick Brewery. A reproduction of this brewery has been re-constructed at the entrance of the Fort Steele Heritage town, located ten minutes north of nearby Cranbrook.
In 1901 the Fort Steele brewery relocated to Fernie where it later became known as the Fernie/Fort Steele brewery. This was one of four breweries operating in the Kootenay area at this time. The other active breweries were Cranbrook, Nelson, and Trail.
In the late 1950s, these breweries were combined under one name — Interior Breweries — and were later combined yet again to a central location of Creston. Creston became the ideal location because of its excellent water source and was in the heart of the geographical market at this time.
In 1959–60 Interior Breweries began producing their beer in the newly built brewery in Creston. Interior Breweries soon felt a name change would better reflect their broadening distribution of quality beers. In 1972, Interior Breweries became known as the Columbia Brewing Company and launched provincial distribution of its beer.
In 1974, Columbia Brewing Company was purchased by the Labatt Brewing Company, a larger company with plans on expanding the Columbia market. The Columbia Brewing Company was renamed in 1993 to Columbia Brewery. Labatt was then bought by the Belgium brewing company, Interbrew, which then merged with the Brazilian Brewing Company, Companhia de Bebidas das Américas, or Ambev, to form InBev. InBev purchased Anhauser Busch in 2008, to dominate as the world's largest beer producer, now known as AB-InBev.
The brewery is best known for Kokanee, a light Pilsner-style beer 5.0% alcohol v/v. The brewery also produces Kokanee Gold, an amber Lager 5.3% alcohol v/v, Kootenay True Ale, a lighter style ale 5.0% alcohol v/v, Kokanee Light, a light beer 4.0% alcohol v/v, and as of July 15, 2009, Alexander Keith's, an India Pale Ale 5.0% alcohol v/v. In the past, Kokanee that came in cans was canned near Vancouver, British Columbia. Having recently undergone a large expansion around 44,000 square feet (4,100 m2), since 2005, the Columbia Brewery now produces and cans its own beer.
- "Fort Steel Brewing Company 1898-1920". 9 January 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- Eckersley, Lorne (16 July 2009). "Columbia Brewery introduces Alexander Keith's IPA". Retrieved 21 August 2009.