The new owners of the Cask and Cleaver Brewing hope to turn their pub into 100 Mile House’s social gathering hole.
Daniel Braaten and Neale Ward have been working since March to turn their space – the former Jackson’s Social Club – on Highway 97 into an old-style Viking-themed community pub.
“We’re really trying to model ourselves as an inclusive environment with great beer and great food. We want to create a spot that people have to go in the fall and winter where they can go to meet their friends and socialize where you’re not pressured to finish your meal and leave,” Ward, 37, said. “We are a brewery, not a bar… we’re more like an old-style pub, a community hub.”
Braaten, 31, who moved to 108 Mile Ranch from Chilliwack last year, is excited about the venture. As a teenager, he learned the trade at Langley’s Dead Frog Brewery, where he spent three years as production manager. But while he yearned to open his own brewery, he needed a partner.
When Ward, whom he had befriended in the Lower Mainland, bought the house next door to him in 108 Mile, the time appeared to be right. Jackson’s had closed down and was up for sale. Braaten approached his friend about going into business together.
Ward immediately jumped on board.
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“I was looking for something to do. I have a lot of operations and managerial experience and when I talked to the local WorkBC office up here I was told bluntly I was overqualified for any job I was going to find around here,” Ward said. “When Dan said ‘hey, let’s buy a brewery’ I said ‘that’s it, let’s do that!’”
Braaten and Ward’s backgrounds complement each other. While Braaten has experience in the brewery business, Ward has worked in the hospitality and finance industries. Ward is also a hobby chef and enjoys creating new dishes in the kitchen.
After taking possession in March, Ward said the two of them practically lived there for the next three months, gutting the old decor, remodelling the interior with wood from Sitka Log Homes and upgrading the kitchen and brewing equipment. Braaten said they chose the Viking aesthetic because his grandfather was Norweigan and because “I just love Vikings, it’s a cool culture and kind of in pop culture right now.”
“That first two months were spent out in the field, sourcing materials and the whole process of creating the vision we had for the space. We did all of it ourselves, Ward said.”
Viking culture meshes well with 100 Mile House’s own culture, Ward said. Vikings were community-oriented and had to come together to survive in their rugged homeland similar to the settler culture of the South Cariboo.
Since opening in mid-May they’ve continued their two-man show with Ward primarily in charge of the kitchen and Braaten in charge of the drinks.
Ward said their initial business projections have been “blown out of the water,” thanks to the overwhelming support from the community, and they’re now working to supply the demand.
It’s been especially encouraging for Braaten, who has spent the last several weeks perfecting signature beer brews, which include a lager, ale, porter, a west coast IPA and a citrus Belgian Wit. He’s dubbed the ale the Raging Red ale and the wit Loki’s Wit, noting the others will receive names as they’re finalized.
“Brewing is a lot of fun because you come up with an idea and when you brew it, it either works or it doesn’t,” Braaten said.
The Cask and Cleaver, located on Highway 97, is open at the moment Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 8 p.m.