Women Pioneers In The Okanagan Brewing Industry

Tin Whistle and Cannery Brewing are longstanding breweries of the Okanagan. Tin Whistle was Okanagan’s original brewery opening up in 1995 with the Cannery opening in 2001. Both of them have been inspired by the local fruits and have created unique beers that reflect that.

I have met Patt Dyck, co-owner of Cannery on several occasions over the last ten years, usually with her husband Ron and son Ian, and also in 2012 as part of my annual Women and Beer dinners held on International Women’s Day – March 8th.

And I finally got to meet Lorraine Nagy, owner of Tin Whistle, last year at the Penticton Fest of Ale. She has done a lot to turn around the twenty something year old brewery!

Fun and historical fact!

Both breweries moved to expanded locations in 2015, with Cannery starting fresh in a new location closer to the downtown core and Tin Whistle right behind taking over the old Cannery spot! And filling in the old Tin Whistle spot is the newest addition to Penticton – Highway 97.

I am proud to introduce to you – two great female pioneers of the industry, Patt Dyck owner of Cannery Brewing since its opening in 2001 and Lorraine Nagy, owner of Tin Whistle since 1998.

1) What brought you into the industry?

PD: A love of great food and drink.

LN: My family has always been in the service industry.  We used to own a hotel and we had been considering installing a microbrewery so when the family opted to sell the hotel I wanted to continue that dream so when the opportunity to own a micro- brewery presented itself I couldn’t help but go all in.

2) Why did you choose to be a brewery owner?

PD: Choice driven by like-minded people and opportunity.

LN: When I was first considering buying a business I had a number of options but the social aspects of a brewery just called to me.

3) What were you doing before you got into the beer industry?

PD: My husband and I owned and operated a restaurant in Naramata.BC

LN: I had been involved in many businesses. All my life I have been involved in the hospitality industry in many facets, hotel, restaurant, motel, beer & wine store

4) How did you discover your passion for beer?

PD: By drinking it! But also by falling in love with the process.

LN: The people in the beer scene are friendly and especially in the early years we all helped each other. To this day we still have a good relationship with many people in the industry

5) What kind of training do you have?

PD: I have a science based Bachelor’s degree and I have taken some business courses. I am not a brewer but I am certainly involved in the brewing process.

LN: I haven’t any brewing training. I have worked with brewers who have had their own breweries and brewpubs. I have BHE, RD in food., and a book keeping diploma.

6) What kind of owner are you?

PD: Definitely Hands on. Like most small business owners I wear many many hats.

LN: I act in a more administrative role; but I aim to inspire my team to excel in every way possible.

7) Are there advantages/disadvantages in being a female owner in the industry?

PD: Women tend to be more detail oriented and in this industry that can be an advantage. Women can also be great multi-taskers and that is an advantage to any small business owner.

LN: I have often wished that I were as physically strong as a man for all the aspects of brewery work where that is a plus.

8) What do you love about your job and the industry?

PD: I love our staff and our customers. I love the brewing community and the way that breweries and brewers work together. I love that my job continually demands more of me and that I get to drink great beer. I love all the relationships that we have with all the folks that work with us to make all this happen. It is always about the relationships.

LN: I love how everyone is happy in this industry and there are so many new options and styles of beer to try out. The creativity is enormously inspiring.

9) How has the industry changed since you came on board?

PD: This industry has changed so much in the last 17 years!  In those days we were craft beer missionaries, converting people, one beer drinker at a time. More players have everyone making better beers, which is so exciting.

LN: When I started in this industry it was such a niche group.  There were approximately 15 breweries in BC. In the years I’ve been here I’ve seen how much its grown (over 150 breweries now) Microbreweries are very popular and an exciting industry with which to be associated

10) What is your favourite beer of your brewery and why?

PD: At the moment my favourite is probably the Muse Extra Pale Ale. I love its balance of malt and fruity hop brightness. I also loved the Hop Chowdah, New England style IPA that we made last year.

LN: I’m a big fan of our Coconut Hopfenweisse – our summer time release  It’s so fresh and tropical and it makes me imagine spending my day at the beach.

11) What is your favourite beer outside of your brewery and why?

PD: I don’t think that I could choose just one!

LN: I would have to say Mt. Begbie’s Attila the Hun; it’s got a wonderful honey taste to it. Quite enjoyable.

12) Any advice for fellow women in the industry or wanting to get into the industry?

PD: Roll up your sleeves, find those rubber boots and dive in! Challenge your palette, be prepared to live outside of your comfort zone and enjoy the ride.

LN: I would say to prepare yourself for long but enjoyable hours.

13) Proudest achievement to date?

PD: The amazing, amazing, amazing team that we have here at Cannery Brewing

LN: When our Stag Apple Scotch ale became an award-winning ale. I was so excited when we won the bronze in the Canadian Brewing Awards. It was a very exciting day for everyone at our brewery.

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