Pure Mountain Water and Passion Brew Great Beer
It was 25 years ago when Kazuko Komatsu brought her entrepreneurial spirit and Samurai heritage to Pacific Western Brewing (PWB). She recognized the value of the employees and the spring of pure mountain water that the brewery had been built around.
Based on those strengths she purchased the brewery in 1991. She knew she could create a strong brand and develop an international reputation from the brewery originally built in 1957.
Kazuko continues to make use of quality and innovation as the seventh, and longest-standing owner of the brewery. Because she would not compromise on quality PWB became the first North American brewery to obtain the ISO 9001 quality manufacturing standard in 2004.
“That was followed by another first,” says Tom Leboe, PWB’s consulting manager. “The brewery was the first in Canada to be awarded a gold medal at the Industry International Awards in Munich Germany and coincidentally, last year we added German-born Henrik Braun to the team as our brewmaster.”
“The brewery was the first in Canada to be awarded a gold medal at the Industry International Awards in Munich Germany.” Tom Leboe
Over the course of Kazuko’s ownership of the brewery, she has sought out markets for PWB products throughout B.C., Alberta, Japan, the U.S., China, Argentina, France and Russia while also growing the employee base to about 70 and supporting a wide range of community initiatives.
“Kazuko Komatsu and Pacific Western Brewery are very good corporate citizens,” Tom notes. “We make significant donations to the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation, UNBC and the College of New Caledonia as well as many major sporting events.”
PWB has also supported the 2015 Canada Winter Games, a number of charities – including the Prince George Foundation – the three Prince George Rotary Clubs and others.
As well, Kazuko has a passion for environmental projects. She developed a program to replant B.C. forests devastated by the effects of the Mountain Pine Beetle, and has committed to planting one million trees by 2020. This initiative supports the community as well as lumber and silviculture industries in B.C. The Water Shoreline Clean-up and salmon stock rehabilitation projects round out a few of the past environmental projects PWB has supported.
“We are a secondary manufacturer not tied to the cyclical forest industry,” Tom says. “We are proud to contribute to our community and generate economic spinoff for several local suppliers.”
PWB may be classified as a mid-sized brewery, but it is nimble in comparison to global competitors like Labatt or Molson. It’s Kazuko’s commitment to continually increase awareness of the quality of PWB world-wide that has allowed her to develop the brand globally.
Kazuko decided to make a beer solely with ingredients from the province we call home. Cariboo Springs Lager not only supports hard working BC farmers and families that make our craft possible, but it also utilizes ingredients from their craft. PWB is the brewery for all British Columbians.
“Pacific Western has always represented the strong history of BC brewing around the world. Now, we stand collaboratively with our agricultural neighbours,” Kazuko says.
Lift a glass of one of PWB’s products to find out what local really tastes like.