Belgium + West Coast + beer = Whitetooth Brewing Company

“Many of our customers take calculated risks in the mountains, so we try to do that with our beer lineup.”

(L to R) Kent Donaldson is president and chief beer officer and Mark Nagao is his business partner at Whitetooth Brewing Company.

(L to R) Kent Donaldson is president and chief beer officer and Mark Nagao is his business partner at Whitetooth Brewing Company. — Photo courtesy Claire Dibble

Successful entrepreneurs have a knack for identifying what a community needs before anyone else and then creating a business to serve that need. Kent Donaldson is a successful entrepreneur. “I always thought Golden needed a brewery because it was one of the last real ski and biking towns in B.C. without one,” said Donaldson, president and chief beer officer at Whitetooth Brewing Company (WBC) in Golden. “There were no appropriate buildings in Golden in a desirable location so we decided to build from scratch with a purpose-built facility strategically located on a commercial lot next to the ski hill road in downtown Golden.”

WBC is a new boutique craft brewery, specializing in Belgian-inspired and West Coast-influenced beers.

Before making the jump to brewery owner, Donaldson was a geophysicist in the oil patch and a Beer Judge Certification Program judge. Donaldson is an example of what can happen when you turn your favourite hobby into a full-time career. “I had been home-brewing—which is a slippery slope,” Donaldson said. “You start out on your kitchen stove, move to the basement or garage—because your wife exiles you from the kitchen—and then before you know it you are building a dedicated home brew room in your garage.”

Risky business

Every entrepreneur takes risks in order to get their business off the ground. Donaldson drew his inspiration from the community he lives in and those that inhabit it. “Our motto is ‘Beers to toast your ultimate moments,’ ” Donaldson said. “Many of our customers take calculated risks in the mountains, so we try to do that with our beer lineup. We value lifestyle and we think our branding and beers mesh really well with activities that the mountains surrounding Golden have to offer.”

Crafting a personality

Aligning a new company with its community takes an intelligent marketing strategy. Donaldson and his business associate, Mark Nagao, made the most of their time leading up to the brewery’s opening to shape what WBC was going to be. “We offer a wide flavour spectrum that appeals to a variety of beer drinkers, from people starting out in craft beer to serious uber beer nerds,” he said. “We spent considerable thought on our branding in order to carve out a distinct personality for our brewery.”

Several beers are on display

The Blower Pow IPA is Whitetooth Brewing Company’s best seller, followed by Icefields Belgian-Inspired Pale Ale and Thread the Needle Witbier. — Photo courtesy Brenna Donaldson

No brewery exists without a brewmaster. WBC’s head brewmaster is Evan Cronshaw. He and Donaldson have been developing what WBC was going to be for quite some time. “Evan developed the commercial recipes on my electric brewing rig in the garage for at least a year before our commercial brew-house arrived,” Donaldson said. “Evan has an intuitive knack for beer recipe formulation—plus, he grows a mean beard!”

Patience is a virtue

WBC may have been introduced to Golden many years ago but the timing wasn’t right. “We’d been talking about it for at least five years until the B.C. government introduced legislation so that production breweries could offer on-premise sales through a lounge endorsement,” said Donaldson. “That was the green light for us to proceed.”

Through patience and strategy, WBC has established itself as Golden’s go-to brewery. Don’t be surprised to see smiles from Donaldson and the staff at Whitetooth Brewing Company—they’re enjoying the hops of their labour. “We appreciate the congenial craft beer community vibe that exists out there,” Donaldson said. “The unifying force is our communal love of good beer.”

Kyle Born

Kyle Born is a writer for Kootenay Business and his initials match that of the magazine—it must be fate that brought them together. View all of Kyle Born’s articles

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