When Alexis Esseltine and Timothy Scoon lost their jobs at the outset of the pandemic, they decided it was an opportunity for a new adventure. The couple had always been interested in becoming entrepreneurs, and as parents of three young kids, they were also feeling the squeeze in their 1,000-square-foot condo in Vancouver’s Kitsilano.
Fast-forward to today and the couple are the new owners of Tin Whistle Brewery in Penticton, deemed to be the oldest brewery in the South Okanagan. In the six months since taking over, they have given the business a facelift, expanding its tasting room area, created an outdoor patio and achieved carbon neutral certification.
What brought them to Penticton
The family, including kids aged 2, 5 and 8, were cruising through Penticton’s downtown core when they realized it was just the type of place they’d like to call home.
“When we were looking for a place to relocate, we drove down Main Street and noticed all the local stores and the sweet little businesses. That’s what sold us on Penticton. There truly is a sense of community here,” says Alexis. “It is so refreshing.”
From Kitsilano condo to house with room to move
Uprooting an entire family is never easy, not to mention the fact they didn’t know anyone when they first moved to Penticton.
“Moving is completely uncomfortable – but you grow from that,” reflects Alexis. “For us as a family, it has been a good thing.”
For one, the kids now have a large yard to play in, complete with 20 fruit trees. Overall, they are blown away by the amount of freedom here, even down to being able to hold bonfires on the beach. Best of all, “everything is seven minutes away,” says Alexis. “Our triangle of work, home and school is very small.”
A new vision for the brewery
Tin Whistle Brewing is located in the Cannery Trade Centre, a heritage industrial building reminiscent of an early Granville Island, and dating back to the 1930s and 40s. It’s home to 30 businesses with a strong entrepreneurial vibe, home to everything from shoe repair to vegan cheese, Scottish kilts, vintage art and furniture, plus studios for dance, gymnastics and even virtual reality.
The couple, both of whom held professional careers in Vancouver, have brought their business experiences to the table. Specifically, Alexis, who was previously the Sustainability Manager for the Vancouver Aquarium, has introduced her environmental values to the world of craft brewing.
In addition to being carbon neutral, they say a great deal of thought and care is put into sourcing ingredients and selecting suppliers.
“We knew we could make great beer, and we also knew we could lessen our impact,” said Alexis. “This is the first of many environmental changes for Tin Whistle Brewing on our journey to become more environmentally sustainable. Taste matters, and so does our impact.”