Brad Tomlinson along with his business partner and pizza wizard, Damien Moore, opened Jackknife Brewing in March of 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without your usual grand opening celebration, the team pushed through and now has quite the following of local supporters behind them.
Brad was kind enough to share his thoughts on why Jackknife is more than just your typical brewery, and how they’re going above and beyond to create a safe and inclusive space for all types of people.
Andrea Weeks (AW): Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves?
Brad Tomlinson (BT): We grew up here, love this valley, and want to contribute to our community. Damien, the pizza wizard, has been in the industry for over 15 years and has helped establish some amazing restaurants in town. He's also known for running the legendary Mustard Tiger Food truck. As for me, I grew up on a small farm in Winfield and have always been interested in fermenting and foraging local ingredients, probably because my gramps harvested wild berries and crab apples turning them into moonshine and ciders. Eventually, I found the Kettle River buds and made my way into their head brewer position for a few years before finding my very own beer dungeon next door.
AW: What inspired you to open Jackknife?
BT: We wanted to create something different in the valley. Kelowna has a lot of chain restaurants and small businesses attempting to duplicate those chains. We wanted to open a place that had a different identity, a place we wanted to hang out in. We knew that we weren't the only ones who needed an alternative to the status quo.
AW: What makes you different from other breweries?
BT: I’d say our ever-evolving offerings of weird beer and ripper zza go great with our vibe at the brewery. We've got a cool secluded patio in the back, big long tables for group hangs in the front, and a few seats at the bar. Couple all that with metal and punk rock and great people filling the space and you've got yourself Jackknife.
AW: On your website, you mention that you support the Diversity in Brewing program. Can you tell us a little about that?
BT: We started supporting this program as soon as we heard about it and are trying to increase its reach in the interior through our space. It offers a scholarship to BIPOC or LGBTQ2+ folks who are looking to break into the brewing industry because, unfortunately, the brewing industry has not been very welcoming to those individuals. We hope to help change that at Jackknife.
AW: Why is supporting the BIPOC and LGBTQ2+ community important to you?
BT: Coming from a small whitebread town in the Okanagan, we know that discrimination exists and harms many people. We wanted to establish our business as a space that, from day one, would be a force for change. We have zero-tolerance for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and any other ism or phobia that perpetuates hate. We are dedicated to building a safe space that everyone can relax in and feel at home. This takes continuous effort and involves constantly checking in and educating ourselves. We've got our code of conduct up on our website for the world to see, if you have some time, give it a quick read to dive a bit deeper into the Jackknife ethos.
AW: Are you involved in any Kelowna Pride events this year?
BT: Yeah! We've got an event we're working on with the Pride Society this month called Beers for Queers. We're opening up shop just for this event and we're stoked to offer a space to help grow the community. We're taking this opportunity to highlight two of our current beers on tap. First up is Brave Noise, it's an international collab brew that's meant to help raise awareness for and extinguish the ongoing discrimination and sexism within the brewery world because it's here and it sucks, so let's change it. All proceeds from this beer will be going to our friends at the Living Positive Resource Center in town that helps with harm reduction and so much more. Secondly, we've got our Celebrating Sisters beer that was part of an international collab brew for Indigenous Brew Day this year. We brewed this up to raise awareness and funds for local Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) initiatives. We've created a few different versions of this beer that incorporate locally foraged ingredients, so keep your eyes peeled for the latest release!
AW: Finally, what’s your favourite beer and menu item at Jackknife?
BT: I’m going to have to say it's gotta be the Wizard Sticks IPA and a Persuader zza. They go great together and the pizza wizard makes the sausage in-house and it riiiips.