Get to know a brewer – Adrienne Johanson

Barn Hammer

I am incredibly excited for this summer. We already have had a fantastic year for breweries and we are going to see a exciting Flatlanders’ beer festival this year. This summer we will have 5 new breweries added to the list of what’s already open. One Great City, Nonsuch, Oxus, Stone Angel, and Trans Canada Brewing are all hoping to open their doors soon. From when I started this blog to now, the landscape of Manitoba breweries has blossomed. Exciting times and more to come.

One of the most enjoyable things I’ve started doing on this blog is my “Get to know a Brewer” series. I’ve really been enjoying a chance to sit down and chat with some of the people who are behind making the beer we’ve all come to enjoy. For this installment, I sat down with Adrienne Johanson from Barn Hammer Brewing.

Adrienne began her career with beer with the government of Manitoba. Originally working with the Liquor Commission in the licensing and permit department, she was around during the merger and worked with the newly formed Liquor and Gaming Authority in the same area. Having done this work, Adrienne had an opportunity to take the higher certificate course and her love for beer grew.

Having some knowledge of the brewing process and finding herself looking for a change, when the opportunity came to work at Barn Hammer, it was too good to pass up. The story of how Adrienne began working at Barn Hammer specifically is a funny one.
Adrienne has been friends with Sable, co-owner of Barn Hammer Brewing, since grade one. When the entire conversation around opening a brewery began, Adrienne jokingly asked “What’s my job going to be? I can just be the brewery gremlin.” Never expecting to be taken seriously, when Tyler and Sable asked her to join the team she couldn’t say no.
Adrienne started working at Barn Hammer doing pretty much everything that needed to be done. Picking up supplies, cleaning, getting things organized around the brewery, and helping in the taproom. It wasn’t until the brewery opened and started picking up that she moved full-time to the brewery working alongside Brian Westcott.

Since joining the brewing team, Adrienne has reveled at the fact that she is now in a more physical job. Having been at a desk job most of her career, being able to move, do something physical, and create something tangible has been a real source of enjoyment in this new role. While she has no formal brewery training, like many who begin down this path, she has had the chance to learn hands on from a skilled brewer. While the “why” of brewing is something that Adrienne is working diligently at learning, the technical aspects of the role have become relatively easy. Being like a new shiny baby in the brewery world has meant that she doesn’t need to be “deprogrammed” of bad habits, but can learn good habits from the start.

Adrienne doesn’t really have a go to beer, liking to keep her mind open to trying new things. The first “non-garbage” beer she had the chance to try was Hoegarden back in the days working at the Liquor Commission. From that point on she tried whatever was new at the Liquor Marts and has continued to try to expand her horizons. While she was originally “scared” of IPAs, since working at Barn Hammer she has quickly left that fear behind.

Since November Adrienne has been brewing beer solo and holds the position of “Brewer” at Barn Hammer. She’s also recently taken to making some brews on the test batch system and is continuously learning more technically as well as theoretically about brewing. Having been a “shiny new baby” originally, Adrienne has quickly built upon her organizational skills and her ability to prioritize to become a true brewer of beer.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to talk to Adrienne about being one of two female brewers in Manitoba. That along with the fact that female brewers are underrepresented in the industry in general. While she hasn’t encountered anything overt, many people are surprised that she’s a brewer and many more think that it’s cool.

Still, Adrienne hasn’t felt like the only girl since she began brewing and has felt as though it’s been an overall positive experience. Having the opportunity to participate in the International Women’s Brew day as a brewer was cool and being able to speak with the other female home brewers and work along side them in making a beer was a rewarding experience. While Adrienne wouldn’t call herself one, being someone who others can look to and say “hey, I could do that too” is essentially the definition of a role model.

Adrienne feels incredibly luck and fortunate to have had the opportunity to take on a role as brewer and has been working very hard at the role to not give anyone a reason to question her place. She cares a great deal about the brewery and wants to ensure she is doing everything she can to support it. To that end, Adrienne is looking at some training opportunities to build on the knowledge she’s already gained. Considering online courses through Niagara college and even their one-year program. Having just bought a house and finishing a degree, these are plans to come.

On a personal note, Adrienne likes playing video-games, spending a lot of time playing Zelda Breath of the Wild recently, and has gotten into comic books as well. She also has a mini-schnauzer at home named Reggie who I’m sure occupies a lot of time.

A big thanks to Adrienne for taking the time to sit down and chat with me. To everyone else, keep following along as I continue to explore the growing beer landscape and community here in Winnipeg.

-Beer Winnipeg

Beau’s – Buenos Dias Gruit

Beau’s keeps sending new beers out our way and I’m happy about that. While I am mostly focused on what’s happening here locally, and what beers we can get from our local folks, I do enjoy reviewing these beers from Beau’s.

I did a pretty in-depth write-up about Beau’s when I met with co-founder Steve Beauchesne, but I do want to reiterate a bit about the brewery. Founded in 2006 in Vanleek Hill, Ontario by father and son Tim and Steve Beauchesne, Beau’s is an employee-owned and completely independent Canadian craft brewery. They are also the official beer of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Now I know I said I’d do the Patersbier next, but Beau’s Buenos Dias gruit is already here in town. So, I figured I’d write about it first. Hope you don’t mind. On to my review of their Buenos Dias Gruit.

*Writer’s Note: I did receive this beer review free of charge. This did not influence my write-up. *

Buenos Dias – Gruit

Gruits are an ancient style of beer that finds it origins somewhere around 700 CE. The Gruit reached the height of its consumption between the 9th and 13th centuries. Like many other ancient beer recipes, it was the women from whom this ale was produced. The recipe would be passed down through the generations. As time progressed, it shifted to being a task done within monasteries. The monastic communities gained economic prowess, having the best harvests, the best fabrics, etc… and they soon moved into producing beer.

During this time the gruit was a lot different from what we find today. Being made of an often-top-secret blend of herbs and spices. During the height of its popularity, the Gruitier was held in high regard and often had body guards to help protect the recipe. Holding positions of high regard and often luxurious houses, gruitiers all proclaimed their recipe to be the best and often boasted healing or medicinal properties. The use of the herbs and spices had a more practical reason, to keep the beer from spoiling. As hops were not used, these beers needed some other means of keeping for longer periods.

Today, a Gruit is a top-fermented ale that will still use blends of herbs, spices, or citrus. Most gruits produced today do use some level of hops but do so in a way that it imparts no hop flavour on the beer itself. Rather, these beers focus on being clean and imparting flavours from the use herbs, spices and botanical. The Buenos Dias gruit from Beau’s that we are trying today uses lime, orange, coriander and salt.

ABV – 4.5%
Appearance – Pours a light yellow with a slight haze, likely from acidulated malt and wheat malt, with a small bit of white foam that dissipates quickly.
Smell – Easily identifiable notes of citrus from the lime and orange with subtle notes of coriander.
Taste – A clean drinking beer with a nice lime note, much more pronounced than the orange. There is a bit of a salty note there as well that leaves a dry finish.
Mouth Feel – Good carbonation with nice bubbles and a dry salt finish.
Overall Thoughts – Having not had many gruits to compare this too, I can’t say. This beer certainly seems to hit the notes for the style and provides a nice clean enjoyable beer. I like the use of salt and think it pairs well with the lime.
Do I like it? – Yes, I did enjoy this beer. Having made a Margarita Gose myself, this is right along those lines minus the sourness. It’s a great warm weather beer and is refreshing.

I hope that this write-up was informative. I encourage you to get out and try as many new beers as you can. Broaden your horizons and your palate.

I’ll be meeting with Adrienne Johnson from Barn Hammer this week for the next installment of my “Get to know a Brewer” series. So watch for that soon as well as my review of Beau’s Patersbier.

Thanks for following along.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Beau’s – Haters Gonna Hate

I’ve got a few more Beau’s Beers that have been sent my way for review. I feel lucky to be able to get these beers in advance from Beau’s so that I can taste them and give my thoughts. I’ve got three beers on the way this week, but I’m gonna do each as a separate post as I drink the beer. Today’s will be Beau’s Imperial Koslch – Haters Gonna Hate.

I did a pretty in-depth write up about Beau’s when I met with co-founder Steve Beauchesne, but I do want to reiterate a bit about the brewery. Founded in 2006 in Vanleek Hill, Ontario by father and son Tim and Steve Beauchesne, Beau’s is an employee-owned and completely independent Canadian craft brewery. They are also the official beer of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

*Writer’s Note: I did receive this beer review free of charge. This did not influence my write-up. *

Haters Gonna Hate – Imperial Kolsch

A Kolsch is a style of beer originating in Cologne, Germany. It is a top fermenting beer that has been brewed since the middle-ages. The “koslch” that we drink today wasn’t produced until the 1800s to combat the bottom-fermenting pale lagers which were being produced in other regions of Germany and Europe.

Kolschs are clean, crisp and delicately balanced with subtle fruit notes and subdued hoppiness. As this is an Imperialized version of Lug Tread, it has a higher ABV and is much hoppier than a typically kolsch, on purpose.

When we talk about “imperializing” a beer, we really mean that we’ve amped it up. More malt and hop provide a higher ABV and more robust beer than it’s counterpart. The term Imperial tends to come from the Russian Imperial Stout, a style of strong stout that was originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court. Today we use Imperial, or Double, to denote a beer that is a stronger version of the named style.

Beau’s describes the creation of this imperial Kolsch as such:

“Though first brewed by in 2015, the history of Haters Gonna Hate goes way back to 2006 and the very first batch of Lug Tread, Beau’s flagship lagered ale (a.k.a. Kölsch). Due to some faulty beer-making equipment, it ended up “imperialized” – that is, brewed to higher strength and intensity than intended. With the release of Haters Gonna Hate, Beau’s has opted to recreate this happy accident on purpose. In fact, the name of the beer is a bit of a cheeky tribute to those events as well.”.

 

So, let’s get into the beer and see what it’s like.

ABV – 7.1%
Appearance – Pours a golden-orange colour with a good 2” head that retains well
Smell – Hop notes are apparent right up front with a crisp fruity note which is likely from the nelson sauvignon hops.
Taste – Hop notes come through right away with a pop. It’s a surprise in fact and quite pleasant. The fruit notes are reminiscent of passion fruit and mango with a nice crisp bitter finish.
Mouth Feel – Good carbonation with nice bubbles and a bitter crisp finish.
Overall Thoughts – While certainly not at all like Lug Tread, this beer is crisp with a noticeable bitterness and great flavours from the hops.
Do I like it? – I really liked this beer. The hop notes weren’t overly prominent and it certainly wasn’t reminiscent of an IPA. It had a nice hop kick to it that complimented the crisp underlying beer well. It was clean with great flavours and was easy to drink. I’d love to have this beer again.

I hope that this write-up was informative. I encourage you to get out and try as many new beers as you can. Broaden your horizons and your palate. This beer will be making it’s way to Manitoba in the near future, so keeps your eyes peeled.

Next up I’ll be writing about Beau’s Patersbier. I just should drink it first.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Trans Canada Brewing – Follow-up

TCB

It’s been a little while since I had the chance to head down and visit Trans Canada Brewing Company. The last time I was there the place was a vast open space of a warehouse with only one’s imagination to help fill in the blanks. Matt Tallman walked me through and described his vision of a large production brewery doing a huge number of different beers, having an ambitious cellaring program and being the first brewery in Manitoba with foeders.

This last visit shows a lot more of the bones and structure of the place. Tanks are in place and the 35hl brewhouse and 5hl pilot system were getting installed. The framework of the brewery, taproom and Timmy Tom’s pizzeria are all but in place and they seem well on track to hit the target of opening in late summer.

What’s even more, the core team is now in place and boasts some pretty fantastic people with a huge amount of experience. That team will be the focus of this piece as you can read about the brewery and plans here. I will, however, have some pictures of the space throughout this piece.

TCB Team
Key Trans Canada Brewing Company Team Members (left to right): Josh Adler – Quality Assurance, Morgan Wielgosz – Head Brewer, Matt Tallman – President, Thoms Schneider – Timmy Tom’s Pizzeria Head Pizzailolo and Jeff Wirt – Administration Leader

Morgan Wielgosz will take on the role as head brewer of Trans Canada. She will be the first female head brewer in Manitoba and she brings a huge amount of experience from her previous role as brewing supervisor at Amsterdam brewing in Toronto.

So, why come to Manitoba? According to Morgan, Manitoba is gaining some national buzz in the brewing scene for being a hotbed of new development. This was exciting for her and hearing Matt’s vision of the brewery it was an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. To be able to get involved with something like this at the start was just too good to be true. Having access to the type of equipment that will be at TransCanada, working under a vision of “if it’s not perfect, we don’t sell it” and having a large amount of creative freedom means that Morgan will be able to shine.

She started home brewing after university and decided to move to Toronto. She ended up living across the street from Amsterdam and asked if she could volunteer. Eventually she got hired and had a ton of on the job training. Working through pretty much every gig you can have from filter operator, cellar master and their experimental pilot system, Morgan brings a plethora of experiences and knowledge to her role. While she was born, and raised in Ontario, she is happy to be in Winnipeg and is here to stay.


Josh Adler will be taking on the quality assurance role at TransCanada. Coming to Winnipeg from Propeller brewing in Nova Scotia and Victory brewing in Philadelphia. Originally from Toronto he did his undergrad at Dalhousie university in Nova Scotia. While doing his undergrad he became really interested in researching yeast. He had been homebrewing while doing his undergrad and was given the chance do a master’s degree in brewing science. Around the same time there was a job posting at Propeller brewing for someone to come start a quality assurance program. Josh started their lab and helped in a variety of other roles around the brewery. He had the chance to do brewing, packaging and eventually took over as the production manager doing some large-scale beer brewing.

Josh wanted to get back into the quality side of brewing and could take on a job at Victory brewing in Philadelphia. What was interesting about Victory is that while they were very art focused in their recipe development they also had a huge science and quality focus as well. Josh wanted to come to Manitoba for many of the same reasons as Morgan. The buzz around the city and the opportunity to work in the brewery Matt is looking to open where you make the best quality beer possible with the be possible ingredients possible from day one, was just too good to pass up. Josh is excited to be here and is looking forward to laying down some roots. Having a wife who is originally from this area means it’s a little bit like coming home as well.


Thomas Scheineder who I’ve previously mentioned will be the operator of Timmy Tom’s pizzeria making the food for the tap room at TransCanada. Originally from Winnipeg, Thomas started working with pizza at age 16 and continued to work at the same pizza restaurant all through university. He always had a dream of opening his own pizza place, but the timing wasn’t right. Instead, he opened two Papa John’s franchises in Dallas-Fort Worth. He lived in Texas for four years running these franchises before selling them in 2015.

Partnering up with Matt he began getting training from Tony Gemignan’s school in San Francisco. He’s been certified through this school in Neapolitan, Italian and American style pizzas. Tom got into making pizza because he always feels like he is creating a work of art. Not being very artistic in his ability to draw or paint, this is a creative outlet that allows him to create something people will enjoy.

The name Timmy Tom’s started out as a joke when discussing his dream of opening a pizzeria. The name really grew on Tom and they ended up deciding to use it. We can expect Timmy Tom’s to be making gourmet style pizzas that are along the Italian/New York style with an eventually expanded menu.


Jeff Wirt will be working at TransCanada as the accounting and administration officer. He is also originally from Winnipeg and has spent the past 14 years working with a large retail outlet in the city. He spent several years earning his Business administration degree followed by a Financial Management Accounting degree through the university of Manitoba. While having worked in accounting for the past 14 years, moving to TransCanada gives him the opportunity to use more of his project management skills. He will be doing a little bit of everything around the brewery. I suppose you could call him the “renaissance man” of TransCanada.

He loves the idea of working with a small team and thinks that it is incredible important to be a team player and chip in where he can. While he admits, he has not acquired the same passion for beer as the rest of the team (yet) this was a step outside of his comfort zone and an opportunity to take on a new challenge. Jeff is most excited to be working with this team and providing a fun and safe working environment for them. He also believes it is incredible important to provide an enjoyable experience for customers and will bring much of his past retail experience to the customer experience side.

I have to say that I am quite excited about this team and seeing what they will be able to create at this brewery. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they have ambitious goals but it looks like they are on track. Now just to wait and see what Beer we get out of them.

I asked them about their beers and while they said they have formulated some recipes, they are not ready to share anything yet. Hopefully soon and I’ll let you know as soon as I know (also follow them on twitter).

What they did say is that no style is off the table and they are looking to produce a huge number of beers with great variety. Having a pilot system to do experimental beers, a cellaring program and foeders means that we will see everything. At one point Josh said that while at Victory they did 85 beers in one year and that he thinks TransCanada might be able to give them a run at some point down the line.
So, expect sours, ales, lagers, all with beautifully illustrated artwork (had the chance to see some of it) and top quality. Josh as the quality guy at TransCanada said that they will not be putting out beer they do not think is good. He’d rather dump it then put out a bad beer. That sounds promising.
Thanks for following along. Things are starting to pickup around here and I expect to have much more to write about as time moves forward.
-Beer Winnipeg

Brazen Hall

Brazen Hall Logo

It’s spring! I just got back a little while ago from a trip to the Maritimes. It’s always fun to see family and spend some time trying the new beers that have come out in that region. While away, there were several happenings and it seems to be getting busier around Manitoba in respect to beers and breweries.

Torque has new beer coming out and have be consistently putting interesting stuff on at the taproom. The MBBA released a social pack containing a collaboration India Pale Lager along with beers from other local breweries. Half Pints has been making great use of their taproom and have consistently been releasing new beers and test batches. Barn Hammer and PEG have been doing much the same with taproom only releases and experimental beers. Frankly, it’s hard to keep up but a lot fun to see everything happening.

I made a short little post about the opening of Brazen Hall a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to make certain to do a more thorough post, so here we are.

Brazen Hall is a new brewery and kitchen located on the site of the old Round Table and Brogue pub on Pembina highway. I had the opportunity to stop in during the construction period and have written about the plans for the Brewpub at that time. I must say that while slightly delayed from their original target, the space is well redesigned. It has some flare connected with the “Brazen” concept and the Viking theme. The door handles at the entrance doors are mock swords which I think is a neat little touch.

When I visited, there were three beers available on tap, an amber ale, experimental bitter and a dark IPA. What was a bit surprising was that the ABV on these beers. While the amber ale came in at a pretty standard 4.9%, the experimental bitter and dark IPA were at 2.8% and 3.2%. These low ABVs seemed a bit off and at first I thought was a mistake. Overall the beers were good. While they weren’t exactly what I was hoping for and I found the IPA to fall a bit flat for me, I enjoyed them all the same.

The food is a pretty eclectic mix of options with some remnants of the old Brogue (candied bacon and a burger with crispy cheese) as well as the star of the round tables menu, prime rib. There were a few menu options not yet available as they are waiting on a smoker. Look at the full beer and food menus.

I spoke with Kristian during my visit and he told me that they are going through about 3000L of beer a week. They are having a tough time keeping up with demand and have ordered another fermenter to try to keep up. This means that until they have their own house taken care of, they won’t be doing any commercial sales of their beers. It’s still early days and they are still nailing down some of what will be their “staples” so this makes sense.

Overall my experience there was enjoyable. The food was great, the beers were good, and the space itself was fantastic. I’ll be visiting again to see how the beer options progress and to try the food again once they get that smoker installed.

I’ll be trying to check in with a few other breweries soon. TransCanada, Oxus, and Nonsuch are on the list. I’m also working to setup my next “Get to know a brewer” interview with Adrienne Johnson from Barn Hammer. So, keep following along. We are entering the Coast to Coaster and Flatlanders seasons before long and I expect we will be seeing some interesting things happening/arriving here in Winnipeg over the coming months.

One Great City – Revisited

I can’t believe that it’s already almost April, man time flies. There have been several interesting changes that have happened in the past month in the beer community. I want to take a moment to highlight a few before getting to the write-up about One Great City.

First, the government has extended the hours of operation for tap rooms. This is a welcome change and allows taprooms to now be open until 11 pm. There are still some issues with the legislation – capacity limit and beer offerings to be specific – but this time change is a step in the right direction.

Second, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries has lifted some of the restrictions placed on the growler bar program as it applies to beer vendors. They have allowed more control for beer vendors to choose what beers they will list on their growler bar. This is a fantastic move that will allow for some more flexibility in what gets listed. Places like the Quality Craft Beer Store and the Econolodge will now be able to offer more variety. That’s a good thing.

Finally, as I noted, Brazen Hall opens today to the public. Another brewery opening its doors, this one with food. This makes Brazen Hall the second Brew Pub in the city.

Now, to the focus. One Great City and the progress they’ve made since we last checked in.

I had a chance to meet with Tim from One Great City during a period of construction. It was busy, and I am thankful for the time he took to chat with me. The construction is lessening and the majority of the big items are out of the way. I think I’d say they are entering into the “finishing” stages which is really nice to see.

 

The fire shutters that will allow for the brewery to be visible from the restaurant through windows while still meeting the safety requirements have been installed and the brewery area is looking ready for equipment. This will be great as the brewery will be clearly visible from all seats in the restaurant giving that true brew pub feel. The trades have been in for the transformer, a big step, and the equipment schedule is now set. The timeline to opening is becoming more clear with the kitchen installed in the next couple of weeks and the brewery equipment getting installed after that.

The space is starting to flesh out and take shape. The bar top is looking beautiful and is made from reclaimed wood. They’ve got their tables being made in house and they’ve got a funky looking backdrop to the bar. Paint is getting put in, they’ve got the epoxy going down on the floors and they’ve got the multimedia aspects getting organized.

The team is starting to flush out a bit more with the hiring of Diego Carloso as the restaurant manager. People may remember him from working at Barley Brothers Polo. He is working closely with head brewer Josh on their roles. The aim is to their own beer ready when they open the doors. Torque has graciously given some brew space to One Great City so that they can have their own beers on tap when they open to the public. In the meantime, head brewer Josh has brewed a double white IPA over at torque on their test batch system which will be available this week.

The team has also been working on finalizing the beers that they hope to have on tap. They plan to have 12 taps in total. 6 taps will be for their core beers (Pale Ale, Milk Stout, ESB, Witbier, American Blond and Double IPA), 4 taps will be for seasonal beers and 2 taps will be for guest beers. All beers made in house will be served from bright tank to tap, except for their test batches which will be kegged.

They’ve got the menu set and while I can’t share what’s on it (I’ll let Tim and John do that), I can tell you it looks delicious and made me hungry looking over it.  I’m excited to see the space and especially try the beer and food. So when will they open? I am hoping soon but I’d follow them on twitter to get more details as they get closer.

On a final note, I want to give a shout out to something not beer related. I went with some friends to the Portal here in Winnipeg. It’s a virtual reality space that you can rent out and play VR games. It was amazing. The guy who runs the place is brilliant and they are working hard to get this business up and running. They are working on a space in the exchange, but are currently located at 703 Corydon on the second floor. I encourage you all to go.

  • Beer Winnipeg

Brazen Hall Open – March 20th

Brazen Hall Logo

Just a quick update today. While I haven’t been able to get in and follow-up with the folks from Brazen Hall since I did my first interview, they have been holding soft opening events this weekend. They are officially opening their doors to the public tomorrow, March 20th. They are located at 800 Pembina Highway (the old Round Table).

They’ve come quite a long way since the first visit. The place looks great and they’ve got a couple of their own beers ready to go, thanks in large part to Torque. It’s another example of the beer community helping one another. Something we see a lot of these days.

Brazen Hall Menu

They have a smaller opening menu with some fantastic food options. They have their Biere de Garde and their Brazen Blonde ready to go as well as some other local options.

Another brewery is opening it’s doors and we have more on the horizon. I’ll be posting my update from One Great City tomorrow, so watch for that.

Beer Winnipeg

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