It’s been a while since I’ve talked to the folks at Barn Hammer. I’ve been down there a couple of times and had a chance to watch their progress closely, but an actual update? Long overdue. So, I took the opportunity to chat with Sable Birch from Barn Hammer and get a formal update on where they are at right in the opening process.
The most exciting news is they’ve finally received approval to start brewing. While there is still a lot of work to do to get the taproom and brewery finalized, the fact they are actually able to produce beers is rather exciting indeed. It’s one more step forward to having a new brewery here in the city.
While Barn Hammer had originally hoped to have their doors open in December, opening a new business in any sector is bound to run into some delays; this was certainly the experience for the team behind Barn Hammer. One of the major delays was caused by confusion surrounding the concept of a taproom. Barn Hammer experienced some delays in the issuing of permits as a result of this confusion. As Barn Hammer was the first brewery going through the process of constructing a Tap Room, they, of course, had the bumpiest ride. Even though things are becoming less murky, there still seems to be quite a bit of confusion so let me clarify a bit:
Typically, people visiting a tasting room will be those taking a tour of the brewery or beer enthusiasts. Tasting rooms can serve only beer that is brewed onsite and their hours are limited to 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Regular service licensees are not limited to serving beer and may set their hours of business at any time between 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Tasting rooms will be authorized to serve a maximum of 50 people regardless of the size of the premises.
A selection of snacks must be available in a tasting room, which may include: sandwiches, nuts, pretzels, chips, cheese and crackers and baked goods. (LGA – Questions and Answers)
Of course opening a business is difficult in the first place. Between inspections, permits, approvals, and paperwork, there was a lot of “fixing” to meet the requirements placed on them. What was worse: they could be done everything on their end and spend days waiting to hear back from officials with approval to continue moving forward. The process, a new one for this team, was loaded with frustrations. Of course, when things are difficult it makes success taste all the greater. Now they are spending the time to get the space right and focusing on fine details so when people do step through the door, it will be perfect.
I happened to be at their space when they received brewing approval and watched as head brewer Brian Westcott was about to start brewing his first batch. It was an air of such excitement it was hard not to get caught up in it. Tyler, Sable and Brian were all smiles as I snapped a quick picture of Brian in front of the Mash Tun. The first beers they will be producing are their five signature beers. I did a write up on those here so feel free to check it out. The beers are: Lousy Beatnik Kellerbier, Grandpa’s Sweater Oatmeal Stout, Le Sneak Belgique Wit, Saturday Night Lumberjack Double IPA, and Seventh Stab Red Ale.
One of the main features at Barn Hammer besides their beer is their taproom. As mentioned above, while a taproom is not a restaurant, they are required to have snacks on hand for purchase. There is no kitchen at Barn Hammer, so they will be working with Manitoban producers, bakeries and delis to help them develop their snack section. On top of this, you are allowed to bring your own food into the taproom as well. So, Sable said they are working with some local food trucks to try and setup a schedule so there is always something good to grab just outside the brewery if patrons get really hungry. They want to follow a similar model as other breweries in other cities by partnering with other local businesses to provide great options nearby.
The big question they are asked every day – and I asked them as well – is when they think they will open. They are working diligently to get the final details completed on the taproom so they can open their doors. They are hoping to do something fun for their grand opening, but given the limit of 50 people in a tap room at any given time, they aren’t sure what that will be. Still, Sable did tell me they are looking for “Summer” as a rough estimate on when they can invite customers inside. I am certainly hoping I’ll be able to spend much of July enjoying their beers, but even if it’s only part of July I’ll still be happy. Heck, I’ll be happy if it’s the last day of August.
While there have been a number of struggles along the way in opening this new business, Sable still feels they’ve received a very “Winnipeg” kind of welcome. The city has been incredibly supportive and welcoming to this group of “newcomers” and it’s been this support that has helped them push through the challenges. The number of emails they’ve received after seeing the “coming soon” sign, people who have popped in just to say hello and the kind messages of excitement have really made the team feel welcome to the West End.
I, as a resident of the West End, say welcome to the neighbourhood! I can’t wait until I can come over and grab a beer.