Category Archives: Barn Hammer

Community Brewing

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The summer has been busy for me thus far. I’m off work and spending time with my daughter and wife. This has kept me from posting as often as I’d like, but it’s well worth it. With the number of new breweries starting to increase at a steady rate and with places like Oxus, Trans Canada, and Stone Angel just around the corner, I wanted to write about something I’m seeing increasingly. Community Brewing.

Community brewing is the term I’ve been using to describe breweries engaging in the community through social outreach, fundraising, and other charitable actions. When I wrote about “defining craft beer” a while back, one of the things that was apparent in most peoples attempts to define that term is the community aspect of the brewery. Local breweries are just that, local, and while it’s not mandatory, supporting the local community is welcome and growing.

I had contacted all the breweries and asked for a quick rundown on some of the activities they’ve done. While I am aware of many of them, I wanted to know specifically any that were coming up. I did not hear back from all the breweries and so I’ve done my best. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but it is meant to highlight some of the ways the local breweries have been engaging in our community. If I get more details I will certainly update this post. 

Barn Hammer has been running a monthly “Barn Raising” event where they donate all the profits from the sale of beer in the taproom that night to a specific charity. This happens every third Wednesday. The next event is on July 19th and is in support of Klinic community health centre. In a similar vein, Peg Beer has done a community tap where all profits from the sale of a specific beer go towards a charity. The last one they did was for International women’s brew day and they donated profits to the Women’s health clinic. Torque has also collaborated with Habitat for Humanity and are donating $4 of proceeds from the sale of 12 packs and $1 of proceeds for each pint of Foundation (their APA). So far, they have raised over $5000 with a goal of reaching $10,000. Torque even went as far as to help build houses for Habitat. Really putting their sweet into supporting the charity. This “community tap” concept is one that works very well and creates a direct line of donations to charities. I love the idea and I am certain that we will see more of this community tap concept from other breweries in the future.

Breweries have also engaged the community through being hubs of community activity. This is done in a variety of ways that range from using local artwork or hosting other artistic endeavours, to social outing, and charitable functions. Little Brown Jug has made community a part of its values. They’ve really taken this upon themselves to become a community space. Kevin Selch explained that “it is about our investment in the heart of the city, about partnering with other business and groups, and creating a space for the community to meet.” Little Brown Jug have hosted a huge range of activities from Yoga in the brewery, moderated community discussions, WSO performances, and even a five-course meal. Currently they are doing Hearts & Roots Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). For 16 weeks out of summer, folks can pick up their fresh fruits and vegetables that they contract with directly with the farmer. This is an cool concept and addresses the issue of the Exchange not having a full-service grocery store.

Peg Beer Co. has had theatre performances, hosting groups like Bravura Theatre and their Shakespeare in the Pub, hosting after show theatre talks on important issues, hosting charitable events and fundraisers and being a fantastic place to eat during the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Barn Hammer has used their space to help sell local artist work by having it on display and for sale as well as engaging home brewers in the community to produce test-batches. Half Pints has been a consistent and constant support for community events through donations/creations of kegs and beer or merchandise, and has hosted numerous activities at the brewery and in their new taproom.  Fort Garry has also been a good go to for support through donations of kegs and beer or merchandise for events and they will be participating in the Brew at the Zoo and at the Winnipeg Beer Festival coming up later this summer along with others.

Outside of their own breweries, there has been community engagement with various groups. Whether it be sponsoring a hole for a charitable golf tournament like Brazen Hall, Torque and Stone Angel have done, or whether it be creating a special beer for events like Half-Pints’ Queer Beer and Bikey McBikeface for Pride and Bike Week Winnipeg. I’ve also noticed an increase in keg donations to help support charitable functions. For Art City’s Annual Fundraising Ball (this past May) – Barn Hammer donated a few kegs to them and they sold the beer at the event. All proceeds they received for the beer was a direct donation to them. Barn Hammer is also involved with the Rainbow Trout Music Festival as one of the sponsors for this year. One Great City, Barn Hammer, and PEG Beer Co have all collaborated with the Lake Winnipeg Foundation to release special lake-themed beers in support of our beautiful lake.

With the growing number of craft breweries, I am seeing a growing number of charitable and community activities. The support that has flowed from these breweries, even before opening, to the community in creative partnerships is awesome. So, there are a few events coming up that I want to highlight so that, fi you are inclined, you can get out and help support them

This write-up was about taking a break from talking beer and highlighting some of the good work the breweries in Winnipeg have been doing. I am sure that there is more that I could add, and a lot of things that I’ve missed but this gives you a sample of some of the actions taken to make our community a better place.

Thanks for reading. Beer Winnipeg.

 

Barn Hammer- Barn Raising

 

Barn Hammer

The beer scene in Winnipeg is starting to reach maturity. Barn Hammer has been open for a while with Torque and Peg Beer Co now joining the fray with their own beer. I expect we will see others join the market in short order. While each is taking a different approach to their production of beer, what seems to be a common thread is giving back to community. This is something that is almost a trademark of craft breweries: not just making beer, but being a part of the community in which you live and serve.

For Barn Hammer, this type of community support comes out through their “Barn Raising” initiative. Drawing on the historical action of a community coming together to literally raise a barn, Barn Hammer hopes to help bring Winnipeggers together to help build up charities. One non-profit is chosen by staff each month and on the third Wednesday of that month, partial proceeds from every regular 16oz, 10oz glass and every growler fill (32oz & 64oz) sold in the taproom will be directly donated to the chosen non-profit organization.

I touched base with Barn Hammer’s Sable Birch for more details about where this idea came from and what the goal is. Sable made it clear it’s important all employees be involved in choosing causes that mean something to them.

“Everyone at Barn Hammer has the opportunity to participate and by changing the chosen charity each month, we are able to spread the funds out to various causes in the community. There are so many worthy causes out there so it’s nice to be able to reach as many as we can.”

Another aspect the team really likes about this program is that there is no middle-man. It’s Barn Hammer writing the cheque and sending it directly to the cause. This is a way for them to know the money is all going to the cause they are supporting. It’s really all about bringing community to join together in their taproom and help raise money for a worthy cause. Not only is it fun – bringing friends out for a pint of beer and conversation – but you get the opportunity to really do something and support something you care about.

Sable said that it’s not just about raising funds, but:

 “we are also helping to raise awareness for the causes. Increase traffic flow to their website or add followers to their social media accounts. Perhaps this way the non-profit also receives more volunteers, donations and attention outside of our Barn Raising Night.”

Obviously this fundraising won’t happen unless there are patrons who step up to support it. If you haven’t had the opportunity to get out to Barn Hammer’s taproom yet, make a plan to go there on the third Wednesday of the month to help raise funds and awareness for community causes.

Local Fall Offerings

Local Fall Offerings

We’re into October and thus comes the arrival of many fall beers – mostly pumpkin spiced yam and pumpkin beers from around the country and the United States. For some, these represent something wrong with beer, while for others they are as comforting as the first pumpkin spice latte of the season, a warm embrace of comfort and joy. As our craft beer community continues to grow (we now have four active Winnipeg-based breweries) I thought I’d write about what they are offering this fall.

Half Pints

Image result for Half Pints Oktoberfest

Every year around this time we see the release of Half Pints Oktoberfest Lager. It’s a traditional German style of beer, also called a Marzen. Before refrigeration it was nearly impossible to brew beer in the summer time due to bacterial infections caused by the increased heat. This meant most brewing had to be completed by the end of spring (March/Marzen). These beers were kept in cold storage over the spring and summer months resulting in a darker, amber colored lager with a higher alcohol content than average. They would typically be rolled out for Oktoberfest celebrations.

This is also the beer that often is transformed into “Punknfest” with pumpkin and spices added to become the “typical” pumpkin fall beer, but this has not been announced yet, nor is it a guarantee. For now, the Oktoberfest is Half Pints’ fall offering.

Appearance:  Dark amber-brown pour with a slightly off-beige head
Smell: Caramel notes, dark fruit, slight earthy hop aroma
Taste:
Nice malty sweetness brings great flavours that are kept from becoming overly sweet by some nice earthy/grassy hop notes

Torque

Even though they are the new kid on the block, this brewery is hammering their beers out of the park. I’ll be doing a write-up on their all-year offerings in the near future, but for now let’s tackle their fall offering, a Dark Pumpkin Ale called “Witching Hour”.

While called a Dark Pumpkin Ale, this beer is brewed in the catch-all style of a spiced/herb/vegetable beer. This means that while it can be brewed in a similar fashion to another style of beer – in this case an ale – the main tastes highlights are found in the additions. This style of beer can take on numerous different variations depending on the choice of malts, hops, and additions made. What I can say about this particular beer is that it is heavily malted providing a very nice caramel rich backbone to compliment the addition of pumpkin (or yams) and spices.

Appearance:  Dark brown, bordering on black, with a slight red hue with a tan head.
Smell: Dark malt, caramel sweetness, pumpkin pie spices (nutmeg, clove, allspice, cinnamon) and some roasty notes.
Taste:
The sweetness from the dark malt comes through strong and is complimented by the spices. While sweet, it does have some roasted notes to the malt that cut the sweetness just slightly making this beer not overpoweringly sweet. The cinnamon and nutmeg come through with a bit of clove.
Barn Hammer

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Barn Hammer has taken a different route altogether and has brewed a Smoke Pumpkin Saison. This was one of their first test batch beers and they’ve now produced a full run of it for sale at their brewery. Through and through this a saison.

Saisons are a sturdy farmhouse style of beer. Originally created in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium, it was traditionally brewed at the end of the cool season to last through the warmer months before refrigeration was common.  It had to be sturdy enough to last but not too strong so it would quench your thirst in the summer months. This style of beer is very complex with a lot fruit notes, spices, and earth yeast notes to the beer. They tend to combine nice fruity notes with spice and a subtle sourness or tartness. Usually there’s lots of spice with mild bitterness and a dry crisp finish and only a hint of sweetness.

This particular saison uses both beechwood smoked malt and locally sourced roasted sugar pumpkin combined with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger to bring a little bit of smoke, spice and funk to the beer.

Appearance:  Pours a cloudy copper with an off-white head
Smell: Some spice notes from the additions, smoke notes and a bit of pepperiness.
Taste:
The beer is lightly spiced and the smoked malt comes through as the star. The spice is subtle backing up the pepperiness from the saison. There is a bit of funk to this beer.
Fort Garry

Fort Garry has once again released their Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale. This is another beer brewed in the catch-all style of a spiced/herb/vegetable beer. The main tastes highlights are found in the additions. This style of beer can take on numerous different variations depending on the choice of malts, hops, and additions made. This has additions of real pumpkin, traditional spices and then it is aged with oak. Another take on the traditional fall “pumpkin” beers being offered both locally and from afar.

Appearance:  Amber coloured with an off-white head
Smell: Roasted malty scent with an interesting almost rum aroma from the oak and vanilla that is complimented with pumpkin spices.
Taste: The vanilla, spices and oak come through well. The beer has a lighter body than expected. There are some savoury/bitter notes and the spices leave you with a bit of an aftertaste.

I always encourage people to get out and try new beer. I hope that you do and expand your beer horizons. I’m working on some other write-ups at the moment and have many folks to follow up with. So lots more to come.

As always, I appreciate everyone following.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

 

 

 

Barn Hammer Open

Barn Hammer

Yesterday was a pretty special day for the craft beer community here in Manitoba.  Barn Hammer became the first brewery to open since the government changed the regulations.  I’ve been following Barn Hammer since I first heard about them over a year ago and to see this accomplishment is truly awesome.

I went down there for the first day and was surprised that even though I was arriving at 12:50, there were already quite a few people there.  Tyler told me that it had been pretty steady since they opened at noon and from what I heard it got pretty busy there as the day went on.

BH Taproom

They are serving beer in 10oz or 16oz for you to enjoy in the taproom, and then they have their 32oz and 64oz growlers that you can take home.  They have a few baked goods and snacks available and have been working with local food trucks to try and have something available to eat.  The Walleye Wagon was there yesterday serving up some delicious food.

While there have certainly been challenges along the way, delays, and even a few hiccups, it was good to see Tyler and Sable Birch behind the bar seeing their hard work come to fruition.  Brian and assistant brewer Adrian were in the back brewing up a storm to keep up with the demand.

So, get down there to 595 wall street, they are open from noon-9pm again today. Let’s do our best to support local.

Self-Guided Brewery Tour

Wow, Flatlanders’ was awesome.  While I work on my post about that, I wanted to post a quick update about a couple of other things.

First, as the title suggests, the Manitoba Bartenders’ Guild has organized a self-guided brewery tour. It looks like it’ll be fun, the folks from the guild are pretty awesome, and I’m planning on attending as well. It costs $10 and you can get more details about booking a spot and the plan for the day by emailing: wpgjoel@gmail.com. They also do things like this pretty frequently so join their Facebook group to be updated on future events. 

Brewery Tour

A second piece of exciting information is that Barn Hammer’s beers (updated website, looking sweet) are finally starting to show up in restaurants around town.  While they aren’t able to do growler fills yet, they are able to sell to licensees.  Fools and Horses had the Saturday Night Lumberjack Double IPA on tap this weekend, and Earl’s is carrying Le Sneak Belgique Wit.  The time to start enjoying local beer is now my friends. Hopefully this is the flood gate opening and we will see Torque and others coming out soon as well.

Finally, Flight #3 of the Liquor Marts Coast to Coaster event starts on Friday.

Coast to Coaster Beers
That’s it for today. I’m working on my Flatlander’s write-up which you should see soon and I’ll be trying to meet up with Torque, Brazen Hall and Oxus for updates in the near future.  This is going to be a great summer. Grab a beer and enjoy it.

MBBA Event

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Manitoba Brewers’ Association (MBBA) meet and greet event that was held down at Fort Garry Brewing Company.

 

MBBA Shirt
The sweet MBBA Tshirt

The event was incredibly well attended and it was nice to see so many people come out to support not only local craft beer, but the Winnipeg Jets True North foundation.  This was the kickoff, if you will, for the Flatlanders’ Beer Festival happening this weekend.  If you don’t have your tickets yet, they are still available here.

The event provided an opportunity to give a try to some of the beers the local breweries have been working on.  Most only brought one to sample, leaving room for excitement at flatlanders, but the beers that they brought were all quite good.

Torque brought their American Stout, One Great City their Pale Ale, Barn Hammer brought their Double IPA, Nonsuch had their Saison, Half Pints had the MBBA collaboration brew and a Coconut Milk Stout, and Fort Gary had their Black Pearl and Buddha Lager.

The big surprise of the night was the new comer, Brazen Hall Brewery and Kitchen, who are going to be opening at the site of the Round Table.  It was an opportunity to meet them and to have a taste of their first beer, a Best Bitter.  Kristjan Kristjansson, who I hope to sit down with again, was saying that they want to combine his Icelandic heritage with the British heritage of their head brewery, Jeremy Wells.  The bitter was nice and I’m excited to hear more about them.

Brazen Hall

While this was just a first opportunity to try some of these beers, I was pretty impressed with what I tasted and I’m excited to be able to try the beers as a final product.

So, I hope that you will all try to make it to the Flatlanders’ Beer Festival this weekend. I’ll be there Friday night enjoying myself, Saturday afternoon as a Beer Geek (come ask me questions) and Saturday Night helping out pouring for Brewsters (come by and say Hi).

On one final note, the Manitoba Bartenders Guild has organized a self-guided brewery tour event that sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll be going along with them and anyone else interested in joining, come on out.  See the image below for details. It should be fun.

Brewery Tour

Thanks for reading as I follow the changing climate of beer here in the province of Manitoba, I’m pretty excited to keep following these, and other, breweries as they start moving closer to opening their doors.

-Beer Winnipeg

Barn Hammer – Update

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.

BH_cup_social

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.

Barn Hammer Update 1

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.

Barn Hammer Update 3

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.

Barn Hammer Update 2

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.

-Beer Winnipeg