Category Archives: Beer News

Nonsuch Launch Party

May is a ridiculously busy month for me with work. It seems to be a series of meetings followed by other meetings and a few trips away. It’s hard doing all this with a new baby at home as I just end up missing her and my wife that much more. But, the month of May is coming to an end, and I’ve got a few things to update on.

First, the second annual get to know a brewer event is coming up on June 6th. This year it will be held at Brazen Hall. Tickets are available here. Last year I had the chance to attend the event and it was a fantastic precursor to Flatlanders. You get an opportunity for a sneak peek at what will be coming and a chance to speak one on one with the brewers and other folks from the local breweries. If you’ve never been, I highly suggest you go. It’s a fantastic event and well worth it.

Second, as I mentioned above, Flatlanders Beer Festival is fast approaching. Last years saw our first glimpse at some of the upcoming breweries. This year, we have our newly established brewery folks joining with our long-standing ones and some potential newcomers. All this along with other brewers from across Canada and around the world. This is the pinnacle of beer in Manitoba as it brings together so much from so far. If you love beer, go to this event. Come say hi, I’ll be in a Yellow Beer Geek shirt.

Finally, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the fantastic launch event that Nonsuch held this past Thursday, May 25th.

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I had the good fortune of meeting the guys from Nonsuch and chatting with them about their vision a while back. While they’ve had some trouble finding a location, they are very close. This hasn’t prevented them from doing what they set out to do, brewing beer, and we should see their beers showing up in the Liquor Marts by June.

Nonsuch has been brewing in collaboration with Barn Hammer to perfect their beers and get everything where they want it to be. At the launch party, they debuted their Old Ale, Belgian Strong, Saison and Biére de Garde. I had a chance to try each one of these beers and was overall very impressed with the quality and taste. I’m quite excited to see these beers start showing up in the Liquor Marts.

What’s impressive is that they have been sticking to their original plan of brewing with spring water and selling in caged and corked 750ml bottles. The bottles look sharp and with the beer inside being darn good, I think they’ve got a product that many people in the city will enjoy.

While I don’t want to write a full review of the beers I tasted, I do want to say that each one of the four beers were top notch. Mark has a unique ability to adjust his beers on the fly and come up with a result that is tasty and enjoyable to drink.

As we approach Flatlanders and the Manitoba Brewers’ Association event, there are numerous opportunities to meet those brewing our beer and taste what they’ve got to offer. There are sure to be some special ones so be sure to get out and give them a try.

Thanks again for following, and be sure to check back for more

-Beer Winnipeg

Charity Raffle

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What do you get when you take a really great guy who gets his hands on some really great beer? An opportunity to make some money for charity.

Trevor Lehmann, game publisher and owner of convergent games, had the opportunity to travel to Belgium and visit the world famous Westvleteren Trappist Monastery where he secured five bottles of their Belgian quadruple Westvleteren 12. These highly sought after beers are only sold from the monastery and are limited to six bottle per visit. Many in the beer community make a pilgrimage to the monastery and enjoy their five beers with friends and colleagues. Trevor had a different idea.

Trevor decided that these bottles could be used to help others. So, he organized a charity raffle that will be occurring at Barley Brothers Stadium on January 29th, 2017. Lehmann intends to donate all ticket sales to Winnipeg Harvest, a local charity which moved 13.7 million pounds of food to families in need last year.

Being entrepreneurial, Lehmann got others involved in donating prizes for the event. Fort Garry has donated a full-stocked beer fridge, Grape and Grain has donated a home brewers kit and mix, and there will be other items to be raffled off from Half-Pints and Barley Brothers. There will also be some local brewery representatives in attendance to answer questions, talk beer, and likely try to take a bottle home for themselves.

This is an excellent opportunity for beer-lovers and those who love beer lovers to get out and support a fantastic cause. There is a chance to win some highly sought after beers, enjoy a few drinks from Barley Brothers craft beer line-up, and talk beer with some of the people who know it best.

The drawing for the beers and prizes will begin at 4:45pm. Anyone who is interested in participating should make sure to get down to Barley Brothers and buy their tickets before this time.

What: Beer Raffle in support of Winnipeg Harvest
When: January 29th from 2:30-5:30pm (Ticket deadline is 4:45pm)
Where: Barley Brothers Stadium (2005 Pembina)
Who: Trevor Lehmann of Convergent Games, local brewers and fantastic prizes

I will be there, so I am afraid not all the bottles are up for grabs as I am sure I’ll take home at least one…right? That’s how this works?

Seriously though, please come down, say hello, and help support Trevor Lehmann in his goal to raise money for Winnipeg Harvest.

 

Brew News

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It’s been awhile since I had the opportunity to sit down and write. As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, I’ve been travelling for the past 4 weeks. While I certainly had a fantastic trip – enjoying a variety of interesting and fantastic beers – I felt a bit disconnected from what was happening back in Winnipeg.  While I still have breweries from back east to write about in my “second dispatch” I want to write about some of what happened in the ‘Peg while I was away.

One of the most exciting things involves the guys from Torque. Over a year ago when I first sat down with these guys I was excited, curious and a hesitant about their plan. They wanted to be big, and can right from the get go. I thought this was ambitious and wasn’t sure if they would be able to do it. I should never have doubted! Not only has this team hit their production mark, but they’ve done it while producing some really fantastic beers.

You can get Diesel Fitter American Stout, Witty Belgian Wit, and Red Line IPA at a variety of places around town including King’s Head, Barley Brothers, and The Common at The Forks to name a few. The only place you can get their beer to take home is the Quality Inn Craft Beer Market  who have Torque’s, as well as other local beers, available on growler/howler and in cans. They are the first place in the city to have Torque’s cans in stock. This place has made a name for itself as one of the best spots for craft beer in the city. Along with Barn Hammer, Fort Garry and Half Pints, we can now add Torque to the list of local breweries pumping out beer.

Speaking of which, the second piece of exciting news is that Peg Beer Company has all of its permits and is working on producing this week. According to their Twitter account, 100% this week. I’m pretty excited about that and I’m anxiously awaiting a chance to try their beers.  With Le Burger Week underway, now is the best time to get out to places around the city and try some of this new local beer while enjoying some fantastic eats.

One Great City continues to progress forward and have started on the renovation work in their space. This will be a lot of hard work for the folks behind OGC, but with the posts they’ve been putting on twitter, they seem up for it. With an initial hope of being open in October, I’ll be working to follow up with them again soon.

Brazen Hall continues to progress forward. They’ve got a nice big sign up in front of their space on Pembina and the count-down on the website continues to tick downwards. They also hope to being opening in October and so I’ll be following up with them again soon as well.

Finally, as I’ve mentioned before Beau’s All Natural is distributing cross Canada and it seems like we may be seeing a few more beers arriving in Manitoba before too long.  With Tom Green coming to perform at Rumors Comedy Club from September 22-24, it seems he might be bringing some beer with him.  I’ve heard The Tom Green Beer (Milk Stout) will be the next to show up in Manitoba with their Oktoberfest Mix Pack next on the list.  Watch the Liquor Marts website and Twitter to see when they arrive.  As well, watch this site for some write-ups about the beers as I try them.

It’s an exciting time in Manitoba right now with a number of other breweries on their way to opening. I’ll be meeting with Trans Canada brewing soon, I hope, and following up with Little Brown Jug.  Follow me on Twitter and follow the blog for updates.

-Beer Winnipeg

Flatlander’s 2016

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This years’ Flatlander’s Beer Festival was by far the best one to date. With 72 booths and over 240 beers, it was the largest beer festival we’ve held in Manitoba.  The number of beers isn’t always important, but the quality, variety and style variations made this year pretty darn awesome. Not only that, the local breweries were out in force and brought their A-game, giving every single one of us a reason to be proud.

I had a unique opportunity this year. I attended all three sessions of Flatlander’s in different capacities. On Friday night I had the joy of being a patron, enjoying around 70 unique beers. On Saturday I participated in the “ask a beer geek” initiative and had a great time answering questions and helping guide people towards beers. Then, on Saturday night, I had the opportunity to pour for Brewsters’ Brewing Company.  Each of these experiences brought a different perspective of the festival and dang, it was fun.

As a patron, I was incredibly impressed with how well organized the beer festival was this year. They had multiple entrances that split up the crowd, they used the concourse as well as the ice, which helped spread the crowd out to make the beers more accessible, and they had fantastic volunteers who did an awesome job helping guide people where they wanted to go.

For me, the most exciting part was the fact the first 9 booths were all local.  Barn Hammer, Farmery, Fort Garry, Half Pints, Brazen Hall, Nonsuch, Torque, One Great City and the Winnipeg Brew Bombers were there with a lot of fantastic beer.

As I said above, these local breweries brought their A-game and provided a fantastic opportunity to not only try a huge number of delicious beers, but also connect with the brewers and breweries.  The local booths were packed all night long with patrons drinking, chatting, and buying the merchandise.  I got me a Torque hat, a Barn Hammer hat and a One Great City shirt… eventually I’ll collect them all!

I can’t wait to try more of the local stuff as it starts to trickle into the market. From what I had the opportunity to taste (every single one) I am excited to continue to support local brewers. This is what I was writing about last year, what I’ve been writing about since I started this blog: We are finally seeing the craft beer community in Manitoba grow…and it’s good.

As a beer geek, I had the opportunity to answer questions people had about beers, hand out some cool swag to patrons and help guide people who didn’t really have a plan. It was a great opportunity to use some of the knowledge I’ve gathered to help others better understand and enjoy beer. I found many people are becoming really well-educated themselves, and that people were just as excited about the local beer as I was.

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While I didn’t have many questions besides “Where is the local stuff” or “Where am I?”, I did have some fun ones. One group had tried a few beers and asked “What is it about these beers I don’t like?” which was a fun one to answer. Others were curious about the use of nitro in One Great City’s Milk Stout, or what a Randall was. Overall, I was working with some really smart people and had a great time getting to meet a lot of new folks, help them enjoy their beer, and learn a little bit more myself from talking with brewers.

As a pourer for Brewsters’, I had the opportunity to stand still while the festival crowd flowed around me.  It was hectic; the first hour flew past in what felt like five minutes. I spent the first bit getting to know the beers as best I could – tasting them on Friday night helped – and talking to Don about Brewsters’. We poured four beers: River City Raspberry Wheat, Honest Paul IPA, Hammerhead Red Ale, and the Hawaiian Coconut Porter. The night ended up being a lot of fun with me repeatedly saying things such as “this is a traditional English porter, finished with real coconut. It has chocolate and coffee notes in it as well” or “this is a big 70 IBU IPA with mosaic, Citra and cascade hops with a big late hop addition that bring big grapefruit and passion fruit notes.”

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This gave me a good barometer for people who knew something about beer and those who did not.  While two years ago Flatlander’s seemed to have a large number of people asking “what’s an IPA?” this year I didn’t have a single person ask that. There will certainly always be room for people to learn more about beer, but the amount of knowledge people showed Saturday night was great to witness. I’m so happy Manitobans are increasingly embracing craft beer, are excited about new beers and local beers, and want to try something they’ve never had.

Talking with Don, a man who has been in the beer industry for close to 20 years, was fantastic. This guy really knows his beer and his product and I really hope that we see some of it come to Winnipeg. The Honest Paul IPA was delicious and I’m a sucker for a good Coconut Porter.  We’ve already got their Brewmaster Collection in Liquor Marts, but we will also see a Peach Ale coming to town for the final flight of Coast to Coaster.

Overall, I had a fantastic time at the beer festival. It helped build excitement for the local breweries, something I’ve been working hard to do, and gave people their first sampling of what is to come.  Next year’s festival will be even better as the breweries here this year – most with the help of Half Pints – will be open and brewing on their own systems. They will have grown and we will have, hopefully, even more new breweries giving us a first taste side-by-side with those from this year. While we had nine local booths at this year’s festival, I really hope to see us take up 20 booths next year.

So, fellow beer fans, I encourage you to get out and enjoy local beer this summer. Of the new folks, Barn Hammer is already sending beer out the door; you can find it at Fools & Horses and Earls right now, and Torque will hopefully be coming up close behind. Many of us have been clamouring for more craft beer so now it’s time to put our money where our mouth is – and also beer where our mouth is.  It’s time to get out and show these places that we will support them.

Let’s end today’s post with a question.  If you attended Flatlander’s, what was your favourite beer? Answer in the comments below.

Craft Beer Events – June 2016

It has been a little while since I’ve posted anything, it’s been a crazy time of year. Luckily things are returning to a bit of normalcy, just in time for some really fun craft beer opportunities here in the city.

First off is the Coast to Coaster event put on at the Liquor Marts across the city.  This year they are doing 4 separate flights about 2 weeks apart.  Beers from across Canada will be brought into the liquor marts for people to try.  These are beers that we do not normally have and are brought in special for this event.  Some of these are ones we can expect to see on the shelves (hopefully) while others we may not see again.  This event will be running from June 1st – July 31st.

I’m a little disappointed in this years Coast to Coaster. The majority of the beers coming in on the “flights” are lagers, blondes, or pale ales.  I understand that these are great summer beers, but they don’t give an opportunity for Manitobans to try a variety of styles and experiment with what they might or might not like.  There are some interesting beers coming in, and I’m certainly going to try a number of them, but it’d be nice to see a bit more of an adventurous nature in the lists rather than the “safe” choice.  In any case, See the image below for all the beers coming out and which week they will be available.

Coast to Coaster Beers

Second up, The Manitoba Brewers Association is hosting a “meet your local craft brewer” event at Fort Garry Brewing Company on June 22nd. The event is from 5:30pm-8:00pm. This is a great opportunity to sample a few of the beers from these local breweries before getting to try them all at Flatlanders’.  More so, it’s a great opportunity to chat with the breweries who are on their way to opening or still in the planning process.

Tickets are for sale right now and are quite limited.  They are $25 a piece and you can get them here.  I’d really recommend going if you are interested in having a chance to speak with some of the new breweries and find out a bit more of what you can expect.  I’ll be there for sure and you can expect a write-up of all that I learn.

Finally, the big one, Flatlanders’ Beer Festival is coming up on June 24th and 25th (afternoon/evening). Three opportunities to get in and try out some of the new beers coming to Manitoba, especially those from local breweries not yet open.

With over 160 beers from around the globe for people to try, it’s a great opportunity to taste something you’ve never had and to venture out beyond your comfort zone and try something new.  It’s especially great that this year we will see a large number of the new local breweries (Torque, One Great City, Nonsuch, Barn Hammer, and more) offering a chance to try their beer for the first time.

Tickets are still available and I recommend going to this event. In addition to the opportunity to try some local brews no one else has had, there will be beer geeks (I get to be one!) on hand who will be there to answer questions you may have about beers and styles.  As well, there will be education sessions put on by members of the Manitoba Brewers Association, and there will be a lot of beer to try.  You can get tickets here and you can check out the full list of featured beers here.

Hopefully you get the chance to check these events out. I’m certainly going to be enjoying all the opportunities I get to enjoy some craft beer (especially the local stuff).  Also, watch here, as I am going to posting an update on Barn Hammer soon.

One Great City

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I can’t believe one year ago I was sitting down and writing about all of what was to come. Last year was one in which the possibility of new breweries seemed a distant hope – a glimmer on the horizon.

One year later we are finally starting to see much of what we hoped take shape.  With PEG halfway open, Barn Hammer and Torque well on their way to opening their doors and Flatlander’s Beer Festival giving us our first chance to taste some of these new beers, it’s a good time to be a beer lover in Manitoba.

One brewery that I’ve known about for some time – but only recently got to sit down with – is One Great City Brewing Company (or “OGC” as they call themselves). Co-Founders Tim Hudek and Jon Burge were kind enough to meet with me and give some details on their brew-pub, progress and, of course, their team.

Tim and Jon are both Winnipeg boys.  Born here, they love this city. Sadly, their career paths took them to other destinations. Tim went to Toronto for law school before opening a practice in the city while Jon went to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts to hone his skills as a chef.

After completing his culinary arts program, Jon worked around Vancouver at a variety of different venues. He worked at high-end restaurants, bistros, and was even responsible for opening one of the first gourmet food trucks in the city.  Eventually he expanded his horizons, travelling up north and further refining his culinary skills. All through this time he hoped to one day return to Winnipeg.

Enter Tim Hudek, a graduate of the Osgoode Hall law school and a fellow Winnipegger. Tim wanted to return to Manitoba as well and saw there was a brilliant opportunity to start a business in the city. He contacted Jon and asked if he wanted to team up to open a brewpub to help fill the gap in Manitoba’s lacking craft beer market. In 2014 the two began planning to open One Great City Brewing (OGC) here in Winnipeg.

While neither of them have a great deal of experience in brewing, they both have a passion for beer and an eye for business. Jon will be the creative mind behind the food at the brew pub and Tim, who hopes to be called to the bar in Manitoba soon, will act as general counsel and business administrator, while also helping in the brewery and with anything else that needs to be done.

Heading up the brewing itself will be Josh Berscheid, a graduate of Olds College who is currently working with Half Pints until the brewery at OGC is ready to go. When it comes to beer preferences, Jon is a Stout and ESB fan who is slowly opening up to IPAs while Tim likes stouts as well as IPAs – the hoppier the better.

“Our goal is to have adventurous yet accessible beer and food”

So why open a brew pub? While living in large metropolises like Toronto and Vancouver, they saw a void existed in Manitoba. They saw this as a great market opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a very underdeveloped market. Tim describes it as “the opportunity of our generation.”

Their brewpub will have three separate areas: a restaurant that seats 123 people inside with room for 50 more out on the patio; a retail space where they will sell merchandise and do growler fills; and a with 10HL brewing system, 20HL fermenters and brite tanks, they have an annual capacity of 3000 HL for the restaurant, growler bar and distribution. All this will be located in a 7,000 sq/ft space at Madison Square Polo Park (1596 Ness Avenue.)

Choosing a location is not an easy feat and a lot went into this decision. You want a space that has high traffic both at lunch and dinner, has the infrastructure in place to support the weight of the brew system at capacity as well as room for parking. They found all this at Madison Square and are in the process of getting the space ready to go. Jon told me we can expect the décor to be “Industrial Chic” with an open concept and the ability to see the brewery exposed behind glass walls.

“We want to be very interactive and develop our beers to fit what Manitobans want to drink.”

While the philosophy of the brewery is to be “adventurous yet accessible” they want to make sure they are listening to their customers. They want to be very present on Twitter and social media, getting feedback on the beers they brew. Tim said they don’t want to “make beer only we want to drink” but they want to “involve their customers and make food, and brew beer that Winnipeg likes”.  The plan is to allow for growler fills at the retail shop right now. They are still deciding whether they will go with 16 ounce cans or if they will do Bombers (650ml) and standard (355ml) bottling.

So, when can we get our first taste of their beer? Very soon. They have two beers they will have at the Flatlander’s Beer Festival this year: Tipsy Cow Milk Stout and Monkey Trail Pale Ale. If you needed any reason to go to Flatlander’s, besides all the other beer, take this one – the first opportunity to try some beer from a new brewery and give the team your feedback.

Besides these two beers, they don’t yet have any others to announce. They said they will certainly have a stout, and IPA and a more approachable beer, but nothing is nailed down as of right now.

“Two beers we will be sampling at Flatlander’s are Tipsy Cow Milk Stout and Monkey Trail Pale Ale”

I always am curious about the long-term plan for a brewery and where they see themselves in five years. Both Tim and Jon said they are very fluid with their growth and will move where the market takes them.  If the restaurant is a huge success it might mean opening a second location. If the brewery is taxed to its limit due to demand, it might mean opening a stand-alone brewery. At the end of the day, they want to stay flexible and listen to the market and grow with it.

Overall, the process has been very positive for Jon and Tim.  While they expressed similar concerns around communication between the city and province, they also said how grateful they were for the support from Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries.  They have a ways to go before they open their doors, but they feel they have had more good days then bad.

What do they hope to accomplish? They want to bring great food and great beer to great people.  Jon and Tim want to build something Manitobans will be proud of. They want Winnipeggers to have civic pride and build an institution that helps show off how great this city is. They are called One Great City because of their love for this town. They want to elevate the community, use local products, build up other local businesses and support local charities. One Great City wants to embody the concept of a community brewery and do what they can to build this city up.

“’I’ve lived in Toronto and the Philippines, traveled throughout Asia and South America, and there is no place I’d rather be then here in Winnipeg.”

The biggest measure of success for Jon and Tim will be opening the doors to their brewpub, which they hope to do by the end of October. I wish them the best of luck and look forward to trying their beer at Flatlander’s and frequenting their brewpub when it opens next year.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

 

Flatlander’s Beer Festival

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Well, it’s that time of year again folks. The Flatlander’s Beer Festival is coming to town.  This year it will be held on June 24th and 25th with two evening entries (7 pm-10 pm) and one matinee (1 pm-4 pm) on June 25th.

So, what is Flatlander’s Beer Festival? Flatlander’s Beer Festival, is just that, an opportunity to try a variety of beers and ciders (over 160 in fact) at over 70 booths.  This is all done in support of the Winnipeg Jets Foundation and is a major fundraiser for this charitable organization.  The event is put on in conjunction with the Manitoba Liquor Marts and provides patrons a chance to try beers that are on their way, or already, onto Liquor Mart shelves.

Having attended this event last year, it was a great opportunity to connect with the reps from the various breweries and distributors, try a variety of interesting beers, and talk with fellow beer lovers.  This year will have an added bonus of giving us the opportunity to try some of the yet to open breweries.  One Great City (watch for my write-up this weekend) has two beers they will be sampling at Flatlander’s.  I expect that this year’s event will give us our first chance to try some of the beers from the new breweries coming to Manitoba.  Watch the website of Flatlander’s as they will be posting the list of beers soon.

There will be a few changes this year, compared to last.  Specifically, the event is bigger.  It is expanding beyond the ice level and up onto the concourse.  The plan this year is to offer educational opportunities for patrons so that they can learn more about beer.  The Manitoba Brewers Association is involved in this year’s festival and we can expect that they will have a role to play in some of these sessions. There will also be 5 food trucks giving you the opportunity to snack on some delicious food while you sample your beers.

While details are still coming on Flatlander’s for this year, hopefully this post will wet your appetite.  I’m certainly going to be there, as last years’ event was great.  I’m excited to give some of the new beers a try, talk to the brewers and reps who are there, and sample some of the beer from the new breweries coming to our great province.

I’ll be posting more details as I get them.

Tickets are on sale now! You can buy Tickets at Ticketmaster or at Liquor Marts.  The cost for the evening events are $44.99 while the matinee on Saturday is $39.95. This includes all samples, a program and a sampling cup.

I hope to see you there!

Beer Winnipeg