Category Archives: Brazen Hall

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.

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

Brazen Hall Brewery and Kitchen

Brazen Hall Logo

It’s the summer time, it’s warm outside, there is project work to do, and it’s a great time to have a beer.  With the progression of the craft breweries here in the city moving steadily forward, there is much to be excited about.  Barn Hammer opened their tap room for growler fills this week and officially open on Wednesday.  For me, my excitement this week was sitting down with the team behind Brazen Hall Kitchen and Brewery.

The interviews that I have done are each different in their own way. What has never happened was that almost 30 minutes has gone by and I haven’t even gotten to ask a question. He spent those minutes telling me how he got to where he is, and man it’s an interesting story.  The passion that Kristjan Kristjansson has for this project is astounding.

Kristjan started off working in the telecom industry in sales. He loved work, seeing himself as a problem solver, but wasn’t overly excited about the company.  After having a great deal of success in his first business venture, running the company he used to work for, he took a few years off.  His next project would be the one he will be the most well-known for, his foray into the restaurant business. When Kristjan purchased the Round Table it wasn’t just about making money or running a business.  He saw real estate as a good investment but more so, he wanted to secure a future for his family.

Having accomplished these goals, in 2010 Kristjan faced a dilemma of either shifting the focus of the Round Table or changing it to another business.  The Brogue was an attempt to shift the focus of the Round Table and get more sales from the bar.  Kristjan explained that he actually said no to the Molson and Labatt folks when choosing his beer and decided to focus on more local and different beers. This helped him realize that something with a focus on craft beer was a viable option.

This is when the idea of opening a Brewpub started to take hold in Kristjan’s mind and he began looking at numerous other locations while still trying to figure out what to do with the Round Table. While doing this he met Kris Kopansky, another person interested in opening a brewery.  After talking with him, things just clicked and the location on the old site of the Round Table was chosen.

The team working with Kristjan is quite impressive.  Steve Watson will be the brains behind the kitchen and the menu at Brazen Hall.  He is a chef instructor at Patal International College.  The college is a level 1 certified program through apprenticeship Manitoba and Steve is a red seal chef himself.  The college works with international and indigenous students to help them find good work in the community.  Steve loves the work he does, it’s something he is proud of and gives him time to spend with his family.  What he was lacking was a creative outlet.  When Kristjan called him up to help develop the menu at Brazen Hall he jumped at it.  Not only that but he can involve his students in helping to design the menu because of the schools private status. Steve had originally helped open Brogue and has quite a lot of experience with quality assurance and creativity.  He can be given a food like buffalo wings and improve on it, or create a bacon appetizer that people love.  Steve’s passion for food and attention to quality bring an ability to make boring food exciting and crazy food amazing.

The third member of the team is Kris Kopansky.  For the past 24 years he has been working in the restaurant sector.  He first opened the Green Gates back in 1992.  He’s spent time working at Pasta la vista, Fuzion grill and was finally recruited by Earl’s where he has spent the past 14 years.  All of this experience has helped him understand the restaurant business, profitability, but most importantly consistency. Kris was looking to do something different.  Tragically, he lost his daughter last year and was looking to create something of his own, something he could develop and develop the people around him.  Kris got involved with Brazen Hall to be a part of something that he sees as special.  The concept, the design, but especially the people.  He wants to help create something special that will make a difference in the community.

Head brewer Jeremy Wells.  Jeremy has worked at Half-Pints for the past 8 years.  He started off doing labelling, deliveries, cleaning tanks, kegging and bottling.  Eventually he became the delivery driver but the folks at Half Pints decided he was more valuable in the brewery than on the road.  He was trained on how to brew and has been brewing there ever since.  One of the things he loved about Half Pints was that creativity is encouraged.

Brazen Hall

Jeremy loved bartending and felt a desire to get back into the brew pub concept.  Through a mutual friend he met Kristjan a few times, keeping Half Pints in the loop all along, and while Half Pints was interested in keeping him, he needed to do what was best for him.  Now he gets to create his own beers and see the response.  At Flatlander’s he was seeing people excited about a beer was really cool for Jeremy.

“It’s about being able to be excited about going to work”

Kris Kopansky chimed in at this point to say that while everyone is passionate about the task ahead, that they are all excited for the opportunity to do something special and to bring both great food and great beer to Winnipeg, he made clear that “We are not in kumbaya mode. We hold each other accountable and make sure that we are all moving towards the goal of doing something awesome.”

The plan for the brewery and kitchen is pretty straight forward.  Each will be its own entity with the brewery brewing their beers and the kitchen bringing the same laser focus to its food program.  The restaurant will produce awesome food and servers who explain the food, beers, and pair them together. Both of these entities will be making the best possible product they can.  It’s called a Brewery and Kitchen for a reason. For Kristjan, too many pubs decide to try their hand at food, or a restaurant trying to bring business in with a brewery.  Both of these models can struggle when the commitment isn’t real. The plan for Brazen Hall is to be awesome at both and have experts, Jeremy and Steve, acting as the leaders for each while Kris leads the entire team.

The team behind Brazen Hall want to write a great story, make a place that develops great people, produces quality products and supports the community.  They plan to use as much local product as possible.  In fact, the group wants to look into whether they can raise their own cattle for beef, grow their own hops for beer on Kristjan’s ranch, and use local farmers as much as possible. In every instance Brazen Hall wants to try their best to give to the community and support local industry.

“Being a Brewery and Kitchen is like having two chefs.”

Brazen Hall will be a 200 seat restaurant and a 10 hectoliter system.  There will be tank to tap for the restaurant as well as bottling in 650ml bottles for sale from their retail store on site and later, Liquor marts.  Brazen Hall will also have growler fills available at the bar so that people are able to take the beer they love home in many formats.  What was clear was that they don’t want to focus on commercial sales until they know they can produce enough beer to help fill their customer’s fridges.  They want their beer to be available to their consumer base first.  Focus isn’t on commercial sales, but butts in the seats of Brazen Hall.

While at this point they have made a number of test batches; a best bitter, an ale, a saison, and others, they are looking to let the market decide what will become “their” beers.  They plan to launch with a number of different options, listen to the feedback on the beers, and make their decision from there.  They are well aware that there are a number of people in the city who still gravitate towards the yellow water, but Jeremy brews beers he would like to drink so the options provided will still be good, unique and delicious.  Of course they will also be leaving room for seasonal beers and are hoping to brew fun beers that are not only great but will have customers wanting more.  To continue the excitement, the team has a 70 year old lager specialist consulting with them as well.

What is exciting is that Brazen Hall is already looking to the future.  They are plotting out possible locations for a second site.  What will go on this site has a lot to do with the reception from Winnipeggers.  If they are all about the beer it may be that the brewery expands, or it might be that it’s a bar that serves only their beer and food.  Whatever it is, they are leaving it up to the market to help them determine the path forward.

“Everyone came into this project with it not being all about money or career, but about what you need to do for you and creating something special.”

A lot of people had a chance to give their first beer, a best bitter, a try at Flatlander’s.  I certainly found it to be quite tasty and I’ve heard a number of comments in agreement.  If this is a sign of what is to come from Brazen Hall, and their food can match, then they have a winning combination.  So, when will you get a chance to check the place out?  Well, they have a soft launch date counting down on their website right now: www.brazenhall.ca but for now, I’m going to say you’ll have the opportunity to check them out this fall.  They do already have some pretty sweet T-shirts available, so if you are interested in supporting them now, you can.

It’s been pretty awesome following the stories of the breweries that are looking to open.  To see this province’s craft beer community begin to thrive, one which I know our will be embraced, makes a lot of what I wrote a year ago seem surreal.  We are at that point, Winnipeg, where by this fall we could have as many as 4 new breweries to visit.  So, get out, support local, and keep trying new beers.

-Beer Winnipeg

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