Category Archives: Half Pints Brewing

Community Brewing


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.


Get to know a brewer – Jeremy Grisim

Image result for jeremy grisim

It’s a great time of year around my place. We are getting ready for the holiday season to begin, our daughter is starting to grow, and it is almost time for me to crack into the craft beer advent calendar. I’m hoping folks will enjoy reading about each one of the beers and breweries as much as I enjoying learning about them.

Today I am starting a series that I hope to continue for as long as I am able. “Get to know a brewer” is something I thought of when I was last chatting with Jeremy Grisim from Half Pints. When I first met Jeremy, he was doing me a favour and picking me up a test batch from Half Pints. Over time, I started seeing him at Half Pints more often and later learned he had joined the Half Pints team. Now, he’s accomplished a goal he set for himself of becoming a brewer. So, who better to start this with than him.

Jeremy became interested in brewing while he was working on a chemistry degree. He had taken some biology and chemistry courses that talked about fermentation sciences and as he had tried various craft beer and was being exposed to new styles of beer, Jeremy decided to try home brewing. He started small, buying a kit from Grape and Grain, and from that point he was hooked. While he had initially thought of being a chemistry teacher, he felt a calling to one day open a brewery and decided that he would follow that dream and work towards it.

Having a good background in science, Jeremy felt as though he needed to get some more knowledge surrounding the brewing process and the science/art of brewing beer. He took the executive overview of brewing from the Siebel institute and began communicating with as many brewers as he could across Canada seeking their advice and direction on further education. From this advice, Jeremy decided to do the 1-year associate degree in brewing technology from the Siebel institute. While this provides some great learning, it lacks in practical experience. Really wanting to get this practical knowledge, Jeremy and his wife had been ready to move their family wherever they needed to go. Luckily, he was hired on at Half Pints as a brewery assistant in May 2015 and began chasing his dream.

While working as a brewer assistant at Half-Pints, Jeremy also took on the task of conducting brewery tours. Half Pints already had a full slate of brewers and while Jeremy was happy to help and felt he was learning, he ultimately wanted to be brewing beer. This past summer, 2016, two of the brewers from Half Pints left to pursue other goals which left Half Pints with space for a new brewer. Dave Rudge, President of Half Pints, sat down and asked Jeremy about his goals. Jeremy said he wanted “To one-day be the best brewer in Winnipeg and to brew beer until I can’t brew anymore.” Dave offered him the chance to get trained on the brewing equipment and Jeremy has brewed full-time ever since.

Jeremy loves all styles of beer but has a ton of respect for the old-world breweries. He has a Czech background himself and deeply respects the skill required to brew and the history behind old world beers. He takes great joy in drinking beers from North American breweries as well of course. Jeremy said that he feels breweries are moving away from the tendency to brew to style and are no starting to brew to inspiration. Instead of trying to replicate a style of beer they are trying to create a beer. While Jeremy didn’t really give me an answer on his favorite style, the first beer he has developed and brewed at Half Pints is a California Common. We can expect to see this on the test batch system before too long and Jeremy hopes the beer will be scaled up into a bigger batch.

In the next 5 years, Jeremy sees himself strengthening his brewing skills, increasing his knowledge, and immersing himself in the burgeoning Winnipeg brew scene. For now, he’s brewing 40-50 hours a week and using this as an opportunity to begin dialing in and improving his skills. Jeremy is completely immersing himself in beer.

I also took this opportunity to catch up on what’s new at Half Pints. The tap-room is up and running and looking darn fantastic. This has given Half Pints’ the opportunity to expand the use of their test batch system as they can put it on tap in the tap-room. This is something they are looking to do as often as possible, both to scale up and just for the fun of it. Some of the things in the taproom and will not be available anywhere else.

What Jeremy was able to share is that we will be seeing a test batch of Ol’ Glory (American Barley Wine) and a Count Chocula Stout coming soon. As well there is a Winter Spiced Red Ale that will be on the growler bars around the city as well as 1000 litres of Humulus Ludicrous (Double IPA) that’ll be on draft and growler only.


Throughout the year, we can expect to see a bunch of brand new beers and old favourites making their return. Given the tasting room, it’s given Half Pint’s the ability to have a beer with their customers and talk to them in a way they haven’t had the chance before. Aside from the test batches, Half Pints is also hoping to play around more with casks and pins to put twists on their beers for the tap-room. With the taproom, fully operation, I think it’s a good time to get into Half Pints and taking advantage of the tap-room.

I’ve got a follow-up with Little Brown Jug still coming this week and it is almost time for my Marathon month of posting on the Craft Beer Advent Calendar. Check out last years’ wrap up. This year, it’s Old World Breweries, New World Beers. Exciting.

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
Nice malty sweetness brings great flavours that are kept from becoming overly sweet by some nice earthy/grassy hop notes


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.
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


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.
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





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

Half Pints – Black Galaxy

Half Pints - Black Galaxy

Today’s review comes to us from a local brewery of which I am very proud to be able to support.  I’ve talked about Half-Pints in the past so for more information about the brewery itself please read those here and here or check out their website here.

The Style

The beer I am tasting from Half-Pints today is there highly rated Black IPA, Black Galaxy.  A Black IPA is a specialty style of an IPA.  Like an IPA, they are meant to be hop forward and drinkable. One of the biggest differences is that they bring a darker colour and often roasted or burnt flavours from the use of different malts.

When drinking this style one can expect to get a lot of different hop notes from the variety of hops used in the brewing of the brewer that are melded with a variety of different malts that would not normally be used in the brewing of an IPA.

This beer is a variation of the IPA style and was first commercially produced by Greg Noonan as Blackwatch IPA around 1990. It began to grow in popularity through the 2000s and there are many varieties of this style which can be found.  This beer is also known as a Cascadian Dark Ale.  Overall the style is similar in many respects to a traditional IPA but bringing with it some more complexity in the malt profile to compete with the diversity of hops.

The Review

Appearance:  Black with a slight red hue when held up to the light. A persistent 2 finger off-white head that leaves lacing as it dissipates.

Smell: Piney notes, citrus, passion fruit, roasted malt. Soft notes of pineapple and coffee also.

Mouth feel: Medium body, medium carbonation that leaves a bit of tingle on the tongue.

Taste: Passion fruit and pineapple come through on the taste with a nice bitter finish that balances well with the sweet fruit, light caramel, and roasted dark malt backbone.

Overall: I haven’t had many Black IPAs to compare this too but overall this is a great beer. It is well balanced and brings a depth of different flavours (passion fruit, pineapple, caramel, coffee, roasted malt) that all seem to balance well together and with the 60 IBUs.

Do I like it:  Yes. This is a beer that I really enjoy. Half Pints does a great job with this beer bringing both balance of malt and hop. The flavours in this are really good together and I’d be happy to drink this any day of the week.