Category Archives: torque

Torque – One Year In


When I first started writing this blog we had three breweries in Manitoba. Today, we have nine with more on the way. What’s even more, we are hitting the anniversaries of some of these breweries and I, for one, am interested in looking back.

I sat with John Heim, president of Torque Beer Co. and the new president of the Manitoba Brewers Association to talk about their first year. I wanted to take a minute to look back at their first year and ask him about what they’ve learned, what they would do differently, and where are they going form here.

When they first opened Torque came out of the gate with a large capacity, immediate packaging and selling directly from Liquor Marts and beer vendors. They didn’t focus on getting their taproom open first but getting their beer out the door. This helped them enter the market with a wide reach and bring their beer to a larger group of people.

The Torque Founders 2016/2017

While starting off strong, Torque had early on made the decision to have a Helles, a lager requiring 8 weeks from brewing to packaging, which meant that it took longer to cycle that beer out into cans reducing the capacity for other beers that require less conditioning. This decision along with the admirable community mindset of Torque meant that they were using their brewery to produce other beers besides their own.

While these decisions ended up both producing a delicious beer and cementing Torque as a stellar community member, it also delayed them finding their stride. With all that said, I think everyone would agree that Torque has managed to produce some tasty, interesting and numerous beers.

As well, John explained that if he could do it again, he’d like to have more man power at the start. They’ve recently added a third brewer to their team, Tyler Sattler (formerly of Fort Garry Brewing) and a full-time tap-room manager named Hannah. While, according to John, they are just now starting to hit their stride, if what they accomplished over the past year was them “finding their stride” I can’t wait for this next year.


In this upcoming year Torque is hoping to expand their space by another 6000 sq/ft to accommodate the multiple dry-good needs they have. They’ve started using superbags of malt which will help them keep up with demand and have a variety of can variations that take up a lot of space.

As they’ve continue with their focus on helping the craft beer community, helping with distribution for PEI brewing company, Dark Horse Wine and Spirits, Craft Beer Imports, and 49th Parallel, they could also use some more cold storage and tanks which means they need more room to store the dry-goods as well. Another 6000 sq/ft would go along way. John also thinks a silo for malt might be in the future.

With the recent hiring’s, it lets John focus on the higher-level thinking and his new role as MBBA president. He is looking at working with other MBBA members to change the occupancy rules for taprooms so that events are easier to hold. With a 50-person max, despite space, it makes it hard to throw a birthday bash. John is also looking at finalizing Torques website, working with their sales manager Raj to get them out to more restaurants and venues, and talking to the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority about expanding to SK with their variety packs.

The first year has flown by and John and the team at Torque are trying to focus on looking forward. They are working on getting their website up and running that will provide details on beers, location, merch and where you can find them on tap. They are also hoping to hold more events and connect with other local vendors to bring beer and cuisine together.

Overall, John feels that they’ve really honed in on their production. They’ve implemented efficiencies in their canning line to allow for one person to operate it reducing waste and beer loss. They’ve hired new brewers to help fill the gaps and relieve the pressure that was once there and they’ve really focused on ensuring that the product they sell is something they would be proud of.


I’m excited for this next year and excited to share with you some of the bigger batches of beers we will be seeing from Torque over the next 12 months. Just know that alongside this they’ll have their small batches available at the brewery only. In fact, they are adding more small batch fermenters so that they can do more small batch brews.

Torque release schedule (unless otherwise noted – 473ml cans):

September/October 2017 – Witching Hour Dark Pumpkin Ale
November 2017 – Rabbit Punch Black IPA
December 2017 – Winter Survival Pack (6x355ml – Smoked Coffee Porter, Dunkleweizen, Wee Heavy, Wheat Wine, Diesel Fitter and a Double IPA.)
January 2018 – Bumper Shine Winter Ale
February 2018 – A Gruit using local botanicals – 500ml Bottle.
March 2018 – Konstantine Russian Imperial Stout – 500ml Bottle.
April 2018 –  Dopplebock – 500ml bottles
May 2018 – Czech Pilsner
June 2018 – Magnetic North Hefeweizen
July/August 2018 – Summer Pack (possible variation on beers)
September 2018 – Witching Hour
October 2018 – Fest beer (Marzen or Oktoberfest) – 500ml bottle
November 2018 – Rabbit Punch Black IPA
December 2018 – Winter Survival Pack

I’m pretty excited for a lot of the beers on this list. I encourage everyone to continue to support local beer and to get out and try these beers. Some of them will be quite interesting.

I hope to continue to follow-up with the breweries as they hit milestones. Peg Beer Co. and Barn Hammer Brewing have both also hit their one year anniversaries. I hope to check in with them soon. I’m also going to be checking in with Stone Angel this week as they approach opening and talking to the founder of North City Growlers. So follow me on WordPress and twitter to keep up with the latest.

– Beer Winnipeg

Community Brewing

community-green-marker-word-32981846.jpg

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.

 

Torque – Two Months In

torque-logo

Open for just over two months, Torque has entered the craft beer market in Winnipeg with a tour de force. That they have such a large brewing capacity combined with the fact they are the first of the new breweries to can has meant they are quickly building a name for themselves as makers of a high-quality and delicious craft beer.

The taproom at Torque is under construction. John Heim indicated they hope open in the next few weeks. After the construction phase the team must install their PoS system, and determine noise levels and seating arrangements.  They are going to move their test batch fermenters into the growler fill area (I wonder why) and will fill directly from the line (after purging with CO2). Look for an announcement on Twitter as John indicated they’d likely be doing a special taproom opening event.

When I stopped by Torque to see how things were going, they were just getting their canning line setup to do 12oz cans for their variety packs. They hope to have this coming out in the near future. We can pin the blame for the delay on one of their beers: since their Helles is a lagered beer it takes eight weeks from brew to can. This means it takes up a lot of tank space and, as one of their most popular beers, they are finding it difficult to keep up with demand.

torque-canning-line

 

That said, after their first three weeks of brewing, Torque had already found themselves in need of new tanks. They’ve ordered three new fermenters and two new bright tanks to give more capacity for the brews. The need for expanded capacity is urgent as Torque has signed on to contract brew for Lake of the Woods Brewing. Torque will start by brewing the Firehouse Ale but expect to probably do more in the future. The contract is for 100 brews a year, mostly suppling Manitoba.

The popularity of Torque’s beer can’t be overstated: they’ve gone only five of the past 57 days without an order from someone. They’ve recently been put on tap at the King’s Head, Original Joes while The Keg will soon be carrying their beer in cans. Recognizing this, they are working hard to reward supporters who believed in them from the start while still growing to meet demand.

Even though Torque is working hard to keep up with demand for its four flagship beers, they aren’t going to allow themselves to get stagnant. They have a “Finish Line IPA” coming to growler bars in November. This is their Red Line IPA but done with local flower hops from Prairie Gem Hop Farm. They also have a Dunkelweizen that is planned for the growler bars in December and are looking to release a “Winter Pudding” winter warmer in January.

On top of all this brewing, Torque is looking to get their barrel program underway. Working with Ken Yost, they are looking to start doing barrel-aged sours as well as barrel-aged beers such as Russian imperial stouts and Belgian Strong beers. They also want to work with the new local distillery, Capital K, to get some whiskey barrel-aged beers on the go.

If you are interested in connecting with the folks from Torque, they are very active in the community and participating in a number of events. Coming up on November 16 they will be at Garbonzo’s (U of W) for their annual Beer Festival which runs from 7 to 10 pm. On November 17, they’ve partnered with Inferno’s on Academy to offer a Beer Dinner: a five-course meal of dishes made with Torque’s beer along with a pairing of beer. Tickets for this are $80 and as of writing they had 20 remaining. You can contact Inferno’s to book.

With all the success Torque has seen so far, they’ve added a second brewer. Torque is very happy to welcome Perry Joyal to the team. He is working closely with Head Brewer Matt Wolfe as they continue to expand their operations.

Overall, things are moving forward at a lightning pace for the folks at Torque. I hope they are able to keep up with their demand as I have been enjoying all of the beers I’ve tried thus far. I’m anxiously awaiting the opening of the tap room and looking forward to trying some of the new brews on the way.

You can find Torque’s beer all over the city, but especially at Liquor Marts and beer vendors like Quality Craft Beer Store on Pembina.

-Beer Winnipeg

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

barn-hammer-moonlight-desires

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

 

 

 

 

Follow-up with Torque

Torque Tag

 

We are halfway through the summer months and getting closer to having two new breweries begin selling their beer. PEGbeer has written they‘re close to starting to brew while Torque is inching ever closer.

I had the opportunity to follow up with John and Adam from Torque earlier this week to get an idea of when we might get to taste some of their beer in a commercial setting. They’ve been working very hard these past months, doing a wonderful job of updating their Twitter followers, and have their tanks installed and are pretty much ready to go.

Torque Brewery - Long

Adam said they hope to have interim occupancy this week and they would like to be brewing August 2. The goal is to get beer out the doors as soon as possible, so the focus will be on producing, canning and selling beer with the taproom opening pushed to early September.

John said they want to get their beer on the shelves in Liquor Marts and beer vendors soon, so people will be able to bring Torque home with them. They will launch with four beers: Diesel Fitter (American Stout), Witty Belgian (Belgian Wit), Red Line (Red IPA), and What the Helles (Helles). Each style will be available in a 473ml single serve, with a 12 pack of the Helles and a 12 Variety Pack also available in the 355ml size.  Their beer will also be available on growler bars around the city, so you’ll have a few options for bringing home some of their beer.

“We’ll also be supplying a 473ml size Witching Hour Dark Pumpkin Ale for the Liquor Marts’ Pumpkin Pod fall promotion”, says Heim.

One of the things they are still waiting on is the loan program announced by the NDP and committed to by the PCs. They haven’t heard much on this program lately but hope to soon as it will help them get their beers out to Manitobans and possibly expand in the future.

The taproom itself will be limited to a 49-person capacity. They have two long tables made from beautiful elm, some stand up tables which are being made from wood recovered from old grain silos, plus a nice long bar. They plan on partnering with food trucks to feed patrons as well as laying out Torque beer nuts and baked goods from local bakeries. They also plan to have local foodie tours starting in the fall, partnering with the Winnipeg Trolley Company.

Torque Tables

One of the things on John’s radar are Manitoba’s rules regarding taprooms. He’d like to work with other members of the Manitoba Brewers’ Association to push for changes. Right now the occupancy limit is 49, they can only be open from 9am-9pm, and beer options are limited to in-house brews. He’d like to see hours shift to 11am-11pm, so folks leaving a Jets game could visit the taproom. And he would also like to see the option of a guest tap to expand the variety of beers.

While there is still a lot to do at Torque before they hit their ideal state, they’re prepared to put in the effort to “do things right.” They’ll take extra time if it is needed to get details perfect in both the brewery and the taproom. They’re even willing to take this approach in their brewing process: if the product is not up to snuff, they won’t send it out the door until it is.

Beyond that, the guys are looking forward to building some play into their project. Torque aims to a community brewery, with charity brews available early on. They also want to do brewing events like “learn to brew” and even have some homebrewers lined up to guest brew batches of beer. Adam is also really excited about their barrel program. They’ve got a 50 wine barrels from Mission Hill winery in BC and, while it won’t be any time in the near future, they have big plans for their barrel program.

Torque Brewery - Barrels

All in all, the folk at Torque’s hard work is steadily moving pieces into place so they can deliver some fantastic beer. If the quality is anything like what we tasted at Flatlander’s, expect some great brews soon.

-Beer Winnipeg

*Torque Brewing is located at 330-830 King Edward Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba*

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