Category Archives: Winnipeg

Trans Canada Brewing – Follow-up

TCB

It’s been a little while since I had the chance to head down and visit Trans Canada Brewing Company. The last time I was there the place was a vast open space of a warehouse with only one’s imagination to help fill in the blanks. Matt Tallman walked me through and described his vision of a large production brewery doing a huge number of different beers, having an ambitious cellaring program and being the first brewery in Manitoba with foeders.

This last visit shows a lot more of the bones and structure of the place. Tanks are in place and the 35hl brewhouse and 5hl pilot system were getting installed. The framework of the brewery, taproom and Timmy Tom’s pizzeria are all but in place and they seem well on track to hit the target of opening in late summer.

What’s even more, the core team is now in place and boasts some pretty fantastic people with a huge amount of experience. That team will be the focus of this piece as you can read about the brewery and plans here. I will, however, have some pictures of the space throughout this piece.

TCB Team
Key Trans Canada Brewing Company Team Members (left to right): Josh Adler – Quality Assurance, Morgan Wielgosz – Head Brewer, Matt Tallman – President, Thoms Schneider – Timmy Tom’s Pizzeria Head Pizzailolo and Jeff Wirt – Administration Leader

Morgan Wielgosz will take on the role as head brewer of Trans Canada. She will be the first female head brewer in Manitoba and she brings a huge amount of experience from her previous role as brewing supervisor at Amsterdam brewing in Toronto.

So, why come to Manitoba? According to Morgan, Manitoba is gaining some national buzz in the brewing scene for being a hotbed of new development. This was exciting for her and hearing Matt’s vision of the brewery it was an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. To be able to get involved with something like this at the start was just too good to be true. Having access to the type of equipment that will be at TransCanada, working under a vision of “if it’s not perfect, we don’t sell it” and having a large amount of creative freedom means that Morgan will be able to shine.

She started home brewing after university and decided to move to Toronto. She ended up living across the street from Amsterdam and asked if she could volunteer. Eventually she got hired and had a ton of on the job training. Working through pretty much every gig you can have from filter operator, cellar master and their experimental pilot system, Morgan brings a plethora of experiences and knowledge to her role. While she was born, and raised in Ontario, she is happy to be in Winnipeg and is here to stay.


Josh Adler will be taking on the quality assurance role at TransCanada. Coming to Winnipeg from Propeller brewing in Nova Scotia and Victory brewing in Philadelphia. Originally from Toronto he did his undergrad at Dalhousie university in Nova Scotia. While doing his undergrad he became really interested in researching yeast. He had been homebrewing while doing his undergrad and was given the chance do a master’s degree in brewing science. Around the same time there was a job posting at Propeller brewing for someone to come start a quality assurance program. Josh started their lab and helped in a variety of other roles around the brewery. He had the chance to do brewing, packaging and eventually took over as the production manager doing some large-scale beer brewing.

Josh wanted to get back into the quality side of brewing and could take on a job at Victory brewing in Philadelphia. What was interesting about Victory is that while they were very art focused in their recipe development they also had a huge science and quality focus as well. Josh wanted to come to Manitoba for many of the same reasons as Morgan. The buzz around the city and the opportunity to work in the brewery Matt is looking to open where you make the best quality beer possible with the be possible ingredients possible from day one, was just too good to pass up. Josh is excited to be here and is looking forward to laying down some roots. Having a wife who is originally from this area means it’s a little bit like coming home as well.


Thomas Scheineder who I’ve previously mentioned will be the operator of Timmy Tom’s pizzeria making the food for the tap room at TransCanada. Originally from Winnipeg, Thomas started working with pizza at age 16 and continued to work at the same pizza restaurant all through university. He always had a dream of opening his own pizza place, but the timing wasn’t right. Instead, he opened two Papa John’s franchises in Dallas-Fort Worth. He lived in Texas for four years running these franchises before selling them in 2015.

Partnering up with Matt he began getting training from Tony Gemignan’s school in San Francisco. He’s been certified through this school in Neapolitan, Italian and American style pizzas. Tom got into making pizza because he always feels like he is creating a work of art. Not being very artistic in his ability to draw or paint, this is a creative outlet that allows him to create something people will enjoy.

The name Timmy Tom’s started out as a joke when discussing his dream of opening a pizzeria. The name really grew on Tom and they ended up deciding to use it. We can expect Timmy Tom’s to be making gourmet style pizzas that are along the Italian/New York style with an eventually expanded menu.


Jeff Wirt will be working at TransCanada as the accounting and administration officer. He is also originally from Winnipeg and has spent the past 14 years working with a large retail outlet in the city. He spent several years earning his Business administration degree followed by a Financial Management Accounting degree through the university of Manitoba. While having worked in accounting for the past 14 years, moving to TransCanada gives him the opportunity to use more of his project management skills. He will be doing a little bit of everything around the brewery. I suppose you could call him the “renaissance man” of TransCanada.

He loves the idea of working with a small team and thinks that it is incredible important to be a team player and chip in where he can. While he admits, he has not acquired the same passion for beer as the rest of the team (yet) this was a step outside of his comfort zone and an opportunity to take on a new challenge. Jeff is most excited to be working with this team and providing a fun and safe working environment for them. He also believes it is incredible important to provide an enjoyable experience for customers and will bring much of his past retail experience to the customer experience side.

I have to say that I am quite excited about this team and seeing what they will be able to create at this brewery. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they have ambitious goals but it looks like they are on track. Now just to wait and see what Beer we get out of them.

I asked them about their beers and while they said they have formulated some recipes, they are not ready to share anything yet. Hopefully soon and I’ll let you know as soon as I know (also follow them on twitter).

What they did say is that no style is off the table and they are looking to produce a huge number of beers with great variety. Having a pilot system to do experimental beers, a cellaring program and foeders means that we will see everything. At one point Josh said that while at Victory they did 85 beers in one year and that he thinks TransCanada might be able to give them a run at some point down the line.
So, expect sours, ales, lagers, all with beautifully illustrated artwork (had the chance to see some of it) and top quality. Josh as the quality guy at TransCanada said that they will not be putting out beer they do not think is good. He’d rather dump it then put out a bad beer. That sounds promising.
Thanks for following along. Things are starting to pickup around here and I expect to have much more to write about as time moves forward.
-Beer Winnipeg

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.

Beer Documentary

Local Creative Communications Student and beer lover Clayton Winter has produced a really good 10 minute documentary about the growing craft beer scene in Manitoba.

I had the good fortune of being interviewed for it. This project was for his independent profession project Creative Communications. A year-long project in between semesters three and four in the program.

“I had a lot of fun making this and I hope you have a lot of fun watching this.”

Get to know a brewer – Jeff Wiebe

As I continue to delve into those who are part of the craft beer community, I continue to be curious about why brewers got into brewing in the first place. What is becoming rather clear is that a passion for beer borne from home brewing, consuming and learning seems to be the Launchpad. From here, a desire to do more and to take that passion further resulting in turning it into a career.

This week I had the chance to sit down with another such person, Jeff Wiebe. As lead brewer at PEG Beer Co, Jeff has taken the passion he had for beer and turned into his career. At the age of 27 he has accomplished a lot and has become an integral part of our craft beer community. So, who is Jeff?

Jeff describes himself as pretty random. It’s obvious from talking to Jeff that when he isn’t brewing beer he loves to be out doors. He rides BMX, skateboards, rock climbs, and basically does anything outside that involves hanging out with friends and grabbing a few beers afterwards.  He was born and raised in Manitoba and developed a strong work ethic growing up on a farm. After high school, Jeff spent a year living in the Netherlands on a work-vacation program. It was here that he had the chance to expand his beer consuming horizons. You couldn’t get MGD or Bud. Instead, being so close to Belgium and other fantastic beer brewing countries, Jeff had his fill of excellent beers.

After returning to Manitoba from this experience, Jeff became interested in home brewing. He had read a lot of stuff online but, like most of us, had some concerns about delving into. Luckily for us, Jeff’s friend’s roommate was a n avid homebrewer and took Jeff under his wing. He and Jeff brewed his first beer together, a west coast pale ale, and this gave Jeff the opportunity to connect his read knowledge with the hands on experience and make those connections.

From this point, Jeff couldn’t stop brewing. After 2 ½ years of home brewing, Jeff knew that this was something he wanted to do. He applied to Olds college and Niagara College for their brewing programs. Accepted to both, Jeff took off for Niagara where he spent the next 2 years honing his knowledge of beer and brewing.  Having the opportunity to delve into sensory courses, water chemistry, brewing, and brewery management, Jeff was able to build a knowledge base that was combined with hands on experiences. They’d brew four batches of the same beer making slight variations and then break them down in the sensory courses. Overall, Jeff feels it was a fantastic learning experience and a great learning environment.

Between semesters Jeff had the chance to work for Half Pints in all capacities. From brewing to bottle washing to delivery, Jeff got to try it all. This gave him a taste of what it’s like to be in each of these capacities and helped him get a better idea for the overall brewery operations. This opportunity to put theory into practice and work on a large scale commercial system helped set Jeff up for what would be his first brewing gig, Lake of the Woods. Jeff spent six months working at Lake of the Woods before he got the nod to move over to PEG where he would setup his home.

Being brought on to a brewery in construction was really neat for Jeff. It gave the team an opportunity to put the blood, sweat and tears into actually building a brewery. This experience not only gave a sense of ownership and pride, but it also helped build a strong team dynamic that exists at PEG to this day.

As a question I always want to know what beers a brewer always has in their fridge as well as their favorite style. For Jeff, he always has Muskoka Detour (though he’d love to have Ballast Point’s Sculpin) as it’s an easy drinking, hop forward beer that his girlfriend also enjoys. When it comes to favorite style, Jeff jumps across the pond and chooses Flanders Red Ale. Certainly a tasty style as well but quite different from Muskoka Detour.

Jeff also updated me a bit on what’s happening at PEG. They just got a new shipment of hops come in which means that Life Coach will be coming back onto the menu. It also means that Soundtrack, their shifting IPA, will brewed again with two new hops.

There is also an English Pale Ale in the fermenter that will hopefully be coming on soon and Jeff dropped that they are looking at “having more fun with sours”. Since Peg doesn’t have any barrels, we know this will be Kettle Souring, but it’s exciting to hear.

I plan to continue to chat with brewers around the city as I get a chance. I know it’s a long term commitment, but they are interesting folks. I’ve got plans to follow-up with One Great City and Brazen Hall in the near future. I am also planning to check in with Little Brown Jug. Jeremy Grisim, the subject of my first get to know a brewer, has made the move over to Little Brown Jug. I’m excited to follow-up with these folks and to continue to bring you stories from the craft beer community.

Also, a reminder that this Sunday (January 29th) is the charity raffle in support of Winnipeg Harvest. It’s a chance to win some great prizes, including one of five bottles of Westvleteren 12. Hope to see you there.

– Beer Winnipeg

Charity Raffle

Charity Header.jpg

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.

 

What to Expect in 2017

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Wow. How time flies. I can’t believe that I’ve been running this blog for just over two years now. To think that all this started with a gift from my wife and began a journey that has taken me deep and far into the craft beer scene here in Winnipeg. A thirst for knowledge that has expanded my appreciation and understanding of beer and a lot of learning from those within the community to whom I owe a great deal and respect even more.

So, where do we go from here. I want to outline for you how I see this blog moving forward. It had started with keeping people informed about breweries opening, beers arriving, and the occasional review. Expect these things to continue in earnest as I continue to follow the breweries working to open and announce craft beer events coming up.
What can you expect from me in this coming year?

  • Continuing to follow the progress of breweries who have yet to open their doors. Provide updates and profiles as they move towards completion.
  • Check in with breweries who have already opened. Look at special events they are hosting, beers they are producing and how things are going. This will include reviews from time to time.
  • Continue to profile brewers through my “Get to know a brewer” segment. The next on the list is Jeff Wiebe from Peg Beer Company. I’ll be getting this up as soon as I have a chance to meet with him.
  • Highlight special events occurring in the craft beer community. Look for details on the Westvelerten charity raffle occurring on January 29th.
  • Delve into some of the practices of government and impacts on craft beer community. Including liquor laws, funding and initiatives.

I look forward to another fantastic year of growth in the community. Over the past two years’ things have changed substantially. By next year, I expect the changes to be even more profound. I hope you’ll follow along as we explore the changing climate.

-Beer Winnipeg

One Great City – Follow-up

OGC Logo

It had been a while since I spoke with the guys from One Great City. Given they’ve been working so hard on getting their space prepped, I dropped in to visit for a bit of news and a beer.

Originally, One Great City had hoped to be open by October 2016. Due to some delays, including the installation of a new electrical panel, this was not possible. Thankfully, all the building permits have now come through and Tim and Jon are hard at work getting things ready as quickly as possible.

While covering the rise of craft breweries in Manitoba, I’ve learned to not ask for an opening date; they’re very hard to accurately predict. That said, the One Great City team hopes to have their doors open in the first quarter of 2017. All the equipment has been ordered, the beer development is moving along swimmingly and the food menu has been finalized.

The OGC team has been busy since Flatlanders perfecting the recipes they spotlighted there: Tipsy Cow milk stout and Monkey Trail pale ale. They’ve also been developing other styles of beer, including a Belgian Wit, an extra-special bitter, an American blonde and a double IPA. All of these styles will be served alongside a “gastropub” menu featuring traditional food with updated twists. “Adventurous yet accessible” as the guys say.

Jon and Tim have been doing the lion’s share of the grunt work getting things prepared and organized for the trades-people on the project. New floor has been poured and is being ground down to give a “terrazzo” look. This type of flooring is easy to clean and low maintenance, making it ideal for food preparation and brewing once it’s sealed.

 

The plumbers have completed the underground work and are now running supply lines. A new HVAC unit will be installed in a few weeks, which gives time for the electricians to run conduits. Overall, progress is being made and there are high hopes OGC will be able to meet their goal of opening early next year.

They have developed their tables and stools that will be used in the restaurant portion of the brewpub. They plan to have a nice big patio out by the back parking lot with an entrance from both the front and back to allow for greater parking and accessibility. Overall, the layout looks really good. The next steps for OGC are getting the walls put up, painting, getting the fixtures and bar installed – and then setting up the brewing equipment.

one-great-city-plans

It was good to follow up and see how much progress has been made since we last spoke. Part of what I love about writing this blog is tracking projects as they begin to take shape. When I last spoke with OGC, this whole thing was still in development, but now you can reach out and touch it. Exciting times indeed.

-Beer Winnipeg