Category Archives: 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*

Barn Hammer Open

Barn Hammer

Yesterday was a pretty special day for the craft beer community here in Manitoba.  Barn Hammer became the first brewery to open since the government changed the regulations.  I’ve been following Barn Hammer since I first heard about them over a year ago and to see this accomplishment is truly awesome.

I went down there for the first day and was surprised that even though I was arriving at 12:50, there were already quite a few people there.  Tyler told me that it had been pretty steady since they opened at noon and from what I heard it got pretty busy there as the day went on.

BH Taproom

They are serving beer in 10oz or 16oz for you to enjoy in the taproom, and then they have their 32oz and 64oz growlers that you can take home.  They have a few baked goods and snacks available and have been working with local food trucks to try and have something available to eat.  The Walleye Wagon was there yesterday serving up some delicious food.

While there have certainly been challenges along the way, delays, and even a few hiccups, it was good to see Tyler and Sable Birch behind the bar seeing their hard work come to fruition.  Brian and assistant brewer Adrian were in the back brewing up a storm to keep up with the demand.

So, get down there to 595 wall street, they are open from noon-9pm again today. Let’s do our best to support local.

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

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.

Flatlander’s Beer Festival

Logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope to see you there!

Beer Winnipeg

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.