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

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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

Day 24 – White Pony – December Flower


So, I want to apologize for the formatting of these write-ups. Being away for holidays means I’m writing on my phone. Transferring from Word to WordPress apparently leaves behind all the formatting. So, I’ll add hyperlinks when I get home. I’ll also be doing the wrap-up once I get back so look for that.
I can’t believe we are on the last beer. It’s been a great calendar this year. What’s been fun is looking back at old posts and realizing how much I’ve learned about beer and beer styles. My old posts seem a bit goofy. Our last beer comes to us from White Pony Microbrewery located in Padova, Italy.

White Pony was founded as an experiment for an Italian son of an Italian-Belgian family. Unable to find a job that would meet his need for experimentation, creativity and knowledge, he decided to create on for himself. They entered their first beer, prophet bourbon réserva, into the Kerst Bier festival in 2013 and placed in the top 10. In 2014 they entered the beer we have today, December Flower, and three others into the same competition that were all rated in the top 50 Italian beers. They’ve continued to win medals and awards for their beers and have continued experimenting and growing their styles.

Now producing 18 beers they continue to experiment with limited release beers and seasonal trying to push their creativity and build their brewing knowledge.

December flower is a Belgian golden strong ale brewed with a lot of candies sugar, orange peel, and two strains of yeast. It is then dry-hopped and a second addition of orange peel and coriander is added. Combined with the yeast waters this beer is meant to bring big fruity flavours and a nice warming quality for the cold winter nights.

Belgian Golden Strong Ales are pale, complex, effervescent and highly attenuated Belgian styles of beer. They bring big fruity notes along with hoppy notes and phenolic from the yeast. Interestingly, there are many references to the devil in he naming of this style of beer. This is due to the high alcohol content and a tribute to the original example of this style (Duvel). The best examples are highly complex and delicate with the carbonation bringing out the flavours. I’m excited as it’s the last beer and I’m hoping it’s a delicious one.

Appearance – Pours a golden effervescent colour with no head.

Smell – Floral notes, orange, yeast, candy sugar and subtle coriander.

Taste – sweet candy, orange, subtle coriander and pepper note with an alcohol warmth.

Mouth feel – effervescent, light bodied with an alcohol warmth on finish.

Overall – Good Belgian style strong ale. Flavours are nice and fruity with a good alcohol warmth. The champagne yeast brings an effervescence which makes some of those fruit notes pop.

Do I like it? – I did. It was nice and fruity and crisp. Good alcohol warmth and nice candied notes. Overall a good finish to the calendar.

Day 23 – Orkney Brewing – Clootie Pudding


Well I’m away on holidays now with family so expect these last two posts to be short. I don’t want to take too much time away from spending with them. That, and, my brother in law brought me some beers from Alberta and those need some attention too.

Today we have a winter warmer style beer from Orkney Brewing, aptly located in Orkney, called Clootie Dumpling.

Located on the ancient Orkney island, inhabited for over 5000 years, comes a brewery steeped in tradition. Using only the finest ingredients, fresh Orkney water and their knowledge and skill, Orkney makes fine crafted ales.

They brew a variety of different beers ranging from their Northern Light Pale Ale to their or Orcadian ale aged in oak casks, they aren’t afraid to stretch tradition and go outside the box.

The style today is a Winter Warmer. While not really a “style” Winter Warmers tend to fall under the British Strong Ale style. Even so, Winter Warmers are malty sweet offerings and tend to be a favorite winter seasonal. Big malt presence, both in flavor and body. The color ranges from brownish reds to nearly pitch black. Hop bitterness is generally low, leveled and balanced, but hop character can be pronounced. Alcohol warmth is not uncommon.

Many English versions contain no spices, though some brewers of spiced winter seasonal ales will slap “Winter Warmer” on the label. Those that are spiced, tend to follow the “wassail” tradition of blending robust ales with mixed spices, before hops became the chief “spice” in beer. The “American” varieties have a larger presences of hops both in bitterness and flavor.

Appearance – Light amber colour with a 1″ white head that fades quickly.

Smell – Smell is light cinnamon, nutmeg, subtle malt and ginger.

Taste – Taste is very light on malt with subtle spice notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger as advertised. There is a slight tinny note to it as well that isn’t very pleasant.

Mouth feel – Light mouthfeel with good carbonation and a dry metallic finish.

Overall – Light for a winter warmer. The spices are nicely done but the malt backbone of this beer brings little to the table and offers only subtle sweetness.

Do I like it? – Not bad but not my favourite. The metallic aftertaste was off putting and the light body didn’t work for me on this beer.

Day 22 – Evil Twin – Sauerkirsche

It’s that time of year. We are down to the last few beers and we are working on getting through them while also planning/partying. It’s a busy time of year and I hope that people are making the most of the season. Whatever you celebrate, it’s a beautiful time of year, and it presents some great opportunities and sees people doing some good.

Today we have a beer coming to us from Evil Twin Brewing and it is a really interesting one. It’s a Russian Imperial Stout made with sour cherries and it’s called Sauerkirsche Stout.

Evil Twin was Founded by Jeppe Jarnit–Bjergsø in 2010, Evil Twin isn’t really a brewery.  Jeppe is known as the “gypsy brewer” in that he brews all over the place.  He develops recipe after recipe of unique styles and plays on styles that are brewed out of other breweries and exported around the world.  At the moment, he brews out of 10 different breweries in 6 different countries around the world.  This means that Evil Twin doesn’t really have any year-round beers but rather a huge number of different and interesting one-off brews. To put it in perspective, Evil Twin launched more than 40 beers in 2012.

Jeppe was born in Denmark and began his adult life as a school teacher.  In 2012 he moved his family to Brooklyn, NY so that he could be closer to where it all happens and to grow his brand.  His goal is to make New York the beer capital of the world.  While many of the beers that he makes are experimental, they are also in many cases critically acclaimed.  Brewing in small batches, usually no more than 2500-3000 barrels (~3500 hectoliters), the beers tend to be a bit more on the expensive side and very difficult to find. This particular beer was brewed in Spain.

Russian Imperial Stouts are a style that I’ve really started to enjoy and appreciate.  These beers age incredibly well and change over time.  This style of beer was originally brewed in the 1800s by Thrale’s brewery in London England for export to the court of Catherine II of Russia. This same beer is brewed today now under the Courage brewery name and is called Courage Russian Imperial Stout (RIS).   Ranging between 8%-12% alcohol with strong malt notes of coffee, caramel, chocolate and dark fruit (plums, prunes or raisins for example), it is a perfect beer for a winter night.

Appearance – Pours a viscous black with a short lived fluffy beige head.
Smell – Roasted malt, sour cherry, chocolate, and sweet malt.
Taste – Roasted malt, subtle tartness, sour cherry notes, chocolate, coffee and some bitterness on the finish.
Mouth feel – Full bodied, oily, slight astringent mouth feel.
Overall – Bringing some bold flavours to the already bold Russian Imperial Stout style, this really represents the style fairly well. It’s roasty, matly, full bodied and brings a bit of a punch. The sour cherry notes are interesting addition but they don’t take away from the “chewiness” of this stout.
Do I like it?
– I did like it. It had a really bold profile and was certainly a bit forward. That said, I didn’t find it too in your face. I like strong beers and I love good Russian imperial stouts. The sour cherry added a bit of complexity to the flavours of this one that I really enjoyed. A bit tarter and sour than I would have expected given the sweetness of a RIS, but I found myself enjoying the sips.

Busy day in the beer community in the city today. First, some bad news. The PC government has cancelled the Craft Beer Loan program that had been announced under the NDP. While not part of their mandate, it was certainly something looked to as a boon to already existing and developing breweries. Its cancellation will have an impact, sadly, but to what extent is yet to be seen.

On a positive note, Half Pints is having their 12 beers of Christmas, Torque has a couple of new beers on at their taproom, Barn Hammer is doing another night of Barn Raising and PEG has a new beer being launched. So, while there is certainly a hit to the craft beer community through the cancellation of the loan program, the current craft breweries are alive and doing their best to engage the community.

Today we have a beer coming to us from La Debauche Brewery located in Angoulême, France. The beer is a Amber Ale that has been aged in Cognac Barrels.

The brewery was founded in 2013 by a couple of beer lovers and amateur brewers. Wanting to bring their beers and a love for the craft to the people in their region, they decided to make a go professionally. They are one of the new development of breweries that seem to be popping up in France. The brewery is located close to the town centre so as to reintroduce the brewing industry to the urban environment.

They produce a wide range of beers ranging from an Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon to a Saison, to the amber we are trying aged in Cognac Barrels. What’s even more interesting about their beers is that they partner with local artists and tattooists to develop designs for their labels. This creates some really neat artwork and makes for a unique experience when drinking their beer.

Amber Ales are, obviously, amber in colour, hoppy, and moderate strength. Balance between these two components can vary quite a bit depending on the brewer. In the versions that are hopped this component shouldn’t clash with the caramel malty notes. The style is darker and more caramelly than a typical pale ale with less bitterness than an APA. This one has been aged in Cognac Barrels and I’m looking forward to that aspect of it.

Appearance – Pours a hazy amber with a good 1” head.
Smell – Smell is of caramel, oak, cognac, plums and an alcohol note on nose.
Taste – Tastes of oak, cognac, dark fruit, caramel malty sweetness that is almost like candied sugar. Alcohol warmth is noticeable all the way through.
Mouth feel – Medium-full bodied with an oily mouthfeel and soft carbonation. Alcohol warmth is present throughout.
Overall – The cognac and oak aging of this beer are really front and centre. The amber ale base brings some nice malt components to it but are overpowered by the alcohol warmth and cognac notes. If there are any hops in here, they are lost.
Do I like it?
– I’m a pretty big fan of oak aged beers. The use of Cognac barrels was really quite nice and brought some of that complexity found in cognac to the beer. It’s strong and noticeably so, so it was more of a sipping beer, but I enjoyed it.

 

 

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