Black Bridge – Double IPA

I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about whether or not I want to review beers on this blog. I’ve had a few people ask me if I could or if my site is a good place to read about different beers.

While I have reviewed beers in the past for the Craft Beer Advent Calendar, I haven’t really done too much of it outside of that. Given that we will soon have some new craft breweries opening up here in Manitoba and we seem to have a lot more new craft beers coming in, and as a way to help educate myself and others, I’ve decided to post reviews.

What I won’t be doing is giving beers a score anymore. I made this decision after my last advent calendar review. I want to provide people with information about the beer and what I think about it. I don’t feel I need to give it a score for that. So, what I am going to do is just give you information about the beers and whether I liked it or not. You can read a bit more about it on my about page.

So each review will be structured as follows:

  • Beer name, location, and style of beer.
  • Description of the style, origins and information about the brewery.
    • Appearance (Body, Colour, Head, Retention)
    • Smell
    • Taste
    • Mouth feel (Light, Medium, Heavy, Smooth, Coarse)
    • Overall thoughts
    • Do I like it (Yes or No) and why.

My hope is that my reviews will encourage you to get out and try new beers. Not all of my reviews will include this preamble.

The Review

Today I am going to review Black Bridge Brewery’s Double IPA. We’ve had their regular IPA! in our liquor marts for quite some time now and I’m excited to give the Double IPA a try. It just arrived in the city and you can find it around town starting on Monday. Right now It’s listed at Grant Park, but be sure to check its listing page at Liquor Marts to get details about where you can find it.

Black Bridge Brewery is located in Swift Current Saskatchewan.  They employ 5 full-time folks as well as two casual employees at their brewery and taproom. The name of the brewery comes from a local landmark, a black bridge, which is located in the south of the town. The bridge is rumored to be haunted and if you grew up in the area it’s something that you are likely quite familiar with.

The brewmaster, Clayton Stevenson, opened this brewery back in 2014 with his wife Kari. Originally it was just the two of them. Clayton had been a homebrewer for 10 years and had always wanted to open a brewery.  They run a 20 hectolitre system and have already made waves, winning a bronze medal for the Milk Stout at the Canadian Brewing Awards.

The style, Double IPA, is a beer that is an American craft beer invention that began in the 1990s. Craft breweries were trying to “push the envelope” on their beers and appease the hop aficionados who were growing ever more interested in the flavor and variety that this plant can provide. By the 2000s this style had become much more mainstream and provides a way for brewers to experiment and be creative with hops. The adjective “Double” really doesn’t mean anything other than this beer is stronger than a regular IPA. You will see “Imperial” used quite regularly as well. It’s the same style.

The style should be intensely hoppy and fairly strong with an IBU (international bitterness unit) in the range of 60-120, an ABV of between 7.5% and 10% with a lighter colour. Drinkability of the style is important and it should be well balanced with strong malt backbone and residual sweetness.

Black Bridge Double IPA

Black Bridge Brewery Double IPA
ABV – 8.5% IBU – 80

Enjoy as Fresh as Possible

Appearance – Light copper, a persistent thick foamy white head that leaves lacing on the glass as it dissipates. Great clarity especially for an unfiltered beer.

Smell – Very floral with hints of tropical fruit likely coming from the addition of Mosaic hops. Subtle grapefruit and piney aroma as well possibly from Chinook or Simcoe.

Taste – Great use of hops. Good floral notes, resin and spice as well as some really subtle hints of grapefruit. Strong bitterness, subtle malt that brings some pretty good balance to the beer. Good bitterness on the finish, not overly harsh.
Note: I quite enjoy hoppy beers. This one is fairly bitter and if you are not used to very bitter beers it might be harsher for you.

Mouth Feel – Medium body, smooth, good carbonation.

Overall Thoughts – Great use of hops in this double IPA, it’s got the strength of bitterness and ABV but it doesn’t taste overly strong. Good balance with the malt.

Do I like it? – Yes, I do like this one. I’m pretty impressed with the quality of this Double IPA. It tastes fairly fresh, which isn’t always the case for IPAs at our Liquor Marts. Very smooth, nice flavor. For the alcohol content of this beer it is dangerously drinkable. I enjoyed this one.

 

 

Happy New Beers Eve

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Happy New Beers Eve!

If you loved beer, living in the United States between 1920 and 1933 was an incredibly sad time.  During this time prohibition had been in effect and it was illegal for any form of alcohol to be sold or consumed.

While we did have prohibition in Canada, which began in most provinces between 1916-1918, it was more short lived.  Most of the provinces had repealed their prohibition laws to allow for some sort of sale of alcohol by 1923. Many repealed their laws in 1918. Here in Manitoba, we kept the prohibition law on the books until 1923.

In Manitoba after 1923 there remained a fairly restrictive liquor act in effect until 1956. The act allowed only for the purchase of 24 quarts a week or 72 quarts of beer per month. Liquor could only be consumed at home and it was illegal to barter or transport alcohol. 10 rate payers could also stop the establishment of a licensed premise or a beer vendor and as we know Steinbach remained dry until 2008.

You can see a pretty interesting run down of liquor laws in Manitoba here.

Prince Edward Island kept prohibition on the books the longest. Their law remained in effect until 1948!

But why is it New Beers Eve? Well the beginning of the end started with the passing of the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 22nd, 1933. This legislation enacted the 21st amendment to the US Constitution which repealed the 18th amendment which had enacted prohibition. The 18th amendment had been in effect since January 17th, 1920.

Take a look at this newspaper page from the Chattanooga News from January 14th, 1920.

The legislation came into effect on April 7th, and so April 6th became an unofficial holiday in the United States, New Beers Eve. It’s said that upon signing the legislation Franklin D. Roosevelt said “I think this would be a good time for beer”.

This act also legalized the sale in the United States of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2%(by weight) and wine with a similarly low alcohol content.  With this percentage the argument was that it was too low to be intoxicating. Still it did allow for states to have some control over their sale of alcohol. In fact many states remained dry for years with the last one dropping prohibition in 1966. To this day there are still some dry counties which prohibit the sale of alcohol. You can see where liquor laws stand now in states here.

And so, on the first New Beers Eve, April 6th, 1933, people lined up outside of breweries and taverns, who could legally open their doors at Midnight on April 7th, to enjoy their first legal beer in many years.  Franklin D. Roosevelt even took part in the celebrations and is said to have had a wagon drawn by Clydesdale horses bring beer up to the white house on April 7th, 1933. New Beers Eve also precedes another unofficial holiday, National Beer Day, which of course is every April 7th.

So, enjoy your day and enjoy your eve, let’s help our neighbors to the south celebrate the end of their prohibition. After all, those of us in Manitoba had 10 more years of beer then they did.

Bar at PEG Beer Co. Open

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I had the opportunity to attend the soft opening of PEG Beer Co this past Thursday (March 31st, 2016). To be able to be in the completed space was pretty surreal. After my visits to the space and seeing it in progress, it has been quite a transformation. Given that the team at PEG had spent a year in the planning, a year in the building, and now the doors to the one of first of the new craft breweries in Winnipeg is on its way to being open.

Right now only half of PEG Beer Co has opened its doors to the public. I say half because the brewery is still not operational. Nicole said that they hope to be able to start brewing in the next 3 weeks. All of this is dependent on the permits and getting the official go ahead to start brewing. Once they do, they should have their first beers ready in 4-6 weeks. These I am looking forward to tasting and reviewing.

PEG Complete 5

There were certainly some hiccups at the soft opening. The servers are still getting a hang of everything going on, they were working incredibly hard, and there is no PEG beer to enjoy. Instead, the brew pub has a list of beers that it is getting from the Liquor Marts and selling. They are certainly choosing some great beers which is nice, but I am much more anxious to get into the space to enjoy the beer that they will be producing themselves. Their guest beer list is here. It seems to be changing as they get new product into the Liquor Marts.

The food menu is quite diverse and provides some interesting options for patrons. From charcuterie, house-made bread and jams and flatbreads all the way to whole chickens, stuffed trout and ham served family style, there is an eclectic selection of food.  For me, I think I’ll be mostly sticking to the smaller fare. You can, of course, check out their menu here and decide what you think you might most enjoy.

For now, PEG is open Tuesday-Saturday from 4pm-11pm. I’d encourage you to get out and support them. It isn’t easy to open a new restaurant, let alone a brew pub. For all of us Winnipeggers clamoring for new craft beer, we need to make sure that we put our money where out mouth is and support these new breweries as they open. I know PEG doesn’t have beer yet, but they will, and I for one will do my best to support all the new breweries.

Craft Beer Events

Hey folks. Wanted to take a moment to write about a few craft beer related events coming up in the immediate and near future.  This won’t be a long post but I hope that people will take advantage of the opportunities to get out and try some new craft beer/support local establishments.

First, tonight (March 31st, 2016) at 7pm, PEG Beer Co. will officially open its doors to the public.

This has been a long time coming and it is so satisfying to see them open their doors.  Almost a year ago I first wrote about the plans behind this brewpub and more recently gave an update on where they are at. With all the delays and all of the hard work put in by the team, to have them open is very exciting indeed.

I hope that this will just be the start and we will be welcoming Barn Hammer, Torque, Oxus Brewing and others over the next year. As I’ve said before, I’ll say again, Winnipeg’s craft beer scene is going to be vastly different next year at this time.

Second, on April 18th at Barley Brothers Stadium, The Parallel 49 Brews Bros Vol. 2 Launch Party is happening

All 12 beers from this collaboration pack will be on tap down at the Stadium location of Barley Brothers (Pembina Highway location).  As this is a launch party for the collaboration pack, it means we will be seeing this 12 pack show up in liquor marts here in Manitoba.  The list price is $29.99 ($5 cheaper than last year) and more details about quantities at Liquor Mart locations will be coming on the Liquor Mart website as we get closer to the date.

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If you’re wondering, “what beers are going to be in this 12 pack?” Well, here is your answer:

Axe and Barrel – Paranoid (Oat Wild Pilsner)
Not your typical beer. Start with an Imperial Pilsner recipe, throw in some rice and Sorachi Ace hops, add Sake yeast and Brettanomyces clausenii, and just for good measure put in some oak spirals aged in Chardonnay and Sake. Don’t forget to finish it with lager yeast. Seem too complicated? No comment.
IBU: 68
ABV: 8.5%
Doan Brothers – Thunderstruck (Sticke Alt)
With origins in Northern Germany, this dark cool fermented ale has been turned up to 11 with some chocolate malt notes and a prominent noble dry hop. Continental Pilsner malt ensures a refined and highly drinkable beer that is deceptively strong.
IBU: 43
ABV: 6.0%
Barkerville – Run for the Hills (Golden Strong Ale)
A traditional Golden Strong Ale. Spicy and fruity yeast derived notes add a rush of Belgian character to this golden elixir. A healthy addition of sugar to the pale malt base results in a deceptively light body for a higher alcohol beer.
IBU: 31
ABV: 8.0%
Fernie Ridge – Spirit in the Sky (Havana Club Stout)
Inspired by Export Stouts and rum, the dark crystal malts and touch of molasses serve to remind the drinker of the later. Oak spirals aged in Havana Club 7-year old rum add another level of complexity to this surprisingly smooth drinking dark tawny ale.
IBU: 30
ABV: 6.5%
Bridge – Bat Outta Hell (Dark Helles Bock)
A Helles Bock that would infuriate any German beer traditionalist. A core of Continental pale malts book-ended with a touch of black malt to give it an imposing colour and a hearty dose of Hallertau Blanc hops to add a bright gooseberry aroma. A fruity malty lager that is surprisingly dark.
IBU: 28
ABV: 6.3%
Four Winds – The Boys Are Back in Town (Nectar-Face)
The love-child of Jerkface 9000 and Nectarous we’ve been waiting for. A wheat malt base kettle soured a la Four Winds, and late hopped with Mosaic and Ahtanum hops in the Parallel 49 style. A true marriage of techniques and ingredients results is a pungent dry-hopped sour.
IBU: 12
ABV: 6.0%
Cannery – Gimme Shelter (Apple IPA)
A snakebite inspired beer, using a witbier base fermented with a Saison yeast. Spicy yeast and floral citrus notes sit atop a light apple tinged wheat malt base. Dry hopped with Motueka and Citra because… well… why not?
IBU: 22
ABV: 7.0%
Hearthstone – Sympathy for the Devil (Black I.P.A.)
A rustic and uncomplicated Black IPA. Simcoe hops are made for a beer like this. A moderate malty base, a touch of Roasted Barley flavour, and a restrained ABV make this a beer you’ll be coming back to again and again.
IBU: 52
ABV: 6.5%
Category 12 – Comfortably Numb (Rye Old Ale)
A rich and malty ale with a substantial rye note was fermented with Brettanomyces lambicus to add a cherry funk. This all-malt beer uses earthy hops to balance. This beer doesn’t hide its alcohol or the spicy cherry character that it developed.
IBU: 44
ABV: 8.9%
Moody Ales – Purple Haze (Black Currant Sour)
Playing off of the woodsy resinous flavour of Black Currants, this American sour wheat ale hints at the summer to come. Brace yourself for this tart fruity treat that has perhaps the most stunning colour of any beer we’ve ever seen.
IBU: 8
ABV: 8.0%
Crannog – Suspect Device (Gruit)
A gruit spiced with organic heather flowers, juniper and dry “hopped” with fresh ginger. This mild rye ale focuses on the spicy ginger and juniper, reserving the heather for a background note to support the rich organic Munich malt base. Maybe hops aren’t necessary in every beer.
IBU: 0
ABV: 5.5%
Strange Fellows – People Are Strange (Hoppy Saison)
A classic Saison with a dose of rye malt to throw in some complexity. Taking advantage of the fruity herbal aroma of Opal hops and the spicy pepper notes from the farmhouse yeast. This is sure to be a thirst quencher.
IBU: 32
ABV: 6.5%

This is just the start of the beers that we will be seeing come into Liquor Marts from the 49th Parallel group.

They’ve got Rogue 4 hop coming out later this week and it looks like it might be getting bulletined as one of their new core products.  As well, waiting to come into Manitoba is Phillips Sax (Dark Sour Brown Ale aged on grape musts), Rogue Sriracha Stout, Rogue Brutal IPA as well as a taste of my home town, Picaroon’s Timberhog Stout.  Not sure on the date these will be coming out, so watch the Liquor Marts new listing section.

It also looks like Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries will be doing the Coast to Coaster again and there are a couple of new breweries on board for this event. Fuggles & Warlock from BC as well as a German Pilsner and a French Schwartz Beer.  Keep your eyes open for this.

Finally, for those who homebrew, there is a Pros vs Schmoes competition coming up on May 28th.

This is put on by Grain to Glass and Le Beau Café.  The best of show beer will have their beer brewed at Barnhammer after it opens.  There will be some great prizes and it’s a great opportunity to get your beer judged by certified BJCP judges.  It’s a great way to get some feedback on your homebrew and to have an opportunity to win some great prizes.

Not all beer styles are being judged.  According to the website only the follow styles will be judged:

1(D) American Wheat beer, 10 German wheat beer, 18 Pale American Ale, 19 Amber and brown beer, 20 Porter and stout, 21(B) Specialty IPA, 25(B) Saison, and 34(C) Experimental/other

You can get all the details you need by clicking here.  You can also register by clicking here.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

-Beer Winnipeg

Growler Bar Listing

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Around twitter this past week there was some conversation over the fact that new breweries opening here in Manitoba will not be able to list any product which is packaged and sold at Liquor Marts on growler bars at Liquor Marts or Beer Vendors.  There was quite a bit of concern raised over this matter and so I figured I’d ask Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MBLL) about it.

When the pilot project for growler bars launched, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries had no idea it would be as popular as it was.  Luckily this had been taken this into consideration and was part of the reason behind only listing Half Pints and Fort Garry.  Should the growler bar prove to be popular,  they could easily get access to more beer.

During this pilot they allowed both the core and seasonal beers from Half Pints and Fort Garry to be listed.  When the MBLL started making plans for the future of the growler bars they reviewed all the feedback they had received during the pilot run of the growler bars. One thing that I was told they had heard time and time again that people want fresh, unique and interesting beers. If a listed beer did extremely well on the growler bar it is then possible that they may be able to get it listed as a packaged product at the Liquor Marts.

“We have consistently heard from customers that they were looking for fresh, unique and seasonal beers, so this was an opportunity to provide customers with a selection of products that they would not be able to necessarily get in another format.”

In response to this desire, they made a choice to only allow beers not already available in the Liquor Marts to be listed on the growler bar. This would allow for consumers to be able to have access to something that they normally don’t. What I did learn was that this rule only applies to the Liquor Marts and the Beer Vendors and that brew pubs and microbreweries can sell whatever they want at their own growler stations.” So, those breweries that are opening and will have growler stations will be able to have any of their core brands, core brands of other breweries as well as seasonal beers on their growler stations. To be honest, I believe that once the brew pubs and breweries start opening we will see many more people trying to get it from the source.

The other concern that I know I and others have had is that a number of breweries owned by AB In-Bev have been listed. The MBLL is required under trade agreements to follow a non-discriminatory practice in their listing process. What this means is that if a brewery meets the criteria set the MBLL to fit within the “craft-style beer” category (This includes the type of ingredients used, brewing methods, the use of adjuncts, batch size, etc.) that they are required to consider them for listing, “ownership does not matter.”

“As long as their product meets the criteria, the listing application offers a fair process for all eligible suppliers to compete for participation; ownership does not matter.”

While the growler bars at the Liquor Marts and Beer Vendors have been our only real opportunity to get access to beer in this way, with the coming opening of Peg Beer Co. (Hopefully next week! Please!), Barn Hammer, Torque and the number of other projects on the go, I think we will see a great deal more variety available to us in the near future.  So, while the new breweries in the city may not be able to list any of their packaged beers at the Liquor Marts, it will allow for them to diversify, come up with something fun and unique for the Liquor Marts and still have whatever they choose on at their taprooms.

Whether you agree with this practice or not, feel free to contact your MLA and the MBLL directly with your concerns.  I’m looking forward to continuing to support the growing local craft beer industry.

One Year In

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It has been just over a year since I started blogging about the beer scene here in Manitoba. It’s been a really interesting and informative year. I’ve met so many passionate people who – while we don’t always agree – I’ve grown to respect immensely.

There are a few key things I didn’t know I’d learn when I started blogging; a journey that’s only made me more interested in beer, brewing and the future of beer in Manitoba.

Home Brewing

Since I’ve begun blogging about beer I’ve also expanded my knowledge around home brewing with the assistance of a great many FANTASTIC home brewers.  I’ve gone from brewing from kits, to using extract, to all-grain brewing (a focus of an upcoming blog post). It’s been incredibly challenging and exciting at the same time. Having the opportunity to attend the Winnipeg Brew Bombers’ meetings, learn from those who have been brewing a lot longer than me, and get feedback on my beers has been such a boon.

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Having the opportunity to learn new techniques, brew with experienced brewers and try new things has helped me become more passionate about beer. Before I started blogging I was a huge Hophead, mostly leaning toward IPAs. Since I’ve started brewing more on my own and experimenting I’ve had what Dave Rudge calls “epiphany beers” that sparked a desire to brew new tasty treats, like a Pumpkin Spice Latte Stout (Coffee and spice infused milk stout) and now my first Gose (a salty sour beer).

Thank you to those of you who have helped me expand my beer horizons. There are many of you and I appreciate all the opportunities you’ve given me.

Beer Geeks

When I started writing, I had no idea how many beer geeks there are here in Manitoba. While we may be a small community compared to other provinces, the “craft beer enthusiasts” in Manitoba are certainly passionate. I’ve very much enjoyed the opportunity to engage with them in conversations about brewing beer, tasting beer, judging beer and straight up drinking beer.

Within this group of people are some certified BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judges whose abilities I’ve grown to deeply respect. I’m openly envious of their talents and hope one day to join their ranks.

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Our beer community has some of the best people I’ve met and for that, I’m thankful.

Growth

I had hoped for – but did not expect to see – an exponential growth of demand in Manitoba for good beer. Well it arrived in force! Not only have we seen a massive growth in the number of craft beers being brought into the Liquor Marts, we’ve seen a surge of people looking to open breweries or brewpubs. At last count there are 16 people at the Manitoba Brewers Association meetings looking to open a new home for craft beers.

I’ve heard some people opine that beer is becoming “the new wine” with the variety of styles, breweries, and quality growing. The options available to Manitobans have become more diverse and with the expected openings of Peg Beer, Barn Hammer and Torque rapidly approaching, this Manitoba summer will feature a significant leap of local craft beer in our market.

What to expect from year two

One year into this blog and I’ve already had the opportunity to be involved in a lot of exciting growth in our beer scene. I’m very thankful for that.

But blog readers – you’re the ones I’m most thankful for. Without you, I’d be writing a diary of blog posts for myself to read. I appreciate your readership. Thank you.

So, what can you expect in the coming year?

  • I’ll continue to bring you information about new breweries: those that are nearly open, and those on the horizon
  • I’ll deliver details of special events and beer releases.
  • I’ll share my experiments in home brewing: things I learn, the mistakes I make…
  • I’ll tweet and blog about wider beer trends in general

This upcoming year will be exciting. When I began we were a year away from new breweries in Manitoba; now we are weeks or months away. I look forward to continuing to bring you all the best Manitoba brews news.

-Beer Winnipeg

Peg Beer Co. Revisited

Peg Logo

Remember how I’ve been talking about all these new breweries and how they are going to be opening soon and we will be able to, finally, see our craft beer community grow? Well, we are getting REALLY close to that time.

This past week I had the chance to stop into Peg Beer Company and take a look at the progress they’ve made. While it’s still a work in progress, things are getting really close to completion.  You’ll need to imagine a little bit as there is a lot of construction material still in the space, but man, it’s exciting.

Nicole said that they hope to be open by March 14th.  This will be a soft opening given that they won’t have any of their own beer brewed yet. Instead, they will have special beers on tap at the pub from other breweries. Hopefully some fun stuff.

As many of you know, Peg has already announced the beers they plan to launch with. These include a Berliner Weisse, Stout, ISA, Saison and a Kettle Sour. Nicole says that they will certainly have some more beers coming down the pipe but that she can’t spoil the surprise. Though I imagine we will see an Imperial Stout and given one of the brew team, Scott Sawatzky, loves sours, we will likely see more of those. Apparently he makes a mean Black Berliner Weisse.

Peg Beer 3

To begin Nicole says they will be packaging two different beers and trying to make sure they leave room in their brew house for creativity. She wants to see specialty beers and one-offs as well as rotating taps in the pub side.  She’s put together a team of brewers with their different expertise and she will be drawing on them a lot. The team is made up of the aforementioned Scott Sawatzky, Jeff Weibe, Dan Simpson and Kevin Rempel. All of them were at the brewery working hard to get things ready to go. I think I may need to hire them; I’ve got some drywall I’d like to fix up in my house.  One thing Nicole mentioned about the work the guys have been doing is the love they put into it. They are spending time making sure the corners on the drywall is perfect and really taking to heart the task of building a brewpub.

Peg 4

Nicole echoed the sentiment we heard from Torque last week, that when people come into the brewpub she wants them to feel the love the employees have for what they do and have that spill over into their experience.  With the brewing community continuing to grow Nicole really wants to see that comradery that she sees in other jurisdictions. Places like Toronto where brew masters from places like Amsterdam, Steam Whistle, and other breweries who come together to just brew for fun at a little homebrew club. Having a close knit community in which the breweries work together and promote one another. Something I really am hoping to see. Collaboration pack anyone?

Nicole has also run into some of the same issues as Torque. The communication between the province and the city, who issues the permits, has resulted in delays across the board. This is the third time Nicole has acted as a General Contractor for a Brewery and there are certainly some hiccups that arise along the way. Nicole is positive about it all and working with the inspectors and permit department to get things moving forward. Still, I think it is important that if we want to have breweries open we don’t put up roadblocks. Communication between Provincial and Municipal governments to clarify rules would likely go a long way.

Nicole also told me that they have just brought Shannon Burns, formerly from Diversity, on as the Assistant Manager for Front of House. Shannon will also have a big focus on special events. With her background in catering from diversity she is a good addition to the Peg team. Not only that, Nicole said that she wants to have a big focus on special events. Without giving too much away she said that she wants to give people more reasons to come to the exchange and try to work with the already existing local business in the exchange to do some fun stuff.

At the end of the day, Nicole told me that this has been a really creative project. After all: “Food and Beer are huge creative outlets.” I for one am excited to see what she cooks up. I know I’ll be doing my best to support the craft beer industry in Manitoba, one beer at a time.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

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