Tag Archives: Barn Hammer

Get to know a brewer – Adrienne Johanson

Barn Hammer

I am incredibly excited for this summer. We already have had a fantastic year for breweries and we are going to see a exciting Flatlanders’ beer festival this year. This summer we will have 5 new breweries added to the list of what’s already open. One Great City, Nonsuch, Oxus, Stone Angel, and Trans Canada Brewing are all hoping to open their doors soon. From when I started this blog to now, the landscape of Manitoba breweries has blossomed. Exciting times and more to come.

One of the most enjoyable things I’ve started doing on this blog is my “Get to know a Brewer” series. I’ve really been enjoying a chance to sit down and chat with some of the people who are behind making the beer we’ve all come to enjoy. For this installment, I sat down with Adrienne Johanson from Barn Hammer Brewing.

Adrienne began her career with beer with the government of Manitoba. Originally working with the Liquor Commission in the licensing and permit department, she was around during the merger and worked with the newly formed Liquor and Gaming Authority in the same area. Having done this work, Adrienne had an opportunity to take the higher certificate course and her love for beer grew.

Having some knowledge of the brewing process and finding herself looking for a change, when the opportunity came to work at Barn Hammer, it was too good to pass up. The story of how Adrienne began working at Barn Hammer specifically is a funny one.
Adrienne has been friends with Sable, co-owner of Barn Hammer Brewing, since grade one. When the entire conversation around opening a brewery began, Adrienne jokingly asked “What’s my job going to be? I can just be the brewery gremlin.” Never expecting to be taken seriously, when Tyler and Sable asked her to join the team she couldn’t say no.
Adrienne started working at Barn Hammer doing pretty much everything that needed to be done. Picking up supplies, cleaning, getting things organized around the brewery, and helping in the taproom. It wasn’t until the brewery opened and started picking up that she moved full-time to the brewery working alongside Brian Westcott.

Since joining the brewing team, Adrienne has reveled at the fact that she is now in a more physical job. Having been at a desk job most of her career, being able to move, do something physical, and create something tangible has been a real source of enjoyment in this new role. While she has no formal brewery training, like many who begin down this path, she has had the chance to learn hands on from a skilled brewer. While the “why” of brewing is something that Adrienne is working diligently at learning, the technical aspects of the role have become relatively easy. Being like a new shiny baby in the brewery world has meant that she doesn’t need to be “deprogrammed” of bad habits, but can learn good habits from the start.

Adrienne doesn’t really have a go to beer, liking to keep her mind open to trying new things. The first “non-garbage” beer she had the chance to try was Hoegarden back in the days working at the Liquor Commission. From that point on she tried whatever was new at the Liquor Marts and has continued to try to expand her horizons. While she was originally “scared” of IPAs, since working at Barn Hammer she has quickly left that fear behind.

Since November Adrienne has been brewing beer solo and holds the position of “Brewer” at Barn Hammer. She’s also recently taken to making some brews on the test batch system and is continuously learning more technically as well as theoretically about brewing. Having been a “shiny new baby” originally, Adrienne has quickly built upon her organizational skills and her ability to prioritize to become a true brewer of beer.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to talk to Adrienne about being one of two female brewers in Manitoba. That along with the fact that female brewers are underrepresented in the industry in general. While she hasn’t encountered anything overt, many people are surprised that she’s a brewer and many more think that it’s cool.

Still, Adrienne hasn’t felt like the only girl since she began brewing and has felt as though it’s been an overall positive experience. Having the opportunity to participate in the International Women’s Brew day as a brewer was cool and being able to speak with the other female home brewers and work along side them in making a beer was a rewarding experience. While Adrienne wouldn’t call herself one, being someone who others can look to and say “hey, I could do that too” is essentially the definition of a role model.

Adrienne feels incredibly luck and fortunate to have had the opportunity to take on a role as brewer and has been working very hard at the role to not give anyone a reason to question her place. She cares a great deal about the brewery and wants to ensure she is doing everything she can to support it. To that end, Adrienne is looking at some training opportunities to build on the knowledge she’s already gained. Considering online courses through Niagara college and even their one-year program. Having just bought a house and finishing a degree, these are plans to come.

On a personal note, Adrienne likes playing video-games, spending a lot of time playing Zelda Breath of the Wild recently, and has gotten into comic books as well. She also has a mini-schnauzer at home named Reggie who I’m sure occupies a lot of time.

A big thanks to Adrienne for taking the time to sit down and chat with me. To everyone else, keep following along as I continue to explore the growing beer landscape and community here in Winnipeg.

-Beer Winnipeg

Barn Hammer- Barn Raising

 

Barn Hammer

The beer scene in Winnipeg is starting to reach maturity. Barn Hammer has been open for a while with Torque and Peg Beer Co now joining the fray with their own beer. I expect we will see others join the market in short order. While each is taking a different approach to their production of beer, what seems to be a common thread is giving back to community. This is something that is almost a trademark of craft breweries: not just making beer, but being a part of the community in which you live and serve.

For Barn Hammer, this type of community support comes out through their “Barn Raising” initiative. Drawing on the historical action of a community coming together to literally raise a barn, Barn Hammer hopes to help bring Winnipeggers together to help build up charities. One non-profit is chosen by staff each month and on the third Wednesday of that month, partial proceeds from every regular 16oz, 10oz glass and every growler fill (32oz & 64oz) sold in the taproom will be directly donated to the chosen non-profit organization.

I touched base with Barn Hammer’s Sable Birch for more details about where this idea came from and what the goal is. Sable made it clear it’s important all employees be involved in choosing causes that mean something to them.

“Everyone at Barn Hammer has the opportunity to participate and by changing the chosen charity each month, we are able to spread the funds out to various causes in the community. There are so many worthy causes out there so it’s nice to be able to reach as many as we can.”

Another aspect the team really likes about this program is that there is no middle-man. It’s Barn Hammer writing the cheque and sending it directly to the cause. This is a way for them to know the money is all going to the cause they are supporting. It’s really all about bringing community to join together in their taproom and help raise money for a worthy cause. Not only is it fun – bringing friends out for a pint of beer and conversation – but you get the opportunity to really do something and support something you care about.

Sable said that it’s not just about raising funds, but:

 “we are also helping to raise awareness for the causes. Increase traffic flow to their website or add followers to their social media accounts. Perhaps this way the non-profit also receives more volunteers, donations and attention outside of our Barn Raising Night.”

Obviously this fundraising won’t happen unless there are patrons who step up to support it. If you haven’t had the opportunity to get out to Barn Hammer’s taproom yet, make a plan to go there on the third Wednesday of the month to help raise funds and awareness for community causes.

Local Fall Offerings

Local Fall Offerings

We’re into October and thus comes the arrival of many fall beers – mostly pumpkin spiced yam and pumpkin beers from around the country and the United States. For some, these represent something wrong with beer, while for others they are as comforting as the first pumpkin spice latte of the season, a warm embrace of comfort and joy. As our craft beer community continues to grow (we now have four active Winnipeg-based breweries) I thought I’d write about what they are offering this fall.

Half Pints

Image result for Half Pints Oktoberfest

Every year around this time we see the release of Half Pints Oktoberfest Lager. It’s a traditional German style of beer, also called a Marzen. Before refrigeration it was nearly impossible to brew beer in the summer time due to bacterial infections caused by the increased heat. This meant most brewing had to be completed by the end of spring (March/Marzen). These beers were kept in cold storage over the spring and summer months resulting in a darker, amber colored lager with a higher alcohol content than average. They would typically be rolled out for Oktoberfest celebrations.

This is also the beer that often is transformed into “Punknfest” with pumpkin and spices added to become the “typical” pumpkin fall beer, but this has not been announced yet, nor is it a guarantee. For now, the Oktoberfest is Half Pints’ fall offering.

Appearance:  Dark amber-brown pour with a slightly off-beige head
Smell: Caramel notes, dark fruit, slight earthy hop aroma
Taste:
Nice malty sweetness brings great flavours that are kept from becoming overly sweet by some nice earthy/grassy hop notes

Torque

Even though they are the new kid on the block, this brewery is hammering their beers out of the park. I’ll be doing a write-up on their all-year offerings in the near future, but for now let’s tackle their fall offering, a Dark Pumpkin Ale called “Witching Hour”.

While called a Dark Pumpkin Ale, this beer is brewed in the catch-all style of a spiced/herb/vegetable beer. This means that while it can be brewed in a similar fashion to another style of beer – in this case an ale – the main tastes highlights are found in the additions. This style of beer can take on numerous different variations depending on the choice of malts, hops, and additions made. What I can say about this particular beer is that it is heavily malted providing a very nice caramel rich backbone to compliment the addition of pumpkin (or yams) and spices.

Appearance:  Dark brown, bordering on black, with a slight red hue with a tan head.
Smell: Dark malt, caramel sweetness, pumpkin pie spices (nutmeg, clove, allspice, cinnamon) and some roasty notes.
Taste:
The sweetness from the dark malt comes through strong and is complimented by the spices. While sweet, it does have some roasted notes to the malt that cut the sweetness just slightly making this beer not overpoweringly sweet. The cinnamon and nutmeg come through with a bit of clove.
Barn Hammer

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Barn Hammer has taken a different route altogether and has brewed a Smoke Pumpkin Saison. This was one of their first test batch beers and they’ve now produced a full run of it for sale at their brewery. Through and through this a saison.

Saisons are a sturdy farmhouse style of beer. Originally created in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium, it was traditionally brewed at the end of the cool season to last through the warmer months before refrigeration was common.  It had to be sturdy enough to last but not too strong so it would quench your thirst in the summer months. This style of beer is very complex with a lot fruit notes, spices, and earth yeast notes to the beer. They tend to combine nice fruity notes with spice and a subtle sourness or tartness. Usually there’s lots of spice with mild bitterness and a dry crisp finish and only a hint of sweetness.

This particular saison uses both beechwood smoked malt and locally sourced roasted sugar pumpkin combined with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger to bring a little bit of smoke, spice and funk to the beer.

Appearance:  Pours a cloudy copper with an off-white head
Smell: Some spice notes from the additions, smoke notes and a bit of pepperiness.
Taste:
The beer is lightly spiced and the smoked malt comes through as the star. The spice is subtle backing up the pepperiness from the saison. There is a bit of funk to this beer.
Fort Garry

Fort Garry has once again released their Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale. This is another beer brewed in the catch-all style of a spiced/herb/vegetable beer. The main tastes highlights are found in the additions. This style of beer can take on numerous different variations depending on the choice of malts, hops, and additions made. This has additions of real pumpkin, traditional spices and then it is aged with oak. Another take on the traditional fall “pumpkin” beers being offered both locally and from afar.

Appearance:  Amber coloured with an off-white head
Smell: Roasted malty scent with an interesting almost rum aroma from the oak and vanilla that is complimented with pumpkin spices.
Taste: The vanilla, spices and oak come through well. The beer has a lighter body than expected. There are some savoury/bitter notes and the spices leave you with a bit of an aftertaste.

I always encourage people to get out and try new beer. I hope that you do and expand your beer horizons. I’m working on some other write-ups at the moment and have many folks to follow up with. So lots more to come.

As always, I appreciate everyone following.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

 

 

 

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.

Flatlander’s 2016

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This years’ Flatlander’s Beer Festival was by far the best one to date. With 72 booths and over 240 beers, it was the largest beer festival we’ve held in Manitoba.  The number of beers isn’t always important, but the quality, variety and style variations made this year pretty darn awesome. Not only that, the local breweries were out in force and brought their A-game, giving every single one of us a reason to be proud.

I had a unique opportunity this year. I attended all three sessions of Flatlander’s in different capacities. On Friday night I had the joy of being a patron, enjoying around 70 unique beers. On Saturday I participated in the “ask a beer geek” initiative and had a great time answering questions and helping guide people towards beers. Then, on Saturday night, I had the opportunity to pour for Brewsters’ Brewing Company.  Each of these experiences brought a different perspective of the festival and dang, it was fun.

As a patron, I was incredibly impressed with how well organized the beer festival was this year. They had multiple entrances that split up the crowd, they used the concourse as well as the ice, which helped spread the crowd out to make the beers more accessible, and they had fantastic volunteers who did an awesome job helping guide people where they wanted to go.

For me, the most exciting part was the fact the first 9 booths were all local.  Barn Hammer, Farmery, Fort Garry, Half Pints, Brazen Hall, Nonsuch, Torque, One Great City and the Winnipeg Brew Bombers were there with a lot of fantastic beer.

As I said above, these local breweries brought their A-game and provided a fantastic opportunity to not only try a huge number of delicious beers, but also connect with the brewers and breweries.  The local booths were packed all night long with patrons drinking, chatting, and buying the merchandise.  I got me a Torque hat, a Barn Hammer hat and a One Great City shirt… eventually I’ll collect them all!

I can’t wait to try more of the local stuff as it starts to trickle into the market. From what I had the opportunity to taste (every single one) I am excited to continue to support local brewers. This is what I was writing about last year, what I’ve been writing about since I started this blog: We are finally seeing the craft beer community in Manitoba grow…and it’s good.

As a beer geek, I had the opportunity to answer questions people had about beers, hand out some cool swag to patrons and help guide people who didn’t really have a plan. It was a great opportunity to use some of the knowledge I’ve gathered to help others better understand and enjoy beer. I found many people are becoming really well-educated themselves, and that people were just as excited about the local beer as I was.

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While I didn’t have many questions besides “Where is the local stuff” or “Where am I?”, I did have some fun ones. One group had tried a few beers and asked “What is it about these beers I don’t like?” which was a fun one to answer. Others were curious about the use of nitro in One Great City’s Milk Stout, or what a Randall was. Overall, I was working with some really smart people and had a great time getting to meet a lot of new folks, help them enjoy their beer, and learn a little bit more myself from talking with brewers.

As a pourer for Brewsters’, I had the opportunity to stand still while the festival crowd flowed around me.  It was hectic; the first hour flew past in what felt like five minutes. I spent the first bit getting to know the beers as best I could – tasting them on Friday night helped – and talking to Don about Brewsters’. We poured four beers: River City Raspberry Wheat, Honest Paul IPA, Hammerhead Red Ale, and the Hawaiian Coconut Porter. The night ended up being a lot of fun with me repeatedly saying things such as “this is a traditional English porter, finished with real coconut. It has chocolate and coffee notes in it as well” or “this is a big 70 IBU IPA with mosaic, Citra and cascade hops with a big late hop addition that bring big grapefruit and passion fruit notes.”

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This gave me a good barometer for people who knew something about beer and those who did not.  While two years ago Flatlander’s seemed to have a large number of people asking “what’s an IPA?” this year I didn’t have a single person ask that. There will certainly always be room for people to learn more about beer, but the amount of knowledge people showed Saturday night was great to witness. I’m so happy Manitobans are increasingly embracing craft beer, are excited about new beers and local beers, and want to try something they’ve never had.

Talking with Don, a man who has been in the beer industry for close to 20 years, was fantastic. This guy really knows his beer and his product and I really hope that we see some of it come to Winnipeg. The Honest Paul IPA was delicious and I’m a sucker for a good Coconut Porter.  We’ve already got their Brewmaster Collection in Liquor Marts, but we will also see a Peach Ale coming to town for the final flight of Coast to Coaster.

Overall, I had a fantastic time at the beer festival. It helped build excitement for the local breweries, something I’ve been working hard to do, and gave people their first sampling of what is to come.  Next year’s festival will be even better as the breweries here this year – most with the help of Half Pints – will be open and brewing on their own systems. They will have grown and we will have, hopefully, even more new breweries giving us a first taste side-by-side with those from this year. While we had nine local booths at this year’s festival, I really hope to see us take up 20 booths next year.

So, fellow beer fans, I encourage you to get out and enjoy local beer this summer. Of the new folks, Barn Hammer is already sending beer out the door; you can find it at Fools & Horses and Earls right now, and Torque will hopefully be coming up close behind. Many of us have been clamouring for more craft beer so now it’s time to put our money where our mouth is – and also beer where our mouth is.  It’s time to get out and show these places that we will support them.

Let’s end today’s post with a question.  If you attended Flatlander’s, what was your favourite beer? Answer in the comments below.

Self-Guided Brewery Tour

Wow, Flatlanders’ was awesome.  While I work on my post about that, I wanted to post a quick update about a couple of other things.

First, as the title suggests, the Manitoba Bartenders’ Guild has organized a self-guided brewery tour. It looks like it’ll be fun, the folks from the guild are pretty awesome, and I’m planning on attending as well. It costs $10 and you can get more details about booking a spot and the plan for the day by emailing: wpgjoel@gmail.com. They also do things like this pretty frequently so join their Facebook group to be updated on future events. 

Brewery Tour

A second piece of exciting information is that Barn Hammer’s beers (updated website, looking sweet) are finally starting to show up in restaurants around town.  While they aren’t able to do growler fills yet, they are able to sell to licensees.  Fools and Horses had the Saturday Night Lumberjack Double IPA on tap this weekend, and Earl’s is carrying Le Sneak Belgique Wit.  The time to start enjoying local beer is now my friends. Hopefully this is the flood gate opening and we will see Torque and others coming out soon as well.

Finally, Flight #3 of the Liquor Marts Coast to Coaster event starts on Friday.

Coast to Coaster Beers
That’s it for today. I’m working on my Flatlander’s write-up which you should see soon and I’ll be trying to meet up with Torque, Brazen Hall and Oxus for updates in the near future.  This is going to be a great summer. Grab a beer and enjoy it.

MBBA Event

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Manitoba Brewers’ Association (MBBA) meet and greet event that was held down at Fort Garry Brewing Company.

 

MBBA Shirt
The sweet MBBA Tshirt

The event was incredibly well attended and it was nice to see so many people come out to support not only local craft beer, but the Winnipeg Jets True North foundation.  This was the kickoff, if you will, for the Flatlanders’ Beer Festival happening this weekend.  If you don’t have your tickets yet, they are still available here.

The event provided an opportunity to give a try to some of the beers the local breweries have been working on.  Most only brought one to sample, leaving room for excitement at flatlanders, but the beers that they brought were all quite good.

Torque brought their American Stout, One Great City their Pale Ale, Barn Hammer brought their Double IPA, Nonsuch had their Saison, Half Pints had the MBBA collaboration brew and a Coconut Milk Stout, and Fort Gary had their Black Pearl and Buddha Lager.

The big surprise of the night was the new comer, Brazen Hall Brewery and Kitchen, who are going to be opening at the site of the Round Table.  It was an opportunity to meet them and to have a taste of their first beer, a Best Bitter.  Kristjan Kristjansson, who I hope to sit down with again, was saying that they want to combine his Icelandic heritage with the British heritage of their head brewery, Jeremy Wells.  The bitter was nice and I’m excited to hear more about them.

Brazen Hall

While this was just a first opportunity to try some of these beers, I was pretty impressed with what I tasted and I’m excited to be able to try the beers as a final product.

So, I hope that you will all try to make it to the Flatlanders’ Beer Festival this weekend. I’ll be there Friday night enjoying myself, Saturday afternoon as a Beer Geek (come ask me questions) and Saturday Night helping out pouring for Brewsters (come by and say Hi).

On one final note, the Manitoba Bartenders Guild has organized a self-guided brewery tour event that sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll be going along with them and anyone else interested in joining, come on out.  See the image below for details. It should be fun.

Brewery Tour

Thanks for reading as I follow the changing climate of beer here in the province of Manitoba, I’m pretty excited to keep following these, and other, breweries as they start moving closer to opening their doors.

-Beer Winnipeg