Tag Archives: Get to know a brewer

Get To Know A Brewer – Berhard Wieland

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Kevin Selch (L) and  Bernhard Wieland (R)

The speed at which things to be progressing in our brewing community is fantastic. We are seeing more breweries begin to reach that final point in their construction. Brazen Hall and One Great City seem to be almost ready to open their doors and Nonsuch recently brewed their first batch. I can’t wait to see what things look like at this year’s Flatlanders’ Beer Festival.

I sat down with Bernhard Wieland, Brewmaster at Little Brown Jug, for my continuing “Get to know a brewer” series. Bernie is a really interesting guy who has traveled all around the world and has a passion and drive for making high quality consistently delicious beer.

Born in Brandon, Bernhard lived in Neepawa until Grade 6. This was when his first big move occurred and his family came into the big city of Winnipeg. Bernie attended various schools including St. Paul’s and St. John’s Ravenscourt before finally graduating from Vincent Massey. Rugby was a big part of Bernie’s time in school and would continue to be a big part of his adult life.

After graduating, Bernie attended the University of Manitoba where he received his B.Sc. Not wanting to work in a lab, Bernie decided to travel around the United States playing Rugby and trying out a lot of different beers. Rugby took him all the way over to South Africa where he met some friends who had jobs in marketing at South African breweries. Seeing this, something clicked. Bernie found something he could do that he loved.

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He came back to North America where he attended the Siebel institute in Chicago to receive his brewers certificate. While there, Bernie hooked up with a Rugby team and ended up playing Semi-Pro. This opportunity took him to Germany where the rugby team got him his first brewing job at Gilde Braurei in Hanover, Germany. This gave Bernie the opportunity to work in various roles from delivery to brewer and get his first experience working at a brewery under his belt. Bernie stayed in this role for 6 months, or about the length of the rugby season.

Upon returning to Winnipeg, Bernie had the opportunity to work with Richard Hoeschen at Fort Garry. Initially starting off as the filter operator, he worked at Fort Garry for 3 ½ years and held the position of head brewer by the time he left. Bernie also had the chance to work with the founders of Two Rivers, including someone Bernie considers a mentor, Doug Seville. Doug was the last brew master at the Molson brewery here in Winnipeg.

After 3 ½ years at Fort Garry, Bernie headed west to Vancouver Island Brewing in 2005. As head brewer he had the opportunity to work alongside a German Brewmaster who oversaw the brewing process. Over the next 2 ½ years, Bernie honed his skills even more and learned new processes.

Bernie had always wanted to maximize his education, especially when it came to brewing, and so he returned to school, attending UC Davis where he completed the Master Brewers Program and received his master’s diploma. Having completed this, Bernie had hoped to work in the US, but given the tough climate he wasn’t able to secure a position at any of the breweries to whom he applied. So, Bernie returned to Canada to Vancouver Island where he began exploring the possibility of opening his own brewery. The timing for this wasn’t right and so Bernie moved on to his next adventure in Kenora.

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In 2012, Bernie took the position of Head Brewer at the soon to be open Lake of the Woods. Bernie had the opportunity to be there for the construction of the brewery which gave the opportunity to be involved from the ground up. This was also the first opportunity Bernie had to develop recipes. The other breweries he worked at were not interested in seasonal beers, only brewing what was already brewed. This was Bernie’s first opportunity to explore the creative aspects of brewing beer rather than simply the technical ones. Bernie created over 20 recipes before moving on in 2014.

Bernie’s final position before arriving at Little Brown Jug was working for Half Pints. Bernie spoke with many of the new breweries looking to open here in Winnipeg but felt that working with Kevin at Little Brown Jug was the best fit for him.

In Kenora, Bernie had the opportunity to get into the Krausening process and fell in love with it. He had also had his fill of constantly working on recipe development and wanted to focus his skills on perfecting one beer and getting that recipe just right. Working at Little Brown Jug gave him the opportunity to do both of these things and to be involved in building a brewery from the ground up.

Bernie got into brewing because it was a job that combined all of the skills he had from his education and other jobs he’s held over the years. Really having to be well-rounded and getting the opportunity to do something that you love every day.

What keeps Bernie brewing is the love of beer, the joy of introducing people to quality beer, being a part of the growth of the craft beer community here in Winnipeg, and the fact that his passion has become a financial success doesn’t hurt.  Bernie also feels that Winnipeg and Manitoba have a strong history of brewing beer. Why the beer is named 1919 and why he uses Brewers Gold is to show the history that we’ve played. Bernie calls Brewer’s Gold the “Grandfather” of modern hops.

I’m always curious what beers brewers enjoy and what they like to have in their fridge. The beer that really got Bernie into beer was a good Czech Pilsner that he enjoyed while in Prague. Today though, he really likes the beer he makes, 1919, and enjoys Jerkface 9000.

It was good to sit down with Bernie and I am looking forward to seeing how Little Brown Jug grows. Thanks again for reading.

-Beer Winnipeg

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

Get to know a brewer – Jeremy Grisim

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It’s a great time of year around my place. We are getting ready for the holiday season to begin, our daughter is starting to grow, and it is almost time for me to crack into the craft beer advent calendar. I’m hoping folks will enjoy reading about each one of the beers and breweries as much as I enjoying learning about them.

Today I am starting a series that I hope to continue for as long as I am able. “Get to know a brewer” is something I thought of when I was last chatting with Jeremy Grisim from Half Pints. When I first met Jeremy, he was doing me a favour and picking me up a test batch from Half Pints. Over time, I started seeing him at Half Pints more often and later learned he had joined the Half Pints team. Now, he’s accomplished a goal he set for himself of becoming a brewer. So, who better to start this with than him.

Jeremy became interested in brewing while he was working on a chemistry degree. He had taken some biology and chemistry courses that talked about fermentation sciences and as he had tried various craft beer and was being exposed to new styles of beer, Jeremy decided to try home brewing. He started small, buying a kit from Grape and Grain, and from that point he was hooked. While he had initially thought of being a chemistry teacher, he felt a calling to one day open a brewery and decided that he would follow that dream and work towards it.

Having a good background in science, Jeremy felt as though he needed to get some more knowledge surrounding the brewing process and the science/art of brewing beer. He took the executive overview of brewing from the Siebel institute and began communicating with as many brewers as he could across Canada seeking their advice and direction on further education. From this advice, Jeremy decided to do the 1-year associate degree in brewing technology from the Siebel institute. While this provides some great learning, it lacks in practical experience. Really wanting to get this practical knowledge, Jeremy and his wife had been ready to move their family wherever they needed to go. Luckily, he was hired on at Half Pints as a brewery assistant in May 2015 and began chasing his dream.

While working as a brewer assistant at Half-Pints, Jeremy also took on the task of conducting brewery tours. Half Pints already had a full slate of brewers and while Jeremy was happy to help and felt he was learning, he ultimately wanted to be brewing beer. This past summer, 2016, two of the brewers from Half Pints left to pursue other goals which left Half Pints with space for a new brewer. Dave Rudge, President of Half Pints, sat down and asked Jeremy about his goals. Jeremy said he wanted “To one-day be the best brewer in Winnipeg and to brew beer until I can’t brew anymore.” Dave offered him the chance to get trained on the brewing equipment and Jeremy has brewed full-time ever since.

Jeremy loves all styles of beer but has a ton of respect for the old-world breweries. He has a Czech background himself and deeply respects the skill required to brew and the history behind old world beers. He takes great joy in drinking beers from North American breweries as well of course. Jeremy said that he feels breweries are moving away from the tendency to brew to style and are no starting to brew to inspiration. Instead of trying to replicate a style of beer they are trying to create a beer. While Jeremy didn’t really give me an answer on his favorite style, the first beer he has developed and brewed at Half Pints is a California Common. We can expect to see this on the test batch system before too long and Jeremy hopes the beer will be scaled up into a bigger batch.

In the next 5 years, Jeremy sees himself strengthening his brewing skills, increasing his knowledge, and immersing himself in the burgeoning Winnipeg brew scene. For now, he’s brewing 40-50 hours a week and using this as an opportunity to begin dialing in and improving his skills. Jeremy is completely immersing himself in beer.

I also took this opportunity to catch up on what’s new at Half Pints. The tap-room is up and running and looking darn fantastic. This has given Half Pints’ the opportunity to expand the use of their test batch system as they can put it on tap in the tap-room. This is something they are looking to do as often as possible, both to scale up and just for the fun of it. Some of the things in the taproom and will not be available anywhere else.

What Jeremy was able to share is that we will be seeing a test batch of Ol’ Glory (American Barley Wine) and a Count Chocula Stout coming soon. As well there is a Winter Spiced Red Ale that will be on the growler bars around the city as well as 1000 litres of Humulus Ludicrous (Double IPA) that’ll be on draft and growler only.

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Throughout the year, we can expect to see a bunch of brand new beers and old favourites making their return. Given the tasting room, it’s given Half Pint’s the ability to have a beer with their customers and talk to them in a way they haven’t had the chance before. Aside from the test batches, Half Pints is also hoping to play around more with casks and pins to put twists on their beers for the tap-room. With the taproom, fully operation, I think it’s a good time to get into Half Pints and taking advantage of the tap-room.

I’ve got a follow-up with Little Brown Jug still coming this week and it is almost time for my Marathon month of posting on the Craft Beer Advent Calendar. Check out last years’ wrap up. This year, it’s Old World Breweries, New World Beers. Exciting.