Tag Archives: Interview

PEG – One Year In

Peg Logo

It’s been a great time to be a beer lover in Winnipeg and Manitoba once again. We’ve had Surly come out with their incredibly delicious Imperial stout, Darkness (write-up soon), Stone Angel is ramping up and releasing new beers including a smokey autumn ale called a Samhain. This past weekend saw the official opening of Trans Canada Brewing (regular hours Wed-Sunday 4-11pm) and the anniversary party for PEG Beer Co.

I had the chance to sit down and talk with Colin Enquist, Sales and Marketing Manager for PEG and one of the hosts for the podcast “Pub Chat”, about PEG’s first year. Colin describes it as being a really busy first year. I think this is an understatement given the amount of beer that PEG has produced. They’ve been relishing in the opportunity to introduce a lot of people to craft beer. Given their location, they’ve become a hotspot for theatre and concert goers. Located right in the midst of the Manitoba Theatre Company, the Orchestra and Ballet hall, and the Tom Hendry Warehouse, they’ve become a go to for pre- and post-event drinks.

There were some matters beyond their control that did provide for some annoyance. There was a significant amount of construction happening during PEG’s first year. This caused numerous disruptions, reduced foot and car traffic, and a loss of parking. The construction is complete and has provided a beautiful new field house for the Sport Manitoba building as well as a parkade which is accessible after 5pm.

PEG also opened their restaurant before having their brewery ready to brew. This allowed for them to get the food and kitchen staff trained on the restaurant side before introducing them to the beers. Overall this initial delay, while annoying, worked out for the best. It resulted in a better trained staff and gave the leadership team an opportunity to work on the floor with customers.

I also asked both Colin and owner Nicole Barry whether there is anything they would change looking back on their first year. Both had pretty much the same response. There are always things that could have been done differently in hindsight. That said, they both believe that things worked out the way they needed to. They could respond to the bumps in the road and they came out on the other side better for it. I guess, in a sense, they wouldn’t do anything differently.

As far as the future, PEG is looking to expand by adding more tanks to the brewery and working to make their beer more available. To do so they are looking at packaging options. There haven’t been any decisions made as to whether they package in Cans or in Bottles, however those discussions are happening. There will be new beers and old favorites (like Iron Horse Russian Imperial Stout) coming back and continuing to connect with community through hosting events such as Shakespeare in the Pub via Bravura theatre company, trivia nights, and a variety of other community events.

PEG continues to be a space in the exchange where you can go have a good beer, a good bite to eat, and enjoy. I am looking forward to what PEG has to offer moving forward.

If you want to learn more about who brews the beer at PEG, check out my write-up with head brewer Jeff Wiebe here.

Thanks for following along.

Beer Winnipeg

Stone Angel – Follow-Up

Stone Angel Logo

Stone Angel (1875 Pembina Avenue) is a new Winnipeg brewery that is opening up their taproom this Friday (September 22nd, 2017). Patrons will be able to enjoy two of their finely crafted beers starting at 3:30 pm. Their first seasonal – Nocturne, an English Dark Mild and Red-Handed an Irish Red will be available. Following this opening, Stone Angel will then be open from Thursday-Sunday. Be sure to check their website for hours.

With the taproom opening, the focus shifts towards producing beer. While they have two ready to go, they hope to get their other two core beers, an IPA and a stout, ready to go. Luther’s Folly, their Kolschist Blond will also be returning.

They are also diving right into seasonal beers and planning to get a unique seasonal style ready for Halloween. Their Samhain (pronounced “sowen”) is a smokey porter with dried fruit. From what I’ve been told it is inspired by the Halloween traditions in Ireland.

When it comes to beer production, they will currently be reliant on what they can sell at the taproom until they get their canning line in place which they hope will be in the new year.

As for the taproom, the space is beautifully done. Currently taprooms are restricted to 50 people despite the size. Stone Angel boasts a large space and five bathrooms and could easily accommodate twice that. With such a large area, they hope that they might be able to do some renovations in the future and expand the seating. There is some hope from them, and others in the Manitoba Brewers Association, that some changes in how occupancy is determined can be made.

Paul Clerkin from Stone Angel is also hoping to get the website updated. As a web-developer he is quite skilled at putting together websites and wants the Stone Angel website to help people find where they can get their beer and drink it. The idea is to have the website be intuitively designed for use on smartphones so that one can easily find where to get Stone Angel’s beer and get directions.

I’m looking forward to visiting Stone Angel once they open and getting to taste more of their beer. It’s always an exciting time when a new brewery opens. The culmination of an incredible amount of hard work, time, and dedication. These events should be celebrated so I hope everyone will head down to Stone Angel at 1875 Pembina Avenue this Friday (September 22nd, 2017) after 3:30 pm for a pint.

-Beer Winnipeg

Torque – One Year In


When I first started writing this blog we had three breweries in Manitoba. Today, we have nine with more on the way. What’s even more, we are hitting the anniversaries of some of these breweries and I, for one, am interested in looking back.

I sat with John Heim, president of Torque Beer Co. and the new president of the Manitoba Brewers Association to talk about their first year. I wanted to take a minute to look back at their first year and ask him about what they’ve learned, what they would do differently, and where are they going form here.

When they first opened Torque came out of the gate with a large capacity, immediate packaging and selling directly from Liquor Marts and beer vendors. They didn’t focus on getting their taproom open first but getting their beer out the door. This helped them enter the market with a wide reach and bring their beer to a larger group of people.

The Torque Founders 2016/2017

While starting off strong, Torque had early on made the decision to have a Helles, a lager requiring 8 weeks from brewing to packaging, which meant that it took longer to cycle that beer out into cans reducing the capacity for other beers that require less conditioning. This decision along with the admirable community mindset of Torque meant that they were using their brewery to produce other beers besides their own.

While these decisions ended up both producing a delicious beer and cementing Torque as a stellar community member, it also delayed them finding their stride. With all that said, I think everyone would agree that Torque has managed to produce some tasty, interesting and numerous beers.

As well, John explained that if he could do it again, he’d like to have more man power at the start. They’ve recently added a third brewer to their team, Tyler Sattler (formerly of Fort Garry Brewing) and a full-time tap-room manager named Hannah. While, according to John, they are just now starting to hit their stride, if what they accomplished over the past year was them “finding their stride” I can’t wait for this next year.


In this upcoming year Torque is hoping to expand their space by another 6000 sq/ft to accommodate the multiple dry-good needs they have. They’ve started using superbags of malt which will help them keep up with demand and have a variety of can variations that take up a lot of space.

As they’ve continue with their focus on helping the craft beer community, helping with distribution for PEI brewing company, Dark Horse Wine and Spirits, Craft Beer Imports, and 49th Parallel, they could also use some more cold storage and tanks which means they need more room to store the dry-goods as well. Another 6000 sq/ft would go along way. John also thinks a silo for malt might be in the future.

With the recent hiring’s, it lets John focus on the higher-level thinking and his new role as MBBA president. He is looking at working with other MBBA members to change the occupancy rules for taprooms so that events are easier to hold. With a 50-person max, despite space, it makes it hard to throw a birthday bash. John is also looking at finalizing Torques website, working with their sales manager Raj to get them out to more restaurants and venues, and talking to the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority about expanding to SK with their variety packs.

The first year has flown by and John and the team at Torque are trying to focus on looking forward. They are working on getting their website up and running that will provide details on beers, location, merch and where you can find them on tap. They are also hoping to hold more events and connect with other local vendors to bring beer and cuisine together.

Overall, John feels that they’ve really honed in on their production. They’ve implemented efficiencies in their canning line to allow for one person to operate it reducing waste and beer loss. They’ve hired new brewers to help fill the gaps and relieve the pressure that was once there and they’ve really focused on ensuring that the product they sell is something they would be proud of.


I’m excited for this next year and excited to share with you some of the bigger batches of beers we will be seeing from Torque over the next 12 months. Just know that alongside this they’ll have their small batches available at the brewery only. In fact, they are adding more small batch fermenters so that they can do more small batch brews.

Torque release schedule (unless otherwise noted – 473ml cans):

September/October 2017 – Witching Hour Dark Pumpkin Ale
November 2017 – Rabbit Punch Black IPA
December 2017 – Winter Survival Pack (6x355ml – Smoked Coffee Porter, Dunkleweizen, Wee Heavy, Wheat Wine, Diesel Fitter and a Double IPA.)
January 2018 – Bumper Shine Winter Ale
February 2018 – A Gruit using local botanicals – 500ml Bottle.
March 2018 – Konstantine Russian Imperial Stout – 500ml Bottle.
April 2018 –  Dopplebock – 500ml bottles
May 2018 – Czech Pilsner
June 2018 – Magnetic North Hefeweizen
July/August 2018 – Summer Pack (possible variation on beers)
September 2018 – Witching Hour
October 2018 – Fest beer (Marzen or Oktoberfest) – 500ml bottle
November 2018 – Rabbit Punch Black IPA
December 2018 – Winter Survival Pack

I’m pretty excited for a lot of the beers on this list. I encourage everyone to continue to support local beer and to get out and try these beers. Some of them will be quite interesting.

I hope to continue to follow-up with the breweries as they hit milestones. Peg Beer Co. and Barn Hammer Brewing have both also hit their one year anniversaries. I hope to check in with them soon. I’m also going to be checking in with Stone Angel this week as they approach opening and talking to the founder of North City Growlers. So follow me on WordPress and twitter to keep up with the latest.

– Beer Winnipeg

Stone Angel Brewing Co.

Stone Angel Logo

This is certainly becoming a summer of beer. There have been numerous new beers arriving on the shelves of our neighbourhood liquor marts and beer vendors. Flatlanders may have come and gone, but coast to coaster continues as do the hopes of new breweries opening their doors. With One Great City adding themselves to the mix and a few others potentially opening by the end of Summer. In that vein, I finally had the chance to meet up with the folks behind Stone Angel Brewing to check in on their progress and find out a bit about what we can expect from them.

Stone Angel Brewing is a joint venture of three home brewers, Paul, Paul C and Jame Defehr. Paul McMullan worked as a lawyer for 9 years and has been doing private consulting and commercial property work since leaving that behind. Born and raised in Winnipeg, other than the various travels he’s done for work, Paul brings 8 years of home brewing knowledge and a skill for recipe development to the team. Most of the recipes so far are his, but all three main partners will be brewing as they each have their own styles and specialties at which they excel. They’ve even managed to recruit retired chemist Jean Guy Pageau to help with the quality control aspect of the brewery.

Paul Clerkin is a transplanted Irishmen who has been in Winnipeg for 13 years. He decided to relocate for the “affordable property”. Paul C has been a graphic and web developer for the past 22 years and is responsible for the Stone Angel website as well as many others. He has been home brewing for three years as well and met Paul McMullan through the Irish Association of Manitoba. Both were members of board and the inception of this brewery idea began with an exploration into revitalizing the Irish Association through the opening of a new bar downtown on Portage Avenue. When this ended up not being possible, the two Pauls picked up the torch and kept moving forward.

James Defehr, who likes to be described as resembling a 1977 Harrison Ford, met the Pauls just over 1 year and a half ago. They met through a mutual acquaintance and began discussing home brewing. After that they started working on business plans and, as the legislation changed, so did the possibility of getting the brewery open. They took the plunge and are well on their way to getting Stone Angel up and running. James grew up in Winnipeg but has spent the last 20 years in the US and Mexico before returning to Winnipeg 7 years ago. Before this venture, James worked in the furniture industry doing upholstery. He brings 7 years of home brewing experience.

Stone Angel is located at 1875 Pembina Highway in the old “Vodka Rocks” site. It’s an 8,500 sq/ft building that is deceptively big. They have a huge open field behind the brewery and a nice big patio from which patrons can watch the amazing sunsets. They have space for much more than the current limit placed on taprooms and are ready should the laws shift and the limit be expanded.

Inside there will be a nice large taproom with a 30ft bar counter. The beer will be coming from kegs in the cooler located just behind. All the washrooms in the building are universal and they have space to hold large events and hope to do so.

They have a 17-hl specific mechanical brewhouse, three 17-hl fermenters, one 35 hl fermenter, and a lonely 35 hl brite-tank that they hope to expand upon soon after opening. They will be starting with their Luther’s Folly, an Irish Red and a Summer fruit beer but hope to expand into porters, stouts and IPAs in the fall. They also plan to have small-batch taproom only stuff to encourage visitors and will likely be doing releases of styles like Belgian dubbels and tripels (and others) in bottles. They also hope to have a canning line in short order. They want to have as many options as possible for people to access their beer.

One unique style that we will likely see from them this fall is a Samhain (pronounced “sowen”), a smokey porter with dried fruit. It is reminiscent of the Halloween traditions in Ireland and sounds like it’ll be interesting.

While there is still a lot of finishing work to do on site, the tanks were being installed while I was there. They hope to have all the trades work done by July and then get to brewing some beer, after the final inspections of course. The goal is to open by the end of the summer and I certainly wish them luck. If you are interested, they also have some merchandise for sale on their website.

As always, keep following as I keep track of the expanding beer community here in Winnipeg. Get out, try something new, and experience the new options when it comes to local beer.

-Beer Winnipeg

Oxus Brewing – Follow-up

I had the chance to stop into Oxus Brewing to chat with Sean and see how things are progressing. For those of you not familiar with Oxus, I spoke with Sean early in the process and haven’t had a chance to stop in again until now. Sean has faced some challenges over the process but is well underway in getting his brewery up and running.

Oxus Exterior

Located at 1180 Sanford in the Polo Park area, Sean has a reasonable size location for the brewing that he is planning on doing.  Already well on his way to getting his brewing equipment installed, Sean is working on finalizing the flooring and electrical and getting the final inspections done.

Sean has done a great deal of the work himself including the pouring of concrete, the grinding down of the floors and the installation of the control box, which he built himself. Plumbers have gotten the trench drains in place and the glycol loops are all set for each of his tanks.

Sean hopes to be able to get open soon and has set a personal goal for himself. He’s working hard and is getting close to being able to install his equipment. He’s got a few recipes already developed including a west coast IPA and a Czech lager as well as plans for other styles as he moves forward. The plan is also to have a small tap room on site as well as a canning line to be able to get his beer out to the masses.

The focus for now is on getting the brewery up and running so that he can produce beer. Initially it will only be available in kegs and he hopes to get these on at local venues and vendors so that people can enjoy what he’s been working so hard to bring to market. As time progresses he’d like to get things out in cans and then get his taproom space open so folks can come and enjoy his beer where it’s brewed.

While there is still a lot to be done, the fact that Sean is doing all this work on his own and has made as much progress as he already has is quite incredible. I’m excited for him to get his doors open and realize a dream that he has had for quite some time.

Look forward to drinking your beer and to seeing the doors of Oxus open.

Surly Comes to Manitoba

Surly Logo

So, Surly Brewing has come to Manitoba. I’m sure people have probably heard this as it’s been widely promoted through social media, the liquor marts, and even in the news. Now here I am writing a post about this one brewery making its way to Manitoba. Well, it is a pretty big deal.

Surly Brewing Company was founded in 2004 by Omar Ansari. Omar was an avid homebrewer and decided that he wanted to get involved in the brewing industry. He proposed converting his parents Abrasives factory into a brewery, and with their go ahead, hired accomplished local brewer Todd Haug  and got to work building a brewery.

Omar and Todd - Surly Brewing

In 2005 Surly Brewing Co. brewed it’s first batch of beer. It took over 14 hours as the fermenter controls weren’t working and Todd’s heavy metal music soundtrack made things a big difficult to communicate, but they accomplished the goal and were officially on there way to becoming one of the top breweries in the United States.

It wasn’t until 2006 that Surly sold it’s first kegs of Furious to local bars. Omar had made various sales calls to bars and had bartenders spit out the samples of the beer. Only 16 months after selling the first kegs of Furious, Rate beer named Surly Brewing the best brewery in America and named Surly’s Russian Imperial Stout (Darkness) the best American beer in the world.

In 2011 Surly realized they needed to build a new brewery to meet the demand for their beer. They wanted to be able to sell their own beer on site. They faced a similar problem to Winnipeg where a prohibition-era law prevented breweries from selling pints of their beer at their breweries. Omar set out to change this law and with the help of Surly Nation standing behind him and a heck of a lot of work, they managed to get legislators to make the change. Surly’s Destination brewery is now a fantastic site to visit with food, a huge variety of beers, a state of the art brewing facility and many events for folks to enjoy.

In 2016 Todd Haug left Surly to go work with 3 Floyds Brewing Co in Munster, Indiana. I’m sure he is missed, but he has left the brewhouse in the capable hands of co-lead brewers Jerrod Johnson and Ben Smith.

Surly’s Philosophy: Our philosophy? Make great beerHave funGive a Damn about your community. Be independent. Don’t be a dick.

One of the most amazing things for me is how Surly involves the community and how involved they are in the community as well. Always doing what they can to give back. The annual release of their Russian Imperial Stout, Darkness, has become an event that people travel from across North America to join. There is music, food, beer, and eventually the release of the beer. Only about 10,000 bottles are brewed each year and each person is limited to six. I’ve been lucky enough to get some, but these beers are coveted. Surly partners with artists each year to design the label for Darkness and it’s always super impressive. Surly produces dozens of beers each year from year-rounds to seasonal brews. Every beer I’ve had I’ve enjoyed.

Surly has chosen to expand across the border into Canada and have chose Manitoba as their first foray beyond their own borders. This is a big deal. Surly’s beers are considered top notch in each of the categories they brew. Them coming to Manitoba is not only a huge boon for Manitobans, but it’s a big push to the local brewing community. It can only raise the quality of beer we have access to here in Manitoba. Many of us in the beer community would make treks down to North Dakota to pick up cans of Surly. Now, we can put them in our fridge along side our favorite locals.

While Surly is initially starting with Kegs, they do have plans to start sending cans to Manitoba in the Fall. There is some work to do in getting the cans “Canadianized” (adding milliliters, putting Biére Forte, etc.…) but we will be able to stock our fridges with cans of Todd the Axeman or Furious at some point down the road.

In conversation with Rick and Omar from Surly, Rick shared that Surly is in Manitoba because of the work of Cheryl Thompson at Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries. Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries wanted Surly in Manitoba and helped make the logistics side of things work. So, I want to give a big shout out to Cheryl and everyone else who worked so hard to get Surly into Manitoba.

So, check the Liquor Marts website here to see where you can try something from Surly and add them to your list of beers alongside your local and other craft favorites. While I know that I’ll be stocking my fridge with many Surly items, it’s not going to stop me from supporting my favorite local and craft folks. I think everyone in the beer community, including local breweries, would join me in saying “Welcome to Manitoba Surly. We’re glad you’re here”.

Flatlanders Surly Brewing
Surly Crew at Flatlander’s Beer Fest – 2017

-Beer Winnipeg

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