Tag Archives: Interview

One Great City – Follow-up

OGC Logo

It had been a while since I spoke with the guys from One Great City. Given they’ve been working so hard on getting their space prepped, I dropped in to visit for a bit of news and a beer.

Originally, One Great City had hoped to be open by October 2016. Due to some delays, including the installation of a new electrical panel, this was not possible. Thankfully, all the building permits have now come through and Tim and Jon are hard at work getting things ready as quickly as possible.

While covering the rise of craft breweries in Manitoba, I’ve learned to not ask for an opening date; they’re very hard to accurately predict. That said, the One Great City team hopes to have their doors open in the first quarter of 2017. All the equipment has been ordered, the beer development is moving along swimmingly and the food menu has been finalized.

The OGC team has been busy since Flatlanders perfecting the recipes they spotlighted there: Tipsy Cow milk stout and Monkey Trail pale ale. They’ve also been developing other styles of beer, including a Belgian Wit, an extra-special bitter, an American blonde and a double IPA. All of these styles will be served alongside a “gastropub” menu featuring traditional food with updated twists. “Adventurous yet accessible” as the guys say.

Jon and Tim have been doing the lion’s share of the grunt work getting things prepared and organized for the trades-people on the project. New floor has been poured and is being ground down to give a “terrazzo” look. This type of flooring is easy to clean and low maintenance, making it ideal for food preparation and brewing once it’s sealed.

 

The plumbers have completed the underground work and are now running supply lines. A new HVAC unit will be installed in a few weeks, which gives time for the electricians to run conduits. Overall, progress is being made and there are high hopes OGC will be able to meet their goal of opening early next year.

They have developed their tables and stools that will be used in the restaurant portion of the brewpub. They plan to have a nice big patio out by the back parking lot with an entrance from both the front and back to allow for greater parking and accessibility. Overall, the layout looks really good. The next steps for OGC are getting the walls put up, painting, getting the fixtures and bar installed – and then setting up the brewing equipment.

one-great-city-plans

It was good to follow up and see how much progress has been made since we last spoke. Part of what I love about writing this blog is tracking projects as they begin to take shape. When I last spoke with OGC, this whole thing was still in development, but now you can reach out and touch it. Exciting times indeed.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Shrugging Doctor

To begin: when I went into this interview I didn’t know what to expect. Shrugging Doctor has intentionally kept their business under wraps and has done a good job keeping folks curious. Shrugging Doctor is not a brewery. They will not be producing beer at opening and so aren’t something I typically write about. Still, they have a unique idea that warrants a bit of exploration, even if there are some concerns.

Shrugging Doctor wants to innovate people’s access to booze. While it is possible to order alcohol delivery through the MLCC, this requires forethought and time. It’s not something you can do on a whim or if you realize you’ve run out of your favourite beverage. Shrugging Doctor seeks to fix this problem by taking the pizza delivery model and applying it to booze. They want to be your on-call source for booze in the city, with home delivery within 60 minutes.

What will they be selling? To begin, they will focus on sugar wine (a smooth and sweet 20% alcohol), coolers (made from the sugar wine), apple cider and mead. The target audience for Shrugging Doctor is 18 to 25 year olds looking for potent, sweet tasting booze at a reasonable price. This makes sense given the gentleman behind this company. Chris Willows, a 20-year-old entrepreneur, moved out at the age of 18 and found he had bills to pay. With a business mindset – something he says he had since he was nine – he decided to start his own business and solve a problem on the minds of his peers: how do I get cheap booze delivered to my home.

While Shrugging Doctor is going to produce their own product, which they hope to sell in 23 Liquor Marts around the city, the service they plan to provide is the biggest part of their business plan. Offering city-wide deliver of their products. The product is produced by Zach Isaacs. He has been making wine and other alcoholic drinks for several years, investing a great deal of time and money in perfecting his recipes. Willows told me many of his friends have stopped buying coolers because they’d rather drink Shrugging Doctor’s offerings. (I had the opportunity to try the sugar wine and it is certainly potent but incredibly sweet.)

While they do not plan on having beer at the beginning, Willows does respect the craft beer market and would love to add those drinks to their catalogue in the future. For the first nine to ten months, however, they will focus on producing their wine-based products. With four 500L tanks, the starting capacity is quite small, only 10HL, but as they start capturing profit they hope to expand capacity not only add beer but also partner with vineyards to move away from fruit and sugar wines to producing grape wines.

I had the opportunity to view their online ordering system, which will allow people to place orders for either a bottle or a box of their wine, coolers, etc. The wine starts at $10 a bottle and is $35 for a 4L box. The wine is packaged using a 10-plate filtering system, a semi-automatic bottler that fills the headspace with nitrogen for better shelf life, and capped using stelvin caps (the twist offs).

If Shrugging Doctor takes off, Manitobans who are buzzed and unable to drive for more drinks will have an option to top up their supplies. While this certainly solve some problems, it raises others. What assurances will there be that customers (and their guests) are of age? Or that they’re not at dangerous levels of intoxication? Since they are seeking to follow the pizza delivery model, they will be hiring delivery drivers who will be paid using the deliver fee and tips. How will these drivers be trained to recognize when they should or shouldn’t deliver the product? There is also a matter of theft and safety of the drivers that needs to be considered.

Chris Willows told me that their delivery drivers will all carry their “Serving it Safe” certificate and will therefore be trained to recognize when someone may need to be cut off. As for the insurance that all are of age, unfortunately that isn’t something as easy to accomplish. What they will ensure is that the person to whom they deliver the alcohol is of age. Chris also assured me that they would be trying their best to comply with all laws and regulations.

While I admit the convenience Shrugging Doctor offers is very appealing – and potentially the base of a lucrative business model – I am not sure if the pros outweigh the concerns. While I’m not in their target market, they’re likely to appeal to a younger demographic who could still be learning their limits. It’s my hope these young entrepreneurs factor safety into their business plans even as they enthusiastically fill an obvious service gap.

 

 

 

Trans Canada Brewing Co

transcanada-exterior

I chatted with Matt Tallman, President and CEO of TransCanada Brewing Company this past week. He invited me to their space at 1290 Kenaston, gave me a tour and shared details about what you should expect from TCB when they open.

Matt has been working on this project fully since April 2015. It’s been a journey to get to this point and it was really interesting to hear Matt walk me through the process.

Matt has always dreamed of opening his own business. When he graduated high school in ’09 he took a business program at UNC. After a couple of years of traditional classes, he spent a semester at sea through a university in Virginia. The ocean-spanning classes gave him a chance to travel and see a lot of neat stuff.

He eventually transferred to University of Western Ontario’s ivy business program – the HBA. While digesting a lot of ideas there, Matt was exposed to Ontario’s rich craft beer scene. Though he took another semester at sea to get some more travelling under his belt, he returned to Canada with a purpose, having explored the beer industry in many different countries across five continents.

When Matt rolled back into Winnipeg he had a vision to expand local beer offerings. (At the time only Half Pints and Fort Garry were operating, with Farmery just starting.) Matt felt, like many others, there was a need for more local brewing in the city and he wanted to create a truly world class venue in Winnipeg. After setting his mind to this he spent a time working through vision and decided to start the project in April of 2015. Matt feels that there is a lot of opportunity in the market and that people are more interested in where their food and beverage come from, who makes it and how it’s made.

A lot of people are curious about the name behind the brewery. Matt said he is often asked “Why TransCanada?” Initially he went through piles of names and had lots of ideas. One day Matt just had TransCanada pop into his head and felt it was so uniquely Canadian that it fit what he wanted the brewery to embody. With its historic and modern usage and the fact that on an average day you’ll hear it mentioned in the radio or see it written on your drive, Matt felt this was a name that was timeless.

The branding for TCB is Canadiana, with design elements pulled from an earlier era (1950s-60s) to give a taste of nostalgia. While referencing the period, TCB’s branding is also meant to be timeless – something that won’t expire or go out of fashion.

As a local brewery, Matt is very excited to produce beers with local ingredients and work with local suppliers and producers. His brewery concept is very Canada centric and he wants to explore different Canadian symbols and events in history. Overall he hopes TCB will be a celebration of Canada

Matt spent eight months looking for a site before settling on 1290 Kenaston. He explained it had been a very long process and he is excited to finally get started. If all goes according to plan, TCB will open in Q2 of 2017.

transcanada-interior-3

The concept behind TCB is interesting. While they will have a taproom they are looking at doing pizzas and will have a dedicated pizza space, pizza oven and kitchen. Matt explained the plans were being discussed before recent taproom legislation came into effect. After looking at the legislation and taproom license, he decided it made more sense to do manufacturing, restaurant and retail. All components are part of one business. The idea is not to be a brewpub but a production brewery with a taproom attached. This is very casual meeting space with no assigned seating, servers, etc. It’s a place to come and hang out and chat, enjoy the beer from the brewery and have a pizza or a beer-related snack from a set menu.

Between the taproom and the brewery there will be a wall featuring 20 ft. tall windows. These windows will stretch almost floor to ceiling. Matt wants people to see what’s happening live during the day or have a nice brewery backdrop in the evening. He plans on having some funky lights shining on the brewhouse and tanks to create an ambiance for the taproom.

At the bar area, Matt plans to have 16 taps. He would like one of these taps to be local/craft brewery rotating guest tap. As I hinted above, the taproom will be decorated with Canadiana. As well, there will be a private function room for events and parties. It will have the same taps as the main bar area to optimize its use for any event. This room, too, will have windows letting you see down into the main taproom and there will be A/V equipment for meetings.

Right now, Matt is the only employee of TCB but he does have two others helping out who will eventually join him full time. First is Thomas Schneider. This head Pizzaiaolo (pizza guy) has been in the pizza industry for a number of years. He’ll run a dedicated Pizza area within the taproom called “Timmy Toms Pizzeria” and produce a very unique hybrid pizza. It’s close to New York style but with twisted dough prepared for individual-size orders. When the team decided pizza was the way to go, they took a trip down to San Francisco to meet pizza guru Tony Gemignani. He runs the International School of Pizza where the guys took a week-long course on making, baking, serving and selling pizza. Matt is really excited about the pizza – both the variety the can bake and the special release combinations they can curate.

Also on board is Jeff Wirt. His future role will be accounting and administration but he is currently assisting with everything – a true renaissance man. Thanks to a lot of hard work, they’ve just posted the job to round out their team and hire a Head Brewer, with the ambitious goal of enticing a world class brewer to come and prepare the best beer possible.

On the production side of things, there will be an overhead door separating the taproom and brewery to allow for them to hold open houses and for easy movement of kegs to the taproom.

The main brewhouse is built by Specific Mechanical from Victoria, BC. It is a 35hl four vessel brew house with state of the art technology operated by touch screen controls. It has a 5 HL pilot system fully integrated into the one brewhouse.  It’s fully capable of any style of beer and can do decoction mashes, kettle souring and multi-stage mashes. There are essentially two separate brewhouses, fermenters and bright tanks at TCB. For the small batch system, Matt plans to have six 10 HL fermenters and two 10 HL bright tanks while there will be six 70 HL fermenters and two 70HL HL bright tanks for the big system.

This will allow for the production of small and large batches. Matt tried to automate some of the brewery to make it easier to flow and to expand in the future. To accommodate this, he is going to install a grain silo just outside with an auger through the wall that will go directly into the surge hopper and then feed to the malt cracker, grist case, and then into the mash tun. It’s a hands off approach for base malt and all of the spent grain will be augered to silo before being trucked out for feed. While specialty malt will have to be added by hand, this allows for some automation with the largest quantity malt.

The brewery is designed to be scalable, adding more tanks if there is a need. The space allows them to double capacity if necessary, following a flow pattern Matt designed to be sustainable in the future.


Matt really wanted the ability to produce sour beers. As part of TCB’s design a dedicated space has been set aside as “the barrel room.” This climate-controlled room, with closely monitored humidity and temperature, will house 40HL Foeders from France made from oak as well as additional barrels. A glycol system will allow for precise temperature control within the room itself as well as overall temperature control. The room will act as an aging and conditioning room where, thanks to the Foeders, TCB will have the ability to really experiment with sour beers and barrel aged beers. It’ll be a slow start, but Matt is very excited about the potential.

The main packaging line from German company Markl will allow them to bottle their main beer in open carriers of 355ml bottles and 650ml bombers. They’ll also have the ability to do cork and caging on a specialty packaging line they will use exclusively for 750ml bottles of beer from the barrel room. While Matt said they don’t plan to can, they do have the ability to add a canning line.

When I was walking around the space, everything was nice and open now, but it will be quite full when all the equipment is in. You just have to use a little bit of imagination.

As for the beers, Matt wants to brew many styles of beer. Obviously a lot will depend on the Brewer who joins the team, but the brewery is designed to produce a diverse array of beers including barrel aged beers, experimental beers, and mainstream styles. It’s a flexibility that matches its owner’s tastes in beer, though go-to styles for Matt to drink are American Pale ales and German Wheat ales (hefeweizen/dunkelweizen).

The beer will be distributed to Liquormarts, beer vendors, as well as sold on site from their retail section. Some specialty beers and those produced in the small batch system will only be available on site.


It was a great opportunity to chat with Matt. I’ve known about TransCanada for quite some time and I’ve been trying to get him to give me some details. Having the opportunity to hear about the plan is exciting. I can’t wait to see how things progress and to have the opportunity to visit along the way. Matt has a pretty swanky T-shirt he’s made, and if you’re interested, just contact him through their website and he’ll give you the details on how to get one of your own.

 

 

NB Dispatch – #1

I’ve been away from Winnipeg for just over a week now and already it’s been a fantastic trip. I went down through Vermont, got me some Heady Topper and other great beers. Then it was down to Boston with my Dad for his 65th birthday where we saw James Taylor and Jackson Browne live in concert. We drove back up to Canada through Portland, passed through Nova Scotia and are now back in Fredericton. It was a whirlwind, but a good one.

I’ve been doing my best while here in Fredericton to visit some of the breweries that have opened since I was here two years ago. The craft beer scene in New Brunswick has exploded with breweries popping up all over the place. This province of 750,000 people has 25 breweries and more on the way! While I won’t get to visit all of them, here is part one of my NB Breweries Dispatch.

 

Graystone

Graystone exterior

Graystone is the most recent addition to the craft beer landscape in NB.  It opened this Canada Day and has been working hard to make beer since. While they have not received their equipment – they’re using gear at two other local breweries for the time being – they will have a 10 barrel system when it finally arrives.

The name for the brewery comes from the owner. His wife’s last name is Gray.  The stone part comes from his “lightbulb moment” for the brewery. The owner, Wes Ward, and a friend were in Patagonia hiking when they came up with the idea for the brewery.  They want all the names of the beer to reflect this origin, including the three beers they’re currently brewing (though I only got to try two): Devil’s Peak Black IPA, Basecamp ISA and their flagship Patagonia Pale Ale.  They have been incredibly successful with their beers since opening, selling 300 L of the pale ale in one day.

Graystone taps

One of the unique things about Graystone is they are the only place in NB doing crowlers.  I love the crowler because of its ability to stay fresh longer and be easier to transport.  Of course the downside is you have to drink it all in one sitting… wait, is that a downside?

Graystone Crowler

The brewery also sells a variety of other local craft beers in flight and pint form. They are unable to sell any beer besides their own in crowler or growler but they have about 18 on tap.  If you are in Fredericton, it’s a great place to go and try out some different brews. It’s also a baby friendly brewery with change tables in each bathroom, so no excuses not to visit.

Recently, there was a story in the local paper that Gray Stone had been contacted by Greg Koch from Stone Brewing about the name.  They are now in the process of changing from Gray Stone to Graystone.  While this certainly isn’t a simple task, Wes was impressed with Greg for calling and working through it with him rather than just sending the lawyers. The process has begun but will take some time.

Maybee

Maybee exterior

Maybee Brewing Company opened in February of 2016 for growler sales only and then opened up their tap room and canning line in June. This brewery is named after the owners, Paul and Mikey Maybee, and produces a variety of beers, from their pale ale to a Brett Red.

They currently employ two brewers with a third joining shortly. Paul is the head brewer and had been homebrewing for nine years before opening Maybee.  He was in the same homebrew club as some of the other owners of breweries in the city and they all got the idea to start breweries around the same time.

Maybee tanks

Maybee runs a 10 barrel system with three 20 barrel fermenters and a 20 barrel bright tank.  They sell in cans, growlers and flagons (1L swing-top bottles) and you can get flights at their tap room. They only sell their own beer at the tap room.

Maybee taps

They currently brew six beer varieties: Belgian Tripel, Birdseye Pale Ale, Elevensies Espresso Stout, Roseway Red, Workhorse IPA and Brett Red. You can get all of these beers, except the Brett Red, in cans at the liquor stores in NB, though you can get the Brett Red in a 750ml corked bottle.

I chose to visit them
But if your travel plan’s crazy
Just visit a liquor store
And grab some… Maybee.

Trailway

 Trailway exterior

When I was last in NB two years ago, Trailway had just started selling beer from the owners’ basement to pubs around the city. They spent their first two years as a brewery operating in this manner and only recently (June, 2016) moved to their location on Fredericton’s north side.

With a 10 barrel system and four 10 barrel fermenters they currently do two brews a week.  They are looking to get three 30 barrel fermenters in the fall and plan to start canning and producing more beers at that point. Currently you can only get their beer at their taproom.

 

Owner Jake Saunders told me they are looking to take a Maine/Vermont approach and only do limited canning with a schedule that’ll keep the product as fresh as possible.  With their focus being on hazy, American-style ales – and wanting to focus on the juicy hops for their beer –  freshness is of key importance. They want to be flexible as well and so will have a three day schedule with some of the beer being sent to liquor stores around the province.

The brewery is co-owned by Jake, a chartered accountant, and Dan Mason, an engineer. Dan does most of the brewing while Jake focuses on the business side of the brewery. Both are solid brewers and Jake is, in fact, the President of the New Brunswick Craft Brewers Association.

As I said, Trailway’s focus is hoppy beers. They really love the Australian hops and use a lot of Topaz and Galaxy. They also love mosaic and citra (in small amounts). They do have a couple of stouts as well; a coffee and an oatmeal stout, and Jake told me they like the two extremes.  They don’t really like sweetness in beers so they go for really hoppy ales or dry stouts. They also have a Raspberry Wheat Ale in production for the summer but will likely move it to the wayside when they start canning.

Trailway flight

I chatted with Jake for about an hour and can say he certainly knows his beer and has a really good mindset for brewing. The beers were all solid and they have some other ideas for beers down the line. Jake really loves sour beers as well and said they are looking to start doing some when they get their new fermenters. Interestingly, the first one will likely be a hoppy Berliner Weisse.

The currently have seven beer on tap: Primetime APA, Patio Session, Luster Session, FanMango APA, Raspberry Wheat, Coffee Stout, and AM Oatmeal Stout.

The brewery is a little hard to see from the road, but throw it into your favourite map app and you’ll find it. They have a nice taproom and lots of space. It’s another stop well worth the visit.

I still have some breweries I’d like to visit around Fredericton, then PEI when I get there. I’ll look to do another post on these breweries next week while I enjoy sand and sun (and lobster) in PEI.

As always, thank you for following along and I hope if you get a chance to come to the East Coast, you’ll make a point to visit breweries along the way.

-Beer Winnipeg

Little Brown Jug

Little Brown Jug Logo

As I prepare to head out to the East Coast to celebrate family and enjoy the burgeoning craft beer community in the Maritimes, I have one more post to do on a local Winnipeg-based brewery looking to open in September.

Little Brown Jug, located at 336 William Avenue, graciously opened their doors to me for a tour and chat about their brewery. Founder Kevin Selch and brewmaster Bernie Weiland are hard at work getting construction finalized on their beautiful Exchange District location. The site was once the transportation depot for Red River Motor Coach before becoming a wallpaper shop, a printing business, and now the new digs of Little Brown Jug.

Some Winnipeggers may recognize the Bernie Wieland from his brewing work at Half Pints over the past year. While this was his most recent position before becoming head brewmaster at Little Brown Jug, Bernie brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in brewing. His first job in 2000 was with a brewery at Gilde Braurei in Hanover, Germany. Producing over 600,000 HL a year.  This was one of northern Germany’s top 10 breweries.  After spending some time there he gained even more brewing experience at Fort Garry, the Vancouver Island Brewing Company before getting his brewing certificate from the Siebel Institute. He then went to get his Master’s diploma from UC Davis before taking the role as brewmaster at Lake of the Woods in Kenora. He came back to Winnipeg for his stint at Half Pints before moving over full time to Little Brown Jug at the beginning of June. This Brandon-born, Winnipeg/Neepawa-raised globetrotter is excited to be back full-time in Winnipeg.

Kevin Selch is also originally from Winnipeg. He had spent the last 10 years based in Ontario working as an economist with the federal government.  He worked with Industry Canada on all kinds of economic and policy plans, including telecommunications policy, intellectual property policy, the defence procurement strategy, and the Nortel bankruptcy. Before this he worked as a trade economist and was involved in negotiating free trade agreements in Geneva, including work on the Canada-EU agreement. Kevin has always had a passion for urban development, urban manufacturing and the repurposing/redevelopment of old buildings. Having taken an old Victorian home and renovating it from studs up, he has excels at taking the old and making it new while still keeping the character.

For the past three years, Kevin has planned to open a brewery. While recent changes to the liquor laws was certainly a help, the decision to open Little Brown Jug was a natural step in his business plan: he’d arrived the point where he couldn’t plan anymore, he just had to take the leap.

Having spent the past 10 years in Ottawa, Kevin had the chance to explore the southern Ontario, Quebec and Vermont craft beer scenes. He loved the social aspect of these breweries and wants to use the tasting room at Little Brown Jug as a community space to bring more people to the downtown. Kevin hopes that people will come to Little Brown Jug before heading out to dinner at one of the other local establishments. Working in partnership with other exchange businesses to help benefit them all.

Little Brown Jug Inside

For Kevin, transparency is a big part of the business model. They want to be honest in their advertising, transparent in their brewing practices, and community oriented in their business outcomes. They want to focus on quality ingredients and brewing practices and plan to pace themselves, launching the brewery with one beer, a kräusened Belgian Pale Ale. On open they also only have two fermenters – another good reason to focus on their Belgian pale ale before brewing other beers as they add equipment.  Bernie hopes that they will be able to add another beer starting in January or February.  As for capacity, they are starting with a 20 hectoliter system, brewing 40 hectoliters a week. Little Brown Jug will only use Canadian-made equipment and they worked directly with the engineer to help develop their brew system.

Focusing on one beer will allow for Little Brown Jug to be picky when it comes to sourcing ingredients for their beer. Belgian Pale Ale being Kevin’s favourite style of beer, and standing on Bernie’s experience brewing, they are excited to launch with a beer people will be keen to seek out.

Little Brown Jug’s ideal tasting room is more than a space for people to come, drink a beer and leave. They want the space to be usable by community groups, be a meeting place before heading out for dinner, and to be a spot where you can see the brewing process first hand, ask questions, and learn about the beer. Starting with kegs, growler fills and signature 750ml little brown jugs, people will have a few options for bringing beer home. While they do hope to can in the future, this is a more of a long-term plan; Bernie says he can see LBJ start canning two to three years down the road.

Kevin and Bernie really wanted to be a part of Winnipeg’s downtown atmosphere and the urban renewal happening in the Exchange District. It was important to them to be able to bring their brewery to this area, both benefitting from the surrounding renewal and contributing to it. While opening a new company is challenging no matter what it is, Kevin has said the process thus far has been good.

Kevin and Bernie have been incredibly busy with the construction phase of the brewery. When they came in, the space had to be completely gutted and while there hasn’t really been time to look back on all they’ve accomplished, Kevin did say that seeing how far the space has come is starting to make the dream of opening a brewery seem like a reality.

Kevin really wants LBJ to embody the grain to glass experience and told me having Bernie as part of his team is a huge asset. Bernie’s knowledge about brewing and the brewing industry, his input and his expertise bring a lot to the table. Forming a business team requires tremendous trust and Kevin feels they are a great fit as they trust one another’s opinion completely.

With a goal to open in September, I’m excited to visit again when I return from the East Coast to see the progress they’ve made and, of course, I’m looking forward to trying their beer.  For now, they do have a really nice ¾ sleeve T-shirt for sale.

Little Brown Jug Tshirt

This is my last post before I head out East.  Be sure to follow me on twitter @beerwinnipeg if you’re interested in following my East Coast adventures. I’ll try my best to visit breweries and do some posts from the Maritimes where the list of breweries keeps growing, so be sure to follow along. As always, thanks for reading.

-Beer Winnipeg

Beau’s comes to Manitoba

beaus-logo-colour

While there has been a lot of excitement about the growth of the craft beer industry right in Manitoba, there have also been some exciting changes outside the province. Beau’s All-Natural Brewing has announced they will be distributing nationwide. In fact, their beer is already available in Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick, Manitoba, PEI, and New York, and will come soon to Alberta and British Columbia.

I had the good fortune of sitting down with Steve Beauchesne, co-founder of Beau’s, when he was in town last week promoting their product. Before I get to our chat, I think it’s important to say a little bit about Beau’s.

Founded in 2006 in Vanleek Hill, Ontario by father and son Tim and Steve Beauchesne, Beau’s is an employee-owned and completely independent Canadian craft brewery. Led by head brewer Matt O’Hara, the focus at Beau’s is to brew interesting and tasty beers using only quality, certified-organic ingredients and local spring water. While not the only completely organic brewery in Canada, they certainly have made a name for themselves with their business practices: they’ve won over 85 awards for their brewing, packaging design and business practices. This includes two gold medals at Mondial de la Biere (Strasbourg, France, and Montreal Quebec); six gold medals at the Canadian brewing awards, seven times “Best Craft Brewery in Ontario” and seven times “Best Regularly Produced Beer in Ontario” at the Golden Tap Awards.

As with Picaroon’s (who I’ve written about before), Beau’s is a certified B-Corporation, which means they meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.  Beau’s is also the official brewery of Ottawa 2017, the festival of events our nation’s capital is organizing to mark Canada turning the big 150.

Though Manitobans have only received their flagship beer, Lug Tread Lagered Ale, Beau’s is trying to bring more of their beers into the province. They met recently with Liquor Marts to promote Golden Vox (Rye Pale Lagered Aled), Wag the Wolf (Hopfenweisse), Buenos Dias (from their Gruit Series), and The Tom Green Beer (Milk Stout). Hopefully we will see their other beers in the province over the next year.

As I said, I had the chance to talk to Steve, co-founder of Beau’s, about expansion across Canada, the brewery, his focus on environmental and ethical brewing, and craft beer in general. One of the things I was most curious about was their shift away from a “one-day” distribution model to nationwide distribution. Beau’s previously had a commitment to only sending their beer within a one-day drive to ensure quality and local reliability of supply. Their vision of themselves being this quirky little brewery only selling their beer in their own city shifted, however, after Mill Street sold to AB in Bev. They received more traction on their Facebook post than Mill Street did and realized they were now a quirky big brewery.

So after the sale of Mill Street, Steve said he felt it was important there be an independent alternative nationwide. They had also just expanded into Quebec – traditionally a very difficult market – and had been amazed by the support they received for their beer. This gave them confidence their brand was something people would be receptive to in other provinces.

Steve does not see this expansion as an attempt to get people to ditch favorite local beers. As craft beer grows its overall market share, he feels it’s nice to have options to try different beers on special occasions – perhaps pulled from a friend’s special fridge stock or when they go out for a drink.

Having had a one-day drive mindset for so many years, Steve is still very concerned about the distribution and logistics of nationwide expansion. That’s why he invited Jeff Moore onto his team – a distribution expert with 25 years’ experience at McAuslan Brewing and expertise getting product into provinces, making sure it is rotated properly so it’s as fresh as possible. This is what concerns Steve the most: that there is consistency in the taste of the beer and that it is exceptional every time you drink it.

Beaus Retail

To highlight this, Steve made sure after meeting with Liquor Mart’s product consultants about their beer to give them his card, asking them to stay in touch with questions, experiences and feedback. This is not about dumping beer off in another province. This is about keeping the same level of quality and community partnerships they have at home with the provinces they are expanding into.

Beau’s wants to create a reason to choose their beer when you are out and about. What makes their beer compelling back home? They are a brewery that produces great tasting beer, but also an organization that supports the community. Last year they donated to over 100 charities, and have donated over one million dollars to charities over the past 10 years. Steve is excited about the potential of this nationwide expansion to start developing local community building projects in each of the markets they enter. They have the goal of donating 1% of the sales in any province they enter back into community building projects that impact that area.

“We shouldn’t just drop beer in a province and be done with it. If we are going to be part of a community, we need to be part of the community.” Steve Beauchesne.

This means Steve is planning on travelling a lot more to be present in the provinces they distribute to.  Steve considers himself the most cynical customer and constantly asks himself why people might drink their beer. This is the main reason they’ve held off expanding for so long. Beau’s has always had this concept of not shipping farther than necessary. When they first opened they didn’t even distribute to Toronto because that was too far away. As they’ve grown they’ve consistently reinvested into the brewery and have increased their distribution as it made logical sense. Though this change is a bit more dramatic as they are expanding into many markets at once, they feel that with their current distribution apparatus it’s a leap they can land.

I asked Steve about the growth of the brewery since opening in 2006. He said that every year since starting, they’ve had to do a gradual expansion on the brewery.

They started from scratch – zero money – borrowing only from friends and family to get the brewery through its first 12 months. At the end of that year they went to the bank with their profits, put it all back into the business and borrowed what they could from the institution. With this money they expanded, and a year later repeated the process. What this means is there has never been a moment where they’ve taken on some outside angel investor who drops in 20 million and fully funds a major expansion. Beau’s had to look at their business every year, identify the bottlenecks and expanded their capacity strategically. One year it might be fermenters, the next their canning line, etc.  Right now Beau’s is able to brew 75,000 hectoliters but expects to brew 65,000 hectoliters this year.

Beaus Tanks

Beau’s has a reputation in the brewing community for being the “nice guys.” They are always willing to help other breweries and this co-operative culture has helped other breweries get more distribution and grow. For example, Beau’s has partnered with Gigantic brewing to help brew La Formidable and get it into Ontario. Steve says they have this reputation because they “walk the walk.” Beyond the Pale was opening up and going through rapid growth, so Beau’s lent them two fermenters and two bright tanks to help keep up with their demand. They’ve given the bottling line they outgrew to Cassel Brewing when that business needed it. They’ve given growlers to breweries who ran out and, of course, have spent tons of time talking to breweries, handing out free advice. This has been a rewarding path for Beau’s, both in reputation and sales.

“The old school philosophy about competition, being cutthroat and hurting everyone you can, it doesn’t work. The more we help, the more we do the right thing, the more our sales grow.” Steve Beauchesne

Beau’s expansion nationwide is certainly a dramatic expansion for them. Steve told me it took a lot of soul searching and contemplation before making the decision. They had been so adamant about staying super close to home they had to come to terms with making this move while staying true to the core-principles upon which Beau’s was founded.

After my conversation with Steve I was left with a better understanding of Beau’s, their reasoning behind their expansion, and a hope they will be successful in the Manitoba market. I’m impressed with their business practice, with the commitment to giving 1% of sales back to the community in Manitoba and with Steve’s passion for quality beer.

So, welcome to Manitoba Beau’s. Glad you could join us.

-Beer Winnipeg

Follow-up with Torque

Torque Tag

 

We are halfway through the summer months and getting closer to having two new breweries begin selling their beer. PEGbeer has written they‘re close to starting to brew while Torque is inching ever closer.

I had the opportunity to follow up with John and Adam from Torque earlier this week to get an idea of when we might get to taste some of their beer in a commercial setting. They’ve been working very hard these past months, doing a wonderful job of updating their Twitter followers, and have their tanks installed and are pretty much ready to go.

Torque Brewery - Long

Adam said they hope to have interim occupancy this week and they would like to be brewing August 2. The goal is to get beer out the doors as soon as possible, so the focus will be on producing, canning and selling beer with the taproom opening pushed to early September.

John said they want to get their beer on the shelves in Liquor Marts and beer vendors soon, so people will be able to bring Torque home with them. They will launch with four beers: Diesel Fitter (American Stout), Witty Belgian (Belgian Wit), Red Line (Red IPA), and What the Helles (Helles). Each style will be available in a 473ml single serve, with a 12 pack of the Helles and a 12 Variety Pack also available in the 355ml size.  Their beer will also be available on growler bars around the city, so you’ll have a few options for bringing home some of their beer.

“We’ll also be supplying a 473ml size Witching Hour Dark Pumpkin Ale for the Liquor Marts’ Pumpkin Pod fall promotion”, says Heim.

One of the things they are still waiting on is the loan program announced by the NDP and committed to by the PCs. They haven’t heard much on this program lately but hope to soon as it will help them get their beers out to Manitobans and possibly expand in the future.

The taproom itself will be limited to a 49-person capacity. They have two long tables made from beautiful elm, some stand up tables which are being made from wood recovered from old grain silos, plus a nice long bar. They plan on partnering with food trucks to feed patrons as well as laying out Torque beer nuts and baked goods from local bakeries. They also plan to have local foodie tours starting in the fall, partnering with the Winnipeg Trolley Company.

Torque Tables

One of the things on John’s radar are Manitoba’s rules regarding taprooms. He’d like to work with other members of the Manitoba Brewers’ Association to push for changes. Right now the occupancy limit is 49, they can only be open from 9am-9pm, and beer options are limited to in-house brews. He’d like to see hours shift to 11am-11pm, so folks leaving a Jets game could visit the taproom. And he would also like to see the option of a guest tap to expand the variety of beers.

While there is still a lot to do at Torque before they hit their ideal state, they’re prepared to put in the effort to “do things right.” They’ll take extra time if it is needed to get details perfect in both the brewery and the taproom. They’re even willing to take this approach in their brewing process: if the product is not up to snuff, they won’t send it out the door until it is.

Beyond that, the guys are looking forward to building some play into their project. Torque aims to a community brewery, with charity brews available early on. They also want to do brewing events like “learn to brew” and even have some homebrewers lined up to guest brew batches of beer. Adam is also really excited about their barrel program. They’ve got a 50 wine barrels from Mission Hill winery in BC and, while it won’t be any time in the near future, they have big plans for their barrel program.

Torque Brewery - Barrels

All in all, the folk at Torque’s hard work is steadily moving pieces into place so they can deliver some fantastic beer. If the quality is anything like what we tasted at Flatlander’s, expect some great brews soon.

-Beer Winnipeg

*Torque Brewing is located at 330-830 King Edward Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba*

Brazen Hall Brewery and Kitchen

Brazen Hall Logo

It’s the summer time, it’s warm outside, there is project work to do, and it’s a great time to have a beer.  With the progression of the craft breweries here in the city moving steadily forward, there is much to be excited about.  Barn Hammer opened their tap room for growler fills this week and officially open on Wednesday.  For me, my excitement this week was sitting down with the team behind Brazen Hall Kitchen and Brewery.

The interviews that I have done are each different in their own way. What has never happened was that almost 30 minutes has gone by and I haven’t even gotten to ask a question. He spent those minutes telling me how he got to where he is, and man it’s an interesting story.  The passion that Kristjan Kristjansson has for this project is astounding.

Kristjan started off working in the telecom industry in sales. He loved work, seeing himself as a problem solver, but wasn’t overly excited about the company.  After having a great deal of success in his first business venture, running the company he used to work for, he took a few years off.  His next project would be the one he will be the most well-known for, his foray into the restaurant business. When Kristjan purchased the Round Table it wasn’t just about making money or running a business.  He saw real estate as a good investment but more so, he wanted to secure a future for his family.

Having accomplished these goals, in 2010 Kristjan faced a dilemma of either shifting the focus of the Round Table or changing it to another business.  The Brogue was an attempt to shift the focus of the Round Table and get more sales from the bar.  Kristjan explained that he actually said no to the Molson and Labatt folks when choosing his beer and decided to focus on more local and different beers. This helped him realize that something with a focus on craft beer was a viable option.

This is when the idea of opening a Brewpub started to take hold in Kristjan’s mind and he began looking at numerous other locations while still trying to figure out what to do with the Round Table. While doing this he met Kris Kopansky, another person interested in opening a brewery.  After talking with him, things just clicked and the location on the old site of the Round Table was chosen.

The team working with Kristjan is quite impressive.  Steve Watson will be the brains behind the kitchen and the menu at Brazen Hall.  He is a chef instructor at Patal International College.  The college is a level 1 certified program through apprenticeship Manitoba and Steve is a red seal chef himself.  The college works with international and indigenous students to help them find good work in the community.  Steve loves the work he does, it’s something he is proud of and gives him time to spend with his family.  What he was lacking was a creative outlet.  When Kristjan called him up to help develop the menu at Brazen Hall he jumped at it.  Not only that but he can involve his students in helping to design the menu because of the schools private status. Steve had originally helped open Brogue and has quite a lot of experience with quality assurance and creativity.  He can be given a food like buffalo wings and improve on it, or create a bacon appetizer that people love.  Steve’s passion for food and attention to quality bring an ability to make boring food exciting and crazy food amazing.

The third member of the team is Kris Kopansky.  For the past 24 years he has been working in the restaurant sector.  He first opened the Green Gates back in 1992.  He’s spent time working at Pasta la vista, Fuzion grill and was finally recruited by Earl’s where he has spent the past 14 years.  All of this experience has helped him understand the restaurant business, profitability, but most importantly consistency. Kris was looking to do something different.  Tragically, he lost his daughter last year and was looking to create something of his own, something he could develop and develop the people around him.  Kris got involved with Brazen Hall to be a part of something that he sees as special.  The concept, the design, but especially the people.  He wants to help create something special that will make a difference in the community.

Head brewer Jeremy Wells.  Jeremy has worked at Half-Pints for the past 8 years.  He started off doing labelling, deliveries, cleaning tanks, kegging and bottling.  Eventually he became the delivery driver but the folks at Half Pints decided he was more valuable in the brewery than on the road.  He was trained on how to brew and has been brewing there ever since.  One of the things he loved about Half Pints was that creativity is encouraged.

Brazen Hall

Jeremy loved bartending and felt a desire to get back into the brew pub concept.  Through a mutual friend he met Kristjan a few times, keeping Half Pints in the loop all along, and while Half Pints was interested in keeping him, he needed to do what was best for him.  Now he gets to create his own beers and see the response.  At Flatlander’s he was seeing people excited about a beer was really cool for Jeremy.

“It’s about being able to be excited about going to work”

Kris Kopansky chimed in at this point to say that while everyone is passionate about the task ahead, that they are all excited for the opportunity to do something special and to bring both great food and great beer to Winnipeg, he made clear that “We are not in kumbaya mode. We hold each other accountable and make sure that we are all moving towards the goal of doing something awesome.”

The plan for the brewery and kitchen is pretty straight forward.  Each will be its own entity with the brewery brewing their beers and the kitchen bringing the same laser focus to its food program.  The restaurant will produce awesome food and servers who explain the food, beers, and pair them together. Both of these entities will be making the best possible product they can.  It’s called a Brewery and Kitchen for a reason. For Kristjan, too many pubs decide to try their hand at food, or a restaurant trying to bring business in with a brewery.  Both of these models can struggle when the commitment isn’t real. The plan for Brazen Hall is to be awesome at both and have experts, Jeremy and Steve, acting as the leaders for each while Kris leads the entire team.

The team behind Brazen Hall want to write a great story, make a place that develops great people, produces quality products and supports the community.  They plan to use as much local product as possible.  In fact, the group wants to look into whether they can raise their own cattle for beef, grow their own hops for beer on Kristjan’s ranch, and use local farmers as much as possible. In every instance Brazen Hall wants to try their best to give to the community and support local industry.

“Being a Brewery and Kitchen is like having two chefs.”

Brazen Hall will be a 200 seat restaurant and a 10 hectoliter system.  There will be tank to tap for the restaurant as well as bottling in 650ml bottles for sale from their retail store on site and later, Liquor marts.  Brazen Hall will also have growler fills available at the bar so that people are able to take the beer they love home in many formats.  What was clear was that they don’t want to focus on commercial sales until they know they can produce enough beer to help fill their customer’s fridges.  They want their beer to be available to their consumer base first.  Focus isn’t on commercial sales, but butts in the seats of Brazen Hall.

While at this point they have made a number of test batches; a best bitter, an ale, a saison, and others, they are looking to let the market decide what will become “their” beers.  They plan to launch with a number of different options, listen to the feedback on the beers, and make their decision from there.  They are well aware that there are a number of people in the city who still gravitate towards the yellow water, but Jeremy brews beers he would like to drink so the options provided will still be good, unique and delicious.  Of course they will also be leaving room for seasonal beers and are hoping to brew fun beers that are not only great but will have customers wanting more.  To continue the excitement, the team has a 70 year old lager specialist consulting with them as well.

What is exciting is that Brazen Hall is already looking to the future.  They are plotting out possible locations for a second site.  What will go on this site has a lot to do with the reception from Winnipeggers.  If they are all about the beer it may be that the brewery expands, or it might be that it’s a bar that serves only their beer and food.  Whatever it is, they are leaving it up to the market to help them determine the path forward.

“Everyone came into this project with it not being all about money or career, but about what you need to do for you and creating something special.”

A lot of people had a chance to give their first beer, a best bitter, a try at Flatlander’s.  I certainly found it to be quite tasty and I’ve heard a number of comments in agreement.  If this is a sign of what is to come from Brazen Hall, and their food can match, then they have a winning combination.  So, when will you get a chance to check the place out?  Well, they have a soft launch date counting down on their website right now: www.brazenhall.ca but for now, I’m going to say you’ll have the opportunity to check them out this fall.  They do already have some pretty sweet T-shirts available, so if you are interested in supporting them now, you can.

It’s been pretty awesome following the stories of the breweries that are looking to open.  To see this province’s craft beer community begin to thrive, one which I know our will be embraced, makes a lot of what I wrote a year ago seem surreal.  We are at that point, Winnipeg, where by this fall we could have as many as 4 new breweries to visit.  So, get out, support local, and keep trying new beers.

-Beer Winnipeg

Barn Hammer – Update

It’s been a while since I’ve talked to the folks at Barn Hammer. I’ve been down there a couple of times and had a chance to watch their progress closely, but an actual update? Long overdue. So, I took the opportunity to chat with Sable Birch from Barn Hammer and get a formal update on where they are at right in the opening process.

The most exciting news is they’ve finally received approval to start brewing. While there is still a lot of work to do to get the taproom and brewery finalized, the fact they are actually able to produce beers is rather exciting indeed. It’s one more step forward to having a new brewery here in the city.

BH_cup_social

While Barn Hammer had originally hoped to have their doors open in December, opening a new business in any sector is bound to run into some delays; this was certainly the experience for the team behind Barn Hammer. One of the major delays was caused by confusion surrounding the concept of a taproom.  Barn Hammer experienced some delays in the issuing of permits as a result of this confusion. As Barn Hammer was the first brewery going through the process of constructing a Tap Room, they, of course, had the bumpiest ride.  Even though things are becoming less murky, there still seems to be quite a bit of confusion so let me clarify a bit:

Typically, people visiting a tasting room will be those taking a tour of the brewery or beer enthusiasts. Tasting rooms can serve only beer that is brewed onsite and their hours are limited to 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Regular service licensees are not limited to serving beer and may set their hours of business at any time between 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Tasting rooms will be authorized to serve a maximum of 50 people regardless of the size of the premises.

A selection of snacks must be available in a tasting room, which may include: sandwiches, nuts, pretzels, chips, cheese and crackers and baked goods. (LGA – Questions and Answers)

Of course opening a business is difficult in the first place. Between inspections, permits, approvals, and paperwork, there was a lot of “fixing” to meet the requirements placed on them. What was worse: they could be done everything on their end and spend days waiting to hear back from officials with approval to continue moving forward. The process, a new one for this team, was loaded with frustrations. Of course, when things are difficult it makes success taste all the greater. Now they are spending the time to get the space right and focusing on fine details so when people do step through the door, it will be perfect.

Barn Hammer Update 1

I happened to be at their space when they received brewing approval and watched as head brewer Brian Westcott was about to start brewing his first batch. It was an air of such excitement it was hard not to get caught up in it. Tyler, Sable and Brian were all smiles as I snapped a quick picture of Brian in front of the Mash Tun. The first beers they will be producing are their five signature beers.  I did a write up on those here so feel free to check it out. The beers are: Lousy Beatnik Kellerbier, Grandpa’s Sweater Oatmeal Stout, Le Sneak Belgique Wit, Saturday Night Lumberjack Double IPA, and Seventh Stab Red Ale.

Barn Hammer Update 3

One of the main features at Barn Hammer besides their beer is their taproom. As mentioned above, while a taproom is not a restaurant, they are required to have snacks on hand for purchase. There is no kitchen at Barn Hammer, so they will be working with Manitoban producers, bakeries and delis to help them develop their snack section. On top of this, you are allowed to bring your own food into the taproom as well. So, Sable said they are working with some local food trucks to try and setup a schedule so there is always something good to grab just outside the brewery if patrons get really hungry. They want to follow a similar model as other breweries in other cities by partnering with other local businesses to provide great options nearby.

The big question they are asked every day – and I asked them as well – is when they think they will open. They are working diligently to get the final details completed on the taproom so they can open their doors. They are hoping to do something fun for their grand opening, but given the limit of 50 people in a tap room at any given time, they aren’t sure what that will be. Still, Sable did tell me they are looking for “Summer” as a rough estimate on when they can invite customers inside. I am certainly hoping I’ll be able to spend much of July enjoying their beers, but even if it’s only part of July I’ll still be happy. Heck, I’ll be happy if it’s the last day of August.

Barn Hammer Update 2

While there have been a number of struggles along the way in opening this new business, Sable still feels they’ve received a very “Winnipeg” kind of welcome. The city has been incredibly supportive and welcoming to this group of “newcomers” and it’s been this support that has helped them push through the challenges. The number of emails they’ve received after seeing the “coming soon” sign, people who have popped in just to say hello and the kind messages of excitement have really made the team feel welcome to the West End.

I, as a resident of the West End, say welcome to the neighbourhood! I can’t wait until I can come over and grab a beer.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Nonsuch Brewing Co.

Nonsuch-Logo-on-Water

It’s been a while since I had the chance to write a post. I did a quick update last week but work and being sick have kept me from posting as regularly as I’d like. Luckily, I’m back at it and I’ve got a good one today. With the Meet Your Local Brewer event, Barn Hammer starting to brew, and Flatlander’s coming up, it’s a great time to be a beer drinker in Manitoba. We are finally going to get our first taste of what is to come and I am going to make sure I get as much as I can.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Matt and Mark from Nonsuch Brewing Co. the other day and learn a bit more about their team and their vision – one that certainly takes a step outside the norm with their very clearly defined plan.

First, who is Nonsuch?  There are four guys who are behind the brewery all with various backgrounds, expertise and brewing experience but with one shared vision: to brew high quality Belgian and European style beers.  The four of them are proud Manitobans, something that they all feel plays a huge role in their lives. It is the reason they have chosen “Nonsuch” as their name, because of it’s strong connection with Manitoba’s History.

Matt Sabourin is the one who originally came up with the idea of opening a brewery. With an operations background – having been a production manager at Frantic Films before moving into the French film industry and finally spending the past 5 years as the operation manager at his parent’s company – he’s developed the entrepreneurial spirit. Opening a brewery for him has been a no-brainer. He’s spent the past five years learning all he can about brewing through homebrewing, all with the goal of opening Nonsuch. While Matt originally came up with the idea of opening a brewery, it was the whole team who developed the vision and concept of focusing on Belgian and European beers.

That’s where the rest of this team comes in. With Matt filling the role of President, his good friend Ben Myers will act as VP and focus on the sales and marketing aspects. Ben has a lot of experience as the Product designer for Robots and Pencils.  An artist, designer and developer, Ben will bring his creativity and experience to the team.

The head brewer is Mark Borowski. This is someone Matt knew he wanted to tap on the shoulder; when he finally sat down with Mark they shared the same vision, almost verbatim.  Mark is a qualified teacher who has worked across North America. After getting bored with teaching, he went to film school in Calgary, returned to Winnipeg for a brief period before heading to Victoria. He finally made his way back to Winnipeg, started a family and began brewing beer. Now he’s going to take that brewing experience, including numerous medals at competition, and put it into the brewing of beer for Nonsuch.

Finally, we have Tyler Johnston who will act as brand manager.  He’s already done an awesome job developing the website and will continue to work with the rest of the team from his new home in Saskatchewan.

Matt has been looking to open a brewery for the past four to five years; he got into homebrewing with a full brewery as his compelling end goal. The focus on Belgian and European styles became more evident about two years ago.  Matt has always enjoyed wine and finds Belgians, sours, and big beers are similar in complexity, flavours and aging.

While Matt has been planning Nonsuch for some time, the first meeting of “the team” occurred in November of 2015. Even though they’ve only been working on this major project 17 months, they already have a location in mind. The site’s identity is under wraps for now, though they did say they want to connect with the history of Manitoba (hence the name) and feel being in the Exchange near the downtown is important for them.

While they have no confirmed beers to announce, we will get the chance to taste a high ABV (8%) saison and a mid ABV (6.5%) kolsch at Flatlander’s. Mark has multiple award-winning sours under his belt, and given that both he and Matt named sours (Flanders Red and Sour Brown Ales) as a favourite style, I think it’s safe to assume we will see that. They did say we can expect the gambit of Belgian styles from brown ales to quads.

The team is going to use the “lean-approach” to the brewery. This approach puts an emphasis on the business model over the business plan and encourages a process of customer discovery, development and iteration to achieve the right fit in the market. Given this, they are looking for the most efficient way to get brewing. They’ve selected a pilot system that can carry them forward. Matt said they want to validate their product and then expand, but overall they will remain relatively small. Mark said he doesn’t want to go beyond 5 barrels (596 litres) because he prefers to make beer in smaller batches.  This gives Mark more control over the beer and he strongly feels you can brew better beer in smaller batches. They want to find the happy middle between homebrew and big market.

When their beer does come to market it will be in 750ml corked bottles to allow those who love to cellar beer to do so. There will likely be a growler bar, but they are a bit unsure if all beers will be on it given many will have a high ABV. A tap room is in the plans but this will likely be part of their second phase of expansion in five years. They are also considering using the champagne method to carbonate their beers, but this is still undecided. They also have some other plans in the works, but those they want to keep as a surprise for now.

I always ask about the experience in opening a brewery here in Manitoba. So far, the process has been great and they have had a lot of support.  Their experience with the brew hub has been great, as has the MBLL. They are a bit concerned about the permit process but are hopeful everything will go well. The biggest support they’ve received so far has been from Half Pints who has given them, as well as many others, the opportunity to produce beers at their brewery for Flatlander’s. It is really thanks to Half Pints we will get the chance to try many of these new breweries and I think they deserve huge props for providing this support.

What is going to separate Nonsuch from the other breweries opening? The team wants to stay thematic and brew exclusively Belgian and European style beers. The look and feel of the entire brewery is going to connect with the concept of premium: everything will be done with the best possible product. They will be the only brewery using mineral water to brew instead of city water. Matt says people will know from the bottle, the brewery and the beer that they are out to make the best possible product.

People should expect “our darndest of efforts” to make the best possible beers and give the best possible experience from start to finish. They want everything to be exceptional.

If you’re not already going to the “Meet Your Local Brewer” event, be sure to check out the Nonsuch team at Flatlander’s – they’ll be at both of these events and it will be your chance to ask any other questions you might have, and of course, taste their beers.

I’ve got an update from Barn Hammer I’ll be posting next week sometime, so please watch for that. Again, try to get out to Flatlander’s if you can. If you do, I’ll see you there.

-Beer Winnipeg