Tag Archives: Interview

One Great City

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I can’t believe one year ago I was sitting down and writing about all of what was to come. Last year was one in which the possibility of new breweries seemed a distant hope – a glimmer on the horizon.

One year later we are finally starting to see much of what we hoped take shape.  With PEG halfway open, Barn Hammer and Torque well on their way to opening their doors and Flatlander’s Beer Festival giving us our first chance to taste some of these new beers, it’s a good time to be a beer lover in Manitoba.

One brewery that I’ve known about for some time – but only recently got to sit down with – is One Great City Brewing Company (or “OGC” as they call themselves). Co-Founders Tim Hudek and Jon Burge were kind enough to meet with me and give some details on their brew-pub, progress and, of course, their team.

Tim and Jon are both Winnipeg boys.  Born here, they love this city. Sadly, their career paths took them to other destinations. Tim went to Toronto for law school before opening a practice in the city while Jon went to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts to hone his skills as a chef.

After completing his culinary arts program, Jon worked around Vancouver at a variety of different venues. He worked at high-end restaurants, bistros, and was even responsible for opening one of the first gourmet food trucks in the city.  Eventually he expanded his horizons, travelling up north and further refining his culinary skills. All through this time he hoped to one day return to Winnipeg.

Enter Tim Hudek, a graduate of the Osgoode Hall law school and a fellow Winnipegger. Tim wanted to return to Manitoba as well and saw there was a brilliant opportunity to start a business in the city. He contacted Jon and asked if he wanted to team up to open a brewpub to help fill the gap in Manitoba’s lacking craft beer market. In 2014 the two began planning to open One Great City Brewing (OGC) here in Winnipeg.

While neither of them have a great deal of experience in brewing, they both have a passion for beer and an eye for business. Jon will be the creative mind behind the food at the brew pub and Tim, who hopes to be called to the bar in Manitoba soon, will act as general counsel and business administrator, while also helping in the brewery and with anything else that needs to be done.

Heading up the brewing itself will be Josh Berscheid, a graduate of Olds College who is currently working with Half Pints until the brewery at OGC is ready to go. When it comes to beer preferences, Jon is a Stout and ESB fan who is slowly opening up to IPAs while Tim likes stouts as well as IPAs – the hoppier the better.

“Our goal is to have adventurous yet accessible beer and food”

So why open a brew pub? While living in large metropolises like Toronto and Vancouver, they saw a void existed in Manitoba. They saw this as a great market opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a very underdeveloped market. Tim describes it as “the opportunity of our generation.”

Their brewpub will have three separate areas: a restaurant that seats 123 people inside with room for 50 more out on the patio; a retail space where they will sell merchandise and do growler fills; and a with 10HL brewing system, 20HL fermenters and brite tanks, they have an annual capacity of 3000 HL for the restaurant, growler bar and distribution. All this will be located in a 7,000 sq/ft space at Madison Square Polo Park (1596 Ness Avenue.)

Choosing a location is not an easy feat and a lot went into this decision. You want a space that has high traffic both at lunch and dinner, has the infrastructure in place to support the weight of the brew system at capacity as well as room for parking. They found all this at Madison Square and are in the process of getting the space ready to go. Jon told me we can expect the décor to be “Industrial Chic” with an open concept and the ability to see the brewery exposed behind glass walls.

“We want to be very interactive and develop our beers to fit what Manitobans want to drink.”

While the philosophy of the brewery is to be “adventurous yet accessible” they want to make sure they are listening to their customers. They want to be very present on Twitter and social media, getting feedback on the beers they brew. Tim said they don’t want to “make beer only we want to drink” but they want to “involve their customers and make food, and brew beer that Winnipeg likes”.  The plan is to allow for growler fills at the retail shop right now. They are still deciding whether they will go with 16 ounce cans or if they will do Bombers (650ml) and standard (355ml) bottling.

So, when can we get our first taste of their beer? Very soon. They have two beers they will have at the Flatlander’s Beer Festival this year: Tipsy Cow Milk Stout and Monkey Trail Pale Ale. If you needed any reason to go to Flatlander’s, besides all the other beer, take this one – the first opportunity to try some beer from a new brewery and give the team your feedback.

Besides these two beers, they don’t yet have any others to announce. They said they will certainly have a stout, and IPA and a more approachable beer, but nothing is nailed down as of right now.

“Two beers we will be sampling at Flatlander’s are Tipsy Cow Milk Stout and Monkey Trail Pale Ale”

I always am curious about the long-term plan for a brewery and where they see themselves in five years. Both Tim and Jon said they are very fluid with their growth and will move where the market takes them.  If the restaurant is a huge success it might mean opening a second location. If the brewery is taxed to its limit due to demand, it might mean opening a stand-alone brewery. At the end of the day, they want to stay flexible and listen to the market and grow with it.

Overall, the process has been very positive for Jon and Tim.  While they expressed similar concerns around communication between the city and province, they also said how grateful they were for the support from Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries.  They have a ways to go before they open their doors, but they feel they have had more good days then bad.

What do they hope to accomplish? They want to bring great food and great beer to great people.  Jon and Tim want to build something Manitobans will be proud of. They want Winnipeggers to have civic pride and build an institution that helps show off how great this city is. They are called One Great City because of their love for this town. They want to elevate the community, use local products, build up other local businesses and support local charities. One Great City wants to embody the concept of a community brewery and do what they can to build this city up.

“’I’ve lived in Toronto and the Philippines, traveled throughout Asia and South America, and there is no place I’d rather be then here in Winnipeg.”

The biggest measure of success for Jon and Tim will be opening the doors to their brewpub, which they hope to do by the end of October. I wish them the best of luck and look forward to trying their beer at Flatlander’s and frequenting their brewpub when it opens next year.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

 

Peg Beer Co. Revisited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Torque Brewing

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It’s been a little while since I’ve had a chance to post a new entry and I’m happy to be back at it. This past week I had a chance to sit down with Matt Wolff, Adam Olson and John Heim from Torque Brewing and get an update on how things are going.  Since the last time I spoke with them there have been some changes and a whole lot of progression forward.  They are getting closer and closer to opening and so it was good to catch up and hear all the news.

The team behind Torque is a quite a solid one. I got to spend a lot of time chatting with Adam, Matt and John so I can give some more details on what they bring to the team, but the other two members whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting, are: Phil Bernadin, a home brewer and mechanical engineer and Gilles Pinette, an entrepreneur and Torque’s VP of Business affairs.

Matt brings 15 years of commercial brewing experience to the Torque team. Having the knowledge and skill to run the plant and the day to day operations allows for Torque to hit the ground running.  He is anticipating being able to have a similar output to Fort Garry and is excited about the ability to ramp up their brew house and expand in the future as need be.

Adam Olson has only been home brewing for 3 years but in that time he has developed a name for himself and his award winning recipes. He came 5th overall in the brewer of the year competition and is excited to have Matt take these recipes and ramp them up to full brew scale.  As a microbiologist by trade he has a good understanding of yeast strains and is really excited to use this knowledge to start a sour program at Torque. He wants to experiment with barrel souring and wild strains.  Adam is also taking his CPA, as he will be the secretary treasurer for Torque.

John Heim is the vision man. He has the overall picture of where Torque is moving and the skill to help direct it to where the team wants it to go. With his PR expertise and sales background he is already ramping up excitement and anticipation for Torque. They have a full line of merchandise that they will be getting up on their website for sale soon and he has been working with restaurants already to help build that anticipation and is doing all the right social media things.

Even with such a strong team behind Torque Brewing, they still have a lot of work to do. They are still a few months away from having beer and are just in the process of outfitting their space with equipment and getting the test-batch system ready to go. While John didn’t want to confirm any specific beers, other than a Helles (German Lager), the team has a diverse range of beer preferences. Matt likes darker, heavier beers with good maltiness, Adam likes the oft overlooked styles like Dopplebocks, Wee Heavies and of course Sours, and John is liking heavier gravity beers like Russian Imperial Stouts and Barley wines. While this doesn’t tell us much more of the specific beers we can expect, it gives us an idea. John did say that we can expect the Helles, a higher gravity beer like a Barley Wine and of course some Sours.

So, one question I always like to get the answer to is “Why open a brewery?” It’s not an easy task, it costs a lot of money, and there is no guarantee that you’ll ever make any of it back.  Matt saw this a progression. He wanted to evolve. Matt doesn’t like being idle, he wants to keep working on beers and making them better and better. Being the VP of Brewery operations at Torque will give him the opportunity to direct the way the beer production goes, to always be striving to be better and to have more control over the creative aspects of the beers.  For Adam, it was a seed planted in a conversation that he thought about, talked about, and then took the leap. Most homebrewers have a dream to one day take their hobby to the next level, Adam just happened to get that chance.

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Torque will be located at 330-830 King Edward and with Half Pints and Barn Hammer makes a little bit of a beer triangle. They were looking for a place that was as logistically accessible as possible. With plans to put out 1 million litres of beer in year one, they needed a place that could get trucks in and out to take the beer where it needs to go. They were also looking for a high traffic space with a blank slate that would allow them to develop the brewery for their needs. The location they chose gives them all of this as well as the added advantage to being near the airport and a lot of different hotels.

So, 1 million litres of beer, that’s a lot. What they heck are they going to brew this on? Well, they have ordered a 2 vessel 30 HL brewing system that is capable of expanding to a 4 vessel system.  They’ve got mods on it that will allow for step mashing, concoction mashing as well as straight infusion. They’ve got Hot and Cold liquor support and best of all, the system is 100% Canadian made.  John told me that for Torque their motto is “whenever possible source local, then Canadian, and then US.” That’s an exciting notion and I’m looking forward to seeing it.

So, how do we get the beer? They are planning to be canning right off the hop. They are going to be doing 6 and 12 packs in 355ml cans, single 473ml cans, 4 packs in 473ml cans and then for the special occasion beers, 650ml bomber bottles.  As well, they are going to have a rather spacious tap room with growler fills. This is secondary at this point in time as they really want to focus on getting the brewery up and running. They’ve got a good ways to go but they are excited about starting.

The team at Torque wants to be the dominate craft brewer. They would like to be the Surly or Beau’s of Winnipeg. Not just through the production of great beer but as through all their actions. They want to be a respected part of the community and represent how great Winnipeg. They want people to feel their passion for craft beer from the moment they step foot in the brewery and the moment they taste their beer. They want to promote education about craft beer through Torque TV, a series of YouTube videos to help educate the public on various aspects of craft beer, by offering brewing courses and tours, and by generally being open and available to answer questions.  They want to have a team of employees who can be proud of the work that they do. The passion is really there when you talk to these guys. You can tell how excited they are.

Right now they are working with the Architects and Engineers to get the space ready. With the weight of their tanks they need to do some work on the flooring. With 6000L of beer plus the weight of the tank, you need a strong floor.  Once this is done they want to get brewing. Their hope is to have beer ready by the May long weekend as they would like to be able to participate in Flatlanders. The plan after that is to have a soft-opening to get the beer out the door and then start working on finalizing the tap room. As they grow they want to make sure they have beer for every palate and work on eating into the macro share of the market, then to expand to being at festivals, supporting beer gardens and taking an overall multipronged approach.

Since we have so many new breweries working on opening up I am always curious how the changes in legislation have impacted the breweries. What I am learning is that while the province is on board with making things like taprooms legal, they aren’t the ones who issues the permits. The City of Winnipeg and the Province aren’t on the same page as to what a taproom actually is. What rules need to be followed? What needs to be in place?  Having all these ideas and being told that “you can’t do that” has become a bit of a challenge.  As the market grows and the rules begin to get flushed out, it will become easier for breweries to open. John said that now when they call the permit department it’s a lot faster because they’ve been dealing with similar situations.

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(L-R) John Heim, Adam Olson and Matt Wolff of Torque Brewing

To finish, I want to give you all an idea of how Torque sees itself differentiating from the other breweries that are opening in the Province.  First and foremost, the sheer scale of the brewery will set them apart. They plan to have a massive scale equal to Fort Garry and be able to supply good quality beer. They also hope that the culture of the brewery and people first approach will help set them apart. They want people to feel like it is a family where everyone loves their job and the people who come into the space are met with this passion and love for craft beer.  Finally, they want to be a source of partnerships and work with likeminded companies through collaborations with other breweries and local businesses. Overall, the team at Torque are all raving fans of beer.

 

Prairie Gem Hops

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As a beer drinker and a home brewer I am always looking for good quality beer and ingredients. I think it is important to support local farmers and industries so that our businesses in our province can thrive and be successfully.  I’m a huge supporter of local farms and buy from them as often as I can. So when I heard that there was a hop farm just outside the perimeter I had to check it out.

Sandra Gowan and Paul Ebbinghaus started Prairie Gem Hops and have been growing in Manitoba since 2009.  Sandra was a gardener and grew a variety of vegetables and plants and was always interested in pushing the limits of what can be grown in the Manitoba climate.  After reading an article about the hop shortage she decided to begin researching hop growing and eventually decided to give it a try.

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Her and her husband started with 3 varieties of hops to see how they would fair.  After a successful grow season they started adding varieties, moving to 12 and eventually to 18 different hop varieties. As well as a spin on a native hop (Brewers Gold) she produces many others including chinook, nugget, centennial, galena, sterling, cascade and Willamette.  All this is grown on a ¼ acres of farm land. While Sandra has 225 plants, producing hops is a little bit like making maple syrup.  You need more than you get.  From 5lbs of hops Sandra will produce 1lb of dried hops for sale.  Last year Sandra produced 280lbs of dried hops from her 225 plants.

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Prairie Gem Hops does their best to grow their plants as safely as possible.  They don’t use any chemicals and focus on composted fertilizer to provide the nutrients her plants need.  This becomes a challenge when fighting bugs, but Sandra wants to make sure her product is grown in the safest way possible and is willing to deal with them naturally.

The hops that are produced at Prairie Gem Hops are used not only in commercial beers, selling to breweries like Fort Garry, but also for the home brewer market.  Sandra sells to Grape and Grain as well as Hop and Vine and is willing to sell directly to home brewers.

Prairie Gem is harvesting now and this is the perfect time to be looking at buying hops.  Sandra is willing to accommodate brewers who are looking to make a fresh (wet) hopped beer with fresh local hops as well. This is also a great time to be growing hops in Manitoba due to the growth in the craft beer.  With all the breweries looking to open there is also the hope that they will be trying local producers to meet their brewing needs.

Sandra’s farm is fantastic.  She is passionate about growing hops and has a fantastic product. While there are a number of producers of hops to choose from, supporting local businesses is really important for me, it’s why I focus on local beer and breweries.  I’ve talked about how the brewing industry is incredibly supportive of new breweries opening their doors and I only hope that these same breweries will start to look local when brewing beer. I know that I’ll be using Sandra’s chinook hops for my next home brew and I hope others will do the same.

Happy Brewing,

-Beer Winnipeg

Interview with Barn Hammer

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This is a really exciting time for craft beer in Winnipeg.  With changes to the liquor laws making it more appealing for breweries to open, making brew pubs possible, and expansion of the growler bars, craft beer drinkers have a lot to be revved up about.

I spoke with Nicole Barry from Peg Beer Co. last week and this week I had the opportunity to sit down with Tyler Birch and Brian Westcott, the small but mighty team behind the new Winnipeg brewery Barn Hammer.

Tyler and Brian are an excellent team, bringing two important strengths to the brewery – business and craftsmanship.  Tyler owns and operates a fencing company with his father Ted.  TnT Fenceworks has been successfully operating for the past 10 years successful.  While working there, Tyler became interested in home brewing and spotted the low number of breweries in Manitoba compared to other provinces.  With his sincere love of beer and interest in brewing, Tyler wanted to do something to fill that gap and began working through the process to create Barn Hammer Brewin Co.

When the laws began to change, it made it more appealing and helped Tyler get his plan off the ground.

By chance, Brian Westcott, former production manager for Alley Kat Brewing Company in Edmonton, was looking to move to Manitoba.  Brian started brewing in university with about 6 or 7 carboys on the go at any given time.  His first degree was in Biochemistry and when he got a job in Fort St. John he found himself with a lot of time to read about brewing and decided to become a professional brewer.  He was hired by Alley Kat Brewing, but after about 18 months on the job, he wanted to learn more.  So, Brian headed back to school and as a graduate of Scotland’s M.Sc. program in brewery science worked for another 7 years at Alley Kat but was always hoping to move back to Manitoba.  (His wife is a native of northern Manitoba.)

The timing on their move couldn’t have been better.  After meeting with Tyler to discuss the vision of the brewery, Barn Hammer officially had a head brewer and a partner to round out Tyler’s home brewing knowledge.

While Tyler has not been involved in the brewing industry at all, he has a strong business sense from running TnT for the past 10 years.  This combined with Brian’s extensive experience working in all aspects of brewing make for a dynamite combination.  Add the fact Tyler’s wife Sable is an accomplished graphic artist and this three person team has a lot of the bases covered for getting a brewery up and running.

Tyler started planning about a year ago- again, mostly due to the fact Winnipeg is so far behind the rest of the country in the local craft market.  Now he gets to work with Brian to create beer “I want to drink” while using his already honed business skills to get that beer into the hands of Manitobans.

One of the biggest challenges Tyler and Brian faced was finding a good location.  They wanted an industrial site that wouldn’t be so far away people would be hesitant to visit. They also needed a landlord who was willing to lease. Plus there was an extra self-imposed condition:  it had to be close enough Tyler could bike to work.

Luckily they found this location at 595 Wall Street and have begun renovations for their planned opening in December.

When it comes to the actual beers they will be producing, the team at Barn Hammer has some ideas, names and concepts but are really only in the test brewing stage.  With Sable on board, they have a unified label design in mind but still have to finalize their beers.  When they open in December the goal is to have two beers canned with a seasonal on tap at their brewery.  Brian told me he was just getting a Winter Ale test batch underway – a little weird being summer, but something they hope to have ready when they open.  At the brewery opening they plan to give the public an opportunity to try some of their beers on tap – an activity they want to continue as they try new things out and experiment.

Barn Hammer will be running a 15 barrel system and plan to be producing a little over 1000 HLs in the first year with the goal of moving up to 5000 H/L in a few years.  Both Tyler and Brian want to grow to a comfortable size where they can produce beer they like while still experimenting and staying truly small and local.  With their plan of having a couple of mainstays and constant experimentation, I think Winnipeggers and Manitobans will welcome this newcomer and be excited for the new brews as they become available.

As I said before, Tyler and Brian hope to have two beers in cans to start with the rest in the tap room and growler area.  Their focus for the opening will be the brewery itself, but they told me with 100% certainty they’ll have a growler fill area when they open, so we’ll be able to head in and try things out right from the get go.  I was really excited when Brian told me they would be keeping things experimental and “interesting” -Tyler and Brian don’t’ want to get complacent, they want to stay small and focus on the craft of brewing beer.

I am always interested in how those involved in brewing view beer.  It’s something that has come up in a number of my interviews and the answer, I find, is very telling.  Brian reiterated what I’ve heard from those passionate about beer when he told me beer is a “beautiful meld of science and art. Beer is one of those things where you can be as scientific as you like, but at the end of the day there is some art to it”.  Tyler said beer is a “gathering place. Everyone has different tastes but the debate and discussion unifies beer drinkers.”

The name for the brewery comes from Tyler’s experience out at the lake. Their cabin has an old Barn on its land and one summer his father, Ted, decided to try and pull it down using his truck.  The truck was not up to the task and as a joke Tyler started calling it the “Barn Hammer” and the name stuck.

Barn Hammer plans to open in December of this year with two beers ready to be canned with at least one seasonal on tap for growler fills.  Be sure to follow them @barnhammerbeer on Twitter and add them to your list of breweries to visit once they open.  I’m really excited to see what beers they have in store for us.

Interview with Nicole Barry

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I was lucky enough to sit down with the wonderful Nicole Barry.  Those unfamiliar with Nicole will certainly be familiar with the brewery she helped found, Half Pints, and have most likely heard that she is the force behind the up and coming brew pub, Peg Beer Company.

To give a little bit of a bio, Nicole is a mother of two whose professional background is accounting.  She got into accounting not to work for an accounting firm but to “be an entrepreneur and be successful at it.”  For the past year she has been working diligently to get Peg Beer Company ready to open.  The opening has been officially announced for the brew pub.  Nicole hopes to be open in December.  The brew pub will be located on the corner of Pacific and Lily.

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I wanted to sit down with Nicole and find out a little bit about what we can expect from Peg Beer Company as well as how the changes in the laws have impacted the opening of the brew pub.

Nicole describes herself as unsuspecting.  She is a beer person, not a brewer, who knows her craft beer.  She loves the artistic creativity of brewing and has an obvious passion for it. She became involved in the brewing industry in 2002 and has seen a significant change over the years in the number of people who actually know what craft beer is.  Like me, Nicole believes that education about craft beer is a big thing.  She describes it as “the art and craft”.  For Nicole craft beer is about not only the way you doing things but why they are done that way and also giving back to the community.

Nicole has been wanting to open a brew pub ever since she visited her first one.  She had the opportunity after leaving her previous brewery and has been working full time on getting Peg Beer Co ready to open for about a year now.  Nicole says that this is about average for opening a brew pub.

When Nicole first decided to open a brewery in 2002 she called the Liquor Commission and they laughed at her on the phone.  This was a time of struggles for Manitoba breweries and while she was eventually successful in getting Half Pints open in 2005/6 she says that the climate is much different now. Not only is Nicole a known commodity but the mindset in Manitoba has changed.  Manitobans want breweries to open and they want them to be successful.

In respect to craft beer, Manitoba is still in its infancy.  While there is a much bigger demand for craft beer and people are starting to become more educated, Nicole told me that over the years she has sat down with dozens of potential breweries that never came to be. For there to be multiple breweries announcing that they are opening is a good change.

Rather than opening a brewery, Nicole decided to open a brew pub.  She was involved in helping to change the brew pub legislation and showing them why it needed to be changed by giving examples of what exists elsewhere.  In revamping the laws it helped make it easier to open a brew pub while at the same time being able to produce, package and distribute from the same location.  This will also let Nicole have other local breweries on tap rather than being limited to only serving the beer they produce.

Essentially, Nicole wanted to put her money where he mouth is.  What’s good is that the LGA wants Peg Beer Company to be successful and it gives Nicole the chance to create the atmosphere where she would like to hang out and drink beer. With Peg Beer Company Nicole is paying homage to all of her favorite places like Pizza Port in California.

As for Beer, well Nicole is a sucker for a good IPA but also likes other styles like Sours as well.  For her, beer is a form of creativity and art in a glass, not something to be pounded back to get drunk.  Yet for Peg Beer the food and beer menu design is still a work in progress.  Nicole has a theme in mind but wants to have the collaboration of the rest of the staff in designing the menus.

What is exciting is that Nicole also wants to get feedback from the community.  She said that they will not be packaging beer for the first 3-4 months.  Beer will only be available from the taps on site.  This will give them time to get feedback on their recipe design, find out what people like and what they don’t and will help them refine their beers before moving to the packaging stage.  This is fine by me, with the tank to tap system they will have I’m excited to have the opportunity to give feedback on the beer.

Nicole does have the brewing team in place but bit of information must be kept quiet for now.  Make sure to follow @pegbeer on twitter because that’s where it will be announced it officially.

Obviously along with taps and a restaurant they will be brewing on site. The capacity of the brewery on will start at about 2000 hectalitres.  They will be using a 15 barrel system and she hopes to be up to 5000 hectalitres by year 4 or 5. They will have the capacity to package in a variety of formats and sell from on site.  Nicole also has some other plans up her sleeve for the brew pub for the future but she needs to keep some mystery about what’s to come.

Nicole let me have a look at the plans for the site and I have to say the location looks awesome.  I for one am really excited about visiting there when it opens and I cannot wait to see what beers Nicole has in store for us.

The brewing community here in Winnipeg is very tight knit. In fact, while talking to Nicole the guys from Barn Hammer happened by.  Nicole is really excited about the other breweries opening and thinks that all of them are bringing the right attitude and perspective to the table.  All of them seem to really care about the industry and want to brew with integrity.

I had a fantastic time sitting down with Nicole.  Not only is she an incredibly knowledgeable person with a passion for craft beer, she was willing to give me some of her time.  For that, I’m very thankful. What I’ve learned from interviewing people so far is that beer folks are some of the nicest folks you’ll meet.

This week I’ll be sitting down with Barn Hammer to find out what their experience has been with opening a brewery here in Manitoba and to find out what they have in store for us in the near future.

Thanks for reading.

Interview – Colin Enquist,

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So, yesterday I decided to do something a little bit different.  Rather than interviewing a brew master or someone trying to open a new brewery here in Manitoba (though that is coming), I decided to sit down and chat with Colin Enquist of 49th Parallel Group.

For those of you who do not know Colin, he is a 30 year old graduate of the creative communications program at Red River College who aspires to someday be a screenwriter.  For now, he has the very interesting job of being the territory manager for 49th Parallel group here in Manitoba.

49th Parallel group is an agency that specializes in the marketing, selling and promoting of craft beer in Western Canada. Representing 20 breweries across North America, the goal of the group is to help spread the wealth of craft beer into various marketplaces and dealing with all the red tape that comes along with it.

Colin, like most of us, started off not really liking beer.  It wasn’t until he moved to Edmonton where he really got into beer. He was out one night and wanted to have a drink, so he grabbed a beer, “It was a Kilkenny Irish cream, not a great beer but it was new to me”.  From that point Colin says that he was hooked on trying new beers.  When he moved back to Manitoba he started meeting people who were into craft beer and growing his interest.  He met his good friend Adrian Trimble, with whom he hosts the great podcast “Pubchat”, and eventually had the opportunity to work for 49th Parallel group representing craft breweries here in Manitoba.

Colin started off doing this gig part-time while he went through the creative communications program.  When he graduated he was offered the job full-time and has been working there ever since.  For about 2 ½ years Colin has been working hard to try and get craft beer onto the shelves of the Manitoba Liquor Marts.  This mostly entails making sales calls to the LCs, being the contact if there are problems or questions, doing tastings and training and most of all “trying to educate people about craft beer”.  It also involves writing beer themed recipes and doing a “beer and book” pairing from time to time as well.  You’ll have to follow him on twitter @49thparallelmb to get the beer and book pairings.

I asked Colin about the biggest difference he notices between provinces.  Colin told me that it’s what sells.  Here in Manitoba we are mostly a “can market”.  Beers in tall-boy cans seem to sell better here than in other markets.  “This may have to do with the cabin lifestyle” Colin told me.  This is different in other provinces “In Alberta it’s mostly 6 packs and the 650ml bottles do really well”.

We also talked a lot about craft beer, obviously.  Since Colin is someone who has the opportunity to drink so many beers I wanted to know his favorites.  He told me that Stouts are his favorite style of beer and that right now his favorite beer is probably Ten Fidy Russian Imperial Stout made by Oskar Blues. When it comes to breweries he’d have to list Flying Monkey’s, “I love pretty much everything they do”, and Oskar Blues out of Denver.

Colin and I also talked about the red tape and all the challenges in place to getting the beer on the shelves in the province of Manitoba.  When you compare our craft beer market to that across Canada we are really quite far behind.  When you look at a city like Vancouver with over 1000 breweries compared to Winnipeg where we have two, (three if you count the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute), you can see the vast difference in growth.  While there is progress being made, it’s slow but Colin did say that he noticed a huge difference in the knowledge of attendees at this year’s Flatlander’s beer festival compared to the last two years.

We are also seeing for the first time an upswing in potential breweries opening.  With Peg Beer Co, and Barn Hammer Brewing Company announcing their plans to open, we are seeing progress here in Manitoba.

Since I was sitting down with the Territory Manager I figured I should ask what we might be seeing coming in the near future.  Colin told me that we should be seeing:

  • Rogue Double IPA and Kolsch
  • Phillips Barn Stormer Saison IPA and the Phillips Anniversary Beer
  • Parallel 49 Cornhop IPA

So, keep your eyes peeled for those as well as the rest of the awesome stuff they bring to the shelves.

I have to say, it was really great to sit down with Colin and chat with him about beer.  His knowledge about beer is just phenomenal.  As someone who is passionate about beer and brewing it’s also nice to sit down with someone who has that same, if not higher, level of passion.  It’s great to know that there are people like Colin and the 49th Parallel group working hard to get craft beer into Liquor Marts and to help these breweries thrive.

So, be sure to check out the beers at your local liquor mart, check their website for the new products arriving and be sure to follow Colin on twitter @49thparallelmb to get the latest news from the source.  You should probably also follow me on twitter @beerwinnipeg if you haven’t already.

Next for me is I’ll be sitting down with Nicole Barry of Peg Beer Co to chat with her about opening a new brewery here in Manitoba.  I also hope to be able to sit down with the folks at Barn Hammer, and of course, I’ll be posting about the progress of my homebrew and reviews of beers I try.

Thanks for reading.

-Beer Winnipeg

Interview With Fort Garry’s Brewmaster Matt Wolff

I got the opportunity to meet with Matt Wolff, the head brewmaster of Fort Garry Brewing Co.  I had a conversation with him about brewing in Manitoba and the future of craft beer.  I’ve been curious about Fort Garry’s take on the direction our province is going. As the largest brewery in Manitoba I wanted to see what plans they have and how these changes have impacted their brewing.

History of the Brewery

Fort Garry is Manitoba’s oldest Microbrewery and really does have a storied history.  Established in 1930 by B.W. Hoeschen it produced two brands of beer to start; Frontier Beer and Frontier stout.  These beers gained recognition when they won best in class in England against other commonwealth breweries.

In the 1960s Fort Garry was sold to Molson and was brewed under the label Molson’s Fort Garry Brewery Co.  This company ran for 30 years until 1990 when Molson merged with Carling-Okeefe and closed the facility that was Fort Garry Brewing.

Bringing it back into the family, Richard Hoeschen, the great-great grandson of the original owner, who Matt Wolff describes as “a true visionary”, and John Hoeschen Sr. resurrected the brewery under the original Fort Garry name.  As well original beers like “Frontier Pilsner” they also introduced a family of full flavor beers to the market.  At this time really starting to crave something besides the status quo.  To keep up with demand they built a state of the art facility at 130 Lowson Cresent in 1998 taking up a full 25,000 square feet. This facility was unique as it was built to be a brewery rather than a warehouse space renovated to fit the bill.

In 2001 Richard Hoescehn passed away.  Under his leadership Fort Garry had become a household name.  Matt told me that there were some struggles at this point within the brewery but people wouldn’t stay quiet long about their desire for something different.  In 2006 the President of Russell Brewing in BC sampled some of Fort Garry Dark and fell in love with the beer.  He was sol captivated by the quality of the beer and the love Manitobans had for their local brew that in 2008 Fort Garry Brewing amalgamated with Russell Brewing Company with a goal to build on the legacy of the Hoeschen Family.

About Matt

Matt Wolff is an interesting character and brings a long history with Fort Garry to his role as Brew Master.  When he was just 18 and a new graduate from high school, his brother’s future father in law started the Two Rivers brewery.  Being essentially a dream job for an 18 year old he started working their part-time.  Starting with remedial tasks he worked his way up to doing the packaging and filtration.

When Two River amalgamated with Fort Garry in 2003 he continued to work there part time while doing a degree in air craft maintenance at Red River College.  When he graduated he took a job at the St. Andrews air field for a couple of years but found that job wasn’t for him.  He came back to work at Fort Garry full-time, this time in the brew house.  Matt uses his skills as an aircraft technician to solve mechanical issues on the fly, “We don’t have to always wait for someone to come fix it, I can usually either do it myself or I have a connection.”

When the brew master and president retired Matt was given the opportunity to take over as Fort Garry’s brewmaster.  This also was when we started seeing the craft beer movements from the east and west starting to make inroads into Manitoba.

Still, it wasn’t until after the amalgamation with Russel Brewing Co. that Fort Garry started coming out with their first new beers.  Fort Garry saw great success originally with its Munich Eisbock which then expanded into the brewmaster series.

With this success and the introduction of the growler bars there was more of a demand for fresh and new beers. This year Fort Garry is putting out 2 new beer every 6 weeks.  A huge step forward in drawing in the demand for new beers.  This isn’t easy, Matt told me that “On top of maintaining our flagship beers, finding time to sit down with the guys and hammer out a recipes is one of the hardest parts of brewing.

About the Brewery

As I had mentioned, in 1998 the location still used today by Fort Garry was built.  This doesn’t mean they’ve stayed stagnant.  The brewery itself is completely automated running on a computer system that monitors the process at every stage of production.  Today they don’t even need to clean the tanks by hand as the computer system will measure out the proper cleaning solution and do an over the top job in cleaning every aspect of the brewing process.  Matt said that “when we are inspected they say we clean as well as Dairy Farms, which is a pretty high standard”.

The brewery even has a lab so that they can do tests on the beer at various stages and make sure that there are no hiccups along the way.  Spot tests are done on the tanks at different stages to be certain that the cleaning was done well and the beer is brewed to the highest possible standards of quality.

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With a 4 vessel system and a 100 hectolitre kettle they can brew 10,000 litres of wort which translates into about 8,000 litres of beer for fermentation.  They have two different fermentation tanks, 15,000 litres and the other at 8,000.  This allows for some versatility in batch sizes.  The smallest batch the tanks can brew is 1,500 litres. This limits their ability to do some niche small batch brews which plays a role in the recipe choices by Matt and his team. “We can’t do something like a Triple IPA, so instead we make a really good IPA”. During peak production time in the summer Fort Garry employs 22 staff incl20150525_145517510_iOSuding part-time and temp staff.  On the brewing side there is Matt and 3 others.

At any given time they have all of their core brands brewing in various stages with seasonals and new beers entering into the mix as needed.  They have a cellar comprised of 21 tanks hold beers in various stages of the brewing process.  The total capacity of this cellar is 2000 HL which means they have a lot of space and gives them the ability to have some in the hopper ready to go.

Growler Bars and Creativity

This is still one of the main reasons I wanted to meet with Matt as well.  The growler bars as we saw from my previous interview with David Rudge have had a huge impact on the ability for brewers to be creative.  Given that Fort Garry is larger and run a bit differently, I wanted to see what the translation was.

One of the hardest things about brewing for Matt is recipe development on top of maintaining a presence with the core beers.  Because they can’t brew batches under 1,500 litres they really need to consider not only creativity of the beer but also accessibility.  They don’t want to produce a beer and then just have it sit on the shelves.  As a company it is a combination of being creative but also being able to sell beer.

It has been really important for Matt and his team to get new beers out.  They want to keep the taps moving and the ability to produce beer without having to worry about packaging and labeling has made this a much easier process.

Wanting to supply the growler station every 6 weeks has really opened up the creativity of the brewing team and has pushed them to be innovative.  The process at Fort Garry starts with brain storming.  The team tastes a lot of other beers from around Canada to find good examples of styles.  They take notes on what they like and what they feel they could improve on.  Matt said that “the ideas often start simple like let’s make a wit, then become more complex like with our Sassy Saskatoon”.

Matt said they “don’t want to make just another beer they want it to be big and bold while at the same time accessible to a large group of people.”

Their first test is done in their small 20 gallon pilot system and this is sometimes a big flop which means going back to the drawing board.  Once they have something they think it at the level it needs to be they present it to the General Manager, some of their reps and even bring it to the Winnipeg Brew Bombers or River City of Manitoba Brewers for some feedback.  This isn’t a yay/nay process that would impede the creativity, rather so long as they do the best they can do, that’s the goal.  I asked Matt about expansion plans and he said it’s always something they need to look at.  Maybe with the next expansion we will see a small brewing unit for those specialty beers!

Still, with the need to be putting out so many new beers in short times, the growler bars have given them the opportunity to brew new beers but also gauge the success and decide which could be put out in cans as well.  Matt told me that the next two new brews coming down the pipe, Maple Cream and Sassy Saskatoon, will be released in cans and growlers.  Growlers are a lot of beer and “being able to pick up a couple of cans after you’ve tried it out makes the beer more accessible”.  It also allows for you to try multiple different beers at a given time.

This has been really important for Fort Garry in peaking interest in their beers.  Matt said that “when you see the same thing on the shelf over and over it’s easy to want to try something new.”  Fort Garry needs to keep fresh and trying new things otherwise those people seeking new tastes and new beers will grab something else.

At the same time, growler bars have certainly helped to increase sales for Fort Garry and bring people back to them.  I think Manitobans crave good local craft beer and with Fort Garry working hard to deliver I understand why they are seeing an uptick in sales.

They will be tasting there new beers at Flatlanders on June 4th and 5th, and I know I’ll be there with bells on.  I got to see the mock up for the Maple Cream Ale can, and it looks and sounds tasty!

Craft Breweries Initiative

I’ve talked a bit about the new initiatives coming from the province.  With the ability for breweries to open tasting rooms and the confirmation I received from the MLCC that growler bars are here to stay, this opens the doors for more craft breweries to enter the market here in Manitoba without the immediate concern for packing and shipping.

Matt believes that there is still room to grow here in Manitoba and is excited about the breweries that could be opening.  He said that “if we look west and we look east we see how many breweries they are able to support.”  This growth is putting pressure on big breweries to let go of franchise places and allow for craft breweries to move in.  Matt doesn’t believe this is competition but rather “more good beer on tap”.

I think we will also see the breweries will feed off one another and as Matt said he hopes the “complacency will be gone.”  New beers also means we might see more collaboration.  Matt and I talked about the “Brews Brothers” mixer pack from Parallel 49 and how it’d be really cool to do something like that here in Manitoba.

Matt is also a really strong supporter of new breweries in general.  He told me that he “wished I knew who all the players were. I’d love to talk to them and help them out.”  This is really the kind of guy Matt seems to be.  He wants to help people brew beer, something he is obviously passionate about.  He provides space for the Winnipeg Brew Bombers and the River City of Manitoba Brewers, two home brew groups in the city, offers courses and even orders malts and hops from distributors that will only deal with brewers.  So when Matt says he just wants “more good beer on tap”, I believe him.

With Peg City Brewing being officially announced by Nicole Barry and the possibility of a couple of more down the road, Matt says he “wouldn’t be surprised that if in one year there might be 10 breweries”. That would be a sight to see.

I think that a lot of this boom we are seeing has to do with the loosing of laws and the fact that a brewery can now be entirely profitable without sending a single bottle or can out the door. Things still have some movement, but Manitoba is getting with the times in respect to liquor laws.

Overall, meeting with Matt was fantastic.  He was a down to earth and really friendly guy.  Given all he knows and all his work he still finds time to help out the local home brew clubs.  As the biggest brewery in Manitoba Fort Garry still has a passion for quality Manitoban beer and with Matt at the helm of the brewing side they’ve started producing some unique and tasty beers.  I hope that this trend continues and that we see more of what this brewery has to offer.  I for one will be doing my part to support local craft beer here in Manitoba, I hope you’ll do the same.

Interview with David Rudge

I had the opportunity to visit Half Pints and speak with the president and head brewer David Rudge.  I had been curious about the brewery itself, their plans for this upcoming year as well as how the growler bar and his appointment to the provincial “Craft Breweries Initiative” were going.  He was kind enough to give me his time and for the entire visit I did not feel rushed or as if he had somewhere else to be – quite nice from someone who has grown such a successful brewery, not what I expected.

About the Brewery

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Image of the brewing room at Half Pints. Casks are available at the Grove Pub!

I have already given a rundown of the history of Half Pints in my review of the Doc Emmett Brown Ale. I won’t go over all that again.  Rather, I was able to learn about where the brewery stands today.

At present Half Pints has a brewing capacity of about 6,000 Hectalitres.  They have a number of fermenting drums and numerous storage ones as well and are able to produce a variety of beers at any given time.  Typically their 4 main beers on the go (Little Scrapper, Bulldog Amber, St. James Pale Ale, and Stir Stick Stout.)  As well, they tend to have at least one seasonal in progress with another in the pipe to come up shortly. On top of that, their growler brews for the growler bar and any test batches that they may be working on could be bubbling away.  All in all there are around 8 or 9 different beers on the go in the brewery at any given time.

This year David told me he plans to switch things up a bit.  He doesn’t like doing the same thing over and over again and so this year of the 15 beers that will be produced, 9 will be new beers.  He wants to bring back some of the beers they brewed in their first year (2007) as well as some new ones.

Half Pints is made up of 12 full time staff members who do a variety of tasks from brewing to filling/bottling to repairs and technical work on the equipment.  David told me their bottling technician had souped up their Meenans bottler to be not only fill industry standard bottles, but also to be able to fill the 650ml bottles they use for seasonal beers.

What’s really interesting about their staffing is that in the summer, David will hire a brewing student.  The only requirement is that the student be a Manitoban.  It’s a move that’s really important to David and something he has been doing for a while.  In fact, one of the brewers at Half Pints is a former student who was introduced to the brewery in this way.  David told me that you “don’t go to school to learn what to do right, you go to school to learn what to do when everything goes wrong”.  Giving people the opportunity to work alongside experienced brewers is a great way to build capacity and allow for internal creative growth. He told me the crew at Half Pints are like a family.  I can see from his supportive attitude where this stems from.

Growler Bars and Creativity

One of the main reasons I wanted to sit down with David was because of the introduction of growler bars to Manitoba.  I wanted to find out what sort of impact this had on his ability to be creative with the beers they brew and what overarching impact he felt it might have on brewing in Manitoba.

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The growler bar at Half Pints

The implementation of the growler bars has allowed for a different group of people to access the beers from Half Pints.  He told me “It’s a different set of people” who seem to be coming in for the growlers.  It’s giving Half Pints the opportunity to hit a different market than they would hit with their bottled beer. What David had noticed was that there are a lot of younger people coming in to buy growlers.  It is likely a university and young professional crowd who are seeking to get a better bang for their craft beer buck.

The growler bars have also seemed to have had an impact on distribution.  Since the opening of the growler bars, Half Pints has pulled a lot of its export back.  They recently stopped shipping beer to Alberta which, according to David, was a big deal given they had been shipping beer there quite a while.  What was interesting was that the decision wasn’t due to lack of popularity but more due to the fact they don’t have enough extra beer to send.

Along with this ability to reach a different customer group, the growler bars have also allowed Half Pints to venture into more creative territory.  “Before, we would have to be ordering labels 6 months in advance for beers.”  Now, beers do not need to be labelled if they will be sold at growler bars.  Instead, Half Pints just needs to indicate the value of the ingredients to MLCC and then, using a formula, MLCC gives them the price at which they need to sell the beer.  This allows for them to come up with new beer ideas on the fly and gives the opportunity to really let the creative juices flow.

I asked David whether they would be doing things like Test Batch Tuesday or experimenting with beers if the growler bars did not exist.  His response was a resounding “No.”  This creativity is really important to David and the Half Pints crew.  He told me he doesn’t really understand why some breweries will see a beer made somewhere else and try to emulate it.  He thinks that the creativity of a brewery and the ability to come up with their own ideas is really important.

So, what about Test Batch Tuesdays?  

For those who don’t know, this year Half Pints has started a more regular test batch tasting opportunity.  Tuesday mornings a 50L keg (about 25 growlers) will be tapped.  Inside it will contain a test recipe a staff member wanted to try out.  They tweet out when they tap the keg, so if this interests you make sure to follow @halfpintsbrewco and @halfpintsbrucru on twitter.

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Test Batch Tuesday – Rum Soaked Oaked Stout

The idea came from just wanting to try out different things.  Using 50L batches they will either use a Magic Brew System to brew something totally unique from scratch or pull some of an existing beer out during different stages of brewing so they can experiment with it. The idea behind this is not only to give some creative freedom to the brewers but also to actually test out different recipes to see if they might want to take it further to a larger batch in the future to sell at the growler bars or perhaps even bottle.

They started out doing these on Saturdays but ended up with too many people lining up for a taste and being disappointed when the batch ran out.  The shift was made to Tuesday morning’s but a similar issue has arisen.  I asked David if he might try alternating times and he said that in the future they might look at shifting the times to allow for different groups of people to get out and grab some of the test brew.

What was nice to hear is the test batch might not be the last chance to try the beer.  It might show up in a larger batch in the future.

The amount of respect and trust David has for the crew at Half Pints is really admirable. He has really let them go with the creative aspect and opened the door to trying new things.  He told me that when Half Pints opened, the expectations for beer was so low people were fine with the status quo.  Since opening and pushing the creative boundaries, other breweries in the MB market are needing to step up their game and start considering some creative options.  I think we can really see this in action with Fort Garry starting to expand outside their main brews.

Craft Breweries Initiative

As well as all the work that David does at Half Pints to keep the beer flowing, he has also recently been appointed to the Manitoba Governments Craft Breweries Strategy.  As the only brewer on the committee he brings a really unique perspective to the table.  We had a really good conversation around the recent changes to the laws here in Manitoba and how it has opened the doors for new breweries to start up.  In fact, David was one of the people who fought with the MLCC to allow for growlers to be sold.  He didn’t do this just so that he could benefit from them but also so the next person in Manitoba who opens up a brewery doesn’t have to be beholden to bars and contracts for selling beer.

With the laws as they stand today, a small guy could open a brewery tomorrow and not have to worry about bottling, canning, or selling his beer to bars.  He can sell 100% of his beer to growler bars and still be profitable.  He told me the amount of equipment and labour required to run a small brewery requires about 2 people and that given the laws today it can still be profitable.

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Another shot of the brewing room at Half Pints

David hopes in the near future the laws can be further expanded to allow for taprooms to be opened in Manitoba.  For those who don’t know, taprooms would allow for pints of beer to be sold in the same location as growlers.  This would allow for small breweries to essentially sell 100% of their beer at the brewery and not be reliant on any other party for the sale of their beer.  According to David this opportunity for growth is necessary to the survival of the local craft beer industry.

I was curious whether David was concerned about the creation of competition within the province.  His response really told me a lot about his character: he doesn’t consider it competition.  He doesn’t even consider Fort Garry competition.  If he had the choice between getting Fort Garry’s tap at a bar or no tap at all, he’d prefer no tap.  He wants to be taking Molson’s tap or Labatt’s tap and wants to see local craft beer grow and prosper.  Given the growth in demand for craft beer and the government’s willingness to support and grow the industry, I can see this type of shift happening.

Will they ever go to Investor’s Group Field or the MTS centre?  I asked David and he told me that it likely won’t happen in the near future.  Labatt’s and Bud sign contracts with these venues and typically take a hit on cost so that they can advertise at the games.  Given the fact people are willing to pay $9 a beer, he doesn’t think there will be any quick movement on behalf of these venues to swap out brews.

Overall, I’m really excited about the conversation I had with David.  Not only is he a really down to earth guy who loves beer, he has some really solid ideas and a really good plan for the next year.  I’m excited to see what he and the folks at Half Pints come up with this next year and I am going to do my darndest to try as much of the new brew they put out.  Overall, Half Pints is a brewery that makes buying beer in Manitoba not just about the quality but also about the people who brew it.  I for one am proud to support Manitoba craft beer.