Tag Archives: One Great City

One Great City – Soft Opening

OGC Logo

I had the opportunity to go to One Great City’s invitation opening last night. It was nice to people there enjoying the beer and the food. The space came together nicely and I encourage people to get out and check the place out when they open to the public this Thursday.

Having had the opportunity to visit on a few occasions and see the progress, it was really nice to be able to see the place complete and with everything together. It hasn’t been easy, like with most, to get this place to where it is today. Jon and Tim stuck with it and with the help of their investors and supporters have managed to put together a really nice looking Brew Pub.

They had four of their beers on tap (I’ll get to this in a minute) as well some beer from Half Pints, Torque and Barn Hammer. The bar is made of reclaimed wood and most the furniture in the place was made by the OGC team. While it was a bit hectic and the servers were still working on getting everything figured out, the bartender who served me was knowledgeable and interested in the products that they were selling.

The food that I ordered was the charcuterie plate. I tend to go for this as I enjoy it when I’m tasting beers. It was a plate of meats, crostini and some Dijon mustard. The presentation of the dish was beautiful. The meats were nice and the mustard was really tasty. The rest of the menu looks fantastic and I’m looking forward to trying more food the next time I visit.

(Update June 11, 2017) – I went back for a second visit to try more of the delicious sounding food from the menu. I had the Burger with beer and cheese soup for dinner and the ricotta and brown sugar beignets with maple ice cream for dessert. Everything I had was spot on and absolutely tasty.  I can’t wait to go back and try more.

I tried all four of the beers they had on tap. The flight boards are nice and the overall beer drinking atmosphere was great. The four beers they had were their Monkey Trail Pale Ale, Queen’s Best Bitter, Tipsy Cow Milk Stout and their Belgian Esprit (Wit). They have two other core beers, Falcon Blonde Ale and Mad Scientist Double Eye PA which were not currently available.

The Belgian was quite nice. It was smooth and has an addition of chamomile to it that results in this nice smooth beer with a subtle dry finish. Great traditional wit notes of citrus and pepper. The bitter was good and had that distinct malt sweetness. It was lacking on the bitterness component. It was a bit too malt forward. On the contrary, the Pale Ale was quite hoppy with a good lingering bitterness. The milk stout was very approachable with good lactose sweetness and that creamy characteristic you’d expect. It wasn’t done on nitro, and once it is, I think it will be elevated a bit and bring out the chocolate and roast.

I am interested to see how these beers progress as they’ve been brewed on Torque’s system. As they move over to their own system and work on the scaling I think we might seem some subtle changes in the beers. It also means they’ll get to brew their other core beers and start working on developing seasonal beers to put on tap and sell.

There are plans to do bottles and sell those from the brewery as well as howlers and growlers.

Overall, while there are certainly some opening night hiccups, the beers overall are good. While there will certainly be some modifications made, they’ve got things in a good place. I’m excited to see how things progress and to try future beers from OGC.

One Great City opens to the public for a soft opening from Thursday, June 8th-Saturday June 10th. They will also be at Flatlanders Beer Festival and at the Manitoba Brewers Association Meet a Brewer night tonight at Brazen Hall.

 

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.

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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

 

Flatlander’s 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MBBA Event

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

 

MBBA Shirt
The sweet MBBA Tshirt

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

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

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

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

Brazen Hall

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

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

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

Brewery Tour

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

-Beer Winnipeg

One Great City

OGC Logo

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