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Torque – One Year In


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

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

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

The Torque Founders 2016/2017

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

– Beer Winnipeg

Torque – Two Months In

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Open for just over two months, Torque has entered the craft beer market in Winnipeg with a tour de force. That they have such a large brewing capacity combined with the fact they are the first of the new breweries to can has meant they are quickly building a name for themselves as makers of a high-quality and delicious craft beer.

The taproom at Torque is under construction. John Heim indicated they hope open in the next few weeks. After the construction phase the team must install their PoS system, and determine noise levels and seating arrangements.  They are going to move their test batch fermenters into the growler fill area (I wonder why) and will fill directly from the line (after purging with CO2). Look for an announcement on Twitter as John indicated they’d likely be doing a special taproom opening event.

When I stopped by Torque to see how things were going, they were just getting their canning line setup to do 12oz cans for their variety packs. They hope to have this coming out in the near future. We can pin the blame for the delay on one of their beers: since their Helles is a lagered beer it takes eight weeks from brew to can. This means it takes up a lot of tank space and, as one of their most popular beers, they are finding it difficult to keep up with demand.

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That said, after their first three weeks of brewing, Torque had already found themselves in need of new tanks. They’ve ordered three new fermenters and two new bright tanks to give more capacity for the brews. The need for expanded capacity is urgent as Torque has signed on to contract brew for Lake of the Woods Brewing. Torque will start by brewing the Firehouse Ale but expect to probably do more in the future. The contract is for 100 brews a year, mostly suppling Manitoba.

The popularity of Torque’s beer can’t be overstated: they’ve gone only five of the past 57 days without an order from someone. They’ve recently been put on tap at the King’s Head, Original Joes while The Keg will soon be carrying their beer in cans. Recognizing this, they are working hard to reward supporters who believed in them from the start while still growing to meet demand.

Even though Torque is working hard to keep up with demand for its four flagship beers, they aren’t going to allow themselves to get stagnant. They have a “Finish Line IPA” coming to growler bars in November. This is their Red Line IPA but done with local flower hops from Prairie Gem Hop Farm. They also have a Dunkelweizen that is planned for the growler bars in December and are looking to release a “Winter Pudding” winter warmer in January.

On top of all this brewing, Torque is looking to get their barrel program underway. Working with Ken Yost, they are looking to start doing barrel-aged sours as well as barrel-aged beers such as Russian imperial stouts and Belgian Strong beers. They also want to work with the new local distillery, Capital K, to get some whiskey barrel-aged beers on the go.

If you are interested in connecting with the folks from Torque, they are very active in the community and participating in a number of events. Coming up on November 16 they will be at Garbonzo’s (U of W) for their annual Beer Festival which runs from 7 to 10 pm. On November 17, they’ve partnered with Inferno’s on Academy to offer a Beer Dinner: a five-course meal of dishes made with Torque’s beer along with a pairing of beer. Tickets for this are $80 and as of writing they had 20 remaining. You can contact Inferno’s to book.

With all the success Torque has seen so far, they’ve added a second brewer. Torque is very happy to welcome Perry Joyal to the team. He is working closely with Head Brewer Matt Wolfe as they continue to expand their operations.

Overall, things are moving forward at a lightning pace for the folks at Torque. I hope they are able to keep up with their demand as I have been enjoying all of the beers I’ve tried thus far. I’m anxiously awaiting the opening of the tap room and looking forward to trying some of the new brews on the way.

You can find Torque’s beer all over the city, but especially at Liquor Marts and beer vendors like Quality Craft Beer Store on Pembina.

-Beer Winnipeg

Local Fall Offerings

Local Fall Offerings

We’re into October and thus comes the arrival of many fall beers – mostly pumpkin spiced yam and pumpkin beers from around the country and the United States. For some, these represent something wrong with beer, while for others they are as comforting as the first pumpkin spice latte of the season, a warm embrace of comfort and joy. As our craft beer community continues to grow (we now have four active Winnipeg-based breweries) I thought I’d write about what they are offering this fall.

Half Pints

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Every year around this time we see the release of Half Pints Oktoberfest Lager. It’s a traditional German style of beer, also called a Marzen. Before refrigeration it was nearly impossible to brew beer in the summer time due to bacterial infections caused by the increased heat. This meant most brewing had to be completed by the end of spring (March/Marzen). These beers were kept in cold storage over the spring and summer months resulting in a darker, amber colored lager with a higher alcohol content than average. They would typically be rolled out for Oktoberfest celebrations.

This is also the beer that often is transformed into “Punknfest” with pumpkin and spices added to become the “typical” pumpkin fall beer, but this has not been announced yet, nor is it a guarantee. For now, the Oktoberfest is Half Pints’ fall offering.

Appearance:  Dark amber-brown pour with a slightly off-beige head
Smell: Caramel notes, dark fruit, slight earthy hop aroma
Taste:
Nice malty sweetness brings great flavours that are kept from becoming overly sweet by some nice earthy/grassy hop notes

Torque

Even though they are the new kid on the block, this brewery is hammering their beers out of the park. I’ll be doing a write-up on their all-year offerings in the near future, but for now let’s tackle their fall offering, a Dark Pumpkin Ale called “Witching Hour”.

While called a Dark Pumpkin Ale, this beer is brewed in the catch-all style of a spiced/herb/vegetable beer. This means that while it can be brewed in a similar fashion to another style of beer – in this case an ale – the main tastes highlights are found in the additions. This style of beer can take on numerous different variations depending on the choice of malts, hops, and additions made. What I can say about this particular beer is that it is heavily malted providing a very nice caramel rich backbone to compliment the addition of pumpkin (or yams) and spices.

Appearance:  Dark brown, bordering on black, with a slight red hue with a tan head.
Smell: Dark malt, caramel sweetness, pumpkin pie spices (nutmeg, clove, allspice, cinnamon) and some roasty notes.
Taste:
The sweetness from the dark malt comes through strong and is complimented by the spices. While sweet, it does have some roasted notes to the malt that cut the sweetness just slightly making this beer not overpoweringly sweet. The cinnamon and nutmeg come through with a bit of clove.
Barn Hammer

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Barn Hammer has taken a different route altogether and has brewed a Smoke Pumpkin Saison. This was one of their first test batch beers and they’ve now produced a full run of it for sale at their brewery. Through and through this a saison.

Saisons are a sturdy farmhouse style of beer. Originally created in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium, it was traditionally brewed at the end of the cool season to last through the warmer months before refrigeration was common.  It had to be sturdy enough to last but not too strong so it would quench your thirst in the summer months. This style of beer is very complex with a lot fruit notes, spices, and earth yeast notes to the beer. They tend to combine nice fruity notes with spice and a subtle sourness or tartness. Usually there’s lots of spice with mild bitterness and a dry crisp finish and only a hint of sweetness.

This particular saison uses both beechwood smoked malt and locally sourced roasted sugar pumpkin combined with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger to bring a little bit of smoke, spice and funk to the beer.

Appearance:  Pours a cloudy copper with an off-white head
Smell: Some spice notes from the additions, smoke notes and a bit of pepperiness.
Taste:
The beer is lightly spiced and the smoked malt comes through as the star. The spice is subtle backing up the pepperiness from the saison. There is a bit of funk to this beer.
Fort Garry

Fort Garry has once again released their Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale. This is another beer brewed in the catch-all style of a spiced/herb/vegetable beer. The main tastes highlights are found in the additions. This style of beer can take on numerous different variations depending on the choice of malts, hops, and additions made. This has additions of real pumpkin, traditional spices and then it is aged with oak. Another take on the traditional fall “pumpkin” beers being offered both locally and from afar.

Appearance:  Amber coloured with an off-white head
Smell: Roasted malty scent with an interesting almost rum aroma from the oak and vanilla that is complimented with pumpkin spices.
Taste: The vanilla, spices and oak come through well. The beer has a lighter body than expected. There are some savoury/bitter notes and the spices leave you with a bit of an aftertaste.

I always encourage people to get out and try new beer. I hope that you do and expand your beer horizons. I’m working on some other write-ups at the moment and have many folks to follow up with. So lots more to come.

As always, I appreciate everyone following.

-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*

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

Torque Brewing

torque-logo

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.