Tag Archives: Winnipeg

Stone Angel Brewing Co.

Stone Angel Logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Beer Winnipeg

Oxus Brewing – Follow-up

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

Oxus Exterior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Get To Know A Brewer – Berhard Wieland

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Kevin Selch (L) and  Bernhard Wieland (R)

The speed at which things to be progressing in our brewing community is fantastic. We are seeing more breweries begin to reach that final point in their construction. Brazen Hall and One Great City seem to be almost ready to open their doors and Nonsuch recently brewed their first batch. I can’t wait to see what things look like at this year’s Flatlanders’ Beer Festival.

I sat down with Bernhard Wieland, Brewmaster at Little Brown Jug, for my continuing “Get to know a brewer” series. Bernie is a really interesting guy who has traveled all around the world and has a passion and drive for making high quality consistently delicious beer.

Born in Brandon, Bernhard lived in Neepawa until Grade 6. This was when his first big move occurred and his family came into the big city of Winnipeg. Bernie attended various schools including St. Paul’s and St. John’s Ravenscourt before finally graduating from Vincent Massey. Rugby was a big part of Bernie’s time in school and would continue to be a big part of his adult life.

After graduating, Bernie attended the University of Manitoba where he received his B.Sc. Not wanting to work in a lab, Bernie decided to travel around the United States playing Rugby and trying out a lot of different beers. Rugby took him all the way over to South Africa where he met some friends who had jobs in marketing at South African breweries. Seeing this, something clicked. Bernie found something he could do that he loved.

gilde-braurei

He came back to North America where he attended the Siebel institute in Chicago to receive his brewers certificate. While there, Bernie hooked up with a Rugby team and ended up playing Semi-Pro. This opportunity took him to Germany where the rugby team got him his first brewing job at Gilde Braurei in Hanover, Germany. This gave Bernie the opportunity to work in various roles from delivery to brewer and get his first experience working at a brewery under his belt. Bernie stayed in this role for 6 months, or about the length of the rugby season.

Upon returning to Winnipeg, Bernie had the opportunity to work with Richard Hoeschen at Fort Garry. Initially starting off as the filter operator, he worked at Fort Garry for 3 ½ years and held the position of head brewer by the time he left. Bernie also had the chance to work with the founders of Two Rivers, including someone Bernie considers a mentor, Doug Seville. Doug was the last brew master at the Molson brewery here in Winnipeg.

After 3 ½ years at Fort Garry, Bernie headed west to Vancouver Island Brewing in 2005. As head brewer he had the opportunity to work alongside a German Brewmaster who oversaw the brewing process. Over the next 2 ½ years, Bernie honed his skills even more and learned new processes.

Bernie had always wanted to maximize his education, especially when it came to brewing, and so he returned to school, attending UC Davis where he completed the Master Brewers Program and received his master’s diploma. Having completed this, Bernie had hoped to work in the US, but given the tough climate he wasn’t able to secure a position at any of the breweries to whom he applied. So, Bernie returned to Canada to Vancouver Island where he began exploring the possibility of opening his own brewery. The timing for this wasn’t right and so Bernie moved on to his next adventure in Kenora.

lake-of-the-woods-brewing

In 2012, Bernie took the position of Head Brewer at the soon to be open Lake of the Woods. Bernie had the opportunity to be there for the construction of the brewery which gave the opportunity to be involved from the ground up. This was also the first opportunity Bernie had to develop recipes. The other breweries he worked at were not interested in seasonal beers, only brewing what was already brewed. This was Bernie’s first opportunity to explore the creative aspects of brewing beer rather than simply the technical ones. Bernie created over 20 recipes before moving on in 2014.

Bernie’s final position before arriving at Little Brown Jug was working for Half Pints. Bernie spoke with many of the new breweries looking to open here in Winnipeg but felt that working with Kevin at Little Brown Jug was the best fit for him.

In Kenora, Bernie had the opportunity to get into the Krausening process and fell in love with it. He had also had his fill of constantly working on recipe development and wanted to focus his skills on perfecting one beer and getting that recipe just right. Working at Little Brown Jug gave him the opportunity to do both of these things and to be involved in building a brewery from the ground up.

Bernie got into brewing because it was a job that combined all of the skills he had from his education and other jobs he’s held over the years. Really having to be well-rounded and getting the opportunity to do something that you love every day.

What keeps Bernie brewing is the love of beer, the joy of introducing people to quality beer, being a part of the growth of the craft beer community here in Winnipeg, and the fact that his passion has become a financial success doesn’t hurt.  Bernie also feels that Winnipeg and Manitoba have a strong history of brewing beer. Why the beer is named 1919 and why he uses Brewers Gold is to show the history that we’ve played. Bernie calls Brewer’s Gold the “Grandfather” of modern hops.

I’m always curious what beers brewers enjoy and what they like to have in their fridge. The beer that really got Bernie into beer was a good Czech Pilsner that he enjoyed while in Prague. Today though, he really likes the beer he makes, 1919, and enjoys Jerkface 9000.

It was good to sit down with Bernie and I am looking forward to seeing how Little Brown Jug grows. Thanks again for reading.

-Beer Winnipeg

Charity Raffle

Charity Header.jpg

What do you get when you take a really great guy who gets his hands on some really great beer? An opportunity to make some money for charity.

Trevor Lehmann, game publisher and owner of convergent games, had the opportunity to travel to Belgium and visit the world famous Westvleteren Trappist Monastery where he secured five bottles of their Belgian quadruple Westvleteren 12. These highly sought after beers are only sold from the monastery and are limited to six bottle per visit. Many in the beer community make a pilgrimage to the monastery and enjoy their five beers with friends and colleagues. Trevor had a different idea.

Trevor decided that these bottles could be used to help others. So, he organized a charity raffle that will be occurring at Barley Brothers Stadium on January 29th, 2017. Lehmann intends to donate all ticket sales to Winnipeg Harvest, a local charity which moved 13.7 million pounds of food to families in need last year.

Being entrepreneurial, Lehmann got others involved in donating prizes for the event. Fort Garry has donated a full-stocked beer fridge, Grape and Grain has donated a home brewers kit and mix, and there will be other items to be raffled off from Half-Pints and Barley Brothers. There will also be some local brewery representatives in attendance to answer questions, talk beer, and likely try to take a bottle home for themselves.

This is an excellent opportunity for beer-lovers and those who love beer lovers to get out and support a fantastic cause. There is a chance to win some highly sought after beers, enjoy a few drinks from Barley Brothers craft beer line-up, and talk beer with some of the people who know it best.

The drawing for the beers and prizes will begin at 4:45pm. Anyone who is interested in participating should make sure to get down to Barley Brothers and buy their tickets before this time.

What: Beer Raffle in support of Winnipeg Harvest
When: January 29th from 2:30-5:30pm (Ticket deadline is 4:45pm)
Where: Barley Brothers Stadium (2005 Pembina)
Who: Trevor Lehmann of Convergent Games, local brewers and fantastic prizes

I will be there, so I am afraid not all the bottles are up for grabs as I am sure I’ll take home at least one…right? That’s how this works?

Seriously though, please come down, say hello, and help support Trevor Lehmann in his goal to raise money for Winnipeg Harvest.

 

Little Brown Jug – Follow-Up

I stopped in to visit with Little Brown Jug this past week and catch up on their progress. I have to say that the space is looking both fantastic as well as pretty much complete. They have been working hard on getting their beer ready and they are ready to go. It’s an exciting time for beer in the city of Winnipeg.

Last week was spent really dialing in on the brew house system. It’s actually a pretty incredible setup that focuses on efficiency (both in brewing and environmentally) and recovers much of the heat from the brewing process. The kettle actually uses steam through an external calandria which allows for an incredibly quick rolling boil and a much more efficient process. They have also installed an auger from their grain room directly into the mash tun. In fact, they are able to grind into a sealed auger so that they can prepare the day before and be ready to brew. Overall the brew system is really cool and I encourage anyone interested in these things to go check it out.

All of this hard work has resulted in them being ready to send out kegs this week.  Kevin indicated that they would be sending out kegs to beer spots in the city – Quality Craft Beer Store, King’s Head, Good Will, Barley Brothers – Polo; Carbone – 260 St. Mary; and Pineridge Hollow. All of these places will have beer on tap this week with Pineridge Hollow coming next week.

They are open as of today: Wed-Fri 3-9PM and Saturday noon – 8 PM, with these limited hours to allow for people to come in and pick up the beers. As well as the opportunity to try the beer in their tap room, they are doing growler and howler fills as well as offering pre-filled 750ml little brown jugs.

The really cool thing they are doing with these little brown jugs is offering an exchange program on them. Essentially you don’t own the jug. You put a deposit down and when you come back you can either exchange it for another pre-filled one or get your deposit back, your choice. I think this is an excellent idea and it’s actually how I feel the growler system in the city should be working.

Little Brown Jug is really trying to be efficient with peoples’ time and recognize that people may not always have the opportunity to wait around for a growler to be filled. By offering these jugs, pre-filled, people can pop in, grab some beer, and head on their way. While they do have a small tap-room space at LBJ, they are first and foremost a production brewery.

Little Brown Jug is launching with one beer, a Belgian Pale Ale that is brewed with brewers’ gold (a derivative of a local hop). I for one am excited to get a chance to try another new beer to the market and I really look forward to seeing what they may come up with next down the road.

So, follow Little Brown Jug on twitter (@LBJBrewing) and while you’re at it, follow me too (@beerwinnipeg).

Tomorrow is the first day of the craft beer advent Calendar. I’ll be posting in the morning to give you an idea of what to expect but I won’t be posting about the beers until later in the afternoon/evening. Last year I inadvertently spoiled the surprise for others and I want to do my best to avoid this. So, get ready for a 24 daily posts about “New World Beers from Old World Breweries”.

-Beer Winnipeg

 

Torque – Two Months In

torque-logo

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.

torque-canning-line

 

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