Brewer's Blog

Get ready to Growl

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's no surprise that Growlers are on the horizon for breweries in Manitoba.  The papers have been all over this good news lately.  The MLLC is on a mission to get their pilot program up and running with a tentative starting date in late September.  We're busy working at the brewery trying to get the hardware in place so we're ready to go when we're given the word.  We're looking forward to having an in house outlet for our test batches and direct feedback from the beer folks with their craft beer noses to the ground searching out good stuff.

I'm most excited about not having to explain to our out of town visitors that growlers are not technically legal to fill here.  This happens about 4 times a week, most recently with a lovely couple from Portland, where it seems the beer flows down the streets in open ditches and people can basically bathe in the stuff.  While not true, it is a closer estimation of how craft beer is treated in a responsible modern society with proper access to public and personal modes of transportation.

Jason Foster of was recently extolling the advancement of Portland and Oregon in general when he was talking about the Beer Trucks that can set up at designated food truck areas around the city.  With Winnipeg just starting to get with the times, I can picture a future where we're going to be able to call up the trucks and have a parking lot shindig with beer on tap.  To get there faster, we may need a DeLorean and a flux capacitor.

Or we could simply continue brewing great beer and being vocal about the proper service and treatment thereof.  This approach seems to be working as more craft beer fans realize that their voice does matter and can result in positive change.  Hopefully with the new addition of growlers, other potential breweries realize the benefits of brewing and employing people in Manitoba so the industry can grow as a whole.

And that's something we can all raise a growler to.

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Say it ain't so!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer is winding down by the looks of things.  The Humulus Ludicrous is making its triumphant return to the shelves, so we're in planning mode for September already and gearing up for another brewing of our Oktoberfest.

The big fun news is that Dean Kelly will be in town on September 6/7th to brew his Best of Show winning Simcoe Spruce Ale at the brewery.  This is the beer that beat out 420+ beers from around Canada to earn the Best of Show bragging rights at last year's Half Pints/Winnipeg Brew Bombers Pro/Am.  Good news is that we're brewing a full 3000 liters and the beer will be available all around town at this year's Pro/Am competition during the first week of October.

We've got some sweet new schwag ordered in the form of belt buckles with an integrated bottle opener.  Now when someone comes at you with a beer bottle, you'll know it's for a good reason.  We've even got some more of the fancy marble tile coasters on their way.

The folks at the Cyclocross Nationals are busy putting together a label for the Dead Ringer Belgo-IPA that will be on tap at the race site in late October.  We can't wait to see how cool it will look on a t-shirt.

His Mudder was a Mudder

Monday, July 21, 2014

There's lots of fun stuff happening around the brewery in next few weeks:

We're sponsoring the Mud Hero race - July 26th @ Hill Top Resort. There will be a beer & food tent on site serving delicious Half Pints beer and tasty nibbles from Stella's.

While we're on the subject of racing, we've been working diligently on a beer for the Canadian National Cyclocross Championship being held in Winnipeg at the Forks.  If you'd like to sample the test batch of Belgian IPA, come on down to The Yellow Dog on Tuesday night (July 22nd) for a taste.

Humulus Ludicrous is perking away as you read this.  The 8th Anniversary batch will be unleashed on the public August 9th at the brewery.  Zach is in the midst of planning an Anniversary party for the brewery with a date that is still TBD.

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Rainy day weekends...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Winnipeg weather as of late makes me wish I had a slate of plus 7% abv. beer in the works.  Its like the sky knows I want to ride my motorcycle and then when I do, it slaps me with gale force winds and hail!

So, a bit of a bump in my mental deadline for blog updates here.  I forgot that vacations don't count.  My family headed out to Airdrie week before last, and we did the rounds of Calgary, Banff, and even took in a day at Stampede.

I had the chance to sneak off one afternoon and go see the guys over at Tool Shed Brewing.  They're busy dudes and at the time were still waiting for their brew system to be delivered.  We're looking forward to hooking up with them in the future for a collaboration or two.

I tend to do very little in the way of beer anything while away, but I did get the chance to drop in on the folks at Trackside Liquors in Medicine Hat.  Its always cool to see craft beer treated in a sane manner with refrigeration, knowledgeable staff, and excellent selection.  I came home with a sixer of various sized bottles for our regular Friday Beer Break.  Details to follow.

So despite our best efforts, there seemed to be some confusion as to when this year's Weizen Heimer was to arrive.  I may have had a part in this, as I thought (for some unknown reason) that the date was the 5th.  Turns out it was the 12th all along.  Either way, the beer is delicious, I enjoyed my customary first bottle off the line (Heimer is the only one I insist on this - usually I just sample from the tank).

Let me re-iterate for those of you who haven't taken our flavour training course yet.  The day the Weizen Heimer goes into the bottle is the best that beer will ever taste.  Due to the nature of the esters in wheat beer, the flavours fade quickly, and as such the beer should be consumed very fresh.  If Winnipeg were a warmer climate, I might re-think our brewery strategy and simply brew wheat beers year round.  But alas, it is not, so "Heimer time" is fleeting.  Enjoy yours quickly so the next taste you have (next year) will be the sweeter for it.

Fun stuff coming down the pipeline in the test brew system:

  • another batch of Jeremy's Eastmount ESB which was well received even though his favourite World Cup team didn't make it very far in the tourney.
  • Chris has a wild rice beer of some sort on the go
  • A test batch of Belgian IPA was brewed up for a prelude to the Clyclocross Nationals being held in Winnipeg this year.
  • Jeff the brew student from Niagara College has a Northern English Brown he's working on today for future release.
The next seasonal beer to be brewed is the Humulus Ludicrous, as the brewery's 8th anniversary is coming up fast on August 9th.

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Two days late and a dollar short!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ok, so my mental deadline of a blog post on Monday morning really needs to be made more permanent by setting myself a reminder somewhere.  Sometimes I come in and get pulled away to some other brewery disaster that needs a bucket of water thrown on it.

This Monday, I came in to a happy Jeremy with a leaky boiler pipe.  We discussed his happiness with last week's preview taste of the Eastmount ESB.  Jeremy being a good brewer was hyper critical of his beer - thankfully the beer knurds out there were hyper vocal about how much they enjoyed the beer.  So the truth lies somewhere in between and Jeremy set to brewing a second test batch with a little tuning to the recipe.  We'll see that in the next few weeks on tap again.

We'll probably go thru this process at least three times before Jeremy is completely satisfied with the results.  Et voila!  A new beer will be born.

I finally received my copy of American Sour Beers by Michael Tonsmeire.  I still maintain that our best beer club meeting to date was Michael's Skype Chat with everyone discussing the brewing of Saison beers.  I've not yet finished it, but I'm sure the sours book will lead to much inspiration and experimentation for future brews.

It was brewing sour ales at home that lead to this whole owning a brewery debacle that I find myself in now.  I had gotten bored with regular home brewing, and decided to take the plunge and brew some lambics at home.  This re-ignited my passion for home brewing and ultimately lead to me signing up for professional brewing courses through the American Brewers Guild.  I still have one bottle left of the fateful batch that was bottled way back in 2001.  The second last bottle was delicious.  Maybe its time to take the last one back to the Hop & Vine and critique its flavour profile!

On a more serious note, Winnipeg lost a friend of the arts this week when Dr. David Riesen passed away.  I never actually had him as a teacher at Westwood Collegiate, but he managed to make an impact on my life by type casting me in the role of Feste the Clown (Twelfth Night) in my final year of high school.  Wit and be thy will...

About a year or so later, I was sitting at home and got a phone call that I was to play Rosencrantz in his Mennonite Theater production of Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead.  The decision was made - he needed a foil for his play, and I had "plenty of time" (as he put it) to submerse myself in the role since I only worked nights.  Suffice to say, the work was hard, and I had a fantastic time in the tights once again.

As previously mentioned, though not my teacher per se, and although I didn't realize it then, he taught me much about having a vision and seeing it though.  About art, for the sake of art.  About life, the world, and my place in it.

Ain't Shakespeare grand!?!