Brewer's Blog

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thanks for taking the time to read the continuing adventures of Half Pints Brewing Company.
The Story:
In 1999, my wife Nicole looked at my collection of home brewing books, equipment, and bottles stacked to the ceiling, and realized that I had a problem. Oddly enough, it was that I didn't drink enough - I brewed way too much. We're talking once a week, 23 liters at a time, and I'd only drink three or four beers a week. Storage for my hobby was becoming an issue and the discussion that followed ended in a mutual decision that I should brew beer for a living.

After researching my educational options, we decided that I should take the American Brewer's Guild course: Craft Brewing Science and Engineering. I started the course in February of 2000, and finished in late June of that same year. During the final week of the course, we spent time in Sacramento at Hoppy Brewing Company.

Upon our return home to Winnipeg, I farmed my resume out to 50 or so Canadian breweries. When the dust settled, we decided to move to B.C. where I started as an assistant brewer at Backwoods Brewing Company (who have since re-branded themselves to be Dead Frog). We weren't huge fans of the lower mainland, but enjoyed our time there as resident tourists and when the chance came up to move a little closer to home, we jumped on it.

Closer was Regina, where I was employed for about 3 1/2 years as the Head Brewer for the Bushwakker Brewing Company. During my time there, I took full advantage of the creative freedom I was afforded by working for one of the top brewpubs in Canada. I brewed plenty of new beers, enjoyed tweaking some of the regulars, and kept my mitts off of some of the classic beers (like Last Mountain Lager).

It was about half way through my tenure at the 'Shwakk that an idea was born. Half Pints Brewing Company was dreamed up as a way of life. Drinking beer by the half pint (10 oz. for those of you wondering) is a cool way to try multiple beers without getting fall down drunk. If we went to the pub for dinner, I might have 2 or 3 halves - all different, just to try a few of the beers. As time wore on, the idea began to wear a hole in my brain. I figured that a half pint of good beer is better than 6 pints of lousy beer any day. Quality not quantity.

So, Nicole worked for Canada Life in Regina, who got bought out by Great West Life. GWL came in and began laying off floor after floor of accountants, analysts, etc. When she went out to find work, she'd be interviewing for jobs that people with 20 years of experience were willing to take for less money. She came home one day and announced we'd be moving to home to Winnipeg.

What am I going to do? I can't very well work for the only remaining local brewery in Winnipeg, who were struggling at the time (they're alright now). And I certainly didn't want to switch careers. The decision was made - we're moving home, and we'll open a brewery.

On July 1st, 2005, I found myself driving to Winnipeg with a U-Haul full of furniture, and the nervous twitch of "how the hell are we going to pull this off?"

Roughly one year, countless bureaucratic nightmares, 3 engineer's schematics, and one lesson in the language of lawyer-ese later (thanks Alex!), Half Pints opened its doors. While this wildly simplified version of the actual nuts and bolts of opening a brewery makes it sound like we knew everthing there ever was to know about opening a business in Winnipeg, you can bet there were struggles. However, I'd rather not bore you with the details, and get on to what you're here for... the beer.

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