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Random Acts of Beerness: Start-Up Edition

i love craft beerThe big thing that has caught my eye in the last few weeks is the growing list of new breweries opening or soon to be open on the prairies. The recent run of start-ups does not seem to be abating. This, of course, is a good thing for everyone (except lowly beer writers trying to keep up) but I am wondering when we might to see an easing up of the pace. No boom goes on forever (just ask Alberta about that!), so at some point we should level off.

Among the new start-ups in recent weeks include:

  • Winnipeg brewpub Peg Beer Co. (read profile) has released its first in-house beer. The restaurant has been open for a while serving local craft beer but now their own brewhouse is up and running. And Winnipeg beer drinkers rejoiced!
  • My trip to Medicine Hat last weekend not only resulted in a visit to Hell’s Basement (profile coming soon), but gave me an update on the city’s second brewery, Medicine Hat Brewing. They nearing completion on the brewhouse and anticipate selling beer in the next few weeks.
  • Over in Lloydminister, 4th Meridian Brewing quietly opened its doors a couple weeks ago. At the moment they are operating on a small, pilot brewery but have hopes for bigger things in the border city. I haven’t had a chance to speak with them yet, but hope to in the near future.
  • Oxus Brewing, another soon-to-be Winnipeg brewery (profile coming soon), has secured their location and have begun building their brewhouse.
  • [added later because I forgot] The latest Mill Street Brewpub will be opening its doors in Calgary next week, joining the quickly growing beer scene on 17 Ave S. It will have the standard Mill Street line-up but will have regular rotating offerings brewed onsite.

There has been some other interesting beer news to note.

  • In what may be the biggest news (at least monetarily) B.C. based Russell Brewing has sold both its B.C. brewery and its wholly-owned Winnipeg operation, Fort Garry. Fort Garry was sold for $7.7 million to a Manitoba-based equity firm. No word on how this might affect Fort Garry brands or the brewery operations.
  • lastbest_branchybrewRegina’s Rebellion Brewing waded into Saskatchewan politics a couple weeks ago, calling on the government to fast-tracked rumoured changes to the province’s out-dated beer policy, including punitive mark-up rates. I find their decision to go public noteworthy, in particular in the context of the ongoing dispute between Alberta and Saskatchewan around mark-ups. You can read a news story about their foray here.
  • I also note the growth in charity and community-based collaboration beer popping up on the prairies. In Alberta over the past few weeks alone we have seen Village Brewing (a longtime community-centred operation) release their latest annual Village Gardener Community Involved Ale, which uses hops grown by Calgary residents in their backyard gardens. Last Best Brewing in Calgary has released a charity brew called Branchy Brew where $1 of every pint will go to Branch Out Neurological Foundation. I noticed the other day that Brewsters has put out Beer Clouds Anti-Hail Ale which is a collaboration beer with a group of barley farmers and a seed cleaning plant in Alberta. There are other that are just slipping my mind at the moment (I really should take better notes).

That is what caught my eye recently. There is plenty of other stuff happening out there, including rafts of new seasonal beer releases. So go check some of them out! More then the spirit moves me.

[Edited at 3:30 to add Mill Street to list of openings.]

3 comments to Random Acts of Beerness: Start-Up Edition

  • Holy smokes I love the fact that new micro breweries are pooping up at a staggering rate but the question has to be asked. That’s all fine and dandy however the cost of buying a decent 6 pack of beer has gone from 11.99 for Olds College to 16.99 over night and that’s just a sample. I realize the hop problem is to blame but who can afford a good beer at those prices. Thanks for listening.

  • 80

    It’s hilarious that Saskatchewan’s excuse for not dealing with their own brewing industry is that they’re too busy trying to figure out what to do about Alberta.

    • Oh, they’re doing something about the SK brewing industry alright… implementing 85-110% mark-ups on 6.5%abv out-of-province beer.

      Hmmmm… treating out-of-prov beer differently than local beer… why does that seem familiar? Hmmm…

      Seriously, though, plenty of really good reforms taking place – but as always, it’s 1 step backwards for every 2 slow steps forward.

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