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Fitzsimmons Primed to Win Over Airdrie

A few years back Cody Fitzsimmons and his girlfriend Pamela Jarosz presented themselves with a stark choice. “Do we want to get married or start a brewery?” They felt their energies had to go into one or the other.

The fact that Fitzsimmons Brewing will be opening in Airdrie just north of Calgary in the coming weeks tells you their answer. Beer won out. Who needs a ring when you can share a brewery together?

“The day they changed the [minimum capacity] law in Alberta is the day we started working on it,” says Fitzsimmons. “It was something we always dreamed of doing, so as soon as the law changed we pursued it actively and very heavily. But we took our time opening. We didn’t want to rush it and wanted to make sure we did everything right”.

As the name attests Fitzsimmons is a family project, and not just the two of them. “At the end of the day we just wanted a name that represented what we are,” says Fitzsimmons. “We are a family brewery. Aunts and uncles and cousins – all family. The brewery is not named after me. I just wanted a name that represented who we are.” You will note the lack of a possessive apostrophe on the name.

Fitzsimmons is an Airdrie resident with a background in plumbing and working in the culinary industry. His passion for beer, like many started with homebrewing. “Like every homebrewer I built my system bigger every year, adding new things. I was an obsession that got out of control.”

But Fitzsimmons is smart enough to know the difference between brewing up 20 or 40 litres at home and trying to build a commercial brewery. “We wanted to make sure  we will be making the best product possible,” he says. “I knew as a homebrewer I  could make good beer but not necessarily great beer so I wanted to hire someone who could.”

Enter Allen Douglas. Douglas worked at Big Rock for about six years before switching back to his original trade as a welder. However after a couple years of that he decided “brewing was more fun.” Douglas says when he saw the head brewer position open up he jumped at it. “I connected with Cody a couple years ago and we kept in touch.” Douglas also lives in Airdrie so saw the opportunity as ideal.

Their brewhouse is in place and Douglas will start brewing in the next week or two. Fitzsimmons says they are hoping for end of October to have beer, with the tasting room opening a couple weeks later. They have a 10-bbl brewhouse with 4-20bbl fermenters and two bright tanks.

Douglas says that to start they will have two flagships, an amber ale and a blonde ale. “When we first got together Cody had a plan to put it out to the community what beer they wanted. These are the beer that came back as popular here in Airdrie.”

“In the blonde we are looking for a nice sessionable beer that is not in your face. Malt forward. A nice crisp fresh beer with some citrus and papaya hop character. In the amber we added rye to add a new flavour take. It has a caramel note and the rye finish adds an edge,” says Douglas. Fitzsimmons adds they will always have some beer that people can only get at the brewery. “At the opening we will have a west coast style IPA hopped with Citra.” The want their beer to be sessionable, but flavourful. “I want to make a beer where you can have a couple with friends and not feel loopy afterwards,” says Douglas.

The plan is to put beer out to Airdrie beer drinkers and gauge their reactions and tweak the line-up over the first few months. They want to brew what their neighbours want to drink. “And at the end of the day we will make what we want to drink, too.”

Some people have told Fitzsimmons he should be opening the brewery in Calgary to take advantage of its more plentiful real estate and bigger market. But he is firmly committed to the town. “We love Airdrie. Airdrie is a cool place. Lots of young people. It used to be tiny but blew up in last couple years,” he responnds. “All we’re missing is a brewer. Airdrie has the market for a brewery. We have lived here for four years and don’t know why it didn’t happen back then. I don’t know why some didn’t jump on it.”

Airdrie is their focus. “We want to sell out our back door to local restaurants and stores. We want people to come down and see what we are doing.”

They will be packaging in kegs and 473-ml cans, as well as the usual growler fills. Initially they plan on selling in and around Airdrie, noting the city has a number of good craft beer places including Thumbprint Craft Beer Market. They will also spend some energy to the northeast of town where Fitzsimmons says “they are kind of empty of craft breweries. We will also sell to some craft beer stores around the province. Not all the time, make it a specialty product.”

Fitzsimmons sees lots of potential for craft beer in Airdrie. And he is ramping up to meet that need. Look out Airdrie, you are about to join the Alberta craft beer explosion.

 

2 comments to Fitzsimmons Primed to Win Over Airdrie

  • Pooga

    “Beer won out. Who needs a ring when you can share a brewery together?”

    Totally get that one! I was going to transfer to Edmonton, but my wife wouldn’t leave Saskatoon.

    So it was cheaper to buy a brewery than get a divorce!!!

  • Dan Melody

    Looking forward to becoming a seasoned regular of your fine establishment!
    Good Luck in the opening and future success!!

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