Brewer's Blog

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!?!

Moody Manitoba Morning

Monday, June 16, 2014

Good morning everyone!

Hope you all had a great Father's Day - I sure did, as my kids showered me with beautiful artwork, and relaxed while I put out a breakfast spread of farmer's sausage, shredded hash browns, over easy's and toast.  We were well fed for the adventures of the day, which pretty much consisted of being very lazy while it poured rain outside.

This past week was the Flatlander's Beer Festival - by all accounts a much better event than in past years due mostly to the change in venue.  Aside from Schmocky Night In Canada when we were kids, I can't think of a time when brewery folks have been so close to ice level.  We brought our A game as usual, and the test brew system beers (Imperial Breakfast Stout & Heimer Thyme) sounded like they were well received.  Lots of chatter on the Twit's about both of those and special thanks to the folks that reviewed them over at

We understand that the Randall 2.0 that we picked up was well received.  Nothing like a last second dosing of Citra hops to make your mouth feel happy with the Gloves Off Scrapper.

Phil's Pils made its annual appearance this past Saturday, much to the delight of hoppy Pils fans everywhere in the city.  The guys will be delivering it to stores this week and it will start making its way west in the next week or so for our fans in Alberta.

For those of you footy fans, feel free to join Jeremy's (brewer extraordinaire) Birthday Bash at The Grove on Thursday this week for a taste of his new Eastmount ESB on the cask tap.  This not so coincidentally happens during the England v Uruguay match that will most certainly be on the tele there.  The Eastmount ESB is Jeremy's take on a traditional English ESB, and was brewed on the test batch system as a precursor to a full sized batch of the same.  This is the beer he has chosen to put out as his brewing school graduation final exam.  Hopefully everyone likes it lots and comments are welcomed.

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Move along... nothing to see here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ok, so - Nathan and some of the guys at the Winnipeg Brew Bombers wrap-up have been giving me the gears to get on a new blog post.  It's been almost 10 months or so since my last update.  Geez!  This sounds like a confessional.

Actually, I have been keeping people more updated through the brewery's Twitter handle @halfpintsbrucru

Suffice to say, I tend to write the most when I'm angry - it's a bit of a hold over from my days as a snot nosed punk rock kid screaming into a microphone.  As you age though, it becomes less important to rail against the evils of the world (and the people in it) than it does to simply be happy and not let it bother you.

In the last few years, I've learned to write music from my happy place, and just play for the sake of the fact that it makes me happy.

Brewing beer is no different.  I'm enjoying brewing test batches of new beers on the Sabco Brew Magic we picked up in the last 6 months.  Most days on it, I'm brewing simply to satisfy an urge to create, as the brewery has now grown beyond anyone's imagination, and if I walk in the door to brew a batch of something new on a whim, it messes up the production schedule for the next eight weeks.

In my homebrew days, I would brew beer simply because I'd read about a certain style and knowing the MLCC, we'd never in a million years be able to pick that particular beer or style up.

Times have changed.  We can buy the beer we like right off the shelf at the store from a plethora of small breweries just like us across the country.  Are they all stellar examples?  No - many are from breweries who built too big and are just trying to dump beer somewhere and hope to god it sells.  Some are big breweries masquerading as independent craft breweries.

But, some are stellar, some are worthy of the beer geek's dollars, and some just hit you in your happy spot like your first love.

So as the market matures, so too must the position we occupy within it and that fluid nature is the beauty of small breweries like ours.  And as I mature, so too must the way I brew with an eye on keeping our creations on the fun side of things.

I personally have cut back dramatically on the amount of beer I drink.  I find this break from beer has re-adjusted my taste buds from needing everything to be big, hoppy monsters, to appreciating the lower alcohol, considerably more subtle session ales and lagers.  That's not to say that I'm not up for brewing a pallet obliterating American Barleywine like we had in Regina at the ALES Club Volunteer night.  It just speaks to the way that I, and my beer are beginning to mature.

Besides, I've said it before - seeing a bunch of punk guys in their 40's and 50's on stage go on about how terrible everything is can be a very demoralizing experience.  It's quite sad actually and really smacks of the disingenuous nature of being that old and still being that angry - and getting paid to be so.

Likewise with beer.  The new age we've all been screaming for is finally here.  Places with good beer outnumber those without.  Bars with the same five beers from Molbatt's look like idiots.  People can certainly brew a world class beer on their driveway (as I've been reminded) because of unprecedented free access to information about brewing techniques.

Great, so lets shaddup about it all and move along with brewing great beer.

And THAT's why you haven't heard much from me lately.

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