Barley Belt Tap Tour

What a day! The Barley Belt Tap Tour this past Sunday was a resounding success. Colin from Banded Peak, Eric from Village and Erica from Annex Ales and others put a ton of work into making this event happen and what an event it was.

Great beer brought great people, great food brought great conversations and great music brought a great atmosphere. Every time the Calgary beer industry gets together for an event (the people that support us and the people within) the environment turns into one where laughter and fun is contagious. Every time.

As sparingly as the news updates are on the website, it always seems to be a similar theme that brings me back to sitting down and writing one. It's community. It's the people that make up the community and come out in droves to support us and our friends. I think it's amazing.

I'm hard pressed to think of another industry that is like this. I'm probably naive and haven't worked in enough different industries to make educated commentary on this but I stand by the fact that the warm fuzzy feeling I have after this weekend is something special.

Most of the time, when these events occur you really don't know about all the hard work and sleepless nights that go into pulling it off. But the people that set these up are all about making sure you have a good time and your money is going towards a good cause. That good cause was the United Way.

A dollar from each beer sold will be donated to the United Way from each brewery that participated. If you did not make the event I urge you to go their website and donate now. The United Way is helping 500 people a day access programs and initiatives to help them throughout Calgary. Every bit helps.

Cheers,

Beer Rocks

It's insane to think that we started construction on the space over a year ago and are reaching our one year anniversary soon. I think we all had an idea of how things were going to go and, well, the way things went blew our expectations out of the water. 

As you may know, Al and Colin started homebrewing at their house in Kensington on Broadview, years ago. I was invited over for a brew day and had an absolute blast watching Al and Colin do all the heavy lifting while I drank and watched football. I thought this is perfect! We could make this a company. Fast forward through some legislative changes, some planning, a loan from ATB, some municipal red tape, a couple of injunctions from out of province and then just like that, we were able to start construction on our dream. Five months later, we released our beer to the public for the first time at the Calgary BeerFest (an absolute blast). Then we opened our own doors to the public May long weekend. We're coming up on being fully open for nine months now.

The best thing about beer is the excitement it brings out in people. People love beer. People love talking about beer. And people want to drink beer. It's cool. I don't know if I'm cool but I work in a cool industry. So maybe through osmosis... Getting to know all the people that are directly and indirectly involved with beer is awesome. Suppliers, customers, other brewers, everyone. There's a certain demeanour that seems to dominate and it's an extremely positive one. The people make the industry great and we're glad to be a part of it.

BANDED PEAK IS NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

Thanks for such a great opening with old friends and many new ones! We look forward to providing new and exciting beers to all of you along with an amazing space to try them in.

We want to thank all the people that made this possible including our families and friends, but especially all the help we received making this brewery a reality. As much as we would like to take credit for doing everything, we can't and if we tried we would be opening along with a new government. It took a a lot of moving parts and great people to make this happen and we would like to thank them. It goes without saying that our families are included on this list (moms). Paddy and Jordan Sorrenti for being constantly accommodating and amazing, Andrew Bullied for your insanely brutal honesty and knowledge, Paul Hutt and his son Jr. from Hutt Construction for all their help building the space, Liyan, Landon, Joel and the whole team at Mckinley Burkhart for their design, Darren Page and his crew from Moonlight Mechanical for the great plumbing,  Dylan Little and his father Bob for the amazing woodwork, Jordan Van Kemp for all the welding, Sam Wong and her team at Best Cap for all the great merchandise and logo design, Trent Cleverley for our stainless, Steve from Steelhorse for the ventilation, Rob Bondi and the entire Calgary beer scene as a whole. It's been a fantastic six months getting to this point and we now have sweet, delicious beer to share with you all.

Thanks so much for everything, you've made us the happiest three boys ever.

Banded Peak is Taking Off!

After a succesful debut at the Calgary International Beer Festival we are proud to announce that we will be launching our tap room at our Manchester Industrial Yards Location. Designed in conjunction with the amazing people at Mckinley Burkart, the space is a reflection of both our love for brewing and our love the outdoors. The space is designed to be an immersive experience with a brewery. There is an extremely minimal division between the production facility and the tap room. You will experience the sights, sounds, smells and occasional cursing of being in a brewery. We want the space to become a hub for planning your next adventure in the front range of the Rockies. The brewery will be stocked with all sorts of books on scrambling, foraging and homebrewing. We hope this unique design brings you into our adventure!

Hope to see you soon!

Colin, Alex and Matt

Some Great Firsts

We are finishing up our first double brewday ever today. With almost 2000 L of the heavenly hopped up Plainsbreaker about to fill Axel Foley (vessel no 2) a fantastic day is coming to a close. To celebrate we are going to test out the carbed up Plainsbreaker we brewed almost two and a half weeks ago. This will be the the beer that we'll be bringing to BeerFest along with the Summit Seeker. They are both tasting and testing fantastic.

Everything is coming along well, along with tap room construction. We are still aiming for a mid-May opening of the tap room and everything looks to be going well towards reaching that target date.

Hope to see you at BeerFest and if not there then at the tap room in May!

Matt

Brewdays and Broveralls

It's been one week since we had our first brew day on the system and it was awesome. Learning the tricks of the system, scaling up from the BrewMagic and smelling that sweet scent coming from the boil kettle. Couple great days here for the boys. 

We are on our third brew day today. Colin, Alex and myself have learned the system very quickly due to the indispensable help provided by Andrew Bullied of Annex Ale Project. Hauling grain, stirring the mash, recirculating the wort in the vorlauf and finally boiling it, waking up on brew days is pretty exciting. 

Two of our three staples will be available at the upcoming Calgary International Beerfest on May 6th and 7th at the BMO Center. It's Western Canada's largest beer festival with over 500 types of beer available. Tickets are available for pre-purchase at albertabeerfestivals.com

A couple great reasons to go. Firstly, this event will be the first time our beer is available to the public. So obviously you need to be there. Secondly, it's a great chance to go and try some different styles of fantastic new beers that you wouldn't necessarily be exposed to at your local pub or bar. Brewers are doing some amazing new things with beers, from souring in bourbon barrels to using Siracha and chipotle to spice a beer up. It's a very cool time to be brewing and even better time to be drinking it. So come out to Beerfest, try a few beers, hang out at our booth, listen to some bad jokes and have a good time.

Matt

Cold Room

Unbelievable week. We built our cold room and the final shape of the brewery has become very clear, especially the tap room. The boiler plumbing looks to be finished by the end of the week. A few more days of glycol plumbing and electrical connections followed by a few inspections and some ok's from government and we will be brewing! Getting the space ready has been an experience. All the partners have done a ton and the tradies we've used have been fantastic. Paul Hutt of Hutt Construction has been especially helpful, helping us out with everything from the floor to the roof. We think you'll be as pleased with the space as we are, we know you're going to love the beer. 

Matt

Brewhouse Delivery

It seems like it's been a long time coming but the day is finally here. Our equipment has landed! Ripley Stainless has provided all our vessels and our brew house. Everything is custom built in amazing looking stainless steel. We have unloaded and placed everything in an absolutely crazy day. Big shout out to all those who helped out in what was a very satisfying day. Check out the time-lapse videos here.

Building a Brewery

So. Here we are. We’re starting a brewery. Do we like beer? Yes. Do we know how to make beer? We would like to think so. Do we know how to start a brewery? Well lets find out.

 

Alex and I (Colin) have been making beer in our backyard to varying, but ever increasing degrees of success for four years now. Summer or winter, rain or shine. Were kind of like postmen of beer without, you know, those “tendencies”. I guess you could call it a character building experience, or some other excuse to suffer in the name of catching a buzz. Matt came over for a brew day one sunny afternoon and decided this was the life for him. We are kind of three sheets to the wind guys or caution to the wind, whatever that metaphor is. So we decided we should start a brewery. We bought a Sabco brewmagic, a staple pilot system in breweries across North America to perfect our craft. More brewing occurred, more imbibing followed. A cat and mouse game that has taken us to our current juncture.

 

A year ago we crossed paths with Paddy Sorrenti, he was keen to get a homebrew brewery of sorts started in a warehouse in the Manchester Industrial Park. After a few hundred pints together we realized that the dream needed to happen. A couple of things in the nebulous world of the Alberta Governments liquor control board, the AGLC, happened that started pushing us towards our inevitable conclusion. The AGLC removed their minimum production capacities. An outdated law that was initially made with the best of intentions was preventing a craft beer renaissance from flourishing in one of the world’s best barley producing regions. A couple of entrants have put their hats in the ring since this law was overturned but it has not been an absolute deluge. Secondly and more recently, the Provincial government has changed the excise taxation structure (boring…) that is more favourable for smaller breweries (yay.). So why then haven’t more people jumped into this?  Turns out starting a brewery is a lot of work. First and foremost, convincing your loved ones that starting a brewery is a good idea. Okay, phew. Got this one out of the way. Then you need a business plan, source equipment, get a bank loan, find a lawyer, put together enough money, source ingredients, perfect your recipes, work on your branding, begin making industry contacts, find a building to rent, insurance, find trades, and on and on it goes. Did I mention none of us have ever worked in a brewery before?

 

After hammering out a business plan that appears to be fruitful in a couple of years we took it to the banks. ATB, a stalwart in supporting small businesses in Alberta granted us a loan. We visited a couple suppliers of stainless equipment and decided to keep it local. We decided to go with Ripley’s Stainless for a couple of reasons: 1. they are local 2. They are a small shop 3. They come highly regarded in the industry 4. That Canadian dollar ain’t looking so hot these days. Al has been diligently handling the equipment ordering process. Meanwhile, I have been dealing with the City of Calgary in getting our development permit. Hurdle after hurdle this has not been an easy struggle. Some of the other guys that have gone through this have told us it is not an easy struggle to get everyone on the same page. We are still not quite there yet either. I remain hopeful though. If any of you are even thinking of starting a brewery right now make dealing with the city your very first step. 

 

Matt will be rejoining us from Australia in a month. He will be handling the sales side of things along.

 

So where are we now? Our equipment is ordered and on its way. We are still waiting for some approvals from the Alberta Government and the City of Calgary. But for the moment it is full steam ahead!

 

Stay tuned for updates!