If 2016 is any indication, Winnipeg now officially has a thing for craft beer.
Not to say craft beer drinkers weren’t already abundant in the city, but it was just that — due to laws that were reworked in late 2014 that saw the province Supporting Manitoba’s Craft Brewing Industry — we were behind the curve went it came to having our own brew pubs that make and serve their own beer in the same premise.
Thankfully, that’s now all in the past. A slew of new craft breweries with tap rooms are so close to being open while the Exchange District is now home to a brew pub, which is where we’ll start this new and notable post.
After a couple years of planning, designing and all that other fun stuff, craft beer industry veteran Nicole Barry’s PEG Beer Co. (125 Pacific Avenue) is now open for business — albeit without its own beers being ready yet for service.
What they do have right now is a menu from chef Aron Epp featuring fresh baked breads, flatbreads, charcuterie boards, salads, desserts and several large plates meant for sharing like whole roasted chicken ($45). On the beer side they have Nickel Brook Brewery’s Naughty Neighbour on tap (pint for $8), along with a fine selection of bottles and cans from notable craft breweries. PEG Beer Co.’s very own brews should be on tap starting next month, which will be a terribly exciting thing indeed.
There are also two other breweries set to open soon in Winnipeg — both of which will serve you a pint too.
First up is Torque Brewing (330-830 King Edward Street), whose brewmaster Matt Wolff brewed for over 15 years with Fort Garry Brewing. (On that Fort Garry note, I really recommend you get yourself a refreshing glass of their Big Buddah ginger and lemon grass beer on tap at The Merchant Kitchen as it pairs so well with their amazing Thai fried rice).
Anyway, Torque will be starting off with four signature beers, including a Helles (a German lager) which will be great for beer fans like me who don’t always like to get hammered with hops (figuratively, as in on the palate… not in the sauced sense). For more info, including merch and when they will open, check out their website.
Opening a bit later this year will be Barn Hammer Brewing Company (595 Wall Street) which will also have a taproom so you can sample before you buy. They’ll be starting with five signature beers, along with an ongoing selection of seasonals. The peeps behind it are husband and wife team Tyler and Sable Birch and brewmaster Brian Westcott — who comes with eight years experience from Edmonton’s Alley Kat Brewing Company.
Sable, who has done the graphic design work and will be doing the marketing, confirmed with me today that the first flagship beer will be a double (imperial) IPA called Saturday Night Lumberjack, which the three partners are very happy with. Follow their story on their website.
Looking for more Winnipeg beer info? I highly recommend you check out the website Beer Winnipeg, which is written by a Maritimer and only covers beer here.
Coffee, Cocktails and Cozy
As I’ve said in previous articles, Winnipeg’s third wave coffee scene is going strong, and there are a couple new openings of note. Thom Bargen Coffee & Tea recently opened up a second swish location at 250 Kennedy Street. It’s light and airy, and also shares the space with a peach of a clothing store called Modern Supply Co.
As well, Forth (171 McDermot Ave) has been filling up the hip peeps of Winnipeg’s Instagram accounts as of late — and with good reason. The space is beautiful, open and communal, making great use of its heritage building location.
The food is nice too, featuring all manner of smørrebrød (which is the food snob way of saying open-faced sandwich in Danish) with ingredients like roasted or braised meats cut with pickled vegetables (and avocado toast, of course), along with waffles, colourful salads, and daily quiches (if you check out their Instagram account and don’t get hungry and/or have a pang of design envy you probably have no soul).
And the coffee… sweet mercy… Sarah in our office, who has a great haircut, who spent seven years in Madrid, who is really hip and lives in the Exchange District with her Madrileño husband Arturo, says it is incredible, so that’s all you need to know. They roast their own beans too (look here) while at night, downstairs, they have a craft cocktail bar that chef Ben Kramer highly recommends.
Wrapping things up is the newest spot in what is now arguably the tightest, tastiest little culinary locale in the city — that being the two blocks that house Máquè, The Grove, Tres Visi and now Close Company, in River Heights. Close Company (256 Stafford, no website yet but here is their Instagram account) can hold just 10 people — 10 happy people who will get to share great small plates and enjoy tasty cocktails. It just opened in February, it’s already a hit with the locals, and Winnipeg Free Press food critic Bartley Kives just gave it a ringing endorsement yesterday
Note: the lede photo is by Kristin Pauls