We are happy to share that the Tasting Room is now a truly family-friendly establishment!
When we first opened the Tasting Room last fall, the Yukon didn’t have a means for a liquor manufacturer to operate a family-friendly pub. So we were left with trying to make things work with the basic Liquor Primary Licence*. As part of this licence, parents weren’t allowed to hang out with their kids in the seating area. We had to rope-off our licensed seating areas where beer would actually be consumed to exclude minors. However, the ropes still allowed for parents to be able to fill growlers or pick up bottles to go, while bringing their kids along. This was not our ideal set up, but at least people didn’t have to leave their kids in the car!
These ropes had to go!
Still we were constantly asked if parents could bring their kids along when they came to enjoy our beer. Being new parents ourselves, we found it frustrating that many establishments in the Yukon don’t allow minors, and therefore we wanted to ensure we could make our Tasting Room more inclusive. We have always wanted to create a more family-friendly and community oriented craft beer space at our brewery.
In other jurisdictions it's very rare to find a craft brewery that is not kid friendly – just visit the various brewery lounges across BC and you’ll know what we’re talking about! This winter we were also down in San Diego, California, considered the ‘Craft Beer Capital of America’, where breweries fully embrace craft-beer loving families.
Beer Holiday in San Diego 2016 - we visited over a dozen family-friendly breweries.
So since opening Winterlong, we’ve been working hard with the Yukon Liquor Corporation (YLC) and the Yukon Liquor Board (YLB) to come up with a more permanent solution. Last month, we prepared a proposal and presented the problems with the roped-off areas along with potential solutions. We looked to BC for examples of how brewery lounges were licenced to allow for minors. We were then given an opportunity to meet with the Board this month to discuss, and have come up with a solution that could be used by any liquor manufacturer in the territory.
It’s a huge relief that we could make this work, thanks to the YLC and YLB! Now thirsty parents can bring their kids along and we are one step closer to creating more of a community-centered, family-oriented craft beer culture in the territory!
* A Liquor Primary Licence is the basic licence for any pub/bar. A Food Primary Licence (which allows minors) is a licence where there is a kitchen and where food makes up a significant portion of the sales. For us a kitchen was not an option and would have required significant monetary investments, renovations and property improvements. Not to mention we’re in the beer making business and not aspiring restauranteurs at the moment.
We have a new limited release beer available tomorrow, Divine Intervention, a Belgian-style Tripel aged in whiskey barrels from Port Chilkoot Distillery (Haines, Alaska). This beer is a miraculously smooth, complex golden ale. The overall sweetness of the beer is complimented by prominent notes of oak and whiskey. It packs a heavenly punch at 11.5% ABV, courtesy of the whiskey barrels that it has been ageing in for nearly four months.
Head Brewer, Matt, transfers the fermented beer into whiskey barrels for ageing (November 2016).
Divine Intervention will be available in 650 mL bottles only (sorry no draught). This beer is smooth enough to drink now, but also suitable for ageing in a cool, dark place to allow the malt, wood and whiskey characters to intermingle and continue to develop the beer’s overall flavour. For optimal enjoyment, Belgian-style tripels are best served cold, between 4-8°C, in a chalice, goblet or snifter. Cheers!
Surprise, we are in the midst of another expansion! It's even kind of a surprise for us, as we swore we wouldn't even think of another expansion for about a year after having just gone through a big one a few months ago! But it was inevitable, being such a small brewery to start, growth is a constant.
Lifting the fermenters upright.
The difference with this expansion is that we are upping the size of our brewhouse from the itsy bitsy 3 barrels (bbl) that we started it all off with, to 7 bbl. Past expansions have always been about getting more fermenters and brewing more often, but this time it's the mash tun, brew kettle and hot liquor tank that are getting bigger (2.3 times bigger). So with each batch of beer we brew, we're making more than twice as much beer as before (same pain = more gain!).
Admiring the new brewhouse.
Don't get too excited though. We are actually going to be brewing less often to start off, so we'll only be making about 40% more beer than we are now. However, with this step, we will have set ourselves up better for more production in the future with the addition of more fermenters. After this expansion we will be using our current four 7 bbl fermenters as well as two new 15 bbl fermenters (which look huge compared to our original 3 bbl).
While the new toys arrived last Monday, we are still waiting on a control panel so everything won't be hooked up till the spring. Matt and Alex will just have to stare at the new equipment for a few months before they can actually brew on it. We also need to build a bigger cold room, yet again, in anticipation of having to store more kegs and bottles.
Easy does it!
Once we make the switch over to the new equipment, we'll be shipping all of our old 3 bbl brewing equipment (brewhouse and fermenters) down to Nelson Brewing Company in BC. They've purchased it to start up a pilot brewing system for their new tasting room and growler filling station. It's nice that the equipment will be staying in Canada, and going to a well established brewery in the Kootneys. Maybe we can even go visit it sometime in the future and check out Nelson Brewing's new tasting room.
We are welcoming the new year with two limited release beers, available starting next Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - the 2017 vintages of Erebus and Terror.
Erebus is our Russian Imperial Stout, released for the first time last year (February 2016) and Terror is the barrel-aged version, which is a new addition to our limited release beer roster. This is Winterlong's first foray into barrel-ageing and an exciting one at that.
Erebus on it's own is a beautifully dark, roasty stout with hints of chocolate, liquorice and molasses; while Terror has additional hints of vanilla, toasted coconut, toffee and oak from the bourbon and rye whiskey barrels that it has been ageing in for 4.5 months (purchased from the Port Chilkoot Distillery in Haines, Alaska). Erebus comes in at 8.5%, while Terror comes in a little boozier, at 10% courtesy of the whiskey barrels.
Both beers are available in 650 ml bottles and Erebus will also be available on draught. (Sorry, no growler fills as we have very limited volumes!) These beers are best enjoyed a little warmer to fully appreciate their glorious flavours, so take it out of the fridge half an hour before drinking. We also recommend buying a couple bottles of each and saving a few for ageing as the roasty and complex malt characters and contributions from the barrels will continue to develop the beer's flavour over time.
These beers also have a story worth sharing about how they got their names. With our first batch of Russian Imperial Stout, we were looking for something to describe its dark colour and depth - so what better than 'Erebus', the personification of shadow and darkness in Greek mythology as well as the name for the Greek underworld (a place between Earth and Hades).
But in addition to that, the name also has a connection to Canadian history, as HMS Erebus was one of two ships that was used in the ill-fated 1845 Franklin Expedition, which attempted to complete a crossing of the Northwest Passage. The expedition's other ship was HMS Terror, so we couldn't resist using that name for the barrel-aged version.
During the 1845 Franklin Expedition, both ships ended up getting trapped in sea ice, and abandoned by their crew. Search parties were sent out over the next decade to look for the missing men and to find the ships, but they were never found. The entire 129 crew eventually perished and the ships lost, making the Franklin Expedition one of the most tragic in Royal Navy history and one of the biggest mysteries in polar exploration still to this day.
It was only recently, in 2008, that the Canadian Government through Parks Canada took up the search for the ships, with a broader plan of also asserting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. But even with today's technology it took 7 years until the remains of HMS Erebus were found along the coast of Queen Maud Gulf in Nunavut, and another 2 years until HMS Terror was discovered (September 2016).
So whether you buy the beers because you're a beer-swilling history buff or just a craft beer fan, we hope you enjoy these deliciously, mysterious brews. Cheers to more great discoveries in 2017!
2016 has come and gone, but what a monumental year it was here at Winterlong.
Here’s a look back at what we have accomplished thanks to you this past year:
Now our sights are set on 2017, and there’s so much to look forward from special beer releases, fun events at the tasting room, and figuring out how to keep up with your never-ending thirst for Winterlong beer. Thank you all for joining us on this amazing ride so far, it just keeps getting better and better from here. Cheers to another year!