What a whirlwind winter it has been. We have been so busy that we’ve been going through beer like crazy, thanks in part to a great ski season at Mount Sima. It has been great to see the Tasting Room a buzz with people, especially families taking advantage of our now kid-friendly seating areas. Also with spring here and summer just around the corner it’s finally patio season, and our 16-seat patio was approved just in time! You can now enjoy the warmer weather from outside with a fresh pint of Winterlong brew.
Patio season is here!
Be warned though we are currently down to 4 taps out of 12 at the Tasting Room and we have not been able to send any bombers outside of the brewery. Our recent brewery upgrade and expansion has not translated to more beer yet, but within a few more weeks we should have our beer selection up at the Tasting Room.
Matt and Alex brew the first batch of beer on our new 7 BBL brewhouse.
Our first 7 bbl batch on the new brewing system was our Sullen Riot Rye Pale Ale, which should be ready this Friday! We also recently brewed a big, hazy, double New England IPA (NE IPA), a bigger version of the popular HazySexyCool NE IPA that was out earlier this year. This juicy monster should be out in time for our 2nd anniversary celebration (May 20th) and we’re also taking a keg to the Haines Beer Festival. The highly anticipated Spruce Tip Pale Ale should be ready in mid-June and we’ve got a few new beer recipes we’re going to be trying this summer as well, including our first kettle soured beer.
Once the taps are all full, we will also be opening seven days a week for the summer with extended hours (see below), and there are several events coming up at the brewery that you won't want to miss!
Summer Hours (Starting Tuesday, May 30th):
Monday-Saturday 12-8 pm
Sunday 12-6 pm
Upcoming Events @ Winterlong Brewing Co.:
May 6 – Fresh Oysters by Wayfarer Oyster House (3-6 pm)
May 13 - Woodfired Pizza from Ski Bum Pizza Co. (3-8 pm)
May 20 - Winterlong Turns 2! (12-8 pm)
June 3 - Zero Waste Yukon’s Reuse & Repair Fair (12-5 pm)
Just as our tasting room was nearing completion last September 2016, we received a message from a brewery down south in BC about our moon logo. They had apparently just trademarked a crescent moon with a face on it in Canada related to beer, and they asked us if we would stop using our moon man in order to protect their trademark.
Of course we had our moon man everywhere. He was on our bottle caps, beer labels, coasters, tap handles, locally hand-crafted pottery mugs, growlers, t-shirts, hoodies and even baby onesies! We were even about to print a huge moon man decal for our tasting room wall. As soon as we got the call, we put on hold all merchandise orders that were in line for production. We emailed the local potter who was making more moon beer mugs for us and we put our second order of hoodies and tshirts on hold. Then we thought long and hard about what we wanted to do.
While there may have been a chance we could argue with lawyers that our moon was different and that we've been using it just about as long as the other brewery had, the trademark would still likely win. It just didn't seem worth it to get into a legal dispute with thousands of dollars of legal fees and lawyers. Especially at a time when our tasting room was just getting up and running and we'd finished a large brewery expansion. So we decided to get over the moon and start phasing it out. Get your moon man products while they last (#vintagewinterlong #collectorsitem)! While we may still have thousands of bottle caps to go through, we have already changed our beer labels and made sure new merchandise orders are moonless. We also just recently replaced our tap handles with some rustic handpainted ones
Maybe someday we will find a suitable replacement, though our moon man has left some seriously big boots to fill! On the bright side, we are evermore dedicated to continuing to make the best beer we can, and no one can take that away from us!
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.