FINAFUCKINGLY: A brewpub is coming to Manitoba! (EDIT: NOT SO FAST)
EDIT: JULY 2014 - This article was written back in summer 2013 and unfortunately, Portage Ave BrewWorks brewpub never did open up due to issues with the lease of the property. Manitoba currently does not have a brewpub nor any rumours of any brewpubs opening up in the near future. Unfortunately for us, this is stunting the growth of craft beer in Manitoba compared to the rest of the continent. I still get questions every few weeks about the proposed "Brewtinerie" brewpub that good ol' Grant Hamilton proposed in downtown Brandon - that project has unfortunately been canned until further notice. One day Manitoba will get a brewpub, but for now there's a few options regionally - First off, Kenora, Ontario - a short day trip drive from Winnipeg has the Lake of the Woods Brewing, one of the most popular brewpubs within a 600ish kilometre drive. Souris River Brewing in Minot, ND is only a 3 hour drive from Brandon, though you will need a passport to get over the border - try their poutine burger! Lastly, the famous Bushwakker Brewpub in Regina, rated as one of the 50 best brewpubs on the planet, only a 3 hour drive from Brandon. So you have those options for now
It only took uh... 10 years for a brewpub to be announced to open in Manitoba since River City Brewing closed their doors, but now.. a brewpub is finally coming (back) to Manitoba!
Portage Avenue BrewWorks is opening at the old 4Play Sportsbar on Portage Ave. in Winnipeg, right near the MTS Centre, so it's going to be a guaranteed hit during Jets games. The opening date is tentatively set for December 1st, so right in the heart of hockey season. Since Lo Pub no longer exists and was my go-to Jets game pre-drinking spot, this may take over for a good pint pre-game.
I wish them the best, because we really do need a brewpub as I find beer cultures in just about everywhere else in this great country are more mature thanks to education, which a great part is thanks to brewpubs brewing small batches of various styles of beers. After visiting Quebec City, all three brewpubs I visited had a very common theme: flights and variety. Everyone there would switch it up every time they drank a beer, start off with a golden ale, then a witbier, then a stout.
Brewpubs can and will work in Manitoba, we already have an ever increasing beer geek population, two amazing breweries (eventually three), and the Liquor Commission is helping by bringing in new and interesting beers to the general public all the time.
Check out Portage Avenue BrewWorks on Twitter and their interview in the Freep.