Manitoba's Changing Beer Industry

If you had told me last year that the Government of Manitoba would loosen laws to allow for brewpubs and more microbreweries to start up in Manitoba, I would call bullshit. Whenever I told friends that there was no such thing as a brewpub in Manitoba, they laughed at me. In May, several changes were made to the Manitoba liquor act to allow for brew pubs to exist easier in Manitoba.

Labatt Club, one of the many formerly-brewed-in-Manitoba beers.
The Manitoban beer industry has seen many changes in the last several years. For the longest time, Molson and Labatt had their own factory breweries located in Winnipeg. Both Molson and Labatt eventually shut down their breweries to cut costs. My aunt once joked back in 1996 that if my mom had drank more Labatt Lites, the Labatt brewery would still exist.

Then there was Fort Garry, Agassiz and Two Rivers. Today, only Fort Garry still exists. Agassiz eventually had Fort Garry to brew their beer for them until last year, while Two Rivers amalgamated with Fort Garry. This, of course, led to Fort Garry to be the de facto brewery in Manitoba. I found Fort Garry, Two Rivers and Agassiz beer to all be the same old prairie beer that I picture farmers drinking, not exactly beer I'd love to spend my limited funds on. Frankly, any brewery that produces beer in Two Litre pop bottles isn't considered a quality brewery in my books. I still do enjoy their beer (Dark Ale) when I do drink it.

Then came Half Pints, Half Pints proved to me that beer from the prairies didn't have to taste like corny water with an appearance of urine. I still remember the day Half Pints' beer started getting sold at the MLCC in Brandon, back in late 2008. Ever since then, I was happy. Honestly, Half Pints was one of the few Made-in-Manitoba products I could get behind, as Manitoba is a province known for being mediocre in almost everything (except music and hockey). Their seasonal beers such as Weizenheimer and Humulus Ludicrous get me giddy like Christmas morning. This is proof that beer from the prairies CAN be just as good as elsewhere, if not better!

Hops and Barley grown at Luxalune's Farmery
Brewery (Arden, Manitoba)
With the changes in the liquor laws, now Luxalune is starting up their own estate brewery (The Farmery) near Arden, Manitoba, which is half way between Neepawa and Gladstone. This is the first brewery of any kind to be located (to my knowledge) in Western Manitoba since the Empire Brewery in Brandon in the early 20th century. As someone from Western Manitoba, I am absolutely excited beyond belief by this. People in this region aren't known for drinking good beer, but people here are extremely proud of local products, so I know people will buy cases upon cases of the beer just because it's local (also to share the local products to friends and family at Christmas time). People want to know where their products come from, and with the 100 mile diet, it will be easier to drink locally as they grow their own hops and grains, which is something that doesn't seem to be done at any other brewery in Canada, that I know of.

I'm excited about the idea of brewpubs coming to Manitoba, more and more breweries, and eventually - more Manitobans (and tourists) wanting a taste of delicious Manitoban beer! 

Since I have too much free time, here's a list of beer names I would love to see breweries use one day:
  • The Stacheman - in honour of Burton Cummings. I know he prefers darker beers.
  • Grain Elevator Wheat Ale - There's no beers dedicated to the skyscraper of the prairies
  • Wheat City Blanche - Continuing the wheat, but it fits!
  • Rebellion Ale - After Louis Riel
  • Dauphin Pilsner
  • Manitoban Social Lager - Unfortunately all Manitoban Socials have only lagers.
  • Portage India Pale Ale
  • Red River Rouge
  • Ale de la prairie - Prairie ale
  • Dainties chocolate stout - Dainties is a term that means an assortment of cookies and squares that people bake for Christmas time.
  • New Tornado Alley Imperial IPA

1 comment:

Gary Heather said...

Family lore said my great grandmother owned a brewery in Manitoba in the early 20th century the last name was Loughman I have found her in the records she lived on Jane street and was a widow and had 2 daughters Gertrude was one she was my grandmother the business was sold to Molsons do you have any knowledge of the company?