Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Upstreet Craft Brewing

Not too far from where the old Spring Park Brewery used to be in Charlottetown is PEI's newest craft brewery - Upstreet Craft Brewing.

A sign will go out tomorrow, and the Facetwittergram machine will fire up, too, but tonight... I am lucky to be able to have the scoop (thanks, guys) and introduce PEI's third brewery.

I did a semi-formal Q-and-A with Upstreet's head brewer (as well as fellow Aleander and Brewnoser) Michael Hogan (who is joined in the venture by Joey Seaman and Mitch Cobb). I hope we have complied all (or at least almost all) of what you would want to know.

PEIBG: When's your planned opening date?  
MH: It’s looking like a May opening.  We plan to have a soft opening with two beers released, followed by a grand opening, with an additional two beers.

What's the size of your brewhouse / what's your expected production volume for the first year?
It’s a 15bbl system with four fermentors. We’re keeping our expectations realistic but there’ll be plenty of beer flowing!

Will you be in PEILCC stores as soon as you open?  
There’s a process we have to follow and the people at the PEILCC have been really supportive right from the start. We’re hopeful to have everything in stores not long after we open, but it won’t be necessarily timed to the grand opening.

What are the planned styles upon release?  
We have three flagship beers selected based on some recipes I’ve been developing over the past few years.  I’m very proud of each one of them.  I’d take any one to a desert island for the rest of my days.  We plan to always have seasonals available as well.

What formats will you be brewing for (growlers on site / pints / bottles / cans / keg rentals)? 
Our flagship beers will be on tap at restaurants across the Island.  Seasonals will be more limited in availability.  We’re planning on bottling in a 500 ml size and growlers will be sold from our tasting room. Keg rentals will also be an option.

How many taps / varieties can people expect to see at the brewery?  
Usually four, but hopefully more!

How many establishments do you predict you will be in this spring? Can you say any specifically?  
We can’t say for certain because a lot of that will depend on supply and demand, but I can say that every single restaurant and bar owner that we’ve spoken with has been really supportive.

What can people expect from your tasting / retail space (capacity, vibe, events)? 
It won’t be anything fancy, more gritty and industrial, but inviting. Our hope is that our place becomes a focal point for the community and a favourite neighbourhood hangout. With respect to the beer, we’ll be recruiting members for our “mug club” right off the bat.  We’d love to create some casks as a regular feature.  Expect some local art on display too, and live music from time to time. We’ll have some merch available as well for anyone who wants to share the Upstreet love.

What inspired the name?  
Upstreet is an old PEI saying - You know, like… “Normie’s headin’ upstreet to meet the fellas”. It’s typically a term used for a spot just outside of downtown.  It’s perfectly fitting with our Allen St. location.  It also reflects our hopes to be rooted in the local community.  We’re all Island guys who have spent some time away, but are so happy to be putting down roots and pursuing our passions on home turf.  We love this town, and we just love the name.

Do you have a slogan?  
How about, “Here’s to beer: the cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems”. No wait, I think Homer Simpson said that. For now let’s go with “something’s brewin’”. (and let's now add to that "Head Upstreet")

Who will be the head brewer? 
That’d be me.  My friends call me Hogie.

How many people will it employ outside the three of you at the beginning?  
Running a brewery is a lot of work.  We’re a few months from opening but I’m certain we’ll need help in some capacity, especially for the summer season.

How did this endeavour come about? Who started the ball rolling? 
I guess I started the ball rolling by getting the others hooked on my beers.  I’m sure they have different versions of how the events played out, but I recall convincing Joey to buy a keg fridge a few weeks after we meet, and I believe he and Mitch had a serious heart-to-heart regarding craft beer over a pint of my vanilla cranberry stout at a Christmas party a year later. Once the passion was rooted and we all agreed we could make tasty beer, we had to figure out if we could make a business out of it. That took a serious amount of time, effort, meetings and spreadsheets. I’m thankful the other two are strong on the finance and management side of things because without them, this thing would have never got off the ground.

Any favourite inspirational brews, breweries, brewers, or beer experiences?
I have to give a shout out to the living legend (Greg) Nash over in Halifax. He is a brewmaster extraordinaire, especially when it comes to hops. I’m happy he’ll finally be opening his own brewery very soon in Halifax.

Some of my most memorable beer experiences have been on vacation with my wife Laura (aka the Brew Widow). We’ve done a pubcrawl of Dusseldorf for all the altbiers in the city, walked the grounds of the Chimay monastery, enjoyed the company of strangers at the HofBrauhaus in Munich, and sampled unfiltered pilsner in old underground lagering caves in Pilsen. We’ve lined up for a once-a-year release of Pliny the Younger in Pasadena, had a slice of pizza on the California coast next to tanks from DME, and soaked in the amazing aura at the Stone Brewery in California. Back on the local front, we’ve hosted many of the monthly Aleanders’ meetings and can’t wait for everyone to join us in the tasting room soon.

How can people connect with you online?
We’ll be on the usual suspects like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Untappd (to come after our beers are out). You can see Upstreet get started here.

Facebook: UpstreetCraftBrewing
Twitter: @UpstreetBrewing
Instagram: @UpstreetBrewing

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halifax's Rogues Roost Bought By The Murphy Group

Well, just like the title says, hot on the heels of buying the Hart & Thistle, PEI's Murphy Group has also purchased Rogues Roost, a longtime-popular craft brew destination in Halifax. The article says they plan to maintain the staff and brewer, and hope to work on / build the brand, perhaps even growing it in Nova Scotia, PEI, and bottling their beer at the PEI Brewing Company in Charlottetown. They plan to stay at the current location, even after the upcoming development of the block.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Brewers' ABV Limit to be Raised

Good news here today. The PEILCC is going to change the regulations on how strong brewers can brew their beers. Up until now, the limit has been 6.5%. The article says we're supposed to be on par with other provinces in the future. Good news for our two existing breweries, the brewery-in-progress in town, and the rumored one in the Montague area.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Harvest Time

The first whiff of this lager is great. I got excited. Lots of aroma from the can (and probably best drank from the can) - tropical fruit / citrus aromas, just as promised. Not far behind, though, there's something about the aroma that comes across bordering on popcorn or buttered popcorn. I don't think it's an error - on big whiffs, it just seems like the combination of the malt profile & hops (not sure which NZ one is in this) combine to make something a bit in that direction. It's not overwhelming, but it bothers me that it's there. Otherwise, it's crisp, refreshing, has a nice clean citrus-y finish, is different enough from Beach Chair, not as good as Landing Day, and will probably appeal to lots of folks. I'd say drink this one cold, as the nice aroma (and a bit of the flavour) degrades as it warms.

Monday, August 11, 2014

2014 PEI Beer Festival

This September 5th and 6th, a Friday & Saturday, sees the PEI Beer Festival return, promising "another amazing weekend of beer tasting, food pairings and entertainment." This year, the festival will be held indoors, at the Delta Prince Edward - which, after undergoing renovations last year, is quite a nice & modern spot. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, Tuesday, August 12th, at 11:00AM at www.beerfestpei.ca as well as the PEI Brewing Company on Kensington Road. There are also fest + hotel packages available through the Delta. There are three different tasting sessions to choose from: Friday evening, Sept. 5th, Saturday afternoon, Sept 6th, and Saturday evening, Sept 6th. Afternoon sessions are $30, and evening ones are $40. Tickets include all beer samples, live entertainment, special cask contests (no clue what that is yet), games and more. Ticket prices also include a service fee and taxes, of course.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

(Mostly) Beer Trip To Maine - Geaghans Restaurant & Pub

Once we got to Bangor, we were starving and thirsty. I recall eating some sort of chicken sausage, cheese, and tomato sandwich thing. It was good, but super-filling. Geaghans, as far as I can tell, was a lot like a few other stops in Maine, in that they only served their own beer. I get it, but it's a little disappointing as a customer. Don't let that deter, you, though. They have a good little selection of their own stuff, and the food / atmosphere were good. I decided to try out a sampler of some of their brews with my lunch.

Left to right:

Smiling Irish Bastard - with a name like this, you'd expect some sort of stout, or maybe a red ale, it's actually an American Pale Ale, brewed with Cascade - "American strong, like Officer Bernie Welch, a legend in the Bangor Police Force." It was OK - light grapefruit and bitterness.

Dad's Oatmeal Stout - Made with Chinook and U.S. Goldings, this was an easy-drinker. Smooth, but not too thick. Nice enough stout.

Bangor Tiger - Maine River Drivers (you know, the guys that rode logs on the rivers) were known as Bangor Tigers. This is supposed to reflect them - a strong 6.5% ale, 62 IBU, not for the faint of heart. It was bitter, with a bit of citrus. A bit one-dimensional.

Wake Up Wheat - they say this was their take on an American Adjunct Dunkel (which they made up). For me, it was the clear winner of the bunch. It was a total chocolate coffee porter, but light. Sumatra coffee, oats, fresh-brewed coffee, vanilla beans, choc malt... pretty involved, but darn tasty.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Gahan House Expands To Halifax

A few days ago, the good people at The Gahan House tweeted that they were expanding to Halifax. 
I'd like to put this out there for folks, to confirm that they are indeed taking over the place that was once the beloved Hart and Thistle. As far as I know at the moment, no brewing staff from PEI are slated to make the move. It sounds  like most / all staff there will be new to the company. I wish them the best of luck there - I'm sure they'll make it a highly successful / quality destination, which should please the beer-loving folk who miss the old H&T.