Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winkler-area farmers brewing plans for a microbrewery

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With Farmery Estate Brewery, Half Pints Brewing and Fort Garry Brewing making a variety of local lagers and ales, Manitoba hasn't seen this much activity on the beer scene since Labatt and Molson shut down their plants a couple of decades ago.

And it looks like it's going to get tastier.

Derek Trinke and Toban Dyck, two farmers from the Winkler area, are in the early stages of starting a new microbrewery they intend to christen, "Prodigal Sons Brewing Co."

"We both love craft beer," said Trinke, who recently took over his family's farm. (Dyck is doing the same.)

"It's bringing our love of beer together with keeping our family farms alive and giving us another revenue stream."

Trinke's farm grows wheat, canola and soybeans while Dyck's farm grows wheat and soybeans.

Dyck, who moved back to Manitoba from Toronto in 2012, said he was always struck by how much attention craft breweries received out East.

"It seemed like a great opportunity to start one here. There are only a few craft breweries in Manitoba," he said.

They figure they're at least a year away from having anything on local vendor and liquor store shelves.

They both admit to having no experience in the beer industry, except, of course, as consumers, but that hasn't kept them from experimenting with recipes. Dyck said they've come up with an IPA, a stout and a brown ale that "taste good to more than just us."

Trinke said while they are increasingly getting a handle on the brewing process, there's no doubt they have a lot to learn before they launch.

"It's been a steep learning curve. If you asked me 15 years ago if I was going to run a farm, I would have told you no. We believe the time is right and there's room for another craft brewery in Manitoba," he said.

The pair has also started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise $20,000 to build a small brewhouse on Dyck's farm. (They've raised more than $1,000 from individual supporters so far.)

Dyck said they're finishing up their business plan and will soon be searching for investors for a full-scale microbrewery.

They had discussed the possibility of building an estate brewery -- and following the trail being blazed by Chris and Lawrence Warwaruk of Farmery, who plan to brew using ingredients grown on their farm near Neepawa -- but decided against it.

"We talked about it but it's not in our immediate plans. Hops aren't easy to grow, you don't get any real product out of it for three years. Then there's the economics of getting your own barley malted. There are no small maltsters in Canada," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 24, 2014 B5

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