Local breweries hop aboard Brew for Ukraine movement


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A bevy of local breweries are milling, mashing, boiling and fermenting for a good cause.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/04/2022 (292 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A bevy of local breweries are milling, mashing, boiling and fermenting for a good cause.

On Friday, the first batch of the Brew for Ukraine red ale rolled through the canning line at Torque Brewery. The blue and yellow cans are part of a global project to raise funds for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine while raising a glass.

“It’s just beer in the end, but it’s the way that we have to help,” says Torque general manager Camila Bellon. “To put a product out there that raises awareness of the war and its consequences… I think that’s a positive thing.”

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Matthew Wolff, Operations Manager at Torque Brewing, started production of Ukraine Brew.

Brew for Ukraine was launched by Pravda Beer Theatre, a craft brewery in Lviv, Ukraine, following Russia’s invasion of the country in late February. Pravda — which gained international attention at the outset of the war for producing Molotov cocktails emblazoned with its Putin Huylo (Putin is a dickhead) label — released five of its recipes and encouraged beer makers around the world to start brewing on their behalf. Hundreds of breweries have jumped on board and are donating proceeds of their beer sales to Brew for Ukraine, which distributes the funds to vetted local charities.

In Winnipeg, Torque has joined forces with Trans Canada Brewing, Nonsuch Brewing, Barn Hammer Brewing, One Great City Brewing, Devil May Care Brewing, Lake of the Woods Brewing and Stone Angel Brewing. While Pravda’s Red Eyes, an American-style red ale, is being brewed at Torque’s King Edward Street location, the businesses are splitting the cost of ingredients, labour and production.

For Bellon, the collaboration is a testament to the supportive nature of the local craft brewing scene.

“The beer industry in Winnipeg is a big family, we’re always talking to each other, we do things together,” she says. “It’s a community effort.”

Matthew Wolff, co-founder and operations manager for Torque, agrees. The project has also been a way to connect with breweries well beyond the Perimeter.

“We don’t really get outside our local element that we have here,” Wolff says. “So, to be part of a global community that’s standing up and raising awareness… is a really good way to contribute.”

The group’s first batch has produced just over 3,000 cans, which will be available for purchase at Torque’s taproom beginning this Monday afternoon and at Winnipeg beer vendors and Liquor Marts at a later date. Depending on demand, the partners hope to get more breweries on board and make more batches in the future. Wolff doesn’t expect sales to be an issue.

“It sounds like a lot, but 3,000 cans can go pretty quick,” he says.

The Red Eyes ale takes three weeks to make and the end product is an easy-drinking, malty beer with notes of grass and citrus.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Kyle Maskiw is the canning operator for Ukraine Brew at Torque Brewing.

“Our brewmaster got this right down to pretty much an exact science, even water scaling, to make sure that the recipe itself is true to what Pravda was doing,” Wolff says. “It’s a great-tasting beer, it’s quickly becoming one of our favourites.”

While it’s been difficult watching the conflict unfold, the outpouring of support for the Brew for Ukraine project has Bellon feeling more hopeful about the future.

“Our idea was to have this beer as a celebration for the end of the war, but unfortunately things are still getting worse over there,” she says. “Maybe soon we’ll have a beer over a time of peace.”


Twitter: @evawasney

Eva Wasney

Eva Wasney
Arts Reporter

Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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