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This article was published 17/12/2014 (2113 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Beer connoisseurs may soon be able to sample some of Manitoba's finest brews just a beer snake away from where they're crafted.
The Manitoba government announced the launching of a co-ordinated strategy to bring to light Manitoba's craft brewing companies on Tuesday. The first step in the initiative would be a look at authorizing local brewers to set up tap rooms on-site.
Tap rooms offer a place where customers can experience the atmosphere of a brewery while being able to buy what is created just a few steps away.
"It would be in line with our own production so people could come and see, hear and smell what is going on to make the beer, and they get to drink it, too," said David Rudge, owner and brewmaster at Half Pints Brewing Company in St. James.
The government has brought together an advisory committee of 11 players in the Manitoba brewing industry as well as the local hospitality industry.
"It's a new idea in Manitoba," said Liz Stephenson, spokeswoman for the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba. "Details of how it will work and the requirements will depend on the committee and we hope to work hand-in-hand in the regulatory process."
It was still premature, she said, to speculate what the committee might recommend.
New liquor legislation from April 2014, introducing the first major changes in the industry in half a century, would allow for a lot of flexibility, she said. It is unlikely any additions or amendments would be required.
"People are more interested, and they're getting to come and get growlers and getting to try a lot of new flavours of beer. It's really driving all of this," said Matt Wolff, brewmaster at Fort Garry Brewing Company. "Our breweries are a lot more open to this type of thing, and we want to get the word out about craft beers."
Rudge said the growler, introduced in October to allow customers to come and fill up a glass jug with craft beer, was the start. Now, Rudge is looking to take it a step further with tap rooms.
"I've looked at tap rooms all over the place, including a place like Portland (Ore.)," he said. "There, they have food trucks they hire to sit outside and then people can bring their food inside and grab a beer and sit down and eat."
Rudge, if given the go-ahead by the province, would like to implement some of the same strategies for his own tap room.
"I'd for sure want to have food trucks outside," he said. "We'd change our hours around as well. Right now, we are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. With a tap room, I'd like to see us open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. It offers room for us to grow and it creates more jobs."
Tap rooms already exist in other parts of Canada, including B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. The Granville Island Brewery in Vancouver, for instance, offers private events and brewery tours.
"People are starting to learn about beer in a positive fashion, not a 'Hey, I'm going to go and binge drink' one," Rudge said.
"People are looking for new and different flavours and people are driving the change."
Updated on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 7:03 AM CST: Replaces photo, changes headline
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