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This article was published 25/2/2019 (361 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A new craft brewery in Fort Rouge is just about finished fermenting.
Owner Andrew Sookram hopes to open the doors to Sookram’s Brewing Company at 479 Warsaw Ave., just a quick walk from the Osborne rapid transit station and Confusion Corner, in early March.
"We’ve put it all on the line to make this a success, as much as we could," Sookram, 38, said.
For the past year, the crew at Sookram’s — including his wife Kristin Sookram and brewmaster Dan Simpson — have been working around the clock to get the former television transmission station transformed into a brewery and tasting room.
In the front of house, the decor, seats, and furniture have been designed and manufactured by Kristin, Sookram said, and in the back of the 4,200-square-foot space, they’ve installed a 15-barrel Criveller brewhouse, four fermenting tanks, two brights, and a small test system.
"It’ll be a relaxed atmosphere," he said. "We’ll have board games eventually, and it’s a family atmosphere as well. Everyone is welcome."
Sookram said the brewery will offer four beers at opening, including a pilsner, IPA, dry hop sour, and his award-winning California Common amber lager. He intends to get their product line on tap, in stores, and at local beer vendors in the coming months.
"These are our four starting beers, and we’re hoping that people enjoy them, but the market will really dictate if we keep making them," Sookram said. "A lot of these recipes were tried and true in competitions across the country, where I medalled in a lot of them, and that’s why we’re bringing them to the table."
The father of two from St. Vital said he caught the brewing bug about five years ago when he was introduced to home wine-making through his father-in-law. Looking to make a beverage with more locally available ingredients, Sookram turned his attention to craft beer and hasn’t looked back.
"I dived right into all-grain brewing — everything from scratch — and after that fell in love with and realized how much I didn’t know, and picked it up along the way," Sookram said.
In 2016, Sookram competed in a local home brew competition and took home top marks with his California Common. That experience, and winning the opportunity to brew a batch at Barn Hammer, made the dream of opening his own operation a little less lofty, Sookram said.
"That’s really when the wheels started turning," he said.
"I’d never won trophies or anything in my life. This was the first time I’d been recognized… and I just got power hungry," he laughed.
Jokes aside, Sookram said opening up a brewery is his way of sharing his passion with others, and plus he loves brewing beer and can’t drink it all.
"I saw a road to being able to work for myself and being able to open a local business. I’ve always wanted to do that, but never had a way in, or felt passionate enough about something to risk so much," he said.
In addition to the initial four beers, Sookram said he hopes to release a new beer every week from their test tanks.
"As much as this is a dream come true to have these tanks in here and brew on this scale, I also get to keep my roots a little bit and practise and experiment with different beers all the time," he said.
Eventually, customers can also expect a beer from Sookram’s benefiting autism programs administered by St.Amant.
"That’s something that’s near and dear to our family’s heart," Sookram said.
Check in with Sookram’s Brewing Company on social media for an official opening date.
Danielle Da Silva