July 26th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 30
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Craft brew near you!
Oldman River Brewing Ltd. to hold opening weekend on July 29- July 30
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
By Kgbo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
If you’ve a craving for a fresh, local Albertan craft beer on tap, you’ll no longer have to drive some 150 km to Turner Valley’s Eau Claire Distillery or to one of Lethbridge’s several breweries.

On July 29, Oldman River Brewing Ltd. in Lundbreck is opening its doors and what makes this microbrewery neat is most certainly the fact that it’s the only one within an hour’s radius of every direction of Crowsnest Pass.

The open house weekend, on July 29 and July 30, will allow thirsty brew buffs to test three of the brewery’s four core beers on tap, an IPA, a blonde and a lager. The opening will feature a $4 pint drink promotion and various food items from their menu.

Oldman River Brewing holds a 20-barell brewing facility and all their beers are brewed on-site. Their four core beers will be sold in their taproom, in local bars and restaurants, as well as outside the taproom in stubby bottles.

For the more eccentric and adventurous customers, two seasonal flavours will be on rotation, which will be available only out of the taproom, but might make it to local bars and restaurants if they really take off. The seasonal varieties will be available later on for the winter season.
“For our core styles, we wanted to bring in some u
niqueness, but we also didn’t want to get too out there, just because our area isn’t too craft-oriented yet,” says Brittney Wilgosh, one of the three partners behind Oldman River Brewing. “We wanted to make at least one that was more approachable to the majority of our public, and that’s our lager. It’s still got some body and some flavour, but it’s not in-your-face. It’s kind of like our gateway beer to get people to try others.”

The seasonal beers, she says, will be more suitable for the daring.
continued below ...
“We definitely want to start brining in all the different varieties out there and put our twist on them so that it’s not the same beer all the time. We’d like to pull from the different things that we’ve tried and really liked, and bring it here for other people to get a feel for,” she says.

Down the line, the brewery will offer a five-glass beer flight for those craving some adventure, variety and slightly eccentric flavours in their brew.

Beer geeks

Beer fanatics Adam and Brittney Wilgosh and Dan Christensen have had the idea of opening a microbrewery ingrained in their aspirations for a long time.

“We’ve always talked about opening our own brewery. Adam and I did a lot of travelling before the kids in the States, and they’re just overwhelmed with microbreweries and breweries,” says Wilgosh of her husband. “We made a point to visit every microbrewery that we possibly could.”

The Wilgoshes started off experimenting with homebrew kits some 12 years ago, eventually moving into using all-grains, forced carbonation and trying new recipes.

At that point, there weren’t a lot of varieties in Alberta, and the Wilgoshes thought that they could fill a niche and provide local beer lovers with different styles of beer that couldn’t get locally at the price point.

“It was a lot of trial and error, just doing a base recipe and seeing what comes out of that. That’s how we created our recipes for the bigger system in the brewery. It’s all based off of this small-type pilot system,” says Wilgosh.
continued below ...
Once Alberta’s brewing laws changed in 2013 when the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) eliminated minimum production requirements, they felt this was a door opening to take the plunge and begin the journey to opening their own brewery.

“The initial investment to start a brewery became significantly less than what it was before. That was the resistance for us before, that it was just such a huge capital investment that wasn’t feasible,” says Wilgosh.

Adam went on to work as an assistant brewer at Olds College to get a feel for the commercial side to make sure that the business responsibilities of owning a brewery was something they wanted to take on.

“He just loved it and did really well there,” says Wilgosh. “Then we decided, ‘Yeah, let’s just give ‘er and see what happens.’”

In 2016, they hit a milestone when they purchased the building for Oldman River in Lundbreck . You’ll see the building on your right driving east on Highway 3. The taproom seats up to 50 people, and they eventually hope to put a patio out in the yard.

“Being in a pretty touristy area, we’re hoping to bring in a lot of locals as well as tourists coming to enjoy all the different options we have down here. We like that we’re in the middle of Crowsnest Pass and Pincher [Creek]. We’re not too far off the [Highway] 22 to pull that traffic off this way and we’re close enough to Waterton traffic. It puts us in a pretty central spot,” says Wilgosh.

Originally built as a creamery, the building has been used as a warehouse establishment for many years. Much of the interior was open space, so a lot of renovations and improvements have gone into the building over the past year.

The taproom takes up the front of the establishment, with the brewery separated in the back. The natural wood in the taproom gives it a cozy, rustic feel, while a modern vibe is added with the high ceilings and metallic bronze ductwork.
continued below ...
“The old Beauvais School wood from that building was donated to us, so our wainscoting and window trim is all from the school. Another person donated the wood from their corral that they were tearing down which is on our bar, and we got a nice big slab of wood from HC Forest Products for our bar too. It’s all sanded and epoxied, so you can put drinks right on top,” says Wilgosh, who adds that they were going for a casual, comfortable vibe.

“We want people to come in and just be comfortable, and feel good sitting and having a drink or chatting. We brought in the rustic look, but still made it look classy western,” she says.

Although their focus is on the brew, their menu will offer a food menu.
“We don’t have a full kitchen, so we have a local farmer who will be smoking chicken and turkey drumsticks with a couple of sides and salads. We’ll have a local meat and cheese platter, and we will be allowing people to order pizza from Ludbreck Pizza right next door,” says Wilgosh.

Barreling forward

The spotlight right now is focused on Oldman River Brewing’s grand opening this coming weekend but down the line, Wilgosh says they already have heaps of ideas for growth and expansion.

For now, they will be concentrating on selling their beer in local areas, but hope to expand to Lethbridge and north of Lundbreck with time.
Tours of the brewery will be offered all day during the opening weekend, and at scheduled times in the future.

For more information, visit the Oldman River Brewing Ltd. Facebook page with the handle @OldmanRiverBrew.
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July 26th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 30
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