The NWT Brewing Company is expanding their brewing capacity to be able to provide more beer to meet local demand and even sell outside the territory.
Owner and head brewer Fletcher Stevens says the company is working on a move of the main brewery to a building in Old Town which is on municipal sewer and water services. Yellowknife city council approved the conditionally permitted use for the brewery building at 4001 School Draw Ave. May 27th.
With the new facility up and running, the brewery area of the Woodyward brew pub would transition to a ‘pilot brewery.’ Stevens says this will allow brewers to experiment with new ideas and trends happening in the Canadian craft brewery scene.
“This new facility, which is going to be three times the size of the production, so nowhere near any of the big breweries that are out there but at least big enough that it will handle our clientele on the main beers that we produce,” Fletcher says. “Then we’ll just strictly be able to brew the seasonals and the fun stuff on the smaller system, so kind of be a pilot brewery.”
Fletcher hopes the new building will be up and running by the end of 2019, with the ability to produce up to 250,000 litres per year. NWT Brewing is now producing 100,000 litres per year.
Having the main brewery at the School Draw building will be a ‘game changer’ says Fletcher, as it is connected to municipal water and sewage services. “We have that hurdle where you show up to work one day and you’re scheduled to brew a batch of beer and you might be partway through the batch and all of a sudden you run out of water because the restaurant is robbing it all. It’s just a nightmare,” he says. “We’ve been able to make it work and we’ve ironed out most of the headaches but being on municipal services is going to be a game changer for us.”
Fletcher says NWT Brewing is also working on bottling beers, in 500 ml stubby bottles, which are already available for purchase at the brew pub. Down the road producing beer in cans will be ideal, as it is the preferred method of packaging and shipping for craft breweries.
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More beer production will also mean more byproduct – the ‘spent mash’, nitrogen and protein rich grains which come out of the brewing process, are currently being picked up by Hay River farmers who use it for livestock feed. Down the road Fletcher says this could possibly be used by Yellowknifers in gardening, food production or other agricultural uses.
“Soil is always an issue in Yellowknife and if there’s a way to positively contribute to the lack of soil that we have for use in community gardens and other agricultural sectors then maybe this could be a good fit,” he says. This would be a completely separate entity from what NWT Brewing does, Fletcher says, but something he is interested in speaking with the city about.