A new restau­rant-bar chan­nels the 1960s; a pro­file of Vil­lage Brew­ery’s co-founder Jim But­ton.

Where Calgary - - CONTENTS - —Bre­anna Mroczek

“There is a lot of power in beer,” says But­ton who, among many other things, is a co-founder of Vil­lage Brew­ery (page 46). “Beer is a cur­rency all on its own. Peo­ple will do things for beer — think of say­ing to a buddy ‘come help me move and I’ll buy the beer.’ Beer is part of our ver­nac­u­lar and so­cial fab­ric. Start­ing a brew­ery was just a nat­u­ral evo­lu­tion of want­ing to give back to the com­mu­nity and help build a bet­ter city.” In 2011, the craft beer wave hadn’t made its way to Alberta, and it had been 15 years since a new brew­ery opened its doors in Cal­gary. That all changed on De­cem­ber 21 when Jim But­ton and the team at Vil­lage Brew­ery de­liv­ered their first ship­ments of beer. "Most guys who get to­gether for a beer say they want to open a bar or a brew­ery, but Jim ac­tu­ally did it," says Dave Pierce, a lo­cal Emmy award-win­ning com­poser and a good friend of But­ton's. "When Jim says he wants to do some­thing it usu­ally hap­pens."

Today, Vil­lage beers are an “on tap” sta­ple in lo­cal bars and restau­rants and are eas­ily found in most bou­tique and chain liquor stores. Tak­ing its name from the say­ing “it takes a vil­lage…,” com­mu­nity has al­ways been an im­por­tant fo­cus for But­ton and in turn Vil­lage Brew­ery. Ev­ery Vil­lage beer is a part­ner­ship — for in­stance, the cur­rent ver­sion of Vil­lage Friend is a col­lab­o­ra­tion beer with Banded Peak Brew­ing (page 45). “The craft brew­ing in­dus­try is known for be­ing highly col­lab­o­ra­tive,” says Terry Rock, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Alberta Small Brew­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. “Com­peti­tors reg­u­larly work with each other: pro­vid­ing ad­vice, mak­ing and sell­ing prod­uct to­gether, or shar­ing equip­ment. Jim ex­em­pli­fies this cul­ture in the Alberta beer scene: al­most ev­ery­thing he does is fo­cused on bring­ing peo­ple to­gether to do more or do bet­ter. He re­ally walks the walk.” “Sup­port­ing small brew­eries is good busi­ness and good com­mu­nity as it helps to build the craft beer in­dus­try,” But­ton says. “The more con­sumers know about a good qual­ity craft beer, the more likely they are to try it.”

But­ton’s re­la­tion­ship with the brew­ery com­mu­nity is strong, but it ex­tends to other in­dus­tries in Cal­gary, too. They spon­sor sev­eral events and But­ton is a reg­u­lar guest on Dave Kelly Live (page 30). “Jim is the guy I think every­one wishes they could be,” says Dave Kelly. “Jim is the best con­nec­tor of peo­ple in the world. Not only does he know ev­ery­body, but he’s good at get­ting the peo­ple who gotta meet, to meet.” In­deed, Cal­gary's ver­sion of the pop­u­lar celebrity game Six De­grees of Kevin Ba­con would be Six De­grees of Jim But­ton. "Jim is so con­nected and his knowl­edge of his net­work and tight re­la­tion­ships with so many peo­ple is an in­cred­i­ble gift to Cal­gary," says Pierce. "His undy­ing en­ergy for push­ing com­mu­nity ahead at a grass­roots level is one of his great­est gifts to Cal­gary. He's not fo­cused on only one thing, he's not legacy driven, he is just so proud of Cal­gary and is a com­mu­nity builder that truly loves the city."

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