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