Churchill craft beer grows in pop­u­lar­ity

Matthew Gourlie -- Moose Jaw Ex­press

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News -

Lo­cal beer con­nois­seurs have never had more op­tions at the tap in their lo­cal pubs and bars.

Saskatchewan’s craft beer com­mu­nity has grown steadily in the last five years but re­cently have ex­pe­ri­enced a break­through. See­ing a Saskatchewan craft beer on tap is be­com­ing the norm, more than the ex­cep­tion.

“I think peo­ple are ac­tu­ally lik­ing the dif­fer­ent craft beers that Saskatchewan is putting out there for con­sumers that ac­tu­ally like the taste of beer, that ac­tu­ally has more flavour. I do think it’s trend­ing in a pos­i­tive way for craft beer,” said Mike Hen­schel, brand am­bas­sador for Churchill Brew­ing out of Saska­toon. Churchill Brew­ing was founded by broth­ers Cur­tis and Ryan Peet in 2015. Since their launch, they’ve ex­panded steadily. They’re on tap at 52 lo­ca­tions and at nu­mer­ous liquor stores.

“We started out with a few kegs at a time and we’ve grown to sell­ing cans and kegs all across Saskatchewan and even a lit­tle bit into Man­i­toba now,” said Hen­schel who at­tended Bri­er­crest Col­lege and Sem­i­nary and also lived in Moose Jaw. “We’re look­ing at get­ting into Al­berta soon, but we just have to make sure our ca­pac­ity is there.”

Growth is good, but Hen­schel said that they need to be sure that their pro­duc­tion will be able to meet de­mand as they ex­pand into new mar­kets. “Def­i­nitely slow and steady is go­ing to win the race for us,” he said. Churchill is avail­able on tap at Orig­i­nal Joe’s, Rosie’s on River, Cask 82, Cor­ner- stone Bar & Grill and the Hill­crest golf course lounge in Moose Jaw. They will be ex­pand­ing into a sixth Moose Jaw lo­ca­tion by the end of Septem­ber.

“It’s ex­cit­ing for us,” Hen­schel said. “Our beer specif­i­cally, we get our malt bar­ley from prairie pro­duc­ers and we get about 95 per cent from Saskatchewan. I think peo­ple are start­ing to have a push to sup- port lo­cal. Farm­ers who do farm malt bar­ley can now en­joy the fruits of their labours in the form of beer.” It’s not al­ways easy for smaller brew­eries to get onto taps with An­heuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, and the Mol­son Coors Brew­ing Com­pany dom­i­nat­ing the Cana­dian mar­ket. Hen­schel be­lieves that beer drinkers are in­creas­ingly open to try­ing new brands and that pubs, bars and res­tau­rants are be­com­ing more open to stock­ing craft brew­ers.

“It is a bat­tle be­cause the big com­pa­nies have all of the cash to spend to make sure we aren’t a part of it,” Hen­schel said. “It’s been im­prov­ing. I think there’s more of a de­mand for lo­cal beers like ours. There are so many good craft brew­ers in Saskatchewan and we’re just lucky to be one of them.”

“There are so many good craft brew­ers in Saskatchewan and we’re just lucky to be one of them.”

- Mike Hen­schel, Churchill Brew­ing

Churchill beer is avail­able at six lo­cal es­tab­lish­ments in­clud­ing Rosie’s on River Street. Matthew Gourlie pho­to­graph

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