Black Wheat Brewing launches first beers

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Brandon’s first modern brewery is ready to start getting beer into people’s hands with an homage to the past, despite having to push back its projected opening date.

Black Wheat Brewing, which is slated to open in February 2021 at the corner of 10th Street and Louise Avenue, is naming one of the first two beers brewed under its name "Empire Ale," in honour of the old Empire Brewing Company, said co-owner Ted Birch.

The IPA is named after the last brewery to operate in the Wheat City, which closed in the 1930s.

"We thought that was a fitting tribute — we’re the first brewery and that was the last one," he said.

The other beer, "Reality Czech," is a Czech-style pilsner that Birch describes as "refreshing" and not too heavy.

While the 10th Street craft brewery was originally slated to open in time for Christmas, delays with the brewery’s mechanical design mean the location is now planned to open early next year, but Birch said the goal is sooner.

There is also a firewall under construction in the building, which he said also pushed back the opening date.

When the Sun visited on Tuesday, large fermenting tanks were in the building and brewmaster Umber Awasthi said they would soon be set up.

Delays opening the brewery means the initial run of beer is brewed at Barn Hammer Brewing Company, in Winnipeg, while the fermenters and brewing equipment gets up and running locally.

The limited first run, which Awasthi was delivering on Tuesday, is meant to get feedback and make tweaks for the final product. Birch said it’s meant to get the brewery going and give people a taste of what is to come.

The two beers on offer are part of the brewery’s core lineup, and Awasthi is also working on a blueberry beer.

"We did have a bit of a rush to get them out in time for Christmas. We’re starting deliveries and they were just canned (Monday), so we trucked today’s deliveries out to Brandon and we have more going out (Wednesday)," he said.

Despite not brewing the beer in Brandon, Birch said it felt good to start canning under the brewery’s name.

"For us, it’s nice to finally get something out there into people’s hands," he said.

Once COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are loosened, Birch said the plan is to have seating for up to 75 people in the taproom and a patio.

"Hopefully by the time we’re done, COVID will be somewhat under control and we can actually get some people in there," Birch said.

"It’s a bit of a relief that we have some product out there and the taproom is coming along — things are progressing."

Brandonites can schedule a delivery of Black Wheat Brewing’s beer on Barn Hammer Brewing’s website.