The founders are relieved and excited to be putting their product out after many years of dreaming and planning. They see good times, community-building, and even awards in their future.
“We’ve been at this for years… lots of red tape to go through,” Co-founder Terry Zwarich said. “There’s been some frustrations, but we finally got our manufacturing permit not too long ago, now we’re looking forward to going.”
They thought they were almost ready to go two years ago, but assorted delays stretched the start date until now.
The space is impressive. Cody Schulze, another co-founder, shows a picture of an almost-empty warehouse bay that the start-up began with over two years ago. It has now been filled with brewing equipment. Neatly organized gas lines snake precisely across one wall, intersecting with an extractor hood over a pair of vats where milled malt barley is soaked, which then lead to a series of other vats where yeast is “pitched” and hops can be used to create a surprising variety of flavours.
The passion of the founders for their product is obvious. Zwarich goes through each step of the brewing process, with many asides to explain some of the chemistry involved. The maltiness has to be balanced with the hops, the brew must be inoculated to prevent wild yeasts and bacterias from colonizing it, colour is a factor, various specific gravities have to be measured and targeted, and the carbonation at the end of the process depends heavily on what style of beer they’re aiming for.
It is complicated, but they are enthusiasts. They have it figured out. Schulze and Zwarich also agree that the local brewing community is fully supportive. They say that no one worries about potential competition; they just want to help. If they are looking for equipment recommendations, or if they have questions about the legal processes they must navigate with the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), they can call any local brewery and get advice without hesitation.
The Schulze brothers did most of the work on the interior renovations for the brewery. Cody is a carpenter and his brother Cory is an electrician. Zwarich, a civil engineering technologist, helped out with designs. Other work, such as the gas lines, obviously needed additional certified professionals, but the three owners did as much as possible on their own.
“Whatever we could do, that didn’t need certification, we did,” Zwarich said. “Because it’s just us, we don’t have millions of dollars, we’re just trying to make this happen.”
There are still additional steps to be taken. A glycol cooling system powering a walk-in chiller (that kegs can be filled from) is first on the list. However, that’s just a matter of increasing scale. They have a nanosystem up and running, and product ready to go.
There are four main lines to start: a Belgian IPA, a light ale, a dark ale, and a lager. They are also determined to produce beer within the confines of each chosen style – specifically to compete for awards within those styles. Schulze explains that the key to that is going to be consistency, with precision through each step. One-offs and interesting specials will have a place, but the main goal will be a consistent fine-tuning of their mainstays.
Moose Jaw Brewing Company hopes to have its beer in local restaurants within a couple of weeks – beer drinkers who love local products should keep a sharp eye out.