Square Timber Brewing Company 3
Ottawa Valley brewery, Square Timber Brewing Company, will officially open their retail doors for the first time at 3pm today – exactly 1 year to the day they started construction. The first beer available for sale in growlers will be the Deacon Street Hefeweizen that's described as an "easy drinking German wheat beer".
Square Timber will be celebrating the launch of their first beer at JJ's Restaurant and Tap (601 Pembroke Street East) on September 12 at 5:00pm. Join the brewer/owner, Marc Bru, for a celebratory pint of Deacon Street Hefe!
Square Timber Brewing Company is located at 800 Woito Station Road in Pembroke, Ontario.
In case you didn't notice, craft beer is blowing up in Ottawa, with the opening of several new breweries, expansions of existing facilities and even our own growler delivery service. Much of the action is happening just outside of Ottawa, but since we're sharing an area code we're still pretty excited to hear about new beer!
To help you, the craft beer fan, keep track of who's opening what, where and when, we'll be running a series on upcoming breweries and the people behind them. Some are at the point of being able to open, others are knocking on doors trying to get funding or supervising their brewery being built from the ground up.
For our final interview in our new brewery series we interviewed Marc Bru from Square Timber Brewing Company in Pembroke, Ontario. If that name sounds familiar you might remember Bru from National Capital Craft Beer Week, it was an American Pale Ale he brewed in collaboration with Beyond the Pale Brewing Company and it was quite popular! Since the festival he's been busy building a brewery in Pembroke and it might just be open this February. I can't wait to finally try some Belgian Waffle!
Ottawa Beer Events: Tell us a little about yourself, the beer you brew and your (upcoming) brewery.
Marc Bru (Square Timber Brewing Company): I was born and raised in North Battleford, SK but left there when I was 16 and never really went back. I grew up around beer as my Dad worked in distribution for all the major breweries for 30+ years and then he worked in packaging at Great Western Brewing Company in Saskatoon for 4 or 5 years before he retired. Although it wasn't craft beer, it was still beer and I was always interested in the beer business. I spent the 2000's as a full-time touring musician and we toured 250+ days on the road. Our travels took us to many craft beer meccas throughout the US and Europe. We always tried to visit as many micro/craft breweries as possible and I made some great contacts and friends in the craft beer world throughout those years.
We brew what we like to drink. I think that's important for any brewery. We're starting with 4 year-round beers: Timber Crib Pale Ale, Big Pine IPA, Camboose DIPA & Deacon Seat Hefeweizen. These will be available on tap throughout the Valley & Ottawa as well as in growlers at the brewery. We'll also be selling our seasonal/specialty beers in bottles at the brewery. Our main seasonal beers are from our Sugar Shack series. These are made with maple sap collected from the maple trees right on our property. There are 4 beers in the Sugar Shack series but in 2014 we'll probably just concentrate on the Belgian Waffle Quad and Spile Driver DIPA. We'll have our hands full with these.
We'll be brewing on a 10 hectolitre system in our 1200 sq. ft. brewery. It's not a huge space but we've laid it out so it's fairly efficient. We have a tasting room, albeit small, for people to try the beers before getting a growler or bottle. We'll have other stuff for sale there too like t-shirts, glassware, etc. We're looking forward to brewing!
Why did you decide to go pro and brew commercially?
I've had many careers so far in my life but most have been in the creative side of things and I see this as a natural progression. As I mentioned, I grew up around beer and it's something I've wanted to do for a long time. When I hit 35 I pretty much knew this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I'm a bit past 35 now, ahem, but we're getting there.
What have been your biggest challenges?
We've been lucky so far with support coming from a lot of different areas. Our biggest challenges at the start were financing and location but we were able to arrange both without great delays. I would say sourcing equipment and materials has easily been our biggest challenge that we struggle with on a day to day basis. There are so many equipment manufacturers out there now that selection and price are much better than say 5 or 10 years ago but it makes for a rather confusing and sometimes frustrating process to pick who to buy from. Also, because we're constructing our facility from the ground up, it's been a full-time job keeping that on schedule at the same as doing all of the equipment sourcing, permitting, marketing, planning, etc. All in all though, knock on wood barrels, we've been pretty lucky.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start a brewery?
Hmm…good question. I think if somebody is considering opening a brewery they should already know how to make great beer. Not just the odd batch of homebrew, but be brewing steady. You have to know what kind of beer you like to drink and brew, not just what you think might sell. Surround yourself with a great team that can help you out with the multitude of decisions you'll have to make. Also, talk to other brewers and brewery owners as they'll be the best resource you'll find anywhere. And, most importantly, have fun. After all, it's beer!
If everything goes as planned, when will we be able to have a pint of your beer?
We stopped putting hard time lines on opening simply because there are so many variables beyond our control that can affect timing. That being said, if the rest of the steps we have to take go perfectly, with no delays, we hope to be brewing and selling by sometime in February. We're thinking sometime around maple syrup season would be a great time for a grand opening and subsequent anniversary parties 🙂
With National Capital Craft Beer Week in full swing we thought it would be fun to preview some of the special beers that will be making an appearance at the two day festival capping off the week long celebration (August 16 & 17, Marion Dewar Plaza).
Square Timber Brewing Company is a soon-to-be brewery located in the Ottawa Valley run by Marc Bru. Since the brewery isn't yet operational, he will be
collaborating with Beyond the Pale's Shane Clark a this weekend's
festival. We chatted with him about the brewery and the special beer:
Ottawa Beer Events: How did you get interested in brewing and where did you learn?
Marc Bru (Square Timber Brewing Company): I grew up in and around beer as my Dad worked in distribution for all
the major breweries in my home province of Saskatchewan for 30+ years
and then he worked in packaging at Great Western Brewing Company in
Saskatoon for 4 or 5 years before he retired. Although it wasn't craft
beer, it was still beer and I was always intrigued by the beer biz. My
job as a full time touring musician brought me to many great beer
towns/cities throughout the US and Europe as well. We always tried to
visit as many micro/craft breweries as possible and I made some great
contacts and friends in the craft beer world throughout those years.
I've been brewing small batches (5g) for many years and completed two
apprenticeships with a brewery in Michigan. I learned a lot about craft
beer and the craft of brewing there. Quick story… My Dad ran the
warehouse where all the beer for western and northern Saskatchewan was
received from the breweries and then shipped out to bars, hotels,
restaurants, etc. They also took in the bottle returns from these
accounts as well as from the public and then would send them back to the
breweries. When the breweries all switched from stubbies to their own
versions of the longneck bottle in the 80's we had to sort them so each
brewery would get their own bottles back. The first couple of years
were difficult because people wouldn't sort their bottles and would just
bring them in unsorted. and dirty. and stinking. My job for 2 whole
summers was to stand out in the sun, sorting bottles. The smell was
usually awful, on a good day, and it was amazing the things you would
find in beer bottles. But, even with all of that, it was still the best
place to work and I loved every minute of it. The coffee breaks were
pretty good too 🙂
Why did you decide to open a brewery?
By the time I hit 35 I had a pretty good feeling that this is what I was
going to do some day. It has taken a bit longer than the original plan
but we'll get there.
Where did the name Square Timber come from?
The Ottawa Valley was settled on the square timber trade back in the
1800's. Crews would spend the winters in lumber camps cutting white and
red pines into squared logs, pile them on the ice and in the spring
they would assemble them into cribs and rafts, float them down the
Ottawa River to Quebec City where the majority were then shipped over to
England for shipbuilding. The people, history and culture of the
Ottawa Valley are rich and colourful and we want to pay respect to these
with our company's philosophy and our beers – hand hewn ales and lagers
from the heart of the Ottawa Valley.
We heard you brewed a beer with Beyond the Pale for the National Capital Craft Beer Festival, can you tell us about it?
BTP's Shane Clark and I wanted to brew something that neither one of us
currently brew or plan to brew in our respective breweries. We decided
on an American Pale Ale with tonnes of late tropically hops to give it
great aroma and flavour without peeling the enamel off your teeth. We
wanted it to be in the 5% range as well so people could have more than
one 🙂 We're going to release it at the Beer Festival and it will be
available in the Beyond the Pale booth. Also, I will be sharing a booth
with 2 other "soon to open" breweries in the Ottawa area – Covered
Bridge Brewing in Stittsville and Rurban Brewing in Cornwall. We
wanted to be able to meet and chat with the beer fans and tell them
about our breweries and beers. We're looking forward to the Festival!
When will Square Timber Brewing Company will be up and running?
At this point, with all of the steps left to be taken, it's anybody's
guess really but if I was to venture a guess…how does 2013 sound? 😉
Whenever it is, we'll let everyone know.
You can follow Marc Bru on Twitter (@SquareTimber) or Facebook (Square Timber Brewing Company) – be warned though, he posts about the beer he brews and it may make you a little upset that you can't drink it!
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