Rising the Ranks: Southern Sasktchewan Beer making a name for itself
Believe it or not, Southern Saskatchewan is making a big name for itself in the world of beer.
Recently, pop-culture and lifestyle website Uproxx listed Regina has one of the 30 best beer cities in the world. Not in Canada or North America, but the world. This list, which can be found here, includes some real heavy hitters in the beer world. Some have been producing world class suds for hundreds of years.
In this area, we’re still relatively new to the craft beer scene but that hasn’t stopped the place that we call home from quickly rising the ranks.
“I think it’s awesome. We have a very burgeoning scene right now,” said Pile O’ Bones co-owner Glenn Valgardson.
In his mind, Valgardson believes that it’s about time that Regina and area get it’s due when it comes to beer. It wasn’t too long ago, an article in the Globe and Mail proclaimed that the region was an up and coming “Oakanagan of beer.” The Oakanagan Valley is of course known for their wine, so why can’t Regina be known for it’s beer?
Perhaps it’s fitting that Southern Saskatchewan is becoming one of the Canadian beer capitals. We’re a hard working, determined area that loves a cold beer after a long day of work. That’s a bit of a generalization but I think it’s pretty true overall.
Of course, it takes more than a love of beer to create good beer. It takes world class ingredients. Not surprisingly, some of the best stuff to make beer in the world is grown right here in our own backyard.
“We have the best barley on the planet,” said Valgardson.
Barley is, of course, the most popular ingredient used to make beer.
The fact that we produce some of the best beer ingredients, is leading to many people who maybe wouldn't have swayed from their favourites to give local brews, like Rebellion's Lentil Cream Ale a try. Thanks to it's local connection, the Lentil Cream Ale is a huge hit in rural Saskatchewan.
Beer is starting to catch on so much in Saskatchewan that Valgardson gets phone calls from farmers looking to sell their goods to him. At that time he tells them that barley needs to be malted first but he points them in the right direction to get that done. Including some local companies that are starting to pop-up.
He also gets the occasional call from a soon-to-be retired farmers who is thinking of getting into brewing.
His biggest advice for people who are considering getting into the beer business? Be ready to put in the work, there's going to be a lot of sweat equity. It’s a lot of physical labour, with low margins, growth (and hiring a crew) takes time. That means you have to be ready to do the literal heavy lifting of kegs and flats of beer to help get your business of the ground.
After that, you better care about beer, because the consumer will notice who does and who doesn’t.
That’s especially true when the bar has already been set pretty high.