Bench Creek Brewing Is a Real Butte

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A long journey has finally come full circle for Bench Creek Brewing Owner Andrew Kulynych.

The one time Pilot Butte resident was in Saskatchewan recently showing off his line of craft beers that he’s been perfecting in Edson, Alberta for the past number of years. That included a stop at Happy Hour for a taste testing.

“It’s been a long go, almost eight years since I’ve been back to Saskatchewan,” said Kulynych.

Growing up, Kulynych bounced around the region living in Pilot Butte, White City, and Regina with various stops in Alberta as well. For a while now, he’s lived outside of Edson and for the longest time, his dream was to set up a brewery in his backyard. Before he could get to that point Kulynych had to figure out just what he was doing and like most craft brewers, he started as a home brewer.

“I used to just brew on Sunday, in my pajamas in the front yard,” said Kulynych. “I loved it, that was my Sundays. I had Beerfest playing, I had my first pack by 10 o’clock, don’t judge. I was mashed in.”

Apparently, Kulynych was doing some pretty good work before turning pro, as wildlife in the area actually got used to him brewing. Deers would congregate in the area every time he brewed because of the smell.

Even though Kulynych enjoyed brewing beer for himself, he always had that itch to take it to the next level and open a brewery. All it took was a change in government red tape to allow him to follow his dream.

“For most in Alberta it was kind of the same. Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) always had a volume requirement. When you opened a brewery. You had to be able to produce 5,000 hectolitres a year right off the start. That was really hard for most people because it required a large capital requirement.”

Once that pesky requirement was dropped, Kulynych knew he had to put his money where his mouth is and get to work. He started to put together a business plan, proved he could build a 5,000 square foot brewery in his backyard and with plenty of support from friends and family Bench Creek Brewing was born.

Kulynych also learned pretty quick that going from homebrewer to professional brewer is a big change. Sometimes you have to make decisions that are better for a business that you wouldn't have made as a home brewer. That included the understanding that he didn’t know it all. So, he hired a brewmaster to help him out.

It’s safe to say that things have been working out for Kulynych and he’s very happy to be able to sell beer in his home province.

“I’m old enough to remember when I watched Strange Brew, how people used to have to order alcohol at the liquor store,” he said. “The fact that Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) and the province are getting a little more flexible, allowing more choice for the consumer is fantastic to see. We’re pretty proud.”

Joel Gasson