Monday, 6 January 2014

Episode 2014 - A New Hope

As the rusty hinges of another year creak loudly shut behind us, we lean forward and reach out excitedly too turn the shiny door knob of a new year (expect in Vancouver where they've banned door knobs. Brilliant).  And as this passage way to a new year slowly opens ahead of us, we take time to reflect on what the past 365 days has brought us.

Here at Sawdust City, 2013 was a very busy year. The biggest news being that we finally purchased the building that will house our new brewery, retail store and eventually our own on-site restaurant. We began the process to purchase the space way back in February and finally in July the deal closed and it became official. Not only did we purchase the building but we've also started construction, getting it ready for the coming brew house.  Yes, the deal took longer than we anticipated, but in the end, it finally closed and we couldn't have been happier.  It's 20,000 square feet of home!  Finally we have a place to call our own, and as construction continues, the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter every day.

We not only got larger by adding a new building, but we also grew by adding another member to our small team. Early last year we hired a brewer to look after the day to day brewing duties at Black Oak. In April, Aaron Spinney joined our team and came on board as our Head Brewer.  Since then he's brought his passion for beer and his colourful imagination to the Sawdust City family, helping us too not only continue to grow but too have a fun doing it!

As the mercury continued to rise and summer quickly approached, we launched our very first beer at the LCBO. On May 17th our Lone Pine IPA went live on the shelf.  I can't believe it's been nine months...dang time sure flies, but it continues to sell well and we've been more than happy with the reception to the our first release.  So to all y'all that keep buyin' Lone Pine, thank you, we truly do appreciate all the support you've given us and we'll keep doin' our best to bring you a damn fine IPA.

In June, Rob and I had the pleasure of travelling to Norway to collaborate on a beer with a local independent brewery. Honestly, I never pictured travelling halfway around the world to brew a beer, but dang if it didn't happen. It's still kinda hush hush as the beer is still being developed, but all signs point to go and hopefully we'll see the beer hit shelves in Norway sometime in February. Both Rob and I are very excited and we're very hopeful our first international collaboration works out well. 

The rest of the summer was a blur of beer sales, amazing weekend festivals, tap take overs and events of all kinds. I could write entire blog entries on each event, but I'll spare you the gory details...just trust that it was fun.

The summer came to a close with our first seasonal release at the LCBO, our Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus, being shipped out to the warehouse.  Again, it took a lot longer to hit the shelves than we would've liked (almost 60 days in the warehouse!), but in the end we've been blown away by the response to LDV.  We sent just under 5,000 bottles to the LCBO and as of today (in just over 2 months on the actual shelf) there is less than 100 bottles left (so hurry and a grab some!).  Dag.  Again, to all y'all that decided to take the Long, Dark Voyage, thank you and we're gonna do our best to continue to bring you fun, great tasting, imaginative seasonal releases in 2014!

As Fall settled in and construction on our building continued, Rob and I travelled to DME in Prince Edward Island to have one final inspection of our completed brew house. It was fantastic to see it completed. After months of discussions and endless planning, to see it there, in all it's stainless steel glory was...well....it was glorious.  All shiny and new...and finished. Dang, we were both over the moon. But then, as we hit the town to celebrate our new brew house, life, as it tends to do, brought us quickly back down to earth.  Something went wrong with our latest shipment of Lone Pine to the LCBO and we had to recall the batch. It was a monetary disaster, but we ultimately we couldn't afford to send this beer out.  This was definitely the low point of 2013. 

But each year has it's ups and downs, and as a whole, 2013 has been mostly up for the Sawdust City Brewing Co. And instead of wallowing in self pity over this misstep we quickly rebounded by brewing another batch of awesome Lone Pine IPA, releasing our next fantastic seasonal Kolsch'45 to bars and restaurants across the province and lastly by being the centerfold in TAPS the beer magazine (which was a ton of fun).

So 2013 ended in a flourish for the Sawdust City Brewing Co., and lookin' back, it was one helluva year! Sure it wasn't perfect but we made lots of new friends, had some ridiculous adventures, brewed some awesome beer and we got way closer to our dream of finally opening our doors in Gravenhurst.
2014 is shaping up to be pretty great too.

Firstly we got two new releases coming out very shortly, Bloody Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus a 9.7% Raspberry Imperial Stout and Futhered Muzzy, a 6.7% Belgo-Irish Brownish Ale. This last beer was a collaboration we did with Monty Bretin, winner of this years Mighty Mustache Competition at The Only CafĂ©.  Both are slated for home delivery through Amazing Clubs of Canada. You'll also be able to find them at bars and restaurants across the province.  Like I said earlier, we gonna continue to try and bring you some more fun releases throughout the year, but look for these two beers real soon!

Another thing we're very excited about in the new year is our new canning line coming at the end of February.  A brand spankin' new 12 head rotary filler from Palmer Canning - Beer Canning Lines (www.palmercanning.com) Excuse my Fench, but it's the balls! We are very excited to add this new piece of equipment to the Sawdust City arsenal.  If you get a chance, pop by their website and take a look at it, like I said...it's the balls!
To go along with our new canning line, we've been workin' on the art for our new cans as well, and I don't mind sayin'...but they are absolutely amazing! Our graphic guru Shannon has done a knock out job creating these new cans and Rob, Karla and I are so excited to show you them.  I can't show you them right now as Shannon is still finishing them up, but as soon as we have completed version, we'll be showin' everyone!

Lastly, and probably most importantly...our opening date. Construction is starting to ramp up and things are coming together at the building.  Our hope is to be open by Easter 2014. Now, if this past year has taught me anything, it's that things always take longer than you anticipated. Maybe it's the heady feeling of a new year though, but I'm extremely optimistic about this date and as of now, it looks like this is gonna happen.  (*crossing fingers*)

Anyhoo, that's about it for now. Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust under your feet!

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