Everything old will be old and everything new will be new
Take one smart, motivated economist desiring to return to his hometown, mix in one derelict heritage building in downtown Winnipeg and then add beer. Voila! A recipe for Little Brown Jug Brewing.
Founder Kevin Selch returned to Winnipeg in 2015 to create something that would combine his passion for Winnipeg, architectural restoration, and craft beer. For a decade he worked as an economist in Ottawa, witnessing the immediate impact that new businesses have on the life of a city. Kevin wanted more of that for Winnipeg.
He was introduced to Dana Moffatt, Ken Kasper, and Tarek Afifi, three Winnipeggers that shared his passion for Winnipeg and had been thinking about starting a craft brewery of their own.
The desire to help create the city we want to live in was the impetus to seek out an under-utilized building in the Exchange District and repurpose it as a brewery. The three investors signed on to the vision of Little Brown Jug, without a building, a beer, or brewmaster. But that would all change.
Originally the old livery stables for City Hall, the site became home to the Red River Motor Coach Lines in the 1920s, followed by a wallpaper store, and eventually a print shop.
A happenstance meeting in front of 336 William between Kevin and building owner Brian Scharfstein led to a re-imagining of the building for Little Brown Jug. The bones were good, it just needed to be dusted off and its full potential discovered.
It started with respect for the structure, left in tact or re-used wherever possible, with unapologetic contemporary additions where they were needed. The counter and benches are made from 100-year-old Douglas Fir board found hanging between the existing steel trusses. The space and its products were designed using largely local vendors. The 64-foot stretch of windows looking into the brewery were renewed, offering views into the space and providing a streetscape for the community. Kevin was determined to push the boundaries of how people think about a craft brewery and provide unparalleled transparency into the process of how the beer is made.
Kevin worked actively with the engineers, from the early days to LBJ’s first brew, to build a quality brewing system from the ground up. The brewhouse is Canadian-made and engineered and well equipped to offer a consistent and quality product. Many of the technologies employed at Little Brown Jug are often found in larger operations, but have been scaled to the 20 hectolitre production.
The roof has been insulated from the outside to allow for the revealed timbers inside. The energy used to boil the beer wort is recaptured to heat city water for the next brew – the brewhouse does not vent outside! Little Brown Jug setup a system of louvers to vent heat from the glycol chiller and air compressor outside in the summertime, but direct it inside all winter long. Back up heating runs off of the process boiler for the brewhouse. A 100-year old livery in downtown Winnipeg and no dedicated heat source.