Brewing up a future for downtown

Published on Tuesday, 21 March 2023 07:08

A new brewing company calling Dauphin home will be opening soon.

Obsolete Brewing Co., will operate out of the former Acklands building at 26 2nd Ave. NW.

The idea sprang from the minds of Ryan Vanderheyden, Steven Sobering and Kevin Steinbachs.

“Really, we just talked about it over the course of having beers, really,” said Vanderheyden. “We just talked about how it would be nice if Dauphin had a brewery. And then, at that time, we weren’t thinking about creating one. Then a couple of months down the road, we saw a building available. We went into the building, said, ‘this would be a great place for our brewery,’ and then we started it from there.”

According to Sobering, Vanderheyden is passionate about micro-brewing and beer making in general and already has ties to some micro-breweries in the province.

Sobering has an eye towards tourism and feels a brewery would help attract tourists to the area.

The group found a small batch brewing system and brewed a lot of beer in case they had to brew their product themselves.

“We brewed a lot of beer. It was pretty good. During COVID time, we weren’t able to get together with a lot of people, so we had some small tastings and they went over really well,” Vanderheyden said. “And then we just went through all the steps of finding the right equipment that would fit our size of company that we were going for. And finding everybody to be part of the team that we would need to hire to fit out the building.”

Advertising through the Internet, the group hired Marco Bardelli, a brewer from Brazil, who moved to Dauphin with his wife and two children not long ago.

“He’s replaced us for the brewing, which is probably beneficial to everybody involved. He’s a great brewer that has 12 years of craft brewing experience that will help us out starting up,” Vanderheyden said, adding Bardelli was able to correct some of the things the ownership group was doing. “We didn’t even know what we were doing wrong,” Sobering said.

“Even the equipment fit out, after ordering all our equipment, he did confirm we made the right choices in the size of equipment. But after going through the initial set up, he produced a massive list, like, ‘okay, now you also need this.’ I don’t even think we knew enough to know what we needed. It would have been a real trial and error, whereas now, we can hit the ground running, which is going to be a big benefit.”

The group purchased the lot right next door where Kelleher Ford used to be located and they plan to use that for parking, as well as a patio area, where patrons can sit.

The group, Vanderheyden said, envisions their area of the city as a craft district. The brewery is across the street from a bakery and meat shop, it is within walking distance of the Watson Art Centre and Vermillion Park.

“So people can walk in this area. So we hope we can encourage people to park in our area, come in, have a beer, go shopping at Prairie Supply Co., get some baking goods, a steak for the weekend and they can go home,” he said. “So we’re hoping to create a walking culture in the downtown here, where people can shop and see all the things that we have down here.”

Planning for the brewery began in 2020.

“We incorporated in November 2020,” Vanderheyden said.

Using their small brewing system, Bardelli has already manufactured more than 20 beer recipes. Because it is a small system, the beer does not last because of the tastings the group does.

“I think we have five or six at any given time for tastings. We’ve been touring people through here constantly, just different groups,” Sobering said.

The plan is to have a core line of six to eight different beer recipes, with as many as 20 available for tastings.

“We shifted the business model to be a tourist brewery. We can have a multitude of beers, so that everytime you come here, there will be something new to experience,” Sobering said, adding this will allow them to source local ingredients. There are also plans to produce non-alcoholic beers. “Our brewer makes kombucha, home-made lemonades, gingerale, the list actually goes on,” Vanderheyden said.

“We want the space not to feel like a lounge for people just to come to drink. We want it to be like a family friendly space, so kids can come and get that craft soda. They actually get to experience the new sodas, as well. And their parents can have a beer.”

They also plan to serve coffee.

Currently, the group is waiting for an electrical panel to be constructed. Once they receive that, there will be a bit of a process to get licensed at the provincial level.

“But we do hope to be manufacturing by April or May and maybe a grand opening by June,” Vanderheyden said.

Sobering said the production side of the business will be completed fast, so they can make beer in cans and kegs.

“So we can supply the liquor stores to sell over the counter or kegs in restaurants. But the tasting room will take a little longer, because it’s a different type of occupancy,” he said.

While there will be a learning curve when it comes to distribution, the plan is to provide their product in as many liquor stores as they can, while providing kegs to restaurants.

“And then selling out of the taproom. The best way to get the beer will be to come to the taproom. It will be the freshest. It will be the most variety,” Vanderheyden said.

Short-term there will not be many staff working at the brewery, but as the company grows, so too, will the number of staff needed.

Sobering noted all three partners in the brewery are community-minded.

“We’re all very invested in Dauphin’s prosperity and want to make Dauphin and great place to live. We want to attract some of those visitors, just that little extra step to come to Dauphin,” he said. “If we can sell our beer throughout the province and bring those revenues back here, we can just keep putting it back into the business and back into the community and keep adding more amenities. I think that was one thing all three of us are very committed to.”

Sobering has not heard any negativity around the project, adding people are positive about it.

“People are really excited about it,” he said. “I definitely think it’s going to be a real asset. It might mark a point in time where it’s before-and-after. We kind of want to see ourselves as what we do for Dauphin and this part of the city is what Lakehouse did for Clear Lake when they upgraded. Sometimes it just takes that catalyst, that first step to create that snowball effect. And we’re really hopeful that it’s going to be a hit.”

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Published in Dauphin Herald News