Women's Brews x 2!

Each year we are proud to kick the boys out of the brew house and teach a team of local ladies how to brew beer on an industrial scale. We have partnered in years past with local organizations, clubs, and individuals to create some really interesting (and intense) beers!

This year, the response to the call for volunteers was so massive we wound up hosting 2 separate brew days, and produced 2 very different and unique beers! We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who expressed interest in the brew days, and don’t fret if you didn’t make it to this year’s roster, we are already planning bigger and better things for next year!

Normally, we work to release these beers on International Women’s Day (March 8th) but this year, due to incredibly cold temperatures that virtually stalled our fermentation processes, the brews will be released closer to the end of the month. That’s okay! Great things are worth the wait and we want to make sure these beers are the best they can be.

2019 featured 2 teams of ladies brewing 2 unique individual brews featuring 1 main ingredient— chocolate!

We added 7-8kg of raw cocoa nibs to each batch then altered the malt and hops profile of each to create two unique brews each featuring a chocolate hint of flavour in an interesting and provocative way!

The first team brewed a 7.8% Strong Stout called the Dark Chocolate Diffractors — this beer features intense flavours of dark chocolate, espresso, and a bare hint of sweetness.

The second team brewed a 5.5% Chocolate-Caramel Cream Ale called the Pyrolitic Posse — featuring forward notes of caramel and biscuit, a hint of chocolate, and a bold sweetness that tantalizes the taste-buds!

Normally, we’d partner with amazing friends and local female restaurantuers to launch this beer, and this year is no different! On March 22nd we will celebrate the grand launch of these two bitchin’ brews paired with desserts from a variety of local, female-owned and operated restaurants and businesses! Ready to get the party started? Check our event out on Facebook to RSVP! See you soon Lethbridge!

Kelti Baird
We Commit.

We were delighted to quietly turn 3 back on December 18th, 2018. Everyone always says the first 3 years of a small business are the hardest, and boy, can we relate. The road hasn’t been easy, and we’ve taken our share of hits, but we still enjoy the ride and look forward to an incredible 2019 and year 4.

Depending on how the next couple of months go, we are planning an expansion. Assuming we can keep pace with our brewing and continue to make record breaking sales (thanks for that, valued customer!) we will be adding another 1200 square feet to our warehouse in the spring. We can’t do it without you, and we are excited for the changes coming down the proverbial pipe.

But more than expansion into new space, and adding some really fun toys (hello, barrel aging program), we will also be committing. As more and more fantastic breweries open and grow, we want to commit to staying small, and local, and we wanted to tell you a little about that today.

We Commit.

To Lethbridge: we remain committed to growing a local craft beer scene and creating delicious locally made beers from local ingredients. We are working at lining up a winter-time local music scene in the brewery, and will be investigating local winter out-door events as well (because we are Canadian and Winter is our time to shine!). We want to support as many local organizations, events, fundraisers, committees and businesses as we possibly can. We are looking forward to doing incredible things for the arts and music scene here and are working hard to get our ideas on that point flowing just as much as the beer does!

To Alberta: We know we have clients outside of our hometown and sometimes, being a small company, we are not as able to come and visit with you as much as we would normally like. We love and value each and every one of you, and are hoping to share your successes throughout the year with our growing community! Whether you are down in the south close to our stomping grounds or WAAAY up there (looking at Manning!) we want to celebrate your joys and successes. We promise to keep telling everyone we meet just how incredible you are.

And to our suppliers, Red Shed Malting Co., Canada Malting Co., and anyone else we purchase from here in Alberta: keep being amazing. We cannot get over the incredible quality and service of what you provide and we love buying from you. All the best.

To Canada: Despite some border crossing shenanigans in other areas, we are wholly welcoming to everyone across the nation and hope to one day be able to serve our beer to everyone from sea-to-sea-to-sea. In the meantime, we will proudly source our ingredients, equipment, bottles, labels, yeast, and anything else we get from local companies! We love living in this country, and we love to support our Canadian brothers and sisters.

To The Planet: 2018 was the year we began to expand our knowledge of environmental impact in the brewing business. We understand what it takes to make our product, and what kind of impact our practices have on the environment. We are working to minimize. In 2019 we will be heavily investigating new technologies to help power our plant through renewable energy. We will set up an even more comprehensive recycling program and work to reduce the amount of non-recyclable/re-usable materials coming into our building. We will take pains to ensure everything we do is sourced ethically and environmentally, and that sustainability for both us and the planet is paramount in our business.

And finally, to you: we commit to creating an incredible experience at Theoretically Brewing. We want you to find another home within our walls, where you can feel accepted and appreciated for the wonderful people you are. We commit to providing you with excellent beer, excellent service, and an excellent experience. This will be our way of thanking you for all your support.

Kelti Baird
Supporting Local in the Alberta Economy!

Recently, the Alberta Government increased the minimum wage in the province to $15.00/hour, which in most Albertan communities (probably not Calgary) is considered a ‘living wage’. If you are unfamiliar with the term ‘living wage’ it implies that someone can live comfortably on that wage working full time. Pre-1980s, living wages were considered enough to support a small household on one income, but in recent years the living wage has shifted to mean it can support a single person, or a couple, on one annual income.

This is certainly a step in the right direction, and there are a lot of businesses out there who support living-wage policies in Alberta. For a long time there has been a surplus of businesses (mainly large corporate entities) relying on foreign labour programs and minimum-wage employees to keep their profit margins high in lean times. This often means that businesses overload their HR rosters with minimum-wage employees who are given short shifts and part-time hours with no benefits instead of employing full-time workers entitled to benefits and other neat things like paid vacation.

While job-creation numbers appear good, this means that fewer people are making ends meet, and often are required to hold down several jobs (often at contradictory or inconvenient hours) in order to pay basic bills. It’s tough.

However, there is a segment of business that does support a living wage as a minimum wage, and we are proud to count ourselves among them. While other business owners may be feeling the strain of the increase, since Day 1 at the brewery we have paid better than a living wage to all our employees so the increases don’t really effect us. We do appreciate though, that some locally-owned companies are feeling the pinch of increased costs around their labour, and so we wanted to write today to remind you to Support Local.

I know what you’re thinking. Local shops can have weird, inconvenient hours. The products inside are generally more expensive than big box-stores and online shopping. Going outside means (ugh) you might have to “people” if you walk into a friendly local shop.

It will be okay. (Some shop owners don’t want to people either, so if you tell them you aren’t in the mood to socialize they will be happy to leave you alone…we do this all the time.)

Spending your dollar at your local stores ensures that those stores have some kind of future as we watch more and more retail business switch to convenience-driven online purchases, or box-store visits. Yes, it is mildly less convenient to make 2 stops instead of 1 “supercentre” stop, but it means that you are keeping local businesses viable, and keeping your hard-earned dollar in the community rather than send it to some off-shore tax haven account and buying a millionaire another yacht.

There has definitely been a shift in market trends in the last decade or so. The mega-stores are starting to feel the pinch of online buying, while local store owners are beginning to glimpse the horizon of a “shop local” economy that is being driven by, of all people, Millennials!

That’s right, the dreaded Millennial and Gen Zeds are threatening the whole global economy by *gasp! sourcing local! As more information comes out about our wasteful food systems, our over-processed “not-quite-food-but-still-edible-substances”, and the general societal wealth discrepancies in western cultures, we are starting to realize our system is kind of broken. Pair that with a hyper-awareness of global climate change and social inequities in developing countries and we have a recipe for a renaissance of local shopping.

But, it is a long hard slog, and we are going to lose a lot of amazing businesses along the way. While we in the craft brewing and distilling industries are experiencing a “boom” in the number of Albertan breweries opening up (congrats to all our new industry friends, by the way!) we will also start to see some market competitiveness. Don’t get us wrong, some market competition increases innovation in the marketplace and weeds out poor product— meaning it can be a good thing, BUT, we also have to remember that over 80% of Alberta’s beer market share is still owned by 3 mega-corporation breweries (Molson, Labatt, and Budweiser) and all their “craft” brands that they secretly own.

It is time for small business across Alberta to band together and promote each other, and that doesn’t mean breweries just supporting other breweries, or just those locations on our client rosters. It means that we need to reach into pockets of the community and seek partnerships with other businesses to strengthen our “shop local” message. There are so many opprotunties for thinking outside the box in our fledgling industry, and it’s time that local business lifted each other up on the rising tide of the Shop Local movement.

So, how do we put our money where our mouth is? Well, we are proud to tell you that we are sourcing 99% of our ingredients from Canadian markets (the 1% not sourced from Canadian markets are not made in Canada and must be sourced from the US...the minute we find a Canadian producer we will make the switch!)

This is a good start, but it doesn’t really help out some of our in-town business friends. So we are putting a challenge out to our staff and our clients: take 1 month out of the year and source everything extra you buy: food, coffee, entertainment, experiences, etc. from a local producer. Just 30 days of shopping local can have an amazing effect. No chains, no short-cuts, no online shopping for 30 days.

And! Since January is the HARDEST MONTH EVER for small businesses…we are going to be launching this initiative January 1st, 2019.

Kelti Baird
No, your tax dollars do not fund our business. Here's how the system actually works.

With the recent ordered repeal of the Alberta Small Brewers Development Grant (ASBDG) there has been a lot of comments made that tax-payer dollar shouldn't go to support small local breweries. We couldn't agree with you more. The thing is though, it doesn't.

The Alberta Small Brewer's Development Grant is essentially a tax refund disguised as a grant -- which is probably why it was repealed. How it worked is that brewers pay a mark-up to the Alberta Government based on how much beer they sell in a given month. When we opened our brewery the tax structure was stepped to give us small brewers a little bit of an advantage: we paid $0.10/L while larger producers who enjoy greater economy of scale paid around $1.25/L. In 2016 it was ruled that the stepped structure was unfair and created a trade barrier, so the government created a level tax for all brewers regardless of size at $1.25/L.

Picture for a moment, you are a small business owner in your first years of operations. Your costs are high, your revenues are depressingly low, and the government announces that your taxes are going up 1150%. Yeah, we basically had a heart-attack too. We were stressed.

Instead of killing our business, the government then develops the ASBDG which will essentially provide a tax refund back to your original tax rate. That's awesome! It's going to come in once a month and be based entirely off the last month's sales. So the more beer you sell, the more you pay, but also the more you get back. That's fine, it's a tax refund, and it means that while it will hurt for 29 days, you will get a lump-sum payment each month that makes you flush with cash and you don't have to pass that tax increase along to your lovely and much-appreciated customers. While some breweries took the opportunity of the tax increase to raise the prices on their beer, we kept our prices the same knowing that the tax refund would make us whole again and was just a few weeks away. The province has been operating this way for almost 2 years when, this week, the grant was deemed unconstitutional and unfair. We find this ruling to be the epitome of ironic comedy and here is why:

1. Alberta enjoys the only open alcohol market in Canada, meaning that anyone in the world  can list their product with the AGLC for $75.00 and sell their alcohol here. This has 2 major outcomes: it creates an intensely competitive market for small local producers, and it means an absolutely astounding selection of liquor for consumers.

You would think, then, that other provinces would operate in a similar way, but that isn't the case. With the exception of Saskatchewan, which is slowly making gains in opening its borders (you can even find our beer there!) it is actually easier for small producers like ourselves to list our product in Montana, Idaho, and Washington State in the USA (WHILE NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS ARE ONGOING) than it is to list in any other province or territory in our own country. This is because independent liquor boards and commissions were established at the end of prohibition in the 1920s and they have spawned protectionist policies since then.

As an example: Kel is from BC where she knows a lot of people in the liquor biz. She would love to be able to sell her product in BC but she can't because of BC's prohibitive practices involving liquor imports. Information on how to get product into BC is virtually non-existant but what we have been able to figure out is that: we would need a liquor agent to list the product ($$), ship the product to BC ($$), store the product in a separate warehouse from BC made product where the warehousing fees are up to 4x higher than those the BC manufacturers have to pay ($$$$), pay to ship the product from the warehouse to the retailer ($$), and then rent shelf-space in BC liquor stores for each of our products ($$$$$$$). Ontario and Quebec are even more prohibitive and, well, I don't think anyone really knows about Manitoba...

So what this means is that while Alberta enjoys an open liquor market and anyone producing alcohol all over the world can list here, including the breweries currently in litigation with the Alberta Government over their protectionist policies: Looking at You Steamwhistle & Great Western, Alberta producers are confined to their own home market. If you want to talk about uneven playing fields: BC producers often ship up to 80% of their product into the Alberta market because it is cheaper to sell it here than in their home market, and Alberta producers can ship 0% into BC.

So at this point you might be thinking "that's crazy! We all live in the same country but I can't get Alberta beer outside of Alberta!?" (exception: Big Rock, and Toolshed, and a couple others). The answer to that is, correct: and it doesn't look like it will change any time soon. So while producers in other provinces enjoy the competitive advantage of a restricted market, and often CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT GRANTS FOR BREWERS THAT ARE TAX-PAYER FUNDED *stares at Ontario, where breweries were awarded a $2million grant for improvements*. Instead of these issues being tackled as unconstitutional and providing an unfair advantage, a tax-refund in Alberta that dolls out only a percentage of what the brewery itself puts into it is repealed instead. 

That makes total sense. Sarcasm intended.

Kelti Baird