An inside look at the Farmery

Published on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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Photos by Diane Ruzycki, Eoin Devereux and Kate Jackman-Atkinson. The first stop on the tour was the Wawaruks’ newest plot of hops. They just installed the trellises, made of reclaimed hydro poles, in July of last year. Once the plants get more established, they plan to add another row of poles in between each one that is up already.

By Press Staff

The Neepawa Press

On Friday, May 27, brothers Lawrence and Eric Wawaruk took some of the Press staff on a tour of the Farmery hops yards and brewery. Farmery is an estate brewery, which means they grow their own ingredients for the beer they brew. 

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Left: The plants at the newer hops field haven’t started growing up the trellises yet. Lawrence Wawaruk showed Kate Jackman-Atkinson what the vines look like on the ground. Right: In the older plots, the plants  have already started to climb the trellises. The vines have to be “trained” to grow up the lines by moving them by hand toward the line so that they start to wrap around it.

The tour started in the Arden area, where they grow one of their key ingredients, hops. They seeded their first crops in 2011 at the old U-pick strawberry fields. The plants don’t produce any hops for the first year, so they got their first crop in 2012. Hops are a perennial plant, so they only have to seed them once and they will grow on the land for years to come.

They recently started a new field just northwest of the original crops. They seeded that crop two years ago and just set up the trellises last year. Now, they have about 20 acres of hops growing. 

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Left: The hops growing up the trellises in one of the plots at the former U-pick strawberry fields. Twine is hung from the poles for the hops to wrap around and climb up as they grow. Right: Some of the hops flowers that were left on the trellises from last year. The flowers are what is harvested and used to flavour the beer. This variety, cascade hops, is the kind they use to get a “citrusy” flavour.

The Wawaruk brothers also grow their own barley in the area and at their family farm in Erickson. Altogether, they have over 250 acres of barley. They are also starting to grow rye for potential future products.  

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They just started growing rye this year to try in new recipes. This field of rye was fall seeded. Left: Lawrence explained that rye grows up to the height of where his hand is. Right: A close-up of the head of a rye plant. 

After the crops, Eric and Lawrence took the staff to the new brewery site in Neepawa, which is still undergoing some construction. 

The brewery is located at the former Mazergroup building on highway 5. The back shop area is what is being set up as the brewing, storage and packaging area. 

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 The opening to one of the brewing bins. There are three different bins for the three stages. Pictured is the first one, where the malted barley gets mixed into a “mash”, which will be strained after about an hour when it travels to the second bin. The third bin is where the hops get infused, using what is basically a giant tea bag to get the flavour into the mixture.

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Lawrence showed the staff up to a platform in the brewing room, where brewers can get to the openings of the three brewing bins to keep an eye on the process. 

The first room that you enter from the back of the office is where the beer will be brewed. It has three different vessels for the different stages of brewing. From there, it goes to the second room, where it gets stored and fermented in two larger vessels. In that same room, they have a pasteruizing machine, which is used on some of their products. They will also have a packaging machine set up to can the beer once its finished.

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The second room in the brewery is the storage and packaging room. There are two tall vessels, like the one in the top right corner of the picture, where the beer is stored and fermented. The two shorter vessels left of the taller one in the picture are used for storage after the brew is done fermenting. The storage vessels hold about 14,000 cans worth of beer.

All of the brewing and storage vessels are set up, they just need to be connected and tested before they start to brew. The brothers estimated that they will hopefully be able to start using the facility in about three weeks.