Above: Owners Josh Watson (left) and Kerry Lamoureux (right) will hold their Take Home Grand Opening Saturday, Apr. 18 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Submitted Photo
by Stephen Dafoe
After more than a year of planning and hard work, it wasn’t the big opening they expected, but Sturgeon Brewing Company is finally ready to serve Morinville and area craft beer drinkers.
The brewery, located at 9918 100 Street, across from Smith Music, will open Saturday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. for what they are calling their Take Home Grand Opening. They are assuring customers that the opening will comply with all COVID-19 safe practices.
Beer drinkers will now be able to buy a growler of several craft beers made right here in Morinville. Customers can buy a new growler bottle or they can bring their own growler if they do not mind waiting a little longer for it to be sanitized. Sturgeon Brewing Company will also have some 20-litre kegs available.
LONG TIME IN THE PLANNING
Co-owner Josh Watson said he had been brewing beer at home for a few years, and after being laid off from his job as a heavy-duty mechanic, he suggested to his friend Kerry Lamoureux that they should go pro with the brewing and open a brewery.
“We spent a year putting our business plan together and another year executing,” Watson said. “We were hoping to do it in about six months and be open late summer.”
Watson said neither he or Lamoureux had done anything remotely close to building a brewery from scratch. As a result, there were a lot of things they did for the first time.
“I’d hammered a couple of 2X4s together, but I’d never really built a wall before,” Watson said. “To do all of those things were pretty big undertakings. We poured the concrete. We did all the work ourselves.”
But Watson said the truly hard part was figuring production scale and production numbers. Once that was resolved, they were able to zero in on what size equipment they’d need.
Sturgeon Brewing Company has four 250-litre fermenters at the operation, each capable of being run twice per month, allowing them to produce 2000 litres of beer per month. Watson said their new location has the space to allow them to quadruple that capacity.
LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS AND LOCAL BEER
Although things took longer than planned with acquiring all the licensing, sourcing equipment and developing the interior concept for the business, they are pleased with the result.
“We’re working hard to incorporate as much of the local aspect as possible,” Watson said, adding a large portion of their malt comes from Westlock. “There’s a wonderful little maltster there called Hammer Malt. He’s only been on the scene for a couple of years himself, so we figure we can learn and grow through this process together. So we’re supporting one another. It’s been great to grow community partnerships, especially in Westlock. They’re just down the road.”
Sturgeon Brewing Company has 12 taps in their Morinville location. Initially, they will open with three beers to offer customers. Those beers include a cream ale called the Combine Cream, a Raspberry Cream Ale, and their Stout beer.
“It’s delicious. It’s fruity. It’s exactly what you want to have in your hand on a hot summer day,” Watson said of the Raspberry Cream Ale. “We figured it was a good beer to have coming into spring.”
Watson said they would soon add pale ales and some sours to the mix as well. The limited variety out of the gate is due to breweries not being able to brew beer until licensing is in place. They secured their licensing just over a month ago, allowing them to get the three initial varieties ready for their opening.
“We’re going to have a huge selection,” he said. “It’s going to take us a couple of months to have all 12 taps filled. We have our work cut out for us.”
Once things return to normal, Sturgeon Brewing Company will open its taproom to the public, which can seat 25 and standing room for up to 50.
“We have flights and a couple of sized pints, growlers, t-shirts, all sorts of merchandise,” Watson said, adding they are hoping people will come out and try their locally made beer.
“We’re just a couple of local guys trying to help our community. We want to spice things up a little bit, add something new and add some new options,” Watson said. “Fresh, locally-crafted beer. What’s wrong with that, right?