Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meet Jim Button: Village Brewery - Calgary, AB

Jim Button
Meet Jim Button, one of the men behind the brand spanking new Village Brewery in Calgary, AB.

After spending a number of years in the marketing business buying television ad space for Molson, consulting with Big Rock Brewery and Sleeman Breweries on marketing and special events, and assuming the position of VP of Corporate and Community Affairs for Big Rock, Button and a number of other gentlemen opened the Village Brewery in Calgary this past December. Their motto - "It takes a village," pays homage to their commitment to bring the Calgary community together and will focus on the showcasing the Calgary arts community.

I wanted to learn more about the new brewery so I connected with Button to get the scoop.

Meet Jim

Where is the Village Brewery situated and what beers do you currently produce?
We are located at 5000 12a Street SE Calgary Alberta and we currently have two beers ready for Calgarians - Village Blonde, A Natural Golden Ale and Village Blacksmith, an India Black Ale. We are working on a spring/summer beer right now.

Describe the history behind the brewery.
6 partners joined forces after being engaged in the beer industry for a combined 140 years. We all came from our respective careers to this point in time where we wanted to explore the fun of owning our own brewery. We started the conversations in the spring of 2010 and started putting brewing equipment into our facility September 2010. First beer was brewed in December 2011 and our first keg was tapped in a bar on December 21st. The 6 partners come from different parts of the beer industry so we are very well positioned - a brewer, business operations, finance, marketing, sales and facility operations. Each partner is involved and hands on in their respective area. You will see in my answers below that everything we do is about gathering people around community and that we are proudly Calgarian. We love our beer and we love the opportunities that beer brings to making our neighbourhood a better place.

What beer is selling more?
Hard to tell but it looks like the Blonde has a slight edge over the Blacksmith. Blondes have more fun.

How did you get into the brewing industry?
My first marketing job was buying TV time as a media buyer for Molson Breweries, but I really started to understand the industry after working as a consultant for Big Rock for 10 years in the capacity of marketing and special events. Also did a bit of consulting work along the way for Sleeman. In 2007 I joined Big Rock as VP Corporate and Community Affairs.

How have the locals embraced the brewery?
This brewery has been built to help gather people around community. We have taken the name Village Brewery because we truly believe in the idea that 'It takes a Village...' So far we have exceeded sales expectations and have had great feedback from our friends and neighbours.

Growlers - Blacksmith IPA & Blonde
We host a weekly session on Wednesdays between 2-4pm called 'Hump Day Social' in which Tom and I book all our meetings. We find that we accomplish all the meeting requirements and that each of the participants get a chance to meet and discuss their interests and respective business interests. Last week for example we had 4 musicians, 2 artists, a large format digital salesman, a retired police officer, a carpenter, 2 bar owners, a wine rep, a music promoter and a gentleman that was starting a new music festival. We took the time to meet each person and from there everyone shared a beer and a conversation. Truly an example of gathering people around community.

Where can someone find your products?
This brewery was built for Calgarians and we have no plans to sell outside of our city. To date the beer is available on premise at the brewery as well as;

The Blind Monk
Fergus & Bix
Ironwood Stage & Grill
Double Zero Pizza
Beer Revolution
Craft Beer Market
Brasserie Kensington
The Rose & Crown
Pig and Duke
Wild Wing
Candahar (3 month Irish Pub art installation at Alberta College of Art + Design)


Tell us something about Village Brewery that not a lot of people know about.
Our 6 partners wanted to build a brewery that gathered people around community, specifically the Calgary Arts community. To do this we took the position that we should open up the brewery to allow those engaged Calgarians to participate. We also built into the structure the ability for the Brewery to be owned by people that were already doing things to make this a great city - we hand selected people that would embrace our desire to be seriously civic minded. We imagined a group of people, when gathered together, that would take on a cause and work together to make something happen. These people are called Beer Barons - they have invested in the Brewery so the Brewery could invest in the city.

Looking into your crystal ball, what does the future hold for Village Brewery?
Beyond lots of support for community all we can see is that we stop at 20,000HL. We like the idea of being a small community brewery and are fearful of the trappings of chasing volume.

What is the highlight of your career in the beer industry - to date?
For me personally I was most proud that we used a picture of my Mom on our marketing materials for the Village Blonde. She passed away from cancer over a year ago and she would have loved to have seen this adventure finally come to fruition. Now whenever I drink a Village Blonde and look at the materials I think of my mom.

Name your favourite non Village Brewery produced beer?
I have three favourites: Big Rock's McNally Reserve, Wild Rose's Alberta Crude Oatmeal Stout and Brew Brothers Black Pilsner. See a trend there?

Best time for a pint?
When you are with a friend.

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