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Village Brewery opens new taproom, expands community engagement goal

They say it takes a village, but in Village Brewery’s case, the opening of their new taproom and community space really did.

Officially opened on Wednesday night, the brewery’s much-beloved former second-floor taproom has been moved to the ground floor with a much larger footprint and outdoor patio.

Similarly, the number of offerings on tap and for food have been expanded: The taproom now has 16 lines instead of the previous eight, and now has a full kitchen with a BBQ menu created by Don Saviak of ABC Outpost Kitchen.

Village’s brewmaster Jeremy McLaughlan is also offering some in-taproom-only beers and brews, with some small batch limited edition pours like a blackberry sour, a nitro-infused Village Blacksmith, and a hard iced tea—a first for Village.

“My favorite thing about the taproom is the vibe that it gives out with people together,” said Village Brewery President Jeff Popiel.

As for his favourite offering for visitors to the new taproom, he said that would be like picking a favourite child.

“Every once in a while I’m in the mood for a real crispy cold one on the patio and I’ll pick a Village Blonde. Sometimes, you know a nice hazy summertime drink, for sure Binge Watch,” Popiel said.

“We’ve got unique things, like Blacksmith on our nitro tap, we have a new brand new Italian Pilsner. Those are some of the highlights over the last week or two for sure.”

Jackson Stuart, brand manager for Village Brewery said the new taproom was designed to give customers a better place to gather.

“There’s places for everything from a board meeting to a concert, to a wedding, to gathering for an afternoon pint,” Stuart said.

“The food as well that kind of adds another layer of the experience. So I think those new pieces are kind of a new way that we can actually gather around what we’re doing here.”

He said the new space also gives the brewery staff opportunities to try new things, like the hard iced tea.

“Our brewing team here have an opportunity now to really experiment. So there’s things that you don’t have to worry about production scale, you can get into a really small batch limited edition thing.”

Building a community in the spirit of Jim Button

Popiel said that the brewery’s goal to build community really started with Jim Button. Button, a well-known philanthropist and friend to many in Calgary, was one of the co-founders of Village.

“It goes back to the conversation I remember having with Jim: The word village sort of means town and so the first place you go with it is a geographical reference,” he said.

“Our definition of community is very different. Today, it’s not about geography. We’re all members of different communities… that expands all the way across the country geographies.

During the opening speeches, Popiel talked about all of the people who made the new taproom come together, including the designers, artists, and staff that make up the village.

The taproom is adorned with a painting by local artist Mandy Stobo, which Popiel said reflected the Village story.

“If you have a chance, please take a look. There are a lot of Easter eggs in there. There’s a lot of little things in there that are great, too. If you know the village story, they’re in there—there’s a lot of Jim Button in there,” he said.

“We certainly feel like Jim is really in the walls of this place.”

Old taproom being transformed into community space

Popiel said that the focus on community wasn’t really anything new, but the re-focus on the community in Calgary was a result of the pandemic.

“It’s really not a new vision. It’s just the world has changed around us,” he said.

“Everything we do is we want to try to make a difference in the world and sell beer on the side. Beer is a way of bringing people together. So this just is an extension of that, of that mission.”

He said that he was thankful that the Village board was behind making a bigger space for community events.

“They were 120 per cent supportive, especially after Covid, which was quite a quite an endorsement, and just encouraged us to get it out and open as quickly as we could,” Popiel said.

While the new taproom is now open, the old taproom is still several weeks away from being transformed into a gathering space.

“Space is nothing without community feeling. So if any of you are working on any types of projects that you would like Village to be involved with, we want to be there,” Popiel said.

“We want to support villages here when we talk about the future.”

For more information, see villagebrewery.com.