Back-to-your-roots beer: How two brothers are harnessing Manitoba goodness in a bottle

FarmeryEverything about Farmery beer harkens back to the land and rural Manitoba life. The logo incorporates a tractor tire, the beer tap is a shovel handle and even the ingredients inside the bottle hope to represent the best Manitoba has to offer.

“No one is making that leap of faith and harnessing what we have growing naturally here and we want to showcase that,” says Chris Warwaruk, co-owner of Farmery Estate Brewing.

Farmery has seen success across the province not only in Winnipeg, but also in Saskatchewan and rural communities across Manitoba.

Farmery has seen success across the province not only in Winnipeg, but also in Saskatchewan and rural communities across Manitoba.

After planning and dreaming for three years, brothers Chris and Lawrence Warwaruk launched a beer they hoped would not only bring them back to their farming roots, but also use the agricultural resources available in the province. Farmery beer launched on the Manitoba craft beer scene in December 2012. Two years later, with success across the province and into Saskatchewan, plans for further expansion and an estate brewery are in the works.

Way before the thought of a brewery even entered their minds, Chris and Lawrence along with their two brothers left the failing family farm 15 years ago to try to make ends meet in the city. While the farm was being foreclosed, the brothers developed a “country meets the city style” restaurant call Luxsole. With the success of this restaurant the brothers were able to procure their homestead and save it from bankruptcy. Eventually, this expanded to the Luxalune Gastropub. While Luxsole has closed, Luxalune, voted one of the top 20 pubs in Canada, hosts over 150 craft beers from around the world and across Canada such as Driftwood from Victoria and Pumphouse out of New Brunswick.

Chris (left) and Lawrence Warwaruk wanted to create a beer that would bring them back to their farming roots.

Chris (left) and Lawrence Warwaruk wanted to create a beer that would bring
them back to their farming roots.

But there was a part of the business that was missing: the farm. They were successful in the restaurant business, but Lawrence and Chris yearned for something that would bring them back to their rural roots. “I would go back and work on the farm over the summer for a few months, that’s where I found solace and I missed it,” explains Lawrence.

“Since we grew up on a family farm, we wanted to kind of go back to our roots.” In 2009, Lawrence bought an old berry farm near Neepawa. “I originally thought I was going to grow grapes and did a lot of research on the subject. But after going on a trade mission with then Premier, Gary Doer to Wisconsin (a hot bed for craft beers) something clicked. Everyone else on the trade mission was working…we were out traveling the countryside sampling beers,” recounts Lawrence. The seeds of their own brewery were being planted…pun intended.

“In owning our own pub we got good at selling everyone else’s beer,” says Chris.

“We said, ‘Well, why can’t we make our own beer? What did we need to do to ensure success in an emerging but highly competitive beer market?”

The plan was to grow the crops needed for the beer on their own property and on other local Manitoba farms, with the eventual goal of building a brewery nearby.

With the beer established, their vision for an estate brewery is underway.

Currently, Farmery is being brewed in Muskoka, Ont., a common practice for new craft beers where the recipe is original but the brewing is contracted to another company. After two years of working with a small malting house, this past August the brothers went to Malteurop, a large international malting company in Winnipeg, to malt the barley they use in order to keep with the increased brewing demand.

After a successful summer they continue to concentrate on the future development of the Farmery brand, expanding their distribution into other provinces which will lead them closer to opening their own brew house.

The market, they’ve found has been very receptive to the beer, and it is well represented in plenty of Manitoba towns from Churchill to Dauphin and Brandon to Boissevain.

Times have changed here in Manitoba, the beer industry has suffered with the exodus of large local breweries. Farmery hopes to change that by promoting local development and production in the province.

“You need to adapt, stay positive and always keep your goals and passion in sight,” says Chris. “It’s more than just a liquid; it’s about appreciating and supporting the hard work that goes into that beer.