Brewhouse more than beer

It's not all about beer. Really.

Yes, there are sacks of malt stacked here and there. And 1,000-litre stainless steel brewing tanks are visible from what a government licence terms the "liquor-primary section" of The Noble Pig Brewhouse. (The other, smaller section is "food primary," which is necessary to allow children inside.)

How about Drunken Chicken Wings for a snack, followed by a Chocolate Porter Cake, all washed down with Fascist Pig Pilsner?

"We're not trying to be another beer pub," insists partner David Beardsell, who is hopping to keep up after the first few weeks of business at the city's first brewpub.

"Even though beer is important to us, we're driving our food."

Thus far, that has meant the establishment in the 600-block of Victoria Street at the Thompson Hotel has totalled up more than 50 per cent of its revenues from food.

Beardsell said the business plan called for a 60-40 split in favour of beer, while a typical pub brings in 70 per cent of its sales from suds.

While Beardsell is the beer guy, another partner, Richard Marken, oversees other aspects of The Noble Pig.

Among other things, he was responsible for the décor, which is plucked from a pallet of beer browns -from the porter-like tufted seats to lighter browns reminiscent of the colour of the head from a freshly poured stout.

"We wanted elements of an English pub, but also with Canadiana and Kamloops," Marken said.

An upside-down cedar and canvas canoe hanging from the ceiling houses lights shining on a long, grainy wooden table.

The food ranges from appetizers, such as popular deep-fried pickles, to a $25 entrée.

But the beer can't be ignored. In fact, Beardsell, who can be seen pouring ingredients in the brewhouse upstairs, is a German-trained brewmaster who opened Bear Brewing in Kamloops 15 years ago.

He later sold the brewery, but beer remained in his veins.

The brewpub has thus far created seven styles of beer - lager, pilsner, pale ale, IPA, ESB, porter and a peppered Belgian. Beardsell said the latter beer, expected to be a specialty item to satisfy beer geeks, is the most popular brew so far.

At "the big brewery" as Beardsell calls his former microbrewery, he produced four beers in far larger quantities. While the emphasis was on quality, there was also a need for consistency.

At The Noble Pig, he wonders how much one batch of his peppered ale will taste like the first batch because there's so much more experimentation. He's not operating a beer factory, but trying out ideas and keeping those who like a good brew happy and wanting more.

He is also readying two more beers: a Belgian abbey-style beer as well as a Scotch ale.

Abbey-style beers, high in alcohol content and carbonation, are the favourite of beer connoisseurs around the world. Beardsell said it's his favourite as well.

A 1,000-litre batch of abbey beer is fermenting in the cooled area downstairs (beers on tap are tapped directly from the stainless steel vats there). It is scheduled to be ready for Christmas.

And Beardsell is meeting with a Scotch whisky distributor for tasting notes and ideas for a Scotch ale expected to be ready early in the year, likely coinciding with Robbie Burns Day in late January.

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