Documentary talks to Graham Sherman, of Tool Shed Brewing Company, and home brewers about what’s behind the evolution of the ‘craft’ in Alberta

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We all have dreams that we hope come true one day.

For Graham Sherman, his dream was blocked by regulations that were in place by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). But last Dec., the AGLC decided to help Sherman – and other small brewers – out, by clearing a path for him to take his passion for brewing beer to a whole new level.

“When I saw that they (the AGLC) had abolished the minimums, I called Jeff, we got in our car and drove up to St. Albert, Alta. to meet the AGLC, to hug them,” Sherman said, reflecting on the moment when he realized brewing his beer in Alberta was close to a reality.

Prior to the change in regulations, the AGLC required breweries to produce a minimum amount of 500,000 litres of beer each year in order to sell it commercially. The new change in regulation now opens the market to smaller breweries to begin making and selling their products both on tap and in liquor stores.

Since the change, Calgary alone has seen two other craft breweries – Dandy Brewing Company and Last Best Brewing & Distilling – begin the process of getting up and running right alongside Tool Shed brewing Company.

Sherman, with his good friend and business partner Jeff Orr, dreamt of making beer for a living and it all began in his backyard tool shed – hence the name, Tool Shed Brewing Company.

Their first batch was a clone recipe of another beer. But after all the ingredient substitutions and overcoming the learning curve, the outcome wasn’t what they expected.

“The beer that came out was so freaking good,” said Sherman. “That beer almost single handedly solidified that we had found our dream hobby.”

And Tool Shed’s beer isn’t the only great beer coming out of Calgary’s tool sheds, backyards, garages, balconies and basements.

National(Left to Right) Dylan Nosal, Neil Bamford and Derek Wagray enjoy a night at National Beer Hall (17th Ave.) on Nov. 26 at CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Alberta’s Winter Ale Cask Off.

Photo by Evan ManconiNo, the Cowtown Yeast Wranglers boast more then 170 members, all with various levels of skill in making their own brands of homebrew that often blows people’s minds with how tasty it is.

“Everybody wants to do (beer) kits to start, but then they want to learn how to make it from scratch,” said Neil Bamford, a self professed ‘beer geek’ at Calgary’s homebrew store The Vineyard.

Bamford continued on, “Beer is community and when you get a group of people together and you want to have a beer because it’s good, easy and that social lubricant.”

And while it’s hard to tell just how many new breweries the Alberta market will be able to handle, or how many home brewers will follow their dreams in the coming years, one things for sure—no one is complaining about having too much good beer.

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