Damon Moreau remembers his first sip of Big Rock’s McNally’s beer. He was sitting with friends at Topo’s Cantina bar in downtown Calgary when the big, flavourful, aromatic taste hit him for the first time. Craft beer opened up the door to a world of new and exciting brews.

He hopes Albertans will have a similar experience when they sample Common Crown brewery beer, one of the province’s newest craft breweries.

“We just want to make great Alberta beer,” Damon Moreau says, sitting back in his chair, a tattooed arm lifting a white plastic cup filled with his own homemade brew to his bearded maw.

His business partner and twin brother, Andrew Moreau, sits at his own desk wearing a collared shirt underneath a light wool sweater, smiling beneath his beard, hands clasped together.

Three short glasses sit before me, ripe for the sipping. We are in Andrew Moreau’s office, a beige room with windows that look out onto the industrial northeast of Calgary. Taped to the wall rest the photos of the brothers’ not-yet-released beer can designs.

Two years ago, Damon Moreau made Common Crown his New Year’s resolution. He recalls waking up at 5 a.m. to research beer techniques and watch YouTube videos. Whenever he takes on the challenge of learning a new skill, such as cooking, he takes it right down to the basics.

“Don’t show me how to make a cheese sauce, show me how to make a béchamel sauce from which you can make, you know, a hundred different sauces,” Damon Moreau says.

Learning about beer and brewing techniques consumed his mind; it became an obsession of sorts. Damon Moreau was still refining beers months before their brewery was to open, despite his partners telling him to quit it already.

Andrew Moreau remembers the day they decided to pursue the brewery together. Damon Moreau said he wasn’t sure what he was passionate about. That was when the idea of having a brewery became less of a dream and more of a reality.

“We had been drinking that day. It’s something that Damon, he has been looking at for quite some time, and he had researched it in the past,” says Andrew Moreau.

In the past, opening a brewery in Alberta was not easy but Damon Moreau says the legislation surrounding the crafting of beer has been changing, allowing for more craft breweries like Common Crown Brewery to open.

It helps that Andrew Moreau has experience with finance, having taken over Newline Trenchless Technologies about eight years ago. The company does deep utility work such as fixing sewer, storm and water lines using technology that doesn’t require excavating.

The brothers had temporarily stored their small Sabco brewing system in the Newline warehouse while they were finalizing their lease.

Humble beginnings

Twin brothers, Damon Moreau (left) and Andrew Moreau (right), are finalizing the last set of licenses before they can begin selling their brew. Photo by Logan Peters

The Moreau brothers were born in the riverfront city of Fredericton, N.B., but have called Alberta home for the majority of their lives.

It’s no wonder the brothers are open to taking on new challenges. Growing up, their father worked countless jobs, such as a police officer, a gas jockey and an aircraft mechanic.

Damon and Andrew Moreau both know that running a brewery comes with a lot of hard work, something they’re no strangers to. They both worked in the film and television industry with Damon Moreau as a camera operator and Andrew Moreau working in design. The television industry required long and odd hours of work, which didn’t leave much time for home life.

Wanting more time with his family, Damon Moreau believes the brewery will give him the flexibility he needs to hang out with his kids more often.

“My seven-year-old is the only seven-year-old in Alberta that can tell you what an IPA is,” he says.

The overwhelming support from other Alberta breweries like Tool Shed and Village has made a huge difference. Some even allowed Damon Moreau and Andrew Moreau to take their future landlord on a tour of their own brewing facilities to show how clean a brewery can be.

“When we launch, we really want it to be a piece of us … and what we really like and represent, how fun it’s been through this whole process, and (to) let people know that there is another part to drinking beer and it is the community of people that make it, that enjoy it, and talk about it and gather together,” Andrew Moreau says.

Once their Sabco brewing system arrived in the Newline warehouse, Damon Moreau brewed so much beer they had to throw a party.

Andrew Moreau called it “market research” and the reaction among friends, family and business professionals was positive.

Wanting their company logo to reflect the quality and care they put into their beers, the red Common Crown logo features the top third of the Canadian maple leaf in white, which represents a crown.

The duo says the logo itself is representative of the many hats people wear during their lifetime, including Damon Moreau’s hat of choice, a black ball cap with no insignias.

“We are all common, and that’s what we want our beer to represent … it doesn’t matter what kind of hat you wear, you can still drink our beer,” Damon Moreau says.

The guys are still waiting on a few more licenses to come in before they can begin brewing. If all goes well they’ll be one step closer to an official launch in October and, more importantly, closer to giving somebody else a life-altering experience through craft beer.

“For me, just the thought of somebody else going out and trying craft beer for the first time … and having that similar sort of moment, that’s kind of what I’m doing it for, is to bring that to other people because I still strongly remember that. So now having the opportunity to be able to do it, to me, it’s mind blowing.”

lpeters@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this article is Brett Luft and can be reached at bluft@cjournal.ca