PEG Beer Co., a brewpub in Winnipeg, Manitoba, serves craft beer and family-friendly food
(Note: PEG Beer closed its doors on February 22, 2018. It is unclear if they will open again. The note on their website says “We are currently closed. Once we are able to provide further info, we will. Thank you for your support and understanding.”)
Winnipeg, Manitoba has been late jumping on the craft beer bandwagon, a growing trend across Canada and the United States. It wasn’t until 2015 that provincial laws changed to allow breweries to open a licensed tasting room next to their production site. There are now several craft breweries in the city, including PEG Beer Co.
There is no legal or standard definition of what craft beer is, but the term is generally applied to beer brewed by small, independent brewers using traditional brewing techniques. Microbreweries, brewpubs and nanobreweries produce beer on a small scale or as a specialty product.
PEG Beer Co. is a brewpub named after the city it is located in, Winnipeg, Manitoba, nicknamed “the Peg” or “Peg City.” The family friendly restaurant in the brewery building offers beer tastings as well as a substantial food menu. Peg Beer had to work through a number of regulatory issues to obtain permits and licences. As my server told me on a recent visit, there were regulations for restaurants and regulations for taprooms, but not for the combination. PEG Beer’s experience helped shape new regulations.
PEG Beer Co. is located in the historic Exchange District in a former machine shop that was home to an indoor skate park for eighteen years, before structural issues resulted in the park moving to a new facility. PEG Beer Co. opened its restaurant in April 2016 while the brewery was being completed, and brewed its first batch of beer in September 2016.
Peg Beer currently has six beers on tap: an ISA, a somewhat hoppy pale ale, a blonde, a sourish Berliner Weisse, and a dark, smooth stout. Five ounce sampler sizes are available, as are ten, sixteen, and twenty ounce glasses. Of the four I sampled (Fair Play American pale ale, Donny LaBlonde blonde, Dazzle Ship IPA, and The Countess stout), the IPA was my favourite, with the pale ale a close second.
There are a couple of Mennonite dishes featured on the food menu. Mennonites are a religious-cultural group dating back to the sixteenth century northern German states and Netherlands. These Christian Anabaptists followed the teachings of Menno Simons. Persecution for their pacifist beliefs led to migration throughout Europe and the Americas. The first Mennonites came to Canada in 1776 from Pennsylvania, settling in Ontario. Beginning in the 1820s some Amish also migrated north to Ontario. Waves of Mennonite migration from Prussia and Russia brought them to the Canadian prairies in the mid to late 1800s. New Russian policies threatened their exemption from military service and the use of their language, Plattditsch or “Low German”. Another wave occurred in 1919 after the Russian Revolution.
I found it strange to see Mennonite food on a brewery menu. Mennonite teachings as I understood them preached abstinence. I did some research and discovered that, although the writings of Menno Simons contain statements against the use of alcohol, the emphasis on total abstinence appears to have arisen in the twentieth century. Drunkenness was never tolerated, but moderate alcohol consumption may have been more prevalent in earlier times. There were Mennonite brewers and distillers. Today, the use of alcohol varies by group. Conservative Mennonite groups forbid all alcohol use. Other groups, while discouraging drunkenness and abuse of alcohol, leave usage choices to the individual.
Faspa is one of the offerings on the starter list. Faspa is a light lunch served late in the afternoon. It typically includes, bread, cold meats, cheese and jelly. Faspa was a Sunday tradition for some of my Mennonite friends. The food could be prepared the day before, leaving Sunday free for worship and fellowship with friends and family. At PEG Beer, faspa meats were “real” ham and chicken – traditional baked ham and sliced roast chicken.
The other Mennonite dish shows up on the dessert menu. It is fruit platz, a type of coffee cake. Another dessert option is the quintessentially Canadian butter tart. Items on the starter menu are cheese, charcuterie, and pickle trays. Other menu items include flatbreads, beer and cheese soups, and salads.
Dinner meals of roasted chicken, baked ham, smoked corned beef or stuffed trout are large plates served family style. They come with roasted potatoes and root vegetables, and feed two to four people. It seems a fitting way to serve a meal in this place. The atmosphere at PEG Beer encourages camaraderie and is perfect for getting together with a group of friends.
PEG Beer Co. is located at 125 Pacific Avenue. Regular hours are 11:00 am to 11:00 pm. They stay open an additional hour, to midnight, on Fridays and Saturdays. They are occasionally booked for private functions. Check their website.
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