Blind with excitement
The most anticipated new attraction in the Edmonton beer scene is about to open. Any day now.
Yes, it is a brewery—a brewpub to be exact—but it is much, much more.
Blind Enthusiasm Brewing is the project of Greg Zeschuk, one of the original founders of software company Bioware. Zeschuk has both a passion and deep knowledge of beer and felt the time was right to make the jump to open a brewery. He didn’t just jump, he leaped.
Blind Enthusiasm is actually two breweries. The first is the anchor tenant of the new Ritchie Market at the Four Corners in Ritchie (76 Avenue and 96 Street). The new building houses Acme Meats, Transcend Coffee Roasters and Velocity Cycle, but the feature is the Blind Enthuiasm brewpub, called Biera.
Zeschuk’s vision is a classy yet accessible space that offers a select menu of food and a range of quality beer.
“We want to make interesting, ambitious beer with creativity and artistry and good brewing techniques,” says Zeschuk. He sees the operation as being about moving the public as much as selling to them. “It is about education, showing people what beer can be”.
The brewpub will offer “traditional” craft beer offerings, from pilsners to bitters, IPAs to stouts. Zeschuk is tight-lipped on the details but hints a possible flagship beer might be a Belgian Single, the style brewed by Trappist Monks for their daily consumption. Zeschuk explains they will serve 12 to 13 beer at a time, along with a couple of guest taps.
“We will have a limited regular line-up,” he says, opting instead for mostly one-offs and seasonals. “We might go for a model of a summer lineup and a winter lineup,” rotating beer as seasonally appropriate.
Sounds good, right? But wait, there’s more.
Zeschuk is also opening a second brewery, currently under construction on 99 Street and 78 Avenue. That brewery will focus exclusively on making “mixed fermentation” beer, namely sours and lambic-style beer. The process is rather than inoculate the unfermented beer (called wort) with a healthy dose of yeast, the brewer allows the resident wild yeasts to naturally take hold in the beer. This is a historic approach made famous by Lambic breweries such as Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen in Belgium. It produces a sour, earthy, funky beer that at first seems odd but quickly grows on you.
It is also beer that is considered a high premium product, in part because it takes three years or more to make. Zeschuk is serious about producing rare, “sought-after beer” from the second brewery, even going as far as purchasing a custom-made coolship (a large, shallow vessel for initial inoculation). He has hired a dedicated brewer for the sour brewery.
It might seem crazy or excessive to open two breweries, but it makes more sense than it seems. First, separating the two processes prevents issues of cross-contamination which could destroy the brewpub beer. Second, Blind Enthusiasm clearly has a two-part business plan.
“Ninety percent of the beer brewed at the brewpub will be sold on-site,” says Zeschuk. “It is intended to be a true brewpub.”
Everything will be packaged in kegs (growler fills will be available), although they do anticipate hand-bottling some of the barrel-aged beer for limited release. The sour brewery will produce bottled, hard to find and highly coveted beer intended, in large part (at least initially), for export.
Beer is not expected from the second brewery for at least three years due to the nature of the process, which includes barrel-aging. The brewpub was slated to open earlier in June but experienced some last minute delays and is expected to officially open its doors in early July. Meaning any day.
Beer fans can hardly wait.
Blind Enthusiasm Brewing
9570 76 Ave., Suite 102