The Forks hopes to bring experimental brewery to Market

The Forks is hoping to brew up a new tenant that can fill space in its Market building as well as glasses of suds.

Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre ponders move from Main Street digs to Forks Market

The Common, at The Forks, has 20 taps. The Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre said a move to The Forks Market building would make sense, but would require funds. (John Einarson/CBC)

The Forks is hoping to brew up a new tenant that can fill space in its Market building as well as glasses of suds.

The Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre, a non-profit research brewery that produces test batches of beer, is considering a move from its Main Street office building to a new long-term home.

The centre is in talks to move into the second floor of the Forks Market — and sell some of its experimental brews at The Common bar at ground level, Forks CEO Paul Jordan said Friday at his organization's annual general meeting.

"They're taking the barley and the malt and testing it with great research scientists, making perfect beer and telling their members what is different with barley every year — and then they're flushing it down the drain. We're saying let's flush it through The Common," Jordan said after the meeting.

Paul Jordan, CEO of The Forks, said he'd love to see the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre move to the Forks Market and sell its brews at The Common. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The centre said in a statement it would make sense to move into The Forks, provided funding could be secured for such a move.

The Forks has all but abandoned a plan to lure a microbrewery to its grounds. Jordan said that idea was floated before Winnipeg's independent brewing industry exploded.

"When we designed it, there were no craft breweries out here. Now there are. We don't want to get into competition with them, so a brewery is not what we're looking for," he said.

The Manitoba Brewing Association is nonetheless concerned it could lose some access to customers at The Common, should the barley centre take over one of the taps at the bar.

The non-profit Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre, which produces beer on an experimental basis, is looking for a long-term home. (John Einarson/CBC)

Brewing association president John Heim said while a move to The Forks would be good for the barley centre, his members have long complained of access to only five of the 20 taps at The Common.

"It's a good news story, but whether or not they're going to take over a tap from a local businessperson who is trying to meet their mortgage and their capital investment in the brewing industry is another thing," said Heim, who's also the president of Torque Brewing.

"There's 15 brewers in Manitoba, all making a variety of beer from sours to IPAs to blonde ales. There's something for everybody, so just like The Forks, there should be a beer for everybody."

Torque Brewing president John Heim, who's also president of the Manitoba Brewing Association, said his members do not want to lose one of their taps at The Common. His organization is unhappy only five of 20 taps at The Common are reserved for local breweries. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)

Jordan said The Forks is not trying to pour cold water on Manitoba breweries by pouring out-of-province beverages at The Common.

"We're not competing with anybody," he said. "As a matter of fact, we're trying to support their industry by comparing the local product with the international product."

The Forks is dealing with a fluid situation and we don't mean flooding on the river walk. It is hoping to attract a new tenant for its Market building but it's not a done deal. 1:51

About the Author

Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.