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Nick Pruiksma at Crooked Mile Brewery

Nick Pruiksma at Crooked Mile Brewery

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Presented x Mondial de la Bière [June 14-18, 2017 – Montréal]

Your current job:

I worked landscaping before, but now I am working in my brewery full time, 6-7 days of the week.

I pretty much play all roles at the brewery.

In which city are you located?

We are located in Almonte, Ontario, just outside of Ottawa, about 30 minutes west.

A word to define what kind of worker you are:

Tough question! I guess I would say enthusiastic.

I’m at my best when I’ve got a lot a deadline to meet.

What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..)

Outside of my brewhouse, it would be my laptop. All my brewing software and recipes and stored on it and I use my laptop for a myriad of different tasks every day.

What does your office space look like?

Right now we don’t have one in the brewery, so my office is at home. Let’s just say it’s a little less than tidy!

Just a simple desk with a lamp and space for my laptop.

How large is the brewery?

The brewing area itself is about 800 sq ft, and the brewing system itself is capable of producing ~350 liters per batch.

Our fermentation vessels and conditioning tanks have a 750+ liter capacity, so we brew two identical batches on any given brew day to fill our fermenters.

The reason you started brewing? 

A couple trips to the UK with my wife was the catalyst.

On our trips, we visited many small pubs and each one always had a good selection of local ales that couldn’t be found elsewhere in Britain, let alone in Canada, so shortly after those trips, I started homebrewing in an attempt to copy those same beers I found in the UK. British Ales still remain my biggest passion when it comes to beer.

What was the inspiration behind your brewery? 

Those same trips to the UK were a major source of inspiration behind our brewery.

We wanted to build the same sense of place and community in our brewery that we found in the small pubs across the Scottish, English, and Welsh countrysides.

That was the focus for our retail/serving area. For our beers, we focus on British style ales, again, inspired by our trips to the UK.

What are the biggest challenges for you as a brewer in Ontario? 

The craft beer scene or growing so fast in Ontario right now I’d say the biggest challenge is getting tap spots at pubs and restaurants.

It helps that craft beer is becoming more and more mainstream and in demand, but there are so many breweries now in Ontario!

That’s still a very good thing, in my opinion, but it can make it challenging to get on tap at places.

What kind of music do you listen to when you are working?

When we’re brewing it’s usually 80s metal or punk rock.

When the retail space is open and customers are in, however, we usually tune into 90s alt rock or 80s new wave.

I love music. I pretty much have it playing most of my waking hours.

Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?

I try to put everything that needs to be done in Google calendar a week ahead of time and try my best to adhere to that, but that has yet to happen!

Plans change all the time, but you still have to have a plan!

What tips would you give to improve productivity?

Automate your processes as much as possible. Every little bit helps.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?

“Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew” – Charlie Papazian (the Godfather of homebrewing)

As far as “real” advice goes, I’ve been given so much valuable advice from other brewery owners, it’s hard to quantify which was the best, so I’ll stick with Charlie Papazian’s!

What is your routine start and end of the day?

Start the day with a coffee, end it with a beer (or two)

Joking aside, I don’t really have a routine (yet). Every day is different!

Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without?

I’m pretty low-tech. My computer and phone are the only real gadgets I have, so does a bottle count as a gadget?

3 Ontario craft beers that we must try?

Tough call, there’s so many good ones!

Uncharted IPA – Stone City Ales

Long Dark Voyage to Uranus – Sawdust City

Octopus Wants to Fight – Great Lakes Brewery

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a brewery?

First, plan for it to cost twice and much and take twice as long as you think.

Second, have a plan, stay passionate, believe in yourself, & brew your beer as often as you can.

Share your beer, enter it in competitions to get feedback and listen to it.

You can have the best business plan in the world, but your beer has got to be good and you have to be passionate about your beer.

Without passion, you’ve got nothing.