Megan McDonald and Kris Schmidt are not what one would call “beer snobs.”
“We’ll drink anything that’s cold,” McDonald said, standing in the garage where Schmidt’s beer brewing equipment is set up. “We really like beer, but we like all beer.”
“I have a few friends when I go to their place who are like, ‘Sorry Kris, all I have is (Molson) Canadian,'” he said. “They assume because I make beer that I’m not going to drink the generic Canadians or Budweiser.”
Although both like fruity beers and IPAs best, the Agassiz couple are open to anything. And that’s exactly the sort of atmosphere they’re hoping to bring into their upcoming brew pub: Bricklayer Brewing.
“Let’s say you’re not a beer drinker or you don’t know what you like,” McDonald said. “We want to have something for you.”
The couple first thought of Bricklayer Brewing in January, when Schmidt signed up for a brewery course at SFU. But their love of beer began much earlier — especially for Schmidt, who has been the master brewer of the house since they moved to Agassiz seven years ago.
“I would be drinking a beer or eating something and going, ‘I wonder if there’s a beer that tastes like this,'” Schmidt recalled. “I got to that point where I … (wanted) to start doing this myself and having some fun with it.”
Schmidt took it up as a hobby, brewing beers on their stove in the kitchen. Most of the beers he makes are small variations on traditional brews: a raspberry wheat ale, for example, with a hint of cherry bomb peppers to give it a “hum.”
“I think it’s one of my most favourite beers that Kris has made,” McDonald said about the wheat ale, which will be one of the first beers on tap at their brewery, which is set to open in April next year in Chilliwack’s redeveloped Five Corners.
The goal, Schmidt said, is to have eight beers on tap, with options for customers to fill their growlers or purchase cans as well. Four beer will be perennial favourites — no word on what those will be yet — and four will be rotating seasonally. A beer-making friend will be bringing specialty sour beers into the mix.
Although there won’t be a full kitchen, they plan on working with a local vendor to provide some snacks on site.
The pair won’t get possession of their pub until November, and until then they are working on a “Brickstarter” — a fundraising venture like Kickstarter where patrons get tee-shirts, brewing lessons and tickets to the opening night. So far, the Brickstarter has brought in nearly $8,000 — money will which go to pay a designer to turn the empty space into a brew pub Chilliwack and Agassiz will be excited to visit.
“A little more urban, a little more gritty, compared to other breweries in the Fraser Valley that are more about nature,” Schmidt explained.
“But then also somewhere where people can feel really at home,” McDonald added.
The pair hope their two young boys, Tony and Vinnie, will also feel at home in the brewery. After all, it is named for them.
“When Vinnie, the youngest was born, we ran into a friend downtown,” McDonald explained. “And he was like, ‘Oh … they sound like a couple of bricklayers.’
“I kind of remembered that. And it works.”
Tony, 5, is already excited about the brewery, and even wore a Bricklayer Brewing shirt to his first day of school.
“He’s very excited,” McDonald said. “You think of (kids where) their parents run a restaurant and they spend their whole lives in the restaurant.
“I can see these kids spending a lot of time in this brewery,” she continued.
“I feel like we’re creating a legacy for them, if they want to be in the beer world.”