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Local Brewers Serve Up Craft Beer

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Trans Canada Crop
Michael Raftis and Scott Sawatzky bring their Trans Canada brews to Bistro 290. Shereen Rashwan

Local talent is a trademark of Bistro 290, an eatery in Niverville where two local men were recently able to promote their company at a craft beer tasting night.

On August 13, Michael Raftis and Scott Sawatzky showcased all the artisanal offerings of Trans Canada Brewing Co. (TCB) at one of the Bistro’s many events planned to highlight great local food and people’s passion for it. The events have been a big success.

“I live in Niverville and first heard about the Bistro in the Citizen newspaper,” says Raftis. “I was going to talk with them about carrying Trans Canada Beer, and to my pleasant surprise they ordered before we first made contact! Whether rural or Winnipeg events, it is great if we can support our customers and also look for opportunities to bring craft beer to areas that are just starting to get into craft beer.”

TCB’s brewery, taproom, and retail store is located in the southwest corner of Winnipeg, on Kenaston Boulevard, but Raftis has often heard from rural customers that they would like to see representatives from local breweries more often.

So travelling outside of the Perimeter is a big part of his job.

Having local events like this one in our local communities enables people to stay close to home while still being able to enjoy the things they love. Craft beer, in particular, is a passionate hobby for many, and one that often comes with a lot of research and awareness in the consumer to cultivate such a deep appreciation for both art and taste.

TCB says that they always make sure to give beer enthusiasts a top-notch experience. At their August 13 event, their attention to detail inspired them to use locally brewed Negash Coffee to create a flavour-infused beer with a unique touch.

“I heard a couple comments about how it was great to have something like this so close to home,” says Raftis. “And there were a lot of comments around the special beer cask that we brought, a Maibock aged for two years in bourbon barrels and infused with cold steeped Yirgacheffe coffee from Negash Coffee. The majority of people mentioned they have not seen a cask before, or experienced an actual cask being tapped in-person. For a stronger, flavoured beer, surprisingly a lot of people mentioned they enjoyed it. And I had a couple people comment that it was one of the best beers they have ever tried!”

The one-of-a-kind coffee-infused lager was the creation of Sawatzky. However, TCB is also home to a core line-up of beers that includes a light amber ale, a pilsner, a “Blueberry Ale,” and an IPA.

Raftis says that TCB loves to introduce people to new kinds of beer they might not have tried before—and they develop different seasonal beers throughout the year to keep things interesting. For example, fruity beers are becoming more popular among a variety of beer connoisseurs and the company recently featured a summery varietal called Country Sour Guava.

Consumers’ interest in new and old flavours means the craft beer market in Manitoba is going strong. Raftis sees the company continuing to grow despite any roadblocks put in their way by COVID.

“For obvious reasons, there have not been many events this year, and we are still developing our approach to these events,” Raftis says. “It is an evolving situation and we are reviewing as an organization on a weekly basis and making adjustments when needed. Preventative measures all start before the event begins.”

TCB’s tasting event was neither the first craft beer night hosted at Bistro 290, nor will it be the last. Owner Shereen Rashwan explains that the unique events the restaurant has been hosting since she first opened her doors in the spring have all been based on local interest. She says many more events are on the way.

“Every craft beer night is going to feature new beers,” says Rashwan. “We want to showcase as many local breweries as possible! The beers are both purchased by the Bistro and donated by the respective vendors. Our first craft beer night that took place on July 16 and showcased Little Brown Jug, Lake of the Woods, and One Great City.”

Bistro 290 has previously hosted special events showcasing foods from the Mennonite tradition and cuisine from El Salvador. August events included gin-tasting from Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits as well as Capital K Distillery.

“[The Mennonite event] was the previous owner Louise Stott-Hiebert’s idea! It was a great suggestion she gave me when I took ownership,” says Rashwan. “On October 3, the Bistro will be welcoming Winnipeg artist Gabriela Ocejo and wine expert Flavia Fernandez Fabio for our Argentina night. What do we mean by this? Music, wine, and a sample of a traditional Argentinean dish.”

Rashwan says that tickets to all these events are going to be presold. They can be purchased either at the Bistro or online. Preselling tickets means the event organizers can make sure they have the appropriate amount of supplies for each event and can create a seating plan to ensure that all groups are spaced six feet apart.

She adds that the restaurant will still offer patio seating for regular business, but in-house dining will not be available during event times.

For more information

The Bistro is open to hearing from creative individuals who have ideas for a food-related events. Contact shereen@bistro20.com with a brief description of your event idea. More details about Bistro 290’s upcoming events can be found at https://www.facebook.com/bistr...

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