Now they re coming back to rural Manitoba, this time with plans to start up the first estate brewery in Canada. An estate brewery differs from other breweries by producing its own ingredients.
We re farmers at heart, and we just sort of wanted to get back to the land, said Lawrence, who has just moved his young family to a newly purchased farm just east of Neepawa.
Grain farming and beef farming doesn t seem all that doable. An estate brewery is our version of what we think we can do and will give us an edge in the market.
As farmers turned pub owners, the Warwaruks have had a decade to get to know beer trends and understand that edge.
At Luxalune Gastropub in Winnipeg they now serve over 150 types of beer and have found interest in the craft beers is growing all the time, said Lawrence. As they ve put together a business plan, they ve also visited what is an ever-increasing number of microbreweries now found in Canada and the U.S.
Inspiration for The Farmery came from visits to Wisconsin, which has at least 60 small microbreweries, said Lawrence.
It s a huge hotbed for the craft industry in the U.S. They have all the different styles of breweries there. Some are owned by farmers. Some are out in the middle of nowhere. Some are downtown in major centres.
Locally grown ingredient is massively popular too. Yet, no one, among all the sites they ve visited, produces their own.
That will be The Farmery s major point of differentiation in the marketplace, and not just in Manitoba or Canada, but possibly anywhere in the U.S., said Lawrence.
No one is actually trying to do the whole process themselves, right from the growing stage right to the brewing process, he said.
To get there, he was back on the tractor this summer, planting a few acres of barley, plus 200 hops plants to grow the raw materials for the beer recipes they re developing at the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre in Winnipeg. Next year he plans to seed about 80 to 100 acres in barley for the venture.
The business concept behind The Farmery includes not just producing great beer to sell at their pub and other venues around the province, but to make the brewery location a tourist site as well.
They want to have a strong tourism component to the brewery site. Its proposed location just east of Neepawa is the northeast corner of Hwys. 16 and 352.
There will be fields of hops and barley planted around the post-and- beam building they re planning to house the brewery, said Lawrence. People can see the fields outdoors, then see the brewing in action indoors.
We ll be encouraging people to come to the brewery and see the whole process, he said.
Their ultimate goal is to create a uniquely Manitoba beer flavoured with saskatoons.
We ve had a chance to taste profile the marketplace over the last three years, so we know what people are really looking for in a beer.
One of the most popular right now at Luxalune is a blueberry beer from New Brunswick, he said. It just flows off the shelf.
Changes to provincial liquor laws, which take effect this November, pave the way for such a venture, including one that now permits restaurateurs to also create brew pubs and produce beer on site.
Other developments that are helping spur ventures like these include growing use of social media. Social media gives them a big advantage against competitors with much bigger advertising budgets, said Chris.
It connects us to the consumer, he said, adding that they ll be using YouTube sites and other social media to reach customers, update on company developments and promote The Farmery s beers.
Evidently, a lot of people have already heard what they re planning and like what they re hearing.
There s been nothing but support vocalized in their area on what they re proposing, with many seeing this as an industry that can attract a younger set to the community.
Craft beer brewing is sort of a new-age industry that has a lot of appeal to younger people, he said. This is a really clean, value-added industry for the community.
The Warwaruks hope to create at least seven jobs at The Farmery. Pending approval of a proposed zoning change for the brewery site, they plan to launch the venture in the spring of 2012.
No one is actually trying to do the whole process themselves, right from the growing stage right to the brewing process.