'The more the merrier': Surge in Regina’s craft beer welcomed by local brewers
Regina has seen an increase in craft beer producers over the past several years, and although it means more competition for those who are already up and running, they say it’s actually good for business.
“We’re of the mindset that the more the merrier,” Grant Frew, bar manager of Bushwakker Brewpub, said. “In order to have growth in the industry, we need more craft beer drinkers. We have to convert those people who are drinking macro lagers to try craft brewery beer.”
Bushwakker Brewpub was one of the city’s first beer makers, opening in 1991. At the time, there were only two other brewpubs in Regina.
“Back then, people weren’t really accustomed to craft beer, so we had to do a lot of education for people, telling them there’s more to life than just the light pilsners that the big breweries are making,” Frew said.
Fast forward almost 30 years, and the number of microbreweries is on the rise.
Pile O’Bones Brewing Company first opened three years ago, and is currently in the process of expanding. They’re scaling from a few taps for growler fill-up, to an entire tap room.
“Right away it was like we need to go bigger, we need to grow,” Kate Byblow the tap room manager of Pile O’Bones Brewing Company said.
While they’re no longer the newest brewery in the city and more are popping up around them, Byblow shares the same view as Frew that the more, the merrier.
“I don’t think it’s saturated, and I don’t think it can get saturated. I think we’re all in it,” she said. “It’s all a community.”
Pile O’Bones new taproom will not only feature their own products, but beers, ciders, spirits and kombucha from across the province as well.
Jason Childs, an associate professor of economics at the University of Regina, said the difference in the craft beer scene in the city now compared to even a decade ago, is night and day.
“We’ve seen a massive explosion in the number of breweries in the city, and producing wildly different beers and really high quality beers,” Childs said.
He said some of the success in the craft beer scene comes down to a change in tastes.
“People actually are more interested in different beers that actually taste like something, not your stereotypical macro brew, which is a very basic taste designed to be as inoffensive to as many people as possible,” Childs said.
Childs said that although the market is expanding now, he expects it to shrink slightly in the future. Then, it’ll be up to the breweries to ensure the quality of their products stand the test of time.