Author: Gerad Coles

Gerad took to the art of brewing beer very quickly sometime around late 2012 and has brewed many thousands of liters of beer since, striving to outdo himself with every batch. Gerad is a geek who loves to work with his hands just as much as he likes to work on a computer, and is as comfortable with a table saw or chisel as he is programming in Python on a Linux machine. Gerad is the Brewmaster for Prairie Dog Brewing, where he is in charge of developing new recipes and improving upon old ones, piloting new brewing processes and ensuring that quality standards are being met, and managing the fermentation/cellaring of our beer, ensuring it meets quality expectations for appearance, aroma and flavour.

Press Release: Prairie Dog Brewpub Closed for Dine-In Service

Effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Prairie Dog Brewing has closed its doors to the public for both dine-in service and takeout/off-sales, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We plan to reopen in late March 2020 as a takeout/delivery operation, only. All dine-in services will be suspended until after the pandemic sufficiently clears.

[UPDATE: We reopened for takeout on March 26, 2020, with new delivery services coming online thereafter]

Unfortunately, this decision required us to temporarily lay off 19 members of our talented staff. We intend to rehire all of these wonderful people when full operations resume at some point in the future.

Please review the following material for more information about why we had to close and what our plans are for takeout and delivery:

  • Brewpub Closure and financial information, including what you can do to help.
  • Our Takeout Menu, which includes information about takeout beer, food and beverages.
  • Our Delivery page, which lists online delivery services that you can use to have our food and beer delivered directly to your home or office.

Press Release: Electronic Staff Funds Collection

When Prairie Dog Brewing opened for business in June of 2018, we started with a bold plan to buck the traditions of the restaurant industry. First and foremost, we set out to compensate our staff fairly for their efforts, paying higher base wages and providing health and wellness benefits. Next, we developed an alternative to the archaic and sometimes discriminatory tipping model found at most other restaurants, which we call our Staff Fund.

Our “no tip expected” model has been extremely well received by Calgarians and out of town visitors, but as we anticipated, many guests would still like to provide a monetary reward to our staff as recognition for a great experience. To support our customers’ desire, we opened Prairie Dog Brewing with the option to contribute to our Staff Fund directly by “Buying us a beer” for $5, or by “Giving our brewmaster/pitmaster a high five” for $2, which would be added to the customer’s bill at some point prior to payment. Further, we disabled the tip function on our electronic payment terminals to encourage customers to formally contribute to the Staff Fund as described, and to spur on the conversation about our novel approach. Unfortunately, both our customers and our staff have found it awkward or untimely to broach the subject of the Staff Fund prior to payment. This has led to hundreds — it not thousands — of requests by our customers to find a way to use our electronic merchant terminals to collect Staff Funds, similar to tips.

Therefore, we are pleased to announce that as of today, February 10, 2020, we have enabled Staff Funds collection on our merchant terminals. In order to do this, we’ve turned on our merchant terminals’ tip function and provided clear labelling on the machines to indicate that tips are not expected and that all tips on these machines are a contribution to our Staff Fund, as well as placing a new “table talker” card on every table to outline our tipping policy and Staff Fund. 

We have also formalized our method of Staff Funds distribution. We distributed Staff Funds in a somewhat ad-hoc manner in the past, which meant that staff could not be certain of when or how they would receive Staff Funds. From today forward, we’ve committed to paying 75% of Staff Funds collected during each 2-week pay period directly on our employees’ paycheques. Prairie Dog Brewing operates as a team and every player has an important role to play in creating a great guest experience, so all of our employees will be included in this 75% distribution of funds, including our front of house, kitchen, brewery, and administration staff. These funds will be divided equally among the staff per hour that they work during each collection period. We will use the remaining 25% of collected Staff Funds for performance-based bonuses and rewards, as well as staff-driven events/initiatives and other perks.

Unchanged is our commitment to our staff and customers that Staff Funds will be paid out solely to Prairie Dog Brewing employees rather than to our ownership team, and that our employees will continue to receive industry-leading compensation and benefits.

For more information about our Staff Fund and our updated tipping policy, please visit http://tips.prairiedog.beer.

Beerfest 2018 Update

The first batch that we ran through Clifford, our BBQ pit, was the oats that we used in our breakfast pale ale collaboration with Last Best.

You should come to the Calgary International Beerfest this weekend, Friday and Saturday May 4th and 5th! We will be debuting nine casks that feature some of the favourite beer recipes we’ve developed over the past few years, and we are proud to announce that we will be serving kegs of our new collaboration with Last Best Brewing and Distilling and a three-way collaboration with Origin Brewing and Malting and Typeface Coffee Roasters. Not only that, but we’ll be bringing along barbecued meats prepared by Chef Jay in Clifford, the big red Texas BBQ pit!

We will be tapping casks on the following schedule at Beerfest, with special guests doing the honours:

Friday, May 4

4:30 PM – Best Bitter

This traditional English style is a sessionable favourite that elevates traditional English malts to centre stage and balances them out with a blend of Bramling Cross and Lemondrop hops, resulting in a unique mashup between the old and new worlds.

5:30 PM – Oatmeal Stout

A rich, dark stout with a thick, creamy head and full mouthfeel, having notes of coffee, caramel, dark chocolate, ash, and smoke character from our in-house-smoked flaked oats.

7:00 PM – Golden Strong

A surprisingly light and refreshing Belgian-style beer that belies its underlying strength. Yeast contribute a spicy, peppery character with notes of red apple. Biscuit-malt undertones and El Dorado hops give this beer an extra dose of flavour and dimension.

8:00 PM – Oaked Blackberry Porter

Prairie Dog’s favourite porter recipe with an addition of blackberry fruit and aged with French oak, leading to a beer with significant complexity and even wine-like characteristics.

Saturday, May 5

3:00 PM – Cinco de Mayo

This “Taco in a Glass” beer was inspired by the savoury flavours of Mexican food. Based roughly on the brown ale style, this beer has about 15% of its grist replaced with toasted flaked corn. Liberal additions of cumin, black pepper and smoked paprika give the beer flavours reminiscent of taco seasoning, and time spent with heavy-toast oak lends underlying complexity to this unique creation.

4:00 PM – IPA

An edgy, modern example of the American IPA category that bursts with lemon, orange and tangerine fruit character. A generous blend of Amarillo, Lemondrop and Mosaic hops were added at the end of boil and through multiple dry-hop steps, for a total of about 4lb of hops used per hectolitre (100L) of beer. In spite of the amazing hop character, bitterness is kept lower to allow the underlying malt flavour to shine through in the finish.

5:30 PM – Oat Mild

Prairie Dog’s take on a pale form of English Mild beer. Extremely sessionable with plenty of body and flavour from oats and other traditional British ingredients, which give subtle hints of toasted coconut.

7:00 PM – Gose Margarita

A fun take on the Gose style, which is a light, slightly tart and fruity German wheat ale style that incorporates coriander spices. Our version dials back the coriander and brings in freshly zested organic lime peels that have been soaked in tequila for sterilization and flavour reasons. This beer has all the fun of a margarita with less sugar and an easy-drinking character that makes it perfect for the patio!

8:00 PM – Dessert Stout

This easy-drinking beer was inspired by the flavours of waffle-cone ice cream and includes real Madagascar vanilla and a variety of other unique ingredients that make it the perfect after-dinner treat or a fun sipper around the campfire.

General Updates

Laura uses a router to trim the laminate countertop above the pony wall that separates the brewery from the dining room.

It has been many months since we our last update here and some people must be wondering, “what’s going on with those guys?”. The truth is that we’ve been quiet because we’ve been so busy with construction and starting up the business! Now, we’ve claimed time and time again that we would be opening in a short few months, and have repeatedly been disappointed by the reality that things just don’t happen as quickly as we’d like them to, suffering from the planning fallacy. However, every day marks progress and milestones continue to pass, and we are finally very close to gaining our occupancy license, which is the big hurdle that we need to jump over before we can start brewing beer and finally open our doors.

Right now it looks like we are about six weeks away from opening. I say that based on the fact that we are nearing the end of construction and starting to go through final inspections, and although we’ve had a few surprises, nothing major has come up. Here’s a few of the recent milestones:

  • On Tuesday, our kitchen was approved by Alberta Health Services for commercial purposes
  • A couple of weeks ago we fired up our boiler and turned on our brewhouse for the first time, moving around water and testing for leaks
  • Our federal excise tax inspection happened on Monday and all went smoothly
  • We had a progress inspection with our fire inspector and have completed all his recommendations
  • This week our mechanical contractors looked over all the plumbing fixtures that we installed and gave us some minor homework, but they believe everything is set to pass a final
  • Our electrical contractor finished up on Tuesday and will book our final inspection shortly
  • We had some setbacks and time sinks with the city planning office related to our painted signage plan, but that was resolved on Wednesday and our signage permit is now pending approval
  • We now have functioning wifi, an alarm system, payment terminals, refrigeration equipment, milling equipment, water softening and filtration, dishwashers, and lots more

Some of the major things that we still need to complete before we get occupancy (and start brewing beer):

  • The outside of our building has to be pressure washed and painted (by us) before we can get our Development Completion Permit
  • We must finish mounting bathroom doors and trim
  • We will install hardwood on the bar top and install drip trays
  • Our tap towers and draft lines will be set up and installed
  • Final inspections for electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and boiler
  • Assembly and placement of tables and chairs
  • Building and fire inspections

So as you can see, we have a lot of things to push through as soon as Beerfest finishes up, and we still have several tasks that could come up against roadblocks depending on bureaucracy. So wish us luck and please, if you are interested in volunteering to help us get things finished up, please send us an email at social@prairiedogbrewing.ca!

Hope to see you all at Beerfest!

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