By Jacob Hoytema –
When brothers Mike and Kevin Sirko served in the naval reserves and travelled to various bases across the country, they often had occasion to socialize over a beer with other service men and women in mess halls. But they say they noticed a problem with their pints:
“There were big, foreign corporations pretending that they’re making Canadian beer, but there was never really a beer that we could toast to and be proud of as being something that’s truly celebrating Canada,” Mike explains.
Their solution: to start the Vimy Brewing Company in east Kitchissippi.
The brewery is named after the battle of Vimy Ridge, the famous WWI offensive where Canadian soldiers won a tough victory. Mike, 37, and Kevin, 34, say that naming their company after the battle is not only a reference to their own military background, but to an important national symbol.
“Once we united as our own army, and made a significant victory, we were no longer seen as just a colony; it was the birth of a nation,” Kevin says of the battle. This past April marked the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, although the brothers say they had been planning on the name for a few years.
Vimy Brewing pays homage to the battle through their logo, which features the maple leaf emblem worn by Canadian troops in WWI. Superimposed on the leaf are four smaller leaves, representing the four Canadian divisions that fought in the assault, as well as a black bear, the only animal found in all the provinces and territories (except for Prince Edward Island).
The brewery itself is located in a former landscaping depot on Loretta Street North. The “Great Hall” features an eight bar tap and an 80-inch TV. On one wall are flags of several local and national sports teams; on the opposite wall hang the flags of the branches of the Armed Forces.
The brothers have also set up a lounge with comfier chairs, for those who prefer to take their beer with a book. There are also two game rooms, featuring bubble hockey and foosball tables respectively.
The real engine of Vimy Brewing lies behind the seating areas. In a large, open room that stretches behind the hall, Mike and Kevin brew and ferment their beer before pumping it directly to the bar. The room is filled with equipment that brews, ferments, and stores the beer. There is an opening into the brewing area from the Great Hall that will allow patrons to see the process for themselves.
The bar will open with Vimy’s three main brews: a pale ale, a red ale, and a cream ale. The brothers also plan to sell their product in “crowlers,” which are large 32 oz. cans.
Mike and Kevin haven’t yet settled on a firm opening date, but hope to be open in May. Check for news and updates at vimybrewing.ca.