On Friday, March 9, more than 400 business and community leaders will come together at the 9th annual Spirit of Winnipeg Awards to celebrate 22 deserving organizations who make Winnipeg better.
Little Brown Jug is known for two things: their open-concept microbrewery in the Exchange District and their one beer menu. They also show how small businesses can be environmental champions. Founder Kevin Selch shares their story.
1. Tell us about Little Brown Jug.
Little Brown Jug Brewing Company (LBJ) is an urban microbrewery that manufactures, distributes and sells beer from its location in the Exchange District of Winnipeg. We make only one beer, ‘1919’ a Belgian Pale Ale. Our values are: honesty, community, and quality.
2. Who do you help with what you do?
We offer a space that can be used by the community. In most cases, we aren’t looking to monetize the space, but to use it to help build the neighbourhood.
For instance, we partnered with Hearts & Roots and made our large walk-in cooler available so they could offer community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes for fresh fruits and vegetables all summer long. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra threw a popup concert in the brewery to attract new patrons. And we participate in many local events, Nuit Blanche, First Fridays, offering something different than what others in the Exchange can provide.
Our investments in energy conservation and environmental stewardship set an example of what is possible for a new business and a small business in Winnipeg.
3. When did your idea/innovation to start your action occur? How did it come to you?
The idea of repurposing a historic building in the Exchange District came from traveling to and living in other cities and seeing how microbreweries had the potential to serve as an anchor to help rejuvenate core neighbourhoods. It was in the original plan.
But the idea of building Little Brown Jug around the values of honesty, community, and quality, developed over the months of setup and restoration. Throughout the buildout and startup there are decision points where a business – even a new business – needs to decide what kind of company it is going to be. These individual decisions led to large investments in energy conservation, the design of the manufacturing plant, and the kind of company we’ve made with our employees.
4. What impact have you witnessed (tell a story)
I’ve witnessed the impact of design and experience on the community and how people interact in those communities. Little Brown Jug has an purposefully design open-concept taproom and a unique patio outside with lawn turf. When patrons are inside it’s like they are sitting on the floor of the brewery, taking in the sights, smells, and sounds, of the brewing process. They get to interact with staff and see their product being made from grain-to-glass.
The space is intended as a shared space. We almost never close down for private events butinvite events to be run concurrently in the space. We are told by the Winnipeg Tasting Tours that it is in our space that barriers between different groups on the tour breakdown, conversations start, and meetings happen. I’m very excited about that.