As summer comes ever tantalizingly closer, one becomes of the mind of frosty beers sipped on patios, crisp whites paired with meals eaten al fresco and that first steaming mug of tea in the morning as you savour the sunrise over the lake at your cottage. Manitoba is home to numerous crafters, creators and distillers of a variety of sips and tipples both of the spirited kind and not. So sit back, crack a cold one and mull over these locally grown options.
What the doctor ordered
Its quirky name is just the start of Shrugging Doctor Brewing Co. It’s one of Manitoba’s only wineries (this is admittedly a small club) and ciderys, that is fast becoming known for its crisp apple ciders (with a cinnamon option), mead and other fruit wines like cranberry, raspberry, strawberry rhubarb and Saskatoon berry. Their philosophy is creating products with “an upbeat, charismatic swagger which was inspired by the travelling doctors of old. Those who worked on the road selling their many elixirs of wonder, miracle remedies and concoctions.” That ethos seems to run through everything including their colourful packaging and the greatest miracle of all... they’ll deliver to you anywhere in Winnipeg within an hour. Definitely what the doctor ordered.
Can’t beat a classic
Manitoba’s oldest winery, founded in 1999, is the esteemed Rigby Orchards. Operating out of the Rigby family’s 1882 homestead farm, they create their own certified organic tart cherry, blackcurrant, apple and grape wines and honey meads. They also grow haskap berries–a niche crop and new berry variety created on the Canadian prairies that tastes like a cross between a blueberry and raspberry and is lauded for its versatility and flavour. Rigby Orchard products are available only at Manitoba Liquor Marts.
The Boreal Wildcraft Tea Company does more than just make tea. It’s an innovator and inventor too as evidenced by its trademark The Wall Tea Infuser. Tea aficionados will go wild over this clever design that features a fused glass strainer that acts as a filtration barrier to prevent tea leaves from entering your mouth, while allowing for maximum infusion. It even comes in right- and left-handed options, depending on which side you prefer to drink from. Boreal Wildcraft also makes tea foraged from local ingredients to put in your ‘Wall’ like Manitoba chaga (a variety of medicinal mushroom renowned for its plethora of alleged health benefits), Labrador tea and wild peppermint, sage and rose petals.
If you’re up on the latest of superfoods that are de rigueur (or have any friends who eat Paleo), then you’ve probably heard of bone broth. Made from boiling down discarded bones from animals, bone broth allows you to extract the goodness in the marrow, tendons and ligaments we otherwise don’t eat. Those who love it sing its praises–claiming it can do everything from boost your immune system, heal your gut and even reduce cellulite. Bone broth tea and even bone broth lattes, drunk just like your morning cup is a common way to enjoy it. Enter Goldbone, a Winnipeg-based company making bone broths and marrow infusions from grass-fed, free-range livestock, so you can get your health on.
Distill it down
Manitoba’s first and only vodka distillery comes to us from Capital K and their brand of Tall Grass vodka. These spirits are produced grain-to-bottle at their Winnipeg operation. They employ a custom process and 20-plate distilling column using Manitoba-grown wheat and rye as well as the whole mash (not just the liquid). Not sure what any of that means? It doesn’t matter–all you need to know is all of this makes for an extremely smooth finishing vodka. Capital K then takes it to another level adding Manitoba-grown ingredients to create flavoured vodkas like strawberry rhubarb, dill pickle (yah, that’s right) and espresso.
Another player in the ‘cool-to-drink’ crowd is undoubtedly, kombucha. This drink made from fermented black and green teas, results in a lightly effervescent product that is often then flavoured with fruit. Many believe kombucha’s bounty of “good” bacteria is a critical part of having a happy and healthy gut. Wolseley Kombucha is Manitoba’s first craft kombucha maker–fittingly Wolseley is known as the granola belt of the city, so locals won’t be surprised at this company’s origins. Sold on tap at vegan burger joint, Boon Burger, and at local craft and farmers’ markets, sip on flavours like apple spice, lemon-ginger and pom limeade.
Hops and barley
Like many places, Manitoba’s craft beer scene has seen an explosion in recent years. There are so many now, it would be hard to name them all and we aren’t going to try. We will mention a few like Farmery, operating outside the rural town of Neepawa where the ingredients for their brew are grown right our their back door. We need to mention Half Pints Brewing Co.–arguably the craft brewer that started it all in Winnipeg. There’s also Nonsuch Brewing Co. (notably packaged in beautiful champagne-like bottles), Little Brown Jug, Torque Brewing Co., Barn Hammer and many more worth checking out. We highly recommend hopping on a tour like Winnipeg Tasting Tours, or the Winnipeg Trolley Ale Trail.