Graham Sherman and Jeff Orr founders of Tool Shed Brewery

Where are you guys at are you almost ready to get some beer on shelves?

Graham: Yes our beer hits Calgary in July. So what we’ve been doing is we’re still raising money and we’ve got a 25-hectolitre brewhouse that’s still getting built by DME — a Canadian-built brewhouse we’re pretty pumped about that. We’re probably still eight months to a year from having our brewhouse completely installed and pumping out our beer. So in the meantime what we’ve done is we went around to every brewery in Alberta trying to get a contract together so we could brew our beer at another facility. Of course everybody’s at capacity in Alberta right? So we said “Well either we wait a year and miss this incredible time to get our business up and running and our beer in Calgary or we go outside of Calgary.” So we found Dead Frog Brewing just outside of Vancouver and struck a deal with them. Jeff my partner has just quit his job this week. He’s officially employee 001 of Tool Shed Brewing.


That’s a pretty staggering thing when you get to that point. So he’s moving out there this weekend actually to brew our beer in their stainless steel.

So are you coming out with a bunch of beers?

Yup we’ve got three core beers that are going to be hitting in the summer. So we’ve got an incredible red ale. It’s a darker red so it’s kind of a roasty toasty malty… oh man it’s awesome. That’s called Red Rage. Then we’ve got an IPA that we think is a game changer as well. That’s something that I’ve kind of been missing in Calgary beers anyway a really good IPA. Our social media is exploding about an IPA. Everybody wants a good local IPA to call their own.

Are you just cranking up the hops?

No we’re not. I think that’s kind of a cheap trick to just put more hops in. I guess I should tell you. Where Jeff and I come from we are über geeks. We came from the IT background. When we get into coffee it’s not just finding the best cup of coffee I actually have an industrial coffee roaster in my basement and I bring beans in from all over the world. If it’s worth doing it’s worth going way too far. So that’s kind of what we’ve been doing with the beer as well and I’m fortunate enough that my brother has done a four-year chemistry degree specific to brewing. So he’s out in Australia at a brewpub. If you watch Breaking Bad he’s Walter White to beer.

He’s not putting meth in it is he?

[Laughs] No but all our beer is blue [Laughs]. No no no. It’s just the science behind it and when you understand it as well as my brother does and he’s able to teach us it’s different. So to answer your question we’re not just adding more hops we’re doing funky additions of hops at different times to get aromas that even when Dead Frog tried our IPA their response was “how are you doing this?” Which was one of the greatest honours ever. People ask us how long we’ve been brewing and the answer is one year. To have a production brewery of that magnitude to ask us how we’re doing it is a real shot in the arm.

What’s the IPA called?

It’s called Star Cheek which is kind of a weird name but my partner here Jeff he’s got the weirdest thing that happens when he drinks beer — his face goes all flush except for a perfect nautical star on his cheek that shows up. It’s the funniest thing you’ll ever see. We’ve got to put a picture of it on our website so people will believe it.

You should put his face on the label.

Yeah that’s what we’re doing actually. He’s horrified by this concept but…. Who else gets a perfect five-point star on their face when they drink? And then our third beer it’s just a perfect summer season sessional ale. It’s a cream ale a little lower alcohol content less IBUs (international bittering units). Not a wheat beer we’ve got enough wheat beer in our city. It’s a beautiful light summer patio beer and it gets along with everybody so we named it People Skills. Somebody will be able to say “get this guy a pint of People Skills.”


Yeah so we’re just kind of putting on the finishing touches. We’ve ordered a canning line from Cask here in town so we’re going to be canning and kegging for places like National of course.

That’s exciting. I heard a rumour that you were partnering with Brew Brothers on canning equipment?

Well we were looking at it. That was back when we were trying to get a deal together with Brew Brothers. We approached them as well to see if they could do a brewing contract with us but he’s at capacity too and he’s also going to be helping Vagabond Brewing. So we couldn’t really have any kind of long-term commitment from him. And with our brewhouse probably being a year away we need to brew a lot of beer. So we were able to get Dead Frog to commit to three batches of 60 hectalitres per month so we can grow into the capacity that we need over the course of the year.

Do you guys have a location yet for where you’re going to put the brewhouse?

Yeah. Our location is actually a block north of Big Rock. This is part of the thing I’m so pumped about. You know Wild Rose is just a block east of there. And then Brewsters is just a block north of us so we’re trying to add to this concept of a brewery district. We’re talking to Tourism Calgary about putting together brew district tours in Calgary. So this culture of craft beer has to be nurtured. It’s not just about Tool Shed it’s about craft beer in Calgary. So we think that’s going to be cool.