Troubled Monk Brewery and Tap Room co-founder Charlie Bredo says Red Deer is now home to Alberta's first locally made craft hard iced tea. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Red Deer breweries gear up for 2021 after ‘challenging’ year

The Troubled Monk’s owner says “2020 was a wild ride” for the Red Deer brewery.

“It started off looking like it would be a normal year, then it turned into chaos and uncertainty. Eventually it kind of settled into a pattern that we’re still trying to make sense of,” said Charlie Bredo.

“But it’s been amazing to see the community support local as much as they have and kind of band together. That’s been one of the cool things about this experience.”

Hand sanitizer was a major addition for the Troubled Monk, as central Albertans battled the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hand sanitizer was really big for us, as far as keeping our staff engaged,” said Bredo.

“During that period I was worried we’d have to lay off staff or have salary rollbacks. But fortunately hand sanitizer kept is so we were able to do a lot better than how things could’ve gone.”

Craft lagers and “easy-drinking craft beers” were some of the brewery’s top items in 2020, Bredo said, adding he’s looking forward the The Troubled Monk’s whiskey program, which will “hopefully” become available this year.

“We’re going to have our first three-year-old whiskey in June. Whether we launch it right away or not, I’m not sure. But that’s what I’m really excited about,” he said.

“We’re also really excited about getting Troubled tea, gin soda and vodka soda out there. Those have been popular and I think there are a ton of people who haven’t tried it yet.”

Jarod Giesbrecht, one of the owners of Red Hart Brewing, said the past year was a “tough” experience.

But it meant a lot “seeing our customers reach out and be generous with their support of us,” said Giesbrecht.

A peach beer was one of the biggest items for the brewery this past year.

“People went crazy for that beer. It was the highest-rated beer in Canada on WhatsApp for a couple of days. People were so excited for it, so we’re going to be having that again for our anniversary here in March,” he said.

Giesbrecht said he was also excited to do “several recipes” with Hard Hels Hops, a Red Deer hops farm, in 2020.

The brewery will get more focused on canned beers this year, Giesbrecht added.

“We opened the brewery as a tap-room focused business, where we were focusing on the community space. Now with the way things are going … we’re doing a bunch more cans to try to bring that community space into people’s homes,” he said.

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