April 22, 2019
When your day to day job involves working in one of the world’s most dangerous countries, dodging bullets and insurgents while riding around in armoured vehicles, it’s probably natural you might start looking for an alternate career.
Graham Sherman and Jeff Orr met in Afghanistan while setting up military communications lines. The duo found they had similar interests and hobbies back in Canada and soon developed a fast friendship.
“Whether it was barbecuing or roasting their own coffee or even home brewing, these two had many of the same interests,” recalls current co-worker Marcus Brais, “When they got back from Afghanistan, they started home brewing together in Graham’s backyard tool shed. And that was the very beginning of Tool Shed Beer.”
The pair eventually decided to take the brewing thing seriously, and quit their dangerous day jobs to pursue their shared passion.
The brand’s slogan is, “hand crafted beer best served with a story,” and the story of the company’s inception is just one of the things that makes this brewery unique.
“Every one of our beers has a story behind it,” explains Brais, “Inspired by somebody that meant something to us along the journey. Whether it’s our People Skills Cream Ale being named after somebody that Graham and Jeff worked with in Afghanistan who literally had no people skills, or our Red Rage Red Ale, which is affectionately named after Graham because he's a ginger and we all know gingers have that reputation of being hot headed. Our Star Cheek IPA is named after a very unfortunate characteristic of Jeff’s; when he drinks alcohol he actually goes completely beet red in the face, except for a perfectly white star on his right cheek.”
Each of the stories behind the beers is printed right on the can; an homage to each story and each inspiration. Tool Shed’s People Skills Cream Ale, Red Rage Red Ale, Star Cheek IPA, Flat Cap Stout and Tool Box Mixer pack are available at Calgary-area Co-op Wine Spirits Beer stores, as well as an array of seasonal offerings.
“Co-op Wine Spirits Beer has been carrying our beer for years; they’re far and away our biggest retail partner. The relationship that we have with Co-op has been phenomenal. They're supportive of small breweries and in particular small Alberta breweries and that’s been tremendous.”
Brais is also quick to give a shout out to the farms Tool Shed works with, who supply the fresh, high quality grains the beer is made with.
“These relationships that we've been able to build with folks like the McAllisters and Antler Valley Farms—a fifth generation farm—they've been just incredible,” enthuses Brais, “It's a really cool time for agriculture as well as brewing in this province. As we all know, for the longest time, farming in Alberta was not exactly the most glorious job. It went season to season where you never knew if you were going to—A, have a good crop or B, just have people to sell your crop to. Now with this expansion of brewing in Alberta, it's given so many of these farms a chance to not only have a sense of security but also to be able to thrive and be able to do so many things that—just 10 years ago—would have been completely unheard of.”
For Co-op customers unfamiliar with Tool Shed’s offerings, Brais suggests starting off trying their Tool Box Mixer as a way to sample the lineup.
“Our People Skills Cream Ale is our ‘welcome to craft beer’, so to speak. It’s very approachable. It’s light, it’s easy drinking. The style is an American cream ale which is essentially brewed almost identically to a lager. So you get those nice rounded flavours and the full body of an ale, while still having the crispness and the nice dry finish of a lager.
Find Tool Shed beer at Calgary-area Co-op Wine Spirits Beer stores or check them out at www.toolshed.beer
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