Award-winning beer, uniquely flavourful craft sodas, hard iced tea, canned cocktails, and spirits are the specialty of Troubled Monk Brewery. The family-owned and operated craft brewery opened in 2015 and is located in Red Deer, Alberta – the heart of malt barley country. Troubled Monk sources most of their brewing malt from Alberta fields and uses Canadian hops whenever possible. Brewery guests can experience a brewery tour and visit the taproom to enjoy uniquely delicious and award-winning beverages.
Here are some thoughts about tourism and the craft-brewing industry from Troubled Monk Brewery’s co-founder Charlie Bredo.
How did your business evolve during the pandemic? What changes or new aspects to your business will you take with you moving forward?
We immediately started making hand sanitizer, which was great as it kept our people busy, and it was something the community really needed at the time. We also started doing home delivery. As things opened up, we began table service in the taproom and expanded our delivery program, both of which we expect to continue to do. Looking back, it was a challenging time that made us get better in order to get through it, which is rewarding in its own way.
We know that Albertans will play a key role in the initial economic recovery of our local tourism industry, as health restrictions lift. What would you say to encourage Albertans to continue exploring their own backyard, even when it’s possible to travel elsewhere again?
I’d say you should challenge yourself to explore at least one area near your home where you haven’t actually been before (that is considered a tourist attraction). I am always amazed how much I overlook that is really close to where I live. Alberta has lots of hidden gems – go and find a couple close to you.
What is your favourite “hidden gem” in Alberta?
I never get tired of enjoying Alberta’s natural beauty. Often people think that east of the mountains there is really nothing to see. We have some world-class lakes, rivers, parks, and forests that are fantastic to experience and explore.
We know that health and safety is top of mind for everyone right now. How is your business preparing to give visitors peace of mind as restrictions lift?
We are using lots of hand sanitizer, increased our cleaning frequency, wear masks if customers prefer, and have kept our dividers in the taproom for the time being. We’ve really expanded our outdoor taproom space as well, which is great as it gives our customers a place to sit and relax outside.
What are your hopes for the future of Alberta’s tourism industry? How will your business play a role in that?
I think Alberta has a wonderful opportunity to make world-class whisky. We have some of the best malt and cleanest water in the world. Albertans are creative and entrepreneurial. If we play our cards right, we have an opportunity to grow a world-class whisky industry here over the next 10 to 15 years. We plan on launching our first whisky later this year.
How can industry work together to recover and build even stronger post-pandemic?