I once likened the Mash Tun—the brewpub in the Alberta Arts District named for the vessel used to convert malted barley’s starches into sugars in a process called mashing—to Cro-Magnon Man on the human evolutionary chart. It’s a good snapshot of how far brewpubs had come since the early '80s when it opened in 2005, but it got frozen in time. Maybe it's the caveman in me, but I think this analog brewpub is a pretty good respite in this digital age. At least, it was.
As discovered by an application filed with the OLCC, the Mash Tun is gearing to make way for a new, likely contemporary, brewpub that will take over the existing seven-barrel system to be called Great Notion Brewing. Reached by email, Mash Tun’s founder and brewer Christian Bravard broke the terrible news: “Unfortunately my mother was recently diagnosed with cancer and I've reluctantly decided to sell the brewery. It's been a great 10 years but it’s time to move on to something new and spend more time with my family.”
Around here, breweries don’t survive if they don’t make good beer, nor is bad beer usually the reason they close. Health issues and the shit life throws at us is probably the leading cause.
The pub may not have been a major destination for beer lovers visiting Beervana, but it served its community well. Beer garden. Pool table. A free, choice juke box. Reasonable prices for their great burgers and well-made beers even if, stylistically, they didn’t progress past the early '00s.
Keelhaul IPA, billed as containing "herbal and citrus" hop flavors with "sweet and nutty" maltiness, imparts lemon notes. Penfold Porter offers nice, malt-driven cocoa flavor. Concordia Cream Ale utilizes flaked corn as well as aroma hops making it palatable to modern era beer lovers.
The Mash Tun didn’t draw folks to the neighborhood like Aviary or Salt & Straw that has made this part of Alberta very hip, but it never intended or pretended to be trendy. Great Notion, from a pair of local homebrewers named James Dugan and Andy Miller, will come out swinging for the fences in today’s current arena. As noted on their website, “Our brewery will focus on IPAs and creative sour ales. You’ll also find a variety of beers on fresh fruit and stouts with smoke, coffee, and chocolate.” Hoppy IPAs and barrel-aged sour ales in the Flemish lambic style could turn the pub into a destination.
“Great Notion (is) still working on their financing but it looks like things should be finalized in the next couple of weeks,” noted Bravard. Until then, the darts are flying and the beer garden’s open, so hurry in to say your final goodbyes, even if you’re not from the neighborhood.
The Mash Tun, 2204 NE Alberta