I’m really fortunate to sit down with Joanne Richter, co-founder of Second Wedge Brewing in Uxbridge, Ontario for a quick chat about their brewery and where it’s headed.
What got you into the world of craft brewing and why choose Uxbridge as a home?
We got into home brewing as a hobby in between Rob’s work gigs (he was a freelance cameraman for 30 years and often traveled for months at a time and then had months off in between.) We love good beer and good food and always loved to cook together. We very quickly got thoroughly hooked on the process of brewing.
We chose to live in Uxbridge after coming up from Toronto many, many weekends to stay at Rob’s sister’s place and enjoy the countryside and trails. The clincher was that giant North American power failure in 2003. We were looking up at the starry sky and thinking, “we need to be where we can see this all the time.” That winter, we moved our kids up here and never looked back, even when I had to commute to Toronto for 9 years.
What was the reception like when you opened up in Uxbridge?
We’ve had incredible support from our community from Day 1, and that’s really helped us get a strong footing – especially in those early months when we were learning to walk.
What is a typical day like for you at the brewery?
I come into work for 9:30 am, open the door for staff, do inventory adjustments, set up the point of sale and deal with any issues before opening. We usually bring our dog with us, and I walk whenever I can. The rest of the day (for me) is generally office work – email, social media, bookkeeping, staff scheduling, budget stuff, ordering, inventory work, etc. And meetings a few times a day with suppliers, sales staff, and our brew master Doug, our graphic designer, other local business people, etc. We can sometimes break away for an hour or two to have dinner with the family, and then it’s back here for closing. We’re usually done around 10.
What is the biggest challenge for Second Wedge Brewery?
At this point, we’re still just a small handful of people doing a lot of different jobs, and we’re growing, so we want to manage things in such a way that we preserve our company culture and keep things creative and interesting while also meeting increased demand.
What is the biggest challenge for the Ontario craft beer scene from where you are sitting?
I think the industry is in a position of remarkable strength right now, but we have to be careful to maintain what makes craft beer unique in the first place: independence from big-beer mentality. In my ideal world, all the breweries have their own strong individuality while also being supportive members of the brewing community. We’re all in this together.
Where do you want to see your brewery over the next few years?
We’d like to slowly but surely widen our availability outside our immediate local area (mostly Durham Region). We’d like to add more tanks and upgrade our packaging equipment and bring more amazing people on board. But we’re also going to stay focused on maintaining what we have here in Uxbridge – a tasting room and beer garden that have become a real destination for local people and visitors, and big involvement in our community.
What’s your favourite beer in your line up?
Today? 3 Rocks IPA. Tomorrow it will be Rain Maker, our porter. And so on, and so on… Doug Warren is our brew master and he’s done an incredible job of nailing a diverse line-up of year-round beers and seasonals. High Grass is a summer seasonal that I’m really loving on hot days like today – it’s a gorgeous lemongrass ginger saison that we’ve decided to keep going till the end of September.
What other Canadian craft breweries to do you admire and why?
I adore Bellwoods and Beau’s, and lots of other small brewers with great vibes like Block 3 Brewing and Blood Brothers. And not because they all start with B (!) but because they each have a lot of creativity and walk their own unique paths. I really love the beers I’ve had from Hill Farmstead in Vermont and Dieu du Ciel in Montreal. I’m a sucker for good Belgian ales too – St. Bernardus Abt 12 with a friend’s homemade apple cake was my favourite beer moment of all time.
Finally, Do you plan to sell in the LCBO and grocery channels in the future?
We do plan to move on to the LCBO and grocery channels in our next year of operation. We’re starting to chart that course this summer and fall.
Thank you for your time Joanne, and your 3 Rocks IPA and Monday Night Piper are delicious beers. The Second Wedge Brewing Company is located at 14 Victoria Street, just off Highway 8 in Uxbridge. Their website is The Second Wedge and is open seven days a week.