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Brewer Interview – Second Wedge

In the February 2021 newsletter, we caught up with Joanne Richter and Rob Garrard, co-founders/owners of The Second Wedge Brewing Company in Uxbridge, Ontario.  You can learn more about them at https://thesecondwedge.ca/

OHGA:  When did you open the brewery?

Second Wedge: We opened in December of 2015, so we’ve just celebrated 5 years.

OHGA:  Why did you decide to launch a brewery?

Second Wedge: We felt it was the perfect addition to our town. We’re fans of great beer and brewery culture first and foremost, and we wanted to share that with our community. We also wanted to draw visitors to Uxbridge, which was known for its surrounding trails – it’s designated as the Trail Capital of Canada – but didn’t yet have a lot of downtown tourism.

OHGA:  How did you come up with brewery name?

Second Wedge: We wanted a name that reflected the landscape surrounding us. We also wanted it to be completely unique to us. We ended up finding out that the Oak Ridges Moraine was formed in four wedges from west to east, and that we’re on the “Uxbridge Wedge” – the second of the four wedges. Who’s ever going to copy that?

OHGA:  What’s the cool factor/unique about your brewery?

Second Wedge: We’re tucked away off the main street of a vibrant semi-rural small town, across from a historic feed mill and railway and all their picturesque jumble. We have a big sunny tasting room filled with local art and music, and a large beer garden surrounded by trees and a brook. We’re dog and family friendly. And our staff is just the coolest, most diverse bunch of humans you’ve ever met.

OHGA:  Which brews are selling best?

Second Wedge: 3 Rocks IPA is our year-round bestseller. High Grass lemongrass ginger saison always goes nuts when we bring it out from spring through fall. And whatever seasonal we’ve just launched always moves fast!

OHGA:  How do you decide which recipes to offer?

Aaron Lawrence: We have 4 year-round beers that are “foundational” — 3 Rocks IPA, our blonde ale Elgin Blonde, Monday Night Piper Scottish-style ale and Rain Maker porter. We bring back a lot of seasonals every year that people wait expectantly for – like Smoked Wheat on Rye, a lightly spiced wheat beer with a touch of rye spice on the finish. But we love coming up with entirely new beers throughout the year too. We tend to avoid jumping on the latest beer trend. We have fun dreaming stuff up with head brewer Mike Lounds that we know will taste amazing and bring people joy.

OHGA:  Where do you sell your beer?

Second Wedge: Our retail store here in Uxbridge; in bars and restaurants across the Golden Horseshoe; we have two listings at the LCBO, and our beer is also available in select grocery stores and LCBO convenience outlets.

OHGA:  What is your favourite part of being with the brewery?

Second Wedge: Everything we do comes from the heart. Of course, we also use our heads and trust our guts! But letting the heart have a say is important: that’s what brings together the best team, and creates magic in the glass. So, even when things are ridiculously stressful, we feel we’re striving together to achieve something meaningful.

OHGA:  What part of your job do you not like?

Second Wedge: Paperwork!

OHGA:  Do you buy Ontario Hops?

Second Wedge: We do! We released our first beer featuring all-Ontario ingredients in 2016, and our beer Back Forty was a wet-hopped pale ale using fresh hops from a local farm, for the two years they were growing hops. Our double IPA Fat Bike has always been brewed with 100% Ontario hops, and we’re happy to be sourcing these from Hayhoe Hops starting this year.

OHGA:  What factors do you consider when you are buying hops?

Second Wedge: We’re looking for a flavour, aroma and bittering profile to suit the beer we want to make. We’re looking for consistency and freshness.

OHGA:  What advice would you have for Ontario Hop Growers?

Second Wedge: The more data we can get, the better!

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