After fifteen months of renovations, organizing and brewing, the Rumpus Beer Company, Revelstoke’s newest microbrewery, has opened it doors.
Owned by Dana and Fred Orndorff and located 208 First Street East, Rumpus Beer Company is a bright and unique space specializing in small batch brewing.
“An average brew takes one day to make the batch. It is then put into the fermentor where the yeast take over,” explains Fred. “They do their thing for three or four weeks before the brew goes in a keg. When we opened, we had 2700 litres in the cooler, and three fermentors full. Each fermentor holds 600 litres, but by the time it is kegged we’re getting 500-550 litres. Right now we have six empty kegs and when we get three more, then one fermentor batch will be kegged and a new brew made.”
Fred is excited for the creativity it allows.
“I plan on switching brews up all the time,” he laughs. “But by day two people were like ‘but not Space Nugs right?’ So that brew will stay for the summer. And there is a lot to be said for refining something and getting better.”
Space Nugs is the name of his popular hops beer.
“I read someone mentioning a super niche slang for the perfect loamy dirt when mountain biking as space nugs, which seems a fitting name for something hoppy,” Fred laughs.
Acid Drop, the first of Fred and Dana’s sours, is named after a trick. They plan on naming all their sours after tricks from a variety of sports (think snow, skate and bike). Always on the look for a creative name, if you see Fred jotting down in a notebook, you might find the name or phrase you spoke on a tap sometime in the future.
The Rumpus Beer Company offers a variety of drink sizes, including flights of beer (100ml samples of each beer available) as well as something called Growlers. The small growler is 946 ml and the large growler is 1.9 L.
“It’s pretty common in the states,” says Fred. “It’s a beer jug, like bulk beer to go poured from the tap. Once you open it you need to finish it, but you can keep it unopened in your fridge for about a week.”
The brewing machinery comes from all over. Stainless steel totes used for candy concentrate from Alaska will be used for bulk aging long term sours. The kettle hails from Portland and a mash tun is an old dairy tank originally used for making cream.
The road to owning a brewery has been a long time coming for Fred and Dana. Initially a post secondary student studying architecture, Fred’s second year project was to design a brewery.
“We visited a bunch of breweries – it was really cool,” says Fred. “After that I started homebrewing. I realized architecture wasn’t for me and I didn’t want the prize at the end, so why keep doing it? It was the darkest most gruelling times of life,” says Fred.
Fred headed to Crested Butte Colorado where he started working at Eldo Brewpub.
“I’ve been working in brewing since 2008,” he explains. “I was brewing when I met Dana, who is a nurse. She was in town on a ski vacation.”
Dana and Fred did a couple years of distance before Fred was able to get a work permit at the Grizzly Paw in Canmore, where they lived for almost six years. Three years ago, they moved to Revelstoke.
“The Alberta beer scene felt like the beer scene in Colorado in the 90’s – it was going to explode. The Grizzly Paw was great because I learned a ton about the business side of brewing. The Grizzly Paw is a full production beer factory, the largest fermentor they have is 105HL. The Eldo was a bit bigger than Rumpus.”
Fred finds the micro brewing industry to be a collaborative place.
“My experience with the brewing community in general, from Colorado to here, is positive. If I went up to Begbie Brewing right now and said I had an emergency, or asked if I borrow a kilo of centennial hops, I’m sure I would walk out the door with it, and likewise if they came here,” he says.
“When we were opening, people asked if we were competing with Begbie Brewing and I said, not really. Do you see Kawakubo competing with Nico’s just because they both make food? I feel like the big competition in the brewing industry is competition for shelf space and tap handles, and we’re not doing any of that,” Fred laughs. “In Colorado, a town this size would have six or seven breweries and you can fill up growlers at the gas station.”
With Dana still nursing and working with Interior Health, as well as at Rumpus, Fred says they are looking for staff.
“Ideally, I want to hire someone who doesn’t know about brewing but wants to get into it,” he says. “We see it more as adopting someone into the family. In thirty years we can sell Rumpus to them. I don’t want to cycle through people or have people with preconceived notions of how to do it all.”
The community support since opening has been amazing.
“We’re really physced on support we have from everyone so far. It took forever to get this together and, as of opening day, none of that mattered anymore,” Fred says.
And the name Rumpus?
“We agonized over it,” Fred laughs. “Rumpus was simple and fun. It’s that room in the house where you send the kids to play while the adults have serious time, but there is probably a wet bar in there too. In Revelstoke, everyone has one of six ways to pay the bills, but there is a priority to stay here to recreate. It feels, to us, that Revelstoke is the rumpus room of Canada.”