Nicole Barry, 35, is the co-owner and CEO of Winnipeg’s Half Pints Brewing Company. After developing a passion for the ‘Peg’s indie music scene in the ‘90s, Barry wanted her beer to be local too.
“Back in ’96, when I turned 18 to be exact, Fort Garry was the only thing that really hit the scene, and Big Rock, which is still independent,” Barry says.
One sip of St. James Pale Ale or Stir Stick Stout and Barry’s enthusiasm for beer is obvious, but a business needs more than passion to survive and thrive.
“Because my parents were entrepreneurs and I saw them succeed and I saw them fail I knew that I needed more than a passionate good idea, that you needed to have business education and experience before you go out and tackle the world,” says Barry, a certified general accountant with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.
“Putting your fist in the air and screaming DIY isn’t good enough to make a long-term successful business.”
With Half Pints’ distribution reaching all three Prairie provinces, plus a future release in B.C., Barry relates beer distribution to a band touring.
“You’re not going on tour to take over their market, you’re going on tour to be like ‘This is really cool, I dig what you’re doing’,” she says.
Barry says the only downside to being a brewery owner is that it’s difficult to drink any other beer in public.
“It’s very seldom that I can just go to a pub and have a beer without someone bringing up Half Pints,” Barry says.
Still, Barry is very happy with her position.
“I really love craft beer. This isn’t just my job.”
“I like keeping it out. I just love having them.”
2. Name on card
“My nana was the closest person in my life growing up. I found this. It’s probably 20 years old. It’s nothing, but to me it is one of my prized possessions.”
3. Place card
“We’re sitting in the hottest club in Manhattan and there’s a table waiting for us, so I stole this.”
4. Heather Robertson photos
“I love her artwork so much.”
5. Old family book (Hops recipe)
“During the prohibition my family were rum runners in New Brunswick. My grandmother saved all this stuff.”
6. Air hockey table
“If there’s one thing in life I know I’m good at, it’s air hockey.”
7. Booze collection
“This is full and I also have a couple boxes in the basement. My bourbon collection is probably better than any bar in Winnipeg. This is passion.”