This article first appeared in print in the July 2019 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.
You could say love is at least partly responsible for the craft brew pouring from the taps of Revelstoke’s newly opened Rumpus Beer Co. Brewer/co-owner Fred Orndorff was working at Eldo Brewery in Colorado when he met his now wife and co-owner, Dana, who was on vacation from Canada. The couple kept up a long-distance relationship for a couple of years, with Dana living in Calgary where she worked in nursing. The two began discussing if Orndorff should move to Canada, and at some point they took a 10-day road road trip where one of the stops happened to be Revelstoke. For Orndorff, it felt like home and from that point moving to Revelstoke and opening a brewery became the dream.
Orndorff did move to Canada, but he and Dana ended up in Canmore, not Revelstoke, where he got a job at Grizzly Paw Brewing. That allowed him to obtain his work permit and eventually his Canadian residency. It’s taken a few years, but the couple did eventually make it to Revelstoke where they began working towards opening their own brewery.
However, even the process of opening their Revelstoke location took a bit of time. In an interview with the Mountaineer, Orndorff said they’d been “about to open” for the past two winters. It’s likely that build-up of anticipation is what led to a packed to capacity opening, with a line-up out the door when Rumpus finally opened in mid-June.
“We opened at 2 p.m. and there were people in lawn chairs waiting for the doors to be unlocked,” Orndorff said. “We were at capacity at 3 p.m. and it was stuck like that until midnight.”
The interior of Rumpus Beer Co. is a cozy 28-seat capacity space, with stools lined up along the bar, and a small selection of tables and window seating. There aren’t any tours, but patrons can see the large brewing tanks located behind the bar. It’s all part of creating a package experience, said Orndorff, with an atmosphere that’s fun and comfortable, but also happens to have great beers.
“I get to meet people face-to-face who are drinking the beers and get feedback and do something small.,” said Orndorff. “The place I was working in Colorado I didn’t realize that was not normal. There it was ‘Oh, it’s a brew day, what should I make today? This would be cool.’ It was a lot of experimentation versus being a shift brewer in a bigger brewery making the same thing over and over.”
Rumpus won’t have a set beer menu, although Orndorff said he’ll work in themes and there will always be some saisons, something sour and something hoppy on the menu. Even brews that are likely to maintain a regular presence won’t taste exactly the same each time, as Orndorff likes to experiment a bit with each new batch. Space Nugs, a pale ale, is a good example of that.
“Space Nugs is one that I’ve made on my little home system in the backyard 12 different ways. So anyone that’s been to a backyard barbecue or birthday party at our house over the last two years has tried some version of that. I had five different people by opening day say, ‘Well, you’re not going to get rid of Space Nugs, are you? You’ve gotta keep that.’ At least for the summer we’ll have it, maybe always we’ll see.”
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The spelt used in Space Nugs comes from Fieldstone Granary in Armstrong, and Orndorff has plans to source more local ingredients. He’s even begun experimenting with collecting local yeast culture to use in the fermentation. He’s had success at a smaller scale, so he knows it’s doable. Typically breweries purchase yeasts that are grown in a lab environment, but Orndorff said there’s a resurgence of old-school Belgian techniques using spontaneous fermentation. That process creates a yeast that is environment-specific and cannot be reproduced anywhere else.
Along with exploring the creation of yeast cultures, Orndorff said he’d also like to create a fresh hops beer using locally grown, backyard hops.
Rumpus Beer Co. is located at 208 First Street East.