Back in December, I blogged about some information I’d found in the Ottawa Business Journal. In an article about the reopening of Ikea, there was a mention of a new brew pub opening in the former location of le Bifteque (not sure of the spelling since the sign has been gone a while).

Well, in yesterday’s Ottawa Citizen, Ron Eade reveals more.  Read the article and visit the links. Will let you know progress when I visit Ikea next time (which should be soon since I have two friends looking to update their kitchens!)

Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, 34, will be taking his Big Rig moniker to hungry and thirsty fans when he opens a brew pub by the same name as early as late May.

Now under construction at Iris Street and Greenbank Road, Big Rig Kitchen and Brewery plans to add two more locations by 2017, and offer take-home sales of bottles of Big Rig beer available at the brew pub and the LCBO.

Phillips has been with the Senators since 1997. With another two years under contract with the team, his involvement with the brew pub sends a clear signal to fans that the NHL player in the No. 4 sweater plans to remain in the nation’s capital with wife, Erin, and their three children.

ChrisPhillips Exclusive: NHL Senators No. 4 takes his Big Rig to the brew pub business“No matter what happens hockey-wise, I’ll be back here,” says the six foot, three-inch defenceman, a big guy who grew up in oil-rich Fort McMurray — hence the nickname, Big Rig.

“Ottawa is basically home now, so this will be something to work with when hockey’s done,” he says.

Phillips says his affinity for beer is all ”part of the culture of growing up with hockey, sitting around after a game and sharing a pint.

“When the chance came up to have a beer named after you, and to get this business opportunity, it was near impossible to pass up. I was drafted in 1996 and played my first season in 1997, so Ottawa is home to me and my family, and we plan to stay here.”

Phillips has three business partners with extensive experience in the brew pub and food service industry. Overseeing the beer end is brewmaster Lon Ladell, 38, formerly of the famous Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria, B.C., with 16 years experience. Ladell is a partner in the brewing operation, but not the restaurant side.

Joining Phillips as a partner in the brew pub/restaurant is Pierre Cleroux, a founding partner at Clock Tower Brew Pub, the first successful brew pub in Ottawa (he has since sold his shares), also former owner of Foundation restaurant in the ByWard Market and former partner at Sidedoor restaurant on York Street.

Remaining partners are Ottawa restaurateurs Jimmy Zourntos and Angelis Koutsos.

BigRigguys Exclusive: NHL Senators No. 4 takes his Big Rig to the brew pub business

L-R, Chris Phillips, brewmaster Lon Ladell, and partner Pierre Cleroux on the site Monday. Right now the premises is pretty much a work in progress, but they hope to get Big Rig up and running before June.

The brew pub plans its own line of beers, some seasonal. Fans will be invited to name various brands in an online contest to be announced soon (check Facebook/bigrigbrew, to become active Thursday).Still being developed, the menu will offer “back-to-basics, home-made comfort food,”  Zourntos says. The menu should be complete in about a month.

“We’re going back to traditional pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, salads and a brunch. Everything is made from scratch, including our sauces and dressings. There will be no heat-and-serve, you won’t see any bratwurst or bangers. We’ll feature pot pies, steak, fish and a few beer-batter recipes, ragus, stews — different stuff that is back to the old family style restaurant menus.”

Zourntos expects lunch will cost in the $11 to $14 range while a steak dinner could nudge $28.

IMG 3870 Exclusive: NHL Senators No. 4 takes his Big Rig to the brew pub business

Not much to see yet: The property was the former site of Le Biftheque — you know, the steak house with plastic cows outside, before it was recently demolished.

“We’ve been designing the concept for over two years now,” Cleroux says.

“I’ve always wanted to expand to not only selling beer in a restaurant, but in liquor stores and other venues across Ontario. Our goal is to open a total of three Big Rig brew pubs within four years, so we’re looking at other locations now as we speak.”

The brew pub plans to dispense six of its own brands, while offering “guest” microbrews on tap and bottled beer from the major breweries. “What I like about this is the location,” Cleroux says. “It’s all about branding, and I’d say in the next 12 months at least 70 per cent of the Ottawa population will have driven by because Ikea is located across the street.

“Everyone will know about Big Rig. Chris has a farm in Manotick, so he will grow some of his own barley and hops beginning this summer.”

The brew pub will occupy 9,000 sqare feet on property that was once home to Le Biftheque steak house, which was recently demolished. The brewery itself will use 2,000 square feet, while the restaurant portion will seat about 260 inside and 80 on the patio. Before it opens, the owners need a manufacturing licence, a regular liquor licence, and a retail licence to sell six-packs and 1.89-litre bottles, called growlers.

Here’s what they plan to brew:

Ladell says he plans six distinctive styles, beginning with the flagship Big Rig Brew, a light golden beer using a blend of Canadian and German malts. This is the brew that will one day use hops grown on Phillips’ property in Manotick.

The public will be invited to name the remaining brands in an online contest to begin as early as Monday. They include:

Big Rig (insert new name here) India Pale Ale made in the full-hop ale style with a lively citrus aroma. Alcohol 6.2 per cent;

Big Rig (new name) Red, similar to a cream ale with a smooth taste, medium body and amber colour from crystalized barley. Alcohol 5.2 per cent;

Big Rig (new name) Brown with the aroma of lightly roasted coffee, chocolate, and the colour of toasted hazelnut. Alcohol 5.2 per cent;

Big Rig (new name) Double Chocolate Stout with a a mocha-colour head and layers of chocolate and roasted coffee-like barley. Alcohol 5.6 per cent;

Big Rig Seasonal, a rotating line of specialty seasonal brews that may include spring bock, or traditional British-style bitters. The first will be a Hefeweizen style, which is a cloudy wheat beer with light vanilla and clove flavours.

“It’s hard for me to find a beer that I haven’t made before and don’t want to make again,” Ladell says. “I love them all.

“We also want to build knowledge of craft beer in Ottawa, so we’ll have some guest drafts on tap as well as a niceselection of bottled products.

“I’ve been a brewmaster since I was 22. One of my biggest passions is to bring a smile to people’s faces — I know it may sound corny, but it’s true.”