Of the many small-town destination breweries that dot our province, Detention Brewing is in a class of its own.
Located in a decommissioned school that served the village of Rosalind until 2013, Detention Brewing gets full marks for creating an experience that playfully combines wholesome nostalgia for our school days with the grown-up pleasure of enjoying a beer.
At Detention, visitors sip pints in the former science lab, which is furnished with tables topped with sections of hardwood cut from the gym floor. A second seating area on the gym stage overlooks where the brewing equipment was installed. A customer who orders a sample flight gets the beer in a shiny metal lunchbox.
Seeing the building come alive again after the school closed has been satisfying for head brewer Wyatt Langille, whose family bought the property in 2017 — though he confesses it was odd at first to have dominion over a place where teachers once reigned supreme.
“It’s like a second home,” says Langille, who grew up a stone’s throw from the school and attended classes there from kindergarten to Grade 9. “At first, it was very weird being in this building and wandering around the classrooms.”
The building’s transformation from place of learning to brewery began with a trip Langille took to New Zealand after graduating from high school. Langille discovered craft beer while working in a specialty bar in the capital, Wellington.
When his parents, Mark and Tammy, visited New Zealand, they, too, acquired a taste for craft beer and an appreciation of taproom culture. An idea was born.
“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do something like this?’” Langille says.
An opportunity to realize their vision came not long after that fateful trip, when the family submitted the winning bid in a tender process to purchase the school. While the family began building the brewery and earning revenue by leasing other parts of the building (the local post office is in the old kindergarten class), Langille completed some important homework by graduating from the brewmaster program at Olds College.
With the nearest craft breweries 30 km away in Camrose, the Langilles figured there’s an appetite among area residents for locally brewed beer and a friendly gathering spot. At the same time, Wyatt figured he needed to develop a lineup that included some approachable offerings like a blonde ale.
“Everyone around here is a Bud Light drinker, so we needed something light and easy drinking to get people into it,” he says.
Like many brewers, Langille balances those crowd-pleasers with beers that he enjoys drinking, like a milk stout. As often happens, it’s not long before customers get more adventurous and try those other styles, too. The milk stout was a popular choice among opening weekend customers — as was a New England-style pale ale.
Since opening in March, Detention Brewing has attracted a mix of locals and weekend day-trippers from Edmonton and elsewhere. Talking in class is not only tolerated, but heartily encouraged.
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This article appears in the June 2022 issue of Edify