Tag Archives: Canada

Not my usual brewing experience…

Got invited a little while ago to brew with the Four Fathers. They’re an Elora-based start up brewery or concept brewery that is just starting to get off the ground with a few good beers and recipes.

I met the Four Fathers when they came to Grand River Brewing for a brew day. We hung out for the day on “my” brew system and had a great time. At the end of the day they invited me to their brewery for a brew day. “It’ll be fun”, they said. “We’ll have a great time”, they said.

They weren’t wrong. Here is what greeted me upon my arrival at “the brewery”:

Four Father's (1 of 4)

Four Father's (2 of 4)

Four Father's (3 of 4)

(Please see title of this blog post LOL)

Behind the scenes, however, it was closer to my usual brewing experience:

Four Father's (4 of 4)

Controlled chaos, moments of confusion, missed timings, near boil overs, slight messiness… Really, just the usual brewing experience.

They have a Sabco BrewMagic brewing system which was a treat to brew on. New to me but if I were to do it again I would do a bit more reading on it and figure out a few more of the features of the system to allow for repeatablility of recipes and programming mash profiles etc. Would love to have one of these for my own use but will need to save up a few more dollars before that happens. 😉

We ended up brewing a session IPA, of sorts. We’ll find out in a couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to have a taste and maybe brew another beer. One more father in the mix of Four Fathers.

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I’m still here

Wow! It’s been almost a year since I last posted something. That’s embarrassing. Let’s get a post in before that one year passes, shall we?

Much has happened over the past year in my many lives to keep me from posting here on this blog but I’m hoping to get back to it regularly in the coming months.

Last year (2014) was a very busy year in many respects. I was busy with my life of playing trombone as I spent a season in the pit in Stratford for Man of La Mancha, teaching at UWO, playing with the HPO and OLC (which just announced their bankruptcy as evidenced by the lovely website. LOL)

Family life was busy with an exchange student here in the fall and another here currently until the end of June. Much accommodation has been made to have an extra body in the house but it seems to be going okay.

Brewing at home was relatively busy last year with a bit of equipment acquisition and figuring out the new (now old) system. It’s pretty dialed in now so a brew day is pretty straight forward. I have even done a double brew day with no problem. (perhaps a future blog post)

The biggest news relative to the topic of this blog is that I am now a full time professional brewer. I returned to the brew house at Grand River Brewing to take over the duties of the former head brewer in late January. I am continuing in that position and thoroughly enjoying it. It’s a steep learning curve but things seem to be falling into place.

It’s quite the adventure and also quite a bizarre life to stand over a boil kettle making large amounts of beer and getting paid for it. Twenty five or so years ago when I first started brewing with Peter there is no way I would have imagined that I would end up where I am right now.

That’s it for this post. Let me try to get back here on regular basis to update you on my own brewing and things I bring from the big brew house to the small and vice versa.

Just tapped a rather pleasant IPA this evening and still have an American Stout… It’s what’s on tap.


Still Waters Distillery

A little while ago a friend contacted me about a brewery tour trip. Sounded like a great idea to me: 40 or so people, bus, brewery tours, dinner, home. A decent way to spend a Saturday afternoon. He had contacted me each year about this but I have not been able to attend until this year.

One of the changes to the tour this year was that they decided to visit a distillery, Still Waters Distillery in Vaughan to be exact. Great idea!

I had never been to a distillery. I knew about spirits and the basic (very basic) process involved in creating whisky, bourbon, vodka, etc., but had never seen it action or heard more details about it.

Barry Bernstein and Barry Stein were very gracious hosts showing us around their compact distillery and explaining the processes and answering our questions. I peppered Barry Bernstein with several questions about the process of mashing and fermentation as only a brewer would. I found this aspect fascinating as I had been aware of the connection between brewing and distilling but had never had properly explained to me.

One aspect that was interesting to me and will be of interest to my readers (both of you) is how coarse they crush the grain when mashing in. Barry was kind enough to let me photograph a sample of the grain crush they use and you can compare that to the crush I use at home when brewing beer.

This is how fine their crush is for their mash.

This is how fine their crush is for their mash.

Another one of the differences between distilling and brewing that I found interesting is the amount of sanitizing that is required. When we entered the distillery they were in the process of distilling some spirits that were entering a vessel at approximately 85% abv. No cover, no transfer lines, just liquid flowing from a spout into an open tank. Of course, at 85% abv there isn’t an organism that will survive a swim in that tank!

After an explanation of the process for distillation it was sample time! Barry Stein handled the sample table, explanation of the products, and any other questions from the group. Barry is an affable gentlemen with a fabulous voice (which I didn’t tell him at the time) and was generous with the samples. Not so much in quantity of each sample but we were basically told that whatever product we wanted to try just say so and we could try it.

still waters (6 of 7)

Barry serving out samples to the group.

I’m no spirits expert but I tried the cask strength whisky and regular strength. Both were excellent but I certainly preferred the body and flavour of the cask strength.

Later that day we did visit other breweries but their tours paled in comparison to the Still Waters Distillery visit. I came out of that tour with a renewed appreciation and fascination of the process of distillation, something I had not expected at all. If you can’t get to the distillery itself they do have an excellent explanation on their website of the process. (Bottom of the page.)

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The Beer Store

Caution: Soapbox

First off, I don’t support it. I can’t stand the place except as the building where I return my empties that I bought at the LCBO. They have very few brands of beer that I’m looking for and the experience is generally dismal.

I read the following couple of articles in the last little while:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1306249–cohn-why-ontarians-can-t-bear-the-beer-store-any-longer

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1304864–cohn-more-reasons-to-end-the-beer-store-cartel

They sort of got me going again. 😦 And then this letter to the editor in the Cambridge Times added fuel to the fire.

http://www.cambridgetimes.ca/opinion/letters/article/1555887–monopolies-like-the-beer-store-poorly-managed-inconvenient

I totally agree with what the individual is saying it’s just that he exhibits the common knowledge that The Beer Store is a GOVERNMENT run business. It’s not! It’s run by the brewers which are ALL foreign-owned.

I’m not pretending that I don’t buy foreign products or even that I don’t buy foreign beer but just go in with your eyes open. If you think that you’re going into The Beer Store as a government run monopoly and supporting Molson as a Canadian-owned brewery. You’re dead wrong. Sorry.

Thank you. I just had to get that off my chest.


a bit of this and that

I’ve been on “holidays” for the past couple of weeks with a trip to the east coast of Canada with my family. It was fabulous and I do want to go back at some point but it sure is nice to be home!

Some bits and pieces for you:

Had some Propeller Brewery beers while I was out east. I had the ESB, Pilsener, and the IPA. All were well-brewed and I enjoyed them. I would definitely have them again but they were nothing “unbelievable”, as it were.

I had a visit to Gahan House in Charlottetown, PEI. A great visit with friends and some very fine beer. Their IPA was quite good but I also had the sample tray with eight (8… EIGHT) different samples on it! ALL very good and well brewed. Not all were to my liking but they hit the styles right down the middle and they were well balanced. Very good brews to be sure.

I have an exciting review coming up in a future post for you. (Full disclosure…) I was contacted by Shawn at BeerClings to review his labels for homebrew bottles of beer. I received the package while I was out east and so far it looks great and I’m excited to try them out and do a bit of a write up on them on this blog. Stay tuned in the next couple of posts and I’ll have that review for you.

I kegged an Imperial Citra Pale Ale and a Citra IPA before I went on holidays. They weren’t stellar when I kegged them (wanted to push them through to have some stuff for the trip east 😀 ) but they were quite fine when I returned after two weeks. The Imperial is quite nice and the IPA has mellowed quite a bit. I wasn’t happy when it went into the keg as it was a bit estery and phenolic (cloves mostly) but it has mellowed. It isn’t my best brew in the last little bit but it’s just okay. It’s what’s on tap…


Another award?

I haven’t written in a while but I suppose I should update now with some fun news.

I entered a photo contest a little while back on facebook at the brewer’s pantry page and ended up winning the contest:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=325989860821653&set=a.269056156515024.68752.178952698858704&type=1

Always fun and the prize was a $30 gift card to spend at the store. I certainly have a few ideas for what I want!

Thanks to Brewer’s Pantry for the prize and I’m looking forward to some shopping tomorrow!


Canadiana

Weekend up north.

Canadian Tire toboggan.

Walk into town for a beer run.

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