Tag Archives: meet up

Forked River Brewing Visit

Finally! A craft brewery in London!

I drive back and forth to London frequently in order to play with Orchestra London and teach at UWO and one thing that has been missing for a long time is a craft brewery. London has long been the home of Labatt, which I drive by on my way to UWO, but it has been a while since there has been a real bona fide craft brewer in town.

I was able to get an insider’s view of the brewery when I contacted Dave Reed, one of the brewers at Forked River. He was very kind to take a chunk of time out of his busy day to show me around the brewery and talk shop with me. I know how busy brewers can be and I felt honoured that he took so much time to spend chatting with me about the general operations in the brew house.

Tanks!

Tanks!

The brewery is very small, as you can see in the photo. It kind of caught me off guard to be honest. For some reason I was expecting something larger. That said, it’s perfectly suited to the space and to their current brewing plans. There also seems to be a fair bit of potential for expansion within the square footage that they occupy.

More tanks!

More tanks!

The thing that struck me most about the visit was that their set up is very much like a glorified home brewery. I want to state that there is nothing wrong with that at all, in fact, I found it quite simple and very common sense. They don’t filter, they just cold crash, like many home brewers. Carbonation is done over days, not hours. The MLT/BK/HLT are all just like a home brew set up. The boil kettle and hot liquor tank especially with them both being direct fired. They just seemed like glorified converted kegs!

Dave in action.

Dave in action.

Now the beer… I tried a sample of their Riptide Rye straight from the bright beer tank and it was excellent! I been withholding judgement on rye beers but Cameron’s Rye PA and this excellent example of the style have sold me on using rye in my own brewing. I will definitely be trying a rye beer in the near future.

I also tried a sample of their Capital Blonde Ale at the sample bar and found it to be quite enjoyable. I like the hop presence in both their beers and both beers are also VERY clean finishing which I do appreciate. I ended up buying a growler of the Capital Blonde and my wife and I quite enjoyed a few glasses of it.

There was their newest seasonal that had just started fermenting. I can’t say what it is but it does sound terrific and I’m sure word will get out quickly. I will certainly be trying a bottle of it myself if I can get my hands on some. I have no doubt that future seasonals will be equally interesting.

Dave and my growler.

Dave and my growler.

Dave was super kind to show me around the brewery during “off hours” and I do appreciate it. I look forward to stopping by to refill my growler on my frequent trips to and from London. Of course I invited him to Grand River Brewing when he has a chance but a start up brewery is a busy place. I’ll keep you posted.

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Utopias

A fellow beer geek, blogger, and brewer, Alan, dropped by my place yesterday. Alan is at Niagara College in the Brewmaster’s program and is on reading week. He had a bit of time in the midst of taxiing his sons around Southern Ontario and wanted to share a special drink with me that he had been saving.

Sam Adams’ Utopias is one of the specialty beers coming out of the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston. It’s less like beer and more like a liqueur. It sort of changes one’s perception of what beer can be.

In Ontario the beer was released by the LCBO in a lottery format. With so few bottles being produced by the brewery and such demand for the product the LCBO decided to buy a very limited number of bottles and offer them to customers in a lottery format. Put your name in to request a bottle and if they draw your name you can buy one. They aren’t cheap either!

The packaging of the beer is stunning. It’s a miniature replica of a copper boil kettle used in breweries with little sliding doors to reveal a smiling portrait of Samuel Adams himself.

The bottle with the box in the background

The smiling image of Samuel Adams

I don’t do beer reviews per se but I will say that this was a thoroughly enjoyable beer. It pours flat with no carbonation. Our pours were a little hazy but they were the bottom of the bottle and I have no idea what the initial pours were like, whether they were clear or also hazy from the get go. Lots of interesting smells in the aroma of the beer and that all carried through to the taste. Such a complex beer which, as I said earlier, challenges and changes ones perception of what beer is or can be.

The pour.

Many thanks to Alan for dropping by with this special treat! It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit and a pleasant way to spend a beautiful fall afternoon.

Cheers!


Beer Advent Calendar

Who knew there was such a thing?

I mentioned in previous post that I’m a member of a homebrewers’ group called the SOBs. This group, and other similar groups, usually have meetings involving sampling and exchanges of various beer. “Beerjudge” of the SOBs came up with the idea of a beer advent calendar and with the help of “Deev-o” did an amazing job of organizing the entire event.

The concept was for 24 brewers to sign up and provide a beer for one day of the advent calendar. That would mean each brewer brewing a special beer and providing 24 bottles of it so that we could each take home one of each of the other brews.

My brew was one from a while ago that I called Hop Dam Harvest Ale. It was brewed with the Hallertau hops that I grow in my backyard and was brewed within the week after harvesting. It was a strong ale and perfect for a cold evening sipper by a fire.

The starting line up.

The event was great! Very kindly hosted by “The_mc”, we had some decent mild weather which allowed us to visit on the back deck and enjoy a fall Sunday afternoon. We sampled many different beers that people brought that were not involved in the advent calendar. All were excellent! I tried a (burnt?) mead, chocolate stout, hopped up amber ale… And a couple of others that I don’t quite recall. ūüėÄ

Once all the beers were organized we had a quick group shot of everybody in front of the beer and then we all descended like vultures in a very organized fashion to fill our boxes with everyone’s beer.

A bunch of SOBs. (Photo credit: Roger Beal)

Here is the list of beer that was brought home:

Beer Style    Beer Name
21B. Christmas/Winter Specialty Spiced Beer    Carobou
American Wheat    Bitter Harvest
SMaSH    sooner
Pumpkin Wit    Witty Pumpkin
American Stout    Chocosol Bourbon Stout
Coffee Oatmeal Breakfast Stout¬†¬† ¬†D’yermakin’ Me Breakfast
session ale    After Thought
Harvest Ale    Hop Dam Harvest Ale
Black Currant Wheat    You Wee Beastie!
Imperial Stout    The Fat Controller
Pineapple pale    Magnum PI
16E. Belgian Specialty Ale    Pomander
Northern English Brown    Off-Kilter
Spiced Rye Bread Ale    Two Loaves-a-loafing
Breakfast Stout    The Pudney V.2
ginger rosemary ale
Pumpkin Ale    The Long Sparge Dark Pumpkin Milk Ale
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ale
Fuller’s 1845 clone¬†¬† ¬†1845ish
Smoked Beer    Imperial Smoked Porter

The beer buffet!

Good clean fun and, as far as I know, nobody got hurt!

We start on December first with the sampling and taking notes to exchange with the other brewers. You’ll definitely be updated…