The Dirt

Fall, Supercrawl, and Iron Brewer Y'all!

Welcome to Fall!

The leaves are putting on a show, the weather is perfect, and it's a splendid time to enjoy a pint of Piperales!

We've been busy all summer, and we are looking forward to taking it a bit slower as the days get shorter, so we can soak up the sights, smells, and tastes of the season. Mmmm.... apple cider and pumpkin pie. Walks to the waterfalls. Coffee in the park. Beer by the bonfire!  Our smokey amber ale would pair marvelously with a brisk autumn sunset, an old comfortable hoodie, and good conversation around a fire pit.



What a great success! Another Supercrawl has come and gone, and Hamilton is all the better for it. This year, we were pouring pints in the VIP section alongside Mill Street and fellow future Hamiltonian brewers Collective Arts- and we had a blast!

We needed a tent for the first time, and without a lot of time or money to get a proper branded one together, we bought an off-the-rack standard model and customized it with a big ol' stencil! It may look a little less ...professional... than a professionally-branded tent, but it seemed appropriate for both Supercrawl and Hamilton, and it kept our booth dry all the same. Garden Brewers: The Ambitious, Do-It-Yourself, Brewery!

Is this what the big guys mean when they say they need to hire a "Booth Babe"?

Booth Babes are very popular and everyone wants to pose for a photo with them, but they can't answer any questions about the beer.



The Iron Brewer is an annual event where members of the Master Brewers Association of Canada (A trade organization for professional brewers) compete to create the best beer from the same mixed bag of ingredients! This event always sees a lot of great, creative beers from brewers who represent some of the best talent in the industry- from every scale of brewing! This years iron brewer saw 21 pro brewers from all around Ontario participating, including our very own brewer...


...Victor North! (not pictured) 

What is pictured is a baby who really ought to familiarize himself with the material safety data sheets for PBW, and the start of the boil on "Calluna": a red heather lager!

The mash

Calluna has a base of dark Bohemian floor-malted barley. This special malt is part of Weyermann's heirloom line of products and utilizes the traditional floor-malting technique, which is much more laborious, said to result in superior flavour, and is a clear and flagrant violation of the "30-second" rule. Supplementing this base is "Red X" which isn't a sinister artificial colouring ingredient or super-villain but a really interesting malt from Best Malz. Apparently, you can use Red X as a base malt, all the way up to 100% for fiery-red brews!

To this solid malty backbone, we add a generous addition of heather (generous=everything that came in the Iron Brewer bag) and Belma hops, both at whirlpool only. This was done to maximize the hop and herb character, without tipping the balance of the brew too far into bitterness. Fermented as a lager, the final result was clean, complex and characterful. The aroma carried notes of strawberries and hay, while the flavour was clean and crisp with a touch of sulphur for that classic "Dad Beer" bite. The finish was long and lingering with notes of raspberry tea and accompanying astringency. It was pretty tasty- and it took second place!!!

Calluna- parkside sample


We are just thrilled to see the beer so well received! To be judged as a silver place brew by our peers in the professional brewing world is quite an honor. (Gold went to our friend Alan Brown, who has let us swim in his pool and drink his beer, so I guess we're still cool... for now)

You may be wondering if you'll get a chance to try this unique heather brew yourself one day. We've already been asked that question a number of times and we can only answer... maybe. We have to focus for now on getting our Piperales out into the market, and after that we have a couple of other brews we'd like to introduce you to first... but you never know! One of the nicest compliments we received at the iron brewer was from a long-time industry member who said two magic words: "Commercially-Viable".

To the fall! To the future! And to all the wonderful brews they hold,


-The Garden Brewers

Premier Piperales

01 September 2014

Premier Piperales

Our first, full-scale 40-hectolitre batch of beer will be kegged up shortly; probably in the next few days!

Getting to this point has been a long row to hoe for us, and we're very excited that soon we will be putting beer into your hands! If you are reading this, we know that you have been very supportive and patient with us. Thank you! It won't be long now, soon we will update this website with information about where you can find Piperales on tap! But while we wait for that, why don't we take a look back at the brew day?

It began early, like most brewdays...

After a long (but blessedly low-traffic) drive from Hamilton to Etobicoke, our brewer arrived at 7am at Black Oak brewery. He found Mike Lynn, one of the brewers, already starting to mash in the first of 2 batches of Piperales to be brewed that day.

Both brews went very well under Mike's care! Temperatures were nailed...

...and targets were bulls-eyed. An impressive feat for a first batch!

Mike was also kind enough to allow our brewer to participate in some small ways, like adding the malt to the mill...

...and hops to the kettle.

Even though we have yet to package this brew, we can't wait to brew again!

The end of the sparge

Mike removing the spent grain from below...

...and above.

The hot break.

Mike cropping yeast.

Mike preparing to rack the Piperales wort to the fermentation tank...

...and pitching the yeast with C02 pressure!

In the background, you may have spotted some of our kegs, eagerly awaiting this brew!

As mentioned earlier, as soon as we have this beer in kegs, we will begin to sell it to bars, pubs and restaurants. It is standard practice to bring some sample bottles of any new beer around to bars while making sales visits. So we will have to bottle some beer and do some sales calls before you see Piperales around town... 

However, our good friends at The Ship are willing to take this new beer sight unseen and in good faith! God bless em'. This coming Thursday (September 4th) we will be having a bit of a launch party at The Ship for Piperales in Hamilton. If you're able to come out, The Ship will have plenty of the beer on tap, and it will be your first opportunity to sample our inaugural batch- probably anywhere!

The Ship will be selling by the pint and half pint. They will also have a special feature- a surprise burger to celebrate the launch of Piperales! Check out their website or give them a shout for further details, which should be coming soon.

Our brewer will also be on site, ready to answer questions, tell jokes, accept compliments, deflect criticism, and maybe hand out a lil' garden gear!


We hope to see you out! But if you're unable to make it to this Hamilton event on such short notice, don't worry, there should be a wider availability of Piperales very shortly- and we've got more parties and events planned in Hamilton soon!


-the Garden Brewers

Because Beer- A Round Up

Because Beer was great!    Why??? 

Because..                  lots of reasons I guess!

 Photo by Randy North

Here are a few:

Because Booth

With the help of our impressive friends at Mata Mata who, In addition to being trusty with a tattoo gun, also know how to wield a welding torch, we were able to put together the wheelbarrow of our dreams. Say hello to the Garden Brewers "Beerbarrow":

This rugged beauty is a tricked out 0'14 model wheelbarrow that I'm going to assume is marketed under the name "Holy Terra". It comes standard with 60" premium hardwood handles that are both gorgeous and practical, a completely seamless steel bucket with a powder-coated rustproofing finish, and TWO 15" pneumatic 2-ply tires for the ultimate in wheelbarrow stability and comfort. Yes, she's a lovely thing to behold, but don't let the good looks fool you, the Holy Terra can haul over 122 kg of weight with a capacity rating equivalent to twelve 10kg bags of soil. Put another way, The 2014 HT has got the girth to berth a lot of earth. The Holy Terra also comes with a 4 year repair warranty redeemable at any Canadian Tire store THAT WE'VE TOTALLY VOIDED with smokin' after-market upgrades including; 100 feet of twin 3/8" diameter stainless steel coils for lightning fast beer chilling, a silicone sealed bucket, custom finish, and most importantly- a steel draft tower support structure welded to the bucket. This support turns the already impressive HT into our custom Beerbarrow! Never before has high style been so... down-to-earth.


 The draft tower supports welded in place and getting painted


Ready for christening!

Ready to pour! The draft tower is fully functional, with a working glass chiller and drain. A bar on wheels! Just add beer drinkers.

...and beer servers.


Because Homebrew

Because Beer was also where we got to help announce the results of the Because Beer homebrew competition!  This was a very impressive competition with over 300 high-quality entries. Congratulations to all the winners!

Beautiful medals!

And fantastic prizes!


Because Pals

We had the chance to see so many friends, new and old, at this festival. And that's what beer festivals are really all about, eh?

Sonja North & Brandi Lee MacDonald: Super Pals

Photo by Lane Dunlop


Because Hamilton

This festival was about beer, but it was also about Hamilton. It allowed our friends who came from out of town to see parts of Hamilton that aren't always immediately obvious: Its beauty and its potential.

Sunset at Because Beer


It was such a fantastic experience in such a great location, I think it even made locals see this city of ours with fresh eyes.


Because Beer!

OK, maybe beer festivals are really all about beer after all... 

Because Beer will always be special to us because this festival was the first time our beer had been poured- ever!

Our first customers ever! A very nervous brewer! A photo by my almost embarrassingly supportive father, Randy North


We were pouring a pilot batch of our flagship brew, Piperales. As is the nature of pilot batches, the beer wasn't 100% where we wanted it to be, and this fact made us very nervous... but not too overwrought to listen to your feedback! And we got a lot of great feedback! Thank you, Hamilton! Overall, the beer was very well-received indeed, and we even sold out a few hours before the end of the festival! We were very heartened to see several people come back again and again, often dragging their reluctant friends along for a taste! We definitely had some converts, still, we learned that some people are great lovers of smoke in their beer while some people simply do not care for it. Like true IPA (Or beer in general, I suppose) smokey beer is something that people seem to either love or hate. (But we really believe that well-made beer of all styles can be an acquired taste! We simply recommend drinking more beer! Be it sour suds, bitter brews, or even... light lagers! Cultivating a taste for new brews can be a deeply enriching experience.) Of course, amongst all the positive comments, there were also many suggestions for improvement, offered from everyone from professional beer critics to professional beer drinkers. We listened to it all, and we're grateful for all of it! We've taken what we learned from our big debut and brought it into our recipe for our first full scale batch, which, I'm thrilled to announce; WE BREWED JUST LAST WEEK!! 4000 frikkin' liters of Piperales are happily bubbling away as we speak! Er... read. And write. As you read and as I write. Assuming you're reading this.... look, you get the idea. Beer!!! We will have beer  -real beer-  really soon!!! 


Oh man,  It's going to be so good you guys!!


More on that soon-

Sow long for now, and Thank You!


-The Garden Brewers

EVENT- Because Beer

Hamilton is getting it's first, full-scale, honest to goodness Beer Festival!  Woooooo!




Because Beer!


This is extremely exciting to us here at Garden Brewers, solely as fans of good beer and of growing the Hamilton beer scene...    but it's doubly exciting because we will also debut at Because Beer! We're thrilled to announce that our Piperales will premiere at the inaugural year of Because Beer!!! Good things are growing! This is a very happy time to be a Hamiltonian beer enthusiast.


We are not yet slotted in to our brewery's production schedule for full-scale brewing, so our brewer went to Black Oak on a weekend to brew a pilot batch of Piperales using their pilot system, parts of his own homebrewing system, and a fermentation tank on loan from the HOZERs. Here are some photos from the brewing process:

 The Mash, 1 of 2!

The Lauter.

The runnings, Mmmmmmmm. Future beer....

The Brewer, all smiles on the brewday

The fermentation tank, full of wort.

The fermentor was very cleverly put on a half-skid, which made it mobile and allowed it to be put into the cold room after fermentation was complete for cold crashing. Cleverness courtesy of Ken Woods.

The cleverness doesn't stop there! The fermentor was raised to kegging height using the brewerys forklift!


Thanks to Black Oak for hosting us! And to the HOZERs for use of the club tank.


We hope you can join us at the festival! Consider this our formal invitation to you. Please come try our beer and let us know what you think of our first test batch! If you are a homebrewer, you should also look into the festivals homebrew competition! You could win some great Garden Gear!


and hey, speaking of cool prizes- look what's on tap: one free ticket to Because Beer!

This ticket is good for admission to the Saturday session, one commemorative Because Beer sampling mug, and four sampling tickets! 
Photo By Because Beer

This ticket also gives you access to see the Saturday speakers, and of course, an opportunity to sample our Piperales- available to the public for the first time ever!

Share or like this post to be entered into the ticket giveaway! Contest is open to anyone over 19 years of age, and will close Friday July 4th. Winner of the free ticket will be chosen at random and announced immediately after the contest ends. The ticket will be mailed to the winner.
-The Garden Brewers

Homebrewing & Hamilton

On the other side of the table: Brad Clifford & Victor North judging beer at the 2013 OBAs. Photo By Enrique Barrios



Hamilton is very important to us here at Garden Brewers. And so is Homebrewing. 

Homebrewing is how our brewer, Victor North, got his start. Homebrewing is how our flagship beer, Piperales, was developed. And homebrew competitions were the arena that tested our brewers recipes, techniques, and approach to beer. Homebrew competitions helped refine our style, test our skill, and teach us when we were on to something- as well as caution us when we were going astray.


That is why, along with Jason Stranak (co-founder of HOZER)  and Brandi Lee MacDonald (co-founder of Because Beer) our brewer is co-founding Hamiltons first full-scale homebrew competition! The Because Beer Homebrew Competition! It's going to be great!


The BBHC is sanctioned by the BJCP, and is a qualifying competition for Canadian Brewer of the Year. We are extremely proud to be involved in this competition! So, of course, we are also sponsoring it: the homebrewer who takes first place in category 21A- Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer- will be taking home a Garden Growler along with their gold medal! And the homebrewer who takes silver will be getting a Tall Poppy tap handle for their home kegerator!


We decided to sponsor the SHV category because we have such a soft spot for it. We love those spice, herb and veggie brews!! It's where a lot of our favorite beers would be categorized under the BJCP system, where many of our past homebrewing medals were won, and where our Garden Brewers beers would be entered today. In fact, The Ships Rations won a silver medal for Veggie Brews in the 2014 Ontario Brewing Awards just a few months ago! This beer was crafted by our brewer at The Ship, Hamiltons famous craft beer bar, and while it will no longer be brewed at The Ship as The Ship's Rations, it will soon be reborn as Garden Brewers Green-Thumb IPA


We encourage you to enter the BBHC- in any category. No matter your confidence or skill level. Homebrewing is not just a great hobby- it's a great culture- and homebrew competitions are a marvelous way to get out of the basement and actually meet some other brewers. And if you're really serious about beer, homebrew competitions can be a wonderful way to get your boots wet. Take a look at the results from the 2011 CABA All About Ales homebrew competition. If you are reading this (which I'm pretty sure you are) then you may just be an Ontarian beer nerd (no offense!) which means you may just recognize many of the names on that results list.


The incredibly skilled Brad Clifford has gone on to co-found Get Well and The Ontario Beer Company. Hirsch Goodman & Kevin Snow have developed and grown their uniquely delicious gluten-free beer into Snowman Brewing. Mike Bray has co-founded 5 Paddles with 4 other like-minded and talented homebrewers. Zack Weinburg has opened Toronto Brewing, finally filling a long standing need for a quality homebrew supply shop in Toronto, and of course, Victor North is our very own brewer. Some other frequent Ontario homebrew competition entrants and winners of that era not represented in that particular competition include Jeremy Coghill, who is currently opening the Lansdowne Brewery and Jeff Manol, who is currently opening The Muddy York Brewing Company.  What an incredible group!  And that's not everyone! We are thrilled to be counted amoungst this outstanding Ontario homebrew alumni, and to also count many of them as friends. All of which was made possible...  by entering homebrew competitions. 


If you brew beer at home, you should enter The Because Beer Homebrew Competition.  


We'll see you at the awards ceremony!



-The Garden Brewers

Our Unique "Seed Packet Holder" Tap Handles

As contract brewers, our plans are to begin with "Draft-Only". That means no bottles in the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (Known simply as the LCBO, or as the "Lick-Bo" to hip Ontarians) and no cans in the Beer Store. (Simply BS to those in the know) 


Without beer labels, shiny printed cans, or nice big graphics on beer cases to describe and draw attention to our brews, we knew that we would need a great tap handle! We were going to have to rely on just a little length of ceramic, metal, or wood to make our whole introduction, to make that so-stressed-about, all-important, one-chance-only-no-take-backsies first impression. We knew that we needed a tap handle that would boldly proclaim the existence of both Garden Brewers and the beer itself, stand out amoungst all the other tap handles beside it, and give some idea as to what the beer is actually like.  A tall order for a short stick! 


We began brainstorming, and came up with a few ideas that we thought were pretty good, but we decided to run these ideas past beer drinkers, bar owners, and bartenders before we committed to them. We asked them all about what they liked, and what they didn't like in a tap handle.  It turned out that our original idea to use a gardening tool as a tap handle (such as a small spade) was not a popular one.


As a brewery, this idea had a lot of appeal to us. We get 2 out of 3; a tap handle that is instantly recognizable and loudly stands out- if sadly silent on what the beer actually is. But the downside of this approach was also its big bonus: a tap handle lacking any specific information about the beer being poured can be used for any brew by that brewery. Tap handles are expensive, provided for free, and are frequently lost, stolen, or misplaced. So having only one generic tap handle holds a lot of appeal to breweries. Having only one generic tap handle that is easily, quickly, and cheaply built out of a common object like a spade is even more appealing to small start-up brewers like ourselves! But it is not so appealing to bars, neither is it to their customers.  The problem with these unbranded objects is that bartenders/barpatrons are constantly having to ask/answer the questions “Who's that brewery? The one with the thing as a tap?” and then immediately after that is resolved “OK- which beer of theirs is on tap now?" and then finally "OK- What is that beer like?”


Clearly, this information (the "3B's"; brewer, brand, and beer tasting notes) ought to be as front and center on the tap handle as possible. But the current climate of constantly rotating brew styles, seasonal brews, special one-offs, and collaboration brews makes it harder than ever for brewers to keep up with the demand for new tap handles. The high cost and long turnaround time associated with producing custom tap handles is driving more brewers towards stocking and providing a generic handle only. This solution works best for brewers, but often fails their fans. 


To solve these problems, we turned once again towards the world of gardening for inspiration. And we found our solution!

Gardeners had already solved the problem of clearly marking many different varieties that rotate and change with the seasons: seed packet holders! Genius! A standard holder that can be used again and again- and which takes packaging waste and gives it a second life as perfectly appropriate signage! We thought that we could adapt this idea for brewing, and that it would be a much better solution than the expensive (and wasteful!) practice of producing a custom handle for every different brew.


Thus, we decided to commission a "seed packet holder" style tap handle, custom fabricated to meet our needs. We went right to the source; a manufacturer of garden seed packet holders! They were a little surprised to hear from us- they had never been asked to produce a beer tap handle before- but they loved challenges... and beer!


And boy, did they come through!


Our tap handles are sure to stick out from the crowd thanks to the ingenuity and skill of our supplier! The handles are aluminium, with the threaded portion custom fabricated on a lathe in order to make a tight connection. Because it is aluminum, it will not corrode over time. The seed packet holders themselves are made from galvanized steel, just the same as they are in the standard models, but our tap handles have two holders, back-to-back. This way, we can print "Seed Packet" style labels for display on the front...


...AND we can also print tasting and style information about the brew for display on the reverse side, for the bartenders use!


This is a great way to communicate about our beers- right at the point of sale! Bartenders nowadays usually have to contend with both more beer tap lines and a never-ending parade of constantly changing beers. That's alot of different beers to be knowledgeable about! The best bartenders do a great job at staying on top of this, earning the trust and respect of their regulars- you may even know one by name!  And several training and certification programs have been developed to help ensure that beer service just continues to get better and better. But there are many gaps, and communication about new beers from brewer-to-bartender remains spotty. Information about a new beer is often in short supply, and what is available has been passed along to the bartender though a telephone game.


Bartenders want good information at their fingertips, but we found that very few bars keep- or even read- the “sell sheets” which are provided along with beer by breweries. These sell sheets contain all that precious information, often direct from the brewers brain, and they go, more often than not, straight into the recycling bin. Yet all bars, bartenders, beer drinkers, and brewers want quality and comprehensive communication about the beer to be readily available! We think we've solved that problem for our brews.

In this tap handle, we have a generic handle for all our brews, we can print "seed packet" labels to customize for each style (with minimal cost, turnaround, and waste) and we have created an interesting and (If we can say so ourselves) super-neato tap handle that works to meet the needs of everyone better; the brewer, the bar, the bartender, and, perhaps most importantly, the beer drinker!


Cheers to that!


We have two models, our standard "Tall Poppy" which is 12" tall, and our "Short Sprout" which is 8"tall.

These tap handles are also ideal for homebrewers- as homebrewers typically have continuously changing beer styles on tap! If you'd like a Garden Brewers Tap Handle for home, they are availible in our webstore

EVENT- Beer 4 Boobs Hamilton

Photo By Crystal Luxmore

Photo by Crystal Luxmore

It is, unfortunately, all too easy to find people whose lives have been impacted by cancer. It seems we all have been affected by this disease, whether through someone we know, someone we love, through personal diagnosis, or sadly, perhaps through a combination of all of the above. Here at Garden Brewers we are no exception.

Having lost someone very dear to us to breast cancer, Beer 4 Boobs, which raises money to donate to Breast Cancer support services, is an important event for us.

Sonja, who is a co-organizer of the Beer 4 Boobs events, is pictured above carrying our son Davis while Erin Broadfoot mills grain in the foreground. The photo was taken by Crystal Luxmore at Black Oak, where the beer was brewed. These three women, all mothers, collaborated on "You Little Devil!" a Belgian Golden ale made with an entire box of a Lucky Charms! The cereal went into the mash and the marshmallows went into the boil. It seems appropriate that you can try this very special "mama's brew" this coming Mothers Day, right here in Hamilton!

This year the Hamilton Beer 4 Boobs event will be held at The Ship (Address: 23 Augusta St, Hamilton, ON, L8N 1P2 Phone:905-526-0792) from 1pm – 6pm on Sunday May 11, 2014. All proceeds from this events ticket, raffle and beer sales will go to Breast Cancer Support Services, an organization that provides comfort and support to women and families living with breast cancer in the Hamilton and Halton regions. 

Come on down to support a great cause, and while you're there be sure to also try "In the Rhubarb"; an All-Brett beer infused with Rhubarb. It's a collaborative effort between Our Brewer, The Ship, and Amsterdam's Iain McOustra.

Tate Graham of The Ship and Victor North of Garden Brewers, enjoying the hospitality of Amsterdam Brewery. Photo by Iain McOustra.

The Pilot System at Amsterdam Brewery, where "In The Rhubarb" was brewed.


Also pouring- "You Dunkel'd My Battleship!" a Hamilton-exclusive Dunkelweiss, hop-bursted with glacier. This beer was collaboratively brewed by The 3 Brewer's Ross Lyle and our brewer on site at The Ship on their nano brewing system!

Brewing “You Dunkel’d My Battleship!” and LARPing with Ross Lyle of The 3 Brewers on the nano system at The Ship. Photo by Tate Graham.


The theme of this years event is "Yeast-Forward Beers". Here is the yeast we selected to ferment our Dunkelweizen!" 

Tickets will be will be sold at the door. They are $25.00 each and will include 1 sample beer ticket, and a commemorative sampling glass. This event is 19+ and CASH ONLY. (ATM available)

Additional beer tickets can be purchased at the event.

We hope to see you there,

-The Garden Brewers

April Showers Bring Beer Growlers

You are likely already familiar with Growlers, but let's see what Wikipedia has to say on the subject, shall we?

A growler is a glass or ceramic jug used to transport draft beer in Australia, the United States and Canada. They are commonly sold at breweries and brewpubs as a means to sell take-out craft beer. The exploding growth of craft breweries and the growing popularity of home brewing has also led to an emerging market for the sale of collectible growlers.

Growlers are generally made of glass and have either a screw-on cap or a hinged porcelain gasket cap, which can provide freshness for a week or more. A properly sealed growler will hold carbonation indefinitely and will store beer like any other sanitized bottle. Some growler caps are equipped with valves to allow replacement of CO2 lost while racking. The modern glass growler was first introduced by Charlie and Ernie Otto of Otto Brother's Brewing Company in 1989.[5]


The term likely dates back to the late 19th century when fresh beer was carried from the local pub to one's home by means of a small galvanized pail. It is claimed the sound that the CO2 made when it escaped from the lid as the beer sloshed around sounded like a growl.


That all sounds about right! Not entirely convinced about the "hold carbonation indefinitely" line, and the story about how Growlers got their name is likely apocryphal, but the gist is there: a growler is a reuseable container with a colourful name intended for the transport of beer from pubs (or breweries) to the home, for home consumption.


We like Growlers.


In fact, we love them. Let me explain why:

Like the humans that make it, beer is mostly water. So water can have a huge impact on how beer tastes! Without getting too far into the subject; before humans were able to understand the chemical profile of their local water (and then change it) they were obligated to brew beers that worked well with whatever water they were blessed with. This was a long-term process of trial and error that gave rise to the many amazing and classic forms of the barley beverage we know and love today.


The quintessential example is Pilsner, from the Bohemian city Plzeň, or Pilsen. That cities water was remarkably soft and delicate, and incredibly well suited to the creation of a beer that has become arguably the worlds favorite style! Pilsners can be beguiling, seductive, deceptively simple, and remarkably hard to make. A great Pilsner is like a great piece of Calligraphy- it looks easy on the surface- but everything has to be just so for it to work. EVERYTHING. They quickly become cluttered and busy. They are bold, but with subtlety and grace. And when they are off- even by a smidgen- you just know it right away. You feel it.

Hidai Nankoku The Taste Of Pilsner (probably?!)

                                                  Hidai Nankoku The Taste Of Pilsner (probably?!)

Brewers surrounding the area of Plzeň (and eventually the world) drove themselves nuts trying to duplicate the simple beauty of the Pilsner beer, but without the right water they were doomed to fail from the start. Again, everything has to be just so. Still, just like artists who have made some amazing artworks in their "failed" attempts to duplicate a beloved style, these brewers created alot of great beers in their attempts to recreate the Pilsner.

This is all to say that water is very important. Water gives us great Stouts in Dublin, Great IPAs in Burton-on-Trent, and now-a-days, great beer everywhere it's made; where water is considered.

Black Oak (our contract brewer) for example, uses reverse osmosis water. This gives them a blank slate upon which to build whatever water profile they want. Black Oak can brew with Dublin water, Burton-on-Trent water, and yes, even Plzeň water. They have the ability to make any style they want, and make it damn well. Put simply, we no longer have to brew in Plzeň to make a good Pilsner.

So it makes, in our estimation, absolutely ZERO sense to consume petroleum products which have been dug up and processed at a great cost, in order to ship beer -a product that is mostly water- across vast amounts of water. Beer is a wonderfully renewable product. Petroleum is not. We now have the technology to make beer taste however we want, wherever it's brewed. Romance and marketing keep imported beer alive, but it is our opinion that drinking imported beer is... a bad idea. To put it mildly! (And that's without considering the plain fact that beer is best fresh!)

Locally made beer is a great option for many reasons but that is another one for you!

Still, there is "The Last Mile" to consider, even with locally made beer. There is a some debate over which is more sustainable; returnable or one-way glass; but both have nothing on the Growler. Using your local as a beer distributer makes alot of sense. Your local likely gets beer in stainless steel kegs, a beer vessel that is durable, reused many, many, many times before being repaired or recycled, and is an excellent and proven technology for transporting beer in its freshest condition and sealed away from light or air- both enemies of beer. Bottles let both in slowly. (Brown Bottles with pry-off caps are best, but kegs are still superior.) Getting beer from your local is not only convenient, it's also likely to give you an incredibly fresh product in top condition (assuming your local shares our passion for clean tap lines) all in a very sustainable way. Firm numbers are hard to come by, but Growlers are estimated to have diverted many tons of waste from landfills... in the United States.

Sadly, in Ontario, our laws reduce the mighty growler to an awkward and largely impractical large-format bottle. We are simply not allowed to buy our beer in a pub, and then take it home to drink it.

The Ontario government has, since the end of prohibition, been making our liquor laws less draconian in drips and drabs, but the winds of change are blowing a bit stronger these days... We think growlers are an old idea whose time has come once again, and we will champion the idea until growler culture is allowed to flourish in Ontario.

In the meantime, we are providing you with THE BEST GROWLER.


Growlers may be an old idea whose time has once again come, but we can sure do a hell of a lot better than a 'friggin bucket. And a big bottle isn't much better. Bottles are glass. Glass lets in light. Glass breaks. Sometimes glass breaks when it's carrying beer to a party. This loss of good beer is tragic and preventable. Sometimes people show up to a party with cut hands and no beer after picking up shards of glass from a bikelane after falling off of a longboard. Hypothetically speaking of course.

All those things we just said about kegs being awesome? We mean it. So our growler is a 'friggin mini-keg. Forged from the most stainless of steel, and etched with the most awesome of lasers, our growlers are a triumph of form and function. 

They keep your beer sealed, fresh, and away from light. AND THEY HOLD PRESSURE. If you homebrew, you can use these to force-carbonate your brite beer. Our growlers come with a standard screw-on cap, but the manufacturer has carbonation caps for sale- and they tell us they are working on a dispensing cap (which would make these growlers function like true lil' kegs!) so that is entirely awesome. 

Once the shipment is in, we will have these for sale at events and in our webstore (Sadly- only available empty- see draconian liquor laws, above) along with other Garden Brewers merchandise.

-The Garden Brewers

Coming Up Early

05 April 2014

Coming Up Early

Hi Green Thumbs!

Today we came up a little bit earlier than expected, but spring has finally sprung and we're ready to grow- bring on the summer! April Showers will bring Beer Growlers!

Last night at the Ontario Brewing Awards The Ships Rations took home a Silver medal in Veggie Brews for The Ship! This was very exciting for us, as this beer was created by our brewer, and as near as we can reckon, this award is the FIRST TIME EVER a beer made in Hamilton has taken home a medal from the Ontario Brewing Awards.

Our Brewer Accepting the Award On Behalf Of The Ship- Photo By Ken Woods

Our Brewer Accepting the Award On Behalf Of The Ship- Photo By Ken Woods

The awards began in 2006 and Labbat closed down the old Peller brewery in 2010... brands produced at those facilties during that time included Amstel, Steeler, Laker, Hamilton Mountain, Grizzly, and of course, Lakeport. We drank more than our fair share of Lakeport Honey Lager during the Buck-a-Beer days, and can personally vouch for its excellent price, but sadly it doesn't seem to have ever been recognized by the Ontario Brewing Awards. There hasn't been any commercial beer produced in Hamilton since then- until The Ship began brewing with the help of our brewer; who developed a recipe, a painting, and a name- The Ships Rations! A very tasty IPA brewed with a generous amount of Ginger! This beer will evolve into Green-Thumb IPA for Garden Brewers, so for it to take a silver medal made us very excited!

We tweeted. We couldn't resist. Garden Brewers was still somewhat of a secret so we were careful not to tag anyone or hashtag anything. We hadn't followed anyone and nobody was following us. We were whispering a secret into a hole in the ground, because the secret was too big to keep inside! But we should've known that never works

Canadian Beer News found the tweet! Probably by searching for the phrase "Ontario Brewing Awards". Impressive! Who says beer journalism is dead? This morning we awoke to find all the beans spilled and all the cats wandering free of their bags. This is fine! we just haven't got everything quite tickety-boo yet. Like this website! it still needs alot of work.... Hold on...

There! That should do it.

We're excited to be uncovered and in the light! Please bear with us through these growing pains. We'll work hard in the coming months to get everything into the state we would have liked to have had it for you when we launched! And we'll get a beer into your hand just as soon as possible, we promise.

-The Garden Brewers

Sprouting Soon

04 April 2014

Sprouting Soon

Hello! We are the Garden Brewers and welcome to our “Blog”. This is the place to find all the dirt on our happenings and doings