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!
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