Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Let's Celebrate the Shortest Day of the Year!

So you say you need a reason to celebrate this time of year.  The Holiday's aren't doing it for you.  A beer release party isn't good enough.  Great food and a wonderful atmosphere isn't footing the bill.  Well hows about the shortest day of the year?  Cause you know what happens after the shortest day of the year?  Everyday for the next 6 months gets longer!  That's right folks, once the Solstice hits, we have 6 months of better lighting ahead.  And I don't know about you, but moving past this 430p sundown is reason enough to party.

So throw in the aforementioned beer release (Sawdust City's Lone Pine IPA), the great food and wonderful atmosphere (The Burger Bar @ College and Augusta) and you have a solid list of reasons to come out and celebrate.  Read this poster and tell me you don't want to join us for a night of fun -

I heard Randal the Enamel Animal may even make an appearance.  Good time folks, good times!  Take a look at some of the photos from our last release party at The Monk's Kettle.  A great new addition to the Toronto beer scene, The Monk's Kettle offers wonderful food in a warm, cozy atmosphere.  Did I mention they have a bottle list 70 beers deep and a tap list that would make anyone envious.  If you haven't made the trip out to the West end, I highly recommend it.  Here's a few shots from the Ol'Woody release party last week.

A good time was had by all.  Thanks again to Michael and Guy from The Monk's Kettle for hosting and taking a chance on us.  It's folks like those from the Monk's Kettle that help us craft brewers out and give us a chance to get our foot in the door.

Photo dump.  More random shots of lovely Golden Beach Pale Wheat!

Well that's about it for this time.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Ol'Woody is on Deck!

Have you been to The Monk's Kettle?  Have you tried Sawdust City's newest beer, Ol'Woody Alt?  If you answered no to either of these questions, then we've got the cure for you!  This Thursday, December 15th, starting at 4p, The Monk's Kettle (3073 Bloor St. W) will be hosting a release party for Sawdust City's second release, Ol'Woody Alt. A traditional German Dusseldofr Alt, Ol'Woody is a great beer for a cool fall evening.  Paired with an appetizer created by The Monk's Kettle's chef, come out and try a sample of Ol'Woody in the pubs fantastic setting.

They'll be featuring Ol'Woody all evening but there will also be samples of our Golden Beach Pale Wheat available as well.  Hibernating until next Spring, this could be your last chance to try our inaugural brew before it disappears for the Winter.

So come out for some after work drinks or stay for a fantastic dinner prepared by The Monk's Kettle kitchen crew, either way it's a great way to warm up for the Holidays!

Anyhoo, that's about it for this now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ol'Woody is Getting Wrapped Up

I'm a little early this week and I know, I  know another title with another double entendre...it's getting a little tired but seriously, the name warrants it.  Eitherwhich, Ol'Woody Alt is ready to hit the town, filtered yesterday and packaged tomorrow, he's all geared up and stoked to meet some new folks.  And he's getting a right proper welcome at The Monk's Kettle (www.themonkskettle.com) in Etobicoke too!

A new bar on the GTA beer scene, The Monk's Kettle has a cozy atmosphere and great food to boot, it's the perfect place to get acquainted with Ol'Woody.  So come on out, Thursday, December 15th to The Monk's Kettle (3073 Bloor St W) and try some of our new brew, the party starts around 4p.  Golden Beach Pale Wheat will be there too, we'll be sampling some of our first beer before it hibernates until next Spring.  So it's a "welcome party" and a "going away" party at the same time.
'Tis the season though and really do we need two more reasons to celebrate at this time of year?  Sure why not.

I'm certainly going to need it, at least after tomorrow. It's going to be a long day folks.  Not only are we packaging Ol'Woody (and then deliver him), but we'll be brewing our first batch of Lone Pine IPA tomorrow. too!  Check out the label -

It's going to be a super delicious, completely nutritious blend of West Coast hops and malt dear readers,so be sure to look for that at bars just before Christmas.

Until then, Ol'Woody is going to be out in full force at great beer bars across Toronto and Muskoka.  The Only Cafe (Congrats on 30 years!), Burger Bar, C'est What?, barVolo, The Griffin Gastropub along with the Monk's Kettle are just a few places you'll find Ol'Woody.

Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the Sawdust beneath your feet.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Winter Has Sprung Up and so has Ol'Woody

'Tis Friday dear Readers and as such I finally have time to sit down and tell y'all about the week done past.
Ol'Woody Alt has finished fermenting and is resting quietly in the fermenter.  Aging, mellowing and ultimately getting in shape for its long voyage out to the bars across Toronto and up North to Muskoka.

Drastically different from our first release, Golden Beach Pale Wheat, a hop forward American style Pale Wheat, Ol'Woody Alt is a traditional German Dusseldorf Altbier.  Made with all German malt and hops, this light mahogany brown lagered ale has a nasty bitter bite but with enough malt body to balance it all out.

This particular style of Altbier hails from the German city of Dusseldorf.  Ever since visiting the city with my classmates at the VLB I've wanted to brew an Alt.  I had such a great time crusin' around the Altstadt jumping from brauhaus to brauhaus, drinking Alt until the sun went down and then came up again.  The city and the beer hold a special place in my heart.  And now with the Sawdust City Brewing Co finally underway, I finally have the chance to bring some of that beer back home!  Easy to drink and quite sessionable, Ol'Woody is perfect for a fall day at the pub.  So after December 9th, head out to a fine beer bar near you and sample one.  Here's a little description of Ol'Woody -

And what of the Golden Beach Pale Wheat?  Well it was another great week for our first release.  We've heard some wonderful reviews from the drinking public and we'd like to thank everyone that carried our beer and to those of you that made it out for a sample, cause if it wasn't for you, we'd have no reason make this beer.

Now it's Friday and I'm sure you're all really thirsty, so here's a few random shots people have sent us of Golden Beach Pale Wheat looking all sexy in a pint glass -

Oooo la la, how risque!  Hopefully that did the trick and got everyone all thirsty and ready to enjoy a few pints tonight!

Later this week we're going to be brewing our first batch of Lone Pine IPA, if all goes according to Hoyle, it should make it out to the taps just before Jolly Ol' St.Nick, so keep an eye on our facebook and twitter pages for further updates.

Anyhoo, I think that's about it for this time.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Snow Was on the Ground, but we Still Went to the Beach

Last Friday was the official launch of Sawdust City Brewing Co's first beer, Golden Beach Pale Wheat.  We had two events going on at the same time, one down in Toronto at one of the East ends most legendary beer bars, The Only Cafe.  The other was in Muskoka at the soon to be legendary, Griffin Gastropub.  Both events went off with out a hitch.  The beer was flowing, the music was playing and fun was had by all.  Unfortunately Rob, Karla and myself couldn't be in both places at once, so while we manned the tables and taps at the Griffin, Troy and Kristina helped serve the Golden Beach at the Only.

We couldn't have been happier with the reception Golden Beach received and it was great to be a part of two fun events.  Hopefully we'll have as much luck with the rest of our releases, cause it won't be too long before Ol'Woody Alt available at beer bars across Toronto and Muskoka.  That's right folks, hot on the heels of Golden Beach Pale Wheat comes Sawdust City's second beer, Ol' Woody Alt.  Brewed over the past two days down at Niagara College we've brewed, boiled and pitched the next of our mainstay brands and by December 14th, Ol'Woody Alt should be pouring a pristine mahogany brown from the taps.  A more traditional ale, Ol'Woody won't be as hop forward, as citrusy or as light as Golden Beach, but it will be no less delicious.  With a solid malt body, chalk full of hearty Dark Munich Malt and a strong bitter bite from traditional German Noble hops, Ol'Woody Alt will be a great beer for the fall.  So keep your eyes peeled and your interwebs tuned to our Facebook and Twitter page for more news on the release of Ol'Woody Alt.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's take a look back at some of the faces and places that have enjoyed our first beer, Golden Beach Pale Wheat.  We've had a few people send in photos of themselves enjoying our beer and we'd like to offer those kind folks honorary citizenship into Sawdust City, they're now official Sawdust City-zens!  So if you got any photo's and you want to join our growing populace, send'em in and we'll post them here.  We love to meet new people and we welcome anyone to become a Sawdust City-zen!

Doesn't that look delicious!  So next time you're out at you local beer bar, pull out your phone and snap a picture of your glass, yourself  or your friends enjoying a Sawdust City product, we'd love to see it and we'd love to have you become a Sawdust City-zen.

Anyhoo that's about it for this time.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Friday, 18 November 2011

If you Ever Needed a Taste of Summer, Today Would be the Day

I guess we couldn't have asked for a better day to release Golden Beach Pale Wheat.  The first of our 5 mainstay releases,  Golden Beach Pale Wheat, was originally designed to be our summer beer.  An easy drinking, hop forward American Wheat Ale, this beer calls for a sun soaked patio not a snow packed porch.
But if you've ever had a day where you want to recapture those lazy afternoons of August, this would most definitely be it!

Have a read from our label and table topper, it will give you a pretty good idea as to what this beer is all about.  Better yet, come out to the Griffin tonight and sample some for yourself!  If you don't happen to be up North, try these great beer bars in Toronto - The Only Cafe, Burger Bar, C'est What?, Highway 61, Grapefruit Moon, Bryden's and Cafe Volo, they will all have our beer on tap as of tonight.

It's been almost a year and a half since Rob and I met in his garage in Gravenhurst, but now the day has finally arrived, Sawdust City Brewing Co., will officially be selling it's first pints tonight at the Griffin Gastropub in Bracebridge ON!

We're all super excited, Rob and Karla are making the long and apparently snow covered voyage from Gravenhurst to Bracebridge tonight and we'll be celebrating the fact that we can now buy our beer in our own pint glasses! Hazzah!

It's funny that Golden Beach Pale Wheat is our first release.  The name of the beer comes from the road I grew up on, Golden Beach Road.  The road itself is a windy Muskoka-esque road that branches off highway 118 as you make your way from Bracebridge to Port Carling.  It curves along the Muskoka River, passing lovely homes and cottages and of course past the towns largest tourist attraction (and claim to lame....I worked there for 6 years...dang), Santa's Village.  After passing "The Village" Golden Beach Road turns into Santa's Village Road and then it snakes its way back into town.  If you follow the road around, from Golden Beach to Santa's Village Road, through town,onto Highway 118 and then back to the start of Golden Beach Road  it makes a "loop".  I used to ride my bike around this loop when I was a kid.  It's about 10-15k I guess, but it seems like 10-15 years since I've done the loop.  And it seems almost fitting that, like when I was a kid and I'd ride the loop, Golden Beach Road has now brought my entire life full circle.

When I moved out of Bracebridge after University, I never thought I'd be back.  The jobs I had back then didn't exist up here.  But since that time, I've changed careers and frankly, you can brew beer just about anywhere.  It's basically a Universal job.  People drink and brew beer every where on this planet.  Humans have spent the better part of their existence learning how to get drunk.  We've gotten pretty good at it.  But even though I can brew anywhere, I'm glad I'm doing it here, in the town I grew up.

So here I am, about 15 years after I left, back where I started.  My life is a whole lot different than when I left, but then again so is the town.  But I'm glad to be back and I'm proud to be plying my trade and brewing beer in Muskoka.  If you get a chance tonight, stop by the Griffin, grab a pint and feel free to say hello to Rob, Karla and I, we'd like to meet you and we'd love to hear what you think about the Sawdust City Brewing Co..  We hope you like it.

Anyhoo, that's about it for this time.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Friday, 4 November 2011

It's All in the Conditioning

I know, I know, this is getting somewhat redundant, but it's been another big week for the Sawdust City Brewing Co.  We've taken another step closer to getting our beer out in the market and it looks like we're close to pinning down a date for the release of Golden Beach Pale Wheat!

On Monday, October 31st at approximately 4:45pm, just before all the little ghouls and goblins hit the streets for some spooky treats, we received a notice from the AGCO that the Sawdust City Brewing Co had been granted a Manufacturer's License from the province of Ontario.  Basically this means that we are now able to produce and sell beer in the great and vast province of Ontario.  It's been a long road, but we've finally been given the green light and we couldn't be happier.  I'd post the actual license here, but I'm not sure of the legalities of all that.  So lest I lose it before I get to abuse it, I'm gonna err on the side of caution and just keep it in our internal files.  I hope y'all understand.

It's a good thing it came when it did too, cause the first batch of Golden Beach Pale Wheat has been brewed and is now cooling and conditioning in secondary fermentation.  I've been nervously tasting it each day, making sure it's progressing on course and so far the prognosis is good.  The Galaxy has given it a nice tropical citrus nose and the Sorachi has provided a nice lemony punch on the finish. As far as I'm concerned it's gonna be a wonderful summer beer.  Too bad it's the middle of the Fall right?  Well, sometimes the timing just doesn't work out, but I think we'll still be able to find a few drinkers willing to take the trip back to the land of summer.  Check out the back of our table-toppers.  It's got all the relevant information -

Like I said, it's looks like we're getting close to pinning down a date, right now we're eyeing up the third Friday in November, the 18th.  It's not 100%, but it's looking pretty good.  Keep checking back here and once we have the date and the list of bars it will be served in, we'll be sure to post it.

Other than that, it was another week of fun, this time at Volo CaskDays 2011.  This was the biggest and from many accounts the best  CaskDays in the history of the 7 year event.  I know I had a good time and it didn't hurt that we had a cask pouring at the event too.  "I Swear Sugarpants, it was your Idea" was cask # 77, here it is in all it's casky glory -
Yes, we were # 77...and we weren't the last ones.  So there were a lot of casks to be had.  Here's a quick shot of just one section of the event -

This was just the Ontario section, the rest of the Quadrangle at the Hart House was filled with other casks from such far flung locations as the U.K and British Columbia.  It was a veritable cornucopia of liquid decadence. With so much to drink and so little time, you can be assured that Rob, Karla and I did Sawdust City proud and worked our way around as many of these delicious casks as we could.  Alas, we couldn't get to them all, but what we did sample was fantastic.  Kudos to the brewers for putting their best foot forward and brewing some fantastic beer.  And Kudos to Ralph and his family for putting on a great event.  I can't think of how they are going to top it next year.  Speaking of tops...here's a photo of the tops of some casks -

Anyhoo, that's about it for this time.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Friday, 28 October 2011

A Dust Storm is Picking Up!

It's been a big few weeks in the life of the Sawdust City Brewing Co., a lot has transpired since we last spoke dear Readers.
Firstly, we had a few beers showcased at the Griffin Pub up in Bracebridge, Ontraio; Ol'Woody Alt, which will be one of our regular products available at the brewpub when it opens next year and "I swear Sugarpants, it Was Your Idea", a lactose brown ale brewed with Masala spices.  The latter, was a latte inspired one-off beer that we brewed specifically for Volo CaskDays which will be held this Sunday at the Hart House in Toronto.  I happened to have a few extra kegs left over so my good brother Jed (kudos to him for supporting us in basically all that we've done...it helps to have a great and supportive brother in bar business, it really does) put them on tap at the Griffin and a few lucky souls got an advanced look at what Sawdust City is going to be about.  Take a look at the logo for "Sugarpants", another great job done by Shannon.
While there sampling some of our creations, I got to talk to a few of the Griffin patrons about our beer and it was great to see the enthusiasm they had for not only our beer, but craft beer in general.  People were genuinely interested in how the beer was made and the process we used to brew it.
The tides are changing dear readers, the tides are changing!

After that uplifting weekend we were buoyed again with the news that the LCBO analysis on our beers was completed and the results were in.  As the next step in our ongoing process to get our manufacturers license, we sent in 4 brands to the LCBO to be analysed in their labs.  And I'm glad to report that there is exactly 0 poison in any of our beers!  Good news if I ever did hear it.  So now that we have the official reports back, we've sent them off to the AGCO and hopefully in the very near future we will have the final go ahead on our Manufacturer's License and we can then sell beer to the public.

This of course was extremely welcomed news and all of us at Sawdust City were glad to hear it, so to celebrate, we brewed our first "official" beer.  I'd like you all to welcome to the world our little bouncing baby beer, Golden Beach Pale Wheat, born Oct 26th at 4:07pm, weighing in at 11 Plato and just over 6hl in size.

It was a group effort with many of the students at Niagara College pitching in and helping to deliver our little bundle of joy.  Being the proud parent that I am, I couldn't help but snap a few photos.  I know it's tacky to show off the pictures of your baby, everyone thinks their's is the cutest, but seriously just look at these photos.  They'll just melt your heart, I swear it.
Ahhh, look at this first shot....still in labour here, but working hard.

More labour shots.  Don't let anyone tell you birthing is easy!

First "blood test"....every thing checks our okay!

We had to spank his bottom a few times and whack him with a few wallops of hops

But in the end, he finally let out that first bellowing cry and here it is living and breathing easy.  *sniffle*, oh geez, I promised myself I wouldn't cry....

So now that we have our first one in and bubbling away, it won't be long before you see Sawdust City Brewing Co., at a beer pub near you.  We do have a few accounts lined up already and at this point it's just the waiting...which as they say is the hardest part.  So please be patient with us dear Readers, it's still a few weeks off, but soon enough you'll be able to sample our wares.  Keep an eye on this hear blog, our facebook page and now on the Twitters (yes, I've broken through the event horizon and entered the Twitter-verse) and once we have an official release date and bars in which we will be available I will be posting them there just as fast as my little chubby fingers will allow me.
So yeah, it's been a busy few weeks, but it's about to get busier....and I couldn't be happier.
Well, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Friday, 14 October 2011

They Left After Spirits, towards Hastings Town.....

The title is a line stolen from "Violet and Jeffrey Lee", another morose ballad of loss and remorse from one of Canada's best acts, The Sadies.  I just so happened to be listening to that song the other day as I was driving around with the kids in the back seat hoping that for the love of all things holy that they might just fall asleep, when it dawned on me that my brothers next beer festival was just around the corner.  September came and went so quickly and now we're already half way through October.  Dang, where does the time go?

Either which, the Hastings Beer Festival is this weekend and Sawdust City is sending a keg of our Ol' Woody Alt towards Hastings Town.

Unfortunately we can't be there (really, the whole company is just the two of us at the moment) but the good folks at Spearhead are kindly letting us squeeze onto one of their taps, so kudos too them for the good sportsmanship!

For those of you who haven't had a chance to try the Ol'Woody Alt, (which would just about about be all of you as we haven't released it yet), this is Sawdust City's take on an old German favourite.  Good and bitter, this lagered ale designed after the beers from the city of Dusseldorf in Germany's Rheinland, comes in at about 40 IBU's, but it's balanced with a rich blend of German Dark Munich and Pilsner Malts to give it an easy drinking body.  This is most definitely our session ale.  But like all our beers at this point, there are still going to be some tweeks and touches to the recipe before we officially open next year.  It's close to the final version, but we want to get it perfect before we kick open our doors.  So if you happen to try Ol' Woody Alt this weekend, let me know your thoughts, we'd really appreciate the feed back.

But outside of Sawdust City (and the aforementioned Spearhead) and a slew of other fantastic breweries from across Ontario and Quebec, there is also going to be some of Eastern Ontario's finest Cheeses, Wines and Ciders being showcased at this event.  Seriously can you ask for more at an event?   Check out all the goings on at the official Hasting Beer Festival Website -


Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mug and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Another Baby Step

Another week and another small step for the Sawdust City Brewing Co.  On Wednesday, October 5th we received our go ahead from the AGCO to proceed to the second phase of the procedure to get our Manufacturers Licence!

The next step is sending our beer to the LCBO labs in Toronto for testing.  We have some of our brands brewed already, so that will be in their hands as early as next week.  They say it takes 3-10 business days to get the tests done, so it's getting closer.  Hopefully if all goes according to Hoyle, our beer will be hitting a local purveyor of fine ales by the middle of Fall.  So keep your eyes peeled.

This weekend is also Thanksgiving weekend and we've decided to brew a beer to mark the occasion and give thanks to everyone that has been supporting us during our long start up phase.  We brewed Noddy Pine Pale Ale at the Niagara College Teaching Brewery using a single hop, Galaxy.  Hailing from the Land Down Under, this hop packs a tropical punch.  Loaded with passion fruit aromas and citrusy flavours this ale will bring you back to those days of summer which now seem like a distant memory.  Depending on how it goes over, this maybe a flavour you'll see popping up in a Sawdust City brew in the near future!

Noddy Pine will only be available at the Griffin Gastropub in Bracebridge and there is a very limited quantity.  Once it's gone, it's gone.  It goes on tap tonight, so if you can make it out, swing by and try the Noddy Pine!

The next few weeks are going to be very exciting for Sawdust City.  Not only are we closing in on getting our Manufacturers Licence but we are going to be involved in a few beer events across Ontario and you may see another very special brew pop up at the Griffin in the very near future.  So stay tuned to our blog and our facebook page for further updates on the events and where you can find Sawdust City beer!

Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Iron Brewer 2011 and the Long, Dark Voyage to Uranise

On Friday, September 30th, I had the privilege of taking part in the 2nd annual Iron Brewer competition put on by Paul Dickey and the Ontario branch of the MBAA.

Held at the Black Oak brewery in Etobicoke, Ontario, the event featured 16 brewers, from all across Ontario, and from varying levels of experience, ranging from home brewers all the way up to brewers from the big Molson plant here in Toronto.  The vast majority of entrants were from craft breweries across Ontario.

The event is much like the Iron Chef you see on TV, except for instead of having a "feature ingredient", the brewers are given two "mystery" bags of malt, hops and other special ingredients to create their brews.  Once given those bags what they did with those ingredients was up to them.  Basically you could create whatever style you wanted...a brewers dream!

We were given our bags just over a month ago, so we had sometime to cobble together our brews.  I was one of the first people to pick up the bag and once I got back to the office, it took me about 5 minutes to decide what I was going to do.

I looked through the bag and saw a wide array of dark malts, some belgian candy sugar, a few spices and an oak spiral.  And seeing as I'm somewhat partial to the dark ales, I elected to brew an Imperial Stout spiked with Star Anise (one of the spices included in the bag).  No point in half assing it, throw the whole kit in and make a malt bomb.  Also, we only had to bring 10L with us to the competition, so I was going to have some left over and figured I might as well make something I would want to drink afterwards.

I went home that night and put together my recipe and by later that week I was brewing my beer up at the Niagara College teaching brewery.  I wanted to get it brewed and have at least 4 weeks for the beer to mature on the oak spirals, a beer this heavy was going to need that much time if it was going to pick up any of those wood characteristics.  Also, this was going to be a somewhat strong beer, so it was going to need some time to calm down and mellow.

The OG on the beer ended up being 20P, which was a little lower than I wanted, but hey it'll do.  I brewed it to 100 IBU (completely theoretical, there was going to be a lot of residual sugars so I needed to balance that with a big bitter kick) and 2.57 billion SRM (again completely theoretical, but more on that later) It fermented out over the next week down to 5.2P, so I was left with a beer about 8% abv. Not bad.  I moved it from the primary ferementer into a secondary and threw in the oak spiral.  Then I waited.  And waited.  And waited until earlier this week when I decided to taste it and see how it was coming along.  I like it, but it was missing a little something.  I had originally thrown in some star anise in the boil, but that "licorice" flavour was getting lost in all the big, roasted, chocolate malt flavours.  So I brewed an "anise" tea and added it to the secondary. It didn't overpower the brew but it gave it a hint of anise, just enough to let you know it was there.
The next day, I kegged the beer and then bottled it the day before the competition.
I went home that night and tasted a bottle.  I was duly impressed about how it turned out.  It wasn't overpowering in any particular way, it was nicely balanced.  I mean, you knew it was 8% but it was still drinkable.  The addition of the belgian candy sugar probably helped out there.  Also, the oak and the anise flavours blended quite well with the strong, dark malt profile.
And seeing as this was going to be a Sawdust City entry, I had Shannon put together some lables, which I had to put on by hand, but they looked so great, I had to have them on the bottles.  And here they are, first the front label -

And then the back, which if you can read it, tells the story of the Long, Dark Voyage to Uranise (get it?)

 So there you have it, my entry into the Iron Brewer 2011, Long, Dark, Voyage to Uranise!  So about that 2.57 billion SRM, well it also happens to be the shortest distance between Earth and Uranus.  (I had to tie the whole thing up in a nice little package.)

Anyhoo, I showed up at Black Oak on Friday with no real expectations for my beer.  I liked it, but hey, it was mine so that doesn't really count.  Also, I knew some of the other brewers that were coming and I knew that they would be creating some amazing brews themselves so competition was going to be tough.
I staked out my table and waited for the attendees to come in and sample my beer.  People slowly trickled in and made their way from table to table sampling beer after beer, many coming by and tasting the Long, Dark Voyage and mostly to positive reviews too.  I poured out the samples and gave the schpeel about the beer and Sawdust City, it was a good time.  Then I put down the bottle and went out to try some of my compatriots beer.  The one right next to me brewed by Luc at the soon to be Bellwoods brewery was a Berliner-weiss.  A pretty out there and under appreciated style and it was quite fantastic.  Doughy, cheek puckeringly sour and with a hint of saltiness and at only 3.5% it was a real drinker.  Also, it showed the absolutely enormous style variety available at the competition.  Everyone was given the same two bags, with the same ingredients, but each brewer came up with his own ideas and his own unique recipes!  And here were two booths side by each and basically were at opposite ends of the beer spectrum, Luc with the light and sour berliner-weiss and me with a black as pitch, over the top, heavy Imperial Stout.  Ain't beer is awesome.

I then made my way around the room tasting as much beer as I could.  The quality of beer there was ridiculous, each brewer brought their A-game and it showed.  Styles ranged from a rye/vienna lager, to spice induced ales, to black and tans all the way over to Weizen dopple bocks...it was beer heaven.
With all this great beer and all these great brewers, it really showcased how far the Ontario brewing scene has come in a few short years.  It was truly exciting.

Unfortunately I had to leave early and wasn't able to hand out my beer for the last few hours of the competition.  But duty called.  Such is life.

I found out later that James Thein of Muskoka had won with his excellent version of a hoppy American style Wheat beer.  It had a fantastic lemon profile that made it ludicrously drinkable.  Jaime Mistry came in second with his overtly sessionable dunkels (wonderful beer) and Michael Hancock came in third with his amazing Weizen Dopple Bock, closest thing to Aventinus I've ever had.  And what of Sawdust City and Long, Dark Voyage, well I came in a very respectable 5th place, which considering the competition I'm very happy with.  That being said, I wonder if I could of done better had I stuck around to pass my beer out for the last few hours of the competition.  We'll never know.  But I have to say, as far as labels go, I think Sawdust City had that one all wrapped up.  Well, we were the only ones with actual labels, but still, awesome job by Shannon.
Either way, it was tonnes of fun and I was proud to take part in such a fantastic event.  Congrats to James, Jaime and Michael and all the rest of the brewers for making such fantastic beers.  And thanks to Paul Dickey and the Ontario MBAA for putting together the event.  Can't wait until next year and Iron Brewer 2012.
For those of you with a Facebook page, head over to the Sawdust City page and check out the video we shot while at the event, it will hopefully give you an idea of how great it was.

Anyhoo, that's about it for this time.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mug and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Summer has started to Fall

Well it's been a few weeks since my last post here on the blogospere, it's crazy how fast the time goes! The Summer is over, the cold weather of Fall has moved in and it seems like just yesterday that we were enjoying the sun at the Muskoka Beer Festival but time marches on as they say.

It's been a busy time not only for myself but also for Sawdust City Brewing Co.  Personally I've started teaching a course up at the Niagara Teaching College and began a stint as the brewery tech in their brewery, helping out wherever I can.  Like I said, it's been busy, but It's great to see the enthusiasm of the students, so eager to learn and get out there to make some beer. It's an exciting time in the craft beer world, with so many wonderful products already getting made and a new batch of students ready to take the ball and run with it, the future looks bright!

The future of Sawdust City is looking quite bright too.  We've been meeting with the architect (FormWorks in Barrie) and the brewery equipment suppliers (Specific Mechanical in BC) and the plans for the building and the brew house look fantastic!  Hopefully I will be able to share the plans with you all soon, so you can see what's we have in store for the Muskoka Wharf, but until then you'll just have to take my word for it.  When the building is finally up and our brand new brew house is up and running, I think everyone will be impressed.
We've also been brewing some more of our test batches at the College while we wait for construction to begin and just this week Criveller (another equipment supplier) picked up an old fermenter for us which they will be refurbishing so that we can use it as our own fermenting space at the College.  This means we may have some more Sawdust City beer available at upcoming events and maybe even at a certain local Bracebridge bar in the very near future, so keep you eyes peeled for that.  We're really excited about sharing our beer with you so when we do have some kegs heading up North to Gravenhurst and Bracebridge we will be sure to let everyone know!

As for right now, all we can offer you is our gratitude and sincerest thanks for coming out to sample our beer at the few events we've been at, for reading our blog, for creeping on our Facebook page and for sharing your anticipation with us.  And for those of you with a Facebook account, please head over to the page and check out a the videos we've posted.  We've made a few videos documenting our first test batch and our first public exhibition at the CNE.  There done really well and we hope you like them.

Like I said, we will have some more information soon about the availability of our beer so check back soon and hopefully you will be able to join Sawdust City for a pint of our beer.

Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  So until next time, keep the beer in your mug and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Breaking Up With the Ex

Well the CNE is finally over for another year and I'm not going to lie to you, my feet aren't sad to see it go.  Standing on your feet slingin' pints for 8-12 hours a day for 18 days really gets the dogs a barkin'.  That being said, my heart is sad to see it go.  The 2011 CNE was the first foray into the public forum for the Sawdust City Brewing Co and it will always hold a special place in our hearts.  I know I said in the last post that the Muskoka Beer Fest was our first festival, but the CNE was our first public "exhibition".  And from all accounts I think it was a most successful one. We got to meet and talk to a lot of great people about what we are going to be doing up at Sawdust City and so many of them were not only enthusiastic but also supportive of our plans. It was very uplifting and reassuring to see such a response from people who were basically complete strangers.  But outside of just getting to talk to consumers and good beer fans about our products, I think it was a wonderful event for craft beer in general.  By the end of the 18 days, there were 30 different beers available from 13 different breweries to try and with each passing day, more and more people came by the Wine and Beer Garden to do some sampling.   With many of them coming back more than once!
You have to remember that this was the first time anything like this has been attempted at the CNE and no one was sure how it was going to go over.  But Jed (from The Griffin Gastropub) and Bryn did a fantastic job of putting together the event and running a pretty tight ship over those 18 long and sometimes endless days.  Sawdust City owes them a big thank you for letting us come in and showcase the Great Weiss North at their event.   Along with Jed and Bryn we also want to thank Jaime (The Sassy Lamb), Marta, Rachel, Amelia
and Katlyn (sorry if I spelled your names wrong) for all their help pulling pints and collecting empties during the CNE.  Without you guys we wouldn't have gotten our beer into the waiting hands of the public.
And to all the other craft brewers that showed up on their "feature" days to help introduce people to their great beers (Beau's, Spearhead, Great Lakes, Nickle Brook, Creemore, Lake of Bays, Mill St and Wellington) it was great getting to know you and work with you.  Hopefully we'll get to work together again in the future.
Lastly I would like to thank the Niagara College and their Teaching Brewery for helping brew the Great Weiss North.  It was a wonderful experiment with wonderful results.
Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Druids Aren't the Only Ones Who can Celebrate the Sun

Well it's September 1st, another Summer is coming to an end, let the mourning begin!  The annual mad scramble has begun as we grasp at the last few remaining days of the Summer of 2011, trying desperately to squeeze every last ounce of sun out of the ever shortening days before the snow and wind blow in.  Each moment of warm weather a blissful escape from the creeping hand of Ol' Man Winter lurking just beyond the corner of the next few calendar pages.  But before the skies darken and the sun takes a vacation there are still a few festivals to be celebrated and none more exciting than the 3rd Annual Muskoka Beer Fest.  A day to celebrate not only the best of Summer but also the best of Canadian Craft Beer and Sawdust City was there too help out the best it could. 

We still didn't have any signage made up so I had to stop at the local Staples on the way to the Fest and throw together some last minute DIY signage.  Not bad...not great, but not bad.  Baby steps people, we're still growing, you gotta cut us a little slack!

Along with no signage we also don't have our manufacturers license from the AGCO yet, so we just brought our bottles and labels for show.  We poured the Great Weiss North, which I think I've explained enough and Curt's iPAM an IPA he brewed with his Mom, Pam's, home made honey, which Curt had brewed up at the Niagara College earlier this Summer.  Check out a close up of our booth.  These were unfortunately the only two pictures I managed to take the entire day. Minute one and minute two. The remaining 478 minutes remain undocumented.

A lot of people asked questions about the bottles and were excited to try our brands, but like I said, we don't have our manufacturers license yet.  But have no fear people the process has begun!  As of Friday, August 26th, the papers have been filed.  I personally went down to the AGCO office in Toronto and handed in our application forms.  Now it's in the hands of the government.  So in the requisite 8-1200 weeks I should hear something back.  The rusty wheels of bureaucracy have started turning people!

But enough of that.  Let's focus on the good stuff.  This years Muskoka Beer Fest was the most successful to date with around 1800 people coming to sample some fine crafted beers.  And fine they were, it was just great to be invited to a festival (our first one too!) with so many great breweries .  Along with that, each year the public seems to get a little more educated and a little more daring when it comes to craft beer and it's really exciting to see people coming out and asking more and more knowledgeable questions.  I'm glad to see so many people learning about and getting out there to try the beers made by craft brewers. It's very uplifting, especially as a prospective new brewer coming into the market.

The guys from the Griffin also added a little extra to this years Festival as well, throwing an after party at the Griffin once the Festival wrapped up around 8p.  Because the one thing you need after a day of drinking is more beer.  Really it's for the best. 

All and all it was a fantastic day and as far as first beer festivals go, it was really successful for us at the Sawdust City Brewing Co.  A big thanks to Jed and Curt at the Griffin and also to all those that came out to support craft beer.

Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  So until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Monday, 22 August 2011

A Full Frontal Exhibition

Friday, August 19th was the first day of the 2011 Canadian National Exhibition and for the first time ever, in the 132 year history of the event, there was a full battery of Ontario Craft Breweries on hand to help kick off the massive 18 day festival.  In total there were 25 craft beers available from 11 different Ontario Craft Breweries, not a bad sampling menu if I don't mind saying so myself!  And along for the ride was the Great Weiss North, the first collaboration between Sawdust City Brewing Co. and the Niagara College Teaching Brewery.  In one beer we were exhibiting all of Canada at the Canadian National Exhibition.  Check out the bottom right corner of this here sign out side the Craft Beer and Wine Garden (hosted by Jed and Curt of The Griffin Gastropub), yep that's our logo...pretty sweet.

Now this next picture is pretty much craft beer personified.  Being that we are relatively new and this was our first collaborative release, we didn't have tap handles that we could use, so instead we used good ol' fashioned McGyver-ing to come up with a make-shift, D.I.Y tap handle.  The lads from Spearhead (a fine lot if there ever was one) kindly donated one of their extra handles and I cobbled together, with the help of some tape, a Wellington beermat and a hand cut version of our poster this lovely rendition of a tap handle...pretty sweet.  

 The tap handle may have been a little suspect, but the beer pouring out of said tap was just fine in my humble opinion.  Check out this shot of one of the first pints ever poured of the Great Weiss North....pretty sweet.

But I don't want to hog the spotlight here (even though this is my blog and I guess I have free reign to hog, but that's not what were about here in Sawdust City) there were a lot of other great breweries on hand to help celebrate craft beers first foray into the CNE.  It certainly made it hard to just hand out beer and not sample it, but I'm a professional people and I kept it on the straight and narrow.  Well for the most part, we still had the occasional break and with some fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches from the Leslieville Cheese Market, I made the most of it taking a seat in the beer garden and did a little quality control....pretty sweet.

And along with a great number of breweries, were a great number of visitors and willing samplers.  Some came for the wine, some came the fantastic music but just as many came for the beer.  It was great to hear people say that they may not of heard of the breweries but were willing to give it a try.  And with such a great stable of breweries, we certainly did make some converts.  Many of which tried the Great Weiss North and for the most part it was a positive response.  Over the first three days I only had one person not finish the glass...pretty sweet.

All and all the first weekend at the Ex was a success, not only for Sawdust City and the Great Weiss North, but for Ontario Craft Beer in general.  There were a lot of smiling faces in the beer garden and it was great to have so many new converts jump on the craft beer bandwagon.  And with 15 days left I think the bandwagon may get a little overloaded...pretty sweet.
Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust under your feet.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Less Han Solo, More Jack Ryan

So it's been a few days since my last post and it's not for lack of memorable goings on in the world of the Sawdust City Brewing Co., it's just that the goings on, are not the typical things written about it blog posts. It's been a week of "behind-the scenes" action, the stuff most of us don't really hear about, or really care about, when it comes to starting up a brewery.  But guess what, I'm going to tell you about it anyways!

I did brew version 2.0 of our Lone Pine IPA last Thursday, I guess that's kind of exciting and blog worthy.  The first version wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I wanted.   It was a little too malty and a little too sweet (at least in my opinion).  It didn't ferment out as much as I wanted it to, which was partially due to the high percentage of specialty malts and partially due to the yeast we used.  So I cut the specialty malt in half and swapped out the yeast for a strain closer to the one we will be using when the Sawdust City doors finally do open.  But that's what test batches are for, right?  To test things.  And worst case scenario, we ended up with two batches of beer instead of one.  Win, win.

Anywhich, outside of that, everything else has been all computer tapping, phone pad punching, note paper taking boring stuff.  Very anti-climactic when compared to our first few weeks out of the gate.  It's like that scene in "Clear and Present Danger", when Harrison Ford and Henry Czerny get in a computer fight.  Sure "Patriot Games", Ford's first film as CIA agent/"everyman-hero" Jack Ryan, was an action packed thrill ride that kept you on the edge of your seat.  But I beg you to be interested in the cinematic crap-fest that is Clear and Present Danger, when during one of the films most crucial climaxes, all we get is the camera quickly panning back and forth between two combatants as they frantically duel back and forth, typing increasingly stronger on their respective key boards.   Brows furrowed, lips snarled and fingers cocked and in the ready position.  Probably one of, if not THE greatest "fight" scenes in recent movie history.  But I digress, as that really had nothing to do with beer.  Where was I?  Right, boring behind the scenes brewery stuff...it may not be overly interesting, but this stuff needs to get done.  It's not all glitz and glamour in the brewing world, let me tell you what.  

It was a week of phoning the architect and the equipment supplier and discussing brew house layout.  Positioning and re-positioning tanks over and over again.  A week of filling out governmental paper work and cutting through red tape.  Printing and re-printing form after form.  A week of proof reading our business plan.  Reading and re-reading for the 647th time.  Not fun stuff, but like I said, stuff that needs to get done.
Sure, the day to day life at the brewery may sound like it's going to be a roller coaster ride of fun and merriment, filled with hours of beer making and beer tasting.  Going from event to event making sure that all our loyal customers' mugs are kept topped up and full of our beer.  But in reality it's a lot more boring and a lot less exciting than that.  It's a lot more Clear and Present Danger and a lot less Patriot Games.  A lot less Han Solo and a lot more Jack Ryan.

But it's that hope of finally getting to do the beer making and the beer tasting, the hope of going to real life beer events and the hope of actually having "loyal customers" that keeps us going.
So it maybe boring and it may not be blog worthy, but goshdarnit we'll do it as long as it means that someday we'll get to open our own brewery.

Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Monday, 8 August 2011

So When is Canada a Melting Pot and Not a Mosaic?

So here is the poster for the Great Weiss North, our first collaboration with The Niagara College Teaching Brewery.  Shannon Seppa, our Design Guru, just finished putting it together.  Pretty sharp ,eh?
As for the beer itself, both batches are in the fermenter and from last I heard, it's coming along nicely.  Gordon Vale, one of the students at the College and one of the brewers on hand to help with the collaboration brew, tried a sample from the fermenter and described it as "a plate of pancakes with syrup on it".  You can't get much more Canadian than that, now can you?
The beer should be finished primary fermentation by now and has probably been cooled and is aging as we speak.  I'm not there to confirm this and I won't be returning to the College until Thursday, I'm just guessing here, but Jon Downing, professor and brewmaster at Niagara said everything was coming along well.
If all continues on this path and everything goes according to plan the beer should be ready for release on the first day of the CNE, Friday, August 19th.  Remember though, this is a special brew and it will only be available for the duration of the CNE which comes to an end Monday, September 5th.
So to answer the question posed in the title, "When is Canada a Melting Pot and Not a Mosaic?"  It's when you put all of Canada into one beer!  Now we all know that Canada is a mosaic and we celebrate all cultures of the world within our borders.  One of the things that makes Canada great is that we allow everyone to bring a little piece of themselves into our little corner of the planet here in the Great White North.  But in this case, as our beer ages in the fermenter, we're hoping that all those various ingredients and distinct flavours from across the country come together and create a cohesive flavoured beer, melting into one unique ale that screams Canada with every sip!
So stay tuned and be sure to check back again soon as we are sure to have more information on this truly Canadian beer in the coming weeks.
Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.  

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A Sign of Things to Come...

The August long weekend marked two more significant milestones for the Sawdust City Brewing Co.  First, on Friday afternoon, we got our website up and running, you can find us hangin' out on our little pocket of cyberspace at www.sawdustcitybrewing.com .  So next time you're out surfing the ol' world wide web, stop on by and say hello.  There isn't much there yet, the site is still under construction, it's basically a glorified sign post on the side of the information super highway.  But it's nice to look at and it will link you to our Facebook page and to this here blog.  So check back every so often, we're hoping to have all the bells and whistles up in the near future.
Next, we got an actual sign up on our actual site down at the Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst.  Saturday morning, armed with our sign, a drill, a sledge hammer, some lumber, a couple cinder blocks and a few screws, Rob, Karla and myself headed down to the Wharf with the hopes of easily popping up the sign.  It was going to be a breeze, we'd be done in no time.  Here it is quietly sitting beside the TAPS trailer, looking so sweet and gentle

 And here it is nicely propped up on our makeshift sign posts.  Don't it look purdy? What isn't shown is Dave, Rob and Karla's kind friend. If he hadn't shown up to help us out and given us a few much needed pointers, we'd probably still be there trying to hammer in those danged stakes right now.  It could have been a catastrophic waste of a beautiful long weekend in Muskoka, if not for him.  Thank you Dave.  Thank you.
 It proved to be a larger task than we first thought, but it in the end with a little help from our friends, it did get up and what better way to celebrate than with one of our own beers!  Rob and I christened the new sign with a toast of our Golden Beach Pale Wheat.
 Then for good measure, we opened another bottle and toasted again out on the dock. It's always better to toast more than once.  I'm not sure what Emily Post would have to say about that, but frankly I couldn't care less.  More beer is always better than less beer.  Always.
So there you have it, our digital sign post and our actual sign post are up and shinning for all to see.  So stop by our site, either on the interwebs or down at the Muskoka Wharf and see what's new with the Sawdust City Brewing Co.
Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mug and the sawdust beneath your feet.