Friday, 29 July 2011

Take off, to the Great Weiss North, Take Off, It's a Beauty Way to Go....

Wednesday, July 27th was a big day for the Sawdust City Brewing Co., not only did we bottle our first run of test batches at the Niagara College, but we also started our first collaboration brew with the students and staff at the Niagara College.  Great Weiss North which will be a "one-off" brew, exclusively available at the CNE craft beer pavilion, may arguably be the most Canadian beer ever brewed!  A bold and outlandish statement I know, but this is our blog and shameless self promotion is what blogs are all about people.  Ridiculous, unsubstantiated statements and claims are the norm.  So yeah, where was I?  Yes, most Canadian beer ever brewed!  With an ingredient from every province, Great Weiss North is quite literally all of Canada condensed into one easy to drink package.  This was an idea I came up with in an attempt to get some promotion for the College in hopes of giving something back to them for all that they had done for Sawdust City.  Brews with different ingredients from different places and collaborations aren't new, we didn't reinvent the wheel here.  But I think its still a very unique idea and this probably the first time a brew of its kind (an ingredient from every province and territory) has been attempted in Canada.
I approached my brother Jed (he happens to be running the craft beer tent at the CNE) with the idea and he loved it.  I talked to Jon Downing the Brewmaster and Professor at Niagara College and he loved the idea too.  In fact he took the ball and ran with it, creating the recipe and compiling the ingredients as quickly as possible.

Here is the list of said ingredients:
CMC Ontario Malt
La Quebecois Malt
Maritime Malt
CM 6-Row Malt from Manitoba
CMC Superior Pils Malt
Wheat Malt from Saskatchewan
Honey Malt from B.C.
Irish Moss from PEI
Organically grown Bertwell and Tettenanger hops from Ontario
Herbs, Tea and a variety of berries from North West Territories and Nunavut
Maple Syrup from Nova Scotia
Birch Syrup from the Yukon
Partridge Berries from Newfoundland
And 2nd generation Canadian Weissbier Yeast.  Sure it came from Germany, but once it started propagating on Canadian soil, those new cells became a lot like a many of us here in Canada...2nd generation Canadians!
Quite the list I know.  And here it is, all layed out on the floor -

So after we laid out all the ingredients,we starting mashing in.  And here they are, Jordan and Gord, two students from Niagara College starting the first batch of Great Weiss North.

Once the mash was in, we let it rest for 60 min.  Let the waiting begin.


After the mash rest, we ramped the temperature, recirculated the wort, began the lautering process and started collecting the wort in the kettle.  Once we had all the wort collected and the boil started rolling, then came the hops!

 Meanwhile, as all this was going on and the students were busy tending to the brew, Rob and I were busy with our own task of bottling the first test batches we brewed on the Colleges pilot system.

We had been anxiously awaiting this day for a number of weeks and now four different brews were ready to go.  That's a lot of beer so we had our work cut out for us.  Golden Beach Pale Wheat, Lone Pine IPA, Ol'Woody Alt and Skinny Dipping Stout, were all fermented, racked, filtered (well the IPA and the Alt were filtered), carbonated and ready to be put into packaging.  We even had our first labels come in from the printers, take a look below -

We started with the Golden Beach Pale Wheat, a hazy American Wheat Ale with a delicious punch of juicy Amarillo and Sorachi Ace hops.  Dry hopped with Centennial, this beer is the perfect summer slammer! 

Next up was our take on an American West Coast IPA, a style both Rob and I pine for (yes, this pun was intended) on a regular basis.  Sawdust City's Lone Pine IPA will hopefully subdue the hop monster in all of us.

Then came our session beer, Ol'Woody Alt.  Brewed as a Dusseldorf Alt, this style became a favourite of mine while bouncing from brauhaus to brauhaus in the Dusseldorf Altstadt.  Sweeny, Seb, Marcio and Luis, this one's for you...oh and Estobahn.

Last, cut certainly not least came our Skinny Dipping Stout.  Black as pitch and loaded with chocolaty goodness, this one turned out just as I had hoped.  Plus the labels are pretty sweet too!(more shameless self promotion!) Kudos to Shannon for designing them.

So that was our big day.  First collaboration, first bottle run, followed almost immediately by our first drinking session.  All and all it was a pretty fantastic day for the Sawdust City Brewing Co. Yeah us!
So if you want to try a truly unique and 100% Canadian beer, come down to the CNE and visit the craft beer pavilion.  Grab a pint of Great Weiss North and take a sip of Canada.  Also be sure to try some of the other great breweries that are going to be there's another list!

Lake of Bays - Baysville, ON
Muskoka Brewery - Bracebridge, ON
Beau's All Natural Brewing Co - Vankleek Hill, ON
Grand River Brewing Co - Cambridge, ON
Spearhead Brewing Co - Toronto, ON
Great Lakes Brewing Co - Toronto, ON
Camerons Brewing Co - Oakville, ON
Nickelbrook Brewery - Burlington, ON
Mill St Brewery - Toronto, ON
Wellington Brewery - Guelph, ON

That's a pretty fantastic list.  So do yourself a favour and come down to the CNE for some great Canadian Craft beer.
Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Rest of the Story...

So as a brief introduction to the Sawdust City Brewing Co., I gave you the What and the Who in my first post. Now for the Where, the When and the Why.
Well, to be honest, I guess I did give you the Where yesterday too.  We are going to be in Gravenhurst and we are going to be on the Muskoka Wharf, but to be even more exact, let me give you a few pictures of our building site -
This is it.  The future home of the Sawdust City Brewing Co.  It's a little raw right now, but that's okay. As far as views go, this one's alright.  And if you get there at the right time, you can see the Segwun and the Wenonah II coming into dock.
Just off the boardwalk at the west end of the Muskoka Wharf project, that is where you will find us.  Well at least our property.  If you look to your left you can see the Grace & Speed, North America's only in-water exhibit of working antique boats.  Not a bad neighbour to have if you ask me.

If you walk out from the boardwalk you'll come to a dock with a few boat slips on it.  So you can come in by boat, or park your car and stroll out and get a closer look at the water.
And if you walk out to the end of the dock, turn around and look back towards the shore, this is what you'll see.
Zensations, which will be our other neighbour and a few condo's which are situated directly behind us.  That empty space right on the shore, that will soon be filled with the Sawdust City Brewing Co.
So I guess that just about covers the "Where".  If you're ever in Gravenhurst pop into the Muskoka Wharf and check it out.
And now for the "When".  Well again, you may have guessed from the title of the blog "The Dust Will Fly in 2012", but here is the rest of the story.  Crossing fingers and toes, we are hoping to break ground by the end of this summer, possibly early fall.  If all goes according to Hoyle, the foundation will be laid and the shell will be up before the snow flies.  This will allow our builders to work on the interior over the winter and hopefully allow us to be open in the Spring of 2012.  So barring any major hiccups, when you come down to the Muskoka Wharf next year to enjoy some sun and fun, you'll be able to join us for a few pints at the Sawdust City Brewing Co.
And now the "Why".  Because we love beer.  It's that simple.  Rob Engman, the Big Kahuna at the Sawdust City Brewing Co., is the publisher of TAPS The Beer Magazine.  He also happens to run the Canadian Brewing Awards.  I think it's quite obvious that he not only loves but also has a deep respect for beer and beer culture here in Canada.  Myself, well I quite my job in advertising 6 years ago, went to Germany to study beer, came back to Canada, worked at some great breweries in Ontario and then packed up my family and moved them up to Muskoka to chase a dream.  Again, I wear my love for beer on my sleeve.  And now we want to share our love of beer with you, the good people of Ontario.
But like the title says, "The Dust Will Fly in 2012", so we still have a long way to go, with lots of hurdles along the way.  So keep checkin' back on the blog to see the progress of the Sawdust City Brewing Co.
Anyhoo, that about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Monday, 25 July 2011

A Little History...

And so it begins, the life of the Sawdust City Brewing Co.  Well, truthfully the first inklings of our little brewery began many moons ago as mere twinkles in the eye of Rob Engman and yer Humble Host Sam Corbeil; the two brains behind the Sawdust City Brewing Co.  For years we'd both had aspirations of opening a brewery in Ontario, but it wasn't til a fateful day just over a year ago at the Sunnyside Pavillion in Toronto during the first annual Session craft beer festival that we first met and discussed our brewing ambitions.
While enjoying the festival and some of this countries finest craft brewed beers, we bumped into each other and struck up a conversation.  I had been a contributing writer for TAPS magazine, which Rob was the publisher of, for a few years and I wanted to thank him for giving me the opportunity.  Although Rob was the publisher, I still hadn't had the opportunity to meet him. He graciously accepted, we shook hands and decided to grab another beer.  Well, you know how it goes, one led to four and the next thing you know we're telling each other about our "pie in the sky" dreams of opening up a brewery in that far off  Never, Neverland  of "someday".
We'd had a couple more when we figured it best to call it a day and reconvene at a different time and place.  So we set a date to meet at Rob's house up in Gravenhurst, Ontario, shook hands and parted for the day.
A few weeks later, I drove up to Gravenhurst and met Rob at his house.   We sat down in his garage, poured a few pints (you're probably sensing a theme here?) and began to discuss our thoughts on how this proposed brewery should look and feel.  Turns out we our ideas were eerily similar.  We shared the same taste in beer styles, we both felt that the brewery should include a pub or a restaurant and we both wanted it to be in Muskoka.  Rob, having lived in Gravenhurst for a number of years had really come to love the area.  Myself, I had grown up in Muskoka and relished the opportunity to come home and open a brewery.  We sat in his garage, talked for a few more hours and hashed out the first imaginings of our brewery to be.
Over the next year, we began to pare down our ideas and to carve out the business plan into what it is today. It took a lot of doing and a lot of beer, but it's finally in a place that we are both very happy with.
So now that we finally have a property on the Muskoka Wharf, right in the heart of Gravenhurst, where we are going to house the Sawdust City Brewing Co, we can finally see our dreams becoming reality.   
We're both very excited about Sawdust City and what it's become and we want to share that excitement with you.  So over the coming weeks and months, we want you to join us on our journey as we begin to build the Sawdust City Brewing Co.
I'll be updating this blog regularly, keeping everyone informed of the goings on down at the wharf, filling you in on what's new with the brewery and generally just letting you know how it's coming along.  So be sure to check back frequently and see what's new down at the Sawdust City Brewing Co.
Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.