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 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 .  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.