Stand by for updates as they come in
Waiting patiently for word from the AGCO on our licensing.....
Stand by for updates as they come in
I couldn't have said it better myself!
After a long conversation with a friendly AGCO agent last week I feel like I'm well prepared and on my way to getting our licensing. Apparently it can take several months, depending on how prepared and how thorough the application is completed when submitted.
Most of the documentation the AGCO needs I have in hand, so so far it looks like we'll be able to have our license in time to brew our first couple of batches and have them selling starting in June!
Brewed pilot batches for the "best of" event coming in late March. The beer being presented will be the best 6-8 of the beer served over the last 3 years as chosen by our members. Looking forward to the critiques and feedback from this event, as it'll be part of the decision process in deciding which beer to brew and come to market with first.
I've decided to start a blog about my experience opening up a brewery to share the adventure with those who wish to follow along vicariously.
It's no secret that, having started the Ottawa Beer TAP Society about 3 years ago, my goal has been to open up a brewpub to share my passion with others. Over the last few years, and more so during the last twelve months, I have been preparing to take the hobby that I've come to love to a whole new level and I am now on the path to brewing my beer on a commercial scale.
The name has now been incorporated both federally and provincially (my hope is to start in Ontario then expand from there) and significant work has been done to create a logo that will be both simple and effective at communicating the mission of the brewery. With the hard work and enthusiastic help of artist friends (Preston and Agata) we have almost finalized what will be our initial image.
I have submitted a proposal to the NCC to lease a heritage site as our brewpub. The decision process is a long one, and estimated opening date for the pub/brewery would be some time in 2014. In the meantime, I plan to work closely with local brewing friends to brew my initial offerings on a contract basis, which basically means that my beer is brewed on a commercial scale, using my own recipes and ingredients. This way I'll be able to build the brand so that the brewpub opens with a recognized name attached to it. Exciting times!
Next step is navigating the licensing. The AGCO is apparently very easy to work with in this regard, and starting with contract brewing apparently makes the process even quicker and easier. Will report back on that in the near future. Fingers crossed!
As far as initial brands going to market is concerned, the Ottawa Beer TAP Society has given me a lot to think about. Based on candid feedback from our members, I have come up with a short list of what I'd call the best of the last 3 years. Next beer and food pairing will act as somewhat of a think tank, showcasing the top 6 scoring beer that make sense to offer during the summer months, with the best scoring ones from that event topping the list of beer that I'll look to for my first 2 or 3 releases. With the candid feedback of fellow craft beer lovers, I'm sure the first few beer we come to market with will be great successes!
What a great day! This morning started out with a walk down to the water near our campsite. After taking in the view and avoiding a centipede half the size of my foot (!), we headed off to our first brewery destination: Southport Brewing Company in Stamford, Connecticut (www.sbcrestaurants.com).
Our host was Frank DelGreco, the brewmaster at Southport (formerly of Magic Hat), who was very friendly and seemed excited to give us a tour of his 7-barrel brewery. What a beautiful system! I was very impressed with how well maintained it was and the copper bling was a treat to see. The fact that they had the various vessels clearly labeled was kind of cool, I thought, as it would gently educate clients of the restaurant and brewery who may not realize what all the equipment is for. Possibly even cooler was trying Frank’s Oktoberfest beer drawn right out of the bright tank…delicious!
After checking out the brewery, Frank treated Trish and I to a sampler flight of his finest. Trish’s favourite was the Rauchbier. A great example of the style, the
smokiness was not overwhelming but blended very nicely with the maltiness of the brew. Definitely a great brew. Personally, I was partial to the stout: an opaque, roasty brew with hints of chocolate and coffee and a slight hop bitterness on the back end. At a mid 3% ABV, this could very easily be a great session beer! The porter, English Pale Ale, Pilsner, and Heffeweissen were also all very good. As we prepared to leave, Frank filled a growler of his Rauchbier for us, and wished us a safe trip. If you’re ever in the Stamford area, make sure to visit and ask Frank for
a tour…oh, and make sure you ask to see the Homer Simpson doll he keeps on top
of his control panel!
Trish and I left for our next destination, huge smiles on our faces. Our next stop, after heading south-west off the beaten path through some beautiful scenery, was Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (CLBC) in Elmsford, NY (www.captainlawrencebrewing.com). This craft brewery is a larger packaging
and distributing brewery. Established in 2006 with a 7 barrel system, they have grown to a whopping 160 barrels!
Randy Shull, the packaging manager, was our enthusiastic host. Like a kid showing off his new toys, Randy gave us a tour of the brewery. With obvious pride and zeal, he showed us the new Siemens-operated control system that made the brewing process and their lives a lot easier…the massive fermentation tanks (and
informed us that there are still 4 more on the way!)…the applewood, bourbon,
oak, and wine casks that they use for aging specialty and sour beers…and the
crowning jewel of their brewhouse: the packaging area. This area included their keg cleaning line and the bottling line that has the capacity to handle 3,000 bottles per hour (and apparently that’s barely enough to keep up with demand!).
We then made our way to the tasting room to try some samples of their beer. Great stuff! Their Ginger Man is a beautiful ale with a gentle spicing of ginger and a nice hop bitterness on the back end which worked very well with the ginger flavour and aroma. Something like a subdued gingersnap cookie, but not too sweet. Very tasty. Trish’s favourite was their pumpkin ale, and I have to agree it is likely one of the best pumpkin ales I’ve ever had. The maltiness of the beer mixed very well with the spices that weren’t overbearing. My favourite was the heather ale…probably the best version of the style that I’ve had. So good that I bought a growler to bring home…to which Randy added 3 bottles of various versions of one of their one-off beers as well as a bottle of their Rosehip and Hibiscus ale. Time will tell if these actually make it back home. Another great visit, and I would definitely recommend giving them a shout if you have the opportunity.
Our next destination was to be Brooklyn Brewery, however, thanks to traffic (if you’ve ever driven in New York then you know what I mean) and the fact that tours are by reservation only during the week (and of course, this being an impromptu visit…) we weren’t able to take a tour of the brewery. That said, the smell of the malt alone from outside the building was worth the trip…that and the meal that we enjoyed at the Barbecue restaurant next door. Trish and I shared pulled pork and beef brisket platters with all the fixings…way more food than any human should consume in one sitting!
With bellies full, we left for our ultimate destination…Rehoboth Beach in Delaware and Dogfish Head Brewpub! Upon arriving in Rehoboth we discovered that Dogfish Head was closed for the evening, as they had given their staff a well-earned night off to party after what has surely been a busy summer for them. No matter…peering into the dimly lit pub through the windows still gave me a rush of excitement and put a huge smile on my face in anticipation of the day to come.
Trish and I promptly checked in to the Crosswinds Motel (www.crosswindsmotel.com), conveniently located stumbling distance at about 30 feet from the pub. The room was very comfortable and inviting and the front desk staff were a lot of fun to chat with. We then took the opportunity to take a walk down Rehoboth’s main street to the Atlantic Ocean.
What a beautiful place! So many cool artisanal shops lining what is likely the cleanest street I’ve ever seen. I have the distinct feeling that one day in this town will not be enough.
As I finish writing this post for tonight and make my way to bed, I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve, full of giddy anticipation for what awaits tomorrow…what a great day this has been!
Slept in today (hallelujah!), had breakfast and left our newfound friends Nissa and Riaz from Vintage motel.
After a brief stop at a really cool pottery studio (stonesoldier.com) in Jacksonville VT, we hit the interstate and headed towards Connecticut. Stopped at a gas station on the way and picked up a growler of Berkshire Brewing's Steel Rail Pale Ale (the craft beer selection in the states is amazing...and conveniently located pretty much everywhere!).
Easy drive through Massachusetts and into Connecticut where we stopped at a Cracker Barrel for the country breakfast sampler. Unreal amount of food! I don't think we'll need to eat for the next day or two!
As it was getting dark, Trish and I decided to stop for the night in Kettletown - figured the name was kismet, being a homebrewer on a craft beer pilgrimage and all - and rented a little cabin in the state park. Shared a bottle of Dogfish Head Punkin Ale before settling in for the night.
Tomorrow: New York and a few brewery visits! Night all...cheers!
Great day in Vermont today. Visited Mount Snow Brewers Festival and met the organizer and talked festivals. Picked up some pointers and some fun ideas for next year's festival.
Had a great time sampling craft beer from across the eastern United States. Special mention to Bill from White Birch Brewing for his fantastic Belgian Pale Ale! Delicious beer!
On the way back to the motel, visited the local 7-11 and was totally blown away by the beer selection! Literally had to force myself to leave to make sure we had enough money for the rest of the trip...of course, I did walk out with a bag full of goodies ;)
Trish and I seriously think this will be an annual trip! Can't wait til tomorrow...plans are to likely visit some regional breweries before heading towards New York and closer to Delaware!
Leaving today for a pilgrimage to Dogfish Head Brewing in Delaware via Vermont
and the Mount Snow Brewers Festival. Will be posting here and on twitter
@ottawabeertap with a log of our trip.
Dogfish Head knows we're coming and is following us on twitter now. Hopefully we get a chance to meet Sam Calagione!
Day 1 of our trip:
750km to Wilmington VT (the long way!). Beautiful drive though.
Realized that labour day weekend happens in the States on the same weekend as ours! Finally discovered a little gem of a motel called the Vintage Motel (vintagemotel.com) at 3am! Such a comfortable place and the owners are so accommodating (no pun intended).
We'll definitely be back!
Now that the first annual National Capital Craft Beer Week and Festival is complete, its time to get back on course for the Ottawa Beer TAP Society beer and food pairing dinners. As much as Colin is chomping at the bit to get creative with the upcoming dinner, I've been desperate to find the time to brew again!
For our upcoming event, I've decided to focus my brewing on October's celebrations, including Thankgiving, Halloween, and Oktoberfest (actually, this takes place in late September), and to use this event as an opportunity to showcase the fresh harvest of hops that become available in late August.
Although the beer menu may change slightly, my brewing plans include:
-Cranberry wheat (including granny smith apple and navel orange)
- Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Porter
- Guinnish (my version of the famous Irish stout, including the traditional 3% soured wort to add the signature tanginess that we've come to expect from this brew)
- Sage Gruit (an ale made with sage and licorice root instead of hops)
- Harvest Ale (using fresh whole leaf hops from my backyard, local farms, and wild Meech lake hops)
- a surprise brew
Of course, my signature beer liqueur will be served as an aperitif and a beer-related beverage will be served as a celebratory welcome.
Lookin forward to seeing you all in October!