This may come as a surprise, but one of the state’s biggest craft beer festivals is not in Raleigh or Asheville.
The Hickory Hops Brew Festival marks its 11th year Saturday in downtown Hickory. More than 50 microbreweries are expected to showcase their latest creations – including North Carolina breweries’ products that are hard to find in the Triangle, such as Bearwaters and Frog Level from Waynesville, Heinzelmannchen from Sylva and Howard Brewing in Lenoir.
The festival also features the Carolinas Championship of Beers, a competition that picks the best suds in more than 100 categories. For many festival-goers, the announcement of the winners is secondary to tastings. But it means more to the breweries as the field of competition in the state grows deeper.
Guild director leaving
Another event timed to the festival is the N.C. Brewers Guild meeting Saturday in Hickory. The guild, which represents the state’s craft brewers, will say farewell to Executive Director Win Bassett, who is departing North Carolina to attend Yale University’s Divinity School in August.
Bassett, a lawyer, served a year at the helm as the state’s brewing scene exploded. He traveled the state as an ambassador for the guild and also worked until recently at All About Beer magazine in Durham. No replacement has been named.
At the guild meeting, North Carolina brewers will get a pep talk from Charlie Papazian, the president of the national Brewers Association and one of the best-known names in the craft beer world. He is the author of numerous books, including “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing,” a bible for beer hobbyists.
Foothills adds new tanks
What brings Papazian to North Carolina is no surprise. The state’s stock in the beer world is growing – and so are the state’s breweries.
Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem is the latest to announce expansion plans. New shiny tanks began arriving last week.
It will increase Foothills’ capacity by 72 percent, the company said, allowing it to brew 40,000 barrels a year. (A barrel is 31 gallons, or roughly 250 pints.) Foothills brewed about 13,000 barrels in 2012.
The company moved most of its production to a 50,000-square-foot facility 15 months ago. And with the new capacity, it is looking for opportunities to move into markets in South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.
“North Carolina will always be our hometown market,” head brewer T.L. Adkisson said in a statement. “But these new tanks will allow us to increase six-pack distribution to some of our emerging markets, where we are seeing increasingly bigger demand.”
What I’m drinking
I’m a sucker for a collaboration beer, and the two new kids on the block, Raleigh Brewing and Trophy, delivered a rare offering for N.C. Beer Month.
Raleigh Brewing’s John Federal said it is the first time two Raleigh-based breweries collaborated on a beer. So Federal and Trophy’s brewmaster Les Stewart wanted to find something unique.
They landed on a traditional roggenbier, a German rye beer. It looks like a standard dark brown ale but the banana and clove spice from the hefeweizen yeast lends a surprising character. Federal said it’s the first time a roggenbier has been distributed in North Carolina.
Try it at on tap at either of the Raleigh breweries in the month of April.
Contact John at 919-829-4698 or email@example.com. On Twitter @ByJohnFrank.
Colorado breweries continue to open at a rapid pace in 2013 — and they’re typically swamped the minute they open by beer fans eager to sample their brews. But breweries-in-planning don’t usually get a chance to put their products in front of customers (paying customers, anyway) ahead of time.
That’s one of the things that makes the South Denver Beer Festival, a brand-new event scheduled for May in Littleton, so unusual. It will feature beers from at least ten would-be breweries right alongside the more established, well-recognized names.
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“We are shooting for sixty breweries and they don’t have to be open to the public yet to participate,” says festival planner Mike Burns, adding that all of the breweries-in-planning will be located in a Homebrew Pavilion. “There are so many breweries that are coming out and itching to get the word out.”
That means festival-goers will find beers from hopefuls like Former Future Brewing (in planning for Denver), 38 State Brewing (Littleton), Resistance Brewing (Aurora), Atom Brewing (Erie), 53 Peaks Brewing (Conifer), Demon Spawn Ale Works (Aurora) and Kannon Brewing (Brighton), mixed in beer from Avery, Breckenridge, Left Hand and Odell.
The other feature that will make the South Denver Beer Festival different is its location: outdoors in Clement Park, in the southern suburbs.
“There are a lot of beer festivals in Colorado now, but there aren’t a lot of big outdoor ones,” says Burns, who owns the Beer Craving events company, which has put on several festivals recently. “We’ve got this huge space in Clement Park. It’s beautiful, and I’m surprised no one has done a beer fest there before.”
The demand for local craft beer is as strong in Littleton as it is in Denver, Burns says, but a lot of people who live there can’t make it to the Great American Beer Festival or other big beer events downtown. “So this is right in their back yards,” he explains.
The fest, which will also include yard games and food vendors, will take place May 4 and May 5. Tickets are $40 at southdenverbeerfest.com; there are also VIP tickets ($85), which get you in an hour early for drinks from local distillers, as well as samples from cheese and chocolate makers.
Follow Westword‘s Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan
7306 W. Bowles Ave., Littleton, CO
photo: Hilary Higgins / Redeye
Want to have one more round? There is another new beer festival in Chicago this year.
On Saturday, May 4, Dolphin (2200 N. Ashland Ave., 773-750-8090) will host the aptly named Tap, featuring neighborhood breweries Moonshine and Piece and craft brew havens like Map Room and Fatpour. A $35 ticket from Brown Paper Tickets ($45 at the door) buys ten 6-ounce pours, a commemorative glass, and food pairings.
Sounds fun—and kind of familiar. By our rough count, the city already has five big beer festivals, and we’ve heard of at least five new ones this year.
Chicago is nothing if not beer obsessed, and drinking all day in large groups is a time-honored tradition. But we got to wondering: Do we have too many beer festivals? Is such a thing possible?
Here are the results of a totally unscientific poll:
“I support beer festivals. But my favorable opinion has less to do with whether I enjoy them, and more that they are good for the regional craft beer ecosystem on the whole.
Last year, for example, I interviewed this guy named Rob Sama who was relaunching the “first” Chicago craft beer, Baderbrau, in time for the Hoptacular. Not only was his beer going to be poured at the event, but he was going to be there talking to people about his cryogenic yeast strains and formulations.
That sort of peek behind the curtain helps get fans behind regional products and creates a fanbase for them. Another case in point: Dark Lord Day, which is coming up at the end of the month. I mean, holy shit. That is one of the hottest tickets in town, and it’s not even in town. It’s in an industrial park in Indiana—but totally worth the trip.”
—Cassie Walker Burke, executive editor
“I am of the opinion that there is probably an overabundance of beer festivals, but I would prefer that situation to the risk of running out of beer completely.”
—Harry Sawyers, web editor
“I fear it’s becoming saturated. And they’re not cheap! I’m personally going to stick to the ones I know and love (namely, Beer Under Glass) and only add newbies to my repertoire if they’re really out of the ordinary.”
—Carly Boers, associate editor
“Obviously beerfests are popular. Hell, beer is popular. How many taps are there at Howells Hood? I just don’t get it. I am crazy bored by the whole subject.”
—Penny Pollack, dining editor
“I hate festivals in general, even when what they’re proffering are things that I tend to like (punk rock, beer, literature). They’re always hot and crowded and full of people who belong indoors. In other news, I hate rainbows and unicorns and happiness.”
—Jeff Ruby, dining critic
“I say yay to beerfests. There are never enough opportunities to be in a room (or street) where craft brews outpour Bud Light and MGD.”
—Jessica Nikolich, editorial intern
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Angel City launches a food truck party and art installation, leading up to an official “ribbon-cutting” on the Downtown brewery next month.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — By now, Los Angeles is well known for its abundance of food trucks and continually growing craft beer scene — two things that Angel City Brewery have begun combining in a monthly food truck bonanza they’re hosting in their back parking lot.
“With a wide open industrial style space — in a working brewery — there is plenty of room for patrons to bring in their tacos, bahn mi, empanadas, gyros, sliders and ice cream sandwiches…and actually enjoy a beer with it all,” says a statement from the brewery.
The event, dubbed Food Truck Haven, takes place the last Saturday of every month and goes from noon to midnight (when the brewery closes). The initial event took place March 30 and included more than 10 different trucks from the White Rabbit Filipino Truck to Gobbles and Oinks, Grilled Cheese Truck and Coolhaus.
Angel City Brewery soft-opened in February with limited hours and select beers, and has slowly been adding special events and brew types to their offerings. As of now, the Arts District brewhouse has six beers on tap: Eureka! Wit, Angeleno IPA, Vanilla Porter, Berliner Weisse, Amber and an un-named Pilsner.
In addition to the monthly food truck party, Angel City will be hosting an art installation called In Your Face – How Artists Transformed LA’s Urban Landscape, which launches April 11 and will be featured through the end of June.
The brewery describes the exhibit as: “Artwork, photos and ephemera documenting the anti-establishment art scene that emerged in the eighties in downtown Los Angeles and the legacy it left on the walls of the city. A visual tribute to the Atomic Cafe, the Art Dock and the faces and walls of the Arts District.”
These special events will lead up to the brewery’s official opening on May 4, “a ribbon-cutting of sorts” that will be sandwiched within an arts and music festival. The line-up of bands for the event have not yet been released.
Classic City BrewFest
Classic City Brew Fest will take place at Foundry Park Inn on April 7.
Posted: Saturday, April 6, 2013 9:00 am
Updated: 8:46 pm, Sat Apr 6, 2013.
Beers abound at annual local brew fest
April 6, 2013
If you have ever had dreams of being surrounded by over 300 different beers with a chance to try them all, they may be coming true this weekend.
“It’s pretty huge, but it’s not a huge, crowded beer festival,” said Owen Ogletree, founder and director of the Classic City Brew Fest. “You know when you go to some beer festivals and it’s hard to get a table and you have to wait in line forever — that’s not the way this one is. We try to keep this one smaller and more fun and easier to get to the beer, talk to the brewers and enjoy the whole experience.”
The Classic City Brew Fest has been an annual April event in Athens for 18 years. The beer festival has helped beer lovers and brewers from all over the world come together and enjoy the best craft beer there is to offer. The festival will take over the Foundry Park Inn complex this Sunday, and 150 volunteers have stepped up to help 100 different brewers to bring their favorite and rarest beers to Athens.
“We have a big concentration of beer from regional breweries and local breweries all around the Southeast,” Ogletree said, “but also there are craft beers from all around the United States and all around the world. We have beer from England, Belgium and Germany, so it’s really kind of a world beer experience. These are beers that are kind of world class and that are very famous.”
Festivals like this are where breweries get a chance to show off their most popular beer. But brewers will also bring their rare beers that you cannot find just anywhere, like their seasonal beers or aging beers that are not sold in stores anymore.
“There are over 100 different styles of beer that you can try,” Ogletree said. “Anything from light, spicy Belgian beers to really strong, heavy, dark black, 12-percent-alcohol stouts that are really kind of a dessert beer.”
Aside from the individual brewers’ booths set up all around the Foundry and the Melting Point, there will be a central pavillion devoted to 20, 10-gallon cask ales. The cask ales are a treat to beer lovers because they are naturally carbonated and some will have special flavors and ingredients added.
Tropical Breeze Steel Band, a Caribbean band, will play at the festival. The band is led by Tony McCutchen, a former UGA professor of percussion, and it’s members are almost all former UGA students. The Melting Point will also be selling food for those who want something more solid to go with their beer.
The Classic City Brew Fest is meant to be both an educational and immersive experience for any and all beer lovers who are strictly 21 years old and up. Each attendant who purchases a ticket will be given a glass and be able to try any beer they want in two-ounce pours. The Brew Fest takes pride in being an event where people can learn about beer from the brewers and distributors, and enjoy the taste of their best beer while doing it.
“I think it’s a really important reason why craft beer has done so well in Athens is because young people in Athens have been coming to this beer festival for the past 18 years,” Ogletree said. “And they learn about craft beer and go off into the world away from the University of Georgia, and they take that love of craft beer with them.”
CLASSIC CITY BREW FEST
WHEN: April 7, 2:30-6 p.m.
WHERE: Foundry Park Inn
PRICE: $39.99 at brewfest.net (21+ only)
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Saturday, April 6, 2013 9:00 am.
Updated: 8:46 pm.
In recent years, it has become increasingly obvious that Wine Country can also be Beer Country.
With the rise of Northern California “craft” brewers, producing their own custom brews on a smaller scale than the mass beer producers with major brand names, a large following has developed.
“Craft beer has grown exponentially, and continues to grow,” said Jim Jacobs, marketing director for the Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma.
And as the fan base swelled, beer festivals naturally bubbled up, too. There are two in Sonoma County this weekend.
One of the region’s pioneer craft beer events, the 17th annual Battle of the Brews featuring nearly 40 breweries, will be held Saturday (April 6) at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa.
And the Sonoma Community Center’s third annual Beervana festival, announcing the winners of its annual amateur brewing competition, happens today (April 5) at the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building in the city of Sonoma. The annual Sonoma County Beerfest returns June 1 to Santa Rosa’s Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.
“There are so many beer fests, it’s unbelievable,” Jacobs said. “There are hundreds now. On a summer weekend, you could have 16 beer festivals going on in Northern California.”
Craft beer owes much of its success to the public’s growing support for locally made food and drink, and draws much of its audience from the under-30 crowd, Jacobs said.
“The younger folks who are turning 21 are moving to craft beer more than their parents. They’re skipping the domestic beers — Bud, Coors, Miller and all the rest,” he explained.
But it’s worth noting that Miller and Coors also will be among the beers poured at the Battle of the Brews, which historically has sold out as many as 2,500 tickets in advance.
The event added two new features last year — the Craft Cup juried beer competition and the ’Wich Hunt sandwich contest — to reach beyond the typically younger craft beer audience to the local food-and-drink fans who have made many wine festivals successful.
“Historically the crowd for the Battle of the Brews was younger, but that’s changing. Now we see fathers and sons coming,” said Dusty Destruel, president of the Active 20-30 Club No. 50 in Santa Rosa, the event’s sponsor.
You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See his ARTS blog at arts.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
Battle of the Brews: offers two dozen brewers and vendors at 4 p.m. Saturday (April 6) at Sonoma County Fairgrounds,
1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa.
$40. Preceded at 1 p.m. by Craft Cup beer and ‘Wich Hunt sandwich competitions. $95 for access to all. battleofthebrews.com
Beervana: Winners of the Amateur Beer Brewing competition will be announced at the Sonoma Community Center’s third annual event, with 60 beers from two dozen regional breweries featured, at 5:30-9 p.m. today (April 5) at the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building, 126 First St. W., Sonoma. $40 until April 4; $45 at the door. 938-4626, sonomacommunitycenter.org
IPSWICH, MA - We created 5 Mile with the sole purpose of creating exceptional beers using local ingredients. 5 Mile’s mission is to use at least 50% MA ingredients while always having at least one ingredient from within 5 Miles of Ipswich. We believe there is nothing better than supporting local agriculture to make a product that is unique to Massachusetts and the North Shore.
Equinox Pale Ale was brewed with oats grown at Alprilla Farm down the road from the brewery in Essex,MA. The oats were roasted and caramelized at Valley Malt and combined with barley fromHadley,MA. “We finished off this brew with copious amounts of Citra, Crystal and Simcoe hops, because who doesn’t enjoy a kick of hops these days?” says Head Brewer Dan Lipke.
This beer is a medium-bodied pale ale with a unique malt characteristic, balanced off with a citrus-like bitterness and a fruity hop palate. The beer pours a hazy light amber color and goes down smooth at 4.8% ABV.
Our new offering is available in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft and cask around the North Shore and Boston area. We only made one batch so when it’s gone it’s gone! Rob Martin commented “We’re delighted to be able to bring yet another local offering to the residents of Boston and the North Shore. This dynamic line up of limited edition beers continues to showcase the plethora of crops that we’re able to grow in our area. We’re proud to be able to patronize our local farmers it in this way.”
Equinox Pale Ale will make its debut at a series of beer festivals on the North Shore and Boston area leading up to its release party on Saturday, April 20th at the Ipswich Ale Brewery (23 Hayward Street, Ipswich, MA). Eager fans can catch a taste of it at the Salem Spring Fling on March 30th in Salem, MA, at the Drink Craft Beer Spring Fest on April 4th and 5th in Boston, MA and at the Beer Summit fest on April 12th and 13th in Boston,MA.
Residents of Boston’s North Shore were first introduced to Ipswich Ale during the spring of 1991. With nearly 21 years of history behind it, Ipswich Ale has been in existence longer than nearly every other craft brewer in New England. Since that time the Ipswich Ale portfolio of brands have developed into a tradition shared by not only the residents of eastern MA, but across the state,New Englandand now the country!
If you would like more information on this topic feel free to reach out to Mary Gormley by phone: 978-356-3329 or email: Mary@MercuryBrewing.com
Ipswich Ale Brewery – Mercury Brewing Co
23 Hayward St
Ipswich, MA 01938-2000
The Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. plans to open a tasting room at the corner of Fourth Street and University Avenue by the end of this year.
While it has always called Northern California home, the brewing company — whose pale ale is the second-best-selling craft beer in the country — decided to open its new establishment in Berkeley to share some of its more limited specialty beers outside its Chico facilities and beer festivals.
Because San Francisco and Oakland already have numerous establishments offering craft beer, Sierra Nevada decided to open a location in Berkeley’s relatively smaller market instead, said Ryan Arnold, communications manager for Sierra Nevada.
“What is intriguing about Berkeley is there is sort of a food and beverage renaissance,” Arnold said. “It already is a vibrant community, more diverse and showing to be a progressive place, and that’s an exciting place for us to weave into the fabric to share our beers in this small, intimate tasting room.”
The establishment at 2031 Fourth St. will be a small space with limited seating to encourage customers to approach the bar counter and engage with team members, ask questions and become educated about the variety of beers Sierra Nevada has to offer, Arnold said.
Trumer Brauerei, which brews a German-style Pilsner at its Berkeley location just several blocks north of the proposed Sierra Nevada, also currently has a tasting room, although it is not open to the public. Instead, the brewery offers tours during the weekdays, and guests may sample its products afterward, provided that they are 21 years of age or older.
“It’s great — the more the public gets educated about beer, I think overall the better the whole craft-brewing industry does,” said Jeff Eaton, production manager at Trumer, about Sierra Nevada. “I’m excited just because we only make a Pilsner here, and it’ll be fun to go down the street and get some of those rare beers that you don’t see on draft.”
While Berkeley currently has a few locations that offer beer-tasting experiences, several more are set to open over the course of the year, including The Rare Barrel on Carleton Street, Hoi Polloi Brew Pub on Alcatraz Avenue and the beer garden Moxy, which is set to open by the end of the month on Sacramento Street.
“I would say that I have definitely had trouble finding a good place to go,” said Gavin McCormick, a third-year UC Berkeley graduate student, of Berkeley’s current beer scene. “I wouldn’t say I’m a diehard fan (of Sierra Nevada), but I like it a lot. It’s a really good beer when you’re not really sure what situation you’re in. No one ever doesn’t like it.”
Having created crowd-pleasing tours of craft breweries and sights of Florida’s northern and western coasts, Bon Beer Voyage will host its first South Florida Weekend Beer Safari from May 3 to 5, 2013. Bon Beer Voyage is an award-winning travel company that specializes in domestic and international tours for people who enjoy craft beer.
The tour includes visits and beer tastings at a number of South Florida’s established and new breweries, including the Tequesta Brewing Company, Due South Brewing Company, Brewzzi and Funky Buddha, which Ratebeer. com ranked as the 34th best brewer in the world for this year. During this Weekend Beer Safari, travelers will venture to the Everglades for an airboat ride and view live gators at one of the locations of Animal Planet’s “Gator Boys” show. For those who find shopping more of an adventure, travelers can also stroll down Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach to enjoy a variety of independent galleries and boutiques.
“When we first started doing beer tours in Florida, the southern part of the state was considered somewhat of a desert for craft beer lovers,” said Ruth Berman, CEO and BBB (brains beyond the beer) of Bon Beer Voyage. “Now, South Florida has rapidly become an oasis for beer lovers to quench their thirst with local breweries, great craft beer bars, restaurants featuring locally brewed beer and a variety of beer festivals. And, there is a lot to enjoy in South Florida, especially the great weather after such a cold and snowy winter.”
The South Florida Weekend Beer Safari includes a two-night hotel stay at the Hyatt Place Delray Beach, FL with breakfast, free parking and Wi-Fi; airboat tour in the Everglades and alligator show; visits to Funky Buddha, Tequesta Brewing Company, Due South Brewing Company and Brewzzi with tastings; two beer-paired dinners, including one at Delray’s newest hot spot, 3rd and 3rd; a Saturday lunch served with beer; and transportation to all breweries. Tour prices start at $420 per person for triple occupancy; double occupancy is $475 per person. (Prices reflect a $20 discount for payment by check). Single occupancy rooms are also available at a higher rate. Tour details and payment options are available at Bon Beer Voyage’s website, www.BonBeer.com.
“This tour will showcase the great beers of South Florida and allow us to share our ‘brewnique’ style of vacation experience with a real ‘drink local ‘ flair.” said Mike Arra, co- owner of Bon Beer Voyage and beer guide. “We really like to make our tours something special, with one-of- a-kind experiences that make us stand out from other tour companies. I guess it must be working- we have a 98 percent satisfaction rating with our guests and about half of the guests on this year’s tours are either repeat passengers or referred by past guests, which says a lot.
Bon Beer Voyage’s tours, which were recently featured in Draft Magazine’s “Top 25 Unexpected Beer Getaways”, highlight craft beer throughout the year. Call 1-888-U-GO- BEER (888-846-2337), visit www.BonBeer.com or email email@example.com for more information on all of Bon Beer Voyage’s specialty beer tours. Text BEER to 22828 to receive Bon Beer Voyage’s monthly Brewsletter, including information on their tours and articles related to beer culture and travel.
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Latest microbrewery planned
by founder of Ottawa beer festivals
Brew pub to follow as early as 2014
MAR 24 13 – 12:01 AM — The man who brought us the first (and wildly successful) National Capital Craft Beer Week outside city hall in August, then another standing-room-only WinterBrewed festival on Sparks Street in February, plans his own lineup of commercial craft ales as early as summer — adding to the lively froth that in 10 years has placed Ottawa among the most welcoming markets for microbrewers in the province, if not the entire country.
He’s already incorporated the company and is working out exactly which brews he will start with. (Possible candidates will be tasted tonight and again Monday at a special five-course, seven-beer food and brew pairing dinner for members of Ottawa Beer TAP Society, also founded by Fournier, with dishes prepared by chef Colin Lockett at the Copper Pot Café, 610 Bronson Ave.)
Above L-R, at Broadhead Brewing Co., which will initially brew the new Turtle Island Brewing Co. beers this summer, is Turtle founder and beer aficionado J.P. Fournier, with Broadhead head brewer Jash Larocque and brewer Carney Kilian.
Regulatory approval is not expected to be a major obstacle, Fournier says, as Broadhead’s facility has been licensed to brew beer since it opened in November 2011.
Later, Fournier plans his own brew pub as early as summer 2014 at a prime location (to be determined) in the city, featuring custom food recipes where beer and/or ingredients used in brewing play an integral part in the menu.
As at Broadhead, Turtle Island is very much a basement beer-making hobby that, well, took on a life of its own.
Turtle Island founder J.P. Fournier, doing what he loves best.
A third-generation Métis by heritage, Fournier says the name honours a legend of Aboriginal Peoples where the Earth was created with soil piled on the backs of turtles. “To me the legend represents the use of natural ingredients to create something spectacular,” Fournier says.
“It reflects a reverence for heritage and tradition, while at the same time representing creativity where the final results exceed the sum of the ingredients. I don’t want to be pigeonholed to one style of beer, so to me Turtle Island can represent North American brews, or the entire world.”
Above, top, at the Ottawa Homes and Garden Show on Saturday, J.P. Fournier and fiancée Trish Watson. Bottom, Fournier shares with folks his enthusiasm for brewing.
“What I want is the ability to brew interesting beers using ingredients from around the globe,” Fournier says.
“I’ve been brainstorming for the last while, and while I’m very serious about beer I’m not so serious about myself. And that will be reflected in the beer — serious about the beer, but serious about having fun too. So we’re starting by brewing under contract at Broadhead, using my recipes and being very involved hands-on in the process.
“Although the beers are not yet finalized, my plan is to brew an ale with Ontario cherries, and maybe a cream ale with caramel. Another possibility is an interesting take on an old style like dark honey brown, or maybe a wheat beer with accents of mango. We’ll see.”
Readers may recall I blogged about Fournier back in June for a cover Food story heralding the Citizen‘s proud 15th Ode to Ale edition to celebrate Canada’s favourite beverage on Canada Day. At that time we discovered Fournier had formed his beer TAP society some two years earlier when he wanted a career change as a professional disc jockey and event co-ordinator. “I always wanted to be a chef,” Fournier says, “but realized it would have taken me too long to retrain.
“So I decided to get into brewing, which gives me the opportunity to be creative.”
Unfortunately, Fournier at the time didn’t much like the taste of beer, and had never brewed a drop in his life. So he waded into his research, reading everything he could about craft beer and sampling no small share of suds to educate his palate. In only six months, Fournier discovered he was rather good at home brewing — he won two awards in 2010 at the Toronto Home Brewing Competition.
Since then, his TAP Society has blossomed to well over 400 members, he created the first capital summer beer festival that attracted more than 6,500 beer aficionados last August, and a spinoff winter version in February was a similar success. Still, the dream of brewing his own commercial craft beer and eventually setting up a brew pub never left him.
Contracting the brewing process to a company like Broadhead isn’t too unusual — the model is used by HogsBack Brewing Company in Ottawa, for example, while it works toward establishing its own facility. It allows a newcomer like Turtle Island to brew according to its own specifications while establishing clients and market share before diving neck-deep into its own, potentially costly brewing operation.
Broadhead seems a natural fit, as it is one of almost a dozen local success stories where entrepreneurs followed their hops and their hearts, at times defying accounting logic.
Above, J.P. Fournier in the cold room with “bright” tanks at Broadhead.
Since its launch in November 2011, Broadhead has doubled its floor space and today produces 2,400 litres a week (still a drop compared to major regional/provincial breweries) — almost 10 times more than it started with. Where it began with six beers just two years ago, today Broadhead retains the original stable of six in addition to various seasonal specials for St. Patrick’s Day, among others. In December it hosted a national home brewing competition that attracted 130 entries from across Canada. It really is a success story that has taken off.
Of the original four Broadhead partners, one has since moved on to pursue other career interests leaving the original Josh Larocque (head brewer), Jamie White and Shane Matte. Joining them as two new partners are employees John Buist and Trevor Saunderson.
“We still have days when we cannot fill the shelves,” Larocque says. “Demand is very strong and has been growing ever since we started.
“We’re happily surprised. I’m still putting in 10- to 12-hour days, six days a week, but I’m a lot more used to it now and it doesn’t hurt as much,” Lorocque says.
“I think people realize there’s more to beer than what the big guys make and they want to experience different styles. At the moment we do not have immediate expansion plans, we just want to maximize the space we have. We still take the hands-on approach to brewing where we make our own equipment, we renovated the space ourselves. We built our own brewing equipment including the software that runs it. So we’re pretty much a do-it-yourself operation on steroids — a basement hobby that kind of got out of hand, in a good way.”
Despite some dozen craft brewers that have appeared locally in the last decade, Larocque is confident there’s still lots of room for newcomers like Turtle Island. “We share a sense of camaraderie with other brewers and we welcome someone like J.P. coming along. And for sure we’re happy to give him advice.
“We’re as interested in promoting craft brewing in general as we are in creating a successful business. Craft brewing only represents about five per cent of total beer sales, so there’s lots of room for everyone to grow,” Larocque says.
Says Fournier, now a tortoise among hares in the tiny microbrewing industry: “My assumption is that Ottawa is ready for beers that are off-the-wall.
“With products like Broadhead’s Wildcat Ale, which is really a different brew every time, it shows me Ottawa beer drinkers are excited by new things and aren’t afraid to drink outside the box.”
Fournier’s partner in the venture is financée Trish Watson. Potential investors can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’m extremely excited about this,” Fournier says.
“Soon after I started brewing at home three years ago this quickly became my dream. Having produced the National Capital Craft Beer Week, and then WinterBrewed, and working with all these craft brewers, I’ve become kind of part of the industry.
“I guess I’m a little nervous about starting a project of this size — but it’s something I’m passionate about. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but anything to do with craft brewing isn’t really work to me. It’s enjoyable. It’s all part of learning and discovery.
“The sky’s the limit as I see it,” Fournier says.
“If you brew really great beer that is interesting and different then I think the Ottawa market is ready and willing to support you.”
My, these are good times for beer lovers in Ottawa!
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