Thursday, June 14, 2012 excited

We are going to be releasing something very, very special on Father's Day...acutally we'll be releasing 4 very special beers.  There is The Pan Ontario, a blend of beer from 5 breweries across Ontario created for Ontario Craft Beer Week, a barrel-blend version of our spring IPA, Beaver River and the Greener Futures barrel aged (and dry hopped) version of Double Wide Double IPA.  But what I'm most excited about is Venskab, our collaboration beer brewed with Anders Kissmeyer.  It is by leaps and bounds the most complicated, complex beer we have ever attempted, and working with Anders has been so very inspiring.  He wrote a description of the creation of this beer, which I'd love to share with you:

Beau’s All Natural Ales and Kissmeyer Beer ”Venskab”

I met Steve Beauchesne, Matthew O’Hara and the rest of the Beau’s gang at the Craft Brewers’ Conference in San Francisco in May 2011, and over a decent number of beers at the 21st Amendment Brewpub during a memorable afternoon, we basically created the outlines of the recipe as well as the name - the Danish word for friendship – for the collaborative beer, which we agreed should be brewed in connection with the Beau’s Oktoberfest later that year.   

Based on our mutual fancies, we decided to brew a Belgian Style tripel, and as it is always my desire to give all my collaboration beers a unique and local touch, we had a discussion on what typical Ontario  ingredients that would work well in a tripel. After another couple of beers the outline of the recipe was there: A classic dry tripel slightly spiced with Ontario buckmyrtle and hawthorn (quite common in Denmark) that in its fresh form gives a very nice tangy tartness. As the ultimate finishing touch, we decided that the beer should be barrel aged in used Ontario ice-wine barrels. We were all so excited about the prospects of a great and very unique beer that we decided to have another pint....

In the time leading up to my visit to Vankleek Hill for the Oktoberfest and the collaborative brewing, Matt and I corresponded intensely in order to finalize all the tiny details of the recipe and the process. Matt had to give up finding fresh organic hawthorn, so we settled for some dried stuff from Bulgaria (!), as the search for the ice-wine barrels went on.

Everything but the barrels was in place when we met on brewday, the 1st of October 2011, in the brewery in Vankleek Hill to start brewing the beer. Our aim was the following:  a subtly spicy, phenolic, slightly citrusy, slighly tart and very dry (dryness enhanced by sugar additions during fermentation)Belgian style tripel with high complexity and sweet, winey notes enhanced by ice-wine barrel ageing, and a crisp, spicy and sweet finish. The technical specifications we agreed on were: 20.0 % P, 9.2 % ABV, 30 BU, Colour ~ 15 EBC.

As no serious brewer would dream of adding unknown ingredients without having tested them, one of the first items on the agenda of the brewday was to brew some teas with the dried bockmyrtle and the dried hawthorn and to smell and taste these teas. The bockmyrtle  was fine, so we agreed on the appropriate dosing of this. However, the hawthorn tea was virtually taste- and flavourless  - certainly not tart or sour in any way. Even when we started chewing the wet and dry berries prescious little happened! The decision was consequently not to use these at all, leaving us with a challenge: how would we then get the decent, zingy tartness we knew was necessary to balance the sweetness of the beer and the wine barrels? After a short, intensive brainstorm the decision fell on the Japanese citrus friut yozu. Not so much because this was just as exotic as hawthorn, but more so because we could wait with the addition of this till the beer was in secondary fermentation/maturation, leaving the good people at Beau’s enough time to track down some fresh, organic yozu in time.  

The brewing went very well, and the fermentation started as it should, the beer also developing pretty much as hoped thereafter. Even the sourcing of the yozu was a success, leaving the Ontario ice-wine barrels as the only outstanding item. And, believe it or not, the zealous Beau’s guys had to give up the search – either they could not get in touch with the ice-wine people at all, or when they could these responded negatively to the request of handing over some of their used barrels. As the ice-wine ageing was not an all together unimportant element in the desired caharacter of our beer, panic started spreading. My idea was then to skip barrels all together and simply soak some oak chips in ice wine and add these to the beer during a prolonged ageing in steel tanks. But as this was moving out on yet more unchartered waters for both Matt and myself, I consulted some of the finest experets in the world on barrel ageing of beer: My good friends Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River, Shaun E. Hill of Hill Farmstead and Will Meyers of the Cambridge Brewing Co. in Boston. There advice was unanimous: The character of the beer would be a lot less complex if choosing the proposed ’shortcut’, so again we had to come up with our own solution. This ended up being actually adding ice-wine soaked oak chips at a low level, and then for the complexity subsequently ageing the beer in white wine barrels not actually previously used for ice-wine. For this, we decided upon some local Chardonnay barrels.

A beer of this nature must, in my book, be bottle conditioned. This process, that involves adding fresh sugar and yeast to the beer at bottling, clearly made my friend Matt more than just a little concerned, as this was something he had never tried before. But in spite of Matt’s many and creative attempts at suggesting alternatives, I insisted on going ahead with the bottle conditioning. Matt’s and my dialogue about this topic happened when I was in San Diego for the 2012 Craft Brewers’ Conference, and there I attended a session on preciesely bottle conditioning. This was very enlightening, and I could thus almost in ’real time’ convey the advice from some of the foremost experts in the field on to Matt. Furhter, my neighbour at the hotel in San Diego was one of the bottle conditioning panelists, Steven Pauwels of Boulevard Brewing Co., and Steven very kindly offered to coach Matt and myself in the process of the bottle conditioning of the ’Venskab’. Thus comforted, Matt went ahead with the bottle conditioning.

The beer was bottled late May 2012, and I have thus, at the time of writing, not yet had the chance to taste the finished ’Venskab’. But I just now for fact that it’s outstanding, so I can’t wait until Ontario Beer Week later this month where I’ll have the privilige of travelling Ontario with the Beau’s crew to present this beer at series of beer dinners.

What a marvellous way to start a hopefully long and fruitfull ’Venskab’ and brewing cooperation!

Anders Kissmeyer

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beau's Rumours...Myth Busters Beau's Styles

So, we've been hearing some good rumours around town again, which always gives me a giggle, because I can never figure out how they start or why, but its nice to know folks are talking about us.  Just in case anyone is gullible enough to believe what they hear, here are a few Beau's myth busters for you.

1)  100% of our beer is brewed in Vankleek Hill, Ontario. 

Full disclosure the summer of 2008 we did try a total of 3 batches at a Toronto brewery.  It was a good experiment and taught us that we're really, really picky about the way our beer is made and ever since 100% of our beer has been brewed in Vankleek Hill.

2) 100% of our beer is certified organic

Ok, there is one exception - our Pan Ontario beer released for Ontario Craft Beer Week is made from a blend of 5 breweries beers across the province...the beer they supplied isnt organic, so neither will this be

3)  We are very supportive of the craft beer industry. 

I've helped dozens of would-be brewers and start ups with free advice and help when they needed it (we lent Broadhead a skid of growlers when they ran out and Kichissippi has borrowed growler caps).  We make a point to offer another craft beer to restaurants if we cant give them something they want and our sales reps are strictly forbidden to trash talk other breweries (not that they would, we hired 'em cause their cool, yo)

4) I'm not a robot. 

I just work really hard :)

5)  We are still very much a craft brewery

I can't believe I even need to address this one, but yes, we are very small, 100% privately owned by friends and family - no other brewery has any stake whatsoever in our company and yes we continue to make beer without corn syrop, rice extract or other cheapeners.  Our growth has been due to the support of the restuarants and LCBO stores and our fans who demand it everytime they go out. 

6) Hear any more rumours?  I'm happy to answer them!  We've always believeed in being transparent in how we run our brewery, so feel free to ask.  My email address is

Cheers everybody!


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

From Keynote Speaker to Indie Opener

Saturday was an interesting day. I started off bright and early for Cornwall in a pretty nasty snowstorm, to give the keynote speach at the Ecofarm Days conference. I was rather impressed by how many people made the trek through the inclement weather to make it.

The topic I was asked to speak about was Beau's experience in using company culture to turn employees into teammates and customers into fans. I know, very sporty analogies, but I had a lot of fun and Jordan made lots of funny slides to show along side. The translator was way more animated than I was, and I think that was the highlight was watching him say in French what I had just said in English, but with the most expressive and animated gestures imagineable. It reminded me of the Simpsons episode where the English soccer broadcaster very calmy tells the audience that the player is holding the ball and the Spanish announcer is going nuts over the same thing.

Rather than describe it in too much detail, here is an article on the talk:

After that I went back home, changed out of the suit and into jeans and a workshirt, and started loading up gear to play the first gig in my new band, Audio. I've been writing and playing with two of our brewers, Kevin James (who used to play bass in Trigger Happy and Bender) and Andrew Bartle (from the Natural Shocks and a bunch 0f other bands). We were playing at one of our accounts, The Dominion Tavern and opening for K-Man and the 45's, fronted by my good friend Kristen McNulty.

The turn out was great, we played pretty good considering it was our first show (I broke a string and made a few mistakes, but no showstoppers) and got a pretty favourable reaction. It was a really fun event and was really cool to be belting out tunes again. Also fun was being on two different stages for two very different reasons (also funny was I was drinking beer on stage while playing music and was not drinking beer while on stage talking about beer).

I'd add the link of the newspaper article on how awesome our show was, but for some reason, I can't find any ;)