The hot days of summer make for hot work in the brewery. When I arrive in the morning the sweet smell of hops and barley boiling in the brew kettle greets me. I smile and think to myself, ‘it’s going to be a good day’. While I set up the tasting glasses I reflect on yesterday’s tour. A friendly old man told me a joke: “Why do beer experts think and talk about beer so much… because they can’t play hockey!” I thought it was pretty funny and will try it on today’s tour to see if I should keep it in my repertoire. Next on my morning to do list is to see how the stout that was brewed last week is doing. I turn the spigot on the oak barrel and out pours the dark brown liquid. Catching it in a glass I hold it up to the light. Perfect colour. I take a sip and enjoy the hints of coffee with undertones of caramel. It is ready to serve. Taking another sip, I smile to myself and think ‘Yes, today is going to be a good day.’ While the morning ritual of preparation has gone by, now comes a time I love. People who share at least some of my passion for history come and I try to give them a feeling of how important brewing truly was to our ancestors. I love describing the process by which beer was made and bringing to light the realities of 19th century life when explaining the day to day necessity of having something clean to drink. Discussing the social importance of beer that survives through song and verse, and the divisiveness of the problems caused by its abuse, and even further to highlight what an important part the brewery played in society. T his history is a wonderful tapestry as complex as the flavour of a good brew and just as happily shared, hopefully to the enrichment of us all.
Anna Ratcliffe, Black Creek Beer Expert