New Brew – Raspberry Porter

Photo courtesy of Pat Fillion

Ed, our Brewer is currently brewing a batch of raspberry porter.  Described as having a bittersweet chocolate/malty taste with a tart and fruity finish, this brew is sure to please any beer enthusiast.  Brewed with organically grown raspberries hand picked right here in Black Creek Pioneer Village.  Available only at Black Creek Historic Brewery (not in the LCBO) so come on down to the Village and try this exciting new beer beginning Saturday, August 6th, 2011 and available only for a very limited time (until the barrel is empty!).  We hope you enjoy drinking this raspberry porter as much as Ed enjoyed making it!

Hot Beer on a Hot Day

It is very hot in the Village today.  Working in an historic building in a long dress, with long sleeves, that does up to the neck and contains several layers of petticoats underneath really does make one appreciate air conditioning!  The warm weather had me thinking about popping into the brewery for a pint of cold beer when an article I read yesterday popped into mind.

“When a man is thirstie, there are two master-qualities which do predominate in the stomach, namely heat and drinesse, over their contraries, cold and moisture.  When a man drinketh cold beer to quench his thirst, he setteth all four qualities together by the ears in the stomach, which do with all violence oppose one another and cause a great combustion in the stomach, breeding many distempers therein.  For if heat get the mastery, it causeth inflammation through the whole body, and bringeth a man into fluxes and other diseases.  But hot beer prevents all these dangers, and maketh friendship between all these enemies, viz., hot and cold, wet and drie, in the stomach; because when the coldnesses of the beer is taken away by actuall heat, and made a shot as the stomach, then heat hath no opposite, his enemie cold being taken away, and there only remains these two enemies, dry and wet in the stomach: which heat laboureth to make friends.  When one is exceedingly thirstie, the beer being made hot and then drunk into the dry stomach, it immediately quencheth the thirst, moistening and refreshing nature abundantly.” John Bickerdyke, The curiosities of ale & beer. London: 1889.

Mr. Bickerdyke goes on to recommend hot beer as a sure-fire cure for consumption (tuberculosis), and notes several instances of the health hazards of drinking beer cold.  Take that Coors Light Cold Certified!  So today while you are sweltering in the heat, raise a pint of warm beer in honour of Mr. Bickerdyke and the restoring powers of hot ale!

Jeff and Eric from Hoptomology Brew with the Brewmaster

Eric, Ed and Jeff

Black Creek Historic Brewery recently hosted Jeff and Eric as they participated in our Brewing with the Brewmaster program.  While we usually only allow one person to brew with Ed per day, we made an exception for these two!  It sounds like Jeff and Eric had a great time brewing a batch of Porter with Ed and they wrote all about it on their website Hoptomology.  If you’re interested in spending a Saturday or Sunday in costume with Ed brewing up a storm, please call (416) 667-6284 to reserve your spot.  The program costs $70 for members of Black Creek Pioneer Village or $75 for non-members (taxes not included) and includes a 2L growler of beer produced in the historic brewery!

Event – Coast-to-Coast Canadian Beer and Cheese Tasting Postponed

Black Creek Historic Brewery is postponing the Beer and Cheese Tasting scheduled for Thursday, July 21st to Wednesday, September 21st at 7:00pm.  The theme for the September event will be Late Harvest Beer and Cheese which will celebrate the season’s bounty with a flight of rustic ales and farmstead cheeses from Ontario and Quebec.  The event will be hosted by expert Julia Rogers, who will curate samples of five cheese varieties paired with selected craft beers.  Our popular homemade root chips and freshly baked bread with accompany the samples.  Tickets are $30 per person, $27 for members (plus taxes) and must be purchased prior to the event by calling 416-667-6284.

Event – Coast-to-Coast Canadian Beer and Cheese Tasting

History Byte – Yeasty Beasties

Yeast has been used for thousands of years to leaven bread and produce alcohol, but little was known about yeast until 1857 when Louis Pasteur identified it as a living organism.  Prior to his discovery, yeast was viewed as a rather temperamental vegetable-like product that needed certain conditions to survive and thrive.  For thousands of years, the method of yeast propogation was the same: a small portion of dough, wine or beer was saved from each batch to ‘start’ the next.  If a households’ yeast died or stopped producing, they’d usually have to visit the local brewer, distiller or baker and purchase a new starter. 

There are two parent species of yeast used in brewing.  The first is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a top fermenting yeast which is used to produce ales.  The same species of yeast is used by bakers, though nowadays brewers and bakers use different strains of the same species that have been selectively bred for individual qualities of speed, flavour and alcohol tolerance.  The second species is Saccharomyces pastorianus (formerly S. carlsbergensis) which is used to produce lagers and is a bottom fermenting yeast.  S. pastorianus was identified in 1883 by Emil Hansen while working for the Danish brewer Carlsberg, hence the former name! 

By the 1860s, a product called German Yeast was available to bakers and eventually superceded the use of brewers’ yeast, though it is simply a more refined version of the same species.  Distilleries in Germany discovered a method of growing, refining and packing yeast that produced a product that worked quicker with a less bitter taste than the traditional form of Brewers’ yeast.  As Eliza Acton mentions in her 1857 book The English Bread Book, “This yeast in many distilleries forms an important by-product of the manufactory, and is collected and sold under the name of dry yeast, for the use of the private brewer and baker.”

By the 1860s, most brewers aimed to keep their yeast supply steady by brewing regularly, even through the summer months, to maintain a batch of starter.  They were aware that cleanliness was a major cause of sour beer, and many brewers’ handbooks from the period advocate against the age-old practice of sticking a hand into the tun to check the temperature of the mix.  However, they also tended to blame sour beer on ‘electrical’ (ie lightning) storms, so there was still some element of ‘magic’ to the process.  Maintaining a good batch of yeast meant keeping a clean brewery, regularly cleaning and disinfecting brewing equipment, and in the summer, keeping the yeast as cool as possible between brewings.  When the yeast did go off and the brewer was unable to correct the issue within a couple of brews, most experts recommended that the brewery be emptied, scrubbed and new yeast brought in from an outside source.

Modern breweries use a wide variety of yeast strains for their different qualities.  Different styles of beer often rely on different strains of yeast.  Check out W Yeast Laboratories yeast strain guide to see some of the different strains and what they are used for.