Did you know that the Black Creek Brewery is the only historic brewery in Canada that also functions as a microbrewery? We brew beer in the same style and technique that was used in the mid-1800s, which is much different from the way beer is brewed today. But what are those specific differences? Let’s find out what makes a historic brewery different from a modern, commercial brewery…
As soon as you step into the historic brewery, you are immediately struck by how different it is from a commercial brewery. For one, you will not see any sleek chrome equipment or large tubes and piping. Everything here in the Black Creek brewery is done on a small scale, by hand. The tools and equipment in the brewery are also made out of mainly wood or copper. This adds a rustic charm to the look of the brewery, but it also serves a purpose – it’s very authentic to the style of 19th century village brewing that we are looking to emulate. Our brewery was designed and conceptualized by studying images of real 19th century breweries!
One of the best things about visiting the historic brewery is that you are able to watch the entire brewing process right in front of you. Since everything is done by hand, it is very easy to see each step and why it is important to the entire brewing process. Our brewmaster mixes the wort in the mash tun by hand, and transfers the beer from the mash tun to the kettle to the cooling ship using a copper pail. One of the most interesting parts of the brew process is watching the hot beer hit the cold metal of the cooling ship, and watching the steam fill the room as the beer cools down. The coolest part is that the process does not require any electricity!
You can take this hands-on process one step further, and apprentice with our brewmaster for a day. There’s no better way to learn about the essentials of small scale brewing than doing everything yourself!
Since our brewery is so small and nothing is automated, our batch sizes end up being very small. We brew about 70-75 liters of finished beer per batch, and we make about two to three batches per week. If you do the math this isn’t a lot of beer, but it suits our purposes at the village. Not only do we get to show visitors how beer is made, but they have a fairly good selection to choose from if they’d like to take a growler home. It also adds some fun to our specialty brews, as we only make about 34 growlers of each. Once a brew is gone, you’re out of luck until next year! I kept this in mind when I bought my Apricot Ale on the very first day it was available!
Most (if not all) large breweries are brewing commercially. To fill an order placed by the LCBO or the Beer Store, a brewery needs to make beer that lasts a long time so it can stay fresh on the shelves. This is why breweries add preservatives and carbonation – to ensure a long shelf life, and freshness long past the natural shelf life of beer. Here at the Black Creek brewery, we are not looking to make a beer that can sit on a shelf for a long time. In the 19th century, beer was mainly brewed for consumption right away. This is also the case with Black Creek historic beer. We don’t add any preservatives or extra carbonation – the beer is naturally carbonated and preservative free. This gives our beer a much more authentic taste that is closer to what villagers in Ontario would have been drinking in the 19th century.
Okay.. maybe this isn’t such an important distinction, but it sure is a fun one. When you visit the Black Creek brewery, our brewmaster brews in a charming period costume, like our other interpreters around the village. In what other brewery could you find that??
Hops to you,