The Anatomy of a Growler of Historic Ale

I’ve said it so many times to guests that it’s become second nature – “Remember to refrigerate your growler!” “The last inch of the growler is sediment, which isn’t so pleasant to drink.” “Don’t forget that our beer is historic so it’s naturally carbonated.” “You can keep your beer refrigerated and sealed to the best before date, but once it’s opened be sure to finish it within a few days!”

The growler fridge in the gift shop – stocked and ready to go!

All of this information is important, but why do we bother letting you know? Let’s explore our growlers, and why they are stored and enjoyed in a particular way.

Keeping your growler refrigerated

If you have purchased a growler at the village, you have likely visited our historic brewery. All of our beer was made right there, with the same method and technique as was used in the 19th century. This means our beer is preservative free, and very fresh. Our beer doesn’t rely on anything artificial to keep it fresh, so it needs to be refrigerated in order to last to the best before date on the bottle. I love that our beer requires this extra care – it seems so much more authentic than drinking a can of beer that’s been sitting in my basement for the last few months!

When you are ready to drink your beer, we recommend taking your growler out of the fridge 30 to 90 minutes before consuming, to allow the beer to warm up slightly and get closer to cellar temperature. These beers really do taste so much better when they aren’t ice cold!

The last inch…

Our beer is not filtered, giving it a slightly cloudy look when poured into a glass. This is the brewers yeast – which is actually quite good for you. I also find that if a beer is not filtered, it retains so much more flavor and complexity. However, this also means that the last inch of your growler contains much more settled sediment than the first inch. Some people don’t mind at all, and will gladly drink that last bit of the growler. If you are not one of these people, you may want to stop before the growler is completely empty. You can rinse it out easily if you’d like to keep your growler bottle, as long as it hasn’t been sitting for a while! I’ve heard you can also bake with that last inch of yeast, but I haven’t tried that just yet.

The date on the bottle

Each of our growlers has a date written on it – this is the “best before” date, which is approximately 30 days from the date it was bottled by hand at the brewery.  Nothing in our beer will make you sick if you drink it after the date on the bottle, but it begins to lose subtle flavors and carbonation if left unopened for too long. Our beer is best about 2-3 weeks after the bottling date, but it will taste very fresh any time in that 30 day window.

When you break that seal and open that cap, try to drink the beer inside as soon as possible. It will be okay for a day or two, but it’ll start to lose its flavor and carbonation much more quickly than when it was sealed.

Natural Carbonation

Because our beer is brewed using 19th century techniques, the end result is a naturally carbonated product. We do not add any extra carbonation, meaning that it will not be as bubbly or foamy as a modern beer. In order to preserve that little bit of natural carbonation, just make sure that you drink your beer shortly after opening it! I enjoy the natural carbonation of our beer, and find in some cases it is easier to drink than a modern beer.

So there is the anatomy of a growler of our historic beer! All this ensures you are getting the freshest and best tasting product we have to offer. Growlers are available for purchase in the brewery and in our gift shop, so why not stop by and try some for yourself?


Goodbye to Ed

Anyone who has come by to visit the brewery on the weekends has likely met our talented brewmaster Ed. Ed makes all of our historic beer on site with care and attention to detail. If you’ve ever talked to Ed about out historic beers, you’ll find he’s a wealth of information about technique, as well as the historical context that these beers belong in.

Ed has moved on from the Black Creek historic brewery as of August 13th, and has taken on a new opportunity. We wish Ed nothing but the best of luck, and we thank him so much for the time and energy he has dedicated to making the historic brewery so special and unique.

In honor of how much visitors loved and connected with Ed, I am posting an interview I did with him last year. It was so much fun to learn a little more about him… hopefully you think so too!

Ed pouring some hot wort into the cooling ship

DM:  So Ed, how did you end up becoming the brewmaster at the Black Creek Historic Brewery?
EK: There was an email sent to my beer club back in 2009 looking for brewers to work at Pioneer Village. Since I lived relatively close, I thought I’d give it a shot. At first there were four [brewmasters] working part time. The following year, they invited me to brew here full time.

DM: What started your interest in brewing?
EK: Ever since I can remember, I’ve been making wine, cider, and mead, but I was always afraid to make beer. I thought it was hard to make. People would give me bottles of homebrew, and it was always bad! Because of that, I always wanted to stay away from beer. Then one day I saw malt extract at Costco, and I thought I’d give it a shot. I went home and brewed, and that initially got me interested. After that, I picked up some books, and it progressed to brewing on the kitchen stove. Then I started with all grain, and I never looked back. I began brewing every weekend as a homebrewer, and I began to enter competitions. Me and my best friend entered some contests, and we were both co-winners of the Canadian Amateur Homebrewer of the Year award.

DM: What is your favorite part of being brewmaster at the Black Creek Historic Brewery?
EK: Probably watching people’s reaction when they try this beer. Especially the people who don’t normally drink beer. These beers are different from a modern beer – not filtered, not pasteurized, naturally carbonated, and served at cellar temperature.

DM: What is the most interesting historical fact about beer you’ve learned since becoming the Brewmaster here?
EK: Probably the fact that people didn’t drink beer socially, but as an alternative to water. A lot of people assume that people back then [in the 1860s] drank beer just because that’s what they liked. But it was because the beer was safer than the water.  Also, back when the City of Toronto was called York, it had a population of 50,000 with 16 breweries in downtown York. There was lots of beer being consumed back then.

So there you have it! Again, we wish Ed the best of luck. While we will miss Ed immensely, we are excited to share with you how the Brewery will change and evolve going forward. Keep your eyes peeled!

Brewery Announcement

Hello beer lovers,

It’s the end of an era! As you may know, our brewmaster Ed has moved on from the historic brewery to pursue a different opportunity.  Ed of course, is our one and only brewmaster here at the village. We will miss him dearly, but he has moved on to hoppier pastures!

So what does this mean going forward for the brewery? Since we are dedicated to quality control and serving you the best beer possible, we are going to be switching gears a little bit. Brewing with the historic method using historic equipment by hand can be complex, and adequate time and understanding is needed for a brewmaster to begin brewing the excellent historic beers we pride ourselves on serving and selling. Because of this, we will be halting brewery production on site for the remainder of 2018. We still have some growlers in stock, likely until the beginning of September.

We will be continuing our guided tasting experience, and will have a beer expert in the brewery daily from 1pm until close. We will be offering flights of our commercial beers, Rifleman’s Ration Brown Ale, and Canadian Frontier Best Bitter. These beers will also be available in the LCBO.

2019 will open up new opportunities in the Brewery, and we are excited to share them with you. Check back to this blog for any updates.

Brewery Update – Goodbye to Ed

Hello readers,

Some of you may know our historic brewmaster, Ed. Ed is the one who makes all of our historic beer by hand, using the same method and technique as was used in the 1860s. Ed has been one of the most important parts of the brewery since its inception. We will miss Ed’s passion, drive, and pure love of historic brewing.

Jonathan Bordand
Ed and Jonathan busily stirring the mash in the historic brewery

Sadly, Ed will be leaving us shortly after this weekend. He has accepted a new opportunity at another brewery, and will no longer be the brewmaster at the Black Creek historic brewery. We will miss Ed very much, but we are happy and excited on his behalf for this brand new opportunity.

If you’d like to come and say your goodbyes, Ed will be brewing this weekend, and on Monday. The brewery will be open for tastings from 1pm until close, so if you’d like to come by and hang out with Ed one last time, now is your chance!

Goodbye… but not really

Hello all,

For the last eight months or so, I’ve been faithfully publishing a blog post every Friday. However, this week will be my last week at Black Creek Pioneer Village. I am moving on to begin a PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. North Carolina (and Chapel Hill especially!) is an excellent spot for craft beer, so I am excited to broaden my horizons while pursuing my PhD dreams! I will miss Black Creek immensely, and I will definitely miss my days down at the historic brewery. Thank you to my wonderful coworkers, our brewmaster Ed, and all of the friends i’ve made through working in the Brewery for the last year and a half.

Something i’ll miss quite a bit – taking film photography of the village!

If you’re a fan of my posts however, you’re in luck! I have posts queued for every Friday until December 21st. So the beer lore, facts, and information will continue until the village closes for the season. The blog will likely be picked up by someone else in 2019, so keep an eye out for that!

This may not be the last time you hear from me, but I want to thank my friends at the village for making my experience working here so lovely and fun. Picking up the hobby of craft beer has brought me so much enjoyment, and I hope to share that enjoyment through every post I make on this blog.

So, beer posts will resume next Friday, but I just wanted to make this note. Thank you all for reading and I hope you will continue to check back on Fridays for new posts!


August Specialty Beer Announcement

Happy almost Simcoe Day! Some fans of the brewery may know that we usually brew a specialty beer around this time. Unfortunately, we will not be doing a Simcoe hop brew this year. However – we still have a great selection of historic ales to choose from all long weekend!

John Graves Simcoe, the man himself. The first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, and British Army general. Courtesy Ontario Art Collection.

Our brewmaster will be at the village all long weekend, and we will be serving flights from 1:00 to close! If you still don’t have long weekend plans, consider coming down to visit the brewery.