Back in September of this year, Ottawa added another craft brewery to its steadily growing stable. Bicycle Craft Brewery is located at 850 Industrial Ave., Unit 12 and offers several delightful craft beers, including our favourite, Base Camp Oatmeal Porter. And in case you’re wondering, yes – there is a bike rack outside the brewery. There’s also plenty of parking if you’d prefer to drive. BCB was kind enough to entertain our delusions of being beer-journalists and to answer our interview questions:
BB: What inspired your brewery’s name – why “Bicycle”?
BCB: The name came very naturally to us because we enjoy riding our bicycles to get around the city and also to discover new places when we travel. To us, the bicycle represents the vision of our brewery – simple, traditional, and down to earth.
BB: On that topic, what’s the furthest you’ve ever cycled for a good brew? Which beer was it and, most importantly, was it worth it?
BCB: The most memorable was not so much the distance but the challenge in getting there. A co-worker of Laura’s recommended a very small pub in Brussels that he insisted we should visit on our honeymoon. With only a small hand-drawn map on a scrap piece of paper and the phonetic spelling of the possible name (the co-worker couldn’t remember the exact name of the spot) Laura and I spent the better part of the afternoon working our way through the smaller streets and alleys of Brussels looking for the pub. We eventually found it and, yes, it was totally worth it! Not only did we discover some awesome places in Brussels that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, we found a very local watering hole that served some fantastic Belgian brews.
BB: How did you end up choosing your locationover on industrial? Are you able to cycle to work?
BCB: When we were searching for our location, we knew we wanted to be on the east side of downtown, in a location that was accessible to our customers and still within the zoning regulations of the city. This was the perfect spot! There are a number of great communities nearby, including Riverview and Overbrook, we’re close to the bike path and public transportation, and we can also cycle to the brewery ourselves.
BB: Brewing is often described as a combination of art and science, which is mirrored by Laura and Fariborz’s backgrounds of Fine Art and IT. How do your diverse skills influence your beers and your business?
BCB: The combination of art and science has really worked well for us. Where I see the technical and chemical aspect of brewing, Laura sees in the art in it which is reflected in our choice of ingredients and brews. We’ve each been able to add our own qualities to the brewery – for example Laura works with local artists to ensure they get exposure in our tap room and have the opportunity to sell their art, whereas I have been able to rig up our fermenters so that we can monitor and adjust the temperature from home or from a mobile device. We always work together to come up with the next brew and most often brew together too. I think our diverse backgrounds are what makes our beer unique and exciting – a combination of the artistic flare for the original and the science that makes it succeed.
BB: Fariborz, you were born and raised in Iran; with beers like Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch in mind, are there any Middle Eastern flavours you’d like to incorporate into future brews?
BCB: Middle Eastern flavours, particularly Persian flavours, are unique, delicious and robust. We are certainly looking to experiment with some of these treasures and are working on formulating a recipe to release in the new year that everyone will have to try! If all goes according to plan, it will be one that pays homage to Iran and some of the more traditional flavours. Stay tuned for our special release!
BB: Which one of your brews would be a good “training wheels” brew for converting newbies to the way of Craft Beer?
BCB: Our Belle River Blonde is a great start into craft beer. It’s light, refreshing, easy on the palate and doesn’t overwhelm you with overly complex flavours. A newbie to craft beer will notice that there’s more to it as well. Whether it’s the choice of malt or the late addition of noble hops, this brew can entice a new craft beer fan to keep coming back for more.
BB: Which of your brews is the best behaved on brew day? Which are those more mischievous “tough brews”?
BCB: Our best behaved is our Base Camp Oatmeal Porter starting with crushing the grain. It’s faster and easier because the flaked oatmeal goes straight in the mash. There’s also a lower hop content so the boil usually runs smoothly and clean up is a breeze. Although our Velocipede IPA uses the most malt and the most hops of all of our brews, it’s worth the extra time that goes into brewing it. From regulating the mash temperature to timing the hop additions down to the second, this brew definitely takes more effort but as our flagship brew, it’s a keeper.
BB: Rapid fire! Clear your mind and throw the first answer that hits you back at us…
BB: Favourite local brew?
BCB: Cassel Brewery’s Hopper Car IPA
BB: Favourite international brew?
BCB: Warsteiner Dunkel
BB: Best bar experience?
BCB: Au Bon Vieux Temps, Brussels
BB: Best bike-in location for a roadie?
BCB: Pink Lake Lookout in Gatineau Park (for a roadie – not as far or as full of spandex as the Champlain Lookout!)
BB: Passenger preference: Double pegs or handle-bar seating?
BCB: Option #3 – rear rack behind the seat
BB: Favourite brewing tune?
BCB: Road to Hell, Chris Rea
BB: Ever reenact a scene from Cocktail at the tasting bar?
BCB: Not yet but there’s a first time for everything!
BB: Where can the good folks of Ottawa see you guys next? Which festivals will you be pouring at or attending in the near future?
BCB: You can find us in a number of fantastic restaurants and pubs in Ottawa, including the Black Tomato, Rochester Pub and the Loft Board Game Lounge just to name a few. After the fantastic event at the Brewery Market on October 25th, we recently poured some samples at an Eco District event on November 5th and hope to be involved in the exciting festivals that are headed our way in the new year.
A big thanks to the folks over at Bicycle Craft Brewery for taking the time out of their busy schedules to chat with us! If you haven’t been, it’s a fantastic space and you can check it out this Sunday at a beer and cheese pairing.