Interview: TWB Brewpub

Before we became Brahs, we were students. Students in the traditional sense, but also students of life and of beer. We were lucky enough to meet the brew guru – Bruru -  Culum Cannally through fate and circumstance. Culum, a beer wizard, sent us down the homebrewing path that would ultimately lead us to starting a lackluster blog. Culum is one of the founding members of an exciting new startup in the Kitchener-Waterloo region – Together We’re Bitter Brewing Cooperative. He was kind enough to answer some questions. Do yourself a favour and read about this awesome upcoming brewpub, and contribute to their amazing kickstarter.

title_pageQ. What was the impetus for the name “Together We’re Bitter”? Shouldn’t you all be hoppier together? *rimshot*

A. Hoppier Together was actually our first choice of names but we did a name search and found out that there was a co-op frog farm outside of Moonbeam that already had the name. As a side note, there’s big money in frog farming

Q. Your business format as a cooperative is very unique; can you explain how the concept works?

A. A co-op is structured similar to other corporations with the exception that its members elect the board of directors and not a group of Monopoly Guy-looking, fat cat shareholders. So co-ops work on a different values system. Instead of basing all their decisions on what will make shareholders richer co-ops focus fundamentally on the triple bottom line. It’s just a better way to structure a business. But you don’t have to take my word for it, visit any credit union or your local MEC and bask in the glow of a more democratic business model. Or better yet get some Gay Lea whip cream and Camino chocolate and taste the awesomeness of the co-op.

Q. TWB was a driving force behind Craftoberfest. For those who aren’t familiar with Octobers in Waterloo Region, give our readers the low-down on what you guys were working to accomplish?

A. Let’s just say that for me Craftoberfest is the glorious backlash that has resulted from the shame we locals feel every time we sit across from an Oktoberfest newcomer at a festhallen and see the look of disappointment on their faces as they force themselves to swallow another gulp of SABMiller’s piss warm chango.

While we would like to take credit for Craftoberfest, it was really the inception of Bill McTavish the proprietor of the craft beer hub Imbibe and soon to open Boathouse. Our Communications Director, Alex Szaflarska and KW Craft Beer Club’s Ryan Ward also helped plan the 3 week long celebration of local craft beer and food. My favorite event was the opening night. There were over 20 Ontario craft breweries in attendance sampling a lot of their mainstay and seasonal beers.

Q. 5 years ago, Grand River Brewing was the only craft brewery in the Waterloo Region: Now there’s Innocente, Descendants, Block 3, Abe Erb and TWB joining the party. What has the support been like from the other breweries?

A. Innocente and Block 3 have been very helpful and given us some great advice. In fact, we have been overwhelmed and heartened by the support of the craft beer community. I gotta mention the help that Jason Fisher at Indie Ale House has given us from the get-go. Not only has he been a trove of brewing business knowledge, he’s been very generous with sharing his knowledge. And Jeff Broeders’ beers are great to boot. Finally, Cam and Russ, our friends at Royal City in Guelph are making excellent beer and are exceptionally nice people. In addition to reaching out to us to help us avoid the pitfalls of starting a brewery, they have allowed us to brew with them so we can get our feet wet (literally and figuratively) in pro brewing.

Q. What brew will TWB offer that will satisfy those pretentious beer nerds (guilty party included)? How can people get involved?

A. Perhaps this is a good time to mention the Kickstarter campaign since that’s what it’s all about. We are crowdfunding the People’s Fermenter. If we make our goal we are going to have a 10 hectolitre fermenter just for our experimental beers. We were advised that the bank doesn’t look too fondly on purchasing equipment that will be used for play and not business so we thought we’d bring it to our craft beer sisters and brothers and see if they think it’s worth it.

We’re particularly stoked about the Capybara Club. It’s a growler only available through our Kickstarter that will allow the holder access to our one barrel pilot experimental beers. The feedback from the Capybara Club members will influence what gets brewed for the People’s Fermenter.

I am also asking people who are not in the financial position to contribute to spread the word and lie to their friends and family and say they contributed. We are also encouraging children to go into their parents’ wallets and use their credit card to get an awesome t-shirt that will make them the coolest kid in school.

 Q. Tell us a little bit about the diverse team you’ve assembled?

A. There is not enough space to sing the praises of the awesome team that I’m so proud to be part of. Starting a brewery ain’t easy and starting a co-op ain’t easy but as frustrating as it can be at times we all share immeasurable comfort knowing that together we’re bitter. As for what each member brings to the team aside from being all around awesome people and their desire to make the world a better place though co-operation and bitchin craft beer. Well we’ve got two crackerjack industrial tradespeople (Ben and Greg) who will be planning, building, and maintaining the brewery. A social butterfly and social media guru (Alex) bringing us closer to our community. A designer, musician, and web developer (Rob) who was the artist behind our website and that awesome video of ours on Kickstarter. And finally, the level head that keeps us organized, on task, and constantly moving forward, our president (and my partner) Lindsay. In addition to their many varied skills every member of TWB also brews beer.

1530818_573907792663190_2113674632_nQ. Culum, explain to us your journey from home brewing on the side to making the decision to brew professionally

A. My brother-in-law gave me a book that contained only one piece of sage advice. It said if you are planning to start a brewery and haven’t brewed a beer, brew a beer first. I took that to heart and my partner got me a one gallon all grain kit. I brewed it, waited a month and the beer was gone in less than a night. The beer was decent and fun to brew so I immediately went out and bought a 10 gallon cooler and an 8.5 gallon pot and endeavored to teach myself to be a professional brewer. I started by brewing a least twice a week for a year. I also read every book and article and listened to every podcast about brewing that I could that I could get my wort burnt hands on. More importantly, I made every brewing mistake one could possibly make. For instance, I brewed in my small galley kitchen (above the most awesome neighbors anyone has ever had) and one day after brewing my first stout it looked like a shit wind had blown through the house.

Q. Rapid Fire! Throw down the first answer that comes to mind:

Q. Best beer you’ve ever had -  A. The next one.
Q. Beer that inspired you to homebrew? – A. Bell’s Two Hearted
Q. Favourite hop - A. A tie between Amarillo and Nelson Sauvin.
Q. Favourite Oktoberfest-style beer? – A. Hands down Rickard’s Lederhosen.
Q. Favourite bitter - A. I’ve gotta go with Theakston’s Best Bitter.

Q. Any timeline for the good people of Kitchener until they can start sampling your fine wares and visiting your brewpub?

A. I don’t want to jinx us, but we’re really hoping to be open for Summer 2015. A lot of things have to fall into place for that to happen but we keep pushing forward as fast as we can.


Thank you to Culum for the interview! He and the gang are great people doing great things. Follow and support TWB Brewpub at their website and on twitter @twbpub.

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Interview: Bicycle Craft Brewery

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.


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Review: Scie Trouillarde Double

BrewerLes Brasseurs Du Temps
Brewed in: Gatineau, Quebec
Percentage: 7%
FoundLes Brasseurs Du Temps

Weather is turning from pumpkin weather to stout weather so I figured I better sample this brew ASAP. If you’re a fan, you’re running out of time too – BDT had only a few left in the shop.


The name of this brew, Scie Trouillarde, is a play on “Citrouille” (translation: pumpkin) as well as a fear of saws… That’s all I got. The colour of this brew is surprisingly dark with a reddish brown hue that pairs with an autumn landscape perfectly. The creamy beige head fades as a sweet malty nose sprinkled with nutmeg and cinnamon shines through. I have a hard time picking out any discernible scent of pumpkin but, then again, I rarely sniff pumpkins and my palate may be lacking in the legume realm. The ale is full bodied and smooth with a slight sweetness that transitions into the subtlest spice finish. It’s really a balanced beer: strong but not heavy. The flavours of pumpkin and pumpkin pie are obvious without being arrogant. One of the best pumpkin brews I’ve had the honour of tipping back.


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Review: Monster Mash

Brewer: Barn Door Brewing Co.
Percent: 7.5%
Found: Blair LCBO
From: Nobleton, On

It’s Halloween and we like to drink festively, so we’ve selected this Bobby “Boris” Pickett-inspired brew to pair with this special holiday. Bonus point: It’s from a Ontario new brewery!


The beer builds dark reddish brown with a thick beige head. The nose is super malt-forward with a big bready aroma. It’s liquid smooth across the palate and it lives up to the label’s guarantee of a balanced mouth feel. The brew’s sweet malty notes are accented with dried fruit. Despite the hop-monster depicted on the label, this beer leads malt-first: it’s got depth. While I wouldn’t settle into an evening of Monster Mash (even on this most appropriate of days), it’s a big burly sipper for a cold fall day.


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Review: 19 Original Colonies Mead

Brewer: Rogue Ales
Percent: 6.6%
Found: Hunt Club & Merivale LCBO
From: Independence, Oregon


Beautiful light golden colour shines through my glass as this pale murky honey mead settles. A faint nose of flowers and spice as the jasmine and honey say hello as I lower my nose to the surface of the mead. Subtle flavour with a sparkler of mouth-feel (champagne yeast?) are present as I take my first sip. In classic Rogue style, this beer takes “local” to the next level: It’s brewed using honey from their own bees (yes, they have bees), their own farmed hops (they have a farm) and “free range” water. The free range water may be a bit of hyperbole but this brewery clearly goes the extra mile to promote local. It’s a nice brew, that leans towards subtle in comparison to the few meads I’ve experienced in the past. It’s an interesting treat but lacks the body to become a go-to brew. That said, Rogue had earned my trust through consistently solid offerings that I’ll try almost anything they put out – though probably not that Donut Bacon one again.



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Apt 613 ReBlog! Beau’s Oktoberfest 2014 Recap

The good folks over at Apt 613 were kind enough to run this Beau’s Oktoberfest recap for us earlier this week. In case you prefer our 1970s-brown-carpet-coloured blog, we thought we’d toss it up here too. Enjoy!

Vankleek Hill, a small beautiful community an hour east of Ottawa, was the place to be this past weekend as 14,000 attendees experienced Beau’s Brewery 6th annual Oktoberfest. For those unfamiliar with this German-inspired, beer-soaked celebration, it dates back to October 12, 1810, when the German Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese. They threw one heck of a party and invited all of Munich to join them and, as it was an open-bar, they obliged. Munich has kept the annual tradition alive and the party has been emulated all over the world, including in Vankleek Hill.

IMAGE_BEERThe successful recipe that Beau’s follows for the festival is simple: combine beer, food, music, with people and raise money for local charities.

This event is a celebration of beer. While many festivals offer beer, Beau’s puts it on a pedestal.Offering thirteen brews of their own, Beau’s also invited over a dozen other local breweries to bring nearly 70 different beers to the Cask Haus: thereby ensuring neither beer nerds nor casual drinkers were left wanting. My standout at the Cask Haus was Red Rocket from Sawdust City – bringin’ the heat! From the Beaus side, I thought Bog Hopper was an herbal delight while my companions voted Haters Gonna Hate as their beer of the festival.

The food options were off the charts. 28 Ottawa area restaurants offered a wide variety of delicious grub. I couldn’t sample it all so I relied on the sophisticated palates of my friends:

  • Backdrop and Grounded’s Bison chili with cornbread, Branch’s Brisket-on-a-bun, and the Piggy Market’s sausages were “enjoyed immensely” by our most experienced food samplers.
  • Four friends picked the Deep Fried Pulled Pork from Vert Fourchette as the best-in-food. One described it as “hella-dope”. Obviously, he’s the poet of the group…
  • Beau’s Beer Hot Chocolate made with Tom Green Milk Stout, from Pascale’s All Natural Ice Cream also received special “I didn’t think it would go together but it really did!” mention.
  • I was partial to the warm pretzel that came with your entry pass to the festival, but I’m a simple guy.

Next up, we had the music. Ottawa is fortunate to have tons of awesome music festivals and venues, but man, Beau’s Oktoberfest puts together a line-up that would make your CBC Radio3 playlist proud. As a tribute to this, I have paired a song from each artist with a beer:IMAGE_MUSIC

  • Joel Plaskett Emergency “Lightning Bolt” – The Monkey’s Paw: both the album cover and the beer label feature a terrifying street organ monkey.
  • Radio Radio “9 Piece Luggage Set” – Bog Hopper: both have a catchy little bounce to ‘em.
  • The Strumbellas “Sheriff” – Rauchstack:  both the song and the beer have distinct rural roots.
  • Tokyo Police Club “Hot Tonight” – Cask Haus’s Ghost Bitch by Flying Monkeys Craft Brewing: that ghost pepper infused beer was coming in hot!!
  • Groenland “Superhero” – Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale: the band and beer share Scandinavian names.
  • Rural Alberta Advantage “Stamp” – Night Marzen:  both are powered by their base, be it the malt backbone or driving drums.
  • Zeus “Miss My Friends” – Dial “Z” For Zwickel: because of the letter Z…
  • Walter Ostanek “Beer Barrel Polka” – Cask Haus’s Oktoberbeast by Lake of Bays: because, as any ex-Waterloo resident knows, this dude owns Oktoberfest!! And polka grammys…


The final ingredient, the people. Each year I am struck with the positive and fun atmosphere of this event. There is a midway with beer-themed games as well as other activities like the keg-toss or the wife-carry race. The event provides ample parking, camping and buses shuttle in people from Ottawa, Cornwall and Montreal. Even those stuck waiting in the entrance line on Friday night needed only a pint to get into the Oktoberfest spirit. It is the people: the Beau’s organizers, the volunteers, and the revelers that make the event the success it is. There is a real genuineness to it all.

Finally, as if you weren’t satisfied by the beer, food and music; the event sponsors charities such as the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Ottawa Riverkeeper, Just Food, Rethink Breast Cancer, Hidden Harvest, the VKH Agricultural Society, and more! Even with the rainy Saturday, the event still raised $95,000. For instance, here is how the funds raised will help the Kidney Foundation:

“The Kidney Foundation of Canada requires funding to offset the financial burden borne by kidney patients seeking dialysis treatment,” says Bruce Hill, Senior Development Manager of the Eastern Ontario Chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. “Beau’s Oktoberfest funding for the Kidney Foundation of Canada helps kidney disease patients in financial need with the costs of their treatments.”

So, all in all, a tip of the ill-fitting green felt hat to those that make this festival happen. It’s a fantastic event and I’m already looking forward to next year – fingers crossed for better weather!

Prost to Apt 613 for letting us run this piece and to Beau’s for the quotes and media/baller pass! Very much appreciated!

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Review: Disco Soleil

Brewer: Dieu du Ciel!
Brewed in: St. Jerome QC
Percentage: %
Found: Broue HaHa

These guys brew such good beers that drinkers often exclaim “Dieu du Ciel!” (translation: OMG!) this is good! I try to drink in both official languages as often as possible.



The brew pours murky sunshine gold with ample carbonation and a fading white head. This interesting beer is brewed with kumquats. The nose is crisp with a tropical-sweetness, either thanks to the hops or the added fruit, with a nice wheat undertone. Despite thinking that kumquat was a dirty word, it’s actually an orange-like fruit native to South Asia that is often used in jams or as candies. The beer pulls bitterly at my cheeks as I take my first sip. This isn’t the sweet tropical pint I expected, rather it finishes with a delightfully sharp hop-forward bitterness. I wish I discovered this beer a little earlier in the summer.


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