Since majority of you are here because you LOVE Craft Beer lets take a little deeper look into one of beers main ingredients and shed some light on the importance of local grains in Ontario.
#Regenerate2018 Heritage Grain Weekend was created to aim the spotlight on three major issues facing our society. Soil that needs regenerating to feed future communities, farming systems that need to be regenerated to help provide profitable income for family farms to stay in business and smaller rural communities that need to continue to be a viable option for people to live.
Grain farming is the largest user of our soil in Ontario and while they may have effects on our quality of life why not take these grains and refocus on food production. Bread, beer, distilling, pasta and pizza are some popular choices!
Being a part of Heritage Grain weekend helped me understand more about this and it truly highlighted all these areas for the people, chefs and farmers and was a fun chance to engage in conversation over delicious food, drinks and fun workshops.
My weekend started at London Brewing Co-op learning more about Grains and Beer as an Agricultural product. You see what's in your beer glass hides a whole bunch of relationships of how it actually ends up there and most start with the grain. This presentation by Liam Boshell of Against The Grain Malt in Sarnia and Aaron Lawrence, head brewer at London Brewing took us from “Plough to Pint” as we explored grains and the route they take to get into our glass.
Here are a few things I learned about barley / malt from Against The Grain and it was great to shed a light on Malt as after all it is the soul of the beer.
🌾1/2 acre of barley can go into one 15 barrel brew.
🌾Against the Grain Malthouse uses hot air method over killing... I didn't know that existed.
🌾SRM actually stands for Standard Reference Method. I knew that it referred to the colour and shade of the beer but not what it actually stood for
🌾90% of worlds malted barley goes to beer.
🌾There is a whole way to test germination rate in grains and such thing as pre sprout damage. So basically there is a lot more to growing the right grain than I thought!!
The following morning we headed to Covent Garden Farmer’s Market and happily
discovered it was taken over by pumpkins, costumes and vendors showcasing regional grains as a part of weekend event! Though we missed out on the popular bread workshop we happily found a cookbook showcasing recipes made with local to London ingredients and of course more coffee and pumpkins for days!! Forest City Cookbook takes recipes created by inspiring chefs and local producers in London and invite you on a journey of discovery, connection and local flavours. It is laid our in a colourful, picture filled hardcover book as a perfect tribute to London and should be a part of your kitchen!
MFull off coffee and baked goods we were ready to head back to London Brewing Co-op to take on their Truly Local Craft Beer Fest. This festival takes “local beer” to a new level! It is a celebration of beer grown here. Meaning all ingredients in the beers showcased at this festival are grown within Ontario and most close to London area. It shines a light on the hard work and risk-taking of local farmers, maltsters and brewer’s who are investing time in growing local and making a truly local beer.
Some highlights for me of the beers I sampled were
London Brewing Co-ops 4pm Sunset Oatmeal Stout
Shakespeare Brewing Reckless Rooster Ontario Pale Ale
London Home brewers Guild Farm to Glass IPA (Jon Rush won the recent home brewers local ingredient contest at Brewing Co-op)
Concession Road Brewing Wet Cascade / Dry Cashmere IPA
Not only were there local grains and Local Hops there were local additions of Paw Paw fruit, pumpkins, honey and rhubarb!
Thanks London Brewing Co-op for always having such a strong support local initiative and doing a great job at showcasing that yourselves.
Here are a list of local Hopyards and Barley Growers / Maltsters involved:
Newdale Malt (Guelph)
Against The Grain (Sarnia)
Harvest Malt & Hop
McConkey Farms (St. George)
Hometown Hop Company
Sixteen Mile Hops
Huge Shout out to CK Table for being the 'to' in Farm to Table and shedding more light where needed to create a larger movement across southern Ontario to create more consumer demand for real food and your vision of a self-sustaining rural food system! Check out there website for fantastic info and keep your eyes out for ongoing events.
Thanks to CK Table and Ontario Southwest for inviting me out and check out https://www.ontariossouthwest.com/ to discover more of the area!