Summertime is abundant with Beer Festivals of all sorts. Every year there seem to be new ones popping up all over the place as people are getting inspired discovering the incredible diversity among Ontario’s growing craft beer scene.
One of the forerunners of the craft beer scene here in Ontario is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary, Creemore Springs Craft Brewery. Despite being bought out by Molson’s in 2005, the brewery has managed to maintain a certain level of credibility, thanks to the new owner’s respecting the success and capability that Creemore had established with their brewery.
Every summer, the brewery sponsor’s the “Copper Kettle Festival” that’s held in the main section of town. We’ve been meaning to visit for the last couple of years, so we decided to stop in while on our way up to the cottage for a week’s vacation. Creemore is a picturesque little town located about 2 hours northwest of Toronto. The homes are gorgeous, turn of the century style farmhouses with patterned brickwork. All of which have been incredibly maintained by their owners.
The Festival draws a good crowd and Continue reading
After trying Creemore Springs Brewery‘s seasonal Kellerbier for the first time last summer, it quickly became one of my favourite go-to beers. I stocked up as much as I could before it disappeared, but it nonetheless did anyways. Having started brewing by this point, I thought I would take a stab at trying to brew a clone of it. (see article titled “Caveman Kellerbier”) Not really knowing much of the history, or the style at the time, I was lucky enough to come across an article in Brew Your Own Magazine titled “Kellerbier – Style Profile“, that gave me a bit more of an insight. I imagined that this style could vary greatly from region to region, so I wasn’t sure how close to Creemore’s version I would get. After waiting about 4 months to taste the results, I have to say, I am pretty blown away! Here is what I’ve found:
- Colour: As you can see from the picture, it’s 95% there
- Body: The original has more of a body to it, the difference probably due to us brewing it from extract. I can only imagine how good the all grain version would be. Ours also tasted a bit sweeter.
- Head: Our version had slightly less foam to it, again, an all grain version would probably help with that.
- Bitterness: The “traditional german hops” they refer to on the can must be Hallertrauer, because the hop character & flavour is totally the same, although I would add a touch more to ours next time.
- ABV: The original sits at 5.0% ABV, and even though the recipe called for a higher alcohol content, we came in at 5% as well.
One thing I would change is the amount of ‘oak’ flavour. To simulate aging in oak casks, as would have been traditionally done, we added 4oz of oak chips to the fermenter. It came out a little too pronounced for me. Oak really isn’t my thing, even in wines. Perhaps if it were more subtle, then maybe I could appreciate the complexity it brings. Next time we’ll try it from all grain, I can only imagine how good it will be! I guess we’ll find out next winter!
There’s no doubt that part of the overall pleasure experience of drinking a beer is looking into the glass and seeing that sparkling quality that we’ve been conditioned to value. It’s a quality that denotes refinement and professionalism. It’s pursuit in brewing is an entirely esthetic one, but one that increases the sense of pride that comes with brewing your own beer.
Filtering is obviously more suited to beers on the lower end of the SRM scale, because who in the world can see through a glass of stout anyways? When it comes to clearing your beer, you have a few different choices: you can use finings such as isinglass or gelatin, you can lager (or store) your beer at just above freezing for a few weeks to a few months to allow yeast and particles to precipitate out, or you can take a short cut and filter it using either a cartridge-type or plate style filter. I have a plate filter and this is what I’m going to show you in this post.
I have to admit, I was very hesitant to use a filter to clarify our beer. I had hoped we could approach things from a more natural process, and because I had concerns that we might end up stripping out some vital components of the beer. Since taking the chance, upon the urging of my fellow brewer Eric, I don’t know if I could ever not filter our beer, unless of course the style calls for it like in the case of a Kellerbier or a Witbier.
When you decide to use a filter, it also makes the process of brewing a little more flexible, because after I’ve lagered a batch for 2-3 weeks in my cold cellar, and after everything has nicely dropped out of suspension, what’s going to happen when I have to move it for racking if I don’t already have it in the correct spot? Yep, I’m going to bang it and knock it and kick up all that sediment back into the beer. But let’s be honest, unless the style of beer you are brewing requires it, the last thing I want to do is wait another 2-3 weeks before I can drink my beer. If I want to endure the slow process of aging something, I’ll leave that for when I make my wines. I understand that when brewing lager beers, part of the process and part of their charm come from the long aging times, or like in the case of IPA’s, where the aging process helps to balance out the higher hopping levels and gives the beer time to develop more of a complexity. However, when brewing most ales, they do not need the same aging times and are usually better when consumed within a shorter period. When it comes to racking, you can also be a little less worried about sucking up any trub and debris from the bottom because you’re going to filter it out anyways! I’m sure there are some traditionalists out there that will debate me on this, and that’s fine, but it’s just too damn appealing to me to look through a crystal clear glass of home-brewed beer when it’s all said and done.
Regardless of what you do to clear your beer in the finishing stages, good brewing practices have shown us that there some things you can do along the way to produce clear beer:
- keep a strong, rolling boil for a full 60 minutes, ensuring a good hot break
- use kettle finings such as irish moss or Whirlfloc tablets at 15 minutes left in the boil to coagulate particles formed from the hot break as well as other proteins
- when you’ve finished your boil, create a strong whirlpool by stirring the wort (making sure not to splash it around!) and allowing it to settle for 15 – 30 minutes before racking to your fermenter
- cool the wort using an immersion chiller or by running it through a counterflow chiller as quickly as possible to form a solid cold break
Kellerbier, also Zwickelbier, or Zoigl, is a type of German beer which is not clarified or pasteurised. The term Kellerbier literally translates as “cellar beer”, referring to its cool lagering temperatures, and its recipe likely dates to the Middle Ages. In comparison with most of today’s filtered lagers, Kellerbier contains more of its original brewing yeast, as well as vitamins, held in suspension. As a result, it is distinctly cloudy, and is described by German producers as naturtrub (naturally cloudy).
My first and only experience with Kellerbier is Creemore’s seasonal summer brew aptly titled “Kellerbier”, (obvious, I know).
Right off the bat, it’s a beautiful amber/copper colour that I just love, but it is very cloudy because it’s not been filtered. The Hop flavour definitely dominates and is very floral.
I searched out where and how I could recreate this fantastic beer and here is the recipe I found at “Brew Your Own – Kellerbier – Style Profile“):
See the results here: “Battle of the cellars”