The email in early April offered an “invite for you and a guest to our Media Exclusive launch and tour happening on May 1st.” Brew Donkey brew-tour + beer delivery service is apparently coming to WR in June. Owner/operator Brad Campeau (above, pouring) was looking to promote his Ottawa-based business by engaging some “proficient bloggers and taste makers” in this neck of the woods.
I often decline invites to unpaid business-related gigs, but in this case there were three factors that changed my mind: #1 Craft beer. It’s great. I’m not an informed connoisseur like my pal Jon Johnson (read his beer columns in TCE), but after 20 years of drinking mass beer I was thirsty for a change. #2 Brewing involves a lot of makerly engineering/chemistry/science which is fascinating. #3 Brewers are universally interesting characters. Oh, and one more: #4 Craft beer is a great social catalyst, a reason for us to get off our sofas and find each other. I formed that hypothesis when Block 3 opened and then confirmed it when I did a photo shoot at Innocente a couple years ago. So I said yes.
Interlude: if you dig these stories please consider kicking me a buck or two on Patreon. Or hire me. Or buy photos. This is how I buy groceries.
My wife Lisa tilts more toward white wine than beer. That combined with the 7-hour tour commitment led to my brohemus, Dave White becoming my +1. Lisa kindly dropped us off at…
the very familiar Abe Erb uptown, our jumping off point for the tour.
The aforementioned Jon Johnson, who not only drinks beer and writes about beer, he also does design work for breweries (and lots of others). He’s here with Lakyn Barton, Exec Director of WLUSP who puts out The Community Edition.
This is probably a good time for me to tell you that there are an unreasonable number of photos here. But c’mon: it was seven hours!
Coffee was a good way to kickstart this tour.
Something I don’t often see on the bar at Abe Erb.
Met Brad Campeau in real life…
as he checked his list of beer lovers.
Beer from above.
There’s Tom in plaid. He runs a brew tour for fun, and in fact I think he ran one the previous night. Two in a row: that’s hardcore.
Rosemary arrived with the bus.
This tour would be $90 + tax, which includes bus and beer. We also got paninis on the ride, which were great. Not sure that’s a regular thing.
In St Jacobs, down by the river, means…
Block 3, of course.
Amanda (left) hosted us at Block 3.
First beer then tour.
Tim and Matt came over from London. They run Brewvy, which is many things beer-related with a dash of roller derby.
See this is the kind of makerly stuff I was talking about. Conveyors, hoses, solenoid valves, etc.
See that: branding facing out! Man, I just love media-savvy people.
I liked all the beers on this tour.
Jon, Tom and Jamie who we ran into a couple years back at Imbibe’s Open Jam night.
We’re on a schedule, people. It was a good pace.
Here’s how Brewvy blog posts are made.
Tyler is already pouring the beer because Brad called ahead.
Brewmaster (and friend) Steve Innocente hamming it up. The last time I shot photos here he was hard at work on some small 150L batches, so he was strictly game-face. Well, that and the fact that they’d only been open one week.
Me: “Tyler, pretend you’re a model working in a brewery.”
They’re all good. Especially like the Charcoal Porter.
Steve’s got a PhD and has done research in the domain of yeast, which becomes applied science here.
This is a lot of stainless steel.
Hey, Own It magazine made it all the way up to north Waterloo. Check out the pieces I did in this issue on The Working Centre and Kitchener Sync. And I think I see a cross-promotion there from my favourite butcher Rob Brady.
The relaxed host.
The barrels are new since my last Innocente shoot.
Tyler hooked me up with a sticker for my laptop.
I’ll just take this back to the bus.
Next up: TWB aka Together We’re Bitter Co-operative Brewing.
It’s a party…
and our host is worker/owner Culum Canally.
Busting with enthusiasm. That’s what I like.
Culum described a lot of hacking, fabrication, rewiring and welding that has gone into the co-op’s repurposing of acquired gear.
Worker/owner Ben Roberts, who I swear I know from somewhere, brings an electrician’s skillset to this effort.
Dishes are done.
TWB worker/owner Lindsay Woodside.
Tim gets the bird’s eye view.
Lindsay with the product shot: label toward the camera.
More impressive plumbing and pumps.
Matt’s putting the word out in real-time.
German gear in Kitchener: makes sense.
I must have a hundred pics of Culum here.
The last stop of the day was also the most recently-opened local brewery. Descendants Beer & Beverage soft-launched a scant two days before we rolled in.
Robin and Lee made this place.
Great brand visuals.
From KW to Berlin to KW again.
Gotta give Lee Brooks credit for their great building-a-brewery blog.
Brewmaster Robin Molloy.
I think I’m developing a fetish for polished concrete floors. Really nice here. Robin noted that they jack-hammered out the old floor and carted it out to the parking lot for disposal. The demo seemed easy, starting at 3 inches thick but grew to a gnarly 14 inches thick at the other end. It was worth it.
Descendants has been contract brewing elsewhere for a while, and I think I’ve had their beer at Hackernest and the OWN IT magazine launch party. Nice to put faces to that beer.
I think this place on Victoria at Lancaster is going to be very busy.
That was a wrap for the day. These four breweries across the board seem very committed to our community. They specifically chose to be here in Waterloo Region. They’re engaging us in everything from art to music to yoga, in addition to great beers. They’re working massively hard to succeed, as we all do who own our businesses. They are making beer people like instead of making people like the beer. I don’t drink much, but when I do, I drink local.
As always: leave yer sofa, find the others.