How to brew one, take one down, pass it around...
// Kyle Brown (CUP)

CAMBRIDGE, Ont. (CUP) – The Grand River Brewing Company’s brewery does not look like much from the outside; it looks more like something of an old factory. Indeed, it was the old home of the Galt Knife Factory. Although remnants of the old factory still remain both outside and on the interior, significant changes have been made to sway the focus of production inside the building to one thing: beer.


Zac Tremaine, the assistant brewmaster with Grand River, explained the process in which the delicious beverage known as beer is actually made.

The first stage of the brewing process is to prepare the malt, or as Tremaine called it, the “backbone of your beer.” Depending on the style of beer being created, such as a lager or ale, different amounts and types of grain are loaded into a machine called a mill. Bright yellow and resembling a wood chipper, the mill crushes the grains. There is usually one constant grain that provides most of the foundation for all beers, with specialty grains added to specific recipes to create different flavours and colourations.

The rollers of the mill open the husks of the grain, but leave the body intact. The grains are then augured into a mash tun and mixed with warm water. Once the proper temperature is reached, the grains sit for an hour to attain starch conversion.

After the hour is up, something called wort has formed at the bottom of the mash tun. Tremaine defines wort as “the sweet and malty liquid that forms the foundation of beer in your glass.” The wort is circulated to the top, and then the brewmasters “lauter” the beer, meaning they separate the wort from the grains and move it to a kettle.

The wort is placed in a kettle where it is then brought to a boil. Once the boiling begins, bitter hops are added to give the beer its hoppy flavour and add its bitterness. Once the boil ends, aroma hops are added to the beer to give it its scent.

After the wort is boiled, it is then whirlpooled so as to separate it from the hop pile through centrifugal force. The wort is then passed through the heat exchanger, which lowers the temperature.

The wort is then moved to a fermenter, where it stays for ten to 15 days and the sugar is converted to alcohol. Lastly, the beer is filtered to remove any leftover yeast and proteins and is bottled.

Tremaine appears most excited at this last part, as he beams while talking about the new bottling machine the brewery just picked up. “We can now bottle in one hour what we could only do in a day before,” he says gleefully.


Just four years young, Grand River Brewing is one of many craft breweries on the Ontario scene. In fact, among students, there appears to be a renaissance for craft beers. More and more, local and obscure beers are popping up in bars, pubs, and restaurants, offering the public more choice in what they drink.

“We are about 25 or 30 years behind the States. They had their brewing renaissance in the ‘80s, and then ours was about ten years ago,” Tremaine explains. “There is now a resurgence of craft breweries, there seems to be more every day.”

Bob Hanenberg, owner and president of Grand River Brewing Company, acknowledged the changing tastes in the consumers demand for the return of craft beers.

“More people are looking to expand their horizons and expand their tastes,” says Hanenberg. “I think that beer can help people expand their horizons – they can do pairings [with food], have different types of beer for different times of the year, and who wants to drink Labatt Blue all their life? There’s more to life than drinking the same thing all the time.”

When asked why he felt that investing in craft beers was the proper retirement hobby for him, and how he knew it would be successful, he points to comparisons between the craft beer industry and the wine industry: “I could see that the craft industry was at its infancy in Ontario – probably about the same stage as the Ontario wine industry was 25 years ago – so it looked like it had nothing but growth potential for the next few years.”

Whether you’re a beer-geek who brews in your basement or a person who goes with the regular order of one of the beer giants, there is a range of craft beers for you to try.

// Kyle Brown, The Sputnik (Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford)


While Ontario may have a now-booming local beer brewing industry, and Montréal's production has been renowned for years, Vancouver also has some hops to brag about. The province is home to approximately 35 microbreweries, according to bcbeer.ca, most of which are located in the Lower Mainland, on Vancouver Island, and the Interior, including the Kootenays.

“I brew and love doing it because I like being able to produce something real, and that people of all stripes appreciate,” explains Andrew Tape, brewer for R&B in Vancouver.

The warehouse where R&B produces their beer is located close to the downtown core, by Ontario and Broadway. “Drinking craft beer made locally has a lot of upsides, from building local culture and economy, to just providing people with flavourful choices instead of bland, mainstream lagers,” says Tape.

By buying locally-made beer from microbreweries, you are not only assured better quality and variety than large mainstream brands, but you are also keeping your money circulating in the local economy.

However, it is not always possible to stay local. Granville Island Brewing, the first founded microbrewery in Vancouver in 1984, sold the company to Molson Coors in 2009. Has their quality changed since? Are you one of those people who stash Hoarders-proportion cases of Winter Ale in their cellars for the out of season months to come? Do you have a time machine? If so, email me! In the meanwhile, here is a brief list of all the microbreweries in Vancouver, and some in the surrounding area:

Dead Frog Brewery

Granville Island Brewing

Gulf Islands Brewing Co.
Salt Spring Island

Horseshoe Bay Brewing

Hoyne Brewing Co.

Nelson Brewing Co.

Old Yale Brewing Co.

R&B Brewing Co.

Red Truck Beer Company
North Vancouver

Russell Brewing Company

Storm Brewing

Tin Whistle Brewing Co.

Tofino Brewing Company

“… ‘Cause while Molson gives people a way to get drunk, craft brewers give people a way to drink beer,” says Tape.

//Adelie Houle-Lachance, features editor
//Illustration by Tyler Hughes

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com