With National Capital Craft Beer Week in full swing we thought it would be fun to preview some of the special beers that will be making an appearance at the two day festival capping off the week long celebration (August 16 & 17, Marion Dewar Plaza).
The wonderful thing about Craft Beer Week is that it not only features some of our wonderful local craft breweries, but also some of the best from beyond the capital. One of those visiting breweries, travelling all the way from Gravenhurst, Ontario, is Sawdust City Brewing Company. We're not super familiar with their beers so we thought it would be a good idea to interview their brewmaster - Sam Corbeil
Ottawa Beer Events: How did you get interested in brewing and where did you learn to brew?
Sam Corbeil (Sawdust City Brewing Company): I learned to brew at the VLB in Berlin. I took the Certified Brewmasters Course back in 2006 but before that I had 0 experience with brewing, I hadn't even home brewed. I guess I was just really into beer. The 'Ah ha' moment was on a trip through Belgium and France with my wife and another couple. We were at a Beer Festival in the Grande Place in Brussels and, I don't know, maybe it was the opulence of the grand old buildings or maybe it was the copious amounts of beer, but I decided at that moment that I really wanted to brew beer for a living. I really didn't know how I was going to do that, so when I got back to work (I was working in advertising at the time) I hit the interwebs and found beer schools, which ultimately led me to the VLB. The rest is, as they say, history.
What made you decide to open a brewery?
While I was at the VLB, my goal was to always be a part of opening a brewery. After a few years of working at breweries around Ontario and carrying around this grand dream, I ran into Rob Engman, the publisher of TAPS The Beer Magazine and we got to talking and we got to drinking at which point we both decided that it would be a good thing to work together on a brewery project. Beer will do that. Four years later, we almost there...it's taken a little longer than we hoped, but in the end it will be worth it.
How did you come up with the name Sawdust City?
Where all good ideas come from...the internets. We were having trouble coming up with a name so I was googling (that's a verb now right) Gravenhurst and I came across an ol'timey name for the town...Sawdust City. I really dug it, it kinda had a pioneering sound to it, but it was contemporary at the same time. Back at the turn of the last century (1900's not 2000's) Gravenhurst was a logging town and there was something like 25 mills down on the wharf. And with all the milling and cutting and what not going on, the town got the nickname Sawdust City. We thought it was pretty apt.
Which beers will you be showcasing at the National Capital Craft Beer Festival this weekend?
We're bringing 5 beers with us. A couple of our regular brands Lone Pine IPA, Golden Beach Pale Ale and Ol'Woody Alt will be there along with a few seasonals, Red Rocket Stout (spiced with cinnamon, coffee and cayenne pepper) and our Princess & Girlpants Meet the ODB (Barrel Aged Belgian Golden).
If we could only sample one Sawdust City beer at the festival, which one should it be?
Shoot, that's a toughie...I diggem all, but right now it's a toss up between the Golden Beach Pale and the ODB. The Golden Beach is just poppin with big tropical hops and at 4.8% it's super drinkable this time of year, perfect summer patio pint. And the ODB, well it's kinda on the other end of the spectrum. It's 9% and it's got a real nice tartness too it from the barrel aging, with a good amount of fruitiness from the Motueka hops and Belgian yeast. It's big, but it's nice.
Currently you have Lone Pine IPA in the LCBO. Do you plan on introducing other beer via the LCBO? If so, which ones?
We are actually just packaging our next release to the LCBO as we speak, our Imperial Stout, 'Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus'. It's another big beer, 9% with a huge amount of coffee and espresso on the nose and a big chocolately body. It'll hit the shelves later this September. I'm really excited about this one, I love this beer.We've submitted our Red Rocket Stout as well and hope to hear back about that soon, it's been a big hit for us this year on the festival circuit.
You can follow Sam Corbeil and the Sawdust City Brewing Company on Twitter (@sawdustcitybeer) or Facebook (Sawdust City Brewery) or you can stop by and say hi at their booth during the Craft Beer Week Festival (with a beer in hand of course).