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).
Square Timber Brewing Company is a soon-to-be brewery located in the Ottawa Valley run by Marc Bru. Since the brewery isn't yet operational, he will be collaborating with Beyond the Pale's Shane Clark a this weekend's festival. We chatted with him about the brewery and the special beer:
Ottawa Beer Events: How did you get interested in brewing and where did you learn?
Marc Bru (Square Timber Brewing Company): I grew up in and around beer as my Dad worked in distribution for all the major breweries in my home province of Saskatchewan for 30+ years and then he worked in packaging at Great Western Brewing Company in Saskatoon for 4 or 5 years before he retired. Although it wasn't craft beer, it was still beer and I was always intrigued by the beer biz. My job as a full time touring musician brought me to many great beer towns/cities throughout the US and Europe as well. We always tried to visit as many micro/craft breweries as possible and I made some great contacts and friends in the craft beer world throughout those years. I've been brewing small batches (5g) for many years and completed two apprenticeships with a brewery in Michigan. I learned a lot about craft beer and the craft of brewing there. Quick story... My Dad ran the warehouse where all the beer for western and northern Saskatchewan was received from the breweries and then shipped out to bars, hotels, restaurants, etc. They also took in the bottle returns from these accounts as well as from the public and then would send them back to the breweries. When the breweries all switched from stubbies to their own versions of the longneck bottle in the 80's we had to sort them so each brewery would get their own bottles back. The first couple of years were difficult because people wouldn't sort their bottles and would just bring them in unsorted. and dirty. and stinking. My job for 2 whole summers was to stand out in the sun, sorting bottles. The smell was usually awful, on a good day, and it was amazing the things you would find in beer bottles. But, even with all of that, it was still the best place to work and I loved every minute of it. The coffee breaks were pretty good too :-)
Why did you decide to open a brewery?
By the time I hit 35 I had a pretty good feeling that this is what I was going to do some day. It has taken a bit longer than the original plan but we'll get there.
Where did the name Square Timber come from?
The Ottawa Valley was settled on the square timber trade back in the 1800's. Crews would spend the winters in lumber camps cutting white and red pines into squared logs, pile them on the ice and in the spring they would assemble them into cribs and rafts, float them down the Ottawa River to Quebec City where the majority were then shipped over to England for shipbuilding. The people, history and culture of the Ottawa Valley are rich and colourful and we want to pay respect to these with our company's philosophy and our beers - hand hewn ales and lagers from the heart of the Ottawa Valley.
We heard you brewed a beer with Beyond the Pale for the National Capital Craft Beer Festival, can you tell us about it?
BTP's Shane Clark and I wanted to brew something that neither one of us currently brew or plan to brew in our respective breweries. We decided on an American Pale Ale with tonnes of late tropically hops to give it great aroma and flavour without peeling the enamel off your teeth. We wanted it to be in the 5% range as well so people could have more than one :-) We're going to release it at the Beer Festival and it will be available in the Beyond the Pale booth. Also, I will be sharing a booth with 2 other "soon to open" breweries in the Ottawa area - Covered Bridge Brewing in Stittsville and Rurban Brewing in Cornwall. We wanted to be able to meet and chat with the beer fans and tell them about our breweries and beers. We're looking forward to the Festival!
When will Square Timber Brewing Company will be up and running?
At this point, with all of the steps left to be taken, it's anybody's guess really but if I was to venture a guess...how does 2013 sound? ;-) Whenever it is, we'll let everyone know.
You can follow Marc Bru on Twitter (@SquareTimber) or Facebook (Square Timber Brewing Company) - be warned though, he posts about the beer he brews and it may make you a little upset that you can't drink it!