09 Sep This Beer’s All Ontario
Muskoka Brewery’s Harvest Ale Showcases True Ontario Flavour
ONTARIO, September 9, 2019 – What comes to mind when you taste Harvest Ale? For us, it’s the rolling farmlands of Quinte and Prince Edward County, to the sprawling farms of Southwestern Ontario, then a shot to the north through Wellington County up to Thunder Bay. Why? Because that’s where we found the ingredients for our 10th Anniversary Harvest Ale.
Gather the Harvest and fill your basket at the LCBO, The Beer Store, and grocery stores today. Headed for NFLD, AB, SK, and NB soon.
We’ve teamed up with Pleasant Valley Hops, VQH Hop Farms, Barn Owl Malt, Escarpment Labs, and Canada Malting‘s Ottawa Valley farmers to bring you this year’s Harvest Ale. Working with this hardworking collective, we created an autumnal ale that showcases a flavour profile unique to Ontario. This is the third year in a row that we’ve gone all-Ontario and it’s truly rewarding to see our neighbours grow.
Made with 100% Ontario ingredients and BrewON Certified hops.
Tasting Notes: An Ontario Strong Pale Ale, dry hopped and brewed using all-Ontario premium ingredients, this ale has a rich malt backbone and a subtle grassy character reminiscent of the freshly cut harvest.
6.7% ABV · 40 IBUs
Brewmaster’s Banter: Working with local suppliers, provides us an opportunity to showcase how Ontario ingredients present a unique flavour profile. For Harvest Ale, what’s most immediately evident are the hops. For example, Chinook hops from Oregon are resinous with pine and grapefruit, whereas Ontario’s will showcase more pineapple and tangerine notes.
Our main goal is to support local while achieving a similar flavour profile for Harvest Ale, while still expecting subtle changes every year with the harvest. I think that adds an element of fun and creativity to the process. This year’s batch is more golden than deep amber, presenting more grassy biscuit notes. I think we created a really balanced strong pale ale that plays nicely into the fall (as always).
Who’s In The Harvest?
With an 18 year background growing wine grapes, Edgar was well-versed in dealing with vines when he began growing hops in 2013. His passion for hops blossomed immediately and now, he and his partner Catherine are reviving a crop in a region that was once a significant hop producer in the 1800’s. Their farm in Prince Edward County sits on limestone rich terroir, which brewers have acknowledged enhances the tropical and floral aroma of their hops. Of the two hop varieties we’ve used, Chinook from Pleasant Valley Hops introduces complex and bright notes of citrus to our robust pale ale.
Curtis was already a full-time farmer, growing plants like growing plants like, corn, soybeans, Wheat, rye, green beans, peas, sweet corn, and seed corn, when his cousin Jared asked to borrow an acre for hops. Encouraged by their success, the two fostered a joint operation with their neighbours who had the hop processing equipment. The team’s agronomic experience was well-suited to managing a sensitive plant like the Ontario hop, that is always battling our humid climate. A benefit of Southwestern Ontario terroir is that it is drier than other regions, presenting VQH farmers more control when introducing moisture to hops. Within two weeks, a team of six processes 11 acres of hops: dried in the kiln for 24-36 hours, set for another 4-6 hours for moisture balance, transferred to the pelletizer, then bagged and chilled for final packaging. The VQH team is optimistic about the growing demand for more locally-sourced brews and is looking ahead at doubling their hop acreage.
Canada’s only full-service liquid yeast lab. Why liquid yeast? Most yeasts are purchased dry, through the United States. While this is common practice in brewing, liquid yeast is quicker and allows greater flexibility to enhance the flavour and complexity of your desired brew. This year, we went with the American Ale yeast, a nice clean strain that allows the unique character of Ontario hops to shine through. Escarpment is a trusted consultant in the beer market, leading educational seminars with brewers and suppliers in the field. They’re continuing to see exceptional growth with plans to establish a second lab and facility in 2020!
For the base malt in Harvest Ale, we needed 9,100 kg. That’s a big haul. We reached out to Canada Malting to source us an Ontario-based barley for malting at their facility in Thunder Bay. Canada Malting works with over 2000 farmers across Canada every year, and employs over 50 in procurement. They found a number of local farms in Ontario including a family farm in Ottawa Valley to source the barley. Working directly with the farmers (many multi-generational) allows Canada Malting to know and support those longer-term relationships. Incorporated in 1902, Canada Malting is a long-term partner in brewing. We use and trust their product in all our brands.
Barn Owl Malt is owned and operated by Devin and Leslie Huffman. Located in Belleville, Ontario, they are in their fourth year of malting production. Their malts are unique in that they are 100% Ontario sourced and malted, using a traditional method called floor malting. Harvest Ale is made with three single-origin malts from Barn Owl Malt with both wheat and barley that was grown in Prince Edward County. Barn Owl Malt operates with a focus on sustainability, using one-third the water of a conventional malt house, an on-site bio-digester to treat waste water and re-purposing waste grain as animal feed (always popular).