A Note from the Chris’
A Tale of Two Chris’
“Really?! It must be really confusing” is something we often hear when people find out that there are not just two Chris’ (I know it should be Chrises but it just looks weird) but two Chris Thompsons. To be honest, we have known each other so long that it is hard to remember the initial confusion. It would have been mid June 2006 I first realized I was not the only Chris Thompson in the Ottawa Valley.
That fateful day in June I have said we were either destined to be good friends or mortal enemies. As interesting as the latter might be I am thankful it was the former. During guide training you have two weeks of learning the river but also swimming the river. These “controlled drowning experiences” often bring a rookie year together like many types of training will do.
Nicknames at Wilderness Tours are quite common. In fact, there are people that I struggle to remember their actual names since I only ever hear their nickname. During a volleyball match the OTHER Chris and I were on opposing teams and earned the nicknames High Tower and Low Tower. Since then, even on the guide roster for rafting assignments, we are Chris HT and Chris LT.
Our brewery team I feel enjoy it. When someone asks for “Chris” they answer the phone the same way even though they know how the conversation will go.
Guest: Can I speak with Chris?
Staff: Which Chris would you like to speak to?
Guest: Chris Thompson
Staff: We have two. Which Chris Thompson?
At this point it either comes down to Canadian vs English, tall vs short/low (I’ll have you know I’m quite an average height. It’s not my fault the OTHER Chris is freakishly tall), or some other difference that they think is defining. In the office there must be a subtle difference in tone that people use when referring to us because I very seldom look up when someone says “Chris” and they mean the other Chris. This holds true for him.
Besides the occasional request to speak with Chris about such ‘n such and neither of us can remembering doing it, it’s mainly just the obvious bonuses of saving a fortune on business cards and sharing COSTCO and CAA memberships. There are many things that define WBC. Whether its two raft guides brewing locally sourced beer in a retrofitted dairy barn, the live music, the locally sourced food, the awesome team that has grown from the brewery or the fact that those two raft guides have the same first and last name, regardless it makes for an interesting story.
Chris Thompson & Chris Thompson
Due to overwhelming customer support we will be running low on beer for the next few weeks. We are doing our very best to keep up with the demand for our delicious brew by adding more fermenters to our growing lineup. We will never sacrifice quality for quantity and we greatly appreciate your patience while we grow our young business.
Acoustic Thursdays at Riverside
By popular demand we are welcoming back Thursday night entertainment at the Riverside brew pub. While we are keeping the open mic party at Lakeside in Cobden, we will be offering live unplugged entertainment from 7pm-10pm every Thursday for the rest of the Summer. Make your reservation today by calling 613-582-7227.
While we’ve already announced our partnership with Doug Gilmour, we now have some updates on when this deliciously crisp beer will be available for you. Packaging is in the schedule and the Kolsch-Style Ale will be available in cans in our retail stores and in some of your favourite local pubs and restaurants by the end of August.
Farmer’s Daughter in the LCBO
Yes, you read that correctly! It’s finally happened. After years of patiently awaiting our turn to have our #1 beer accepted to the LCBO we can now say it is. We could not be happier that we are now able to bring this beer to our customers through one more (very big) avenue. Keep your eyes peeled.
Pack it Up
By Head Brewer Sean
Packaging is the easiest part of the brewing process, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t places to fail. Be it kegging, canning or bottling, there are some important parts to keep in mind. First let’s go through the conditioning and carbonation of the beer.
Once the beer has been taken off the yeast and is in the Bright Beer Tank, it needs to get as cold as possible. Normally we will hold it at 0c for a day or 2 than bring it down to -1c. This is the threshold for most beer to be very cold but not freeze. The alcohol in the beer allows us to go below 0c without freezing. The cold beer also allows CO2 to dissolve into solution faster. Basically we put CO2 pressure into the beer through a Carbonation Stone. This is a long porous rock that allows small bubbles of gas to pass through it. The small bubbles allow a much greater surface area to come in contact with the beer helping the CO2 to “stick” in the beer. Once we have pushed enough CO2 in the beer to take a reading of how much volume of CO2 is in the beer. Most beer is carbonated to 2.5Vols of CO2, but that can go from 2.3 for low carbonated British beer, up to 3.5 for high carbonated German wheat beer.
Now that the beer is carbonated, it needs to be carbonated. This is done simply by hooking up a hose and emptying into a package. For kegs, we have a 4-way manifold that allows us to fill 4 kegs at a time. It takes us 6 hours to empty 7000 litres of beer into kegs, which is actually quite quick. For can or bottle products it works similarly except that the beer hose is hooked up to a machine instead of the vessel it goes into. It fills the bottles and cans quickly and efficiently with a computer doing the heavy lifting. The machine caps the cans and bottles for us as well, so we just need to box them up and get them in the fridge.
While this may not be the most exciting part of the brewing process, there are some crucial steps that need to be taken for quality control and shelf life. Oxygen in the final product can really reduce the shelf life because it stales the beer fast. Temperature can also be a factor. The colder we can store the beer, the longer we can extend the shelf life. For every 10c increase in temperature it doubles the staling rate of the beer. That is why we try to keep everything as cold as we can. On the quality control side of things, (which can be the most difficult part of the brewing job). We have to sit down and drink samples of every beer we brew. It is very hard but we try our best to not waste a drop. In addition we also send our beer to a lab for analysis which helps us to ensure that we have no bacteria in our beer.
Please write in for topics for my next blog. I would love to talk about anything beer or brewing related.
Cooking with Beer
Whistling Paddler Mussels with Bacon & Onion
By Head Chef Sarah
Best Paired with Class V
1/3 red onion, sliced
3 strips of bacon, chopped roughly
2oz Whistling Paddler
Sear bacon in hot pan until fat renders. Add red onion, sauté until soft; add mussels and cover for 30 seconds.
Deglaze with Whistling Paddler. Simmer for 2-5 minutes or until mussels open.
Serve with fresh focaccia and an ice cold glass of Class V.
Session Muskoka Craft Beer Festival
This annual celebration hosts more than just beer vendors. Live music, Beer Olympics, and food & drink vendors make it worth the drive. Get tickets and more information here.
Pick ‘N’ Ride Bluegrass Festival
This four day bluegrass festival includes equestrian events, First Nations dancing, cultural demonstrations and of course, music. It is taking place at Horse Country Campground at Wilderness Tours in Foresters Falls. Get tickets and more information here.
CNE Craft Beer Festival
This Toronto venue will be hosting 12 craft breweries, food trucks galore, and other great vendors. For more information look here.
Questions from Friends
Do you think you’d ever make a gluten free beer?
Hi Chad. Of course we would love to make a gluten free beer so that anyone can try our delicious brew. Unfortunately though, it isn’t as simple as creating a new recipe. While there are ingredients you can substitute to create similar tasting products, to have a truly gluten free beer you need a gluten free system. No matter how clean the brewing system is, there is still the risk that some malted barley dust or particles could make it in. While this might sound a little defeating, it is possible that some day us, and more breweries could have smaller systems (or even big ones) that can be dedicated to creating a brew that is safe for those that don’t like the glu…ten.
We want to answer your questions about anything from the beer, the brewery, the boys or whatever else is on your mind. Due to the high volume of questions though, we won’t be able to post every one, but keep your eyes peeled in case yours makes it to the front page.
*Questions from Friends is for general questions in the areas listed above. For personal inquiries please use firstname.lastname@example.org