On July 20 I went to my first ever beer tasting night. It was at Waller Street Brewing and I’d been invited a few weeks before to come try some beers and talk about their plans for their one year anniversary on August 5. I had previously written a review of some of their constant offerings for the Fulcrum, the University of Ottawa student newspaper and was excited to go back. Fun fact I also used to be the Opinions editor for the Fulcrum.
I strongly recommend checking out that review before reading anymore of this, that article does a good job (I hope) setting the scene and describing the atmosphere of Waller Street. I’ve linked to it twice now so go give it a read.
This was a good group to do my first tasting with, there were some members of the Ottawa Beer Club, as well as several of the writers/podcasters from 613 Beer. This was a pretty dedicated group of beer fans, people who were able to nod their heads knowingly when told what hops were used in a certain beer.
This was also my first time having a long conversation with the brewer. Marc-Andre, the head brewer, did a fantastic job explaining why a certain hop or yeast was used instead of another. He also went into great detail about some of the crazy experiments they’ve conducted, such as superheating hops before injecting them or creating their own particular strain of lactic acid for souring their beers.
We even did a fair number of experiments with the group, souring some of their Speakeasy Red and taste testing two different versions of their Blind Pig IPA to narrow down the yeast choices.
We ended the tasting with their latest sour, the Scotch River Sour. This is an excellent example of their willingness to experiment. Instead of adding hops to get the bitterness for this beer they added spruce tips and birch syrup. If that sounds odd then good, it felt a little weird to me too, especially because I haven’t quite gotten into the sour market yet.
Sours are in a way the next IPA, in that they seem to have become very popular with craft breweries looking to put their own spin on something. I’m happy this was my first sour because it was delicious. It had a fizzy taste to it, and was very refreshing without making you feel like you’d just eaten a sour candy. An important note about sours is that they don’t often taste as strong as they are, because the sour taste cuts through the alcohol. This sour is 6.8% and I could have sipped this all day long.
This was a great night, and a chance to meet many other passionate people who really know what they’re talking about when they discuss beer. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, if you’re looking for a place to get started in exploring craft beer there’s no better place in downtown Ottawa than Waller Street. And if you’re not busy on August 5 they’ll be partying from 12 to 10.