Many Manitobans consider themselves connoisseurs of the local beer community, but how many have followed local brewing back to its historical roots?
Thanks to a course at Fort Whyte Alive that kicks off Jan. 12, local beer aficionados can follow the recipes of Manitoba’s first official brewer and craft a pair of unique beers – using locally-grown ingredients, many from the Fort Whyte area itself – over an open flame.
“About five years ago, some friends of mine handed me some sketch notes from the first brewer – that we know of – to work in the Red River Valley,” said Fort Whyte Alive’s Barrett Miller, who will be teaching the beermaking course.
“I thought, ‘I can’t do this on my stove top or a propane burner. I want to do this on a fire.’
“If only I had something that offered 19th century technology and fire pits. Wait a minute, I work at Fort Whyte and we have a sod house!”
Miller told 680 CJOB that his experimental brews were so good, Fort Whyte’s public programmer suggested he teach a course, which has now been taking place over each of the past three winters.
The cold weather, he said, is actually beneficial for the brewing process, which is why the courses are held in the winter.
“You do need to cool any beer fairly quickly or you end up with off-flavours,” he said.
“It sometimes tastes like boiled cabbage. Not good. Doing it in August means you need cold water, you need ice. It’s easier to cool things in the winter.”
Despite running the open fire brewing courses and years of practice, Miller said he still has a lot to learn before being considered a ‘brewmaster’.
“I’m not a brewmaster. That’s sort of like lacing them up for a beer league and saying ‘I’m a professional hockey player'”, he said.
The open fire brewing courses take place Jan. 12 and Feb. 9 at Fort Whyte Alive.
“There’s something about standing around a campfire that brings people together,” said Miller.
“There’s not a lot of courses that begin and end with hanging around a campfire making new friends.”
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