Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Meet John Graham: Church Key Brewing

Meet John Graham- Brewer/Owner/Keg Washer at Church Key Brewing Company.

Graham has earned a solid reputation over the years for the outstanding beers he brews at his historic building in picturesque Northumberland County.

He opened the church doors to the public back in 2000 with the introduction of Northumberland Ale, a beer that would go on to win numerous awards over the years and be the start of great things to come.

Recently, this Federal Green Party member took the time to answer 10 questions about his passion. For more information on the Church Key Brewery, check out his website at

1. How long have you been operating the brewery?
A: In 1998 I was working for Amsterdam Brewing in Toronto, I was starting to tire of the commute so I started working on a business plan, I bought the Church property in Aug. of 1999 and did renos over the winter. Northumberland Ale was launched to one of the local Golf Courses July 23rd 2000.

2. Why did you get into the business?
A: Because no one else will hire me to do anything else.

3. How long have you been brewing - working in the brewing industry?
A: Before Amsterdam which I started at in 1993, I ran a Brew On Premise up in Aurora. I was homebrewing before that.

4. Brief history of the brewery and the building.
A: The building is an 1876 Methodist Church it was changed to a United in the twenties and decommissioned in 1997. I purchased it in 1999 and the rest is history. Amen!

5. Describe your passion for the beer industry
A: I love that I can use brewing to both earn a living and have the creative, artistic outlet that I need. I don't think I could sit at a desk.

6. Church Key's plans for the summer?
A: We are looking into the Full pint (By the Glass: AGCO) tasting bar option that way we could showcase local bands (my other passion). It will make the brewery an even better destination. **(On a side note, I think the "By the Glass" option is a great idea that more breweries need to take a serious look at-TB).

7. What's new at the brewery? Any new beers in the planning?
A: I've got one of my farmer friends tapping birch trees and we are going to make a pioneer style birch beer using all local ingredients.

8. Your ideal beer and food pairing?
A: I love to cook with beer. Matching Holy Smoke with mussels that have been cooked in it with some shallots and a soft ripe cheese stirred in.

9. Best time to have a pint?
A: Your palate is most keen in the morning before lunch and long after breakfast. Not that I do that everyday. I am ussaully filtering then and it tastes fresh and tax free right off the bright.

10. What is your favorite Church Key beer?
A: love them all I would have an easier time telling you which of my sons is my favorite.

The Church Key Brewery is located in a old Methodist Church on the outskirts of Campbellford, Ontario, and features a retail store that is open seven days a week from 10am to dark.

They currently have the following beers available in bottles: Northumberland Ale, Cranberry Maple Wheat, Holy Smoke, West Coast Pale Ale, Lactese Falcon, and Grains of Wrath DIPA. Never one to sit idle, Graham is currently working on a pioneer birch style beer that will no doubt be flavourful.

You can contact Church Key at:
Phone Us: 1 877 314-BEER
Email Us:
Write US: 1678 County Rd#38, Campbellford, Ontario, K0L 1L0


the coelacanth said...

i like this new series. keep it up!

Jesse said...

I have always wanted to visit Church Key. This is a great feature. Can't wait to see more!

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