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.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Meet Rob Creighton: Grand River Brewing

Meet Rob Creighton - Brewer at Grand River Brewing Company

Grand River Brewing Company is one of the latest additions to the Ontario brewing scene and has done extremely well awakening taste buds close to home and far away. There are currently four year round brews being produced at Grand River: Plowman's Ale, Mill Race Mild, Galt Knife Old Style Lager, and Town Hall Lager. The brewery also produces some mouthwatering seasonals like Highballer Pumpkin Ale, Jubilation Spiced Ale, and most recently Ploegers Vlaams Rood.

1. How long have you been with the brewery?
Grand River Brewing opened June 26th, 2007 in the Galt Knife building in the historic, 'downtown Galt' area of Cambridge. We're about 5 km south of the 401 on the road south to Brantford. My role here was originally as consultant to Bob Hannenberg and Jane Southgate, the owners of the brewery. They offered the brewing job to me and I thought that getting back into the brewhouse was a good idea.

2. How long have you been brewing - working in the brewing industry
30 years - started as a student in 1977 at Labatt London, worked in all three Labatt plants while getting a degree in Urban and Regional Planning - yup, that was useful. Left Labatt when Upper Canada started in '85. Started UC's brewing, fermentation and packaging operations. Left in '88 to go into the brewpub world. Consulted with 6 brewpub's, many of them using extract systems. Went to Algonquin Brewery in Formosa in '89 for another start-up. Started in brewing and moved over to start and manage packaging in '90. Left Algonquin when they were bought out by a Brick/Molson deal in '97. Went to Lakeport for the installation and start-up of a canning line. Left the brewing industry in '98 to work for CCL Industries selling packaging solutions to the brewing industry. In essence, I got to travel to most breweries in North America to help out with packaging problems. My friends thought I was paid to travel around and drink beer. I did other consult's along the road. I helped dismantle the Celis Brewery in Austin Texas and move it to Webberville Michigan and I helped with packaging start-ups at Cool Brewery in Brampton. Got off the road in 2003 by taking a supervisors position at Nestle Waters in Aberfoyle running big bottling lines. Decided never to do shift work again in '04 and went to F&M in Guelph to help with sales and marketing issues. Left F&M to start Grand River Brewing.

3. Describe your passion for the beer industry
I like it, what can I say? As I say in my tours when people ask what it's like being in the brewing industry - I could be making tampons for a living.

4. Grand River's plans for the summer?
The water here is exceptionally hard. Harder than Creemores or the City of Guelph. Our beers are about flavour. The amount of calcium and magnesium in the water provides for very dry finishes and minimal hop aroma. We intend to explore a variety of styles for lagers and ales with the twist that is added by our water. This summer we have a German Helles made with very pale malt, German Mittelfruh and Hersbruker hops and we will probably also do some form our berry infused wheat beer once we have local berry crops available. Our first efforts at bottling (other than our growler) will happen this summer.

5. What's new at the brewery? Lots of walk ins, tours, any new beers in the planning?
What isn't new at the brewery? We have what will be a tourist attraction in Cambridge. It is an old knife foundry that made machine knives. It has very unique windows that allow both morning and afternoon light in and we are only 1/2 finished the construction. We intend to maintain the look and functionality of the building. Long term, we hope to have a functioning hospitality room and tasting bar themed to match the historic, industrial feel of the area when Galt was the industrial heartland of Canada in the mid 1800's to early 1900's. Tours will be regularly scheduled (they're sort of as someone is available to do them now) and we hope to host some interesting beer focused events. As for future beers, I'm a big fan of Bock beers and hope to do one in the fall. We also are talking to suppliers about wine and whisky casks for aging. Our Ploegers Vlaams Rood is a variation of a Flanders red sour ale but with the big hop contributions that characterizes our Plowman's Ale. The Plowman is a heroic figure in Belgian history celebrating the link between agriculture and industry and man's harmony with nature. Our version is definitely out of Belgian style. We did not have the ancient wooden casks to sour the ale so we soured the mash instead. The sour and high abv are there but the hoppiness is high for the style. Many of its drinkers are thinking that it will age well so we are putting a limited amount in 750 bottles with synthetic corks for laying down.

6. Your ideal beer and food pairing?
Meat...let me repeat that...MEAT! Love all forms with a variety of beers

7. Why did you get into the business?
It was a great paying job when I was 17 (I lied about my age). After that, inertia took over.

8. Best time to have a pint?
What time is it?

9. How long have you been with the OCB?

We joined in May of '07


the coelacanth said...

Excellent! Had a growler of the Ploegers Vlaams Rood last night and it was delicious. Really looking forward to those new brews...

Troy Burtch said...

Grand River produces some great beers, so I imagine these new ones will be just as good.

Anonymous said...

Rob is an interesting guy... Lots of opinions. Some of them right. That's all I'm going to say.

Troy Burtch said...

Anonymous: Rob is an interesting guy and great to talk with about the brewing industry. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, right or wrong.

Thanks for reading.

Web Analytics

Winter Ale