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.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meet Patrick Fiori - Clocktower Brewpub

Meet Patrick Fiori, the Brewmaster with the four Clocktower Brewpubs in Ottawa. 

Fiori got into the brewing industry like so many other brewers before him - homebrewing while getting a degree in chemistry/biochemistry during University. Not wanting to work in a traditional lab setting, Fiori ended up at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland studying at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling. And it's a good thing for Ottawa residents as Fiori's beers are popular with the locals in our nation's capital city.  

Under Fiori's watchful eye, Clocktower recently opened their fourth location in Westboro where they'll be serving their regular beer menu (see styles).

Meet Patrick Fiori

Where are the Clocktower Brewpubs situated and what beers do you currently produce?
We are an Ottawa based brewpub. We have a location in the Byward Market. Our other locations are situated in well established neighborhoods around the city. We just opened our 4th store in Westboro. All of our brewing is done out of the original Bank Street locations.

We have 5 standard ales: the Kolsch, our lightest offering, a Raspberry Wheat, ESB, Red, and a Brown. We have a rotating selection of seasonals and occasional one-offs. We also do cask conditioned product out of the Bank street location.

Describe the history behind the brewpubs.
The first brewpub was established in 1996. Since we have opened we have seen a couple of brewpubs come and go. At the moment we are the only brewpub situated inside Ottawa (although that is about to change).

We opened our 2nd store in 2004 in New Edinburgh and the location in the market in 2009. We are now running with 4 locations and who knows where it will go from here.

What is your best selling beer?
Our best selling standard is by far the Kolsch. It is a little more flavor than your standard Kolsch and not quite as dry. As far as our seasonals go our Pumpkin ale is unstoppable. We have been running the Pumpkin for 4 years and have seen our production explode from 1 batch to 14 batches over the same time frame.

What's new at the brewpub?
The biggest news is the opening our new location in Westboro. To celebrate we created a one-off called “#4”.  It is a Belgian Style Pale ale with 4 malts, 4 hops, and weighs in at 6.2%.

We picked up a bronze for our Brown at the Canadian Brewing Awards, which I am proud of. Aside from that not much going on, we should have our IPA up for just after Christmas.

Why did you get into the brewing industry and describe your passion for it.
I got into the brewing industry out of a love for beer. I have a chemistry/biochemistry degree and I didn’t want to work in a lab. I was homebrewing at the time and one thing led to another and suddenly I was in Edinburgh studying at the ICBD (International Centre for Brewing and Distilling).

I love beer and I love the brewing industry. I love being part of something that when someone creates a beer, they put their energy, life, and love into that product. It’s hard not to get a little sentimental when a bunch of brewers are talking about their products. It’s like talking about a close family member.

What is the best aspect of working in the Canadian craft brewery industry?
I also love the camaraderie that exists in the craft beer world. We are all in it together and we all know it. There are a lot of great people in the industry.

I get frustrated sometime when someone walks into the pub and even though there is a brewing system behind glass they ask: You brew beer here? The look on the face of someone who has just been converted to your product because they genuinely like it is priceless.

Where can someone find your products?
The only way you can get our beer is at one of our four locations.

Tell us something about Clocktower that not a lot of people know about.
I will tell you three things:

1. We have a manufacturing license just like any other craft brewery.
2. We use four open top fermenters
3. The brewery is run by a rabid Saskatchewan Roughrider fan and is thus closed on almost every game day

What advantages do smaller breweries have over the big guys?
I will answer that from the perspective of someone who is smaller than most small guys. From my point of view the ability to use expensive premium ingredients is paramount. Our raw materials cost is so relatively low that I can use the right malt from the right maltster and not have to worry too much about cost. We also stock 9 varieties of hops, I can use the perfect hop for each beer.

Besides brewing, I do most of the marketing, accounting, whatever the brewery needs me to do. I have learned so much about the business of brewing and I like that I can spend time in all facets of the business.

What is the highlight of your brewing career - to date?
Two highlights, winning medals in the first two beer competitions entered.

Second, I am going to be featured in the University of Saskatchewan alumni magazine next year. I am immensely proud of that.

Name your favourite non Clocktower produced beer?
Just for the record I hate this question. There are so many factors to weigh in but among my top 5 are Kozel, Stone Hammer Pilsner, Beau's Beaver River IPA, Great Lakes Crazy Canuck, and Caledonian 80.

Best time for a pint?

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