|Hanging at Cask Days 2011|
Morrow has worked for both big and small breweries, starting out with Molson Coors before heading to Better Bitters. Armed with a degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics, Morrow decided to put it to use in the brewing industry rather than sit in a lab all day.
The brewery is known for their Gluten Free beer, their Green Apple Pilsner and their Organic Lager, which aren't high up on the craft beer drinkers' radar, but some new creations Morrow has been working on have started gaining some attraction, like the new Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout and his Cuvee. The brewery is also installing a pilot system, which will allow Morrow to experiment with more flavours and styles.
Where is the Better Bitters Brewing Co. situated and what beers do you currently produce?
Better Bitters (Nickel Brook Beers) is located in Burlington Ontario. We produce a wide variety of full time and seasonal brews. Our year round lineup is: Headstock IPA, Organic Lager, Draught, Headstock Light, Green Apple Pilsner and we are the first Brewery in Ontario to produce a Gluten Free Beer, which is a Pale Ale in style. Some of our seasonal varieties include: Maple Porter, Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout, Cuvée, Bohemian Pilsner, Canadian 80/- and Märzenbier. We plan on expanding our seasonal and one-off selection this year with the addition of our new Pilot system. We are also the only company in Canada producing a 100% all-natural Root Beer.
Describe the history behind the brewery.
Brothers, John and Peter Romano first opened Better Bitters 20 years ago as a Brew-On-Premise facility and soon became one of the largest in the province. Seven years ago the demand was so high for BOP beer that they purchased the Brewhouse from Hart brewery which had just recently closed. About the same time, the ‘Buck-a-beer’ craze hit Ontario and really affected the BOP beer industry and thus they decided to use their brewhouse to launch a Microbrewery. The name Nickel Brook originates from the combination of Johns two children, Nicholas and Brooke. After some trial-by-fire, a few different brewers, and a bit of luck, here we are!
What is your best selling beer?
This often varies from season to season, but we seem to always do a large volume of Organic Lager and Draught. The Gluten Free beer has also been a huge hit.
What's new at the brewery?
The Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout has been well received as our newest seasonal. Our Headstock IPA is set to launch very soon in the LCBO in a 473 mL can. We also have some beer sitting in bourbon and wine barrels that we look forward to offering as limited releases. We are in the process of installing a full Pilot system which should allow us to produce some different one off’s and seasonals. We’re also installing a new bottling line and expanding our tank capacity by 30% this spring. It should be a busy year!
How did you get into the brewing industry?
I’ve always been a huge fan of beer (even way back before I was legally allowed) and I attended the University of Guelph for Molecular Biology and Genetics degree, so I have an extensive science background. I was in the middle of doing a Masters at Guelph when I realized I couldn’t be stuck in a lab all day and I needed to do something I truly loved. Thus I decided to get into brewing industry. Molson-Coors in Etobicoke were actually the first to hire me, but I only stuck around a few months because I wanted to move to a Micro and Better Bitters were kind enough to offer me a job. I took over the Brewmaster’s duties a little over two years ago.
How is the local support in Burlington?
Not gonna lie, Burlington is a tough craft beer market. The company as a whole is supported well in the community as it’s been around for two decades. However, it’s safe to say the palate of the average Burlingtonian is less refined than the rest of the province, but we’re trying to change that.
Where can someone find your products?
Of course, the great craft beer locations across the province. We also have a wide distribution in the LCBO and we’re toying with idea of going more heavily into The Beer Store, but that obviously has its many issues. We’re also examining some possibilities of branching outside of Ontario in the near future.
Tell us something about Better Bitters that not a lot of people know about?
Just because I get asked a lot…Yes, Tim Blakeley is still alive and doing well.
Which Better Bitters (Nickelbrook) beer do you find yourself drinking most these days?
Probably the Imperial Stout. The new beer always seems to get the love.
What is the highlight of your brewing career - to date?
I suppose I have been, and probably still am, one of the youngest brewmasters in the country. So that’s somethin’ I guess.
Name your favourite non Better Bitters produced beer?
Damn you Troy! Why’d you have to go and ask a question like that? You know I can’t possibly answer this. Waaaay too many to choose from.
Best time for a pint?