‘All about the final product’
The partners at Wood Brothers Brewery are faced with a pleasant challenge.
Demand for the IPAs produced by the “nano” craft beermaker in Glen Robertson constantly exceeds supply.
The owners are always being asked, “When can we buy your beer?”
There is seldom a definitive answer to the query.
Since the brewery located at White Pine Lumber produces small 120-litre batches of beer, availability is limited. Customers follow updates on social media, where Saturday afternoon tastings are announced.
“We are slowly building a market. We are showing our colours. What we are stressing is quality,” says brewer Louis Castonguay, who owns the business along with Mark Rickerd, his wife, Natasha, hop producer Kurt MacSweyn and brewer Dan Whitehead.
All five partners, who have other regular day jobs, are content for now with keeping the operation small while continuing to perfect distinct recipes.
“This is a serious hobby for me,” says Mr. Castonguay, a Coteaudu-Lac property manager and “hop head” who loves everything about beer.
Mr. MacSweyn’s Chinook hops are among the “super hops” used to make the New England-style ales at Wood Brothers.
“There are a lot of craft beers. We have to be different,” observes Mr. Castonguay, who adds that Wood Brothers appeals to those who like “big aromatics.”
Blending local and imported hops, the brewers have experimented with about 125 batches. “It has been intense; we have done about ten years of brewing in three years,” relates Mr. Castonguay.
“It is all about the final product. We are very judgmental of ourselves. We have to be very precise.” With imported hops ranging in price from $12 to $30 US a pound, even the slightest misstep can be costly. “When we were testing, we lost about 20 per cent of our batches. We were flushing money down the drain.”
One of the advantages of being small is that there is less financial pressure on a craft maker than there is on a large-scale production.
Working with 12 IPA recipes, the Wood Brothers brewers are striving for a “crafty taste.”
Asked what he likes best about making beer, Mr. Castonguay says, “It is a living being. It is fragile. The pleasure I get is seeing people enjoying a beer you made. It is hoppy, refreshing and aromatic. I want it to be a pleasant experience.”
The “different tastes” are refined by the addition of ingredients such as honey, maple syrup and cane sugar.
PRECISION: Louis Castonguay notes that small-scale production enables Wood Brothers to concentrate on quality. At left, he offers one of the distinct beers produced by the Glen Robertson firm.