After spending time since 2003 perfecting their craft, Sawdust City Brewing Co., decided it was time to put down some roots. They turned a hum-drum former Canadian Tire building in downtown Gravenhurst into a full-fledged brewery and Sawdust City Saloon, brewing their first batch of beer last June. The Saloon has a cottage feel complete with a custom-made wood tasting bar, rotating brew taps (including a guest tap, this time pouring Indie Ale House) and live music on weekends. Brewmaster Sam Corbeil took us on a tour through the brewery and let us in on some brewery secrets.
After checking out the milling and brewing equipment (with the old Canadian Tire Autobody shop door open) he brought us over to the first tank in the brewery that holds a new brew: Summer Saison at 4.5% ABV. It’s not just any saison—it started with foraging for Wood Sorrel in the Limberlost Forest, just outside of Hunstville, to flavour the beer. Corbeil says he was after the edible flowering plant for its sour lemony flavour. Then they asked Escarpment Yeast, Ontario’s new start-up yeast laboratory, to come up the forest and source native yeast samples. Those strains are currently being tested to see if they can tolerate alcohol. Corbeil plans to put the hardier strains into a portion of the brew into barrels to age with the native yeast. Talk about science meets beer! Looking forward to this one coming out soon.
HEATHER’S BEER PICKS
After sampling a few beers at the tasting bar, it was Princess & Girlpants meet ODB that was my stand-out favourite. This hoppy Belgian Golden is aged in an ODB (Old Dirty Wine Barrel). Tropical aromas beckon, but then really get the funky wine notes and woody flavours wash the palate—not to mention it’s a fierce 8.5% ABV. It’s been an annual release for the brewery and medaled in the 2014 and 2013 Ontario Brewing Awards. As for the name?
“It’s named after three of my friends,” says Corbiel. “Princess is my buddy Brian…he’s a princess. Girlpants is my buddy Adam…he wore capris pants one time. ODB is my buddy Matt…he turned 40 before us, so he’s the O.D.B.”
And Golden Beach Pale Wheat at 4.8% ABV, a citrus and tropical-fruit hopped sessionable brew. Summit, Mosaic, Galaxy & Sorachi Ace hops all pop from the beer and make me question why I am not currently on a dock in cottage country sipping this beer in the sunshine and fresh air.I guess my condo patio will have to do.
Heather has a big crush on all things craft beer and has obtained her Prud’homme Beer Enthusiast Level 1 Certification. She hopes to further her beer education in the future and is always reading up on (and trying) new styles. She currently works for Amsterdam Brewery in Toronto and can be found on a night off hosting a pairing dinner for friends or trying new brews on tap at her favourite spots around the city.