We Hillers like our beer.
We out drink the rest of the province tossing back flats of 50.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a microbrewery in the Hills? A good beer we could all call our own? A clean, tasty brew made from the water that flows from our beloved Wakefield spring?
I find it surprising that nobody has thought of this yet… or have they?
There are rumours floating around that a guy named “Stewart” is in the process of converting the old butcher building on Butter Road (de la Beurrerie) in Masham into a local microbrewery. All I can say is I hope the rumours are true.
I speak from experience. A few friends and I recently tried to make some hillbilly home brew; everything that could have gone wrong did.
You’ve got a certain picture in your mind when you make beer for the first time. Mine included good friends with too many samples of their own product in their bellies crooning over a bubbling barrel of get-you-wastoid ale.
We got the friends having fun part right, but our second mistake, after the first of enjoying too many brews, was chopping our grains way too fine. We then couldn’t get our propane heater hot enough (we turned the knob the wrong way) and then when testing the temperature, someone dropped the thermometer into the beer barrel.
It smashed to bits so we spent the next few hours sifting out tiny pieces of broken glass and scooping out metallic beads with an earth magnet, hoping no mercury leaked in.
Being busy dads, we later found it hard to find the time to do the bottling, and as the days passed on the beer fermented and fermented and fermented. Eventually, the project was abandoned.
Moral to my hillbilly hooch story: I think it’s best we leave it to the pros.
A real brewmaster could bring a lot more than just a few suds to the region.
We all know tourism feeds our region and we’ve been waiting on pins and needles to see if the Wakefield Steam Train can get the $13 million it needs to get back on track. A microbrewery in the Hills would cost less and it would taste better. Manuela Teixeira already has plans to turn Chelsea Pub into a microbrewery and her Festibiere event in Gatineau attracted 35,000 beer connoisseurs to Hull’s Jacques-Cartier Park last year.
If you’re skeptical on how a brewery would bring visitors our way, just ask the brew masters at Beau’s Beer in Vankleek Hill. The family-run business makes, sells and delivers all their own beer. The brewery runs tours throughout the week and offers samples of the award-winning all-natural brew. Tours are busy, but it’s the Oktoberfest event that really brings in the traffic. More than 5,000 people showed up last year – some clad in lederhosen and alpine hats and everyone ready to party. Last year’s was so successful that Kathleen Edwards, Sloan and Rich Aucoin are heading up the festival’s musical line-up this fall.
Imagine the bands we could get to play at a Gatineau Hills beerfest? Most of us like beer and I think it’s safe to say we all love music. It’s time to put the two together and say, “Cheers.”
Stewart? Are you out there? I can already hear the glasses clinking.