Niagara Brewing Company is getting set to open its doors in May 2015 and we caught up with Brewmaster Gord Slater to talk all things craft beer:
What first drew you to the craft of beer making?
I was involved in the legalizing of brewpubs in 1984 when the Government of Ontario moved forward with legislation. Being from the brewing industry, it was a natural draw.
How did you learn the process of brewing and would you consider it to be an “exact science”?
I had professional training at Molson, followed by the school of hard knocks. Brewing is a science, but not an exact science because you are working with biological organisms (yeast) and agricultural products (malt).
Do you have a favourite style of beer, both to brew and to drink?
Whatever you are buying. Failing that, red ales are a preferred beer.
What are the fundamental ingredients used in beer making, and how do they affect overall flavour?
Water is 95% of beer. Hardness of water will determine the beers that you make. The harder the water, the more difficult it is to make light lagers. Malt adds the mouthfeel, the sweetness and the residual malt characters, the hops add the bitterness, and the yeast pulls it all together during fermentation.
What are some of your favourite flavours/ingredients to work with?
Peppers, fruit, lavender, and hibiscus.
Do you ever experiment with uncommon flavours?
Chives, garlic, cedar, spruce, lobster, oyster, and licorice.
How should someone embracing microbrews for the first time conduct a proper tasting?
Small samples- lightest flavour to heaviest flavour.
If you could share a beer with anyone in history, who would it be?
Winston Churchill or Louis Pasteur.
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