Another year is almost done, so it’s time once again to recap what people in the beer industry thought about the past twelve months in a series of Year End Roundups.
First up is Iain McOustra, head brewer at Amsterdam and my brewing partner for the Barrel Bragging Rights event two years running. Here’s what Iain had to say about 2012 and what to expect from the Amsterdam brewpub opening in 2013.
A Year of Beer!: What were some of your beer-related highlights from 2012?
Iain McOustra: Lots of highlights this year. CBC in San Diego was a blast, huge Ontario contingent and some incredible breweries. Black Friday tasting at Goose Island a few weeks ago was another. It was a chance to hear from the brewers behind one of my favourite beers. Brewing wise it was probably the Niambic brew at Good Earth Winery. Crazy few days but a lot of fun.
AYOB!: What was your favourite Amsterdam beer from the past year?
IM: Our Boxer Saison that we had at Funk Night. A traditional saison that was then hit with a different strain of Brett every few months while aging. An experiment that turned out and that is most likely unrepeatable.
AYOB!: What were your favourite beers from other Ontario breweries?
IM: Monogamy (Summit) from Bellwoods, the 25th Anniversary series from Great Lakes, Belgian Rye from Indie Ale House and Tu Hop from House Ales. All great beers.
AYOB!: Did you notice any big changes in the Ontario craft beer world in 2012? Do you have any predictions for what 2013 will bring?
IM: On the craft side, not too many drastic changes this year, just an overall increase in quality and experimentation. Predictions for 2013? The LCBO changes the beer program to better reflect small local brewers and focuses on limited releases similar to the small lot wine program. More entries into the craft market which results in a divide between craft breweries and contract/large breweries catering to the craft segment.
Small batch and pilot brews will continue to increase. Ontario beer scene hits it’s stride and leads the way for Canadian beer. Exciting times.
AYOB!: Amsterdam will be opening a brewpub on Queen’s Quay in the spring of 2013. Aside from the core Amsterdam brands, what can people expect in terms of beer selection? Are there beers you want to make again?
IM: We will have six lines dedicated to non-core brands at the brew pub. Over the past year we’ve been working on recipes on our pilot system so we do have a lot to choose from. I think a wide selection is important. You can expect to see imperial stouts, hoppy pilsners, Brett beers, milds, IPA’s and lots of collaborations. There are several beers I’d like to make again. Two that stand out are the Smoked Peppercorn Wit and the collab with Biergotter, Sleeping Giant Barley Wine. I’d love to serve those at the pub.
AYOB!: You have been doing a lot of experimentation with different barrels. What have you learned from this? What is the long-term goal for Amsterdam in regards to barrel aged beers?
IM: Always brew the beer for the barrel and not the other way around. It’s rare that you can take a standard beer and improve it just by barrel aging it. The long term goal is to build a barrel program that allows for regular releases. We have 70 barrels now with twenty different brands aging. I’d like to increase that over the next six months and always have a barrel aged beer available at our retail store and on draft at our brewpub.
Thanks to Iain for taking the time to answer my questions. Sounds like 2013 will be another exciting year for Amsterdam!