The Wards: Single Hop Series

It's been an exciting few months since our Muddy York Porter started pouring around town. The reception we've received from bars, customers and even other breweries has been very heartwarming and is a testament to the wonderful people who not only enjoy, but make great craft beer. It's an honour to be welcomed into the fold, so thank you very much!

Our second release, Unearthed Amber Ale has been slowly making it's way onto taps as production of our porter slows down to make way for some new brews. I've been dying to start making what is hands down, my favourite style of beer; pale ale. Pale ales can be interpreted in so many different ways, with so many different hops and malts, that I never get tired of trying them.

The next set of beers to hit the brew kettle will be what we are calling our "Ward" series. What do we mean by "Ward" you ask? Well, as the city of York, and later Toronto, expanded, there was a need to name these newly developed areas. These new districts, or “Wards” as they were referred to, were originally named after the four patron saints of the British Isles, St. George, St. Andrew, St. Patrick and St. David. Some of them have lasted, at least in name, to this day. Anyone who rides the subway in Toronto will easily recognize them as stations. Just as the Wards were used to designate different areas of the ever expanding city, we thought it appropriate to model our single hop series of beers to showcase the many different hops at hand.

Hops are the spice of beer, and as such, can impart very different characteristics to an otherwise identical brew. To me, they really demonstrate the “terroir” of beer, the same terroir that grapes are usually afforded in wine. Take any variety of hop grown in one part of the world, and grow that same variety in another part of the world and the flavours and aromas it delivers will be quite different. Climate, soil composition and growing season will all affect the biochemical makeup of the essential oils captured in the hop cones. It’s these volatile essential oils that we as brewers seek to extract that give beer it’s captivating aroma.

I often love to make (and enjoy) what are called “SMaSH” beers, which stands for “Single Malt and Single Hop”. These beers brilliantly showcase a single variety of grain and a single variety of hop. I love the simplicity of them and the means they offer us to gain a deeper insight into beers' essential ingredients.

The first release will be Ward 1 - Cascade, to honour the hop that single-handedly changed the face of craft beer in America. It is most famously represented in the quintessential American pale ale (and one of my personal favourites), Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. For our Ward Series beers, we’re using our favourite hopping schedule that has a massive amount of late hop additions. These late hop additions soften the bitterness and provides a delicious balance of flavour and aroma. We will dry hop all of our Ward series beers as well, to give them the added aroma and freshness that, in my opinion, make a hoppy beer great.

Our Ward series beers will likely have a fairly limited release, but for those of you that love hops, I promise they will be well worth seeking out! As I write this post, Ward 1 - Cascade is set to start pouring very soon at The Mugshot Tavern, Buster Rhinos in Oshawa, WVRST, The Wren, and Silversmith Brewing Co.

I've been waiting a long time to dip into my hop stash – so glad this day has finally arrived. Let's BRING ON THE HOPS!!!