The history of potato chips

1740_505820162809987_1517778566_nOh the dear potato: boiled, baked, mashed, fried, or even “NOW” beer made with it. There are so many ways to consume the beloved spud. With the only food in the world consumed more than potatoes being rice, it is fair to say that you will be hard pressed to find people who don’t love some variation of the potato.

The potato chip was invented in 1853, like all good things, by mistake. George Crum, a Native America, was a chef in Saratoga Springs, New York. One day, his customer, Cornelius Vanderbilt, continued sending his dish back, claiming he wanted the french fries to be thinner and crispier. Crum was not pleased with the criticism, and he 71843_483413545050649_2036436137_ndecided to serve Vanderbilt fries so thin that he would not be able to stick his fork in them. To Crum’s surprise, Vanderbilt was ecstatic with the outcome: potatoes sliced so thin one could nearly see through them. And so potato chips were born!

Then in 1895, in Cleveland, Ohio, William Tappendon brought the potato chips from the restaurant table to the grocery shelves. The demand was so high; he turned his barn into the first potato chip factory, where was previously storing his production glass cases and barrels. It was not until the late 1920s that Laura Schudder, a potato 47817_486909151367755_663715129_nchip manufacturer in California invented the moisture resistant sealed potato chip bag, as she ironed two pieces of wax paper together. The invention of this bag along with the invention of the automated potato peeler rocketed this favourite snack into mass production. The last piece of the puzzle, the glassine bag debuted in 1933, when the potato chip manufacturing industry saw the opportunity to sell pre-sealed, branded potato chip bags at grocery stores.

Although production processes have changed, people’s love for potato chips has been un-wavered for decades. At the Brewery Farm, we are grateful for the invention of the kettle potato chip, sliced a little thicker, curled for extra crunch and packed full of real potato flavour.  We are delighted to offer you our Picard’s EXTREME Kettle Chips in a variety of flavours and sizes. Look for them at the Brewery Farm, Picard’s locations and even grocery retailers around you.

 

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Ramblin’ Road at Southwest Ontario Licensees

Since December 2012 our hard working neighbours and friends have been able to take home our 3 premium beers, the Country Pilsner, Country Ale and Country Lager in 6 packs as well as 20L and 50L Kegs. Shortly after our un-official launch we also made our beers 999537_534290003296336_170542008_navailable to local licensees within Norfolk – your favorite restaurants, check it out and ask if they have Ramblin’ Road stock. During this spring we took our time perfecting the unique and refreshing DPA, Dakota Pearl Ale, made with pure potato goodness, making it available in single-serve bottles as well as kegs.

The buzz about the brewery is growing daily as a natural result of the delicious beers and local support we have gotten from not only Norfolk residents, but surrounding communities and visitors to our area, seeking out the Brewery Farm experience. Over time, the number of licensees that carry our beers in either bottles or on draught has also grown.

We would like to thank all of our supporting licensees, and we hope for long and prosperous partnerships. To find the closest licensee based on your postal code, please click here. If you are a licensee looking to add us to your offering, please get in touch via sales@ramblinroa.ca.

Draught vs. Bottled beer: which one is better?

This has been an age old debate: does beer taste better when poured from draught, or is it better from the bottle. Each option has pros and cons, so let us shed some light on what might be the best option for you to enjoy your beer.

58131_554052717986731_2089353813_nDraught

Whether you are enjoying your beer at a bar or from your home pouring system, the cost per ounce of beer is usually somewhat cheaper (less packaging, of course). Draught beer that is poured from properly maintained and cleaned lines also will have the freshest possible taste. The reason behind the fresh taste of draught beer has to do with the agitation during the pour. As bartenders pour your beer, the bar system adds CO2 to it. As the beer is agitated and sits in the glass for a few minutes, the aromas are liberated from the beer and you will be able to enjoy all the wonderful flavours. It is very important for the appropriate amount of CO2 to be added. Too much or too little might make a big taste difference. In most cases you will have to visit a restaurant or a bar to enjoy your favorite beer on draught. For real beer enthusiasts, investing in a home poring system is a dream that can become a reality. These systems are fairly priced, and over time they are a great return on your investment with the savings you will have on keg prices.

Bottle

1175017_564246360300700_2018463091_nBottled beer offer greater flexibility, you have the option of enjoying your beer at your local bar or at home. For those that have a home draught system, often you will be at the mercy of one or two varieties of beer, depending on your system. With bottles, you can have a choice between any of our four wonderful Ramblin’ Road beers. A down fall of bottled beer is exposure to light. Brown bottles, like ours, are the best option for beer as they provide the best protection for beers from UV lights, which would spoil beer. Bottles also offer the carbonation intended by the brewery, as they don’t depend on an external CO2 supply. You can achieve the same flavour exposure with bottles as with draught, as you may pour your bottle into a glass to allow it to breathe and release its flavours.

 

At the end of the day, both bottled and draught beers have very little difference. There might be a slight taste in difference because of the difference in science between the two types of packaging, but that does not make one better than the other. It comes down to which one YOU prefer and where you will be enjoying your favourite beer. As they say, the beauty of it lies in the eye of the beer holder.

If you would like to enjoy our Ramblin’ Road beers on draught, visit any of our licensees. Over 25 locales offer our beers on draught and/or in bottles. To enjoy them at home, you can pick up 6 packs and kegs at the Brewery Farm. And if you are interested in finding out more on home brewing systems, visit The Beer Store Draught System page.

John Picard

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10 Reasons Why Eating Local is Better!

Here at the Brewery Farm, we pride ourselves of being part of the local Norfolk Farming Community. If you are a local reading this, you will know why our community is so wonderful, and how incredible the variety of our local products is. On the other hand, some of you might not be quite familiar with the harvest and products that you put on your table that actually came from Norfolk County.

Let us start by telling you that Norfolk has been named Ontario’s Garden. We are the number one producers of asparagus, cabbage, sour cherries, blueberries, sweet corn, strawberries, ginseng, pumpkins, cucumbers, peppers, and sweet potatoes, not to mention the tremendous variety of other products the County places in second and third place for such as tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, raspberries and apples. With such variety, eating local products should come naturally to everyone. Here are 10 reasons why eating local produce and products is indeed better:

  1. Tastes better: local products are guaranteed to be the freshest, most nutrient filled.
  2. Better for the environment: local products create less pollution and conserve energy as they do not have to be transported over large distances and time.
  3. Better for your wallet: shorter transportation means fewer expenses that you have to pitch in for when buying local.
  4. Appreciate farmers: by buying locally you support your farmers and producers as well as your local economy.
  5. Reduce waste: local products can use less packaging, which would end up in landfills.
  6. Build community: by buying locally, you build trust and you build your own community, by enjoying and supporting where your food and products have come from.
  7. Keep the landscape lush: supporting local farmers means they have a reason to keep their lands busy, filled with delicious produce and you encourage them to produce better and more diversified products.
  8. Create jobs: the more food gets produced locally, the more need there will be for jobs in your area, but even greater, the businesses required to support the additional jobs will strengthen your community
  9. Be seasonal: let your taste buds run wild with seasonal products picked locally. Remember the taste of sun-ripened strawberries, new crop potatoes, the first pickings of local sweet corn. It gives you an extra reason to have versatile meals.
  10. Trust what you eat: buying locally takes out the guessing game. Buying locally you know your food and products have been treated with love, respect and pride. You might even know who great your strawberries, and that they ripened under the rays of the sun, and not in the back of a truck.

local2

Let’s raise our Ramblin’ Road pints to all of the Norfolk farmers, and our proud supporters and customers. If you want to learn more about the Brewery Farm, or visit our very own Hop Garden, stop by the Brewery Farm. (Follow this link for directions)

John Picard

Ramblin’ Road Road Gear

With Summer here and the beer season well underway, the Ramblin’ Road beers have been flying off the shelves. Also available at the Brewery Farm, you can pick up your favorite Road Gear!

Ramblin’ Road Bottle Opener & Key Chain

Bottle opener and key chain

Ramblin’ Road 16oz Pint Glass

Ramblin' Road pint glass

Ramblin’ Road Hoodies (Men’s and Ladies)
ramblin' road hoodies

Ramblin' road hoodies

Ramblin’ Road Caps

Ramblin' Road caps

Ramblin’ Road Golf Shirts (Men’s ad Ladies)

Ramblin' Road golf shirts

Ramblin’ Road Tee Shirts (Men’s and Ladies)

Ramblin' Road tee shirts

Ramblin' Road tee shirts

 

Come by the brewery farm to pick up yours!

Tips for Growing Hops – From the Brewery Farm

Hop Garden - Ramblin' Road Brewery Farm

Hop Garden – Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm

We get a number of people asking in-person and on social media about how to grow their very own backyard hops, so here are a few tips to get you started.

Hops are not terribly picky about where they can grow, but there certainly are places where they grow best. Hop, or humulus lupulus – try saying that 3 times really fast – is grown in the northern temperate regions of North America and Europe. In the past hops plantings were wide spread across South-Western Ontario . While we have one twitter follower that plans to experiment with growing hops north of the 60th parallel, our growing tips are for those of us residing in warmer parts of Canada where we get 120 frost-free days or more in a year.

Step One: Getting your beerly paws on rhizomes

The best place to find a reputable seller for home-growing is asking folks in homebrew forums or getting in touch with your local homebrew supplier. Keep in mind that getting rhizomes across the border would be rather difficult so stick with Canadian suppliers. Choosing one or two varieties is a good start for a home hop garden.

Step Two: Find out what kind of soil you have in your yard

Ideally, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic (PH ~6.0) is well enjoyed by hop plants. Here in Norfolk County, we typically have sandy loam, which is fantastic for drainage. If you’re stuck with soil that doesn’t drain well, it can be amended by mixing in some peat moss and plant material compost with lots of elbow grease. Soil conditions will also improve in subsequent seasons if you’re actively growing plants in the plot.

Hop Rows at the Brewery Farm

Hop Rows at the Brewery Farm

Step Three: Setting up a trellis or locating a fence for the vines

Set up the trellis before you plant the rhizomes so you don’t disturb the roots. If you don’t like getting telemarketers calling you at dinner time then you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the hop plants will feel if you start hammering poles into the ground next to them.

Step Four: Plant, Water, and Watch them Grow

Once the threat of frost is over, you can plunk them into the ground. The buds on the rhizomes should be point up or horizontally and be 1” under the soil. They need plenty of water and fertilizer because they get big, really big. So water often and before the sun is at its peak so they it doesn’t evaporate too quickly. Once the vines sprout, make sure they are on the trellis and not touching the ground.

Ramblin' Road farm grown Hops

Ramblin’ Road farm grown Hops

Step Five: Harvest, baby, Harvest

This is the best part. When the cones are papery and dry to the touch, harvest with small scissors. If you only harvest ripe cones, you can get a harvest every other week. While we have machines to help us harvest the acres, there is something serene about getting up with the sunrise and hand picking the cones – we would do it by hand if we could.

Are you thinking about growing hops? Which varieties are you going to grow? Let us know in the comments.

 

John Picard

Ramblin' Road Hops

Farm sunshine through our Hop Garden

For the Love of the Humble Spud

Potatoes at the Brewery Farm

Potatoes at the Brewery Farm

The potato is probably one of the most humble foods we can grow and eat. I mean who came upon the humble spud with its dirt covered skin and said “that’s going to be delicious!” But we’re glad someone did. There are probably hundreds if not thousands of different variety of potatoes. If you’ve ever come across a seed catalogue then you know what I’m talking about – and that doesn’t even include the wild varieties of potatoes found all over the world.

Interestingly enough potato plants are part of the nightshade family of plants, which tomato, eggplant, peppers, and tobacco also belong to. Norfolk County’s climate and soil conditions are quite ideal for growing these plants. Before farmers here took up horticulture, many farms in Norfolk County grew tobacco as a cash crop – there’s a black and white documentary produced by the National Film Board if you want to see what it used to look like back in the day. Those days are now long gone. Instead Norfolk fields are covered with plants that produce delicious foods, like potatoes.

Potatoes in the pocessing

Potatoes in the pocessing

Ask a potato farmer, “which type of potato should I grow”, and I can guarantee you’ll need at least a 6-pack of our DPA – Dakota Pearl Ale – to share because that’s how long your friendly potato farmer can talk about potatoes. Since I’ve been told that blog posts shouldn’t be 6 beers long to read, here is the reader’s digest version of the type of potato we grow.

It’s called a Dakota Pearl, and rightly so. With very shallow eyes its skin is smooth and bright like a shimmering pearl. We chose this potato with chip making in mind because it comes out of the fryer sturdy, light, and crispy.

Fresh EXTREME Kettle Chips

Fresh EXTREME Kettle Chips

In order for chips to come out of the fryer looking and tasting like chips, its flesh has to be relatively dry and not too sugary or starchy. Who knew that these same properties of the Dakota Pearl would also be perfect as a brewing ingredient too?

It was a few months ago when we said “hey, let’s create a unique beer, one that we can use to wash the sliced potatoes prior to cooking our Kettle Chips. That’ll give us a really great snack chip and hopefully create a fantastic new beer, something very special to Ramblin’ Road.”  All that potato goodness was returned to the brew line where we innovated a process to start the fermenting process again only this time with potato sugars. The smoothness and finished flavours were excellent.

DPA - Dakota Pearl Ale

DPA – Dakota Pearl Ale

We knew we were onto something, so we kept tweaking the recipe. And here we have it, Dakota Pearl Potato Ale for our community. Cheers to you and to potato farmers everywhere!

John Picard

 

Picard’s EXTREME Kettle Chips – Available Near You

We all know there is something about those crunchy flavour packed EXTREME Kettle Chips, made fresh at the Brewery Farm, that keeps you coming back for more. You can pick up any of the flavours at the Picard’s stores, located in St. Jacobs, Talbotville, Waterdown, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Waterford. However, if you are not close to any of these Picard’s stores, the Avid Gourmet, a boutique purveyor of finer local fare has now made it even easier for you to get your daily dose of Picard’s EXTREME Kettle Chips. Now they are available at several independent retailers across Southern Ontario and more locations coming soon in the GTA. Check out the locations below to find out where you can satisfy your mouth watering cravings.

Phone Store Location
905-648-6878 Bennett’s Apple & Cider 944 Garner Road East Ancaster ON
519-625-8194 Best Little Pork Shop 2146 Line 34, Hwy #7 Shakespeare
Brandt Meat Packers Ltd 1878 Mattawa Ave Mississauga, ON L4X1K1
519-833-9677 Carvers Block 102 Main Street Erin, ON N0B 1T0
519-291-1094 Carson’s Country Market R.R. #3 5531 Line 86 Listowel, ON N4W 3G8
519-666-0286 Crunican’s Orchard RR #42 23778 Richmond Street London, ON
Davids Gourmet 25 Bruce Street Kitchener, ON
519-434-9893 Doris Family Produce 130 King Street London, ON
519-637-0055 Farmgate Markets Deli & Fresh Meat 19 Elgin Street St. Thomas, ON N5R 3L7
519-669-5403 Foodland 315 Arthur Street Elmira, ON N3B 1Z5
226-383-7374 Fraberts 105 Queen St, W. Unit 3 Fergus, ON N1M 1S6
905-854-5230 International Meats & Deli 11269 Guelph Line Campbelleville, ON L0P 1B0
519-823-8046 MarKet Fresh Meat & Produce 10 Paisley St., Unit #3 Guelph, On N1H 2N6
1-647-435-5340 Multiple Organics 1545 Dundas Street West Toronto, ON M6K 1T6
705-689-5565 Muskoka Meats 2288 A Hwy #11 North Gravenhurst, ON P1P 1R1
905-640-4568 Reesor Farm Kitchen 5758 Main Street Stouffville, ON
Strictly Bulk 2389 Bloor St., West Toronto, ON M6S 1P6
519-653-6661 Sunrise Mills Natural Choice 840 King St., East Cambridge, ON N3H 3P2
905-562-9730 Upper Canada Cheese 4159 Jordon Road Jordan Station, ON L0R 1S0
519-822-2728 Valeriote’s Market 204 Yorkshire Street Guelph, ON N1H 5C1
519-741-1437 Vincenzo’s 150 Caroline St., South Waterloo, ON N2L 0A5
Picard's EXTREME Kettle Chips

Just a few of the incredible EXTREME Kettle Chips

The Brewery Farm Story

If we had a nickel for every time someone asks “what’s a brewery farm?” I’d have a kick-ass bottling line to replace the one I had to leave on the table when we had to challenge the system to get the necessary approvals to launch this project, in the country. Having a brewery in the country, just made sense to a farm boy who grew up in the rural lands of Southwestern Ontario. With all of the interest and support of the community, we decided it was time to tell you the Brewery Farm story. It all started off as a seed of an idea to make a product with a rich agricultural connection and since that time, over the past five years, that seed has grown into the Brewery Farm.

Brewery Farm Hop GardenHaving the good fortune of living in farm country, we are blessed with rich sandy loam that many garden crops thrive in. From this soil, the idea of a Norfolk County microbrewery was planted. Over the past few decades we have tilled Norfolk County’s exceptional soil to grow peanuts; and it is this same type of earth that hops thrive in. Five years ago our family planted our first hop rhizomes, initially six varieties, on a couple of acres just off Swimming Pool Road.

The “farm” in “Brewery Farm” is inspired from the self-sustaining old family farms that stretched across much of Southern Ontario over a century ago. We didn’t simply want a brewery, but rather a brewery that could be self-reliant on the land that it is built on. Traditional farming also means survival by continually diversifying and improving the crops grown in the fields. So, we now grow Dakota Pearl potatoes and eight different varieties of hops – and we can’t wait until the Spring when they start shooting upwards from the thawing grounds. The potatoes are cooked into kettle chips on the farm as well, just recently making a crisp and crunchy debut, in six varieties of extremeness.

John Picard and the Ramblin' Road 6 packsLike any modern family farm we believe that we have to be connected to the community in order to support the community. We want the Brewery Farm to be a place where the folks of Norfolk County and their friends from near and far can gather, sample a freshly brewed premium beer, and appreciate the agricultural roots and innovation of this region. On most weekends, I’m happy to share a sample and talk beer, just ask me a question, it’s a great story.

John Picard

 

An Official Hit with over 1,000 Cases Sold in a Few Hours.

The line up formed just after nine in the morning, even though the brewery was not meant to open until ten. Fortunately, the good folks of Norfolk County are a civilized bunch and they patiently waited in the cool December sunshine for John Picard’s Brewery Farm to be ready to welcome them.

Ramblin' Road unofficial openingOnce the doors were opened, the Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm’s tasting room was quickly filled with eager beer lovers. And the place stayed filled to capacity until all the beer that was available, over 1,100 cases, was pretty much gone. That happened well before the appointed closing time of 5pm.

Ramblin’ Road Country Pilsner and Country Ale were flying off the palettes, along with John Picard’s delicious EXTREME Kettle Chips, also made at his Brewery Farm on Swimming Pool road, just south of La Salette.

“We had hoped the reaction to our unofficial opening would be positive,” said John Picard later in the day. “But this event today was beyond fantastic. We’re happy that so many people showed up from all over the County, and beyond, to pick up our great tasting beer.”

The Brewery Farm is slated to for an “unofficial” re-opening for more customers this Thursday, December 20th so premium beer lovers can get their share of Ramblin’ Road in time for the Holidays.Ramblin' Road Brewery Farm unofficial opening