Brewing Beer in Ontario’s Garden – Wait, where?

Norfolk County FarmThis Canada Day, we are grateful for many things: the wonderful country we live in, our Brewery Farm this summer, but special mention needs to go to our home of Norfolk, and our neighbouring Farmers.

When it came to coming up the Ontario’s Garden slogan it was almost serendipity according to Saj Jamal, the man who’s been credited with putting the two words together in a simple but perfect harmony to describe our home, Norfolk County.

Norfolk County

“Ontario’s Garden” grew out of a wholesale food strategy to give kudos to the farmers and food producers that fills Ontario dinner tables with tasty abundance.

Norfolk County is a special place. We Norfolkians know that we live in one of Canada’s most fertile places to grow a huge variety of foods, but outside our rural region the words Norfolk County are usually responded with blanks stares. We are proud to live and brew beer in the place that we have called home for decade, the discovery that awaits our city friends is marvelous.

Ramblin’ Road beers are just a small bushel of the overall harvest that Norfolk County has to offer.

Norfolk County Did you know that Norfolk County is Ontario’s leading grower of apples, asparagus, cabbage, cucumbers, green onions, peanuts, pumpkins, squash, strawberries, corn, and sweet potato? We’re not kidding, Statistics Canada verified this. Oh, and did we mention Norfolk County is Canada’s largest pumpkin patch.

The diversity of food that Norfolk County can grow, cook, and brew is pretty darn amazing. The diversity is what makes Norfolk County Ontario’s Garden. Remember the backyards that grandma, or nona, or a-ma, used to cover every square inch with tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and so on? Well, Norfolk is just like that, but 1607 km2.

As Norfolk’s self-proclaimed “ambeersadors”, we pay homage to the diversity of our foodshed by brewing many different beers and growing a variety of hops.

Cheers to Norfolk this Canada Day!

John Picard

Thank You Norfolk

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

 

The Erie Beach Hotel

Erie Beach Hotel

Erie Beach Hotel

A short trip from the Brewery Farm, the Erie Beach Hotel is located in Port Dover, a picturesque port town. Becoming one of the first licensees to carry Ramblin’ Road beers, the Erie Beach Hotel became an extended part of our family. Patrons have been able to pair the delicious dishes prepared at the Erie Beach Hotel with Ramblin’ Road draught in the Terrace Room and bottled in both the Terrace and the Cove Room.

Ramblin' Road and Perch

Ramblin’ Road and Perch

For over 60 years, three generations of the Schneider family have looked after the Erie Beach Hotel, serving recipes passed down through the generations that have kept people coming back. In the summer the dining areas will always be bustling with vacationers, day trippers and the locals, all anticipating the freshest and most delicious sea food.

For those looking for the port town experience, an ice cold pint of Ramblin’ Road Country Pilsner, paired with a platter of Perch is recommended. Both represent the true local flavour of Norfolk County.

For other meat lovers, the Country Pilsner can also be paired with the delicious wings in the Terrace Room.

Ramblin' Road Country Ale and the Prime Rib Dinner

Ramblin’ Road Country Ale and the Prime Rib Dinner

The bottled Ramblin’ Road Country Ale is recommended to be paired with the mouth-watering Prime Rib dinner, available only on Fridays between 5pm – 8 pm.

Ramblin' Road and the Wings

Ramblin’ Road and the Wings

For the out of towner’s, we recommend staying at the Erie Beach for your Norfolk get-away, and remember, the Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm is just a short drive from this historic eatery and hotel.