Brews News: City brewers try local labels, fishing ties to win fans

Fishing lines and city neighbors are inspiring a pair of London breweries this month.

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Fishing lines and city neighbors are inspiring a pair of London breweries this month.

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London Brewing and the Thames River Anglers Association hope to hook lager lovers with a specially packaged Italian pilsner timed to be released for Father’s Day. Italian pilsners are similar to their German cousins, but dry-hopped for more aroma.

It’s London Brewing’s first Italian pilsner, marketing manager Emma Maganja said.

“This is a local take on the style, lightly dry hopped with local BackRoads Ultra,” she said. “Italian Pils traditionally utilize German Noble hops, and these ultra share their genetics. Mostly pilsner malt with a little organic local Newdale. It’s mildly spicy, a little floral, and crispy as all get out.”

Robert Huber, left, and Paul Noble of the Thames Rivers Anglers Association showoff a can of Last Cast while fishing near Blackfriars Bridge in London.  The association teamed with London Brewing to create the Italian-style pilsner.  (Dale Carruthers/The London Free Press)
Robert Huber, left, and Paul Noble of the Thames Rivers Anglers Association showoff a can of Last Cast while fishing near Blackfriars Bridge in London. The association teamed with London Brewing to create the Italian-style pilsner. (Dale Carruthers/The London Free Press)

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Forked River Brewing has pulled 77 names of London neighbors – from Bostwick to Byron and Carling Heights to Cedar Hollow and all points in between – in what surely must be the most multiples of labels for one beer: Lo-Town Lager.

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“I was thinking about how microbreweries are becoming locally focused, so I thought, ‘What about a hyper-local brew?’ said Dave Reed, co-owner of the nine-year-old brewery. “Neighborhood by neighbor?”

Release of the 77-label Lo-Town line is timed to coincide with city hall’s Neighborhood Decision Making rogram, which lets residents vote on which neighborhood projects, from half-court basketball courts get to bat boxes, city funding. The online program runs June 18 to 25.

The program provided some background information and a logo for the cans for the promotional joint effort. Along the way, there were surprises, even for longtime Londoners like the Forked River folks.

“Some were definitely new to me – the Gorhamclarke Triangle? – which is exactly the point: let’s all celebrate our fair, forested city . . . through beer,” Reed said.

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Someone should buy a beer for anyone who knew the Gorhamclarke Triangle is the residential area bordered by Gore, Clarke and Hamilton roads.

As for what’s inside the can, it’s perfect for summer evenings on the porch after the yardwork is done (or not, as is the pollinator trend).

Less than 5 per cent alcohol, Forked River brewed it with Warrior and Veterans blend hops. The Warrior hops provide bitterness and the Veterans, a gentle citrus flavour. Hop keeners will recall Veterans are used in Forked River’s seasonal double IPA, Summer Haze.

Seventy-seven different labels may make it feel like an adult version of collecting Pokemon cards. Mixing and matching, finding your neighbor or one you hadn’t heard of (where is Cleardale?) is encouraged at the brewery store, 45 Pacific Court.

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Forked River has turned to London's neighbors to label its Lo-Town summer lager.  In all, 77 districts are represented on cans of the brew, launched on coincidence with the city's Neighborhood Decision Making program.  (Forked River photo)
Forked River has turned to London’s neighbors to label its Lo-Town summer lager. In all, 77 districts are represented on cans of the brew, launched on coincidence with the city’s Neighborhood Decision Making program. (Forked River photo)

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NEW AND NOTED

  • Forked River, the oldest of the current wave of London craft brewers, marked its ninth anniversary with a new batch of beer brewed with Heeman’s, the popular garden center and berry farm on Nissouri Road. Fred Sauvage incorporates Heeman’s raspberries and no brewer’s yeast, just the wild yeast on the raspberries, for fermentation. “Bright pinkish red, super dry and refreshingly tart, it’s like raspberries in a glass,” Reed said. It’s the third time Forked River has brewed Fred Sauvage.
  • Fun fact from Cowbell in Blyth. Its wood-fired pizza is made with dough infused with Absent Landlord, the brewery’s original beer.
  • Storm Stayed in London newest beer has quite a story behind it. Sunlite, a low-alcohol pale ale, is brewed in a way inspired by winemakers. Sunlite is the son of Super Sunburst, a double dry-hopped double IPA. Just as French winemakers reuse grape pomace to make a low-alcohol wine-like beverage, Super Sunburst provided the first-run beer from which Sunlite was created. The warm weather crushable hazy pale ale has a citrus orange taste, the brewers say, while Super Sunburst had grapefruit. Food pairing recommendations include curry-flavored roti. Don’t you want to try Super Sunburst and Sunlite back-to-back on the Storm Stayed patio?
  • Railway City of St. Thomas has a new, lighter take on its marquee lager. Crew Light is 3.5 per cent alcohol. They’ve also released a rhubarb and strawberry Steampunk Sour.
  • Toronto-bound this summer? Tickets are on sale for the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival Summer Edition on Aug. 13. Some 40 craft breweries, cideries and hard seltzer makers will be at the fest, a fundraiser for the Toronto Railway Heritage Museum, organized by Steam Whistle.
  • Just back from the Northwestern British Columbia Ale Trail And let me say this: This trail knows its lagers and loggers. An impressive strip of breweries lies between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist based in London.

[email protected]

Twitter.com/WayneWriteOn

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