The Village Brewery Tour for Craft Beer Fans

Sometimes Facebook can provide you with useful information. A couple of weeks back I was lucky enough to see an announcement from Village Brewery that they would be offering some tours of their microbrewery to the public. Needless to say I gave them a call ASP and reserved my spot. After all, It would’ve been odd if I didn’t want to spend my afternoon hanging out a brewery and sampling craft beer!

The Tasting Room

alberta craft beer, village brewery

The tasting bar has mason jars with ingredients used in the beers. It also has some of the different flavour experiments that are used in cask events held around the city.

The tour group gathered in the entrance on the main floor where our guides, two nice ladies working for the brewery, collected us and led us upstairs to the tasting room to kick things off. Jim, the microbrewery’s marketing guru, was there to join us and share some thoughts on the craft beer.

The group was handed samples of Village’s regular lineup: Blonde, Blacksmith and Wit; plus the winter seasonal beer, Village Monk. A brief breakdown of the beer’s main ingredients and character was delivered by the guides while the  group ran through the tasting process.

Some of the ingredients were passed around for us to smell and even taste in the case of the barley. This helps you to distinguish the different flavour notes in the craft beers.

Jim led us through one interesting exercise to demonstrate how you taste certain flavours on different parts of your tongue. We first sipped the Blonde which is more towards the front of your tongue. We then tried the Blacksmith who’s more bitter taste moves towards the back of your tongue. If you pour a little of the Blonde into the Blacksmith (creating a Dirty Blonde) most of your tongue will be involved.

I enjoy watching how people react to beer types and favour certain ones over the other. The Wit beer and Blacksmith seemed to be the most popular ones and were chosen by most as their full pints for the rest of the tour. I ended up going for the Village Monk since this spiced seasonal porter will only be available for a limited time.

The Tour

Pint glasses in hand we embarked on a tour of where the craft beer is created. Our first stop was the room where the malts are stored and later cracked to prepare them for the brewing process. Some of the special ingredients are stored in this room as well such as the mixture of spices from The Silk Road Spice Merchant for the Village Monk.

calgary microbrewery, alberta microbrewery, village brewery

One of the partners in Village deals in used brewery equipment so most of what you see was purchased for a decent price, this is a big help to a start-up microbrewery.

We then went through the description of the brew process covering the mashing, lautering, boiling and cooling stages. This process is explained in all brewery tours and even if you are already brew-savvy I think that it is fun to see each microbrewery setup and listen to how enthusiastic the crew is about their craft.

calgary craft beer, village brewery

This is where all of those ingredients turn into craft beer!

Our next stop was the fermentation section of the brewery to take a look at all of the different varieties changing into beer. Our guide gave the group a breakdown on the importance of yeast in beer and mentioned the difference in fermentation between ales and lagers. For the uninformed this is a valuable piece of info because it will clarify some of the details given on the labels of various beers they choose.

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Some of the equipment used in the filtration process.

No tour would be complete without the filtration and bottling portion. I will never forget when I learned the difference between heat pasteurized and cold filtered. The fact that heat is bad for beer and most of the big commercial “breweries” (if you can call them that) use heat pasteurization shows just how little they care about their product.

Our last stop was to the cold room where the craft beer is stored before being shipped out.

Surrounded by crates and casks of Village Brewery’s finest I got a little excited and thought about trying to hide behind one of the pallets while the group was filing out. Sadly the guides were on the ball and made sure everyone exited.

The Village Arts

One of the major standouts on this brewery tour was the diverse selection of art found around the place. Village Brewery is very involved in the local art & culture scene. They promote local artists such as painters, photographers, actors, musicians, etc. and even donate 10% of their profits to support the arts.

This adds a unique twist to the Village Brewery tour. Even the tables in the tasting rooms are works of art!

The Village Gardener

I stopped by the swag shop on my way out to pick up some goodies for the road. One of my choices was the newly released “The Village Gardener”.

village brewery, craft beer

Village Gardener is a limited release. So if you want to try it out head over to the microbrewery to pick some up.

The best thing about this limited release craft beer is the story behind it. All of the ingredients used in the beer were produced locally. The malted barley and wheat were all grown locally and even the hops (mostly Cascade but with some Willamette, Nugget & Hallertauer) were grown in backyard gardens.

This is truly a Community Involved Ale. Projects like this make people realize just how many local industries craft beer involves. From farmers to brewers to the bars & restaurants that serve them, craft beer adds to the local culture and economy.

Until next time cheers to local craft beer!

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