Capital Pint by Travis Persaud is published regularly at OttawaMagazine.com. Follow Travis on Twitter @tpersaud.
The Wellington Gastropub didn’t have this in the master plan.
For the past seven years co-owners Shane Waldron and Chris Deraiche have built a loyal following on the foundation of quality food, stellar service, and that not-quite-definable atmosphere that makes you want to end the night with a big group hug.
Housemade elements dominate the kitchen. Vinaigrettes are made in the kitchen; bones are used to create stock. So when three employees, who double as home brewers, approached Waldron and Deraiche with the idea of turning the gastropub into a brewpub, it made complete sense.
“It falls into the artisanal philosophy, of doing things homemade,” says Adam Newlands, one of the brewers behind the newly minted Stock Pot Ales brewery. “It heightens the experience [at the restaurant].”
Newlands and Edwin McKinley, servers at the Gastropub, and Nathan Corey, who’s a bartender there, have been home brewing for years.
(Newlands actually got his start when he was taking an Ancient Science and Technology class. “Everyone was making catapults [for the class project],” he says. “I decided I was going to make some booze — water, honey, yeast, and time, and I had mead.”)
Last year, though, they started brewing all-grain batches together. “Every weekend we were brewing something,” McKinley says. “We’ve probably made 40 to 50 five-gallon batches.
Then they had a chance to collaborate with Beau’s on the Walloon Dragon Belgian Black IPA, and eventually began working with Shane Clark at Beyond the Pale. “Working with Beau’s was a big process,” McKinley says. “They knew everything, it taught us a lot. And then we learned a ton from Shane at Beyond The Pale.”
Before Stock Pot Ales officially came into being, all three guys hung out at Beyond the Pale, and Clark eventually had them come in once a week to work alongside him. “He taught us the process of making beer, the little things that don’t sound exciting but make a big difference,” Newlands says. “It’s the things Shane pays a lot of attention to, like stirring the crap out of the mash so you get a nice temperature distribution.”
“And he’s always available for questions,” Corey says. “They’re good friends to have. John Richardson, their production manager, even jumped in to help us out as well. He gave us a tutorial on carbonating our kegs — we thought it would take hours, he show us how to get it done in 10 minutes.”
“Eddie is now our director of carbonation,” Newlands says. “Colonel Carb!”
Overall, though, they say it wasn’t a big jump to go from homebrewing to commercial brewing at the Gastropub. Their year of working together, along with Clark’s guidance, prepared them for this step.
And they’re still working with small batches, moving into a small 100-litre system at the Gastropub. They initially thought they would only have to brew every other week, but since they went on tap this summer they’ve been routinely selling out. They’re now brewing every Sunday.
A weird quirk in brewpub licenses restricts them from making anything above the 6.5 percent ABV mark, but they say that’s plenty of room to play with. Their Eddie Da Veto IPA and Big PAPA (peach and apricot pale ale) are the two mainstays right now, but they recently tapped a rye stout and have a few more surprises in the works.
“We have some experimental ones we might do,” McKinley says. “We have a hazelnut brown ale, and we made an imperial caramel stout before. Since we’re working in a restaurant we can make beers that work with our staple dishes.”
“People don’t typically make dessert beers,” Newlands says. “But we can make a small batch of the caramel stout and serve tasters, so you don’t have to deal with a whole pint. Just a little something to go with your brownie.”
For now, though, the trio behind Stock Pot Ales is simply focusing on refining their recipes and enlivening the experience at the Gastropub.
“We have dreams for growth, but don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” McKinley says. “We’re just trying to keep with the demand. We’re a lot different than other spots in Ottawa — it’s quality food, wine, service, and now we make our own beer. It’s unique from other brewpubs.”