Long live Queen Béatrix the Foeder!

Hi, I’m Scott Martin the Head Brewer at Townsite Brewing Co. One of the reasons I took the job at Townsite was the opportunity to work on new, innovative projects. I had worked at large craft breweries and smaller brewpubs, but this was my first chance to work at a smaller production brewery where I would have the chance to expand my knowledge and try techniques that wouldn’t make sense in any other type of brewery.
What are these crazy projects that I’m speaking of? It all started when I was living in Montreal and emailing with Cédric about making kettle sour beers and what would become the beer L’il Red. 8 months later I joined the team at Townsite eager to try more techniques and production methods. Cédric and I both had wanted to try something called a “Turbid Mash”. It’s a complicated procedure where we mash at different temperatures and move wort back and forth between the mash tun and the kettle. This gives us wort that is rich in large sugars and starches which provides food for the myriad of microorganisms that make these types of beers great. This was the first in the Bois Sauvage Series.
Once we started we had to keep trying and refining our process. Then we wanted to make different types of wild and sour beers and to do so we grew our barrel collection. One problem, we have a limited space to work in. So what’s the next logical step? A foeder.
What’s a foeder? Pronounced (FOOD-er) It’s a large wood vat that we ferment and store beer in. Our new foeder is 15 HL and made of French oak by the barrel maker Garbellotto. They have been making barrels since 1775 in Conegliano, Italy.

So why bother with a wood fermenter? Because… Wood brings something special to beer. Not just because it’s a throwback to the way all beer was made in the past. The way that the beer interacts with the wood and the air create flavors that cannot not be produced in any other way. The first beers brewed will extract flavors from the wood. Then as the foeder ages it will be come a sanctuary for an entire ecosystem of microbes that will make our mixed fermentation beers like the Bois Sauvage, Assemblage #1 and Thaddeus that we have released.

Béa will live amongst the barrels upstairs.

While we love using the barrels, they can be difficult. We are also acquiring them second hand from Coastal Black (The winery on Vancouver Island) and that imparts the flavors from the previous occupants. This will be our chance to start from the beginning. This foeders destiny will start with and hopefully end with Townsite. If maintained properly she could live for a hundred years.

The foeder, whom we named Béatrix after Chloe and Cédric’s first born, arrived at the port of Montreal on July 11th and then on August 14th made its way to Powell River. To start with we wanted to extract some of the oak flavor from her so we filled Béa with perfect storm oatmeal stout and let it sit, soaking up all that vanillin, for a few weeks. We took that out and filled her with Lil’Red, the same beer that began our sour journey here at Townsite.

We have lots of ideas for future brews, using different ingredients and production techniques. We’ll just need to be patient.

Welcome to your new home Béatrix!

And now a word from our (non) sponsor…. last week Powell River played host to Yasmine Hardcastle, a women on a search for the perfect Hygge experience. Here you can read of her adventures chez nous.

It’s officially autumn – brisker weather and that BC rain… All you want to do is stay inside, curled up with a book and a blanket. And if you go out, it’s always good to be going somewhere equally cozy; or equally hygge.
Hygge (HOO-guh) – the Danish concept of getting cozy.

Hygge is something I’ve decided to immerse myself in as a way to bring more focus into my busy mind and life. My guy and I recently stayed in Powell River for the Thanksgiving long weekend and it was really the best place to be for some hygge. To start, our Airbnb was basically the real-life equivalent of the Weasley house from Harry Potter, which delighted me to no end. We genuinely could have holed ourselves up in that cottage for the entire weekend. We had Townsite beer, a fireplace, and takeout from this fab place across the street called Little Hut Curry. Sorted.
But we had another hyggelig place to be the next day: the Townsite Brewing Tasting Room. After wandering along the Willingdon Beach Trail to Townsite’s beautiful brick buidling, we settled in for a quick beer before a brewery tour with the amazing Cédric (Belgian brewmaster extraordinaire). We naturally ended up back in the tasting room, again with Cédric, and a wonderful dinner ordered from McKinney’s Pub.
We have been to a lot of tasting rooms in the last year, and this was honestly the best experience we have had. And we’ve had some great ones. The moment you walk in, you feel the friendliness and community. The lighting isn’t too bright and colours of the brick wall and wood tables give off welcoming warmth. The cushions on the benches give a pop of colour and complete the hygge picture. It is a hub; very fitting as the building was once the post office – always a central place in a community. Particularly that of a smaller town.
Unlike most of Vancouver’s tasting rooms, the Townsite tasting room isn’t demographic specific. The town IS the demographic. And that is what makes it almost like an episode of Cheers when Norm walks in. The staff knows everyone’s names. People of all ages were sitting down for flights and pints, and there are arcade games for the little ones that accompany their parents. There was a girls’ night out in one corner. A date in another. A group of friends sitting nearby. People picking up their Thanksgiving growler refills. And us, the city folk, welcomed right in, sitting at the bar with the truly fantastic Cedric. It was all truly hyggelig.
I am so happy we went to Powell River and Townsite Brewing for our weekend getaway. We highly recommend you do the same!
About the Author: Yasmine Hardcastle is a Vancouver executive assistant, yoga teacher, and founder/blogger. With a love of local and international travel, she is proudly Canadian and documents her adventures via her blog and Instagram. Her obsession with hygge makes her think that she was possibly born in the wrong country, but that just means there’s a pilgrimage in store! Yasmine and her partner – her occasional blog photographer, also known as The Brit – have been exploring the tasting rooms of the Greater Vancouver area and beyond, all in search of the perfect stout (for her) and IPA (for The Brit).