Bicycle Craft Brewery is turning 1: They (local breweries) grow up so fast!
To celebrate, we went back and chatted with BCB owner/headbrewer Fariborz about the highlights over the past year. But the celebration doesn’t end there, BCB will be hosting a Party in the Pen at Mugshots September 26th. Food, games, music and brews will all be part of the celebration and a portion of proceeds will donated to CHEO Foundation. Class act.
Without further ado:
Apt613: You opened with a tight brew list: an IPA, a blonde and a porter. How has your repertoire grown over the past 12 months? What beer are you most proud of?
FB: We’ve really focused on offering our customers something new and take pride in our seasonal brews while remaining consistent in our mainstays. To date, we have produced 27 different brews including a saffron pale ale (Saffron Equinox) for the Persian New Year with Iranian saffron and Juan Almonte, a Jalapeno Pale Ale that remains one of our most popular seasonals. This is a must try but goes quickly, so you have to get your hands on it fast! Our mainstays have remained the same with one exception, we now offer our American Amber, Crimson Cascade, as a mainstay.
In the summer, Laura brews a great raspberry wheat ale (Recumbent Raspberry) as well as a cherry pale ale (Freedom Machine) for International Women’s Day. Of course our Pumpkin Spice Ale will be making a comeback for the fall along with two different Harvest Ales; City Hops using fresh hops grown within the city and Isidore’s Harvest that uses hops grown in St. Isidore. A collaboration brew with Hidden Harvest will be released on September 26th Party in the Pen. In the future, we’re hoping to experiment with some different styles and techniques that we haven’t offered at the brewery before and are pretty excited about keeping it exciting around here.
Did you guys expect to be this far along within a year? Have you exceeded your own expectations?
We have definitely exceeded our expectations. Shortly after we opened, we both left our day jobs and now work at the brewery full time, something that has allowed us to stay focused and also have more time for our passion. We doubled our capacity and are working on some pretty exciting projects for the fall. We’ve also established some great community projects that we’re very proud of such as yoga in our tap room as well as our grain bag project with Ottawa-Carleton Lifeskills where we have created jobs for adults with intellectual disabilities. We collaborated with Hidden Harvest recently where we also helped with the harvest and will be releasing the brew at our 1 year anniversary party.We’re definitely a grassroots brewery and have an amazing team that helps us get the beer out.
What kind of growth has your physical space seen? I noticed some local art now adorns the walls. Any new tanks or toys?
The excitement around here has been that we recently acquired more fermentation vessels and another brite tank which will greatly help with production and has nearly doubled our capacity. We also upgraded our mill shortly after we opened. This has cut our milling time down by 2/3 and we getting a better crushed grain from it. We’re happy to say that all of our equipment is Canadian made, from Saskatchewan to PEI, and we’re happy to work with great Canadian manufacturing businesses. Since we opened our doors, we’ve been happy to feature local artists on our walls. This allows the artists to showcase their work and have a chance to sell some pieces too.
BCB has really differentiated itself from the crowd with some great food pairings – especially cheese and chocolate. Any combinations that were exceptionally successful? Any new recipes come out of these pairings?
Our twice-yearly Beer and Cheese pairing remains one of our more popular events that we’ve offered. We work closely with Jacobson’s Concept Gourmet on Beechwood to get some fantastic, and unique, cheeses that we take time to pair with our beer. Although our Beer and Cheese pairings are only offered twice a year, it’s a fun Sunday afternoon at the brewery. We also try to have a new seasonal out, something unique to pair with great cheese. And of course Aunt Sarah’s Chocolates are truly amazing and a real treat around the holidays. We’re looking forward to seeing them on the canal again this year and pairing up – maybe and Beer and their famous S’mores Pairing for December??
Tell us about the Party in the Pen? Is this a black-tie affair?
Party in the Pen is going to be amazing! Not only are we celebrating our 1st Anniversary but we’re opening up Mugshots for the night and giving you a reason to party there again! We’re releasing a bunch of new brews especially for the party, including our collaboration with Hidden Harvest, our neighbours Culinary Conspiracy will be providing the delicious food and of course there will be great music. The Full Time Groove will be DJing and The Superlative will be rocking the party live.
We’re also super pumped to say that the party will be raising funds for CHEO with a portion of the proceeds going directly to the CHEO Foundation. If we reach our goal, we’ll lock the CHEO Bear in Solitary Confinement for a portion of the night (not too long though!). Play some brewery-themed games, like a growler tagging competition and keg delivery relay, and have a chance to win Party in the Pen t-shirts. Tickets can be purchased online or in our shop. They’re going fast so get yours today!
Thanks for taking the time to chat, Fariborz, and congrats to Bicycle Craft Brewery on a successful first year! Good luck with the party and the jailhouse ghosts – say ‘hi’ to Patrick J. Whelan for me!
Jordan Duff is a co-founder of BrewBrahs.com, where they talk about everything beer (@BrewBrahs) and is also a contributor to Ottawa Magazine’s Capital Pint as well as Metro Ottawa’s The Bottleneck. He likes beer.