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Bottling Beer in our Nation’s Capital

This week we travelled to Ottawa to make friends with our one of our new (to us) Meheen bottling lines. It is a little bit like buying a used car…so we wanted to test drive it and see whether we could get to know its temperament, so we can treat it right when it arrives in Shelburne. The kind folks at Kichesippi Beer Company were great hosts, and let us bottle a couple of batches of beer with them so we could practice.

We did learn few important things in our first bottling line shift on Monday. First, bottling beer is a pretty wet undertaking. There is water and beer everywhere. Second, flying glass is an occupational hazard (occasionally you get a defective bottle that bursts under the pressure of filling it). And third, there are a significant number of bottles that don’t get filled all the way up for one reason or another (“short fills”). Those can’t be sold, but surprisingly there are other uses for those. Everyone does his or her part to make sure very little beer is wasted.

On Tuesday we made a “beer pilgrimage” to Beau’s All Natural in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, about an hour east of Ottawa. After tasting their Beaver River IPEh? At dinner on Monday night, we thought a field trip to the brewery would be worthwhile and we were not disappointed. We tasted several of their beers and had a tour of the brewery. They have a great lineup of innovative and extremely interesting beers (including several gruits – beers made without hops, so technically not beer). We’ve been fans of Lug Tread (their lagered ale) for a long time, so it was great to get to see their newly expanded brewery. Also, we feel like fellow boondock brewers – Vankleek Hill sure looked like a similar sort of place to Shelburne (minus the ocean).

On Wednesday we were back in the brewery to bottle some more Kichesippi Natural Blonde and we were lucky enough to get to watch the Kichesippi crew brew a double batch. We had a fantastic few days in the capital city and learned a lot, and we want to send out a big thank you to Paul Meek, Don Harms and the brewery crew (Eric, Jason, Jeff & Kim) for hosting us.

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