The Exchange Brewery in Niagara-on-the-Lake was definitely one of the Ontario craft breweries who made news this summer. On one end of the spectrum, they launched a can programme back in May; on the other, September brought news that they have released their Spontaneous Ale.
Their hefeweizen and berliner weisse were the two beers that were picked for can distribution. That makes sense. These easy-drinking beers appeal to a broad audience, especially during the summer. And cans get cold faster and they’re easier to carry to the beach.
These are two styles that have done very well, in the hands of New World brewers. Spontaneous fermentation has definitely made the jump to breweries in some pockets of the U.S., but here in Ontario the (admittedly tiny) market for that type of beer is dominated by imports from Belgium.
The Niambic project (by Great Lakes, Sawdust City, Indie and Amsterdam) is one exception that springs to mind. They are still aging and deciding how to blend the product, so Exchange has jumped into a fairly competition-free space.
Spontaneous Ale is based on a turbid mash, uses aged hops and inoculates the wort with Niagara fruit skins and airborne yeast with what they’re calling a “mini coolship.”
In their press release, the head brewer Sam Maxbauer said: “The whole brewing process is more difficult; the aging is extensive and the likelihood of failure is high with Lambic-style brewing. The whole brew staff is excited to finally offer this rare beer to the public.”
It’s already aged in barrel and bottle for nearly three years. If properly cellared, they expect bottles could continue to improve over a decade.