By Tristan Bragaglia-Murdock
No stranger to creating Ontario-based beers and regularly embracing Ontario-grown hops and malt, Dominion City’s fondness of where they come from, the community they call home and the beers that they create showcase the importance of their upcoming event, Rooted in Place.
Josh McJannett, owner of Dominion City, notes his fondness for locality dates back to sourcing hops from a local farmer during homebrew days. “Until relatively recently beer was necessarily an expression of land, people and time. The idea that what’s in your glass could still tell you something about these things has been a huge source of inspiration for us over the years.”
On Saturday, February 8th, breweries from across Canada , the US and Belgium will be descending onto Dominion City’s Canotek Road brewery for a day of pushing the idea of locality farther forward. The lineup consists of breweries that have inspired McJannett and his coworkers along the way and who he sees as being at the forefront while redefining artisanal beer further.
The aim of the event is to highlight each brewery’s unique style and worldview regarding locality. In wine, we call this terroir: the idea that specific growing conditions in a region create flavour and character in a wine. So too is it with brewing.
The ambient yeasts that surround a farmland brewery are drastically different than those in an urban environment; bacteria that live in old barrels ferment ever so differently based on their location in the cellar; the complexities of house strains could be a whole article in their own right.
The people that live near the brewery shape and define the taproom that they regularly visit as well. The brewery works with and strengthens the community surrounding them (recently Dom City collaborated with an Anishinabeg community on a beer and four-course dining event). These too can and are represented in the brewery’s packaged product.
Since the industrialization of brewing and undoubtedly before, breweries have been a stimulus for society and culture; part of the terroir is the people that drink it. Locality in brewing does not only mean the ingredients or the physical location of the brewery, but who surrounds you and who you work with. Munich has Oktoberfest, without the beer, it just wouldn’t be the same. Dominion City has Rooted in Place.
The two four hour sessions (starting at 11:00am and 5:00pm) will have breweries pouring both inside and outside, so warm winter gear is suggested for Ottawa’s sporadic-but-brutal Februaries. “We were inspired by that Gilles Vigneault classic Mon pays n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver,” defends McJannett of the subzero sessions. “Winter truly feels like Ottawa’s natural state and we loved the idea of gathering against the cold and the dark with good people, beer and ideas,”
Following an all-inclusive festival model means that there are no beer tokens: flow between booths and wait times will be drastically reduced, though responsible drinking is still the name of the game.
A free shuttle will be back and forth between the nearest light rail stop and the brewery every half hour or so until the last guests have left the second session.