In exciting news, the little city of London in which I live opened its first craft brewery – Forked River! Even more exciting, the owners are all members of my brew club, the London Homebrewing Guild. They started delivering kegs to pubs last week, but this weekend was the grand-opening of their brewery for public sales.
Why it took so long for us to get our own craft brewery, when the craft brewing scene has been exploding in the province for over a decade, is a mystery to me – perhaps its because Labatts (a Canadian mega-brewery) originated here, perhaps it was because of something else, but for some reason London seems to have missed the craft brewing revolution that placed small breweries into nearly every Ontario city.
I am happy to say the drought is over, and that Forked seems to have been greeted by Londoners with open arms – many positive news articles have been written (1, 2 & 3), and their grand-opening was packed. My wife and I showed up a half hour after the doors opened, and we could barely get inside. It took nearly 45 minutes to snag our free samples, and to grab a growler of beer & some swag. From others I heard that it remained packed right through into closing, and that over 1000L of beer was sold in just 5 hours!
I, of course, grabbed a few for myself – a growler to take to work (two of the owners graduated from our grad program), plus two bottles for my own enjoyment.
Forked River currently brews two beers – a Capital Blonde Ale and Riptide Rye Pale Ale. Both are very enjoyable and well built beers.
The Capital Blonde (left) is an on-style blonde – pale copper in colour, modest bitterness & hop character, some esters, mellow, and easy-drinking. My wife doesn’t like many beers – she likes this Blonde!
The Riptide Rye is a different beast. Rye adds a unique flavour and mouthfeel to a beer – its dry, almost astringent, with a crisp and spicy finish. Again, the guys at Forked River have done it right – the rye character is there, but balanced as to avoid the astringency that comes with too much rye. A bit of yeasty esters and some nice hop bitterness and flavour round out this beer.
Sadly, these beers are only available direct from Forked and in a few pubs around London – if you’re passing through I’d recommend you give them a try. If yo live here, you should have been at the opening last weekend…