Brews News: Cowbell branches out with new cider and hard seltzer

Article content

Evolutionary and revolutionary? Cowbell Brewing in Blyth is covering all the bases as it moves from beer into cider and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages.

Canada’s first design-build destination brewery opened about four years ago with visions of trendy craft beers anchored by the kolsch-style Absent Landlord. A great farm-to-table restaurant with a menu switching seasonally ensured you would linger in the massive timber frame barn-like structure with its 14-metre ceiling and return often. Am I the only one who imagines a beer-themed hotel and event centre on the property someday?

Patrons view the brewhouse from a second-storey walkway. On the brewhouse floor, they’re using technology to brew more beer in less time using less energy and water, according to Cowbell’s website.

But while beer has by no means had its days, there’s market-driven variety on the way.

Already here is a new cider, Cowbell Rose, and soon they’ll be joining the hard seltzer revolution (or fad) started by White Claw.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

True to supporting local and as one would expect Cowbell Rose Cider starts with Ontario apples. It’s fermented with a French saison yeast. That yeast gives it wine notes while steeping the cider on hibiscus flowers adds floral hints. The hibiscus also provides this dry, flavoured cider with its pink colour.

The cider is sold out until April 30.

Initially, there was a quirky thing when ordering Cowbell cider ($3.55 for a 473 ml can) through the brewery website. Because of the type of licence Cowbell was selling under, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario required that it be sold with food, so Cowbell packaged purchases with small 50 ml bottles of maple syrup.

The type of licence is changing and when Cowbell Rose Cider’s new batch returns, the maple syrup won’t be required. Fans of the terroir of maple syrup will be sad about that.

The beverages aren’t all that’s new at Cowbell. There’s also a change at the top with an announcement late last year that Randy Powell has joined as partner, president and chief executive. He has previously been president of winemaker Andrew Peller Limited, among other corporate jobs.

There’s more than beer in the fridge as Cowbell in Blyth has its own cider made with Ontario apples, a French saison yeast and hibiscus petals. (Cowbell Brewing photo)
There’s more than beer in the fridge as Cowbell in Blyth has its own cider made with Ontario apples, a French saison yeast and hibiscus petals. (Cowbell Brewing photo)

POST-LOCKDOWN FEAST

Pandemics and lockdowns don’t last forever and Cowbell is planning for the demise of the virus and the restrictions by announcing its VIP dinners featuring a four-course meal with beverage pairings and chef’s commentary. The main course is a choice of braised short ribs or jerk chicken paired with Boxing Bruin IPA. But save room for dessert and cider. The $100 per person feast ends with smoked cider apple tart paired with the new Cowbell Rose Cider.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

MARKET CALL

The rules have changed in Ontario so that craft beer can be sold at farmers markets and one of the first out of the gate is London Brewing, the plow-to-pints microbrewery co-operative in Old East Village.

London Brewing beers will be sold at the volunteer-run  Ilderton Farmers Market, open Saturday mornings beginning June 12. Watch for it at other markets, too.

BASEBALL QUEEN

If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve got to know about Lizzie Murphy and the beer that’s helping tell her story.

Murphy, nicknamed the Queen of Baseball, was the first woman to play professionally. The multi-sport athlete from Rhode Island competed with men in 1922.

Left Field Brewery in collaboration with The Beer Sisters has brewed a fresh batch of Queen of Baseball IPA in honour of what would’ve been Murphy’s 127th birthday.

Queen of Baseball was brewed with Southern Passion and African Queen hops from South Africa. It’s the second time Left Field and The Beer Sisters have brewed it.

NEW AND NOTED

We’re moving on from maple syrup season to rhubarb. Forked River in London has turned to rhubarb to flavour its latest incarnation of its Philly Sour series. This beer blends tart rhubarb with sweet and sour raspberries. Forked River delivers for free in London if your order is over $50 and free Ontario-wide if it’s over $100.

If you’ve been anywhere close to a Canada goose nest this spring, you know the inspiration behind a beer from wee Curley Brewing in Hyde Park. Goose Crossings, a dry-hopped sour sold in large format bottles, is a fiercely protective sour and bitter brew.

Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist based in London.

wayne.newton@bell.net

Twitter.com/WayneWriteOn

News Near Tillsonburg

This Week in Flyers