Posted on October 24, 2011 by Marina

Last week on Facebook, we posted a question:

“If you could ask one of the Steam Whistle brewers anything, what would it be?”

All of your questions were amazingly creative and we promised we’d pick 5 to answer. Here they are!


Meet Colin - Brewing & Quality Assurance:

Colin has studied at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University and has a BSc in Biochemistry from McMaster University. Starting out in home brewing and developing his passion for beer, he has been with Steam Whistle for 7 years. Aside from brewing, Colin spends a great deal of his time in our Quality Assurance lab.


Back when we started in 2000 there weren’t any microbreweries that were brewing a Pilsner because this beer style can generally be more challenging to brew. It is the most popular style of beer in the world so there were many import Pilsner into Canada, but none that were locally brewed. We wanted to brew a truly Canadian Premium Pilsner for you folks…. Plus it’s delicious.

Yes.  Steam Whistle is more than a recipe, our people are the secret ingredients and they can’t be easily duplicated.  Process, equipment and local water source also have a large impact on the final product and so another brewery using the same ingredients will likely produce a different beer. …But of course please don’t kidnap me; the secrets of Steam Whistle are available openly to all on our brewery tours.

Absolutely!  But not every night, beer isn’t his whole life (maybe 90% though).

We brew around the clock so Marek uses his bedroom ere to be able to connect with brewers on each shift. Beer is a live product (yeast being a live organism) so we pay close attention to every batch.

The barley used in Steam Whistle is grown across the Canadian prairies (Saskatchewan), and our water originates in springs near Caledon, Ontario.  As hop aroma and bitterness are some of the most defining characteristics of the pilsner style, we use only the finest hops in Steam Whistle.  We source these hops from Germany and the Czech Republic for that authentic Bohemian Pilsner style.  Our yeast also originates from Europe, but yeast remains alive throughout the process and may be used several times before a fresh culture is required.  In other words, the vast majority of yeast used to make Steam Whistle Pilsner comes from other Steam Whistle Pilsner.

We have not considered making a cask-ale as we are devoted to doing one thing really, really well!

Basic math and science skills are a real asset in the brewery; life sciences and engineering programs would be particularly good courses of study for general background knowledge, but are by no means required. I would strongly recommend one of the many brewing schools around the world. These schools will give you a strong understanding of brewing basics and some hands on experience at the same time.  Experience is very important, and many brewers get their start in home brewing before venturing into the world of commercial brewing.   For the first time a brewing program has opened up in Canada at Niagara College!


There you have it folks. You asked, we answered!

Stay tuned for more Q&As. Who would you like to ask a question?