Posted on January 21, 2014 by Marina

Brewing is an art and a science and we love to answer your questions to help spread beer knowledge.  Thanks to Colin (our assistant Brewmaster) for taking the time to answer your questions. And thank you also for brewing our delicious Pilsner.



1. “Why is the majority of beer 5% alcohol. How did that happen? Some guy decided one day “hey! 5% in every beer!”? (Jordan St John)

Great question. We believe it all goes back to government taxation and alcohol content. Specifically, to reference  regulation 718:

1.  (1)  In the definition of “beer” in section 1 of the Act, the prescribed proportion is 0.5 of 1 per cent of alcohol by volume or 0.4 of 1 per cent of alcohol by weight. R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 718, s. 1 (1).

This means that according to the Liquor Act there are 3 categories of pricing beer and alcohol content light beer (least expensive), 5% beer and strong beer (more expensive due to its alcohol content).

2. “Is there a benefit to you roasting the barley in your facilities vs buying it like most craft brewers do? I’m thinking consistency and quality control.” (Diego Lopez)

We do not roast barley at Steam Whistle.  We purchase our malted barley as most brewers do.

3.  “Will you expand to other provinces?” (Christine Kelly)

Our goal for the next few years is to expand throughout Canada. You can now order our brew in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and we are also looking to expand into the East coast this year. The new Bier Markt in Montreal will also be serving our Pilsner on tap… please stay in touch with us so you know when we’re available and expanding (

4. “Why is beer bottle in bottle/cans, why not plastic?” (Gabriel Enamorado)

For the most part, brewers can be a touch conservative and resistant to change.  They would already have established packaging lines that would likely require significant investment to accommodate plastic.  Additionally, the most commonly used plastic for carbonated beverages, PET, is permeable to oxygen, which is detrimental to beer quality.  On top of all of this the acceptability of plastic bottles by the consumer is relatively low, so there isn’t much incentive for brewers to make the switch.

5. “Does something ever go wrong? How do you know when it is right? Perfect?” (Hugh Kruzel)

Things do occasionally go wrong, but more commonly, due to the nature of the raw materials and brewing process, there will simply be variation.  Consistency can be one of the most challenging things to achieve as a brewer.  This is why we put so much emphasis on quality at Steam Whistle. The Quality Assurance team checks a variety of parameters throughout the entire process every day.  We use a range of methods from state of the art scientific equipment to the simple, and my favourite, taste test.

6. “Ask Marek about how long it takes to become a Brewmaster in his native Czech Republic. What’s the whole process?” (A.G.B.)

Marek spent 10 years in training to become Brewmaster. Starting at Podskalska Technical School in Prague, followed by attending university in the Faculty of Food and Biochemical Technology at the Institute of Chemical Technology Prague.  During his education considerable time was spent in work placements in breweries of varying sizes and in a malt house.

My education started with a degree in biochemistry from McMaster University, followed by post graduate work at the Institute of Brewing and Distilling out of Herriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.


Thanks Colin! Stay tuned for more upcoming Q&As.