The Craft Beer industry around the Capital Region is booming! With so many breweries it only seemed right to get to know who’s behind them.
Starting off my Brewery Spotlight series is an upcoming brewery located in the country south of Pembroke, ON…
Location: Pembroke, ON
Founder & Brewer: Marc Bru
Name: Big Pine IPA
Style: American IPA
ABV: 7% (approx)
Name: Timber Crib Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.2% (approx)
Name: Deacon Seat Hefeweizen
Style: German Hefeweizen
ABV: 5% (approx)
Name: Camboose DIPA
Style: American Double (Imperial) IPA
ABV: 8% (approx)
Tell us a little about yourself & your background:
I was born and raised in small town Saskatchewan. I left home when I was 16 and never really went back. I’ve lived in a couple different countries and have visited or worked in too many others to count. I went to University in Saskatoon and received my B.Ed in 1992. I taught for one year before moving on to other careers. I moved to the Ottawa Valley in 2002 and have settled in here rather nicely. I worked in the arts/culture/music industry until 2009 when I decided it was my time for a change. I love it here.
How did you get into craft beer?
The first “craft” beer I ever drank was a Big Rock Brewing Company’s “Albino Rhino” at an Earl’s restaurant in Saskatoon. I had no idea what it was but I knew I liked it. A lot. I actually grew up in a beer family. I know that sounds a bit weird but that’s the way it was. My father worked in the beer business for over 35 years. He mostly worked in the distribution side of the industry but I was immersed in the Canadian beer culture ever since I can remember what beer was. After about 30 years in distribution he moved into the production side for the last 5 or 6 years of his career. Granted, I was mostly exposed to the large commercial & popular style of beer in Canada which made that first craft beer even more of an awakening. I think it’s fairly accurate to say I was born into this craft.
How did you get into brewing?
I started touring breweries at a very young age and was familiar with the process before most kids knew how to drive. I had friends at University who were homebrewers and, although I never started then, I saw how easy it was to make good beer at home. During my years on the road as a full-time traveling musician (2000-2009) I always made it a point to try and fit either brewery tours or visits to great beer bars as part of our itineraries. Even though I wasn’t physically brewing at home I felt I was getting a great education in beer. One of our favourite places to play was at a brewery in Benton Harbor, Michigan, called The Livery. At the time, the brewmaster there, Steve Berthel, was also the guy who booked the bands in their pub. We became great friends and we would talk about beer almost as much if not more than we would about music. I ended up doing two apprenticeships with him there. I would say he taught me most everything I know about the art of making beer.
How long have you been planning to open a brewery?
Some would say I’ve been planning this brewery since my first sip of beer when I was…let’s just say, young. I started to seriously plan the brewery in about 2008. I retired from the road in 2009 in order to plan & open the brewery. It has taken much longer than I had thought but we deal with what we can when we can.
Where will your brewery be located? When do you plan to open?
The brewery will be located on my property out in the country in the Ottawa Valley. Our address is Pembroke but we’re actually closer to Rankin, ON. In fact, we like to say we’re in the suburbs of Rankin. Like many other new breweries, our opening date has been somewhat of a moving target. I’d like to think we’re still good for a 2013 opening. I’ll leave it at that.
Significance behind the name Square Timber Brewing Company?
I could go on at length about this but I fear your readers might get bored after the first paragraph or two. I love this place. The history, culture and beauty of the Ottawa Valley are beyond description. When I set out to find a name and personality for the brewery it didn’t take very long. I had a few “standard” names but nothing really had a great ring to it. I had thought early on of calling it “The Bru-ery” but about 2 weeks after that I heard of a very new brewery in California called the Bruery. I guess that wasn’t meant to be. My wife’s family are all bushmen of one degree or another so wood, lumber, etc. all play a significant role in the way we live. I went to the Pembroke library one day to get some ideas. I wanted to get a better sense of what “made” this part of the Valley. I came across a book about the square timber trade and how it was instrumental in the settling the Ottawa Valley. That was it. I knew right away what I was looking at. It represents everything the Ottawa Valley was and, in most part, still is. Hard working, honest, loyal, creative, caring, adventurous. The people that settled this area and that worked in the square timber trade were all of those and if we can reflect those qualities in our beer, I feel we will be doing them right.
Will you be focusing on producing a specific style of beer?
No. We will brew what we like to drink and that covers a lot of different styles. We don’t think sticking to one style will reflect who we are and what this part of the world represents. We want people to think of Square Timber Brewing as always doing something different, something cool, something wicked tasty. We will have our regulars but our seasonals and one offs will hopefully also show who we are and what we believe in.
What can we expect in the soon future for Square Timber Brewing Company?
I think people can expect a launch of beers that will please a large section of the beer drinkers in Eastern Ontario. We’re going to release our 4 flagships right out of the blocks. Once we have those in regular rotation we’ll start to roll out the other ones. In the spring, we will release our 4 maple beers in our “Sugar Shack” series of beers. We hope to build on the growing success of Ottawa’s craft breweries who are all making excellent beer. Really, it will be an honour to be a part of this industry with them.
Is your beer available anywhere yet?
Unfortunately, no, it won’t be available until we’re open.
On a lighter note…
Favourite style of beer to drink?
Funny…I’ve read countless interviews with brewers, brewmasters, etc. who get asked this question and don’t really know what to answer. I always thought, come on, just answer the question. Now I see why they have trouble answering. If I was to be dropped on a deserted island with only one keg of beer…I guess it would have to be…beer.
Favourite style of beer to brew?
I’m a big fan of hops so anything that showcases hops in some fashion or another. Well, except beers where yeast is king – those are fun to brew too. I guess that didn’t really answer the question…
Everyone says they’ve had this ‘life changing’ epiphany on how they discovered or truly fell in love with craft beer. What was that moment for you?
As I mentioned earlier, the first beer that had a punch of bitterness made me open my eyes to all things non-commercial. I can also pretty clearly remember the first time I had beers from Dogfish Head, Bell’s, Cantillon, Chimay and many others. I think they all helped move me down the path to where I am today. Here’s to many more years of great craft beer. Cheers!