I may not be much of a blog writer but you know I will take time every year to write our end-of-year post. Though this might have been our second year open to the public, this is actually our fourth Year in Review. If you are new to us, check them out to get to know us a little bit better (2019, 2020, 2021), or for a shorter read, check out our About Page for the TLDR highlights version.
This year saw a number of milestones for our little farmhouse brewery. Thanks to our wonderful neighbour, Farmer Don, our farm has become certified organic! This means we can now grow organic malting barley for our beers. How cool is that?! We have started working with it in our beers, and still using other local ingredients where we can for that authentic farmhouse feel.
February saw us celebrating our one-year anniversary of being open to the public. WILD! For this special occasion, we released our first spontaneous beer; Frontenac. This beer, co-fermented on its namesake Frontenac wine grapes, was the first of hopefully many more spontaneous brews. Barrel-aging beer and spontaneous beers are a passion for us, but take time to set up. Who knows, 2023 may have some exciting new beers coming…
We have always said that part of the fun of starting up a business is not only getting to know our customers, but also other small businesses around us. So, when Ryan, Jim, and Thor, of Altitude Coffee Roasters, asked us to do our first collaboration beer with their coffee we were more than happy to do so. We made it to debut at Eat & Drink Norfolk, the annual food and drink event held in Simcoe every April. The Belgian Stout with coffee that came from it has been so well received we have decided to keep it on as a regular offering. It should not have been a surprise with a name like Chévere. In Colombian Spanish slang, Chévere translates roughly to “super awesome”; so really, it’s a super awesome beer made with super awesome coffee, from, let’s be honest, some super awesome roasters!
At the beginning of May things really kicked off. For the third year, we ran the Meuse Farm Market along with our bottle shop, bringing in a variety of in-season fruits, veggies, and other local goods. To celebrate this, we hosted our first annual Friends of the Meuse event. We invited some of our wonderful vendors out to the farm so that you could meet them and hear their stories directly from them. On the same weekend, we reopened our beer garden for its first FULL season! Working with JP’s BBQ we were able to offer some great snacks throughout the summer. Lots of people came out to discover us. Not only locals but visitors to the area. Some through the help of tours like Spicy Jan’s Tasty Road Trips and Christine’s Buzz Tours. The beer garden was spacious enough to host even a few private events like birthday parties, baby showers, lunches, and more.
We brought more chickens to the farm; our fluffy disposal team got right to work eating spent grain produced from brew days and patio leftovers. They have become a highlight on the farm, and we even were surprised with a new clutch of chicks in the fall! My parents were able to help us raise a pergola around our firepit area for the hops to grow on. It was amazing seeing how big some of the plants have already gotten, and cannot wait to see how they develop next year. We are getting excited about growing some more of our own ingredients, including fruit. In the spring we planted the first fruit trees and shrubs on our farm. More exciting still, in the fall we were able to be a host location for Carolinian Canada’s annual Pawpaw parade. With so many people asking us to bring back the pawpaw sour we did in 2020, and the difficulty we have had getting our hands on the fruit, we have finally been able to plant some of these endangered trees on our farm to hopefully have our own supply of fruit in a few years.
This summer, our work with ALUS Norfolk also continued. They were able to put in a pollinator hedgerow to increase the biodiversity on our farm, placing a Demonstration Farm sign next to it inviting people to come to talk to us about our ALUS projects. We were able to host their Ontario Trillium Foundation Recognition event, where they were granted money from the government to continue these great projects. Long Point Biosphere invited us to take part in their Norfolk Sustainability Leaders program so we can work on our next steps in sustainability as an ongoing effort.
July saw our first organic barley harvest come off the field, ready to go to the maltster. With textbook-perfect grain, we were excited to get using it in our beers. This month also saw our new partnership with the Norfolk Cherry Company, becoming their official retail outlet/pick-up location for Norfolk County grown sour cherries. With a short harvest of just 10-14 days, their processing facility is a hectic place. If you are interested in locally grown sour cherries make sure to get in touch with us prior to harvest to make sure there are some set aside for you.
In late summer we were excited to finally be able to host some events. Kicking things off was a patio takeover by Norfolk BBQ. Chad brought over his smoker and did up some delicious pulled pork and sausages on a bun, with, of course, his fantastic BBQ sauces! Doing a fish fry was a big hit with beer-battered fish and chips. The corn hole boards Mischa made got their day in the spotlight during our first-ever Corn Hole Tournament. To keep the corny fun going, we mowed our name into the corn field next to the beer garden as a fun take on a corn maze. Our neighbours the Welsh Bros helped us close out the season with the first annual Corn Roast, bringing over more corn than we could eat. Chad joined us once again and this time did up some incredible ribs! Oh, and Mischa and I got married. Rolling into the fall we took our beers on the road to the Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show where they had the Lounge 5, a local drinks building, for the first time over the Thanksgiving weekend. The following weekend saw us at the 40th anniversary of the Waterford Pumpkinfest, which had THE best fireworks display. Lastly, we were at the Port Dover Pints & Plaids event, hosted by the Toast the Coast Trail, which not even a snowstorm could put a damper on; you guys sure do love your beers!
The end of November saw the in-person awards ceremony of the Ontario Brewing Awards, with Mischa winning awards for the third year in a row with Meuse beers! For the second year in a row, our beloved Saison de la Meuse won Gold in the Belgian Strong Ale category. Our Extra, proudly made with 100% Canadian-grown ingredients, using homegrown barley and hops from our friends at Hayhoe Hops, won bronze as a Belgian Single in the Monastic Ale category.
With that, 20 unique beers, some amazing events, a couple dozen chickens, and the best supporters a brewery could ask for, this year comes to a close. Who knows what next year will bring? All we know is we are here for it; will you join us?
Estelle & Mischa Geven
The Meuse Brewing Team