Mill St. has beer for all tastes
We chatted with Mill St. Brewery’s head brewmaster Joel Manning about his love of beer and the Winter Mix Pack.
Vue Weekly: How did you first become involved with Mill St. Brewery?
Joel Manning: I started in 2005, so almost exactly 12 years ago. I was at another microbrewery called the Amsterdam Brewery for 18 years and I was their brewmaster. Mill St. was expanding in 2005, we were building our second brewery outside of the distillery district in Toronto. I got hired to set that up and run the main brewery. I kind of came in as the technical head of the brewery from day one.
VW: What kind of planning goes into making a new beer?
JM: I dont have a clue (laughs). In some respects it’s quite complex and in others it’s quite simple. We try and match seasonality a little bit. Historically, you want higher sugar and alcohol contents in winter beers and lower in summer beers. Other than that, we brew a lot of beers in our brew pubs.
This year Mill St. will make over 140 different beers and lots of them are ones people will never see unless you come to our brew pubs and drink inside the walls of those pubs. When we have ideas for stuff we try it out and experiment on humans. No animal tests, but tests on humans (laughs). We get a lot of feedback and work out the recipes.
Sometimes we decide to scale it up or take one part of one recipe and another part of another recipe and tweak something and come up with a different version.
VW: Do you have a favourite in the Winter Mix Pack?
JM: They’re all my children. Why make me pick? I really like the Imperial Coffee Porter. I think that thing’s great. It’s in my wheelhouse for sure. It’s soft and mild and doesn’t hit you over the head with ‘I’m a coffee beer.’ It’s something you can drink a couple of. It’s not too aggressive and it’s a really elegant and nice subtle beer.
VW: There’s another new beer, the Makani Pineapple IPA. Could you talk about that one?
JM: Yeah, we experimented with that one quite a bit. I really like it. It’s a flavour that sounds really weird until you try it. There’s that acidity and a really high, fresh tropical fruit flavour from pineapple that works really well with American west coast hops. That pineapple stands out on its own, but again, it’s not a hit you over the head taste. It blends in with the whole fruit salad of hops. It’s hard to describe unless you try it.
VW: Is there anything else coming from Mill St. people can get excited for?
JM: We have a barley wine. Also a beer called Illuminari that is a champagne beer. It’s literally in a champagne bottle with its own cork. It’s fermented with French champagne yeast and it’s for new years. It’s a little over 11 percent alcohol. We come out with Barley Wine every year around holiday season.