Creemore Springs fetes 25 years with new Altbier

JORDAN ST. JOHN, Special to QMI Agency
In order to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Creemore Springs Brewery has created an Altbier. (Supplied)

In order to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Creemore Springs Brewery has created an Altbier. (Supplied)

To say that the Creemore Springs Brewery has expanded its lineup slowly would be something of an understatement. The company doesn’t release new products lightly. In point of fact, after starting out with a single beer in 1987, it took 10 years before the brewery decided to expand its repertoire, launching its Urbock until the tenth anniversary in 1997.

It’s a reasonable strategy when you consider it was an independent, small-town brewery at the time. Ten years is probably long enough to make sure you won’t spook your customers with new flavours.

Ever cautious, it took another decade before introducing a Pilsner during its 20th anniversary. Since the Molson buyout, the brewery has been a comparative whirlwind of activity, releasing a (frankly superb) Kellerbier in 2010 and, this year, in order to celebrate its 25th anniversary, the company has decided to create an Altbier.

Altbier is a style of beer with an extremely localized heritage and is the result of the evolution of medieval northern German ales. As the popularity of lagers grew in the 19th century, the call for ales decreased and they eventually became a regional specialty. In this case, the region is Dusseldorf, where four brewpubs which have been operating since the mid-19th century keep the tradition alive.

It may seem like something of a departure for Creemore Springs to consider brewing an ale when its stock in trade has primarily been lager, but Altbier is an odd style that plays to the brewery's strengths. For one thing, the yeast tends to ferment at a lower temperature than most ales. Additionally, Altbiers are actually lagered at very low temperatures after fermentation is complete. This, combined with the fact that they tend not to use heavily roasted malts, ensures an extremely mellow, quaffable beer.

In order to ensure the company is making an authentic Altbier, Creemore Springs actually sent its brewmaster, Gordon Fuller, and head brewer Bryan Egan to Dusseldorf in February of last year to learn about the traditional brewing methods. This has resulted in a collaborative effort between Creemore Springs and the Zum Schlussel brewpub, which provided samples of its house yeast strain for the brew. The ability to draw on the flavour imparted by the traditional yeast strain has the benefit of making the Altbier more than simply an homage to the style. The yeast strains used in Dusseldorf represent hundreds of years of brewing.