Labatt "Pioneer" Brewery.

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Revvy

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Today I umpired a vintage Base Ball match between my team the Port Huron Welkins and the London (Ontario) Tecumseh's on their home field at the Fanshawe Pioneer Village (The Welkins got creamed 18-2, unfortunately.)

It turns out that London is the home to founder and master brewer John Kinder Labatt, who started making the famous-branded beer in London in 1847.



And the Pioneer village has a re-creation of the brewery on the grounds. After the game I took a walk through, climbed all the ladders and took a ton of pics of the place.



From Labatt's website;
Today on the bank of the Thames River in London, Ontario, there is a log and plank structure that is an exact replica of a pioneer brewery buiIt there 139 years ago. A bronze placque by the front door reads: "ON THIS SITE IN 1828 A BREWERY WAS BUILT BY MR. JOHN BALKWILL, INNKEEPER. IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF A COMPANY THAT NOW SPANS CANADA AND WHICH HAS REACHED FROM THIS PLACE TO THE FARTHEST POINTS OF THE WORLD IN ITS ALLIANCES AND INFLUENCE. A FARMER NAMED JOHN KINDER LABATT SUPPLIED THIS PIONEER BREWERY WITH MALT BARLEY AND IN 1847 TOOK OVER ITS OPERATION. HIS SONS AND GRANDSONS BUILT THE COMPANY ON A SOUND FOUNDATION OF REGARD FOR QUALITY AND FOR PEOPLE. TO THOSE WHO FOUNDED THIS ENTERPRISE AND THROUGH THEM ALL THOSE WHO SEEK A BETTER WAY OF DOING AND LIVING, THIS PIONEER BREWERY IS DEDICATED."

Labatt Breweries of Canada Limited traces its origins to this small enterprise. John Balkwill turned over the operation of the brewery to his brother-in-law, George Snell, who was assisted by his brother William Snell. The brewery was destroyed by fire in 1840 but was rebuilt in the same year with a capacity of 8,000 barrels. In 1847, John K. Labatt who had returned to Britain to learn "business" rejoined his family in London and A took over the London brewery in partnership with Samuel Eccles, a brewmaster.

The Labatt-Eccles team continued in partnership until 1853, when John Labatt became sole owner and renamed the Company after his own family - Labatt's Brewery. There were then six men on the payroll, but from that point growth speeded up, spurred largely by the coming of the railway. The first train into London in 1853 made it possible for Labatt's to ship their brews to Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal, and by 1856 such rail shipments were regular.

The founder's son, John Labatt II, was for much of this period, both at home and abroad, a keen student of brewing in all its aspects. In 1865 he returned to London after a course in West Virginia with the recipe for India Pale AIe, a name ever since synonymous with Labatt. John II assumed command of the company just a year later, at the age of 28, on his father's death.

Fire, in those years the greatest single scourge of property, burned out a major portion of the brewery in March of 1874, but by December a rebuilt, larger brewery was open for business.

I shall endeavor to take you through the brewery step by step, as best as I can, to take you through the brewing process photographically.



We'll start in the Brewmaster's office, where that portrait of John Labatt hangs.




The best that I could tell, this is the transfer of sale deed filed with the English Government, transferring ownership of the brewery to John Labatt.



Here's me at the desk, contemplating firing up the ole brewery. Or trying to figure out how to make off with a barrel or two.....



Here's the sign on the desk;



Here the clerical work connected with the operation of the brewery is carried out. Apart from controlling the quality of the brew, the brewmaster is responsible for keeping track of purchases, inventories, wages, sales, taxes and correspondences with other brewers. A step by step explanation of the brewing process begins well out of the main room. The is the logical place to begin, as a truly good brew begins with pure water.
 
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Unfortunately I could not find the grain mill, but I did find a few barrels of glass encased grain.

Basic Two Row


And next to it, surprisingly was some "brown malt."


I shouldn't be surprised though, besides the well known "Blue," the brewery produced several beers including an IPA. There have been some mixed cases of "historial Labatts" available for the last couple of years. I really enjoy the "Labatt's 50."

I couldn't find any hop storage vessels either (there was a storage area under the brewery that you could enter from the "garage" next to the Labatt's wagon, as well as another little area that was off limits.)

While we're on the first floor, I'll show you the furnace which heated the kettle above.





As you can see the kettle is directly above the furnace and bricked in, to the right of it is the mash tun. To the left is one of the many pumps. I'm not sure if this one is to draw hot water up from some hidden boiler between the furnace and the kettle, or is use to move the wort from kettle to the next phase of the process.

Here's the wheel barrel used to "feed the fiery beast," and to move barrels and other essentials around the brewery.



On the first floor, across from the office is the complete cooperage, to make all the various sized barrels, and even the mash tuns and other vessels.



Here we store and repair the barrels as well as clean them. Cleaning is done by pushing burning sulfur coated wood chips in metal containers through the "bung hole" which burns off the oxygen and forms (can't make out) and this destroys any bacteria in the barrel. Then we leave the inside of the barrel (glare) spotless by flushing it out with artesian well water. Now it is good as new. If you go back through the main room and out the main door you can see our stable and drive shed, as well as our under back.
Assorted barrels;




The tools of the Cooper's Trade;


(FYI, if you care, my last name is the Spanish version of "Cooper," and since all last names originally stemmed from the trade they did, evidently my ancestors were barrel makers in Spain. Making casks and such for the wine trade, cool eh?)

Both metal and wooden barrel rings. The blacksmith shop is next door.

 
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Now we'll move upstairs to the exciting part. Like I said I am attempting to take this all the way through the brew process in the correct order. Also, I apologize, I neglected to take a lot of pics of the "physical plant," meaning all the different ladders and platforms and block and tackles upstairs. The stairs and platforms were pretty rickety up there, and the wood was the really smooth, hard and somewhat slippery (the way well-worn wood often gets over a hundred or so years) and I was in dress shoes and it was a little tricky to negotiate. Yes the umpire must wear gentlemen's attire and that involves top hat, waistcoat, white gloves, and dress shoes, even in a cow pie infested field.)

The first part of the process involves bringing the water needed up from the artesian well below Which I now believe might have been one of the areas below that I couldn't get to.



The water is drawn up and placed in the reservoir;





Water from the deep well is pumped up here to fill this reservoir when a brew is ready to commence. Then the water flows down the trough to the brew kettle where it is heated before being pumped to the mash tun, down the stairs behind you.
The Kettle;


I got closer and opened the cover (looks like they did cover the kettle part of the time at least, maybe just to get the water boiling quicker...or else DMS wasn't a known issue then (and maybe isn't really now either.)





A big ladle on top of the covered mash tun;



The mash tun and it's pump;



The sign read,

Boiling water from the brew kettle and crushed malted barley is mixed into the mash tun. (THe rest is too washed out to read but you get the picture.)
The nifty paddles;



Now the next thing was a step I have never heard of. Perhaps one of our brewing historians can elaborate on this.

After the mash is converted and before it is transfered back to the boil kettle, it is dropped back down to the main floor to something called the "Under Back."



The mash from above is left to sit here for a half hour. This allows any remaining grain particles to settle to the bottom. Then the wort is pumped from here back up to the brew kettle.
Hmm, I guess this is sort of a false bottom perhaps?
 
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Here's the Underback, which is directly below the mash tun.



Note the cool handtrucks and other goodies in the background.



Next the wort is pumped pumped back up to the kettle from the underback.



(One thing to note that up until at least the 1700's there was no sparging done. Instead beers were often partigyled. Up to 3 beers were made from one mash. I am not sure at what point in brewing history the sparge method was adopted, so I do not know if it was done in this brewery.)

After the boil is complete the beer was drained through a hop jack!!! Which flowed into a cooling pan. (Sorry, got excited for a second, me likes the hops.)



You saw closer shot of the cooling pan in an earlier post, the one where I showed those nifty looking mash paddles. More than likely they were used to help cool the wort.



Here the boiling wort was filtered through a bed of clean straw into the cooling pan. Here the wort was allowed to cool before the plug was pulled and the wort flowed to the fermenter directly below and to your left.
The fermenter;





After cooling to the right temperature the wort has been drained from the pan above you into this fermenter. Here the yeast is added and nature takes over during the six days of fermentation. The yeast that rises to the top is skimmed off. Leaving the finished beer-brew at it's best. Now the barrels are filled and stored gently so that they may mature. Down the stairs and around the corner is our repair shop and storage room, called the cooperage.
 
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There's barrels scattered in various parts of the brewery.



This one was next to the fermenter.



And those near the underback.



Then when the beer was mature enough, it was loaded onto wagons for delivery.



There's the wagons. The stable is to the left of the old rickety looking one.



"Mops" Fisher, our former bat boy, now full fledged "ballist" climbed the ladder that led above the brew master's office. We couldn't figure out why a ladder lead to such an odd space, the Mops noticed that you could grab the rope he is looking at, which is attached to a block and tackle on the beam above. They probably used it to shift heavy stuff into position. Perhaps it was even used to lift the mash tun and kettle into position originally.

 
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I created a couple extra pages too many. So I thought I'd add a few pics of the village.

The general store directly across from the brewery.



Where perhaps while the mash was converting, the brewmaster might have killed some time on the porch, perhaps with the blacksmith next door.



Here's the interior of the blacksmith's shop;




The Millenery Shop



The village also hosts the first Masonic Lodge for the region as well.





And the "Poor House."

 
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Well, I hoped you enjoyed this trip through historical brewing, at John Labat's first brewery. It was quite a fun day....Well most of it anyway. Like I said the Welkin's got their denim shirts handed to them in what was pretty much a massacre.

And what became of your humble tour guide and wannabe brew master?

See I got a little too carried away amongst all those pretty barrels. Especially that wagon load of them. I just couldn't fathom what wonderful critters inhabited them, and dreams of brett laden sours filled my mind. But alas the local inhabitants weren't amused. Especially when I tried to hitch my car up to the wagon and head for the border.

It was only by the good graces of the Tecumseh's and the fact that they won the match, that got me freed by the end of the day.



:mug:
 
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Post Script.

Perhaps it was a few too many of these that led to my indiscretion with the wagon.



The tradition in vintage baseball is that the host team prepares a post game meal for the visitors. This hearkens back to the days when the original Port Huron Welkins used to Play the Mt Clemmon's Regular Baseball team. It was common for the visiting team and family to ride between the two towns on the train that a young lad named Thomas Edison happened to work on. Since it was a bit of a journey (only 40 minutes by car today) by train or horse and carriage, the host team would make sure to send the visitors off with a full belly. That tradition carries through today in vintage Base Ball Circles.

Here's the original stop in Port Huron, btw...it's now a museum.



Anyway the Tecumseh's fetted us with a nice barbecue, and beer. It was funny that the canucks drank Bud light, while we yanks chose the canned IPA in the ice chest.

I have to say that that has to be the most hopless IPA I have ever tasted. It had no hop presence whatsoever.

Oh well!

:,ug:
 

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Rev's, that is cool as snot!

What years was the brewery in operation?

Regarding the stockade, are you sure you weren't in there due to some of your calls?
 
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Rev's, that is cool as snot!

What years was the brewery in operation?

Regarding the stockade, are you sure you weren't in there due to some of your calls?
I'm not sure whether or not this was ever actually in operation or was just a replica of the original brewery. Unfortunately there was noone around to ask on Sunday. In retrospect I should have popped open the furnace to check for ash and maybe even sniffed the fermenter.

But if it was never in use someone put a lot of effort into all the little details.

Nah, I made enough bad calls on both sides to balance things out.
 

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great series of photos, always cool to see how they did stuff back in the day when you understand what they where doing and how it compares to current times.
 
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great series of photos, always cool to see how they did stuff back in the day when you understand what they where doing and how it compares to current times.
Thanks, I just feel like that was the coolest thing in the world to get "play" in.

I've been thinking today about if I could convince them to let me brew in there...NOT using the equipment (though that would be awesome) but to get to dress up in period clothes and do a brewing demo with my own gear as part of a way of showing and explaining how it was done and how we do it today. I could take them through the whole brewery and explain stuff in between steps in the process.

Though I'm sure it would be too much of a hassle to just bring brewing gear int Canada, it would be neat to do something like that.....
 

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Tons of Brewing history in London ONT. Carling was the other major player in London but fell out of favor to the other monopoly in Canada the Molson family who started in Montreal.
 

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Thanks for sharing Rev. Having toured a modern brewery recently and now seeing these pics it makes one truly appreciate the work one puts in to brewing a Barley Pop.
 
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Tons of Brewing history in London ONT. Carling was the other major player in London but fell out of favor to the other monopoly in Canada the Molson family who started in Montreal.
That's cool to know...I wanna go back.

While look something up for Hoss in the tap room thread I came upon this interesting google book.

Brewed in Canada: The Untold Story ... - Google Books
 

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Cool stuff. Thanks for sharing.

They obviously weren't very concerned about sanitation back then - they just made sure they used "clean straw" for filtering and cooling the boiled wort!!!! Unreal!
 

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Neat! I've got relatives in London (including an uncle who's an umpire for little league and softball), but I never knew that the Labatt museum was close by.

And yeah, I agree about Alexander Keith's IPA...IPA in name only, IMHO.
 

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Neat! I've got relatives in London (including an uncle who's an umpire for little league and softball), but I never knew that the Labatt museum was close by.

And yeah, I agree about Alexander Keith's IPA...IPA in name only, IMHO.
That's sweet. I'm only an hour away from London. I've been several times but never knew the history there. I should check it out!

and yeah I'm kind of surprised the Canadians were drinking coors light too... We love Alexanders Keiths IPA...or lack there of IPA.... but it's still one of the better commercials brews we have up here.

Labatt blue is slowly dropping in the ranks. Don't quote me but I heard 5th in Canada? Molson really took over after the "I am Canadian" Advertising blitz in 2005-2006. Personally Blue and labatt 50 are 2 commercial brews in Canada I'd drink.... along side with Steamwhistle and Richards Red.
 
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That's sweet. I'm only an hour away from London. I've been several times but never knew the history there. I should check it out!

and yeah I'm kind of surprised the Canadians were drinking coors light too... We love Alexanders Keiths IPA...or lack there of IPA.... but it's still one of the better commercials brews we have up here.

Labatt blue is slowly dropping in the ranks. Don't quote me but I heard 5th in Canada? Molson really took over after the "I am Canadian" Advertising blitz in 2005-2006. Personally Blue and labatt 50 are 2 commercial brews in Canada I'd drink.... along side with Steamwhistle and Richards Red.
I would have like to have stopped at a beer store or even the duty free to see what Canadian Micros were available, but I wasn't driving...

Hey you guys know that the CBC's beer expert Mirella Amato is hot?



Beerology.ca

Any of you going to this? Black Creek Brews Fest

THere's a cool little overview of Canadian Brewing on the site http://www.brewsfest.com/history.html
 

mhermetz

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didn't know about it....but sept 6th is my birthday and I was looking for something to do... hummm I shall hint to the GF.

also...if your ever in Toronto..

http://www.thebiermarkt.com

They have something like 200 beers on tap. alot are craft brews from Ontario.
 

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Very nice. Thank you for sharing the photos and taking the time to write up all of the info. Now I want to go find the place myself!

-Tripod
 

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Ha, Revvy. That's my hometown! I used to catch London Tigers games at Labatt Park as a boy, one of the finest ballparks in Canada, just across the Thames from the brewery. Although you wouldn't catch me with a Labatt's product anymore, unless I'm with my buds and they've ordered a few pitchers of Keith's (IPA? I don't think so...)
 

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haha thats cool, ive actually never seen or dont remember that part of the pioneer village and im from london. but personally every worthwhile beer drinker i know hates the labatt factory, its impossible to get a job there in a town with high unemployment, the only moderately tasteful things they make there are guinness extra for north america and labatt 50, both of which are bloody 13 dollars for a SIX PACK at their factory store. not a fan as they control the bars and flood it with their crap for inflated prices
 

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If you're ever around southern ontario again, Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto has just opened up a working brewery that uses methods and technology from the 1860s.
I haven't tried the beer yet, but their methods are pretty neat.

Watch here:
 
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I was actually going to mention black creek until i was beaten to it. very cool posting tho Rev. I live pretty close to London and never knew that was there. If you are ever up in the area again, hit me up. There are a bunch of great Brewpubs, and beer bars in the Toronto area. As well if you want to tour some breweries I work in one, and can probably get you cleaning the mash tun for me hahaha.
 
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I was actually going to mention black creek until i was beaten to it. very cool posting tho Rev. I live pretty close to London and never knew that was there. If you are ever up in the area again, hit me up. There are a bunch of great Brewpubs, and beer bars in the Toronto area. As well if you want to tour some breweries I work in one, and can probably get you cleaning the mash tun for me hahaha.
It would be cool to tour some breweries with you. As a matter of fact I just got our schedule for 2011, and we're going to be back there for a game.

Welkin's 2011 Vintage Base Ball season:


May 5 - Northville Eclipse HOME
May 21 - Midland River Hogs HOME
May 29 - Coldwater, MI Sesquicentennial event (play the Walker Tavern Wheels)
June 5 - Early Riser BBC at Historic Fort Wayne
June 11 - London, Ontario Tecumseh's HOME
June 25 - Mackinac Island, 1st Annual Gypsy Classic
July 10 - Rochester Grangers at Rochester's VanHoosen Farm
July 16 - Early Riser BBC HOME (Antique Boat Show)
July 24 - Wahoo BBC of Royal Oak HOME (Boat Week)
July 31 - Rochester Grangers HOME
August 7 - Royal Oak Wahoos at Royal Oak
August 13-14 - Greenfield Village Historic Base Ball Tournament
August 20 - Walker Tavern Wheels HOME
August 28 - London Tecumsehs in London, Ontario's Fanshawe Park
September 11 - Midland River Hogs in Midland
September 16 - Northville Eclipse at Northville's Victorian Festival (Friday night game after parade)
That's actually the day after my Birthday, so maybe my GF and I can make a weekend out of it and hit some with you.
 
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