Collective Arts Brewery Tour
Located in Hamilton, Ontario, Collective Arts is a craft brewery that fuses the art of brewing with the art of visual artists and musicians. From their website: “Our brewery is dedicated to promoting artists and raising creative consciousness through the sociability of craft beer.” This brewery first caught my attention after seeing their cans on the shelves at the LCBO, featuring some great artwork, and ended up taking a trip to Hamilton for a tasting and brewery tour.
After tasting some delicious samples, we went on a tour of the brewery. It runs 24 hours a day, five days a week and because it’s such a small brewery, they only host tours on weekends. And because we were such a small group, our friendly and informative guide let us see certain things that larger groups don’t (which I’m not sure I’m allowed to share here).
One view of the packaging station. Though we couldn’t see any beer actually being made, it was cool getting a glimpse of the work that goes behind it, as well as learning some fun beer history facts. Like how most early brewmasters were women and wore pointed hats to indicate to other townspeople that they had beer to sell or trade. When a particular batch or brew caused someone to get sick, the brewers were considered witches – which is where the common imagery of witches wearing pointed hats comes from (as well as the term “witch’s brew”).
The ingredients. It’s incredible that a drink with only four main ingredients (grain, hops, yeast and water) can have such a variety of flavours. Another cool tidbit of history I learned was that hops were originally added to beer as a preservative – and why India Pale Ale beers are particularly hoppy, as brewers trading with the East India Trading Company needed their beer to last the long trips.
No idea what’s in this room…
Some cans and a fermentation tank.
When bottling cans, the brewers need to go by weight to determine when the can is full. When asked what they do with cans that don’t end up filled enough, our guide simply said that “working at a brewery has its perks” with a grin.
A lot of Ontario craft breweries share resources – these are barrels for Nickelbrook Brewery’s cask-aged beer.
A snapshot of just some of the artwork featured on Collective Arts’ packaging. Artists from all over the world can submit their work on their website and a team of judges selects which artists and artwork to use on the packaging. Each label has the artist’s name and location. It’s great seeing a company genuinely care about emerging artists and putting such a strong focus on the creative and social aspect of craft beer. I spent a while after the tour talking with the guide about the labels and comparing our favourites, as well as swapping craft beer recommendations.
If you happen to see any Collective Arts beer at your local liquor-selling establishment, definitely give it a taste. For such a small brewery, they have an incredibly large variety of brews and flavours. My personal favourites are Ransack the Universe – a very hoppy and fruity IPA – and Saint of Circumstance, which is a Citrus Blonde Ale with lots of zest and flavour. And if you find yourself in Hamilton on a weekend with some free time, definitely stop by their store and brewery.