Clocktower brews up the perfect formula for museum guests

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Ingenium - Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation
Jesse Rogerson, Science Advisor for the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and a willing beer tester, enjoys a taste of The Formula. Photo: Pierre Martin.

Visitors celebrating the reopening of the Canada Science and Technology Museum now have the perfect way to do it – with a pint of the museum’s very own beer, The Formula.

Brewmaster Patrick Fiori of the Clocktower Brew Pub says he took inspiration from the museum’s reinvention in planning his approach to making the beer.

“The museum’s re-opening, it’s changing; it’s going from an older iteration to something from the future, so that process of evolution just kind of stuck with us,” explains Fiori. “So what we decided to do was look back at some older styles – some more historic styles of beer – that have gone extinct or out of style because technology has changed.

“We decided to take a style that was brewed in a way that’s no longer brewed; and brew it with new, modern brewing equipment to see how it would come out; we’re showing progress.”

To capture that sense of the past, Fiori looked to a fifteenth-century German brewing method called decoction.

“This style of brewing happened before there were thermometers and an understanding of enzymes and proteins,” says Fiori.

He explains that in order to extract the sugar from the grains, you have to mix it with water at a certain temperature. However, at the time there were no thermometers so brewers didn’t know exactly what the temperature was. They would actually stick a thumb into the mixture to gauge the right temperature – which, incidentally, is where the phrase, “rule of thumb” originated.

“They would take one third of the grains and boil them, then mix them with the cool grains to raise the overall temperature up to where it needed to be,” says Fiori. “The problem was in boiling it, they killed all the enzymes that are involved in that process of turning all of the starch in the grain to sugar; so it was an extremely inefficient process.”

Fiori also endeavoured to use similar ingredients to the old-style German method – incorporating a traditional, floor-malted barley into the recipe.

“We used a barley that’s not malted in the same way as what’s typically used in today’s beers; this barley is a throw-back to the old process.”

The result is a dark orange – almost coppery – German-style ale, perfect to refresh visitors after a busy day of exploration at the museum. The alcohol level is 5.25 Alc.

“It’s light on the palette, it’s very malt-forth,” says Fiori. “You’re getting a lot of bread, kind of toast crush kind of flavour, so there’s a little bit of dryness with a tiny bit of floral character at the finish.”

Tall cans of The Formula (5.25% ABV) are now available for purchase at the museum’s café, and at the Clocktower Brew Pub’s retail location at 575 Bank Street.

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Sonia Mendes

Sonia Mendes is the English Writer/Editor for Ingenium. She loves digging behind the scenes to tell the quirky, colourful stories of museum life and all things related to science and innovation.