Just in time for seasonal cheer, Meaford has a new brewery. Kilannan Brewing Company introduced its first batch, fittingly called “The Inaugural”, recently – and we made a trip to the brewery in Rockford a couple of days ago for a quick tour (and taste, of course). We arrived there just in time. A few dozen silver cans, emblazoned charmingly with the peel-and-stick labels the brewer is using during the early days, were all that was left of The Inaugural.
The brewer is Spencer Wareham, at 22 the youngest commercial brewer in Ontario, and probably in North America. He began brewing beer four years ago. He reached the legal drinking age in Ontario a year later. “You can buy the ingredients for brewing at 18,” he says with a laugh.
He quickly found his passion in brewing and set out to study the craft at the Siebel Institute of Technology – the oldest brewing school in the U.S. – and at the Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany. Today he has a diploma in brewing technology and his own commercial brewery.
The Inaugural is an amber-coloured, light bodied, crisp beer with a mildly bitter finish. Spencer brewed it using American yeast while waiting on the German yeast he wants to make the altbier recipe he’s settled on. The second batch, in the new style, is being canned as we write.
Viewing the operation, you begin to understand the term “craft brewery”. While the stainless steel brewing vats and fermentation tanks look suitably industrial, when you see the canning station, you realize what a hands-on operation it is. While some of the roughly 1200 litres produced go into kegs, most of it is packaged, one at a time, by hand at the canning station.
Kilannan is named after the family farm near Annan, and Spencer’s dad is a big supporter – helping to man the shop on the day we visited. While his main recipe will be the German-style altbier, Spencer says that some day he may brew a beer using only local grains and hops.