Beer Back Story: Grand River Brewing | Ontario Culinary
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Beer Back Story: Grand River Brewing

Discovering Craft Beers & Breweries in Ontario with Savvy Company

Brewery owners Bob & Jane Hanenberg set out with a vision to make a variety of full-flavoured beers while keeping wary of the alcohol level.  Why? All to fully enjoy the craftsmanship of their beers.


Grand River Brewing set out to create ?session beers? (beer lingo: beers with full flavour and lower alcohol, enabling consumption of more than one session beer at a time).  Sessionals have now become a very popular style of brew amongst Ontario craft brewers. 

Savvy Brew Crew team member Shawn McCormick had a chance to speak with the colourful brewmaster Rob Creighton about what makes Grand River Brewing so special.

Grand River Brewing is named after the Grand River that flows through town of Cambridge. History goes that the land near the brewery was the location of some of the earliest hops farms in Canada. With this strong linkage to the past, Brewmaster Rob Creighton shares, ?We have created a must-stop destination for folks traveling along the 401. We�re just a quick 20 minutes off of the highway.?

History Meets Present Day�

Located in the former factory building of Galt Knife Company, owners Bob & Jane Hanenberg made extensive restorations to the century old building to showcase the historic architectural details of the post and beam construction, open rafters and Victorian trusses. With most of the building bathed in natural sunlight, they have created a unique space that�s both beautiful and functional for today�s brewery visitors.

 Sessionable Ales

Grand River has always been focused on lighter, easy drinking ales. Rob explains that it is all about balance. He�s trying to brew beer that will appeal to a wide range of customers, not just beer enthusiasts looking for ?extreme beers�.  While some of their beers are as low as 3.5% alcohol, make no mistake these are by no means ?light� beers?. ?They are full of flavour?, confirms brewmaster Rob.

 grandriverHard Water Makes Great Beer

Many of the world�s greatest beer brewing regions have one thing in common � hard water. Rob explains that in Cambridge, they have some of the hardest water in the province, with their water supply coming from 27 limestone wells. The result is that the hardness in the water helps increase the flavor and intensity of the beer.

 Experienced Brewmaster

Rob has been brewing beer commercially likely as long as anyone in Ontario, with 37 years under his belt. Don�t tell anyone�.he originally lied about his age to land a job working at Labatt�s Brewery in London, Ontario back in 1977.  Then he became the first employee of Upper Canada Brewing Company (one of the early craft breweries in Ontario). His entire career has been in the beer biz in some capacity from equipment sales to packaging. All of this experience combined has been invaluable at Grand River, where they are a small and quickly growing brewery.  Rob and the others in the team are always wearing many hats.

Always experimenting, Rob is constantly reworking old translated German beer recipes, tweaking them until it feels right. As an example, Rob explained to me that originally his fruit beers used all locally sourced fresh fruit.  He discovered that much of the flavor remained in the fruit even after added to the brew.  He then tried freezing the fruit first, then thawing and blending them into the mash resulted in more flavour being transferred to the beer!

When you drop in for a pint you will notice that the brewery has become a community hub. ?Many locals take their dogs for a walk, and end up stopping by to catch up on the local news over a pint.?

Here�s to Rob & the Grand River team!



 Savvy Hip Hops is Ontario�s first craft beer of the month club.  To further your enjoyment of Ontario’s best craft beers, each month the Savvy Brew Crew compiles a ?mini-magazine� to give you the inside scoop on the brewery, the brewmaster & of course the beers! It’s just one of the benefits of being part of this hopping club. Sign up today for more beer knowledge. Cheers!

Originally written for Savvy Hip Hops subscribers by Shawn McCormick of Savvy Company�s Brew Crew.