La Knowlton Co. Brews Hops in Hip Style
Finally, the Town of Brome Lake now has its own microbrewery! A public house where you’ll be happy to relax for a while. By chance, I ran into Richard Burcombe, the mayor of this municipality of 5600 citizens, who told me he had begun to set up his quarters here! “The ambiance is great and the owners always offer us a warm welcome as we walk in.”
They opened in November of 2019, and already their beer has reached a fine maturity. Jim Allan, with his son Nicholas and their master brewer Toby Bouchard took two years to perfect their recipe. They first worked with small 100-litre brews, to then standardize their beer, a bit nervously, to a still somewhat artisanal scale of 2000-litre brews. For now, most of their sales have been made right here, in Knowlton at their restaurant-pizzeria-microbrewery, but they’re already distributing their beer at 26 other points of sale.
Nicholas and Jim got the idea of establishing a microbrewery by stopping in several micros on their road trip from Vancouver to Montréal, after Nicholas’s studies on the West Coast.
What does it taste like? The translucid West Coast India Pale Ale is flavoured with three different types of hop, which increases the bitterness, measured in IBUs to 70 units (International Bitterness Unit). Although its bitterness measure is only 15, their opaque American-style wheat ale gives out more citrusy aromas. Their English Porter’s dark, rich and complex taste could almost be mistaken for a cup of espresso and a piece of dark chocolate! It’s perfect for ending a great meal. As for their cream ale, it’s worthy of its name: creamy, slightly hazy, with very little hoppiness. This beer is perfect and easily enjoyed by your mom or better half who might not appreciate beer that much. —It’s also the honourable mayor’s favourite brew.
Their three-panel packaging recounts compelling stories inspired by the company’s theme, “ La vie est dure, la bière est douce”
La Knowlton Co. ’ s four other craft beers are Toby’s playground; Proudly wearing his tattoos, he’s quite the hip master brewer. Your choices here include his double IPA with six types of hop, a dark IPA made with rye, and his original seasonal beers integrating locally produced Bolton hops or Brome-Lake elderberries. “In the spirit of transparency, we’ve written all our ingredients on our cans,” says Nicholas, “today, real connoisseurs know how to identify different types of hops.” Aren’t hop varieties to beer what grape varieties are to wine?
It’s one thing to know how to brew, it’s quite another to find ways to really stand out. Young, new, fun, fresh, funky, local; these are the key words used in Frenglish by Nicholas as he describes his cuisine, his beers and his vision. This young entrepreneur, a computer science graduate, returned from the West Coast by travelling across the country with his dad. On their way, they stopped at many microbreweries as they confirmed their plan for putting Knowlton back on the map as a hip destination, a reputation that had faded in the last 20 years, before GPS.
Speaking about GPS, you really must trust yours, because the pub, built on route 104, is set a little further back, off the road. Allying concrete, metal and wood through a surprisingly warm architecture, the building has wide bay windows that open out onto a vast terrace. From here guests can view the… Knowltonian? Knowltonese? Or Knowlton forest essences? It’ll be great to debate this over a pint!