We love the idea that the beer you're drinking can tell you something about where you're drinking it. It's in that spirit that we're proud to share Fidelis DIPA. Brewed with the absolute best Ontario-grown hops we could source, we set out to make a statement: artisanal brewers can showcase Ontario terroir without sacrificing flavour or quality.
It's our contention that this beer's massive pineapple, white peach and passionfruit aromatics lay to waste the age-old theory that Ontario-grown hops should only be used for subtler styles like English and harvest ales. We set out to prove that Ontario farmers are growing hops that deliver every bit of the intensity many of us brewers traditionally assumed could only be achieved by working with those sourced from better known growing regions in the Pacific Northwest, New Zealand and Australia.
The philosophy behind a beer like Fidelis has deep roots. Call it romantic, but thinking about beer as a tool for social geography is one of those notions that captivated us all the way back in our homebrewing days. We loved the idea that (historically anyway,) beer had no choice but emphasize a sense of place. The only way to brew would have been through maintaining a relationship with someone growing and malting grain, harvesting hops and through a local source of water that would have been largely unadulterated. Since yeast was little understood until the late 1800s your beer would have always been fermented with indigenous airborne strains. The styles and flavours in your glass would have necessarily been the product of what could be sourced nearby.
Homebrewing with locally grown grain in 2013. (photo credit: Blair Gable)
Historically, everything a brewer could need was grown right here in Ontario. In the early 20th century, Prince Edward County was a net exporter of malting barley. The legacy of Eastern Ontario hop growing can still be found on rural roads throughout our corner of the province where you'll still find abandoned brick oast houses lining farmer's fields; small huts which would have been used for drying hops after harvest.
Hops at Lot 17 Hop Yard in Campbellford, ON; one of our first hop suppliers.
Today, we brew in an age when German-grown pilsner malt and designer hop varieties from the furthest reaches of the globe are no more than a courier delivery away. To be clear, lots of our beer includes ingredients sourced from away. Showcasing what's grown here, however, is something we'll never stop doing. It's a thread you can follow all through Dominion City's evolution up to the present day--it's basically in our DNA. It's why Two Flags IPA is the first consistently available beer to be brewed with 100 per cent Ontario hops. You can see other examples of this brewing philosophy here, here, here and here, to name just a few.
A lot has changed, even just in the last four years since opening our doors. Since that time, Ontario's hop growing industry has expanded rapidly. Contracts we signed with small local growers more than three years ago for entire farm harvests have expanded as we've grown leading to farm expansions and an almost insatiable thirst for more local hops; our customers are literally driving demand for Ontario-grown hops.
Devin Huffman from Barn Owl Malt (photo credit: Barn Owl Malt)
Brewing with yeast from Escarpment Labs
Our ability to reconnect our beer to our geography transcends hops, too. Barn Owl Malt, Ontario's first micro-maltster, opened their doors and now regularly provide us with barley grown in Prince Edward County; they are the first to do so on a commercial scale since shortly after Prohibition. Escarpment Labs is now producing brewer's yeast in Guelph and is expanding the boundaries of what we thought possible by cultivating wild strains from apples and moss and making them available to brewers who are in turn designing flavours entirely out of reach even a few short years ago.
Ontario's motto is 'Ut incepit Fidelis sic permanet', which translates from Latin to 'Loyal she began, loyal she remains.' Fidelis was inspired by our loyalty to an idea. It's an expression of our faith in our region's ability to provide everything we need to brew unique and delicious beer of outstanding quality. It's a project that remains unfinished and one central to our mission here at Dominion City.