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Good ingredients equal good beer

Good Robot Brewing Company gets creative with flavour

5 min read
caption Erica Fraser, an employee at Good Robot Brewing Company, pours a sampler.
Josh Healey
caption Erica Fraser, an employee at Good Robot Brewing Company, pours a sampler.
Josh Healey

Chili and lime.

Coriander and orange zest.

Peanut butter and jalapenos.

These combinations might not sound like they belong in beer, but Good Robot Brewing Company, located on Robie Street, has been using them. It has been in business since May 2015.

“Sometimes you go to other breweries and try all their beers and they all taste the same,” says Good Robot employee Erica Fraser. “Something that people say about us is that all of our beers taste really different.”

Good Robot is just one of the many craft breweries which have sprung up across Nova Scotia. In the North End alone, there are six breweries, North Brewing Company and Granite Brewery being among the more notable. 

Welcoming new craft brewers

On Thursday, Good Robot’s staff helped two craft brewers experiment with flavour to help create a new beer. Good Robot, like some other breweries across the municipality, open their doors to those looking to learn and experiment.

Jana Muise and Trish Dellapinna welcome the experience.

“Good Robot has been very accessible and have helped to answer a lot of our questions about technique and flavour,” says Muise.

Together, Muise and Dellapinna are looking to open a brewery of their own. They brought in their own ingredients to make the experimental batch, which has already been dubbed Ruby Fruit Jungle.

The process of brewing is started with hot water, maintained at a temperature of 66 C.

caption Water needs to be at a certain temperature for the brewing process to go smoothly.
Josh Healey

Once the water reaches the desired temperature, the shredded grain is added. Depending on the beer, this can be wheat or barley.

caption Grain and hot water are the two first elements to beer.
Josh Healey

Fraser says that it is important to be mindful of the scale of the experiment.

caption The mixture is stirred so that the grain doesn’t clump together.
Josh Healey

“It looks really bad if you have to throw a batch out,” says Fraser. “When we look to make a new beer, it’s the result of brainstorming. We’re not afraid of breaking the guidelines.“

caption The mixture needs an hour to boil to become the sweet liquid known as wort.
Josh Healey

“Our Ghostfacekillah beer is a German style beer, but we have a Belgian style yeast and a Japanese hops because we like the flavours our ingredients bring,” says Fraser.

caption Various kinds of grains and hops used for the brewing process.
Josh Healey

Fraser finds good ingredients make the difference.

“Part of that is our yeast,” she says. “We don’t use the same strain of yeast for every beer because we recognize that different strains produce different flavours.”

Ingredients, like the chili and lime in Good Robot’s HFX beer, are introduced near the end of the process.

For Muise and Dellapinna’s brew, they introduced dried orange and Cascade hops, which has a grapefruit aroma.

caption A key flavour in Muise and Dellapinna’s beer will be dried orange.
Josh Healey

“We’re interested in sour beers, saisons (and) the way various yeasts can change flavours,” says Muise.

caption Muise and Dellapinna use Cascade hops, which has a strong citrus smell.

It’s through experimentation that new beers are born. Good Robot’s HFX beer started out as a small batch, but has grown to be one of their staples.

Collaboration is another way that brewers come up with new ideas.

caption An employee prepares a drink at Good Robot’s location on Robie Street.
Josh Healey

Moo Nay, a beer done in collaboration with North Brewing Company, is an example of what can be produced when brewers get together.

“We used a Belgian style yeast,” says Fraser. “It produces its own kind of flavours in addition to the ones that it would’ve gotten from the malts. A unique thing about this beer is that the hops, called Nelson Sauvin, were grown in the same soil as wine grapes. That produces a wine like flavour in the beer.”

caption Some of the beers available at Good Robot Brewing Company.
Josh Healey

Muise and Dellapinna both look forward to achieving their goal.

caption Muise and Dellapinna enjoy a beverage while they wait for their brew to steep.
Josh Healey


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