Rideau View Golf Club's No. 17 blonde ale, crafted with hops grown behind its 17th tee in collaboration with Big Rig Kitchen and Brewery, has quickly become a favourite with Rideau View members.
Now the brewing world is going to find out what No. 17 is about: it's going to be stacked up against other great brews at the 2019 Ontario Brewing Awards Sept. 12 in Toronto.
It's believed Rideau View is the first golf club to grow its own hops and use them to make a proprietary beer.
There are golf clubs that have taken the "farm to table" approach to the next level, growing on their property some of the produce and other ingredients to be served to their members.
Rideau View Golf Club has taken a "farm to bar" approach.
The Cascade hops used by Big Rig Kitchen and Brewery to make No. 17 for Rideau View were grown beside the penultimate tee on a wire and pulley system designed by superintendent Gord MacMillan.
No. 17 was brewed at Big Rig by Cody Munro, the head brewer at Big Rig.
He crushed it. Munro said he would put No. 17 in his top three beers he has brewed.
Rideau View general manager Steve Ducat said Rideau View wanted "an easy-drinking, refreshing yet flavourful beer. We targeted an IBU (International Bitterness Units) of 15-20 which would be perfect for a flavourful but not hop forward beer," he said. "To satisfy the easy drinking objective, we agreed that an ABV (Alcohol By Volume) of 4.7 - 4.8% would be ideal."
Munro had a hole in one with No. 17. It hit all the cup, or the glass, in this case.
"I am very happy," Munro said. "I'm especially happy with the amount the Cascade hops came through."
No. 17 is a great beer experience. It has a very light, clear golden appearance which will look great in the sunshine on one of Rideau View's patios or on the bar at the Fallen Oak Pub.
There's a hint of the hops in the aroma of No. 17, but it's light on the tongue and has a lingering, crisp finish.
"We had just done our bee hives and honey, along with our vegetable and herb garden for the kitchen, so I figured why not grow our own hops at Rideau View and have Big Rig make our own beer for us," Ducat said.
Ducat's idea for No. 17 was encouraged by former Ottawa Senators defenceman and long-time Rideau View member Chris "Big Rig" Phillips, the co-owner of the popular restaurant and brewery. He had told Ducat about growing hops on his farm just down the street from Rideau View (which led to Big Rig's "Salute 1079" a tribute to Phillips' franchise record 1,079 games played) and how easy it was to do that.
MacMillan sourced the Cascade hop rhizomes locally and built a trellis for the hops beside the 17th tee. Members could stop by over the past three summers to check on the progress of the hops. At times, it seemed like they grew a foot overnight.
The first hops were ready for harvesting last fall. About 20,000 of the aromatic buds were picked.
There was a meeting in March at the Big Rig Brewery in Kanata to decide what the flavour profile of No. 17 would be and brewing began in in late March. The first kegs of No. 17 arrived just in time for Rideau View's The Masters viewing party.
"One batch brewed at Big Rig produces 2,400 pints. Given our top selling draft the previous season sold 2,000 pints, we expected that one batch of No. 17 would easily get us through a season," Ducat said. "Well, three batches of No. 17 have already been brewed this season. I think the amount of No. 17 sold speaks volumes about the quality of the beer. Needless to say, I'm thrilled!"
The golden colour and crisp taste, without being overwhelming, has made No. 17 a huge hit with the Rideau View membership. It now accounts for one third of Rideau View's draft beer sales.
"A lot of members come in with guests and they're talking about it. It's a point of pride," Taylor Kohlman, Rideau View's clubhouse manager, said. "Guests come in and they say they saw the hops on No. 17. A lot of people see the custom tap handle and they love the story."