Labatts Brewery tour
by Stacey Langille
(Beer Delegate, NS, Canada)
Labatt's Brewery tour: worth stopping off
Labatt's Brewery tour
Labatt's Brewery, ON, Canada
Visit the UNOB's Ontario Beer Guide
We were greeted for the Labatt's Brewery tour by two of the nicest tour representatives I had ever met. It didn't hurt that they were attractive ladies, but they were very friendly and really knew what they were doing.
We gathered in the Amber Lounge, which I had been in before, as it's used to host promotional parties and to entertain people involved in beer wholesale. I attended several functions as a hanger-on: after an hour in that room, you love Labatt's and somehow forget a world exists outside this lovely room.
However, tonight was all about the article... Not really, but that sounds professional!
The tours are run year-round, Monday through Friday and take about two hours to complete. You need closed-toe flat footwear and the small fee of $3 is offset by a free T-shirt, a 15% off merchandise coupon and the beer sampling!
Also there are many sets of stairs to climb, plus a few catwalks that are high up, so anyone not comfortable with those two things will have to pass on the tour and stick to the sampling. (Did I mention the beer sampling?)
The Amber lounge was the only place I was officially allowed to take pictures, so to see the inside of the brewery you will have to go on the tour or apply for a job. Once we were out fitted with our safety glasses and our ear defenders/tour headphones, we were off on our adult Willie Wonka adventure.
The distinctive smell of the beer process was everywhere. It could not be escaped, and after a few minutes it felt kind of comforting to know that without it, beer would not exist. We got to see all parts of the process and even stick our heads in the mash mixers. (Look out for the limited edition "Labatt's Langille Scalp" bottles, coming to a bar near you! Ed.)
The tour operators were very knowledgeable of the beer process. "Water, yeast, malt and hops" is still dancing through my head. The two places that amazed me the most were the suspended storage tanks and the bottle recycling machine.
The tanks hang suspended in concrete and steel and while standing underneath these massive objects, you truly feel humbled. The bottle recycling machine is a massive bottle washer, sorter and disinfector that had the largest pile of cigarette butts underneath it I have ever seen. Apparently you should never bend your cap and put it back in the bottle when empty, as it is very hard on this machine. Labatt's takes back an amazing 98% of its bottles!
The network of pipes that ran through every step of the tour left our neck sore, trying to trace them through walls and over walkways. The Labatt's Brewery tour steadily led back to the comfort of the Amber Lounge.
Once the walking was over, it was time to relax, have a complimentary beer and watch a short film. It offered educational insight into beer production and the historical facts about the company, including the details on the kidnapping of John S. Labatt in 1934.
Then my favourite part of the Labatt's Brewery tour! It was sampling time, which included Labatt Blue, Blue Light, Sterling, Budweiser
(brewed in Canada for Canadians since 1980), Bud light and Labatt 50.
This sampling from Labatt's core favorites was fun and informational, as the tour ladies not only could walk the walk: they could also talk the talk. Girls with vast knowledge of beer are number one in my book.