Watershed Magazine: Your brewery’s name – Fogorig – is curious and it comes from the historic mill that’s been at the heart of your property since 1884; what do you know of its origins?
Derek Roberts: The stone house and mill were built by Captain Thomas Allan, who was granted the land in 1834 by the Crown. He was a Scottish naval captain who came from Fogo in Scotland. It’s believed that he added “rig” to the name to represent the drumlin that runs behind the property; rig being Scottish for “ridge.”
WM: And who is Fogorig Brewing?
DR: We are a family-run brewery. Heather Anderson and I own the property and live in the stone house; we’re joint owners of the business with my parents, Wade and Liz Roberts.
WM: Who is the brewmaster?
DR: I’m behind the beers, and we recently hired brewer, Matthew Basler. Matthew is a graduate of the Niagara College Brewmasters Program. He’s spent the last several years honing his craft with a selection of great Ontario Craft Breweries. Matt has a strong interest in making Lager Beer, as well as extensive experience in Barrel Aged Beers and blending.
WM: Where do you all come from; do you have backgrounds in brewing?
DR: In terms of experience, we bring different backgrounds to the table. I worked in hospitality for 20 years as a chef and was an avid home brewer, while Heather’s career has been in finance with a focus on strategic business planning and sales. Wade and Liz are entrepreneurs who have owned a restaurant and currently own a business in Hamilton.
WM: Do you have a favourite brew?
DR: My favourite is our Lagered Ale. I love it for the subtle addition of an unusual hop varietal: Mandarina Bavaria, which gives it an amazing complexity and drinkability.
WM: What do you recommend for the holiday season; what pairs best with turkey and all the trimmings?
DR: I would recommend our Stonefruit Smoothie Sour to enhance the holiday spirit. But, if you are looking for something simpler to pair well with turkey and trimmings, our Barn Light Pilsner is reminiscent of a good Riesling with hints of citrus and stone fruit.
WM: Do you make seasonal, limited-edition beers?
DR: As we transition into the colder winter months, we are working on a selection of tummy-warming dark beers that will go well with fireside sits and a good book.
WM: We see Friesen’s Smokehaus, Toller Pizza, The El, and Off Side have provided some good eats for your visitors; do you have an onsite kitchen or restaurant or do you exclusively bring in food trucks and other foodservice folks to feed your guests?
DR: We are in the process of building an onsite kitchen and renovating our food truck to provide some seasonal and delicious eats for our guests. We’ll continue to collaborate with local good eats to provide a diverse offering and to support our community.
WM: We love your local vibe and names; can you find all or much of the ingredients you need to brew locally?
DR: Thanks for mentioning our local vibe. We work with a variety of Ontario and Canadian businesses to make our product and are always on the lookout for great local businesses to support and feature.
WM: What does the winter look like at Fogorig? Do you stay open with limited hours? Any plans for a holiday market or festival?
DR: We are going to be open this winter with a quaint taproom and bottle shop in the brewery itself, where you’ll get to witness the brewmaster at work. We are going to focus our business on the weekends, with euchre and trivia nights featuring classic vinyl, while still bringing in live music and food on Saturdays; and we’re going to offer a paired catering menu for all of your holiday party needs. We see ourselves working towards a holiday market that will bring together amazing artisans in our local community.
WM: Cheers to that!