at Nickel Brook Brewing Co.
The Funk Lab is the largest brewery in Canada dedicated solely to sour and wild ales, one of the most exciting new categories in craft beer.With the shift of our core-brand production to our Hamilton brewery, John and Peter saw an opportunity to do something special with the original brewery in Burlington. We had the space, the equipment, the knowledge and the creativity to do truly unique experiments, and become a leader in an emerging area of craft brewing.
After plenty of research, taste-testing and traveling across North America, the team decided to dive head-first into brewing the best funk and sour beers possible. Experimenting with new strains of yeast and bacteria, our brewing team has converted the old Better Bitters facility into the Funk Lab, a brewery completely dedicated to small-batch funk and sour beers. By eliminating the possibility of cross-contamination with our core and seasonal brands, our Funk Master and his team are free to try things few other breweries can. Raspbery Uber Berlinerweisse, Ceres Cucumber-Lime Gose, Inquiry Brett Saison, Uncommon Element Brett Pale Ale and Cuvée Reserve Ales: these are beers you can’t make just anywhere, and we’re making them all right here.
Our brewers have plenty of amazing ideas up their sleeves, and we can’t wait to share them with you!
What makes a beer sour or funky?
Historically, all beer was slightly sour or funky. Before modern scientific methods, beer became funky when wild bacteria found its way into open-air fermentation tanks. Over time, brewers and scientists worked to isolate the good bacteria from the not-so-good ones, and traditional brewer’s yeasts were isolated, reducing wild ales to a small corner of the brewing world. Traditional techniques persisted in parts of the world, such as France and Belgium, where Lambics and Geuzes continue to sit atop the beer pantheon. With the rise of craft beer in North America in the 80s and 90s, brewers began searching the history books for lost and forgotten styles, and it is there they discovered wild ales. Brewers and yeast labs continue to isolate wild yeast and bacteria found on fruit, in barrels, or floating in the very air we breathe, for use in exciting new beers.
The three most common strains of funk and sour cultures are the yeast Brettanomyces (aka Brett), and the bacterias Lactobacillus (aka Lacto) and Pediococcus (aka Pedio,) each of which contribute their own unique flavours and aromas. As an active yeast, Brett can continue evolve the flavours and aromas in a beer for months to come, creating exciting new creations even we can’t predict.
Funk and sour styles can range from 100% Brett Pale Ales to tangy Berliner Weisses and salty Goses. Fruits, spices and herbs are often used to add even deeper complexity, and barrel-ageing can take things to another level altogether. Our dedicated Funk Lab embraces the unique and wild flavours these microbes import on beer in a way never-before-seen in Canada.