When you visit Waterloo’s newest microbrewery, Innocente Brewing Company, be prepared to expand your palate.
“I’m not going to shy away from flavour,” said owner and brewmaster Steve Innocente. “If it says it’s on the label, you are going to taste it.”
A scientist by training, Innocente has a PhD in molecular biology and a post-doctoral fellowship in “saccharomyces cerevisiae” – growing yeast. It’s a combination that certainly comes in helpful when concocting his brews.
But it was his time spent as a post-doctoral fellow in Scotland that helped him hone his craft. Though he was a home brewer all through university, after moving in 2004, he started again with renewed vigor, and ended up entering his brews in a local craft beer contest.
While one beer didn’t fare so well – “the term barnyard was used quite a bit [to describe the flavour,” Innocente said – the other, a beer that formed the basis for an IPA he calls Innocente Bystander, won.
After that, Innocente entered other contests and started brewing on contract at a Scottish microbrewery. But it was his return to Canada that gave him the chance to fulfill his dream of opening a brewery to call his very own.
When the CCE visited him in February, the space was still undergoing heavy renovations.
But since the brewery opened to the public in mid-May, Innocente has installed a large bar where he serves up pints, plus growlers people can bring home.
It’s a light and airy space where people can enjoy their beer and also get a sneak peek at the process that goes into making it. Innocente doesn’t believe in hiding the tanks away – he even believes that having them out in the open is part of the appeal.
His current line-up of beers include Innocente Fling, a lighter ale with floral and spicy undertones, Innocente Conscience, a hoppy IPA that registers 80.2 on the IBU scale, and Innocente Bystander, the pale ale that he’s been tinkering with since he lived in Scotland.
Though the names of his beer show off his sense of humour, beer is a craft he takes seriously. Innocente isn’t afraid to try some strange combinations – he’s even made chocolate and wasabi flavoured beer.
Just don’t ask him to make a winter holiday beer. “I’m not a fan of spiced or Christmas ale,” he said.
But everything else is fair game for the scientist, whose laboratory is now a brewhouse. “This is science – I just get to drink the outcome of the experiments now.”
Innocente Brewing Company is located at 283 Northfield Drive East, Unit 8, Waterloo (innocente.ca).