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April 2016 Labatt Tour Summary

Category: Newsletter
Published Date Written by Keith Harasyn

John_Kinder_roomASQ London met on the evening of April 14, 2016 at the Labatt Brewery for a Hometown Tour.





Brewhouse and Fermentation

Our tour guide, Rhonda lead our group through each phase of production starting at the brew-house.  This is where the four main ingredients of beer are mixed: hops, barley, grains (either wheat or in the case of Budweiser, rice) and water.  This is slowly stirred together and cooked in a large kettle to form a porridge-like substance called wort.  The used grains are then separated and sold-off as a high protein animal feed, while the remaining liquid has yeast added and is violently fermented in a fermentation tank.  The large fermentation tanks sit in-place in cut-out holes in the concrete roof of the fermentation room.  After fermentation is complete, the tanks are drained and the beer is moved to temperature controlled storage tanks.  This is where the beer is aged for specific times according to it's recipe, and special components such as beechwood ageing is added.  At this stage, the beer is almost done.  It's moved once more by pipes to either the bottling area or to where the kegs are filled. 


tast_testingThe bottles are reused at the rate of 99% based on the recycling program at the Ontario Beer Store network.  They enter a cleaning station then move to a bottling line and are filled and capped.  As they move down the line, the bottles enter a large water heater, where they are pasteurized then cooled.  The last stage on the line is labelling and packaging, which is all automated in the Labatt plant. 

Quality Control

We reviewed many of the tests that are performed to ensure a quality product, including the traditional light panel viewing, and more modern automated testing, such as the cap tap test, which uses acoustics to verify the sound of a tap, and automatically rejects a bottle that does not sound right.  Quality also includes taste testing, which was enjoyed by all the ASQ members.


stream-linerOur guide Rhonda shared many of the stories behind Labatt Brewing company. The original owners were London originals who lived in Elgin House in London and had a long line of descendants who became Labatt executives and went on to introduced many innovations at the London Plant, such as the first light beer and the first ice beer in Canada.  Our evening concluded with a tour of the restored Labatt carriages and original delivery trucks located in the showroom.  Still operational, the Labatt Stream-liner was found abandoned in a quarry in Thamesford and restored to its original glory.  The older delivery truck was used in early twentieth century to deliver beer kegs as far as Montreal.

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