This Saturday: Henderson Brewing Joins the Gardiner Museum for Maker Break

Ale of the Ancients

A collaboration of a unique kind is occurring this Saturday at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, part of the museum’s innovative Maker Break series.

The Gardiner, founded 1984, is Canada’s national ceramics museum, located at 111 Queen’s Park, Toronto.

In its own words, Maker Break:

invites local makers, artists, chefs, and brewers to lead an intimate, open-dialogue forum on ceramics and its ties to social cultures. Focusing on ceramics’ historical connection to sustenance, this unique experience will offer new perspectives on the Museum’s permanent collection alongside curated drink and light fare.

The forum this Saturday with Steve Himel, majordomo of Henderson Brewing, is described as follows.

Henderson Brewing Co. is an independent neighbourhood brewery in downtown Toronto. Since the summer, Henderson and the Gardiner have been collaborating on a special brew inspired by chicha, one of the earliest beers rooted in the Ancient Americas. Fermented in special vessels made by local ceramic artist Keenan O’Toole, beer enthusiasts will have the opportunity to sample this exclusive small batch, as well as a variety of other beers. Access the Gardiner’s Ancient Americas collection and hear Henderson co-founder Steve Himel discuss this ale of the ancients and local microbrewing with Gardiner Adjunct Curator of Ancient Americas Siobhan Boyd.

We attended a preview at Henderson recently and viewed the striking ceramic vessels made by Keenan O’Toole in which a brew inspired by chicha is fermenting. We didn’t taste it as the brew was not ready; tasting will occur this Saturday. Event runs from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Gardiner Museum.

Admission is $30.00, $25.00 for registered friends of the Museum. See the website to obtain tickets.

Further details on the beer will be available at the event but we understand it is not made from corn, a barley malt base was used. Chicha, although typically made from corn (different varieties), can be made from numerous grains and fruits. It depends on the era and region.

Both alcoholic and non-alcohol versions exist, the Peruvian version generally is the latter we understand.

The spirit of making of the drink was followed in the collaboration including vessels specially crafted after historical example.

Siobhan Boyd in this link summarizes the traditional preparation of chicha, a drink still made by artisans today. Having heard her speak at the preview, I can say she is a fount of knowledge on the subject from all standpoints: processes of manufacture including raw materials, regional variations, fermentation, storage, methods of consumption, and of course the vessels in which chicha was and is prepared.

An event not to be missed for those appreciate the cultural dimensions of beer and related drinks, which often far exceed the mere drinking experience.