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The story behind the M1 beer

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The M1 beer, which stand for Mac’s First, was an idea brought forth by the Brewer’s Union of Macdonald and turned into a reality with the help of the campus bar the Ceilidh and the Macdonald Campus Students' Society. The first major obstacle was to be allowed to brew. Because brewing is not permitted on university grounds, the students had to find a brewery willing to let us design the recipe and brew it in their equipment. Luckily, the Bilboquet from St-Hyacinth was willing to do so. Beers styles range from incredibly bitter and dark to light and golden, so we began the design process by brainstorming the style of beers which would both please the student population and simultaneously be a different, high quality beer. Then the fun could begin; the brewer’s and other members of the brewer’s union all started designing recipes which would meet our chosen guidelines. One of our favorite moments, was the tasting of potential brews. A total of 12 prototypes were tasted and analyzed by 14 judges. The judges were chosen to best represent the student society. When the results were tallied, we took the judges favorite barley combinations and hop additions and combined them to make yet another set of prototypes. This second set was perfected by the brewer’s and took over 5 iterations. Once complete, a last and final tasting occurred and the recipe could be scaled up to the size of the Bilboquet equipment which is of 1700L. The next phase of the project was grunt work and involved negotiating and meetings with a plethora of people to finally get a price, the rights to the beer, to maintain legality, get a printing company for our labels, etc. We were saved when a graphic artist proposed to work with the printing company to get our labels done – a task we were struggling with since we had no knowledge of the field. When our day finally came, students were in the brewery hard at work making our campus proud. And they were there the whole way through. They came back for bottling and labeling which was – believe it or not -  done by hand. Yes, 3 000 bottles of beer were washed, labeled, filled, and packed one by one. When we say students were there the whole way through, we mean it.
 
As for the recipe, we chose to make a honey blonde with a particular type of hop. Hops are a bittering flower used to add bitterness and aromatics to a beer. Our choice of hop (and there are many) was hard to find and required that we order it from Toronto ourselves since the brewery couldn’t get their hands on it. These hops are often described as giving a litchi, aromatic, character – others say passion fruit. We say delicious. It sits nicely in a vibrant red to dark golden body with a crisp freshness and subtle but balancing honey sweetness. As the bottle says, it’s blissful.
 
The beer will be officially launched on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 (4:30pm) at the Ceilidh. No one, not even the brewers, have tried it yet. We will all experience Macdonald Campus’ first beer made entirely by students at the same time. Food will be available, a free sample of the beer will be distributed, and of course M1 will be available for drinking. Everyone is welcome to join us in celebrating a proud moment for the students and their campus.
 
- Ian Burelle (Ceilidh Bar Manager)