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Barfly Elizabeth Fitzgerald by yud98542


									Barfly: Elizabeth Fitzgerald                                                                                    4/13/08 6:09 PM

              Barfly: Elizabeth Fitzgerald
              Stacey McLeod Apr 09, 2008

              On Toronto’s Harbourfront -- tucked behind some of the city’s biggest tourist landmarks -- is a
              round, historic old warehouse that doesn’t look like much more than a building that used to
              house broken trains. Inside though, it’s home to Steam Whistle -- one of the city’s most popular

              The Roundhouse building also houses Steam Whistle’s brewery, and that’s where you’ll find
              Elizabeth Fitzgerald. Through the sticky air of the brewery each day, the 28-year old brewer
              watches batches of Steam Whistle Pilsner go from barley mash to bottle.

              Brewing is a laborious process and Fitzgerald says the uniform and heavy-lifting don’t attract
              many women to the job; In fact, she’s one of only a handful of female brewers in North America.

              “Nothing says sexy like steel-toed rubber boots,” she laughs.

              Fitzgerald’s love of beer started long before Steam Whistle. She’s originally from the hard-
              partying beach town of Grand Bend, Ontario, and moved to Toronto in 1999 for comedy school.
              When she graduated and needed a job that could float her until she broke the comedy scene, a
              friend gave her a heads up on an opening in Steam Whistle’s retail department. She went down to
              audition for the store (all Steam Whistle employees are auditioned before being hired) and got
              the job.

              Her interest in the brewing process developed later.

              “An opening [in the brewery] came up and I thought `wow, that looks like a fun job’ and they
              hired me,” she says. “I really lucked out. But the joke’s on me now -- I’m making beer.”

              She says she loves working at Steam Whistle and is glad she stumbled upon the career. Like her,
              most of Steam Whistle’s employees worked their way up from the bottom of the ladder, including
              the entire marketing team.

              “We have a lot of fun here,” she says. “Everybody’s friends. We work hard and we party hard.”

              Much of the Roundhouse plant is open concept or behind glass walls, so both staff and guests
              can catch all the action.

              “I work on the other side of the windows so I get to watch all of the parties here,” Fitzgerald
              says. “I used to say I’d seen every party except an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting and a
              wake here, and since then, we’ve had both of those.”                                                                          Page 1 of 3
Barfly: Elizabeth Fitzgerald                                                                                      4/13/08 6:09 PM

              “We felt really guilty drinking our staff beer that day,” she jokes.

              But, one of her most memorable days at work was the big blackout in 2003.

               “We were throwing ice under fermenters and praying,” she says. “We actually only lost one beer
              that day.”

              When asked if there’s a down side to working with beer, she thinks for a while.

              “Just the fact that you can’t call in sick to work with a hangover,” she laughs. “It’s better to show
              up hungover and get the respect.”

              The Brewing Process

              Fitzgerald says the secret to making a good batch of Steam Whistle Pilsner is in the ingredients.

              “We only use four ingredients and the quality of the ingredients is really good,” she said.

              The formula comes from the Bavarian Purity Act of 1516, an act that states that brewers are only
              allowed to use four natural ingredients: barley, hops, yeast and water.

               “And, of course, there’s love,” she says.

              Brewers begin by adding crushed barley to hot spring water in what’s called a mash tun tank, to
              create a mash that converts the barley into the necessary sugars for making beer.

              The mash is transferred to a lauter tun, where barley husks form a bed at the bottom of the tank
              and create a natural filter. This natural filtering process separates the hot, sweet liquid from the
              barley, and the leftover grain is removed and sent away to farms to be used as animal feed.

              The liquid gets boiled in the brew kettle, and the hops (the flavour) are added in three stages
              before going for a spin in the whirlpool to separate the liquid and hops. The liquid then gets
              cooled down in a heat exchanger to eight degrees Celsius so it’s cool enough to begin the
              fermentation process.

              The fermentation process has two stages. First, the brewing yeast grows by consuming the sugars
              and naturally creating carbon dioxide and alcohol. The second stage is the ageing process, where
              the carbon dioxide is captured in beer tanks to naturally carbonate the beer. Steam Whistle is
              then aged for three weeks, put through a triple filter, and tested by the quality assurance team.
              Finally, it’s sent down the plant to be bottled and shipped out to stores across Ontario and

              After seeing the beer through that entire process, you’d think Fitzgerald would be sick of Steam
              Whistle by now, but she says she still orders it when she’s out on the town.

               “I actually do like it, thank heavens,” she says, adding that she also likes supporting the                                                                            Page 2 of 3
Barfly: Elizabeth Fitzgerald                                                                                  4/13/08 6:09 PM

               “I actually do like it, thank heavens,” she says, adding that she also likes supporting the
              company she works for. “And, I figure if anything else, it’s just going to make our Christmas
              party that much better.”

              Tell me what you think

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