Big Rig keeps getting bigger



Savvy Hip Hops beer of the month club 
Featuring Big Rig Brewery

– June 2014 –


In case you missed the ‘News Flash’ June 13-21 was the 4th annual Ontario Craft Beer Week & we did our part to celebrate by including this month’s Savvy Hip Hops delivery during the week-long province wide celebration.  Added to that, the Savvy Brew Crew wanted to make sure that you were well stocked for Canada Day weekend too!

Savvy Hip Hops beer of the month clubWe are constantly amazed how quickly the craft beer industry is growing in Ontario. Case in point, when OCB Week was launched in June 2010, there were 25 craft brewers featured at 110 events. Now in its fourth year, this week features over 30 craft brewers up and down the province and boasts over 150 events.  Now that is one celebration!

Big Rig Lon and KatyAlso in June, FIFA World Cup kicked off & there is a buzz everywhere – and we are not talking about the annoying sound of the South African Vuvuzela!  This buzz is definitely apparent when you walk into the Big Rig Brewery & Restaurant in Ottawa.  When Savvy Brew Crew member Katy Watts (left) & I met with Big Rig’s brewmaster Lon Ladell (right) for lunch, the buzz got louder & louder as soccer fanatics filled the pub to watch the game & have a pint with lunch.  If you haven’t been to the pub, stop in & be sure to ask for Lon. He loves the Savvy Hip Hops & is eager to meet all of you who are being introduced to his brews.

In this month’s Savvy Hip Hops Taste Case, you will find two ‘bomber’ bottles of each:

Iron Arse Ale –especially made brew to fundraise for RIDE for DAD
Big Rig Session India Pale Ale
Big Rig Black India Pale Ale
Big Rig Belgian Blonde
Big Rig Gold – their signature beer
Big Rig Rideau Red

Need more Big Rig?

bigrig_logo-150x150If you would like additional bottles of any beer featured in Savvy Hip Hops, just call our Savvy Brew Crew & we’ll do our best to arrange a special shipment for you (if it is still available at the brewery that is!). Put us on speed dial – Savvy Hip Hops Hotline: 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or

Debbie & the Savvy Brew Crew


Big Rig Brewery

by Katy Watts

Ottawa’s West End isn’t exactly known for its beer, in fact, it really isn’t known for much outside of fast food chains and a certain Swedish furniture store…you know Canada’s largest IKEA. That all changed in 2012 though, when the skeleton of a long defunct steakhouse was torn down to make room for a brewpub rumoured to be backed by an NHL player. As the brewpub was built (and I know as I live nearby) and commuters waiting in traffic got a bird’s eye view of stainless steel tanks being lifted in place, the mystery started to unfold.

Starting with Stars

Chris Phillips Big RigWith any new business venture, Big Rig collected superstars in their own respective fields. The headliner is defenceman Chris “Big Rig” Phillips, top pick in the 1996 NHL draft and alternate captain of the Ottawa Senators. The nickname “Big Rig” was given to him by his teammates since he hails from the oilsands town of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Supporting him are experienced restaurateurs Jimmy Zourntos and Angelis Koutsos of the Baton Rouge chain and Pierre Cleroux, co-founder of Ottawa’s Clocktower Brewpub. Of course, a brewpub wouldn’t be complete without an experienced brewmaster, filling that role is Lon Ladell.

From Milk to Beer…

During my interview at the corner seat of the bar, Lon & I chatted over the roar of soccer fans & TVs.  Lon originally hails from British Columbia where he worked in the dairy industry before discovering he was lactose intolerant! In 1995, he transferred those well-honed operational skills to an industry that is dear to his heart: beer.  He jumped in by volunteering at Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria.

Big Rig Lon LadellLon told me that interestingly, Victoria has become synonymous with the growth of craft beer in Canada, “Half of craft beer made in Victoria is consumed in Victoria”. In a short year, his volunteering turned into a full time job as he took the reins and brewed his first batch of Mitchell’s Extra Special Bitter.

15 years and over 3,500 commercial brews later, Lon and his wife packed up shop and moved to Ottawa, his wife’s hometown, to take care of his father in law who was battling prostate cancer. While Ottawa may not have had the craft beer community that his former home had, things were starting to change. When Big Rig opened its doors and tapped their first keg they were welcomed with opened arms and empty glasses.

SRide for Dad logoince then Lon and his brew team have been well rewarded for their brews, both by official award ceremonies and by the locals who don’t hesitate to tell him what they think.

Lon is very excited to have won gold for Big Rig’s Black IPA at the 14th annual Canadian Brewing Awards.  “This is a big deal”, exclaims Lon with a big smile.

More cool deets about one cool dude

OCB recently spotlighted Lon, here’s some backstory clips to share with you:

What is your preferred beer style?
Obviously I have a great love for so many styles but I would the first one that I will always gravitate towards is a Schwarzbier – A black as night German Lager.

If you were to die & come back as a beer, what would it be?
Scotch ale for sure… full bodied, amber & you get a little surly after a few.

Breaking Beer News!

Now Big Rig is expanding their production by opening a brewery and tasting room in Kanata (10 minutes from the original brewery site) that will handle the demand for their brews at the brewpub, events and the LCBO. Debbie has visited this location that is currently under construction and she reports that “This place is HUGE!” Stay tuned for announcements of Savvy Hip Hops events that will be hosted here once the dust settles (literally!).

Lons Lab Big Rig Brewery-121Lon explains that the new facility will decrease the strain on the small 10 barrel brewing system that we have now.  We make a lot of beer in such small confines (known as Lon’s Lab).  “This will be the spot where I will play with different flavours and styles, while the signature beers will be made at the new facility.”

This is great news for Big Rig & for the Ottawa beer scene.

We raise a glass to Lon & the Big Rig team! 


• Savvy Hip Hops Tasting Notes •

Katy shares her notes about each beer, along with her picks on what to serve … and some fun recipes too.

Big Rig Gold

At 5% ABV and 20 International Bitterness Units (IBU) this smooth beer with crisp hop finish is perfectly paired with watching the game.

Tasting Notes: Big Rig’s flagship beer made with a blend of Canadian and German malts has a smooth mild body with subtle grain flavour and herbal spice thanks to a dose of German hops.

Suggested Food Pairing: Balanced malt sweetness and crisp hops lends this beer to pair well with a variety of different foods, especially those with a sweet and spicy contrast. Try this with red thai chili wings, jalapeño salsa or nachos…or Katy’s pizza recipe (on the next pages)


Big Rig Rideau Red

Crystal malts are used to create the sweet, malt backbone and the unique amber colouring of this brew. Floral hops are then added at the wort boil lending some hop bitterness while still letting the malt profile shine – 5.2% ABV, 18 IBU.

Tasting Notes: There’s a pleasant aroma of sweet malt and caramel that carries on to the flavour. Crisp hop bitterness lingers at the end, not overwhelming, but just enough to keep the malt profile from being cloying.

Suggested Food Pairing: Spiced and smoked foods love the sweet caramel notes and citrus aromas of this smooth brew. Make a pot of your favourite chili, grill some chicken breasts with sticky sauce or slow cook a pork shoulder.


Iron Arse Ale

This 5.2% ABV Amber Ale is brewed annually to support Ride for Dad, a series of motorcycle rides taking place across the country to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer research. It’s a cause close to Lon’s heart as his wife’s father and both his father and stepfather were diagnosed with the disease.

Tasting Notes: In one word…Balanced. Sweet bready malts mingle with grassy, lightly bitter hops and a crisp carbonation. This is a wonderfully sessionable beer meant to be enjoyed at the end of a long ride.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Lon declares,“Anything off the BBQ slathered with Iron Arse BBQ Sauce”


Session India Pale Ale

This is the beer made for long summer days! Full hop flavour, but at a lower alcohol percentage – 4.8% ABV.

Tasting Notes: Brewed with a solid Canadian malt base and loaded with addition after addition of Citra hops this brew is over the top fruit and tropical flavours – peach, lychee, citrus.

Suggested Food Pairing: The big hop flavour in this beer craves Indian spices like coriander, cumin and cardamom. Pair this with Indian Butter Chicken (Katy’s recipe follows) to cut through the spice and refresh your palate so you can dig in for another taste. 


Black India Pale Ale

This is the gold award winning Black IPA, also known as a Cascadian Dark Ale, borrows the malt profile of a stout or porter and pairs it with the aggressive hoppiness of an India Pale Ale. The result is a deliciously complicated beer that you’ll have to sample a few times to make sure you’ve found all of the flavours.

Tasting Notes: At first taste this seems like a stout; roasted flavors of malt and coffee mingle with dark cocoa, but then the bittering tropical Galaxy hops hit and wipe away whatever misconceptions there were. The finish is dry with lingering roast, but that only makes taking another sip that much more appealing.

Suggested Food Pairing: The strong malt and hop profile of this brew needs strong flavours to match. For cheeses, think of extra old cheddar; for food think of a juicy burger cooked on the grill. Or, combine the two with Katy’s ‘Juicy Lucy’ recipe that follows.


Belgian Blonde

Originally brewed to appeal to European Pilsner drinkers, this style offers some Belgian complexity while still being light and easy to drink.

Tasting Notes: Sweet pils malt and earthy hops are the background for the Belgian yeast to shine. Notes of citrus esthers and spicy clove phenols pair well with the wonderfully lively carbonation making it easy to drink, but packed with flavour.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve as an aperitif or pair with light salads or a cheese plate with white rind cheeses like Camebert, Brie or Brillat-Savarin….and watch the World Cup of course!


• Recipes to enjoy with the featured Savvy Hip Hops •

With Big Rig Gold …

Beer Infused Pizza Dough

Big Rig Beer Pizza DoughFrom Katy’s Kitchen
Yield: 2 crusts


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast (or use traditional yeast, follow directions & proof before heading to step 2)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups room-temperature Big Rig Gold (very important, it can’t be cold)


Preheat the oven to 450°F.  If using a pizza stone, spread a handful of cornmeal on the top before placing it on the lower rack.

Combine and knead all of the ingredients (your preference, mixer or by hand) until the dough is combined and smooth.  Add additional flour if needed.

Cover the dough and let rise for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Divide the dough in half and do your best to create a pizza shape (or your best interpretation of a pizza shape).

If you’re a pizza pro and using a paddle to transfer your pizza to and from the oven (a good investment, $5 at a restaurant supply store) spread another handful of corn meal on the top of the paddle and place the pizza on top.  If you’re not using a pizza stone or paddle, place the dough on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake pizzas for 5 minutes, remove from the oven and add toppings.  If you’re a pizza pro you’ll try to match the toppings to the beer used in the dough – IPA for a meaty tomato sauce combination, brown ale with a margherita and a pumpkin with a sweet caramel onion and bacon combination.

Bake for another 15 minutes – until the bottom is crisp and the cheese is bubbly.

Remove from the oven, slice and serve with a beer. And hide leftovers from significant other!


With Big Rig Black India Pale Ale…

Juicy Lucy (Stuffed Cheddar Burger)

Juicy Lucy Cheddar stuff burgerFrom Katy’s Kitchen
Yield: 6 medium sized burgers


4.5 lbs beef short rib
2 cups shredded old cheddar –  with more for “sampling” while you cook!
½ tsp garlic salt
1 T Worcester sauce
Salt, pepper


Meat – whether you grind it yourself or buy pre-ground meat, make sure it’s top quality!  If you use beef short ribs, I was able to make 6 medium sized burgers from 4lbs of short ribs (bone included in weight).

Separate meat from bones then cube meat & grind.

Season with your favourite burger seasonings – I used salt, pepper, garlic salt and Worcester sauce.  Form thin patties and layer generous heaping of cheese in the middle of patty.

Place another thin patty on top and seal both patties together to create a flying saucer, put on the grill & VOILA!

Your choice to warn friends of the molten cheese that awaits them inside the burger. 


With Big Rig Session India Pale Ale…

Butter Chicken

From Katy’s Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings


250 gm of boneless chicken, cubed
2 onions, minced
1 tomato, pureed
1 tbsp of tomato paste or sauce
1 tbsp of butter, ghee, or oil
1 tsp of minced garlic
1 tsp of minced ginger
2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of chilli powder (use Kashmiri chilli powder for better results)
1 tsp of garam masala or chicken masala
1 large pinch of kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves
1 cup of milk
3 tbsp of cream or pureed cashew paste (soak and grind cashew nuts)
1-2 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1 small bunch of coriander leaves / cilantro, for garnish


Heat the butter in a pan and add the minced onions. Fry until golden brown.

Add the ginger, garlic, coriander, chilli powder, turmeric, and salt. Fry for a minute until fragrant.

Add the pureed tomato and tomato paste and cook for 3-4 mins until the mixture bubbles uniformly.

Throw in the kasuri methi, milk, and the cubed chicken. Cook covered for 8-10 mins until the chicken is soft. The chicken will let out more water, just check once or twice in between and give the curry a stir.

When the chicken is cooked, open the lid and cook for .a further minute or two. If the gravy is too thick, add some water at this stage

When done, add the garam masala or chicken masala and the cream or cashew paste. Give it a good stir, but don’t let it boil.

Adjust salt, garnish with the coriander leaves, and remove from fire.


Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Hip Hops!



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