Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Monday, November 3, 2008

The Benefits of Beer

I love how beer brings people together. We’ve all heard about beer being a social lubricate, and we’ve probably all used that term before. Sure, it may be over used, but it is ever true.

Every year I help organize the Canadian Brewing Awards and every year I am lucky enough to walk away with many leftover beers from almost every region in the nation. So much that I wouldn’t be able to drink it all myself before some go bad. Some get traded, some are given away and some end up down the drain (I know I know).

Recently, an idea popped into my head, “Why not host a small tasting session with some close beer loving friends?” I sent out some invites and set up a day when the tasting would happen, then chilled the beers. When the group arrived at my place on Saturday everyone chose a number of brands they wanted to sample most and the tops started to pop.

Which leads to that social lubricate thing. Everyone that arrived were relatively all strangers when the tasting first started, but as the beer started to flow they all opened up and beer conversation was being shared by all. Beer does this to people. One, the alcohol helps to loosen people up a bit, and two, beer is the one passion that each of these guys share with one another. Arriving as strangers, leaving as friends. That’s what it’s all about.

A seasoned brewer, a beer website founder, a first time father, a homebrewer, two beer school educated craft beer fans, a young successful business man and I, all stood around the table and shared stories, discussed what we were sampling and talked about the brewing industry. It was a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

By now you may be wondering what we tasted, well here is the list.

Denison's Weissbier
Dieu du Ciel Peche Mortel
Garrison Raspberry Wheat
Garrison Imperial Pale Ale
Garrison Winter Weizenbock (2007)
Granville Island IPA
Granville Island Hefeweizen
Magnotta Wunder Weisse
Microbrasserie du Lievre IPA
Microbrasseire du Lievre Carrot
Paddywhack IPA (nelson brewing)
Phillip's Longboat Double Chocolate
Phillip's Wheat King Hefeweizen
Pump House Double Dementia IPA
Pump House Muddy River Stout
Swan's Buckerfield Extra IPA
Swan's Buckerfield Oatmeal Stout
Swan's Buckerfield Tessier's Witbier
Tree Hefeweizen
A bunch of Biergotter's stuff (Pale Ale, Old Age Ale,)
Russian River Blind Pig
Pliny the Elder

Michael Hancock, founder of Denison’s, brought over some of his delicious Weissbier (silver at the CBA’s) to go head to head with Tree Brewery’s Hefeweizen (gold at CBA’s) and the outcome was two very similar beers, both very well done. We had a number of other German style wheat’s; along with some Belgian Wit’s before getting into the heavier hop bombs.

As far as IPA’s go, Quebec’s Microbrassiere du Lievre IPA was very nice, as was Swan’s Buckerfield’s Extra IPA and Pump House’s Double Dementia IPA. We also sampled a number of beers produced by Biergotter’s, a small homebrewing club, thanks to Eric Ecclestone and the Pale Ale was excellent. A nice fruity aroma of apples from the yeast used, the Pale Ale was one of the better beers we sampled and would make one hell of a sessionable ale.

Everyone started getting hungry so we headed east to the Feather’s Pub on Kingston road for some outstanding pub food and a couple of English style pints. The Wellington Iron Duke Steak Pies and Fish and Chips were a big hit and were complimented by some cask conditioned Wellington County Ale, Belhaven Twisted Thistle and Fuller’s London Pride. With the exception of one person, no one from the group had set foot in the pub before, and by the time we left all agreed that it exceeded their expectations.

So beer, a social lubricant? Hell yes.

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