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Monday, June 30, 2008
Will it be one of the beers that Canadians pride themselves with? No. It's sad that people still believe that Molson Canadian, Labatt Blue, Sleeman's etc..... are still Canadian. Molson is co-owned by Coors in Colorado, Labatt is owned by Inbev (a Brazilian and Belgian giant) and Sleeman is owned by Sapporo of Japan. Together, the three brewery conglomerates own and run the Beer Stores across Ontario, make up close to 90% of all beer sales in Canada and do it on the backs of sexy marketing and not the quality of the beer in the bottle. The brewers of these beers are talented people, yet the accountants and marketing suits primarily dictate the direction of the breweries. So, as sentimental as these national icons are, they will not be consumed by me today.
Anyway, back to Canada's birthday. I plan on celebrating with a bottle of Garrsion Weizenbock during the afternoon and ending the night with a Swan's Buckerfields Extra IPA. Both excellent beers, one from Canada's west coast and one from the east coast.
Hope all you beer geeks out there in Canada have a great day and enjoy some celebrated independent beers from your local region.
I plan on spending a couple hours in a Toronto pub tonight for a report tomorrow and I am asking readers to recommend one of their favourites for me to try.
I'll you have to do is click on the 'comment' icon at the bottom of this message and leave your suggestion. Don't be shy. I'm up for anything, with the exception of a large chain pub. So suggest away.
Tonight is Volo's $5 pint night, which I try to get to monthly, so I might end up there for a pre-drink before heading out.
Friday, June 27, 2008
On a side note, I made it out to a Cameron's cask night after that interview was recorded and encourage anyone else who has thought about it to do so.
The wedding party we were traveling with had planned an evening out with the bride and groom to be, and it was decided a famous St.John's pub crawl was in order. Everyone knows about George Street right? It is a small street located just off the main road in downtown St.John's and features a stretch of drinking establishments of all styles. The street is closed to vehicles after noon and the only time cars or trucks venture down the street during the early morning hours are when delivery trucks come to stock up the establishments with more beer and food.
Anyway, Christian's pub. It turns out that Christian's is the oldest operating place on George, dating back to 1979. According to my shoddy math skills, that would make Christian's 29 years young, quite an accomplishment in the pub business. My fiance and I arrived just after a so-so meal at the Green Sleeve pub down the road, (not really a pub - fake Irish pub with loud Justin Timberlake playing) and as we walked up to the old brick weathered buidling and in through the front entrance, I immediately knew I would appreciate it.
The first thing you notice as you walk in is how dark it is. The lights have been dimmed down, allowing just a glimmer of light from the light fixtures. We grabbed a seat by the window so we could watch the people traffic while enjoying a nicely poured Quidi Vidi Honey Brown. Throughout our visit I noticed that not many pubs served any of the 2 craft breweries on tap, but Christian's had Quidi Vidi and that was better than Labatt's Blue Star.
The L shaped bar is located to the right as you enter and is surrounded by numerous bar back stools, enough to accommodate 10 people or more and metal racking above holds rows and rows of glassware. There are a couple of regulars sharing a fun conversation with the barmaid (or do I say 'server', who I actually believe is Christian?) and they made us feel welcome by incorporating us in their discussion. Typical Newfoundlander. There is a bunch of spirits adorning the shelving behind the bar along with bags of chips, cigarettes and cigars. It reminds me of pictures I've seen of the old public houses that acted as convenience stores at the same time.
Each table features a big bowl of complimentary popcorn, which is always nice if your just visiting for a pint. The tables themselves appear to have been there since opening day back in 79' and possibly came from somewhere before that. Old and weathered. There is roughly 5 booth surrounded tables on the main level of the two story pub that offer an intimate setting for patrons. The walls come alive with many old framed photographs of Newfoundland history and I spent a couple of minutes peering over them all. It had a museum feel, something I love. There is a lot of wood throughout the pub providing the warmth of a rustic cabin.
There were only two things that didn't sit well with me during our visit to Christian's: 1 - The huge flat screen television looking very much out of place in a pub with so much character; and 2 - Christian's has one of those jukeboxes that individuals can select their own songs and one female in the pub cranked an AC/DC song. Nothing wrong with AC/DC, but the pub was so quiet and relaxing and then all of a sudden I'm at a rock concert. I was pleased to see, and hear, the barmaid (Christian?) turn it down to an almost acceptable level.
Unfortunately we didn't make it back during the crawl, but at least I got into a real pub. With the exception of the YellowBelly (which wasn't open yet (today is the day)), Christian's was definitely the pub for me and the best one I got into during my visit to St.John's.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Quidi Vidi is a beautiful little fishing village with clapboard housing painted in bright colours protected by large cliffs on the opposite side of the harbour. The brewery is nestled right on the shore and offers a magnificent view through their upstairs lounge and paints a wonderful picture of simpler life.
A large group of us arrived at the brewery after walking around Signal Hill through mist, fog and wind, and the smell of malted barley called out to us. We gathered upstairs in the lounge and sampled from the QV line-up and listened to the brewery's next door neighbour as he played the guitar and sang folk tunes.
I had the opportunity to steal Rees away from another large event that was taking place at the brewery for a brief sit down to discuss his brewery and his beers. Rees, a engineer by trade, loves coming into the brewery everyday and has one of the nicest offices I have even seen. It over looks the harbour, the quaint village and the rock cliffs, has a tasting table and nice leather furniture, but enough about that. Let's talk about the beers.
QV makes a number of beers that are available at the brewery, the Newfoundland Liquor Commission and corner stores throughout the province and their only 1 of 2 craft breweries in Newfoundland (the other being Storm).
Eric's Red Cream Ale - a 2001 Silver medalist at the World Beer Championship
Honey Brown Light
1892 Traditional Ale
Cranberry Cloud - (beer based cooler)
Mummer's Brew - seasonal (didn't brew last year)
Iceberg Beer - currently in development
High Torque - a 7% alc. beer that was nowhere to be found
I made my way through the entire line-up and found the 1892 (the flagship beer) to offer the most flavour and aroma. I didn't care much for the two QV lagers, Honey beers or the Cranberry Cloud though, which was disappointing. Rees stated he has plans for three more flavoured beer based coolers: Blueberry, Pineapple and Orange. I wasn't able to sample the brand new Iceberg beer as it is still in the developing stages, but I did see the packaging and a bottle with the lightest looking beer I've ever witnessed. The Iceberg Beer is made using, well, Iceberg. The ice is melted and used in the brewing process. Niche market?
The brewery gets alot of visitors as the area is a tourist magnet and their retail store was fairly busy for a foggy Friday afternoon. Rees led us through the brewery, giving us a personalized tour and speaking to the basics of brewing beer. Many of the people I was with are Coors drinkers and have never stepped foot in a brewery and they had a great time learning how beer is produced.
If the beer was as beautiful as the brewery and its surroundings, Quidi Vidi would be a standout in the craft brewing world.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Cameron’s Cask Nights are a casual and intimate monthly event at the brewery. The guestlist only event is free of charge and mainly a chance for us to share a glass of our latest creation with our friends, supporters and our local community.
For those who have not been to the brewery before, this is a great chance to meet the folks behind the scenes and to tour our facility. As well, it’s a great time to pick up some brewery fresh Cameron’s beer.
We will be tapping the Cask at approximately 6:15pm.
Whole Foods Markets have graciously donated some delicious food for the event. The food will be available at 6pm.
As always, the event is capped at 60 people to keep it intimate and to ensure everyone gets a taste of the cask. RSVP’s always come flooding in, so confirm your attendance as quickly as possible.
Due to the good weather and overall cheer at the brewery, we encourage everyone to invite a guest (or a few) to join them this month. Just indicate how many people will be coming with you on your RSVP.
For any questions or to RSVP (if you haven’t already), email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our on-site retail store will be open throughout Cask Night for those that want to pick up beer for the weekend.
For more information or to get directions, visit this Cameron’s link.
We also now have a blog so check it out.
Hope to see you all on Thursday.
Monday, June 23, 2008
The four of us headed back up to the main floor to sample an American Wheat, and their English Style Pale Ale before going back downstairs to sample an Irish Red.
American Wheat: Light in body with a green apple aroma and lightly acidic. Liam will be using this beer to attract the Coors Light (#1 selling beer in Newfoundland by a large margin) drinkers. Similar in style to a Big Rock Grasshopper. It would go well with YellowBelly's haiwian pizza and the fish and chips (cod!).
YellowBelly Pale Ale: This was my favourite of the three. A nice English Style pale ale with a good cascade hop aroma and flavour with a medium body and at 4.5% it will make a very sessionable beer. I found it to be similar to that of Granite Best Bitter in appearance and taste. This is a beer that I would sit at the bar and drink all day.
Irish Red: Another beauty. I forgot to snap a picture of the beer in the glass, but let me tell you how attractive it was. A nice big thick head sat atop the glass above a dark red beer. Very malty with notes of chocolate, the aroma jumped from the glass and cried out to be drank. I was impressed as was my new friend Frank. Actually, the Irish Red is in the picture above. Liam is on the left, Craig is on the right.
Some Fun Facts about YellowBelly
- The YellowBelly is slated to open this Friday - June 27th for a grand opening and re-open Monday for full service to the general public.
- 500-600 people can comfortably enjoy the many YellowBelly floors
- The number 1 question St.John newspaper reader asked in 2007 was "When will the YellowBelly open for business?"
- Growlers will be available for purchase at the pub 7 days a week. Flynn also has plans to open a retail store down the street to sell merchandise like glasses, hats, t-shirts and even beer.
- Liam will brew some seasonal beers once they get up and running smoothly. St.John's stout is slated to be released in the fall.
- When Flynn purchased the building, it was listed as having 7200 square feet of space. Once boarded up rooms were found in the basement and elsewhere throughout the buidling, the square footage rose to over 10,000.
Why Called YellowBelly?
Irish immigrants used to fight in the streets of St.John's, just like the movie 'Gangs of New York' portrayed. One such group wore a yellow sash around their waist and were known as the the Yellow Belly's. Craig thought the name was catchey and paid homage to a piece of the past.
Liam McKenna pouring me a American Wheat
I could have done more research before my trip, but that would have taken the fun out of it. It's all about surprises, and surprised I was. I stood at the front door and said, "screw it, I'm going in anyway," before opening the old wooden door and stepping inside.
I asked one of the construction guys if Liam McKenna was around, the brewmaster and by all accounts a professional brewery start up guy (he has spent 25 years in the industry with over 20 or so breweries all over the world). He wasn't around, but Craig Flynn was, who happens to be the owner. Craig welcomed me deeper into the ancient building and started giving me a small tour through sawdust, 2x4's, drills and saws and showed me two of the five floors he is occupying. Because I was already late for the wedding I had travelled to St.John's for, I had to excuse myself and promised to return the following morning for a more formal tour with Craig and Liam.
Next Day: I woke up with blurred vision from the wedding activities the night before and headed downtown from our place at Memorial University. My head was splitting and the thought of sampling three of YellowBelly's beers was making my stomach curdle. I was glad to hear that Craig and Liam had a rough night as well. Frank MacDonald, a fellow Newfoundlander and reader of this blog, had contacted me earlier and after a brief chat he joined the three of us at the public house much to his pleasure. It was greet to meet a reader so far away, and let me tell you what a stand-up guy he is; he ended up driving my fiance and I to the airport after the tour.
Anyway, back to the brewery. Liam started it all off by telling us that the YellowBelly has been a five year project. Why so long? Some of the building dates back to 1749 and other parts to the early 1800's, so time, patience and extra attention had to be strictly practiced during the construction phase. It took two whole years to rip the inside out, fix the floors, install metal support beams by HAND (all five floors) and a lot more. Liam tells us about the stone walls that withstood the 'great St.John's fire' of the late 1800's and shows us a wooden support beam in the basement that bares scars from that fire. So I'll start the tour here.
Basement: This is one of my favourite rooms in the building. It has the feeling of a dungeon with its lantern style light fixtures dimly lit, the rock foundation and old fireplace remnants. This room will be used for special, intimate functions, out of the way of others. We continue through the room to the fermentation tanks and deep walk in refrigerators.
Main Floor (Street Level): Large windows on the Water street sidewalk let in a lot of sunshine (which is hard to come by in Newfoundland) and create a lovely glow in the main room. This is the pub area. A lovely bar runs down the length of a makeshift wall to the right as you enter from the street. Beautiful old shelving units surround the bar and will be used to hold artifacts that pay tribute to the location. It is also on this floor that passerby's can watch Liam brewing through two of the aforementioned large windows on the street level.
Upstairs #1: Kitchen and dining area. This is another great looking room. The floor boards were put together from old wood collected from the building and it took two solid weeks to lay the old planks. Two large garage door (windows) overlooking the famous George street will roll up during the nicer days and nights, allowing patrons to watch the activity on George. The stone walls, exposed wooden beams and supports and and old press keep the rustic theme to compliment the brand new kitchen. A wood burning pizza oven is the main feature and the Chef has terrific plans for pizza creations.
Upstairs #2: A huge events room with a large space for dancing the jig, playing the fiddle or hosting weddings, work parties or birthdays. Again, large windows overlooking Water street, exposed wooden beams and supports, old stone fireplaces and rock walls make this room as attractive and comforting as the rest.
Upstairs #3: A continuation of the events room, only this room is smaller and will provide more intimacy. A sloped roof is the selling point in this room. It has the appearance of an old hay loft you'd fine in a barn or an old cabin.
Throughout the tour we were walking up the 'staff' set of stairs, the public set is located on the other side of the building. It is an understatement to say this building is huge.
Part Two - Liam, Craig, Frank and I sample the three YellowBelly brews, talk about the name behind the brewery and I'll let you in on when it opens and some fun facts.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I have a lot to write about..it was a great time. I got to visit the Quidi Vidi brewery on the picturesque Quidi Vidi harbour, the Yellow Belly brewpub (great story coming up), did a George Street pubcrawl, drank with some locals and met a guy named Frank who is an avid beer lover and Great Canadian Pubs and Beer blog reader.
So stay tuned over the next couple of days....I'll try to post frequently as I shake this 5 day hangover.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
We'll be staying downtown until Sunday with plans of visiting the famous George Street for a couple of adventurous nights, staggering from pub to pub. We also have a scheduled stop at the Quidi Vidi brewery on the shores of the waters edge. Ron Keefe from the Granite (Toronto location) informed me last weekend that there is a brand new brewpub that just opened down George St that is being run by a terrific brewer who used to brew here in Ontario once. No doubt I'll be having my lunch and dinner's there.
Everyone visiting Newfoundland must get screeched in and I plan on doing so our first night there. I'm not much of a rum drinker so I'll keep it limited to just the one shot...maybe.
I'll have the laptop on the road and plan on posting some small pub profiles and some pictures during our stay.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Well June 1st has come and gone and there has been no sight of them at the LCBO or Beer Store yet, and members of Bar Towel are wondering why. "Any word on the canned Steam Whistle? According to a brewery press release (posted on Troy Burtch's blog a few months back), the beer was supposed to be out June 1 at the very latest. Yet still no sign of it. Anyone heard anything?"
Here is Steam Whistle's response.
A general strike in Brazil has delayed the production and shipment of our canning filler so we have been delayed by several weeks. The cans themselves are here and the majority of the canning line is in place waiting for the arrival of the filler. We do not have a firm date unfortunately.Hopefully it will be sorted out soon as Steam Whistle on the dock at the cottage is good times all around.
Here is the press from the hospitable Maz:
When: Sunday July 13th 2008
12:00 – 7:00 P.M.
Where: The Victory Café, 581 Markham Street, Toronto
The Victory Café is hosting a cask ale festival on the patio this July as part of ‘Pedestrian Sundays’, the summer street festival in Mirvish Village, Toronto. The aim of this cask festival is to celebrate local traditional cask ales and to introduce new people to this wonderful product.
Cask conditioned ale, also known as ‘real ale’, is beer that is brewed from traditional ingredients (malted barley, water, yeast and hops) and matured naturally in the cask where it undergoes a secondary fermentation. This imparts unique characteristics and greater depth of flavour. Cask ale is a fresh, natural product and is free from the hemicals and preservatives found in many of today’s mass-produced beers.
There will be ten traditional cask beers on offer, all from local brewers. The full list of beers will be announced at a later date. (I will post more details as they become available).
Beer samples will be offered by the half-pint measure, purchased with a beer ticket available at the festival. A food buffet will also be available. The cost of admission is $6.50 per person, payable at the event, which includes a souvenir glass and two half-pint sample tickets. A $10.00 admission includes access to the food buffet. Additional beer and food tickets will be available at a reasonable price.
For more info contact Maz Brereton: email@example.com or 416-894-6105
Friday, June 13, 2008
"Sorry, we don't have Tankhouse up here (patio) but we do have Keith's Red, which is very close to Tankhouse," states the waitress.
Weird. I am wearing my Mill Street shirt, which is hard to miss, and she still says that. "No thanks, Keith's Red is no where near Tankhouse, not even close," I say.
"Oh, I think so," she says as she bashes her eyelashes.
"I'll have any Mill Street beer, if you have it."
And a Belgian Wit I got - with an orange slice.
1 Year Issue to TAPS: Canada's Beer Magazine
For only $18.00 a year you can get your dad a subscription to the only beer magazine in Canada. TAPS features writers like Stephan Beaumont, Craig Pinhey, Bill White, Greg Clow, Mirella Amato, Martin Sayers, Canada's pub guy Bill Perrie and myself. The magazine features articles about Canada's vast brewing industry from coast to coast, pubs, beer styles, over sea reports, beer and food pairings, history and anything and everything between. Check out www.tapsmagazine.com for subscription details and for locations to pick up your copy, or send me an email with your contact information and I'll pass it along.
Beer Bottle Pint Glasses:
These things are cool. Terry and Jennifer Craig own and operate a glass blowing factory to the north, Tory Hill, ON to be exact, and create very unique beer glasses from recycled bottles. The couple visit numerous breweries and visit local beer stores to pick up old 'painted' bottles to make art out of. The bottle necks are expanded and the glass is stretched enough for a 14oz pour, without even ruining the etchings on the bottles. Mill Street, Steam Whistle, Innis and Gunn, Corona, Grolsch and Red Stripe are all very popular with customers. So, where to buy? You can find them all at Distill, in Toronto's distillery district along with a handful of stores that support local artists. For more information, contact Terry and Jennifer at www.artechstudios.ca.
What a great way to reconnect with the old man. Visiting a local craft brewery, touring the brewhouse and having some samples sounds like the perfect day to me. The Ontario Craft Brewers website features an extensive interactive road map of local breweries in different Ontario regions. So jump in the car, buckle up and head out to your local brewery, or venture further down the road to a place you've never been before. Check Grand River's historic building in Cambridge, ON, have lunch and pints at Trafalgar Brewery's Tied House, tour the cellars at Neustadt brewery or go to beer church in Campbellford, ON to the Church Key Brewing Co.
Brunch and Beer:
Got this covered. You have to visit the Granite Brewery in Toronto - or Halifax for their weekly brunch with a nice pint of their cask conditioned Best Bitter Special (still one of my favourite beers!). Located at Mt.Pleasant and Eglinton Ave, the Granite has been pleasing beer and food lovers for over 15 years. Ron Keefe is the man you may find behind the glass wall, playing with the cooper brew tanks. Feel free to glance inside at the large assortment of books in the library room at the front of the house and no visit is complete unless you take home that special growler of a hand pulled beer. Better call for reservations today. www.granitebrewery.ca
Gift Certificate to the LCBO:
I don't think it's a secret to lovers of quality beer that the LCBO has recently improved their beer section with a handful of well reputable and flavourful beers from around the world. Treat pappy with a gift certificate as a way to give him the chance to try something new and unique, something not always available.
So here's to an early Father's Day. You can't see me but I'm raising a pint glass to you all as I sit here and write this.
"Support your locals"
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
"Brewed by a connoisseur...not an accountant" is the moniker Cameron's abides by and takes to heart. They currently brew an Auburn Ale (great session brew), a Cream Ale and a Lager that are all available in nine packs at select LCBO's and six packs of Dark 266 Lager. They operate a fun brewery, doing unique things with their beer, sponsoring different events and even operate their own on-line blog. So sit back, grab an Auburn Ale and get to know Mike Laba, he says HI!
What are the best aspects of working for a brewery in sales, marketing and promotions?
The camaraderie - among loyal craft beer supporters, curious newcomers to the craft movement and our colleagues and friends in the industry. Good beer brings good people together.
How long have you been with the brewery? Did you work for a brewery before?
I've been with Cameron's for just over a year, but a supporter of the brand long before. I've been in the craft beer world for almost 6 years - 5 years with another craft brewer before Cameron's.
Describe your passion for the beer industry?
Passion in this industry is contagious - we all (breweries within the OCB) believe that we have a strong message and premium products to back it up. Given the close and co-operative relationship Ontario breweries have with each other, I am always dealing with another brewery with something exciting going on - new products, big events, brewery events...etc. The constant successes pump you up and pushes you to further contribute to this craft movement that we are all driving in Ontario. We make (and sell) a fantastic product and I think we all believe that if we can get the product and message into everyone's hands, everyone would buy in to the concept and further develop the movement. That is what drives me.
What are Cameron's plans for summer? Any seasonal beers, continuing cask nights, events etc…..
Cameron's is aggressively pursuing unique trial. To us, unique trial means someone trying a Cameron's outside of traditional vehicles (pubs, beers shows). We want someone to try a Cameron's in a unique setting at a unique event. These range from beer and food events, educated craft beer sessions, partnerships with high end gala's and events and partnerships with loyal organizations.
We want to intertwine our beer with memorable experiences. We will also continue to do our Cask Nights on the last Thursday of every month. The Cask Nights are growing at a good rate and it is a unique event for people who like unique beer and like visiting breweries. We have met a lot of great people through our Cask Nights and in turn, a lot a loyal supporters.
What's new at the brewery? New hires, increase in sales, etc…..
The brewery is in top form. The addition of Head Brewer Jason Britton has been huge for us and he and Adam have made a great team. Volumes are up, packaging run total units are up, production is being managed very efficiently and the brewery looks great.
Our presence in the licensee channel is on a steady rise, LCBO's listings continue to increase. Jon (who handles Toronto) is blazing the Cameron's trail.
Now we're just waiting for The Beer Store to ask us to come on board as a partner, offer us to swap shelf space with Coors Light, and present us with a plan to push out the mainstream brands and only sell Ontario Craft Beer. Stay tuned...
How successful have your cask nights been?
Considering Cask Nights started as a night for only brewery staff, it has been a huge success. We originally made a cask for only us to enjoy. We told some friends and some local supporters and there ended up being roughly 12 people enjoying the first cask.
Cask Night has grown to 60 people every month. We decided early on to cap the event at 60 to keep it intimate. We want to be sure that we have an opportunity to talk to everyone in attendance every month. As I mentioned earlier, we get a great people out for Cask Night.
What is your ideal food and beer pairing? – Using Cameron's products of course.
Lager: I love Jamaican food - I love the heat of it. I really enjoy Cameron's Lager with a spicy jerk chicken because the beer doesn't overpower the spice...it simply cuts it down a bit.
Cream Ale: Whenever I know I'll be eating fish, I bring home a box (or two) of Cream Ale. Prep a lighter fish (Tilapia) with some butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh coriander and the juice of half a lemon. Throw it on the grill until it just starts to flake.
Pour your bottle of Cream Ale into a pint glass and enjoy. This is heaven for me.
Auburn: This is my favorite beer because I love how it pairs with food...more specifically, how it pairs with meat. I make some pretty legendary ribs with a nice bite to them and no beverage in the world goes better with them than our Auburn. Check out my Rib Recipe
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Well, one Maritime brewery is doing something about that. News today from New Brunswick has Pumphouse Brewery, the 2005 Canadian Brewery of the Year, shipping their Scotch, Blueberry and Fire Chief's Red beers to the thirsty maritimers in the prairies and for fans of craft beer. This will be the first time the Moncton, NB beers will be available out west on a large scale capacity, joining other craft brewers who have found a nice home in Alberta, as the province is big on premium products. There was 6,240 bottles loaded, or 26 pallets, which are headed to 20 privately owned liquor stores.
"It's great and we're very excited. For us it's expansion, more jobs, bigger market share -- all the positive things you like to talk about," stated Pumphouse Brewery owner Shaun Fraser to the Times and Transcripts newspaper yesterday.Pumphouse opened as a brewpub in Moncton, NB in 1999 and currently sells their Blueberry Ale, Cadian Ale, Scotch Ale and Fire Chief's Red Ale in 6 packs throughout New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI. Seasonal releases have made appearances in Ontario and Quebec.
To read the full article click here.
Unlike Alan at A Good Beer Blog I enjoy going to beer festivals, so much that I try my damnest to attend them all. Unfortunately my job, finances and other hobbies prevent this, but I do manage to attend my fair share.
Now my definition of a beer festival my vary from yours as I lump all beer events, both large and small, into the same category. I am a much bigger fan of the small, intimate festivals like Volo's Cask Days, Pepperwood Bistro and Brewery festival or C'est What's festivals for craft beers. I must admit though, that I haven't been to Mondial yet or the Great Canadian Beer Festival in British Columbia, two festivals that are highly regarded, but dates have been blocked for 2009 for this to happen.
I can remember my first beer festival, the NSLC Halifax Beerfest held at Pier 22, right beside its famous sister Pier 21. I was working with Labatt at the time, so we were given free tickets and the rest of the night was a blur. They NSLC held the event and all the products available were those from the NSLC. While the rest of the fella's stuck to Bud Light or Keith's, I was hanging out with Guy McClelland of McClelland Premium Imports drinking as much Delirium Tremens as he would give me, which was a lot. While everyone else at the event was sampling from small wine glasses I was walking around with a beautiful Delirium goblet filled to the brim. Delicious. It really was a gong show geared towards a younger crowd whose only focus was to get as drunk as possible (on the Friday night anyway). Yet this festival opened my eyes to the other beer fests out there and ignited my curiosity.
I returned from my year away in Nova Scotia just in time for the Toronto Beer Festival and in time to man the Keith's Red booth. Funny stuff. I was wearing a Keith's Red golf shirt, which I had to remove when I walked around to the various craft brewery tents. I don't think I even touched a drop of Keith's that night. I got to meet a lot of Ontario brewers for the first time that night, as well as a lot of good beer drinkers I tend to share a beer with at beer events to this day. I had a great time at the Toronto Beer Festival but the price tag for admission is to high, the token system wasn't working the best, long line-ups for food and bathrooms and this was only on Thursday night.
Today I go to beer festivals for three reasons: 1. To try various one-offs or seasonal releases made by craft brewers before they hit the market, 2. To catch up with some of the nicest people in the brewing industry, and 3. To work. I may do an interview or talk to some people to obtain some new information for TAPS or for this blog. Sometimes it takes the fun away from the actual event, but it is what it is.
So see you at the next festival - Victory Cafe Cask Ale Festival.
Friday, June 6, 2008
The votes are in as MPPs at Queen's Park settle on the best Ontario Craft
Beers. Speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, Steve Peters, hosted fellow MPPs and staff Tuesday as they cast their vote at the first ever Ontario Craft Beer Tasting at Queen's Park. "At the Legislative Assembly of Ontario we are extremely proud of the fantastic local products that our great Province provides," says Peters.
"Making the Legislative Assembly of Ontario a showcase of Ontario products is an initiative of mine as Speaker. The Ontario Craft Brewers are a great example of our Province's ability to create quality, world-class products right here in our backyard."
The tasting saw 46 beers brought to Queen's Park with over 100 ballots cast in six different categories. As well, Peters was proud to announce Neustadt Scottish Pale Ale as his choice for the Speakers' Selection winner. These seven winning beers will be the official craft beers of the Legislative Assembly.
"Seeing the Ontario Legislature take an interest in the Ontario Craft Brewers is a sign of how far the Ontario craft brewing industry has come in recent years," says John Hay, President of the Ontario Craft Brewers. "Our province's brewing history began back in the 1800's but really saw a large resurgence in 1985 with brewers like J.R. Brickman and others. Most recently we've seen an acceleration of this growth thanks to government support, new consumer interest and the hard work of the 29 Ontario Craft Brewers."
Since 2003 capital investment in the Ontario Craft Brewers has been over $40 million. This strong support has been central to the development of craft brewing in Ontario. "We are also proud of our impact on the province's economy," continues Hay. "In fact in the next decade we expect the craft breweries to have close to a $400 million economic impact on the provincial economy in both a direct and indirect way."
Category winners and the official craft beers of the Legislative Assembly are:
Speaker's Selection: Neustadt Brewery - Neustadt Scottish Pale Ale
Golden Lagers & Pilsners: Great Lakes Brewery - Golden Horseshoe
Refreshing Ales: Robert Simpson Brewing Company - Anti-Gravity Light
Amber Lagers, Ales & Honey Beers: Old Credit Brewery - Amber Ale
Malty Dark Lager or Ale: Brick Brewing Company - Waterloo Dark
Bold Flavoured Ale, Stout or Porter: Scotch Irish Brewery - Sgt. Major IPA
Wheat Beer: Mill Street Brewery - Belgian Wit
The Ontario Craft Brewers are a group of 29 small brewers that are dedicated to making great tasting beer in Ontario. The 29 members of the Ontario Craft Brewers brew their beers locally in communities throughout Ontario - from the Ottawa Valley to Windsor and Niagara to Muskoka. The Ontario Craft Brewers employ over 450 people in Ontario, accounting for over20 per cent of the overall brewing employment in the province. For more information about the Ontario Craft Brewers visit http://www.ontariocraftbrewers.com/.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Back on May 19th, Hancock posted a message on Bar Towel regarding his recent move to the Cool Brewing Company to have Denison’s beers brewed there, as opposed to following Ken Woods and Black Oak to their new digs in Etobicoke. Hancock has had his signature Weissbier and Dunkel brewed under licence at the Black Oak brewery for the last couple of years after moving there from the Mill Street brewery, but when Woods and company decided it was time to re-locate the Black Oak brewery closer to the city (Toronto) Hancock decided it was his time to re-locate himself. Not that anything happened between the two. On the contrary. These two guys are great friends and Woods has previously mentioned how Hancock has served as a role model while he was learning the ropes of running a brewery. Woods actually served at Denison's Brew Pub on Victoria street back in the day.
Hancock's decision to move his brewing operation to the Cool brewery was simply based on space and hence, the ability to grow freely. Cool has lots of it, providing Hancock with the opportunity to brew more Weissbier in order to keep up with increasing consumer demand, and to brew Dunkel year round.
I ran into Hancock shortly after he posted his message one blurry night at Volo (I hope you made it home in time Michael), where he informed me that the first Weissbier was brewed at Cool over a month before, and so far so good. He stressed the fact that when there is a move of this proportion that is could take a bit to weed out abnormalities caused during the brewing process as the new beer adapts to its new surroundings. He did point out however that when he moved from Mill Street to Black Oak that everything turned out great, and judging by the quietness of the Bar Towel crowd everything seems true to style since moving to Cool.
I also got to hear some plans for Dension's for the future, or should I say goals of Hancock's. But this isn't a cheesy tabloid blog so I'll reserve comment for a later date or when things start to transpire. It was interesting to hear some things that take place behind the beer, things everyday beer drinkers wouldn't otherwise hear about. I was very impressed with Hancock's passion for the craft brewing industry and he is a great man to discuss the brewing industry with, as he has been through it all.
I, along with many other Denison's fans, look forward to seeing his Weissbier at more and more accounts and being able to have a Dunkel year round.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I remember reading that post and giving it some serious thought as weight issues have always affected me. My weight goes up then I lose some, then it goes back up then I lose it. Up and down since grade 8. While I have never been 'thin' I have usually been in good shape, thanks to rigorous workouts, playing rugby, hockey and fastball. But since moving to the city and recently consuming a lot (a lot) of beer, whether it be at beer dinners, events, at the pub, or with friends, I have started to notice my weight sneak up on me. I still workout, just not as much as I once did.
I don't blame the caloric qualities of the beer for this weight gain. I blame the fact that in the morning, after drinking some strong ales, I can't get out of bed to hit the gym. So here's what I intend to do about it while staying in the loop: a) limit my weekly beer intake, b) get to the gym 4 times a week and, c) limit my consumption at events.
Can I do it? I think so, although last night I was staring at a bottle of Ommegang Strong Belgian Ale and thinking of popping the cork after dinner for a night tippler. I stood strong though and drank some lousy water instead.
So thanks Alan for waking me up!
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The event is taking place at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex (Exhibition Place) from 6:30 pm to 11:00 pm and will feature popular jazz musicians including:
Jim Galloway and his Wee Big Band
Stephanie Welton and The Toronto Jazz Orchestra
There will also be 10 delicious food stations to accompany the participating brewers, which include:
Nickel Brook Beers
Black Oak Brewing Company
Cool Beer Brewing Company
County Durham Brewing Company
Great Lakes Brewery
Mill Street Brewery
Old Credit Brewing Co. Ltd.
Cameron's Brewing Company
There will also be some OCB ‘prize packs’ given away at the event (cool SWAG).
What better way to enjoy a warm summer evening than sampling nearly a dozen different Ontario Craft Beers while relaxing to the cool sounds of jazz? As a co-sponsor of this fundraiser for ST. Joseph's Hospital the Ontario Craft Brewers will be joined by local restaurants and wineries for an evening of great jazz for a good cause.Call or visit us online NOW! Space is limited.
Tickets are $250 each with a $100 charitable receipt and money raised goes to the St. Joseph’s Mental Health and Addictions Program, specifically the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Program.
Monday, June 2, 2008
AN Edinburgh brewer behind the world's first oak-aged beer is preparing for major growth after winning the backing of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
Dougal Sharp, founder of the Innis & Gunn Brewing Company, was invited by the fiery chef to help him brew a version of the beer at his London home on his TV programme The F Word.
After the brewing process was featured on this week's episode, the beer is currently being allowed to mature for 30 days in whisky barrels that provide its distinctive oak flavour. It is then to be served up with a veal main course on the final episode of the series.
Ramsay is using the Innis & Gunn product to show how well quality beer can be matched with fine cuisine.
The chef already sells the beer in his east London gastro pub The Narrow, and it is understood he is to stock it across his burgeoning pub and restaurant empire.
Mr Sharp, whose father Russell bought the Caledonian Brewery in 1987 and helped make Deuchars IPA a household name, said: "It is great that Gordon has chosen to do something like this and it shows how far beer has come from its beer bellies and sandals image.
"The fact that you can match Innis & Gunn with food is what won out for us with Gordon. The character of the beer makes it suitable and Gordon picked up on that. He's a hell of a nice bloke and he's very passionate about the things he's interested in.
He's very interested in the brewing process and how to do that, and it's been a lot of fun working with him. It's been a real learning experience for me as well."
Innis & Gunn filled 10,000 barrels of beer in 2007 – double its 2006 levels – as its popularity took off in the UK, United States, Canada and Scandinavia.
Celebrity chef and Great British Menu star Mark Hix has already helped introduce the beer to "beer dinners" attended by celebrities and food and drink critics, which has helped to make the name known and grown its reputation for being food-friendly.
The "base" beer is provided by the Belhaven Brewery, then left to mature in William Grant & Sons barrels to produce the oak flavour.
The product, which is only sold in bottles, is already stocked in many of the UK's leading supermarkets, bars and restaurants, and a stockpile has been built up to allow for the growing demand.
Graham Bell, a spokesman for the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said the success of the brand could inspire other small businesses.
He said: "What Innis & Gunn have shown is that brewing is far from dead in Edinburgh.
"They have a quality product that is retailing at twice the price of other beers and people are lapping it up.
"It shows that whatever you're doing, if you are innovative then you can be a big success nationally and internationally."