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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Highs and Lows of 2009 Canadian Beer

Like I mentioned in the previous post (and here's a high five if you read the entire thing), the 2009 beer year was a ton of fun to be involved in. This year I thought it would be interesting to post what I perceived to be the highs and lows of 2009, so let's take a shot at it, which will be followed up by my (which is subjective) best of the year list.

Highs
* Great Lakes Caskapalooza (see below)
* Numerous pub openings in Toronto that are offering craft beer (Twisted Kilt, Ceili Cottage, Queen & Beaver, 3 Brewers, Duggan's
* Two new brewpubs open in Toronto's downtown core (3 Brewers and Duggan's)
* Mill Street releasing variety packs to the public and producing monthly seasonals
* Mill Street winning Canadian Brewery of the Year 3 years straight
* The number of small breweries pumping out seasonals
* Cask ales increasing popularity across the country
* The LCBO showing some respect for beer, bringing in some great stuff
* Golden Tap Awards honouring Jim Brickman
* 11 Alberta breweries collaborate to produce a beer for charity

Lows
* The number of lawsuits involving Brick Brewing
* Brick Brewing suing founder Jim Brickman for $1 million
* The initial launch of the LCBO's beer selector online program
* The way the New Brunswick Liquor corp. handled the contract involved with the brewing of a government owned beer sold in government controlled retail stores
* The gimmicky Lime Beer segment that took Canada by storm this past summer

Best Beer Story of the Year
Great Lakes Caskapalooza: Great Lakes Brewery, Etobicoke, ON
The Toronto Festival of Beer was all but lost on me this year. I had no intention of going, until John Bowden let me know that Great Lakes would be bringing 20 cask conditioned ales, complete with their own refrigeration unit and psychedelic background to Toronto's oldest beer festival. It was a huge success and an inspiration that change, at an event like this, can work.

Runner Up - 11 craft breweries from Alberta team up to brew a charity beer

Best New Canadian Brewery
Driftwood Brewery: Victoria, BC
I remember getting an email from a dear reader in 2008 who wanted to let me know that a new brewery was opening their doors in Victoria. Soon after they opened I was able to get my hands on bottles of each of their beers and found them all to be very well done, and ballsy, especially for a new brewery: Brother Bart's Brown Belgian Ale, Farmhand Saison, White Bark Ale (wit), Old Cellar Dweller Barley Wine, and the Driftwood Ale (a nice session beer with nice amounts of hopping).

Best New Release (either regular or seasonal)
Creemore Kellerbier: Creemore Springs Brewery, Creemore, ON
I didn't really have to think about this one too hard. When Creemore released this beauty back in the summer I absolutely loved it from the first sip. Low carbonation, nice hopping, thirst quenching yet full of flavour, were all factors in winning me over.

Runner Up - Black Oak 10 Bitter Years: Black Oak Brewery, Etobicoke, ON

Best Beer Dinner Attended
Danish Beer Dinner - beerbistro, Toronto, ON
There were a couple to choose from, but the Danish beer dinner that was held in April at beerbistro takes the cake. A nine-course dinner (+ a special 10th beer) with bang on pairings, was well worth the $150 price tag and continued to show why beerbistro is a leader in hosting events like these.

Best Canadian Beer Blog
A Good Beer Blog - Alan McLeod, Kingston, ON
While Alan, whose been doing this (blogging) for years, doesn't post on Canadian content that much, I found myself reading from his site more than ever in 2009 as he had numerous posts that generated solid discussion from bloggers around the globe. And his annual Yuletide Photo contest is great.

Runner Up - Love Good Beer, British Columbia

Best New Toronto Pub (I live here so I'm keeping it to Toronto)
The Ceili Cottage
When the Ceili Cottage finally opened their doors in July, I was probably the most excited person other than owner Patrick McMurray. The Cottage is very near my place (within walking distance), has cask conditioned ale, terrific food at reasonable prices, has a great atmosphere with live sessions on Tuesdays, smoked peat moss that fills the air with a smell other than stale beer, and has a handful of pleasant staff members.

Best Beer Book
Tie
Cheers! A Intemperate History of Beer in Canada: Nicholas Pashley
The beerbistro Cookbook: Brian Morin and Stephen Beaumont
This was tough. 2009 had a slew of beer books published including: Hops N Glory by Pete Brown, Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher, The Naked Pint, World's Best Beers by Ben McFarlane, and more. I choose Cheers! and the beerbistro book because a) they were both written by Canadians, and b) they were both terrific. Cheers! is typical Pashley, which translates into a funny and entertaining read, and the cookbook makes me want to be in the kitchen, creating something Morin has perfected so many times at his restaurant.

Best Event
Volo Cask Days(week): Bar Volo, Toronto, ON
I really don't have to say anything further, just click here to read all the posts on it. 70 casks, 40 breweries, 7 days. Just like a strong barley wine, Volo Cask Days just keeps getting better with age.

Runner Up - Toronto Cask Ale Crawl: CASK! Toronto



Thank you for your continued support in 2009! Here's wishing you and your family a Happy New Year.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lime beer might be "gimmicky" but it certainly sold well, which hardly makes it a low.

Troy Burtch said...

Anonymous - thanks for your 'anonymous' comment. (to attach a name to your comments all you have to do it click on name/url below and type in your name)

It may have sold well, but in terms of taste, and style of marketing, it's a low in my books. In looking at the best of 2009 in the Canadian brewing industry, it certainly isn't anywhere near a high!

3 Dog Brewery said...

This so called beer was at our Rib Fest here in Peterborough this past summer and I had a sample. This was absolutely the worst thing I have ever tasted in mu life. I am still amazed at the popularity of this so called "beverage". How some people's standards have lowered.

Chris said...

Wow, thanks for even considering us for best Canadian Beer blog. It is truly an honor to be mentioned in such a way. We hope one day to feel worthy of such an honor, but we have a lot of work to do before that day comes.

Also, I think you are spot on with the lime beer low. Most people I know who like lime beer say they like it "because it doesn't taste like beer". What beer are they talking about? Surely macro yellow beer. The fact that mainstream beer paved the way for the lime trend speaks of its overall crappiness.

Cheers,

Chris

Troy Burtch said...

No worries Chris. I always enjoy reading the blog.

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