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.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lunch With A Craft Brewing Pioneer

I did something fun on Thursday.  Well, everyday is a fun day since I took on a position with TAPS The Beer Magazine and left the provincial government.   I get to try new samples, visit breweries and connect with brewery representatives, and meet some great people.

Not that it's not hectic though.  This is more to the job than than.  There are only a couple of us that run TAPS full time.  There are layout issues, advertising contracts to negotiate, preparing articles, working out distribution and subscription issues, playing around with social media, etc; there is a lot that we do.  Getting out is just one of the perks.  And Thursday I did just that.

As you can see in the picture, I had some drinks with that guy with the moustache.  For those of you who don't know him, well, it's Jim Brickman, the founder of the Brick Brewing Co. in Waterloo, ON.  Brickman is largely considered the founder of post-prohibition craft brewing in Ontario, bringing back a dead industry with the opening of Brick in 1984.  Jim went against the grain (no pun intended) and did things his way.  He saw that there was a market that was virtually left untouched (locally produced craft beers) and he ran with it.  In the pre-discount years at Brick, Brickman overlooked a brewery that was known for creating a wide-variety of good beers and for reasons well known, Brickman left the company he founded last year.

We met up at Duggan's Brewery in Toronto for a couple of drinks and to have a bite to eat with the intention of catching up.  We talked about the state of the Ontario brewing industry (something he claimed to still follow with great interest, and based on our conversation it seemed so), new beers, the Canadian Brewing Awards (CBAs), Toronto Beer Week (Brickman thinks this is going to be a great thing for the industry as a whole and he plans on being in Toronto to attend), and we talked about what he is up to these days.

It was a great conversation lasting almost two straight hours, yet it seemed like 15 minutes.  Brickman still emits great passion when talking about beer, about the early years of Brick, and it was interesting to hear some stories of stuff that he experienced over the years.  The man in full of knowledge and it was a treat spending time with him today.

On a selfish note, I do have to point out that Brickman is a big fan of TAPS and what we're trying to accomplish in the publication industry.  He had nothing but great things to say about how he's watched us climb the ladder from the magazines' humble beginnings to where we are today.  It's nice to have a guy like Jim stand behind the magazine.

So back to the start, yes, I'm lucky, and it's days like Thursday that remind me why I left my government job to work in this industry.

Click here to read a story I wrote about Brickman for TAPS that appeared in the Spring 2009 issue.

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