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Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Shot At Ontario Brewers - Video

I just came across this video this morning and all I can say is, WOW!  I watched the entire clip and couldn't stop shaking my head.  Looking at his other uploaded video's, it would appear that this guy (using the name TakeSomeAdvice) is a homebrewer here in Ontario and he's not a fan of beer produced by the men and women in the Ontario brewing industry - Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery and Muskoka Cottage Brewery taking the blunt of his criticism.

While I was watching it I thought I'd embed the video here and let everyone see it and comment on it.  Then I thought it would be better leaving it alone, don't embed it, this guy doesn't need anymore attention than his YouTube channel is already bringing in.  I obviously decided on the former and the video is embedded below.

In the interest of time (I don't have much of it these days, with the new job and Toronto Beer Week) I jotted down some issues I have with this guy and his rant.  Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but when you don't seem to know what you're talking about that opinion needs to be sorted out.

Issue #1 - This guy rants for 11 minutes about his disdain for Ontario craft beer and mentions Mill Street and Sleeman, grouping them into the same category.  They're not.  Both breweries operate on a totally different business model and to lump them both together is insulting.  And to say that Mill Street makes crap beer, Come ON!

Issue #2 - If this guy wants to pretend he knows about reviewing beers, why the hell is he pouring the beer into a frosted pint glass?  Seriously!  Any knowledgable beer drinker, any serious (good) beer drinker out there knows that much.

Issue #3 - At 3:40 of the video he pours the beer and claims there is no head.  I don't know about you but I notice at least three fingers of head atop the beer and it sticks around for the duration of his tasting. At 6:46 of the video some head still appears in the glass.

Issue #4 - He states Ontario wouldn't make bad beer if the government got out of the way, opening up the industry.  Ummm, government may enforce and regulate the Ontario brewing industry with a heavy hand, but that doesn't/shouldn't affect what's being brewed.  Black Oak came out with the 10 Bitter Years and was a wonderful success - in both sales and taste!  But according to this guy, the government regulations prevent Ontario brewers from doing anything bigger, or in his opinion, anything better.

Issue #5 - States that Ontario beers are so inconsistent from batch to batch.  Yes, to a degree some Ontario breweries suffer from inconsistency, but this guy is drinking out of a frosted pint glass!  What real flavours you have in that beer are subdued the minute you pour from the bottle into that glass, turning it into something it really isn't.

And one of the best lines on the ridiculous clip - "This doesn't have that jumping out nose"

He also does a review of Hoegaarden in another clip, and guess what, he pours it into the same frosted pint glass and hates the beer.


Alan said...

I can't be bothered to watch a video as video blogging was bad in 2006 and it still the worst media for any sort of communication known to mankind. Plus I trust your opinion that he is a doofus.

That being said, from your points I would suggest:

- I do not agree that Mill Street and Sleeman are completely different business models. I see them as being at different points on the same curve. Both are focused on mass consumption of quality beer. Both in their day in the sun raised awareness through accessible and marketing.

- if 10 Bitter Years and other beers are so great and successful, why can't I get them? I can go in to gas stations and corner stores a few miles south of here in New York or a few miles north east in Quebec and get great craft beers including special releases. Besides that, I live in one of the Province's biggest cities and I can't get these sorts of beers. Why does out craft beer distribution system suck so badly?

- Ontario does regulate the industry by limiting access to retail opportunities. It is the foot on the throat of the movement. It is insane that I can buy what is called "Ontario" wine (even if made elsewhere) in alcoves next to grocery stores but not Ontario beer.

We also have an issue with even talking about it. With all due respect to the OCB and media like TAPS and Josh Rubin in The Star, I believe those with access to the top podiums for great beer in the Province are effectively put in a position of complicity with the LCBO and government regulation. It is not so much a case of biting the hand that feeds them as not wanting to turn craft beer into one long complaint. How would that help increase market share?

So even if the guy is a doofus, it is time for critical discourse. Time to say what we have is not good enough.

Troy Burtch said...

Alan - I see what you're saying in your first point with Sleeman and Mill Street. What I was implying is that Mill Street makes good beer. There is nothing wrong with it. They make seasonals, cask ale, and they push all over their brands when marketing the brewery. Sleeman on the other hand focuses on their lighter portfolio.

Point 2 - Re: Black Oak. Yes, the government does have a lot to do with making the beer accessible, but the brewery has to submit their products for listing. Ontario does have a bunch of good seasonals out there, but because of the system we have, if you don't submit them to the LCBO, then they don't get sold. I would love to see other places around the province opening up and selling beer, but that still doesn't necessarily mean it will have the best beers available. If the brewery can't supply it, only a select few get it and when its gone it's gone.

Point 3 - Talking about it: Yes, there needs to be critical discourse, completely agree. And guys like Cass Enright (free our beer) do it the right way. This guy and his views wouldn't even make it to the front steps of the LCBO headquarters. They'd completely blow him off.

Glad to hear that you trust my opinion!! :)

svanegmond said...

Just looking at him you can tell he's a ponce.

He is correct in the detail (craft brewers are sometimes inconsistent) but misses the point. If you want beer that tastes the same from one batch to another get a fricking Coors. That's just life while eating agricultural product: it changes with the seasons.

But he is spot-on about government regulation. If I could boil my comments down to something suitable for an anonymous blog comment: Take a look at Quebec. Whatever they're doing for beer and basic wine sales, let's do that. It's clearly more or less working.

Not that they don't have the fist of government up their butt. I can walk into Dieu du Ciel and get the most amazing stuff off their taps, but I can't buy a growler of it; instead, it's whatever they decide to bottle and ship to hell and back, that ends up in the dep around the corner. Usually the more boring stuff.

Alan said...

But this is the fundamental problem:

"...because of the system we have, if you don't submit them to the LCBO, then they don't get sold..."

The system is a joke. It is the elephant in the room, the smelly guy on the airplane. Where else in the world does a beer need to be "submitted" to the lunacy of laboratory testing? Where else is there such a greedy markup or a false high handed morality? And all for what? Fewer Ontario jobs, fewer Ontario pleasure and pride in local skill.

Beer me Marge said...

Ugh, that guy is painful to watch. Reminds me of Beevis and Butthead - talk and giggle. He's got computer dweeb written all over him. At any rate, he knows enough to be dangerous, but not enough to take seriously on anything you haven't already formed an opinion about. Pouring beer into a frosted glass is the dead give-away of a Labatt's Blue Light kegmeister...:)

Reminds me of the scene in Inglorious Basterds where the spy in the bar holds up three fingers.

Lager Bore said...

I haven't watched "beer reviews" since the days of Worst/Wurst/Whorst's great former blog. He pointed out Video Beer Review, JJDraven, among others. And now this guy. He blows them all away. What fun, cringe comedy at its best.
He spends a lot of time saying how he didn't upload this review--Flying Monkeys--because it wouldn't be fair. How then are we watching it?

Alan, you must definitely get down to Athens next year. I can only attest to the way the homebrew competition was run, but if it's any indication, the rest of the festival is top notch and well done. And it's a beautiful part of the world.


Lager Bore said...

What do these guys have against using a script? My grade 7 students do better multimedia presentations. This is just a bad rant. It's great comedy though.

Dave said...

Just odd... I find it interesting that so many people want to run breweries by proxy without any of the risk or financial commitment. The Ontario government has made it easier than ever before to open and run a brewery/brewpub but I'm not so sure the armchair brewmaster has taken the opportunity.

I don't really want to comment on the video piece by piece but I did find it great that in the opening review of Hoptical Illusion he finishes the whole glass even though he repeatedly says "I don't like it". Clearly a serious reviewer and one that has a discerning palate. I'm not a real big fan of in depth beer reviews but leaving the review simply at "I don't like it" removes any scrap of credibility the reviewer may have had.

I didn't watch the rest of the video past the Hoptical Illusion review as I simply didn't want to listen to him anymore. Troy, I understand what you are trying to do but I think you just provided more attention to someone who is ill informed and just merely craves attention. I know you're trying to provide the "other side" to your readers but it just insults the breweries that you showcase and promote on both your website and in the pages of Taps Magazine by giving this guy an extended public forum from the one he has already created for himself.

Troy Burtch said...

Dave - yeah, I know. Like I said in the post, I wasn't sure if I'd post it or not because it's so bad.

George said...

I think homebrewers, by definition, rebel against the status quo. Despite his lack of polish, the TSA guy doesn't like what passes for craft beer in Ontario, and he isn't afraid to stand up and say so. Laugh at him if you will, but he has a point.
Those of us who are *truly* craft brewers, and make our small batch beers by hand, have access (well, at least theoretically) to a superior product than the average beer drinker in this province... and as you learn to brew, it gets harder and harder to find a six-pack worth the hype.
I think we should all pause, and re-read what Alan has written at the top of the comments: as usual, he hits the nail on the head.


Troy Burtch said...

George - thanks for your comments. I would love the opportunity to try some of your homebrewed beer.....

Eric R. said...

While I have to agree with some of the points that the fellow in the video makes (inconsistency, many mediocre beers, etc...) he shows quite clearly that he has no credibility to be making this claims and just makes people who are intelligently making these claims (like Alan and others) look bad.

I think many of the examples you make in defense of Ontario brewing are the exceptions to the rule. Like Alan stated, there needs to be some dialogue/complaining done to push our brewers to focus more on specialty, consistent, well made craft beer rather than mediocre, similar pale/amber lagers/ales.

I actually couldn't finish watching the video, he drove me nuts. The frosted glass killed me...

Jordan said...

Anonymity be damned.

The man's an ass.

bierfesten said...

I thought the video was quite funny, and he had some valid points about Ontario Craft Beer. On the whole in Ontario it needs to step up. Black Oak Ten Bitters was one of the best beers from Ontario ever! That is only 1 example of many that are comparable to our neighbors down south.
BC is suffering from the same issues as Ontario in that brewers are settling for complacency. As Alan pointed out its time for social discourse within the beer community, stop slapping each other on the backs and saying Good Job when its an average to shit beer.

Why do we have to keep loading up our cars with US Craft beers over the border instead of having ready supplies in Canada? Central City & Dieu Du Ciel are the only two we have to brag about.. we need more!

BrokeBrewer said...

Im willing to bet he's a homebrewer who's own brews have been snubbed by some of our great Ontario brewers who make a living busting their ass day-in and day-out. Oh, and love the shirt... douchebag.

Chris said...

No Troy, the Best line is "America is a Socialist country....." I'm not sure thsi guy has ever been to the USA.....

Jon Walker said...

Not only did he taste the Hoptical in a frosted glass but he mentions that the beer was straight from his fridge where it had been for three days. The guy shouldn't provoke any serious backlash since he's clearly got no clue what he's talking about. Beyond that the nervous laughter, the canned applause and audience guffaws, the overly long and indulgent rambling...he's funny because it's so pathetically self important.

This guy is the fat kid with a lightsaber of the beer community. It's tragic and you feel for him but it's damn funny at the same time.

Anonymous said...

As lame and stupid as this is, he has a point when it comes to poor quality & inconsistency.

Bill W.

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