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.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Meet the Beer Bloggers - Chris Schryer

Part Four of the Meet the Ontario Beer Bloggers

Chris Schryer
Toronto Beer Blog
Beer Blogging: 7 Months

Meet Chris Schryer, the creator/author of the Toronto Beer Blog.  Schryer is new(er) to the beer blogging scene here in Ontario, just starting his blog back in January, but he is no stranger to the industry and you might recognize him from Castro's Lounge where he works part-time.  Schryer started Castro's beer tastings around the same time he started his blog, educating customers on flavour profiles, different beer styles, and how to have fun with beer.

His blog features numerous beer reviews, Toronto beer event announcements and wrap-ups, and some personal beer stories. Go check it out.

Describe the moment when you first saw the craft beer light?
When I started drinking, I was made fun of, because I never really liked drinking my friend's beer.  They were all drinking Black Velvet (it was Scarborough, in the 90s) and I just couldn't do it.  At parties they would all be getting annihilated, drinking this truly awful beer, and I would show up with a six pack of Moosehead.  They all called me a beer-snob.  Seriously.  So I guess I've always preferred drinking "better" beer.  I would get Upper Canada, and Sleeman, and anything else I had never heard of.  Then I learned that there was a brewery called Amsterdam on King Street, and they had a bar that *only* served their own beers.  I'd never heard of such a thing.  I went as soon as I could, and regularly went back.  I've been an ardent supporter of local craft beer ever since.

What made you decide to blog about beer?
I'm a web developer, and I wanted to start messing around with WordPress (the CMS I use almost exclusively now).  I thought a blog about beer would give me a great opportunity to make all those days and evenings spent drinking at Volo et al, have some deeper purpose then simple personal satisfaction.  I actually was originally planning on focusing on blogging about events I went to, but I've ended up spending much more time doing posts reviewing beers.  Great excuse to buy beers I've never had before, and trade with other beer folks.

How long have you been blogging about beer and how long do you think you'll continue?
I started blogging in January of this year.  No idea how long I'll keep it going, I guess as long as I still enjoy doing it, and people enjoy reading it.  Kind of like the Rolling Stones.

What has been the biggest change in the Ontario brewing industry since you started blogging?
In even the short time since I've started, the American usage of hops (and many of their varieties) have really started to ramp up.  This is a good thing.

If you could change one time about the industry here in Ontario, what would it be?
The LCBO.  But I'm sure everybody will say that, and it will come as no surprise to anybody who would read a blog about beer, so instead I'll say, while I like hoppy beers, and am happy to see those big bad ass American hops moving north, I would really like to see Ontario brewers make their own identity.  We've got the West Coast, known for big old IPAs, Quebec pumping out lots of crazy Belgian style seers (both traditional and modern adaptations), and brewers just south of us producing super old fashioned beers, insanely progressive beers, hybrid beers, and God only knows what else.  And our identity seems to be trying to keep up.  What if we became known for unfiltered lagers?  Or sexy Imperial Stouts?  Or the best German-style Wheat Beers in North America (why not, we've already got Denison's, the best in the World)?  Come on, we're the biggest province in the country, with easily the most cosmopolitan progressive city.  Why are we chasing at other places heels?

What beer book would you recommend to someone looking to learn more about beer?
It really depends what you want to learn, and what you already know.  Let's assume you're really just cutting your teeth, though.  Start our with Michael Jackson text, perhaps his Pocket Guide to Beer, or Michael Jackson's Beer Companion.  Then read "Notes on a Beermat" by Nick Pashely.  You'll learn stuff, but moreover, it's a funny refreshing read.  Then perhaps get "A Taste for Beer" by Stephen Beaumont.  Now another little jaunt into the humourous history as told by Mr Pashley, "Cheers, a History of Beer in Canada".  Make sure you get some laughs, because up next is a ream of papers devoid of chuckle-filled reading, finish with the BJCP Style Guidelines.  Serious.  I think I probably learned more from reading the BJCP guide then any other single source.  It's just a remarkably slow, technical read.

When you're not drinking, writing, or out at the pub, what else preoccupies your time?
By day, I'm generally found in front of my computer, paying the rent as a freelance web developer.  Outside of that, I have a wife and two year old son, so I spend most of the rest of my time with them, playing, walking on the beach or swimming, or walking around the neighbourhood.  I'm also a mediocre guitarist and worse at a variety of other instruments, and I play hockey through the winter.

Best beer festival or event you've attended?
Personal best was doing the King of Quads at Volo.  The tasting event was cool; well planned and executed.  But it was capped with perfection when a kindly fellow took the seat opposite from me, and turned out to be Ron Keefe.  If you want to really hear some interesting insights into drinking quads, sit next to Ron Keefe, and don't hesitate to ask his opinion.

Name your favourite beer blogging experience.
Getting invited to the Moosehead & Boston Beer Co. announcement about their strategic partnership to bring the Boston Beer Co. products into Canada.  Cool event, with tasty food and drinks, but made the best because I wandered over and spent a few minutes chatting with Jim Koch and Andrew Oland.  Both of whom demonstrated that even owners of breweries that are nowhere near "micro" anymore, are generally friendly, interesting, engaging people.

Best time for a pint?
Any time.  All the time.  Sorry, should have said something clever, like "Only on days ending in Y"

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