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.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Meet the Beer Bloggers - Mike Warner

Part five of Meet the Ontario Beer Bloggers

Mike Warner
A Year Of Beer
Beer Blogging: 11 months

Meet Mike Warner, the creator/author of the A Year of Beer Blog.  Warner, after realizing one day that beer had taken over his life, decided it was time to start blogging about the subject, tasting and reviewing beers over one calendar year.  However, Warner now admits that he's hooked and he sees no end to his beer blogging days after day 365, which is approaching in September.

Head over to his site and read his tasting notes on whatever beers he gets his hands on, event wrap-up reviews, and some of his personal experiences at pubs and beer bars.

Describe the moment when you first saw the craft beer light?
It was probably my second or third year of university. At the time I was buying whatever beer looked interesting or different, just to try different beers. I wouldn't have said I particularly liked beer, it was just what you drank. For some reason I can no longer fathom, Stella Artois seemed great (probably their advertising dollars hard at work) but I remember thinking it was outrageously priced. One day I picked up a six pack of Mill Street Coffee Porter, back when it was in stubbies. The first sip was pretty close to an epiphany - beer can have different tastes! It was still a couple of years before I became a full-on craft beer junkie, but that planted the seed. And now it's no surprise that I love a well made imperial stout.

What made you decide to blog about beer?
At a certain point I realized that beer had taken over my life. I checked beer forums whenever I was on break at work. Part of travel planning started to involve the thought, "It's not worth going if I can't get good beer." Any social outings needed to take place at a bar with good beer. I needed an outlet where I could take about beer as much as I wanted. I had done writing for other websites before, so starting my own blog made the most sense. One gimmick later (seeing how much beer I drank over a twelve month period) and I was off.

How long have you been blogging about beer and how long do you think you'll continue?
It has been about eleven months now, meaning I have one month left in my year. The blog will be continuing after that point, but with some changes that I still haven't figured out. (Note to self: figure that out.) It will continue indefinitely, which is all I can say at this point.

What has been the biggest change in the Ontario brewing industry since you started blogging?
Obviously it hasn't been that long, but the number of seasonals has really increased since I've been blogging. A lot of breweries are starting to recognize that Ontarians want more than pale ales and lagers, so they've been making more experimental beers. Diversity is slowly creeping into the Ontario beer scene.

The number of people blogging about beer has also increased - it seems like there is a new one every month! This a great example of how the craft beer scene in Ontario is ready to explode.

If you could change one thing about the industry here in Ontario, what would it be?
I imagine a lot of people will complain about the LCBO and/or government regulations, but my wish is for craft brewers of Ontario to start taking more chances. Take your seasonal beers, brew them year round and make them accessible through the LCBO. Having seasonal beers that you can only get at the brewery is frustrating and does not help craft beer grow in Ontario. Brew really hoppy IPAs, sour ales or abbey-style Belgian ales! I love to support our craft brewers, but they make things really frustrating at times. I won't call anyone out, but you know who you are.

What beer book would you recommend to someone looking to learn more about beer?
Ah, an excellent question for the librarian! Obviously anything my Michael Jackson. His writing is really accessible and informative. The Naked Pint by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune is another great book for those starting out, taking you through the lighter styles and working up to the big boys. Notes on a Beermat by Nick Pashley because it is hilarious and says everything I ever want to say about beer. For those looking for heavy duty reading, The Brewmaster's Table by Garrett Oliver or Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher. Oh, and I'd also tell them to subscribe to TAPS.

When you're not drinking, writing, or out at the pub, what else preoccupies your time?
Mainly music (local and not-so-local indie bands, old soul and Motown music) and reading (graphic novels and whatever fiction seems interesting). Getting my heart crushed by Toronto sports teams. Answering questionnaires that let me talk about myself.

Best beer festival or event you've attended?
This year was my first time at Mondial and it was amazing. Now that I've gone, it's hard to imagine not going every year. That's not an exciting or interesting answer, but there you go. Hopefully Ontario Craft Beer Week or Toronto Beer Week will grow to that level over time. 

Name your favourite beer blogging experience.
As cheesy as it sounds, the best part about blogging has been meeting so many people who are enthusiastic about craft beer. It has been a fantastic opportunity to hear brewers, writers, industry folk and drinkers talk about their love of beer. There is a definite beer community in Ontario, filled with amazing people.

Best time for a pint?
After a long day of work.

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