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.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Meet Curt Dunlop: The Griffin Gastropub - Bracebridge, ON

Meet Curt Dunlop, co-owner/operator of the Griffin Gastropub in the lovely town of Bracebridge, ON.

A great 'local' pub that focuses on beers from small Ontario breweries, Dunlop, along Jed Corbeil (business partner) opened the Griffin in 2008 and took the macro beers immediately off the lines. The duo then introduced Bracebridge residents and cottagers alike to monthly brewery features, brought Muskoka their first beer festival and hosted the first Session Festival during the Ontario Craft Beer Week in June - a lot in 2 1/2 years!

How long have you operated your establishment?
August 5th 2008

How did you get into the hospitality industry?
Local pub came up for sale, and I bought it with my childhood (lifelong) friend Jed Corbeil.
It was a cute pub with a large (18 taps) selection, and a guitar hanging on the wall. I would often go in and play some tunes in exchange for beers, which made for a fun and inexpensive night.

What is the best part of operating a pub?
The people. It's a social job that includes tasting beer, listening and playing music, pairing local food with beer, and enjoying the company of regulars and new patrons. Truly a shame that my guidance counselor didn't steer me in this direction earlier!

What is the worst?
That 1 in 100 person who can't be pleased. They send everything back, never like the wine selection, don't drink beer, etc. If you're like this, think about changing your ways, or consider not going out to eat.

How do you go about selecting the beer for your establishment?
My partner, Jed, usually makes the selections. We do our best to ensure that we have a proper cross-section of the styles on draught (10 taps) and in bottles. 98% of our beers are Ontario Craft, with a few coming from out of province.

Where did the name of your establishment come from?
There have been 3 sets of owners (us included), and the name came from the first owners and has been carried forward. We changed the 'Pub' to 'Gastropub' to signify that we were making a change to more local, more high-end food & beer offering.

What has been the biggest change in the beer industry since you started your business?
I love all the seasonals and one-offs that we're seeing. Ontario Craft brewers are getting bold and the results are great. It's also good to see the collaborative attitude within the industry.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
I would shut down all places that don't have a schtick. Having a liquor license and a deep fryer doesn't mean you should open a restaurant. Dining out is not just about food or beer, but about atmosphere and entertainment. Too many restauranteurs have forgotten this. Places with no passion/soul should close their doors and make way for fresh ideas and passionate people.

What do you get up to when your not at your establishment?
I play lots of hockey and baseball seasonally, and try to play squash whenever there's a chance. We are very busy with planning festivals, special events, and playing weddings in spring and fall, so there isn't a lot of downtime right now.

If you're not drinking at your own bar, where do you head to for a beer?
Some of my favourite places to have a beer are:
Peter's Cellar Pub at The Mono Cliffs Inn at Mono Centre (near Hockley Valley) - Wayne is arguably the best bartender I've come across, and their place is quaint like ours.
Bryden's Pub - Bloor West, Toronto - When I'm in the city I often stay with my university roomate, who lives a 9-iron from Bryden's. They have a good selection of local draughts, and usually a cask...which we don't have much access to in Muskoka.
Beerbistro - King East @ Yonge, Toronto - pairing a deep beer list with great cuisine...a foodie and beer snob's heaven!
The Local Gastropub - Barrie - Proprietor's Scott & Hollis will hake you feel right at home, and their craft beer selection is good, and their pub food has a Scottish flare (Scott's heritage)...

Name the last beer you consumed?
(Answered 10 days ago) I'm standing at the Royal Brewhouse at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair with Jed and Steve Beauchesne from Beau's All Natural Brewing. We just had a small sample of their seasonal, Night Marzen (Oktoberfest Lager). Not normally a style I would go after, but it is well balanced and chased down my Pulled Pork Parfait wonderfully.

Think globally, eat locally, drink at The Griffin Gastropub.

9 Chancery Lane
Bracebridge, ON P1L 2E3

(Bracebridge, last Saturday in August - August 27 2011)

(Toronto, Saturday after Father's day - June 25 2011)

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