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.

PLANNING AN EVENT? GOT A NEWS TIP? INTERESTED IN ADVERTISING? SEND A MESSAGE TO troy (at)greatcanadianbeerblog(dot)com

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Video - Session: A Craft Beer Festival

This past weekend, at the Session Craft Beer Festival, I was approached by the gentleman in the video (who I now know as Sean Ward) to do a small sound bite for a video he was putting together, and today that video went live on YouTube.

It's pretty good.  He talks to a number of people in the industry during the 5:36 video and he got some pretty good shots, not bad for someone that isn't to familiar with craft beers or craft brewing.

I should clarify one thing though. In the video I say that the Canadian craft brewing industry is about 10 years behind the American's, which I do believe, to some degree.  There are breweries in Canada that are right up there with the best in the world, and some on the verge of becoming great, but I think we can all agree that the US craft brewing industry has taken beer to a whole new level with their willingness to experiment and innovate, which has helped shape the drinking culture in America.  We're getting there, so please know I'm not taking anything away from the men and women in the Canadian industry with the comment.

Phillips Brewing Co. Invades Ontario!

Phillips Brewing Co. Invades Ontario!
Two Beers Now Available for Private Order!

From HMH Negotiants, Toronto, ON - Attention Ontario hop heads and beer lovers alike. HMH Negotiants are stoked to announce that the west coast heavy hitter, Phillips Brewing Company out of Victoria, British Columbia is now being represented in the province! Starting off low-key with small roots, Phillips Brewery Company have grown to be one of the most rewarded breweries in Canada, winning CAMRA's BC Brewery of the Year multiple times, and taking in awards for several of their radical brands. Brewmaster Matt Phillips dedication to quality craft beer, through the thick and the thin, has mad the breweries long awaited arrival to the Ontario market an exciting one. Phillips Brewing Company and HMH Negotiants have teamed up are planning on releasing two deliciously hoppy beers from the west coast to Ontario! Whether you want the out of your world citrusy burst from Phillips Hop Circle IPA, or the bigger meaner Amnesiac double IPA, we’ve got you covered. We will start things off by releasing these two brands that only the finest pallets of hop lovers can handle;

Phillips Hop Circle IPA
India Pale Ale (6.5%) 24 x 341ML
Private Consumer $65.00 | Licensee $58.00 / per case

RateBeer Rating
BeerAdvocate Rating

India Pale Ale for the hoppy at heart. Let this otherworldly IPA abduct the hell out of your
senses. The gravitational pull of the hop circle will have you searching the galaxy for
another close encounter of the thirst kind. Resistance is futile.

Amnesiac Double IPA
Imperial/Double IPA (8.5%) 12 x 650ML
Private Consumer $70.00 | Licensee $63.00 / per case

RateBeer Rating
BeerAdvocate Rating

For those who can handle a big beer! Mind blowing amounts of hops give this beer tons
of flavour and aroma. Not for the faint of heart. The bigger meaner cousin to the Phillips
Hop Circle IPA.

If you are interested in placing an order, please e-mail your request to sales@hmhnegotiants.com. (Include Name, Phone Number, Address, E-mail and the number of cases you would like) This Private Order will be closing on Monday, July 12th, 2010. For more information on Private Ordering please visit www.hmhnegotiants.com/aboutprivateorder.html

www.phillipsbeer.com | www.hmhnegotiants.com

Session: A Craft Beer Festival Re-Cap


Rain.  G20. Traffic issues and TTC stoppages.  These are just some of the things that got in the way of this weekends, Session: A Craft Beer Festival; however, the festival still came out a winner in the end.

Back in March, as soon as the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) announced that they would be putting together Ontario's first ever Ontario Craft Beer Week, two publican's from Bracebridge, Jed Corbeil and Curt Dunlop, put they heads together and came up with a proposal to host a large festival at Toronto Sunnyside Pavilion to help cap the OCB week.  The idea garnered a lot of up front interest and the wheels were set in motion, June 26 would be the day of the festival and the Sunnyside Pavilion was more than happy to host such an event.

Months of planning went into the Session.  Bands were carefully chosen, local food vendors were selected and a mixture of breweries from Ontario were asked to participant, including Propeller and Garrison from Nova Scotia, Tree from British Columbia, and Unibroue and McAuslan from Quebec - 25 breweries in total.

TAPS Beer Magazine had a booth there as well, which had me there nice and early on the Saturday morning to get set-up.  It had started raining very early and by the time I rolled around to Sunnyside it had turned into a pour.  Corbeil and Dunlop are no strangers to rain, though.  Last year they organized the first annual Muskoka Beer Festival in Bracebridge and rain reared its ugly side then, as it was on Saturday.  Both organizers were in great spirits when I caught up with them and I noticed that they had most, if not all, of the breweries either under cover of the roof of the Pavilion or they were under tents, making it tolerable to walk from booth to booth.

By noon (start time) there were small clusters of people entering the grounds and although they were wet, all were happy to be there to try the beers.  There were times when the crowd grew in size, and the rain did stop at times, giving every exhibitor hope that the place would soon be full, but then word broke that the G20 protest had gotten ugly and TTC and GO Train service was not operating.

Still, even with those setbacks, the festival went off without any glitches and everyone from ticket buyers to exhibitors to volunteers were having a good time.  The cost to enter was $35 and that provided you with a limited edition festival glass and.  Each drink ticket was a dollar and breweries were either pouring 4 or 8 oz samples.  Crowds grew at the Garrison and Tree booths, and Propeller was busy throughout most of the day as people were excited to try the beers they brought from out of province. Duggan's and Great Lakes both had casks, and they didn't last long.  The Session also featured a Toronto Beer Week booth where committee members handed out information about the September 20-26th event to interested individuals.

The food was good at every station and well priced, and the bands that Corbeil and Dunlop went with were terrific.  And the Sunnyside Pavilion was/is an amazing location to hold a beer festival.  Great views of Lake Ontario, splendid architecture, and lots of shelter from wind and rain, in all it was a good time and I hope that the two organizers plan to try it again next year.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Toronto Beer Week: September 20-26th

I'm pleased to announce the following news!  **Disclosure, I sit on the Executive Committee of the TBW and serve as a Board Member**


JUNE 26, 2010 - TORONTO – The team at Toronto Beer Week Ltd. is excited to announce that Toronto will have a week-long celebration of beer this fall. With over 15 North American cities (including Vancouver, San Diego, Chicago and Philadelphia) already hosting successful beer weeks, the time is right for Toronto to stage an event of our own. 

Toronto Beer Week (TBW) is a collective series of events dedicated to the celebration and advancement of the craft beer movement. TBW will showcase authentically brewed and flavourful beer, the talented brewers who create them, and the licensees who proudly support them. It’s all about good beer – no bland, mega beer permitted!

The event will kick off the day after the Toronto International Film Festival comes to a close, and will feature dozens of events held at some of the city’s finest restaurants, bars and pubs. Event examples might include:

- Beer dinners
- Feature cask ale tastings
- Brewing demonstrations
- Neighbourhood pub crawls
- Beer trivia evenings
- And much, much more

The TBW team will work with breweries and licensees to develop unique events that suit their independent character. We are working hard on some exciting ways to promote the Week and encourage awareness of the incredible beers that are now available in Toronto. Updates and more information can be found at www.torontobeerweek.com or on our Facebook page

---

Toronto Beer Week Ltd. – TBW is a collectively owned organization involving some of Toronto’s most seasoned and passionate beer industry members. Our team includes publicans, brewers, media, marketers, and authors, all bringing their valuable experience and vision to create a significant event that reflects the best interests of all participants. 

For more information, please contact:

John Bowden
Executive Director, Toronto Beer Week
416.803.3669

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Session: A Craft Beer Festival

Session: A Craft Beer Festival gets underway today at 12pm at Toronto's Sunnyside Pavilion and you should be there.  Tickets are $35 at the gate, and it's going to be worth it as you can see the list of participating breweries.


SESSION: A Craft Beer Festival
Saturday, June 26th - 12 to 8 pm - $35

Sunnyside Pavillion, 1755 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Toronto 
http://www.session2010.ca/ 



Brewery List 
Amsterdam Brewing Toronto, ON 
Black Oak Brewing Etobicoke, ON 
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Vankleek Hill, ON 
Cameron’s Brewing Oakville, ON 
Duggan's Brewery Toronto, ON 
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery Barrie, ON 
F&M Brewery Guelph, ON 
Garrison Brewing Halifax, NS 
Great Lakes Brewery Etobicoke, ON 
Lake of Bays Brewing Co. Baysville, ON 
McAuslan Brewing Montreal, QC 
Mill Street Brewery Toronto, ON 
Muskoka Cottage Brewery Bracebridge, ON 
Nickel Brook Beers Burlington, ON 
Niagara’s Best Brewery Niagara Falls, ON 
Propellor Brewery Halifax, NS 
Thornbury Village Cidery Thornbury, ON 
Tree Brewing Kelowna, BC 
Unibroue Chambly, QC 
Wellington Brewing Guelph, ON 

BLACK OAK is brewing some contract brews! Their newest, Cheshire Valley ESB will be pouring at the Black Oak Booth at Session. 

WELLINGTON's newest beer, Silver Wheat Ale will be making an appearance at SESSION. This filtered wheat beer is available in tall cans, and is a great thirsth quencher (hop/fruit/citrus notes). 


Friday, June 25, 2010

And It Was A Successful Pub Crawl

The first Cass' & Troy's Pub Crawl took place on Wednesday night as part of the week long Ontario Craft Brewers Craft Beer Week (OCB Week) and I couldn't be happier with the way the night went.

People starting trickling into our first stop, The Victory Cafe, right on time (6:30pm) and they were promptly given wristbands and ticket stubs for their chance to win prizes throughout the evening.  The Victory was awesome to work with, offering any individual taking part on the crawl a pint for only $5, of any product on tap!  We were situated in the side room of the Victory, which we quickly filled (quicker than I expected).  

It was a great mix of people.  There were some beer bloggers, brewery representatives, pub owners, Bar Towel members, readers of this blog and some people currently working on opening a brand new brewery here in Toronto.  Not everyone knew each other, but everyone chatted seamlessly with each other, sharing their own personal stories of the brewing/pub industry.  

Right before 7pm Enright and I addressed the crowd, thanking them for joining us and letting them in on what the night would include.  Enright let everyone know that he would be making two major announcements along the way and I drew a couple of tickets for two prizes before moving onto our next stop, Caplansky's Deli on College St.

Now, before I continue, I'll let you know why we picked the places on the crawl's list as many people were curious about how we chose the Victory, Caplansky's, Ronnie's Local 069, The Embassy Bar and The Cloak and Dagger.  When the two of us starting thinking about doing something fun like this our immediate thought was to stay in the downtown core near street cars and subway lines.  

There are great places that we have good relations with in the downtown area, but with the police presence for the G20, we figured having a large group of people walking around, or stumbling around, wouldn't go over to well with the men and women in blue (the police).   We started looking at other parts of the city with establishments serving good beer close to each other.  We strongly considered a Danforth crawl (and that could be the next one?), but we took a closer look at the Annex/Kensington area and decided to hit up some places that don't really get the 'beer recognition' that we feel they deserve. 

Now that you know that, on to Caplansky's Deli.  We got there just after 7:15pm and the staff had the entire back of the deli reserved for our group.  If you have never been to Caplansky's - GO now.  Smoked meat, craft beer, great atmosphere and a nice street side patio, all make for a good time.  Not many people know that Zane Caplansky (the founder) features a solid draught selection.  On tap for the crawl - Duggan's No.9 IPA, King Pilsner, Denison's Dunkel, and Mill Street Organic.  The majority of people on the crawl pointed to the Dunkel and those who ordered food thought the pairing was fabulous.  More prizes were handed out and Enright made his first announcement - the launch of the 2010 Golden Tap Awards.  

Down the road to Ronnie's Local 069 in the Kensington area.  Again, Ronnie's, like Caplansky's, doesn't really get the attention it deserves for their beer menu.  Too many people associate Ronnie's with hipsters and tend to stay away; however, everytime I've been there its been packed.  And it was packed on Wednesday.  The group headed straight to the back of the building to occupy Ronnie's private room and pints of Delirium Tremens, Great Lakes Devil's Pale Ale, Stratford Pilsner, and more were ordered.  We packed the inside of the place!  The only drawback we had at Ronnie's was the smell of cat urine seeping into our room from the back door.  

We had picked up some more pub crawl participants now, bumping our numbers up to 33.  Not bad for a first crawl with four days of planning.  We headed across the road to The Embassy Bar and flooded the place.  Again, more people joined us on the crawl and people were really starting to have a good time.  The Embassy has a terrific line-up of draught, including: St. Ambroise Oatmeal, Cream and Apricot beers, Black Oak Saison and more.  The Embassy is also nicely decorated, features a small front patio, has booth seating, leather chairs, and good music.  Definitely worth a visit, but be forewarned, the place is booming on weekend nights.
Enright made his second big announcement of the night at The Embassy with the news that his Import business, Bar Towel Imports, has signed Northhampton Brewing Co. out of Frederiction, NB.  Northhampton, which is better known as Picaroon's, will be represented by Enright here in Ontario and five brands have been chosen for a private order that will be made public shortly.  Imperial Pils, Man's Best Friend Porter, Timber Hog Stout, Yippee IPA, and Best Bitter.

The Cloak and Dagger was the last stop on the crawl and we got there just after 10:15pm and quickly filled the small pub.  There was live music and a fresh cask of Great Lakes Lackey's Caskey, which was simply beautiful.  Some more prizes were handed out, we thanked everyone for coming out and thanked those who stayed until the end.  Everyone was in good spirits and we received some good feedback from the participants.  

In total, 46 people donned the special wristbands we had made for the crawl and there were ten people who received prizes ranging from t-shirts and hats to issues of TAPS Beer Magazines and OCB glassware.  Once again, I would like to thank all those who came out and helped make the night a complete success!!

**Read a great review of the crawl by Jordan St. John on his new blog - St. John's Wort.**

Golden Tap Awards - 2010 Voting Launches

Back on May 20th I posted some information (Save the Date) about the 2010 edition of the Golden Tap Awards and Wednesday night, during the first annual Cass' & Troy's Pub Crawl, Cass Enright, the founder of Bar Towel.com, officially launched this years voting.

Toronto, ON - The Bar Towel is proud to announce the launch of voting for the 2010 Golden Tap Awards, a leading awards event recognizing the best craft beer achievements in Ontario. Now in its eighth year, the Golden Tap Awards is a democratic awards event, with all voting taking place online at www.goldentap.com until August 10th.

The Golden Tap Awards recognizes the best in beer from across Ontario, and you can vote for whomever you wish in each category, including:

* Favourite craft brewery and brewery for cask-conditioned ales in Ontario
*Favourite craft regularly-produced beer, cask-conditioned ale and seasonal or speciality beer in Ontario
*Favourite craft beer bar, both for draught, bottled and cask-conditioned ale selection in Ontario
*Favourite brewpub or tied house in Ontario

The Golden Tap Awards party will take place on Saturday, August 21st at beerbistro in Toronto. At this gala event all winners will be announced at a special Ontario beer festival featuring only Ontario craft beers. There will also be a real-time Golden Tap Awards vote for the best beer available at the festival.

New this year will be a special Golden Tap Awards craft beer dinner on Friday, August 20th. This dinner will feature a seven-course dinner with exclusively Ontario craft brewers, including Beau’s, Black Oak, Denison’s, Grand River, Granite, Great Lakes and Mill Street. Each brewery will have one of their beers paired with a course created by Chef Brian Morin. More details and ticket information will be announced soon at www.goldentap.com.

Vote now!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tonight's Pub Crawl

Just an FYI -  tonight's "Cass' and Troy's First Annual OCB Pub Crawl" is still on, rain or shine.  So bring your umbrella's and earthquake gear.  

First stop, Victory Cafe - 6:30pm!

Ceili Cottage Celebrates Its 1st Anniversary

It doesn't feel like a year has gone by since Patrick McMurray opened the thick bright red door of the Ceili Cottage to the public, but today the extremely popular 'local' is celebrating their first anniversary.


If you head over to the Cottage today (it opens at 2pm) you'll be able to expect a roast pig, oyster shucking, cask ale, live music (7:30pm), World Cup Soccer action, and of course, a cake!


Congratulations to McMurray, who took a falling down, out of place, old car garage and turned his vision into reality that people throughout Toronto have warmly embraced.  I was there in late February while McMurray was having the building renovated and to see its transformation, in person, allowed me to gain a better appreciation for what the Cottage has achieved to date.  The Cottage continues to do extremely well, and because it has, there has been talk of an expansion to the building in year two.


Here's to another solid year at one of Toronto's best food/drink establishments! In celebration of the occasion, I've decided to re-post my initial review of the Cottage (dated July 16, 2009).


See all Ceili Cottage mentions by clicking here.




*******************
The Ceili Cottage
1301 Queen St. East Toronto, ON
http://www.ceilicottage.com/


When I first stepped foot into the decrepit old garage back in March to meet world famous oyster shucker and owner of Toronto’s Starfish Oyster Bed, Patrick McMurray, to get a picture of what his proposed Irish local would be, I thought to myself, "why choose this location of Leslieville, and why did he choose this run-down building?"

However, after hearing his plans and envisioning his layout the next thought that crept into my head was how dangerously close this new 'local' (McMurray does not consider it to be a pub) is from my home. McMurray sold me immediately on his goals for the Ceili Cottage (pronounced Kay-Lee, an Irish word for social get together of music and dance) as we stood there amongst the high mounds of debris. This was to be an Irish local, a real Irish local and not one of the faux-pas pubs that our province is awash in.

McMurray's life-long goal came to fruition as the Ceili Cottage officially opened on June 23rd and it has almost instantly become a new hangout for the area residents of Leslieville. Everything that McMurray touched on back in March has come to life and the transformation of the old garage is simply stunning, to say the least. Situated at 1301 Queen Street East, just east of Leslie Street, the white building with black trim-work is surrounded by a white picket fence closing it off from the busy street and if not for the black Guinness umbrella's on the patio the Cottage is almost indistinguishable as a drinking destination, looking more, well, like a cottage.

There is a small entrance that greets you upon arrival and you know you’ve reached your destination as the Cottage’s address is laid out in spent oyster shells in the cement. More shells have been embedded into the cement throughout the large patio, which can accommodate 40 patrons during the warmer months. Flower boxes sit atop wooden planks that are supported by decades old Irish whisky barrels and the white tables have a somewhat picnic table quality about them, evoking memories of the family gathering together for annual summer bbq's.

The Cottage is separated into two rooms: the dining room is located at the front of the building and the bar area is situated in the back, but to get there you must enter through the heavy bright red painted wooden door at the front of the building.

Walking into the dining room feels like entering a proper Irish local the way it would have been in the late 1800's (judging by photographs from the book: Dublin Pub Life and Lore). Large thick wooden plank flooring, barn like open wooden rafters, church pews, original brick and stone walls that have been cleaned up but have otherwise been left untouched and undistributed, are just some of the key pieces that put this room together. The tables in this room are very unique. Floorboards obtained from the now demolished 'Packing House' in the Historic Distillery District have been cut down and attached to form the heavy tables. "Thousands of Irish immigrants got off the boats in the early 1800's and headed to the Distillery District for work," stated McMurray. "They went looking for work in a field they already had experience in and the Distillery District provided them with that opportunity. Literally thousands of Irish feet have stepped foot on these floor boards so it was a no-brainer to go out and get them."

The back area, where the long 'L' shaped bar is located, is a large slender room with a piano, a century old church pew and a large cast iron bell above the bar. The main attraction in this room is the bar, which features a 2 inch thick Kilkenny Limestone bar top that dates back 4 million years. McMurray had it shipped straight from Ireland and the corrals and oyster markings are clearly evident in appearance. It is also here, behind the bar, that McMurray can usually be found chatting with customers as he shows off his shucking prowess. There are 16 bar back chairs that surround the long bar and gas fitted piping has been assembled to provide a unique footrest. Behind the bar are two large wooden shelving units that hold all the glassware, bottles of Irish whisky, plus a few extra trinkets and trophies and some copies of the book McMurray authored on oysters. In the middle of the shelving units is a chalkboard where the bartender informs patrons of what’s on tap at the moment and above that is a large flat screen television that is normally playing soccer matches, muted of course.

When it comes to beer selection McMurray knows his stuff. “I decided that there would be no bottle service here at the Cottage,” he stated. “The beer served here will only be available by the ½ or full pint, which helps to cut down on extra waste and it also ensures fresh beer.” McMurray chose the four core Diageo brands: Harp, Kilkenny, Smithwick’s, and Guinness to complement a number of local regional beers like Mill Street Organic, McAuslan Apricot Wheat, Church Key Lager, O'Hara's Stout County Durham Hop Addict, and Scotch Irish Stuart's Session Ale. McMurray also chose to install a cask engine in order to serve the increasingly popular segment of cask-conditioned ale, joining a select handful of other Toronto establishments. County Durham’s Red Dragon was the first cask ale to be showcased upon opening and proved to be a hot commodity going dry just four days after opening. “I plan to rotate the cask here at the local, offering customers a variety of the style.” McMurray also plans to introduce his Oyster Stout to the Cottage regulars soon, which is produced by County Durham. Each beer is also served in the appropriate glassware baring the logo of the corresponding brewery. Should there be no glass to match the pint the bartender will serve up the drink in an unbranded pint glass to avoid confusing the patrons.

The atmosphere inside the walls of the cottage is something special. Normally when you enter a pub for the first time if feels exactly that way - like the first time. A little awkward and overwhelming. But because of the atmosphere at the Ceili Cottage I immediately got a sense of comfortableness, and it felt like I had been going there for pints for years. It has a welcoming effect that, to be very honest with you, I have not felt anywhere else upon first impressions. McMurray has done a lot to create this atmosphere with everything from the soft Irish music he continuously plays over the speakers to the Irish peat moss he smokes behind the bar filling the Cottage with the smell of the Emerald Isles. McMurray also plans to have live, local, Irish music sessions on Tuesday nights and he encourages people to join in.

"We're getting a lot of locals in and it's great to see them coming back for repeat visits. We already have a number of regulars," stated McMurray while preparing an order of oysters. He says this as a gentleman at the bar starts up a conversation with the person seated next to him only to find out the two live on the same street. In less than 10 minutes the whole one side of the bar is deep in conversation with each other yet were strangers before heading up to the bar.

It also helps to have great bartenders and McMurray has found two in Eoghan and Dom (*Note - Dom no longer works at the Cottage). Eoghan, here from Ireland, and Dom, from Australia, have been with the Cottage since day one and are terrific at their jobs. "I never expected it to be this busy, so soon, but it has been great," said Eoghan while trying to keep up with the never-ending drink orders. The two bartenders do something that I find rare in Toronto - they engage with the people sitting at the bar, starting conversations in between pulling pints.

The food is terrific. I've had a couple of items off the 'Staples' menu and each time I was overwhelmed by how scrumptious they were. The Peat Smoked Organic Scottish Salmon was simply delicious. Large chunks of tender salmon with homemade brown bread, sour cream, and pickled onions was very nice with my pint of the Red Dragon. The hearty dish of Ontario Mutton Stew with Champ is always a pleasure and reminds me of Sunday dinners back on the farm. The snacks are creative and satisfying as well. Too many times I've entered a pub after work hours with a hungry stomach wishing for something small and cheap to nosh on before dinner and McMurray's chef, Kyle, has put together a fun snack menu that includes roasted Ontario peanuts ($3), kettle chips ($2), and pickled sausages ($1) that hit the spot nicely.

It's really hard to fully describe the Ceili Cottage in a way that I want and in a way that it deserves because there is so much to it. It is a place that needs to be experienced first hand and taken for what it's meant to be.

When George Orwell wrote his famous piece of his vision of the perfect pub, The Moon Under Water, he described a number of things that I strongly believe in when it comes to my thoughts of an ideal pub. McMurray and the Ceili Cottage have already, in a short time, and in my opinion, incorporated many of these qualities and that's what will keep me heading back.

So back to that part where I mentioned how dangerously close the Cottage is to my place - I couldn't be happier.

Monday, June 21, 2010

And It Begins - OCB Week Has Begun

Here is the OCB "I Am An Ontario Craft Brewer" video once again to help get you in the mood.

Check out the OCB Week website for event listings or check out my 5 Don't Miss Events post that I put up here the other day.  See you out there!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Cass' & Troy's First Annual OCB Pub Crawl

Join Cass and Troy on a walking beer tour through the streets of Toronto

Toronto, ON - Join Cass Enright and Troy Burtch on Wednesday June 23rd for their first annual Toronto Pub Crawl during Ontario’s first ever craft beer week hosted by the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB).

Enright, who founded Ontario’s premier online beer resource, The Bar Towel and the Golden Tap Awards, and Burtch, creator/writer of the popular Great Canadian Pubs & Beer Blog, will lead you on a walking tour of five terrific beer establishments along Toronto’s Annex and Kensington neighbourhoods.

Each stop will feature a Cheers! led by both men who will also address the crowd with a story or two about their experience working and dealing in the Ontario craft beer industry.  There will also be numerous prizes handed out along the way including: subscriptions to TAPS Beer Magazine, beer books, bottle openers, t-shirts, OCB glassware, gift certificates and more.

The Pub Crawl will also act as the launch of voting for the 2010 Golden Tap Awards, one of the leading awards recognizing the best in beer in Ontario.  Beer lovers from across the province will be able to vote for their favourite beers, breweries, bars and brewpubs until August.

List of Pubs that will be visited:

Victory CafĂ© – 6:30
581 Markham Street
Toronto, ON M6G2L7

Caplansky’s Deli – 7:30
356 College Street
Toronto, ON M5T 1S6

Ronnie’s Local 069 – 8:15
69 Nassau Street
Toronto, ON

The Embassy – 9:00
223 Augusta Avenue
Toronto, ON

Cloak and Dagger – 10:15
394 College Street
Toronto, ON

Admission is free and bracelets will be disseminated to everyone who joins the crawl, which will help distinguish you from the rest of the crowd. 

Should you wish to participate in the crawl, please RSVP as soon as possible by sending an email to either Cass (cass@bartowel.com) or Troy (troy@tapsmedia.ca).

OCB Week - 5 Don't Miss Events

The Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) Beer Week is set to get underway this Sunday, and with over 110 events confirmed to date, choosing which event to attend is a challenging task.

Here is my biased opinion on five events you do not want to miss.

1. Bryden's Best of the West (Sunday June 20th)
Great Lakes Brewery and Black Oak Brewery will be featuring exclusive cask-conditioned ales along with rotating taps. Meet the brewers and reps of both breweries. The event starts at 3pm and runs until 6pm.

Bryden's will also be serving food that pairs well with the beers people are sampling to help celebrate how good beer/breweries can be found in the west end of Toronto, and to help kick off OCB Week. Space is limited, call ahead to confirm availability (416)760-8069

Bryden's - 2455 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON

2. barVolo's Belgontario Beer Feature (Monday June 21st)
barVolo will be featuring an array of Belgian inspired ales on tap brewed by Ontario craft brewers. The Following beers will be available starting Monday, June 21st, 2010 until supplies last;

Beau’s Matt’s Sleepy Time Belgian Imperial Stout, Beau’s/Koningshoeven Vrienden Wit, Black Oak Summer Saison, Grand River Ploegers Vlaams Rood, Mike Duggan TBA, Mill St. Betelgeuse Tripel, Mill St. Belgian Wit, Nickelbrook Belgian Dubbel, Nickelbrook Organic Wit, Publican House Eight or Better Tripel.








3. Five X Beau's At Black Tomato (Tuesday June 22nd)
Lug Tread, Beaver River, Screaming Beaver, Festivale, Vrienden, Oh My! Stop by the Black Tomato for some amazing food. Order a pint or a flight, sit back and think about how cool it is to have five Beau's brews at the the same bar at the same time!

Black Tomato - 11 George Street, Ottawa, ON





4. Cass' & Troy's First Annual OCB Pub Crawl (Wednesday June 23rd)
Join Cass Enright and Troy Burtch on Wednesday June 24th for their first annual OCB Week Toronto Pub Crawl. Starting at 6:30pm, Enright and Burtch will lead a group on a walking pub crawl through the Annex and Kensington area of Toronto. Prices, speeches, and stories, this pub crawl will be one to remember.  It will also mark the launch of the voting for the 2010 Golden Tap Awards.

List of pubs to visit: Victory Cafe, Caplansky's Deli, Ronnie's Local 069, The Embassy, and The Cloak and Dagger - all craft beer supporters.   See more details in post above later today.




5. Great Lakes Project XXXX (Thursday June 24th)
An evening of cask conditioned ales at Great Lakes brewery, featuring cask conditioned ales from:
Great Lakes, Muskoka Cottage Brewery, Flying Monkey's Brewery, F&M Brewery.

Meet representatives from each brewery and sample their unique one-off beers paired with food samples. $10 per person. Held outside if the weather permits!


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Then get yourself to The Session on Saturday.  There will be a booth there that has a big announcement that you don't want to miss!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Best Year For Selection At C'est What

Great news from the latest C'est What Newsletter:

Best Year Yet For Variety
Long gone are the days that you could age-date someone by what brand of beer they drank.  Anyone old enough to remember the geezers who seemed to be the only people ordering the stubbies of Red Cap?  There are probably still some cougars out there asking for Dry beer and I'm sure there will be a Lime generation as well but more and more people are choosing not to pigeon-hole themselves into a single beer existence.
In the spirit of a different-beer-for-each-occasion, I have tallied up what C'est What has had on offer over the past year.  The totals are astonishing: 25 different bottled beers, 57 cask brews, and 110 draughts and ciders; 192 in total.
We will be open during the G-20 offering 53 selections for that occasion.  It may just be the best choice we have that weekend...
C'est What has long been a true champion of local craft beer and to hear that this has been their best year ever for variety is terrific.  The beer being produced by the breweries in this province is no doubt on the upswing, as more and more are releasing seasonal beers that are being welcomed by drinkers of all sorts, and C'est What has been there from the very start offering them to customers.

  

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Am An Ontario Craft Brewer Video

The Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) have released a "I Am An Ontario Craft Brewer" video to help promote their upcoming OCB Week, which if you haven't heard kicks off this weekend.

The members of the OCB did a good job with the video as if offers drinkers of Ontario produced beer the opportunity to see some of the people responsible for making the product.  It has been a while since the LCBO released the OCB dvd so seeing something like this, for this industry, is quite refreshing.... even if it is the "I Am" theme again.

Saturday's CASK! Social Cask List

CASK! Toronto has announced the list of cask ales that will be available at this Saturday's CASK! Social at The Rhino.

From 3pm - 6pm join members of CASK! to sample local real ale, talk beer and have a good time in the company of others.

The Rhino will be pouring beers from:
Great Lakes Lackey's Caskey American Pale Ale
Black Oak Goji Berry
Scotch Irish Corporal Punishment
Durham County ESB

Another New Beer Blog

Jordan St. John is a hell of a nice guy and he is now a hell of a nice guy with a blog.  When TAPS Beer Magazine was looking for volunteers to help out in our booth at Mondial Jordan was one of the first to sign up.  He loves beer, a lot, and he thought helping out in the booth would be a great way to interact with other beer lovers.

On one of those days in Montreal Jordan let it slip that he had started a new blog about beer and he gave it the name, St. John's Wort.  It's a good read with lots of information, and he's posting on a regular basis.  I encourage you to click on the live link and head his way to read some of his older posts.

Welcome Jordan!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Opera Bob's Public House - Toronto, ON

I'll admit it.  Until I received an email message from one of the founders of Opera Bob's Public House on Dundas east of Ossington, I hadn't ever heard of it.  I don't get out to the far west as much as I'd like to, but for someone who prides themselves on trying to keep pace with the beer/pub industry in this city Opera Bob's seemed to have slipped through my fingers.

Will Kopplin, one of the three founders of the pub had emailed a couple of months ago to simply let me know how much enjoys reading my blog.  A follow up email revealed that Opera Bob's is a craft beer friendly establishment and after logging off the computer I made a note to visit the pub sooner than later.  One a beautiful day back in April I stopped in for a pint after work and while I sat quietly at the bar supping on a pint of Wellington County Ale I wondered how I overlooked it for so long.

Where did the name Opera Bob's come from?  Kopplin informed me that one of the founders/owners is an opera singer by the name Robert Pomakov.  That simple.

A nice 'L' shaped wooden bar greets you on the left when you enter which has 10 bar back chairs to accommodate those who prefer to drink at the bar.  The tap handles, that pour beers from Mill Street, Steam Whistle, Wellington's, Stratford, Creemore, Flying Monkey's and Peeler cider, are directly behind the bar and sit atop a brand new Tubular Double Pedestal pass-thru tower.

Opened in 2009, Kopplin and partners decided to go the craft beer route because that's what they found themselves drinking and they recognized the upward trend the craft brewing industry is experiencing in Ontario.  To compliment their focus on local beers the group introduced a new monthly feature - a guest tap that gets selected with input from staff and regulars.  Startford's Pilsner was the guest tap for the month of April and Kopplin already had some thoughts about beers he could feature for the summer months.

The rest of the pub is dressed with a collection of nicknacks like beers posters, music posters, sports memorabilia, old beer bottles and trays, trinkets, pictures of regulars and more.  It is nicely laid out though and doesn't appear too cluttered.

Wooden tables and chairs are weathered and worn, which is exactly what Opera Bob's wanted as it matches their weathered hardwood flooring, barn-board paneling, and the rustic wooden leather clad bench seating.  It does have a feel of a modern day saloon without the mess of spittoons littering the ground.

Kopplin states that Opera Bob's is a real local pub.  A lot of regulars live nearby or work nearby and have pointed out to him that having craft beer has helped attract the younger crowd.  The regulars, Kopplin says, "have made friends with the staff," which I get to witness as a male joins us at the bar and a pint of Mill Street Cobblestone is poured without hesitation or any asking.  The staff know their clientele..... and their beer.

Every so often Kopplin and the rest of the partners bring in a brewer or a brewery representative to do tastings with the staff and any regular who may be present.  Joel Manning, Mill Street's Brewmaster, has paid visits to the pub to tell staff who to appreciate the different brands on tap and who they go with different kinds of food.  Kopplin believes these educational session are not only good for the staff, but for him as well (always encouraging to hear from a publican).

I didn't stick around for any food but I've been told that Opera Bob's have a good selection of pizza's that are prepared in house.  They also have a good selection of sandwiches, a pub staple.  You'll find live music, sporting events on the two televisions, trivia nights, and drink specials throughout the week.  In the warmer months Opera Bob's has a clear garage door that opens up to a small street side patio that attracts sun seeking drinkers.

Good pub with good beer for the adventurous and the beginner.

Opera Bob's Public House
1112 Dundas St. West (1 block east of Ossington)
Toronto, ON 
Hours - 5pm to 2am daily

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beau's New 12 Packs - Wooden Crates


When I was in Montreal for Mondial de la Biere two weeks ago, Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. had a booth slightly beside/behind us, giving us the opportunity to chat over the five day festival.  One of those conversations led to a "what's next at Beau's?" chat and Beau's foot solider, Darren Stevens (a guy who knows how to throw a killer party - his business card says that), told me all about their new 12 Pack wooden crates.

This newest initiative from Beau's is cool.  The cases are made from wood, have handles on both ends, look like old milk crates, and are big enough to fit vinyl records in them when the beer is gone.  They're even stackable.

They will be available at select Beer Stores soon and will retain for $60.  You can get them at Beau's retail store as we speak and if you take the crate back to them when you're done the beer, they'll hand you back $15.  But really, who would return one of these?

I can picture the stiffs at the Beer Store right now, grumbling to each other every time someone orders a case!  Priceless.







Here is a video that has owner, Steve Beauchesne, speaking with /A\ Morning News news last week.

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