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, May 3, 2011

Biking Across The Country... And Drinking Good Beer

Reid - about to hit the road again
Yesterday I packed some items into a backpack, dusted off my bicycle, grabbed a raincoat and headed out on Toronto's bike path to meet Graham Reid at the Steam Whistle brewery. It was to be a day of riding around Toronto, drinking some craft beer along the way.

Reid is the young guy behind the TrueCanadianBeers website. Sometime last year the 20 year old decided that he wanted to pedal across our vast country on his father's 1970's bike; nuts, I know! After making up his mind that this was something that he'd actually do, Reid started thinking about ways that he could make his trip a little more unique, a little more fun - visiting Canadian craft breweries and brewpubs is what he came up with.

He was working on a farm in Greece on a work exchange program and his father sent him a copy of the fall issue of TAPS The Beer Magazine, which helped shape his goal. Upon coming back to Canada, Reid, who once biked from Canada to Mexico, started contacting various breweries and whipped up a website (which is only temporary, he has another website that will be launching after his trip that will include video's, interviews with brewers, and more) and mapping out his travels.

Six weeks ago he started the journey in Halifax, stopping at Garrison, Propeller, Granite, Rouge's Roost and Hart and Thistle. Next it was New Brunswick with stops at Picaroons and Pump House. In Quebec he visited Dieu du Ciel, Benelux, La Barberie and more, and yesterday he was in Toronto where I joined him on the bike on behalf of TAPS. We wanted to make sure that he had a good experience and got good face time at certain breweries.

Our first stop was Steam Whistle, a brewery he is very familiar with. Reid stated that Steam Whistle was the beer that made him realize that beer has flavour and it set him off on a quest to try as many different beers as he could. We chatted with Sybil Taylor, who took Reid on a personal brewery tour and Steam Whistle graciously provided him with his very own Steam Whistle biking shirt.

After a short trip across Front to Bathurst we were at the Amsterdam brewery. We were treated to a number of samples, including Amsterdam's new Imperial Stout (!) and another personal brewery tour. After a brief interview with Amsterdam's Marketing manager, Blake van Delft, we set off for the 9km ride to Great Lakes in Etobicoke.

Checking out Steam Whistle's system
David Bieman was there to greet us when we finally made it. Reid barely broke a sweat. I on the other hand was exhausted and starting to wish my seat was a little more forgiving...

Reid interviewed Bieman, getting answers about the products brewed at Great Lakes and the history of the brewery. Mike Lackey, Great Lakes pilot brewer, ushered us into the brewhouse for a quick tour and taste. We sampled the Crazy Canuck while we strolled through the entire brewery.

By this time we were both quite hungry. It was decided that a trip to Bryden's was in order but climbing into the front seat of the Great Lakes hearse sounded better than biking, so we hitched a ride to the west end pub where we had some lunch and drinks with Lackey and John Graham, sales rep with Muskoka Cottage Brewery.

With bellies full of food and beer, it was time to say goodbye. I headed back home on the bike (sore today I'll tell ya) and Reid headed his way, getting ready for the next leg of his travels - west.

Check out his twitter account @truecanadianbeer and his website

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