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.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Meet the Beer Bloggers - Michael Gurr

Part Nine of the Meet The Ontario Beer Bloggers

Meet Michael Gurr, the man behind the Gurrback Brew Blog.
Gurr describes himself as a regular guy that works at an internet company who homebrews in his spare time. The level 1 Prud'homme graduate started his blog this past October with posts covering a range of beer subjects from interviews with brewery individuals to homebrewing, event listings to tasting notes. His site is nice and clean with a number of great beer photo's.

You can follow him on Twitter at @gurrback

Describe the moment when you first saw the craft beer light?
There wasn't one particular moment. Like most teenagers I indulged in the usual line up of sugary sweet drinks and macro beer. For what ever reason my favourite was MGD. During my freshman year at university I began to explore European imports. I actually saved the cans and proudly displayed them in my apartment! I think this was really the point where I thought, "hey, there's something different out there".

What made you decide to blog about beer?
In the past year I've become focused on making a career out something I actually enjoy. So many people slog away at a 9 to 5 and the best thing they have to look forward to is a cold beer after work. Well I want to talk about beer, make beer, or in some capacity make a living out of that ideal. To me, blogging is an interesting way to meet people, articulate my thoughts and work towards the goal of someday having a real job in the industry.

How long have you been blogging about beer and how long do you think you'll continue?
My blog has been active since October. In that time I've interviewed a few brewers, learned a lot about the beer industry and met some really great people. I would be foolish to make any grandiose statements about the future of my blog, but I can say that I have no plans to abandon this project in the near future.

What has been the biggest change in the Ontario brewing industry since you started blogging?
The biggest change has been the number of breweries that are now selling great beer in Ontario. I'm not just talking about the new guys - Bellwoods, Kensington, Conductors, Indie Ales, etc. - but also the breweries that have until recently been fairly conservative. Flying Monkeys, Muskoka, Amsterdam, Great Lakes, etc. are all moving into a more "experimental" zone, producing one-offs, casks and lots of tasty stuff that didn't exist a few years ago. No need to covet the US scene; collaboration and experimentation is alive and well in our very own province.

If you could change one time about the industry here in Ontario, what would it be?
I'd love to see a relaxation of the LCBO's grip on alcohol distribution. I don't like the idea of a panel of bureaucrats deciding what beer I can drink (although they have been doing a better job lately). It's proven to be a costly method of business that doesn't really benefit the consumer. There has to be a better way.

What beer book would you recommend to someone looking to learn more about beer?
For all the ridiculous "controversy", I'd say the Oxford Companion to Beer. It covers almost everything you need to know about the subject.

When you're not drinking, writing, or out at the pub, what else preoccupies your time?
I'm a big sports fan - mostly hockey and Grand Prix racing - so depending on what season it is I'm glued to the TV. Throughout the summer I'm at my cottage (internet blackout!) with my German Shepherd, swimming and of course indulging in a few cold beverages.

Best beer festival or event you've attended?
Definitely Bar Volo's Cask Days last year. Ralph and the Volo gang do such a great job with the branding, planning and execution of that event. It's hard to remember that 5 or 6 years ago they were just another bar on Yonge Street.

Name your favourite beer blogging experience.
Through my blogging I've had a number of great beer folks reach out and let me tour their facility, taste their beer and talk shop. Craft Beer is such a cool scene! I can't think of any other hobby that is so grass roots, so relaxed and so eager to educate.

Best time for a pint?
With my friends at a local watering hole, tellin' lies and enjoying Ontario craft beer.

1 comment:

marg said...

Great interview. Wishing you both all the success you can handle.Keep up the good work.

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