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, March 31, 2008

The After Work Beer

Today was a miserable day here in Toronto and all I could think about was coming home, sitting in my chair and popping the top of a Propeller IPA.

Now I know some people reading this might say to themselves, "thinking about beer all day long at work?" alcoholic! On the contrary....I just appreciate ending my work day with a top notch ale while engage in pleasant conversation with my fiance.

This particular Propeller IPA has sat in a cellar at my childhood home for the past six months, so I didn't know what to expect.

A strong hop presence still, bitter yet mellow, still delicious and quaffable. A great English style IPA. Although it has only been six months, it aged extremely well.

Sometimes in life, the Gods smile upon you, and tonight the beer gods were smiling down at me. A beer at the end of a long rainy day is just want the doctor ordered today!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Great Lakes Brewery: Orange Peel Ale

Great Lakes Brewery has recently released their seasonal 'Orange Peel Ale', a sign summer is inching closer. It will be available at select pubs and restaurants in the upcoming weeks and bottles can be purchased from their brewery's retail store before hitting LCBO shelves in late May.

John Bowden from Great Lakes:
Pouring a beautiful copper colour, it boasts a subtle aroma of orange (a touch more than last year) that carries through in the flavour with a pleasant bitterness in the finish. We think it’s the perfect beer for the warm weather, especially on a patio (which isn’t that far off!)

Bottles are now available at our brewery, and it should be on tap at a number of familiar licensees in the coming days and weeks. The LCBO will also be carrying bottles in late May as part of their Summer Beer Release, but until then, you can only get it directly from us
So why not get a head start on the Orange Peel Ale by visiting the brewery to pick up a few. You might as well enjoy a brewery tour while there and try some of the other beers Great Lakes produces.

Cameron's Brewing Co: Cask Night

Finally! I finally got out of the office a little early, to head down the QEW to Oakville to partake in Cameron's monthly cask night. I have been trying to get there for many, many months, but the logistics didn't work out for me. Luckily, I was able to catch a ride with another TAPS media member as they were shooting another video podcast on the event.

We got to Cameron's around 5:15pm and were greeted at the door by marketing/sales/promotions guru Mike Laba, who was quick to provide us with a fresh Cameron's Dark 266, the best beer in their line-up in my humble opinion. We did a quick tour of their retail area, where I was very tempted to get a shirt with their famous tag line "Brewed by a connoisseur, not an accountant," and then proceeded to tour the brewing area. Jason Ellesmere (sales, marketing), Jon Graham (Toronto sales, beer dude), Jason Britton (brew master), Adam (brewer) and others from the brewery were all there to welcome everyone to the event.

For those that might not be familiar with the cask nights, Cameron's brews up a special cask of beer, usually infused with different ingredients (lots of hops or a combination of hops, fruits, high alcohol content etc) and opens the doors to the brewery for fans and newbies alike. Food is donated by Whole Food Markets Oakville and from what I tasted, it is delicious.

Well I got lucky (not in that sense), but Adam used the Dark 266 as the base for this latest creation and threw in some vanilla laced oak sticks, sour organic cherries and finished it with Czech Saaz and Hallertau dry hopping. It was delicious. Something that I would love to see on tap at pub and something I think others would welcome as well. Everyone in attendance that I spoke with had glowing reviews of it, including two University students who have never had cask beer before. The smell was fruity from the cherries, and flowery from the hops, almost ice tea like aromas. The vanilla wasn't very prevalent in the nose, but it was picked up in the aftertaste after tipping the glass. A very complex beer. Oh, and Canada's Pub Guy and TAPS media member Bill Perrie, was honoured when asked to tap the cask and to officially start the night.

Great Lakes Brewing News New York Governor Steve Hodos and Pepperwood Brewer Paul Dickey made an appearance and agreed to a video interview. The pair both praised the beer and Mr. Hodos had some great things to say about Ontario brewers. I also got into a good discussion with Graham about the culture surrounding beer geeks, or as Alan over at A Good Beer Blog likes to be called, beer nerds.

The event was well attended, the beer and food were great and the hosts were outstanding. The night was a complete success and I look forward to attending more in the future (if I can escape the confines of the office).

Check out their for pictures, comments and videos. Also, check out the Cameron's Blog link I've added to my blogroll.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

C'est What Stout/Porter Blind Tasting

I have been a little busy this week, hence the lack of posts here on the blog. Wednesday night I attended C'est What for the Stout/Porter Blind Tasting, Thursday night I headed over to Cameron's Brewing Co. for their monthly cask night, and last night I showed some out of town friends the Mill Street brew pub and had beers high atop the CN tower. Throw my paying job into the mix and you can realize why I haven't sat down at the computer and typed away.

So, Wednesday night I was down at C'est What for the tasting with a crew from TAPS: Canada's Beer Magazine, to film a video podcast. This is something that TAPS is very interested in continuing, as it helps raise the profile of local beer events and breweries. George Milbrandt, publican of C'est What, was interviewed before the sold out crowd arrived and spoke on the history of the pub and what was in store for the night. He was very receptive and spoke eloquently about the local beer being produced here in Ontario.

The tasting got underway just after 7pm, as George and Brenda carried out trays with the samples in unmarked small glasses. Each participant was provided with a blank scoring sheet to rate the beer and also to name the beer they thought they were trying. Although the names of the beers were posted on Bar Towel, nobody seemed to remember to bring a list, and C'est What didn't provide any to the participants, which made the naming of the beers that much harder.

One by one trays were brought out and glasses were swirled, the aroma's were taken in, and the conversation revolved around the liquid. The TAPS crew walked around interviewing participants to gauge their thoughts on the sample and to see if they knew what they were tasting. Every person we spoke to was happy to take the time, which pleased us, but Cass from Bar Towel seemed to think the camera crew was a bit distracting, which wasn't the intention. Nonetheless, everyone had a great time.

The beer was the best part of the night though, as you can imagine. The final list included:
C’est What Coffee Porter
Mill Street Coffee Porter
C’est What Chocolate Ale
Church-Key Chocolate Porter
Black Oak Double Chocolate Double Cherry Stout (special edition cask)
Neustadt Big Dog Extra-Aged Porter (special edition cask)
Heritage Black Irish Porter
Fullers London Porter
Guinness Stout
Hockley Stout
St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout
Wellington Imperial Stout (cask)
Amsterdam Two-fisted Stout
Durham Blak Katt Stout
Nickel Brook Maple Porter

I would love to had said that I sampled and tested every one, but because I was busy with the podcast, I stuck to pints all night (which made it hard to speak to the camera at the end of the night).

I thoroughly enjoy going to events like this as you get to run into other beer drinkers and bloggers and get to chat about the industry. Greg Clow and his wife Cheryl, Mirella Amato, Cass Enright, Bill George (BJCP-LCBO), Jon Graham, the Roland and Russell team and a few Bar Towlers, made the night fly by with terrific conversation. And no matter what the pundits say about C'est What, it is a terrific place for a quality pint and good times.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Crow's Nest Pub: Newmarket, ON

Sunday was a beautiful day to hop in the car and go for a drive out of the city, a great day to go back to the village I grew up in. It was also a great opportunity to get out and enjoy a nice local country pub, and I found one in Newmarket, ON, just 30 mins out of Toronto.

The Crow's Nest pub is located on a quiet residential side street, tucked away beside a small ravine and hidden from the construction boom taking place in Newmarket. The building is ordinary in itself, but there is something 'fairy tale' about it. Could be the brick structure with the yellow facade, the traditional English pubs sign hanging over the entrance or the water situated near by, whatever it was I immediately felt I'd found a good pub. The building has played host to pubs for close to twenty years, 9 to the Crow's Nest and prior to that, the Pirate's Cove.

The smell of food hit me the minute I walked through the door and that 'pub' smell was lingering in the air. I just love that smell. The Crow's Nest features a large open concept where you can see one side of the dining room from the other. Wooden pillars and beams are situated throughout the area among many wooden tables, chairs and plush maroon coloured benches. The floor is comprised of old weathered hardwood with a mix of green and red carpeting. I always like carpeting in a pub, it provides a feeling of comfort while adding a touch of simplicity.

There are two sides to choose from when deciding where to sit: the left side of the entrance is more of a casual dining area and the right side is where you'll find the bar. On the left side there are a couple floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a glimpse out to the water. There is also a gas fireplace that comes on during the cold days and nights of winter. The ceiling in this area has been left exposed and the wooden beams are adorned with various knick knacks, like old liquor and beer bottles, tin cans, swords, medieval tools, and other various items.

The rest of the pub has old Scottish prints hung on the walls and wacky cartoons in the bathroom (where the bartender points out that some people often take longer than normal to re-appear at the bar). The front entrance also has numerous local newspaper clippings that give each customer a brief history lesson on Newmarket.

The bar is situated on the right side and is in the shape of a capital 'L'. The solid wood bar is nicely decorated with brass railings and wire glass racks along with 10 bar back stools. So what's on tap? Well, nothing outstanding, but enough to get started. Inbev products, Diego products, Molson-Coors and one Ontario Craft Brew in Waterloo Dark. I noticed the menu listed Fuller's ESB, but unfortunately is was no longer available. Our social bartender also stated that London Pride was on tap months ago, but suffered the same fate as the ESB. I settled for a Waterloo Dark and it was pleasant with our beef nachos. Behind the bar are a number of various dollar bills donated by friendly customers over the years along with a number of beer signage and posters.

There is an older gentleman sitting at the bar reading the paper and sipping his beer and that's when I noticed that there is no tv in the entire pub!! I tell the bartender how much I respect pubs that can get away with no having one and she mentions that she has never heard a complaint. The oldies music is at a good level and pleasant on a early Sunday afternoon.

Because of the location of the pub, the Crow's Nest has to abide by noise regulations. So there is no patio and no live bands. They bring in some local musician's now and then for special events, but they mainly attract customers with good food and the ambiance of the extended family room. It is a pub suited for everyone. Families coming straight from Church, young couples shaking off a hangover by licking the hair of the dog that bit them, and the elderly reading the paper with a Guinness; it's a nice blend of demographics.

The Crow's Nest is a good pub for an afternoon with a good book or for good conversation with friends, although it could benefit from adding a couple more local, interesting beers. If I lived in the area, the Crow's Nest would make a good local.
"There's no place like this place, near this place, so this is the place"
A quote stenciled on the staff's shirts.

Ontario. L3Y 3T3
Phone: - Fax :
Mon-Thurs: 11am 11pm
Fri-Sat: 11am - 11:30pm
Sun: 11am - 10pm

Monday, March 24, 2008

Just here for a Pint...or pints

Nova Scotia has changed on of their quirkiest liquor laws, set sometimes in the 1930's (they're really not sure when) as they removed the rule that you must spend more money on food than pints on Good Friday. Sound weird? It was.

From my understanding of the law, customers wishing to have a couple of pints at a local pub on Good Friday had to spend more money on food than the price of the pints. So, two Propeller's cost you $10, you had to spend over $10 on food. No thanks. Imagine if this was the case at every place you went, everyday of the week? I enjoy going into a pub to knock back a couple by myself with a good book or good conversation and I usually don't want to eat. I would be even more strapped for cash if that was the case.

Read the original article here from the Globe and Mail.

New Brew Pub in Nova Scotia: Port Pub&Bistro

There is a new brew pub in Port William, NS serving up a variety of beers crafted by head brewer Randy Lawrence.

*I was mistaken - the pub is in Port Williams, a few towns over from Kentville and across the bridge out of Wolfville.**

Back to the Port Pub and Bistro. In 2004, three local couples were having dinner when the idea of opening their own pub came up, as they perceived the town was lacking in this department. After rounding up investors from the area and others from as far away as South Africa, France and England, the couples purchased some land and set to work planning out the building's layout. Just over a year ago the land was bare, now a large brew pub occupies the site and is gaining accolades faster than expected.

Lawrence brews a number of beers for the pub, which are given names to symbolize life in the Maritimes. Port of the Storm porter, described on the website as "a smooth tasting ale has a roasted malt flavour with hints of chocolate and coffee. The initial sweetness is complimented by a judicious amount of English hops," certainly sounds delicious, and the Moondance Organic Lager claims to be Nova Scotia's first organic.

The owners expected to attract 75 persons per day upon opening, but they've averaged over 200 and served over 16,00 in the last two months. The owners are very proud of the fact that they've helped employ many locals as the brew pub created 36 full and part time jobs.

So next time you visit the beautiful Annapolis Valley, make sure to head over the the Port Pub and indulge in a fresh craft brew.

National Post on US Craft Beers Coming to LCBO

It's always fun waking up to see 'new' beer news in the press, and even better when it has to do with the good stuff and not about Bud Light gaining 2% of the market or something to that extent.

No, today's article in the National Post; featuring quotes from Bar Towel founder Cass Enright, and Chris Layton from the LCBO's Media Relations division, was and is definitely worth the read.

They touched on the sales for Rogue Brutal Bitter, a beer from Portland, Oregon which recently found a home on the LCBO's shelves. Enright hit the nail on the head when he mentioned that "Canadian's don't know what their missing," in regards to the breweries just across the border and the terrific beers they brew. Well, lately the LCBO has been trying to do something about this for the drinkers of Ontario. Over the next two months they will be rolling out four additional US craft brews (suspected to be Southern Tier and Dogfish Head and ......wait and see).

I am a adamant supporter of the Ontario craft brewers and I always will, but I think most beer lovers will agree with me when I say that Ontario is still in it's infancy compared to the brews being made south of the border with the exception of some.

So drink up while they're here. And the Rogue Brutal Bitter is definitely worth your attention.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Roland & Russell Southern Tier Launch

As I mentioned earlier in a previous post, Southern Tier IPA from the Southern Tier Brewery in Lakewood NY, will be making an appearance at select LCBO stores very shortly.

I recently received an email from the Roland and Russell import agency, who confirmed that Southern Tier owner Phin DeMink will be making two appearances in Toronto to launch the IPA's debut.

On Friday, April 25th, The Academy of Spherical Arts (1 Snooker Street) will host a sit down Beer Dinner with the Roland & Russell team and DeMink. Ticket prices have yet to be finalized. Stay tuned for details as they are announced.

There will also be a more casual “meet & greet” with DeMink on Saturday, April 26th at Volo. Again, time to be announced at a later date.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Easter Monday at The Abbot on the Hill

On March 7th, I headed over to the Summerhill LCBO to visit the Roland and Russell team, as they poured samples of Urbock 23 and chatted with interested customers. They even gave me a bottle of Gouden Caroule Easter Beer, which has a great label.

The owners of the Abbot on the Hill were also there handing out some delicious appetizers and handing out menu's to their wonderful gastropub. I got talking with Adam (1 of the owners) about the Easter menu they are preparing and last night he emailed me a copy and a brief update on what's happening on the Hill.

- We are launching Abbot Ale on draft soon and have exclusive rights to it in Toronto

- We are Officialy launching Bavaria for Premier Brands and have a Three course dinner lined up in mid April where a representative from the Bavaria Brewery will be speaking about Bavaria, Le Trappe , and last but not least the La Trappe Bock. This Bock is the only trappist bock in existence and it is the 1st time in the western hemisphere. There will only be one keg of the Bock and then its gone.

For those that have visited the Hill, you know how well they pair their food with beer, so it's no surprise how fabulous this menu sounds. For those that haven't made it there yet, it is definitely worth a visit. The food is great, the beer is fresh and unique and the servers are both very knowledgeable and friendly.

Here is the five course Easter Monday Menu:
There will be seatings at 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM, and the cost is $65. Call to reserve.
A Belgium one of a kind. Brewed to honour two powerful founding women from the town of Mechelen.

Seared sea scallops
Frissee salad
Lime chilli dressing

St Martin Blonde
The epitome of true abbey ale.

Smoked salmon stuffed cucumber
Gazpacho drizzle

St Martin Brune
The darker more mature sibling to the St Martin Blonde

Gorgonzola and brie cheesecake
Raisin puree

Gouden Caroule Easter Beer
Bold lemony, with a rich and creamy head. Only 2000 cases are made a year.

Rabbit fricassee
Apricot preserves
Spiced pecans

Exclusive to Abbot on the Hill. Fruity and jammy with the perfect combination of sweet and tart attributes.

Battered banana & homemade cider ice cream

Brewer Opposed to Monopoly on Barley

Here is a letter sent from Ontario brewer Charles Maclean, of F & M brewery, to the editor of the Owen Sound Sun Times paper.

I am an end-user of barley and have been a longtime foe of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on western barley.

As a brewmaster, I like to use malted barley and hops appropriate for the style of beer that I am brewing. The Canadian Wheat Board has made it difficult to import European malted barley. I am also in the forefront of reviving the Ontario malting barley situation in at least a small way as well as Ontario hops. I have grown small quantities of both on my small farm in Grey County. I am in the process of starting a small craft brewery on my farm.

Grant Robertson's column on the wheat board is a very biased political hatchet job on the best government that we have ever had in Canada. He should stick to the facts.

The Federal Appeals Court decision against the government is yet another decision by interventionist justices, not justice. I am a free marketer opposed to monopolies.

We have two to deal with in my industry, one a foreign-owned private monopoly and the other the provincial government owned monopoly.

Charles Maclean

Good on ya Charles for voicing your concerns. Keep fighting the good fight. Is it just me, or do brewers have to jump through a lot of hoops at every avenue?

The Brewers Plate

Green Enterprise Toronto, Local Food Plus and Slow Food Toronto present:

A Local, Sustainable Spring Feast Celebrating
Independent Brewers, Chefs and Food Artisans

What does a great local feast look like in early April in southern Ontario? Artisanal cheeses, breads, and sausages, roasts and stews of wild game and root vegetables, local greenhouse produce, pickles and preserves of every description, fruit pies, and of course, libations from our great local breweries.

Friday, April 11, 6:30 to midnight, The Berkeley Church, 315 Queen Street East
Featuring finely crafted beers from Black Oak, Cameron’s, Church-Key, Mill Street, Steam Whistle, and Wellington. To compliment dishes from Cowbell, Gladstone Hotel, Jamie Kennedy Kitchens, La Palette, The Rebel House,and Veritas as well as variety of individual food artisans and live jazz bands.
$150.00+GST per ticket.

We expect a sellout crowd of 300. To reserve tickets with VISA/MC call

This first annual event celebrates slow food, local-sustainable food and farming, and import substitution in the winter/spring season in the Toronto region. The event also supports the work of Green Enterprise Toronto

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

**GREG NASH No Longer with Garrison Brewery**

As I sat at my computer desk last night typing out the profile of Garrison's new Winter Weizenbock, I was thinking and writing about how Greg Nash, the brew master at Garrison's, was producing some fantastic beers out on the East Coast.

This morning I received a comment on the blog from a reader named 'jeremy' who stated that a rumour is circulating around Halifax that Nash is no longer with the company - a fall out with ownership. I contacted the brewery and got the bad news I was hoping wasn't true - Nash is gone. I couldn't obtain any details about the development, but I was told that yesterday was his last day.

Here's hoping that the brewer of the Canadian Beer of the Year, will catch on somewhere real soon in order to keep pumping out excellent beers.

Nash -if your reading this, head west on the 401 and stop in Ontario.

****Follow up: I spoke with Garrison Brewery Owner Brian Titus over the phone, and he too confirmed the rumour. While he didn't divulge all the news, he did state that Nash was the "best brewer Garrison ever had" and he will be missed. When asked about the seasonals and one offs that have been well received, Titus confirmed that new brew master Daniel Girard would continue to produce the Imperial Pale and would also look into creating others. Girard comes from New Brunswick's Pumphouse Brewery and has a brewing background from Germany and China. "He is very professional, has loads of experience operating breweries and was with Pumphouse when they were winning all the awards," stated Titus. "Garrison plans to see a 40% increase in sales this summer, so right now were busy gearing up for that".

****Follow up: I also spoke with Nash today, and while he is disappointed in the direction the brewery decided to go, he has his head up and he strongly stated that he will continue to brew beer somewhere. "I haven't decided the direction of the next chapter of my life as yet, however it will definitely involve making good beer. Now who needs a brewer?!" It wasn't just Nash that left, a group of guys followed him out the door, "the rest of my assembled brewing team quit as of 10a.m. today too", stated Nash.

April's Session Topic Announced

Beer people: The best folks known to mankind. Well, maybe in my opinion.

Stonch, who is hosting the next Session, has recently announced that the April topic will be on beer people.

On Friday 4th April, the date of the next Session, I'd like you to write about people. Choose someone you know personally. That person might be a brewer, a publican, someone who sups at your local, or maybe just a friend who is passionate about beer. Let's read some pen portraits of your companions on the path to fermented enlightenment.

I have a lot of these people to choose from as I do a fair amount of drinking in pubs in the company of others. While I do like to crack open a 'new' beer at home, sometimes it just doesn't taste as good as when its shared with others.

I am really looking forward to this session, I just hope I can keep the length of my submission from reaching 10 pages. Great topic Stonch!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Garrison Winter Weizenbock Unfiltered Ale

It seems that Greg Nash, Garrison Brewery's brew master, is on a mission. Since joining Garrison's after years of brewing away from his native province of Nova Scotia, Nash has brought much needed respect and credibility back to the brewery with his ever changing array of beers.

Over the last seven months we have noticed a difference in Garrison's house beers, like the Nut Brown and the Red Irish Amber. Nash thought each needed just a little tweaking to raise them over the bar and the Nut Brown went on to win a silver and the Red Irish went on to win a bronze at the Canadian Brewing Awards. He has created Canada's beer of the year with the Imperial Pale Ale and surprised many beer drinkers with his delicious version of an Imperial Rauch Schwartzbier Black Lager. He is starting to gain a reputation as a brave brewer, brewing things in Halifax that haven't really been done here in Ontario, a province with a population that far exceeds Nova Scotia.

Well, Nash has done it again. He has brewed another beer that is turning heads in the brewing industry.

Back in January, I spoke with Nash over the phone and he promised me something new was in the works at the brewery, but he wouldn't divulge any secrets. But now, after two months of cold conditioning, Garrison has just recently released their newest seasonal - Winter Weizenbock Unfiltered Ale.

"I've been brewing Weizens for a long time since it's one of my favorite
styles, it's unique to this area too, so that made it an easy decision
for our next seasonal," stated Nash upon the release.

The Unfiltered Weizenbock comes in a 500ml bottle with a pop off cap, which is also unique for the Halifax area as 341ml twist off bottles dominate the market. It weighs in at 6.7% with an IBU rating of 23 and pours a lovely dark amber colour with a big, fat, white puffy head that lasts and lasts. As soon as the cap comes off and the beer is poured, the smell of banana and clove seep into the room and attack my senses. Nash states that the Weihenstephan yeast strain he used caused the terrific aroma and also provides the citrusy dry bite.

I always taste bubblegum whenever I drink a German wheat and its no different with the Weizenbock. But joining in on the fun was a clovey, peppery bite with a nice warming alcohol effect and a small sharp hop presence (Fuggles). There is a lot going on in the taste, and with each new sip something else seems to stand-out.

There is something about German wheat beers that I have come to adore and I think its safe to say that Garrison's Weizenbock can now rank amongst my favourites, joining Denison's, Schneider Aventinus, and Hackor-Pschorr Dunkel. This is a beer that would go great with a chinese meal or a nice fat mushroom and egg omelette. I even like this beer with spicy foods as the spritziness acts as a great palate cleanser and seems to numb the spices in the food.

A well rounded beer that stands up to the others Nash has brewed since joining Garrison's. For those lucky enough to get their hands on some, hold on tight, its going fast.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

OCB St. Patty's Day Recipe #4

One day to go, so this will be the last posting on the OCB's St. Patty's Day recipes and it sounds like a beauty. I hope that everyone enjoyed reading this recipes and found them useful for future kitchen endeavours. I know I have. Next week I'll get out to a new pub and get a profile up asap, as well, I have a Garrison's Winter Weizenbock to try, which I expect to be fabulous.

Monkfish & Pancetta Stew with Old Credit Amber Ale, Root Vegetables, Meyer Lemon and Escarole
Looking for a new way to spice up an old winter classic? The Ontario Craft Brewer’s have just the thing. This monkfish & pancetta stew made with Old Credit Amber Ale will have your guests thinking about stew in a whole new way. Visit for more delicious recipes made with premium craft beers brewed right here in Ontario.

2 ½ lbs. monkfish, 1 ½ inch pieces
2 Tsp. pure olive oil
1 Tsp unsalted butter
100 grams pancetta, ½ inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves
4 ½ Tsp. flour
1 Meyer Lemon, juiced (or ½ lemon)
½ bottle Old Credit Amber Ale
2 ½ Cup stock (chicken, fish)
1 parsnip, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
¼ Cup heavy cream
½ head escarole, washed and roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper

Heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat in a medium size pot. Season fish with salt and pepper and dust with 1 ½ Tsp. flour. Brown fish in the pot on all sides, trying not to cook all the way through. Remove fish from the pan, sauté bacon for 5 minutes, and then add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, sauté for 5 minutes and add remainder of flour. Cook flour with vegetables for 3 minutes and then deglaze with Meyer lemon juice, beer and stock. Bring liquid to a boil and simmer for five minutes.

Add parsnip and sweet potato to the liquid and cook until they are both tender, approximately 10 minutes. Add heavy cream and escarole and simmer until escarole is slightly wilted. Place monkfish back into the pot, cover with a lid and turn heat to low. Cook for five minutes until monkfish is cooked through. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed

Friday, March 14, 2008

OCB St. Patty's Day Recipe #3

Only three days to go until people ruin their beers by adding green food colouring, which I'm sure drive the people of Ireland bonkers! Yes, I said bonkers.

Here is the third recipe created by Chef Ezra Title in conjunction with the Ontario Craft Brewers.

Irish Stew with Brick’s Waterloo Dark, Black Trumpet Mushrooms & Fingerling Potatoes

2 ½ lbs. lamb shoulder, 1 inch cubes
2 Tsp. pure olive oil
1 Tsp. unsalted butter
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves
2 Tsp. flour
¼ Cup white wine
1 bottle Waterloo Dark beer
3 Cups stock (chicken, lamb)
10 fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
½ lb. black trumpet mushrooms, trimmed & washed
2 Tsp. Crème Fraiche
1 Tsp. prepared horseradish
Salt & Pepper

Heat the olive oil and butter on medium high heat in a medium size pot, season the lamb with salt and pepper and brown the lamb on all sides. Remove the lamb and sauté the onions, carrots, celery and garlic on medium heat. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper, add the flour and continue cooking for 3 minutes.

Deglaze the pot with the white wine and reduce by three quarters. Add the beer, bring it to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Place the lamb back into the pot, cover with chicken stock and cook until lamb is extremely tender, approximately 45 minutes.

Add fingerling potatoes to the pot and cook until they are tender, another 20-25 minutes. Saute the black trumpet mushrooms in a separate pan and add them to the pot. Stir in the crème fraiche and horseradish and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mill Street Video Podcast: Featuring......

Back on February 13th, I had the opportunity to join some of the TAPS media team down at the Mill Street brew pub, in the historic distillery district, to film a short video podcast with brew-master Joel Manning.

We walked through the brew house, sampled and discussed the newest Barley Wine (which was brewed in January-for release next winter) and the 2007 Canadian Brewing Awards Gold medal winner Frambozen. Manning discussed what you should smell and taste in the beers, on top of explaining some of the brewing methods.

Before my part in the podcast, TAPS interviewed one of the original owners, Steve Abrams, as he took them on a tour of the brew pub and spoke about the history of the company.

It was a good day and the final product looks amazing. You can download the video by visiting the TAPS media website and clicking on the podcast icon, or you can visit the TAPS podcast blog site. Check it out, leave some comments, and remember, this was my first official time in front of a camera. I will improve!!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

OCB Podcast

Last evening I sat down with Michelle Book from Fleishman-Hillard, a marketing and communications firm that represents the Ontario Craft Brewers. They are the people behind the scenes of the OCB Blog site and they put together the podcasts that keep us entertained during our working hours.

We talked about how I got into writing about beer and pubs, here on this blog and for TAPS: Canada's Beer Magazine. I also talked about where I think the Ontario brewing industry is headed, what I hope to see in the future and beer and food pairings. Michelle was a great host who asked some good questions that had my scratching my head. The OCB Podcasts are great as you get to learn a little more about some of the people involved in the Ontario market. The blog is great as well, but more breweries have to get involved.

After the taping was complete and I was on my way home, I started to think about all the breweries I failed to mention. Ontario really does feature some great brewers that we take for granted because they are right here in our backyard. I felt good thinking about how much Ontarians are starting to embrace the local breweries and how beer is starting to get more and more recognition.

The podcast should be posted on the OCB site in two weeks, so stay tuned for that. Not sure how I'll come across, but one thing's for sure, I'll be listening to it while drinking a local beer.


Two More Beauties From the East

Propeller Revolution Imperial Stout and Propeller Pilsner

I should have received these two treats last week, but it turns out Purolator couldn’t park on my street. Then the package was broken? I hope the boys in the warehouse enjoyed these beers. But not to worry! Another package was sent right away and here I am writing about how much I enjoyed them.

Everyone knows Catherine the Great right? Fat lady, Russian Czar Court? Well, the story has it that Catherine paid a visit to England and fell head over heels in love with porter’s and stout’s and demanded some be sent back to her castle. But while on the voyage back to the Baltic ports, the beer spoiled leaving poor Catherine very upset. Her tantrums lead to the Barclay brewery of London experimenting with different gravity levels, which resulted in a strong stout at 10.5%. The beer was able to make the long journey and was an instant success with the wealthy Russians, who would later refer to it as Russian Stout.

Hundreds of yeas later, I sit in my apartment drinking one of Canada’s best, in Propeller’s Revolution Russian Imperial Stout. Brewed as a seasonal offering for consumption in the long cold days of the Canadian winter, the RIS is simply terrific. Listed at 8%, the RIS pours a thick black colour resembling a thin tar. After a brief swirl, I start noticing the smell of sweet Christmas cake and molasses along with small hints of real dark chocolate, black licorice and the alcohol.

With the first drink comes the numbing effect of the alcohol after a long day at work. It touches the gums and creates a small tingling sensation before giving way to the real taste of the stout. For such a full bodied beer, it goes down relatively easy and is quite refreshing. Dark nutty chocolate, coffee, molasses and licorice stand out in the taste. I had my fair share or RIS last winter while I was living in Halifax and it tasted exactly how I remembered it. It goes great with a good book on a cold night, making it a great digestif beer.

Also included in the package from my buddies at Propeller was their newest creation Propeller Pilsner. Propeller started brewing the Pilsner this winter and introduced it just before Christmas. Normally the winter months are reserved for winter warmers, not pilsners, but Propeller wanted to add another beer that could be enjoyed by everyone during the winter holidays.

The beer pours a golden pale colour out of the 341ml bottle and produces a small head that leaves behind small while lacing around the glass. It was bottled last Monday, so it was nice and fresh when I cracked it open. The aroma was very similar to any other Bohemian style pils, but I also picked up a leafy aroma. The pilsner had a nice spiciness with a dry finish thanks to the Saaz hops used in the brew. Unlike some other pilsners, this one had some good flavour and I imagine it will do very well for Propeller, who have developed quite a name for themselves with their English IPA, ESB, London Porter and the RIS. I would place this beer in a category with King’s pilsner and F&M’s Stonehammer pilsner.

Two quality beers from a highly respected brewery, not bad for a Tuesday night tasting.

Monday, March 10, 2008

C'est What's Blind Stout/Porter Tasting: March 26th

Stouts and Porters Tasting

Last Thursday evening I had the pleasure of running into Cass Enright (the founder of Bar Towel) at Beer Bistro and he mentioned an event he was putting together with C'est What publican George Milbrandt. A blind stout and porter tasting, a week past St. Patricks Day, will take place in the fabled C'est What pub and should be a terrific time for any stout/porter lover.

Here are the details straight from C'est What's website.
Come over to the dark side and join us for a tasting of black beers. An international field of at least ten brews will be tasted "blind." There will be door prizes for those who fare well at guessing the identity of these shadowy samples. Details will be released as they are confirmed.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 7:00 PM
C'est What, . at Church
Doors Open: 5:00 PM
Convenience Charge: $1.00 per ticket.
Tickets Available: Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I'll post more information once it's available, but buy your tickets before their gone. See you on the dark side!!

OCB St. Patty's Day Recipe #2

1 week to go until everyone pretends to be Irish for the day and drinks copious amounts of Guinness. I will be staying home and preparing a bunch of these recipes instead, while enjoying some Ontario Craft Beers. Instead of Guinness try Black Oak's Double Chocolate Cherry Stout, or a Hockley Stout. If you have some Johy By Imperial Stout kicking around, drink that.

Here is the second recipe created by Chef Ezra Title in partnership with the OCB and it sounds like a beauty.

Cameron’s Cream Ale Butterscotch Pudding
¾ Cup sugar
1 bottle Cameron’s Cream Ale
¼ Cup heavy cream
½ Cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/3 Cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
3 Cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
¼ Cup unsalted butter, room temp. & small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Cup heavy cream
2 Tsp sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract


Place sugar and ¼ Cup of Cream Ale in a small pot together. Turn heat to medium and simmer until liquid begins to thicken and colour begins to form. Swirl pan, spreading the light amber caramel to other areas of the pot and then remove from the heat. Add ¼ Cup of cream (be careful as mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until smooth and set aside.

Mix brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and boils, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in caramel sauce.

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk 1 cup of caramel mixture into yolks and slowly whisk tempered yolk mixture back into caramel in the saucepan. Turn heat to low and cook mixture for approximately ten minutes, continuously stirring until it thickens considerably. Remove pudding from heat and gradually whisk in the butter and vanilla. Divide pudding among 8 small beer glasses or parfait glasses and place in the refrigerator to cool.

Reduce remainder of the beer in a small pot until it is a thick syrup, about 1 Tablespoon. Whip 1 Cup of cream with sugar and vanilla. Stir in beer syrup and top each glass of pudding with whipped cream.

This recipe was developed for the Ontario Craft Brewers by chef Ezra Title of Chez Vous Dining. Chef Title has learned classical French techniques under some of the most highly accomplished chefs in North America. Ezra’s passion for using local ingredients when cooking makes him a natural partner for the Ontario Craft Brewers.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Session #13: Organic Beers

A couple of months ago, I was sharing a conversation with fellow Canadian beer writer Stephen Beaumont over a couple of pints, and he suggested that I should think about joining the ‘Session’. The Session is a monthly occurrence that brings beer bloggers from all parts of the globe together to write about a chosen subject.

This month, Chris O’Brien from Beer Activist, has chosen ‘Organic Beers’ as the subject and I thought it would be a good time to join in on the fun.

Here in Toronto, everyone knows about Mill Streets Organic Lager. The small clear bottles (not for much longer), with a clean smooth taste, has been one of Mill Street’s bread and butter beers. Because they are so well known, I thought I would get my hands on another Organic product. But in doing some research, I discovered that the only organic beer in Ontario belongs to Mill Street. I remembered trying a sample of an organic beer from British Columbia at the Canadian Brewing Awards so I contacted the Pacific Western Brewery in Prince George, BC and got their Natureland Organic Amber and their Natureland Organic Lager.

Pacific Western was established in 1957 under the name Caribou Brewing. The brewery’s website claims that PWB is an innovative brewery with a long list of firsts in the industry such as: first canned beer in BC, first brewery operated beer store in BC, and first certified organic lager in Canada.

I started off with the lager. First brewed and certified in 1997, the lager pours a bright golden colour with a thick white foam head. The head didn’t want to leave, but I was anxious to get to the taste. I got a nice earthy aroma, fresh cut hay, cereal biscuity and a tiny hop presence. The smell brought back memories of allergy season back on the farm. The taste: nice and smooth, mild carbonation gave way to a clean mouthful and a small bittering effect in the follow through. Brewed with 100% two row malt, 100% organic hallertrau hops and pure spring water that is sourced through a certified organic process; the Natureland Organic Lager is a winner in my books.

Next up was the Natureland Organic Amber Ale, which was introduced to the public in 2005 and later went on to win a gold medal at the 2005 Brewing Industry International Awards – in the ‘International Ale’ competition. The ale is a light ruby colour with an even bigger white foam head than the lager. In the smell I picked up old leather, a musty cardboard smell which wasn’t what I was expecting. A small fruity yeast profile was picked up, but was faint compared to the leather smell. The taste was not what I was expecting either. Very thin, not much aftertaste, a hint of caramel malt and I touch of a fruit base, but I couldn’t pin it down.

So there you have it, my first foray into the Session. I hope that you enjoyed it. Check out Beer Activist for all session related posts on Organic Beers.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Urbock 23 Tasting March 7th

Roland and Russell import agency will be pouring samples of Schloss Eggenberg Urbock 23 tomorrow night at the Summerhill LCBO from 4pm to 7pm. The Urbock is part of the LCBO's Spring release and this provides a great opportunity to come sample the beer before buying. And trust me, you'll probably buy the beer after sampling it.

Here is my review of the beer, compliments of R&R.

See you there.

Steam Whistle to Introduce 500ml Can

Back in 2001, three guys decided to open a brewery that would focus on brewing one beer and one beer only. Steam Whistle Pilsner made an instant impact in the Ontario beer industry with their unique heavy green bottles and 1950’s suitcase packaging, not to mention the earthy aroma and taste.

This summer, Steam Whistle will be introducing a new 500ml green can to compete with the growing trend of canned beer sales. The cans will be available at select LCBO’s and Beer Stores. While the price has yet to be determined, my guess is that it will retail for around $2.25 for a single unit. (Ok, I was wrong. Please don't hold it against me!)
In the last year we've noticed a number of craft breweries releasing their products into either the 473ml or 500ml cans: Wellington, Hockley Valley, Headstrong, Neustadt, Robert Simpson (that continues to leak), Great Lakes, and Taps. It used to be that cans were more popular in the summer months as they make for an easier time transporting to the cottage, the beach or the ball diamond, but research has shown that cans are accounting for more sales year-round than ever before. One reason behind their popularity in Ontario is the fact that you can purchase a variety of different kinds as cans are usually sold individually.

So Steam Whistle will continue doing one thing really, really well, while offering two unique packaging options. Visit for more information.

***Just in from Steam Whistle***
We have settled on our price at $2.65 a 500 ml can. We hope to have the can released by the May long weekend but at least by June 1st.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ontario Craft Brewers and Chef Ezra Title

The Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) are teaming up once again with Chef Ezra Title, a accomplished local chef known for his passion in using local products in his incredible creations. I had the opportunity back in October to sample some of his food during the OCB's press conference for the introduction of the Discovery Pack, and let me tell you, it was awesome.

With St.Patricks day fast approaching, the OCB and Title have collaborated to whip up some fantastic dinners and appetizers using some craft beers in the recipes. St.Patty's day brings out all sorts of wannabe Irish drinkers and it's usually difficult to get a spot at the bar. So why not try some of Title's dishes at home? Over the next two weeks leading up to the 17th, I will be posting five of his recipes and tasting notes that the OCB Marketing team has generously provided. Because I am a big fan of cooking with beer, I expect to find myself in the kitchen on the 17th cooking up a storm.

So, without further stalling, here is recipe number 1.

Barley Days Pale Ale Bread with Porcini Mushrooms, Figs & Olives
¾ Cup Barley Days Pale Ale
1 Cup dried Porcinis
½ Cup dried figs, chopped
1/3 Cup black olives, chopped
1 ¾ Cup buttermilk
1 Cup oats
¼ Cup unsalted butter, melted
¼ Cup honey
1 ½ Cups whole wheat flour
2 Cups, plus 2 Tsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

Bring the beer to a simmer, mix the porcinis and figs in a bowl and pour beer over top. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, oats and butter and let stand for 15 minutes until oats soften. In a third bowl mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook combine mushroom mixture with oats mixture and stir in the honey. With the mixer on a low speed gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix for 15 minutes. Add the olives and mix until incorporated. On a floured surface form the dough into a log and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Make a shallow cut the length of the loaf with a pairing knife and brush a coating of beaten egg on the surface.

Bake the bread for approximately 45 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees half way through. Remove the bread from the loaf pan and cool on a wire rack.

This recipe was created by chef Ezra Title of Chez Vous Dining. Chef Title has learned classical French techniques under some of the most highly accomplished chefs in North America. Ezra is a favourite at the Brickworks Farmers’ Market, where his breakfasts made with ingredients purchased from local vendors are a great success.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Saving Beer Bottles: Makes for a Hard Move

I just moved into a new apartment this weekend and didn't realize the amount of beer items that I actually had. Glasses, posters, bottles, bottle openers, wooden signs, growlers, glass stands, the list goes on and on. I managed to part with some of the collection, like most of my Alexander Keith swag. When I first started drinking beer I dove head first into Keiths, collecting memorabilia as I went and yesterday I could have filled a pub with all the stuff. I have a ton of stuff from some of the OCbrewers that I can't part with though.

But what I really need to scale back on it my collection of beer bottles. It turns out (without me even realizing it) that I save every bottle of beer that I throughouly enjoy and every growler that I have ever come across. My fiance gave me the evil eye as I started to unpack the boxes and load the bottles on the kitchen counter, so I knew I had better act quickly and discard some. I don't know why I had empty bottles of Robert Simpson or Old Speckled Hen, but I made the homeless guy down on the corner a little happier when I unloaded a box of empties on him.

It's a hard decision. I think every beer geek has battled with this dilemma sometime or another. What bottles do you keep? Which to you toss? Is it based on availability? Taste? Design? Stephen Beaumont once warned me about this and I should have listened.

I had a friend helping me load all my worldy possessions into the back of the moving van and he commented that every box he seemed to move had glass in it. I have a growing collection of pint glasses, snifters, tulips, pilsner glasses, jugs, pitchers and thunder mugs from past brewery tours or events. I have enough that we don't have to buy any glassware for the place and wouldn't have to even if we broke half of them. Again, my fiance rolled her eyes and commented how the apartment was already starting to look like a beer museum.

I stood my ground, sucked in my gut and boldy stated that 'beer' is my hobby and she should support it. I'll let you know when my black eye fully heals. Just joking. The move is done, the place is starting to shape up, so time for a beer. Only this time I am going to get rid of the bottle; unless I absolutely love the beer.
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