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.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Gone for the Long Weekend

I'm heading north to the small village of Dorset tonight for the long weekend, getting away from the noise and the smell of the city. I won't have access to a computer so there won't be any new postings until possibly Monday evening, or more realistically Tuesday.

Taking a queue from Stonch's Beer Blog, I have listed a number of archive posts that might keep you interested should you stop by.

Enjoy and have a great weekend - Drink responsibly.

One turns to two and two turns to.......

Most of the beer I drink is consumed inside the walls of a pub. I sample, review and do tastings at my place, but most of the time the beer in my hand is a pint glass in a pub.

Going out for a beer after work (Volo is just a couple blocks north) is great. I always promise myself that I will only stay for one and then head home. That hardly ever happens. I get chatting away with the bartender or I happen to run into someone I know and the conversation turns into 'beer talk' and the beer goes down all too well. Next thing you know your three pints in and the bill wasn't what you were expecting to dish out, but good times were had.

This how I justify it. While some people get their kicks buying fancy things like clothes, furniture, cars, electronics and such, I tend to, and enjoy, spending a good chunk of my dough-ray-me on social activities, many of them involving a pub and some beers. Material things may last a while, but memories from the pub scene last forever and that's why I normally stay for more than least that's what I tell myself.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Picture of the Month

A seasoned craft beer drinker sampling the ales - Hart House Craft Beer Festival and Pig Roast
Check out that tie!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Black Creek Brews Fest: Sept 6/7

The following is a press release from the folks organizing the 2nd annual Black Creek Brews Fest held at Black Creek Pioneer Village. I was not able to attend last year but I heard many positives things about this event and from what is mentioned in the press release, it promises to be fun again this year. I also have some VIP tickets to give away, so stay tuned for contest details.


Black Creek Brews Fest Celebrating a Great Ontario Tradition
Craft Breweries and Beer Experts Coming to Pioneer Village September 6-7

Toronto: August 27, 2008 … Black Creek Pioneer Village, Toronto’s premier living history museum, will present the second annual Black Creek Brews Fest on the weekend of September 6 and 7, 2008. Some of Ontario's best micro-brewers will join experts in beer and beer history, and Pioneer Village staff, for a celebration of our rich brewing history and the craft breweries who continue the tradition today. Visitors will be able to meet the brewers, sample their wares, and learn about beer varieties and the art of brewing in a relaxed, family-friendly setting, with food, games, and great live music.

Internationally renowned beer writer Stephen Beaumont will introduce and host a lunch on Saturday, September 6, featuring three courses, each paired with a different beer. Julia Rogers will introduce beer and cheese pairing, using local cheeses and selected Ontario craft beers. Roger Mittag, Canada's "professor of beer" will take visitors on a walking tour through the village as he explains the making of beer. Mirella Amato will lead tutored tastings and the Canadian Brewerianist Society will exhibit beer memorabilia, along with many other programs and events.

"Craft beer is beer on a human scale," said Joel Manning, brewmaster at Mill St. Brewery, who will be at the Brews Fest on Sunday. "Craft beer is hand-made by real people and it has nuances and character that beer from the big breweries does not."

In total nine craft breweries will be at the Brews Fest: Black Oak Brewery, Cameron's Brewing, Great Lakes Brewery, Magnotta Brewery, Mill St. Brewery, Neustadt Brewery, Scotch Irish Brewery, Steam Whistle Brewery, and the Trafalgar Brewing Company. They will be bringing with them a broad selection of locally brewed beers for sampling to enjoy with food at the festival.

"The Black Creek Brews Fest is a wonderful opportunity for people to learn about Ontario's rich brewing history," said Steve Peters, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. "Today's craft brewers are continuing a proud tradition and the Brews Fest at Black Creek Pioneer Village is an opportunity for people to discover some refreshing and fantastic local beers; and to meet the people who brew them right in our backyard." Peters has been a member of the Canadian Brewerianist Society for 25 years.

"This festival is important for the GTA because it puts beer into a cultural and family context," said Stephen Beaumont, author of two editions of The Great Canadian Beer Guide. "You can bring the kids and have fun learning about beer, not just the taste, but the cultural and historical aspects as well. The Brews Fest is a chance to discover beer as the noble beverage it is, rather than the party drink you see in TV commercials."

Throughout the weekend, visitors will be able to enjoy live music performed by Tanglefoot, the Skydiggers, Freshwater Trade, and the Creaking Tree String Quartet. In addition historian Ian Bell will offer a workshop on “Songs of Drunkenness and Temperance.”

The Black Creek Brews Fest will take place from 11:00 am – 4:30 pm on Saturday, September 6 and Sunday, September 7, 2008 at Black Creek Pioneer Village. Admission includes full access to Pioneer Village. Lunch with Stephen Beaumont on Saturday, September 6, is by reservation at . Food, beverages, and beer sample tokens can be purchased inside the venue.

Black Creek Pioneer Village is located at , Toronto (one block east of Jane St., south off Steeles Avenue, right next to York University). General admission to Black Creek Pioneer Village is $13 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $9 for children 5-14. For more information, please visit

About Black Creek Pioneer Village
Black Creek Pioneer Village is Toronto’s premier outdoor living history museum. Visitors can explore 40 heritage homes, shops and buildings restored to re-create an 1860s Ontario village. Historic interpreters in period dress demonstrate how villagers lived, worked and played. The Village hosts learning programs and special events that highlight local heritage and culture. The tranquil setting, rural landscapes, heritage gardens and period farm animal breeds make Black Creek Pioneer Village the perfect place to break out of the modern world and journey into the past. Located in north Toronto, Black Creek Pioneer Village is owned and operated by Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA). For more information please visit

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Golden Tap Award Winners

Well Mr.Enright, you did it again.

The sixth installment of the annual Golden Tap Awards took place on Saturday night at Toronto's beerbistro, much to the delight of local craft beer supporters, and proved once again that it is a top notch beer event. Brewers, brewery reps, bloggers, craft beer drinkers and newcomers alike, all gathered on the insanely hot night to recognize the best in the Ontario brewing industry.

The doors opened at 4pm and by 5:30pm the place was alive with the sound of chatter and excitement. Individuals were able to purchase drink and food token for $2 a piece. Food items consisted of small pulled pork sandwiches, hamburger, veggie sandwich and frites with a delicious Belgian inspired mayo (no Hellman's here Stephen Davey). The small pulled pork sandwich was just a tease for those of us who have had the normal size from the regular menu.

People went for the drinks right away and there were many to choose from. Click here for full list. One token provided you with a small sample and two tokens filled your glass. There were casks, one offs, and one keg brewed just for the event.

Joel Manning of Mill Street, Jason Britton of Cameron's, Ken Woods of Black Oak, Paul Dickey of Pepperwood, Jeff from F&M, Rob Creighton and Bob Hannenberg of Grand River and Bruce Halsted of Durham were all in attendance and were joined by Paul Corriveau of the new Railway City Brewing Co. in St. Thomas. They shared some stories that captured my attention; namely the mention of some new Mill St. products, Railway City plans for a winter seasonal and the progress Black Oak is making on their new location.

Steve Peters, MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario made an appearance as he was being recognized by the Editor's Circle for dedication to Ontario Craft Beer. Peters mingled all night and during his celebratory speech he stunned some people with these comments: "I've heard from a lot of people tonight and recognize there are some hardships in the industry. I would be more than happy to meet with those in the industry to gain a better perspective and build some lobbying efforts."

The beer of the night for me was the Wellington Imperial Stout; however, Grand River's Bumbleberry Wheat took the cake as it was voted the 'Best Beer of the Fest' by the public.

Here are the other winners: Congratulations to all!

Best microbrewery in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
- Mill Street, Toronto

Best microbrewery in Ontario (outside of the GTA)
- Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, Vankleek Hill

Best beer brewed in the GTA
- Steam Whistle Pilsner, Toronto

Best beer brewed in Ontario (outside of the GTA)
- Beau’s Lug-Tread Lagered Ale, Vankleek Hill

Best bar in the GTA in terms of draught beer selection
- C’est What, Toronto

Best bar in the GTA in terms of bottled beer selection
- beerbistro, Toronto

Best bar in Ontario (outside of the GTA)
- The Manx, Ottawa

Best brewpub or tied house in Ontario (including the GTA)
- Mill Street Brewpub, Toronto

Best beer of the festival
- Grand River Bumbleberry Wheat, Cambridge


St. Veronus, Belgian bistro in Peterborough
Cameron’s Cask Nights, a series of tasting events hosted by Cameron’s Brewing
Dogfish Head Dinner, an event hosted by beerbistro
Steve Peters, speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

Winner of Steam Whistle Prize Pack

Last night I met up with Gordon at Smokeless Joes to hand over the Steam Whistle prize pack he won here last week.

Turns out Gord's wife Teena is a blogger here in Toronto and she happened to write a blog post on meeting. Check it out here.

Congratulations Gord, enjoy the tour.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"I've Had Enough" - Nfld Reader on NLC

It's not just Ontario citizens that are upset with the way their province regulates the sale of our favourite alcoholic beverage. This Newfoundlander has had enough and decided to write a letter to his elected representatives and members of the Newfoundland Liquor Corp (NLC). Here are Frank's words - straight from the hip.

“It’s time consumers had the advantage of a market economy when it comes to beer.”

While the Ontario system is different than Newfoundland's, there are many parallels. In Newfoundland, corner stores are able to sell beer, but they are only allowed to sell domestic products. The Newfoundland Liquor Corp is a Government run monopoly, just like in Ontario. And just like Ontario the NLC gives preference to the wine consumer over the beer lover. The NLC's website shows around 120 individual beer brands (187 brands minus the 70 or so same beers in other packaging sizes). The NLC website shows 2515 different wines (only about 40 were other package formats).

The NLC also has a policy that beer must make $15,000 in sales to avoid de-listing. There is no such policy for wine. Fine wines don't sell in large volumes so exceptions are made for it. Fine ales and beers won't sell in large amounts either (though that segment is growing, in Newfoundland and elsewhere) but the NLC won't continue to stock a smaller volume, good beer, selection.

My dislike of the NLC comes from its de-listing of the excellent Propeller Porter. It sold very well in the NLC stores in the East end of St John's, but not so well in other locations. It was sold out in the east end stores months before it sold out elsewhere. Instead of continuing to supply the demand in the east end of St John's, they de-listed it. This would not happen to a wine.

We need private beer stores in Newfoundland like they have in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec, the United States and most of the free world.

The Ontario MPP's words are equally applied here in Newfoundland.

“It’s time consumers had the advantage of a market economy when it comes to beer.”

It should also be noted that Newfoundland only has the NLC. No Beer Store. And while they do have corner stores selling beer, they can only sell domestic products as Frank mentions (Jockey Club, Dominion, Blue Star, Quidi Vidi etc.. no imports from other provinces or great brewing nations).

Events Updated

The events section has been updated with the Canadian Brewing Awards judging and Gala information, with times for the gala to be announced once they become available. So highlight your day planner for September 25 and come out to The Richmond to celebrate the best in Canadian beers.

More info to come.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Meet Andrew Kohnen: Hockley Valley Brewery

Meet Andrew Kohnen, brew master for the Hockley Valley Brewing Co. and producer of Hockley Valley's four beers: their signature and delicious Dark Traditional English Ale, Stout, Georgian Bay Dipper Ale and Hockley Gold (for certain licensed accounts).

How long have you been working in the brewing industry?
Since 2001

How many years as a brewmaster?
I've been the brewer here at Hockley since 2003.

Where were you before Hockley Valley?
All over the place really. Prior to brewing, I was an Operations/Logistics Manager for a computer hardware/software distributor for nine years. I woke up one day realizing that this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life - so I resigned, sold up my meager possessions and moved to Europe where I spent the next two years working, studying and brewing my way across the UK. I finally made my way to Germany to visit relatives and seek possible employment at the old family brewery (sold in the 60's darn it!) that still carries my mothers maiden name. After a few months I came home to get some paperwork done that would make it easier to work and live in the UK while helping a friend plan and set up a brewery adjoining his restaurant in Stonehaven, Scotland - but ended up staying here at Hockley.

Tell us something not many people know about the brewery.
It started off as an idea to be a Scotch distillery.

What's new at the brewery?
Georgian Bay Dipper is our newest release - made especially for the summer crowd. It’s an easy drinking, light bodied, hot weather quaffing ale.

Are the cans still individually crimped by hand?
No, but even though the process is automated there is still a lot of hands on work involved.

What is your favourite Hockley Valley beer?
Hockley Dark - it was my first original recipe for Hockley, based on two styles that I loved in the UK - a midlands mild and a Northern Brown ale.

Provide your thoughts on the Ontario brewing industry.
People are gradually taking note of the fine products that we as craft brewers are creating. The maxim "People drink the way they vote - like Dad taught them" is slowy giving ground to the realization that there are fresh, local and unique alternatives. People have embraced the notion that Ontario wines are among the best in the world and are now willing to give beer its due.

What is your favourite beer style?
I am partial to two extremes - sour reds and lambics and immensely hoppy, bitter IPA's.

Where is the best place to have a beer?
Anywhere that accentuates the experience.

Best time for a pint?
When mood and circumstance permits - safety and responsibilty first!

What is your ideal food and beer pairing?
Schweinshaxe (oven roasted ham hocks) and sauerkraut with a Gleumes Altbier. Could you get any more cliché?

Name the highlight of your brewing career?
Working, under the watchful eye of my great uncle - well, a photo of him - at the brewery that was once owned by my mothers family back in Germany.

What is your favourite non Hockley Valley beer?
Rodenbach Grand Cru

Hockley Valley is located in Orangeville, ON at:

Orangeville, Ontario

Friday, August 22, 2008

Golden Tap Awards & Copper Kettle

Looking for something beer related to do this weekend? Here are two options that should do the trick.

Golden Tap Awards
Mentioned here earlier, and even earlier here, the GTA weekend has actually arrived and just yesterday the list of beers that will be available was made public. The awards event will be held at Beerbistro with doors opening at 4pm. Admission is free and food and drink tickets can be purchased at the door.

Beau's Festivale Plus
Nickel Brook Organic Lager, Uniek Kriek, Apple Pilsner and Maple Porter
Black Oak Pale Ale and Nut Brown Ale
Cameron's Auburn Ale and Dark266
C'est What Caraway Rye
Church Key West Coast IPA, Holy Smoke Scotch Ale and Grains of Wrath
Durham Witbier
Denison's Weissbier
Grand River Galt Knife Old Style Lager, Bumbleberry Wheat, Ploegers Vlaams Rood and Plowman's Ale
Granite Best Bitter Special
Great Lakes Superior IPA, Green Tea & Ginseng Ale, Devil's Pale & Orange Peel
King Pilsner
Mill Street Pilsner, Coffee Porter and Tankhouse Ale
Neustadt Springs Big Dog Pelee Island Porter and Scottish Ale
Pepperwood Cream Ale
Railway City Iron Spike Blond, Amber and Copper
Saint Andre Vienna Lager
Steam Whistle Pilsner
Wellington Imperial Stout and Iron Duke Strong Ale

Black Oak Double Chocolate Cherry Stout
Cameron's Cream-sic-ALE
Granite Double Dry Hopped Summer Ale
Mill Street Dry Hopped Scotch Ale

Creemore's Copper Kettle Festival
Creemore Springs Brewery hosts its annual Copper Kettle Festival, an old-time village fair held on Main Street, Creemore in the heart of Ontario. Delicious fun for foodies, families and beer lovers, this local celebration includes an early morning farmers’ market, kids’ activities, wagon rides, classic car show, brewery tours and a beer garden featuring live entertainment. Rain or Shine!

The village of Creemore (how to get there) is beautiful and the beer will be flowing. This would make the perfect 'get out of Toronto' day trip. BBQ'd pulled pork sandwiches, corn, fresh Creemore beer and music will no doubt make for a great day in picturesque Creemore. And hey, when was the last time you rode a pony with a pint in your hand?

*Note - you may not be able to actually ride a pony with a pint, but wouldn't that be fun!!*

Thursday, August 21, 2008

MPP Chudleigh: "End Soviet Style Beer Industry"

Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh is no fan of the Beer Store and working with Derek Forward, of the on-line petition fame, he plans to introduce this contentious issue to the Ontario Legislature this fall.

“Ending the Soviet style marketing approach would lower prices, increase convenience of both purchase and bottle return, increase accessibility to the market for small brewers especially in local markets, and would bring Ontario into the 21st century,” said Mr. Chudleigh.

Read the rest of the story as it appears in the Oakville Today.

VIP Tour of Steam Whistle Brewery and More...

It may be a little late, but to celebrate Great Canadian Pubs and Beer Blog's 1st anniversary, I would like to give away a nice prize donated by the good folks down at Toronto's Steam Whistle Brewing Co.

The lucky winner will receive a Steam Whistle black T-shirt, green bottle opener, 'steam whistle' and a VIP tour of the brewery with nine of their closest friends.

What does the VIP tour include? Well, you take 9 of your friends on an intimate and interactive tour of the brewery and look at how four all-natural ingredients are transformed into a world class pilsner. The VIP tour will also include pizza, one souvenir per person, ice-cold pints and the "Good Beer Folks Guarantee" of a fun and memorable time.
The winner will receive further details on how to arrange for the tour.

How do you win? Be the first person to email me (address listed above)or post a comment with the name of the pub I listed as my favourite in my 2007 wrap up post.

Good Luck!

*The winner will have to be 19 years of age or older.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Prince Albert Public House:Mt Albert,ON

Saturday was a great day. My fiancé and I headed to Newmarket to pick out a wedding venue and decided to make a detour on the way home stopping in Mount Albert to visit the Prince Albert Public House, a pub tucked away along the small town's main street.

Nestled just off of Hwy 48, a popular route for cottagers trying to avoid the ever maddening 400 series, the Prince Albert Public House sits among other fabulous architectural homes and is only identified by the sign spiked into the grassy front yard. Bill Perrie, fellow TAPS contributor and Canada's Pub Guy, actually profiled this beautiful pub in his 'Ontario's Best Pubs' guide and I remembered that he had mentioned it to me as a place I'd like.

The actual house that the Prince Albert is situated in dates back to 1906 and was once the home of Mount Albert's only pharmacist: Willim T. Lloyd. It was often referred to as the Lloyd house and many town folk still call it by that name to this day.

Ian Bowie, owner of the Prince Albert, made his way over to our booth to greet us and we striked up a conversation about his pub. Bowie had worked in and owned restaurants in Toronto for years before retiring to his hometown of Newmarket. It was then, 10 years ago that Bowie decided to purchase the historic building and create what would become Mount Albert's best known local drinking spot. He appears to be a very hands on owner, spending lots of time at the pub mingling with the regulars and greeting the newcomers alike.

Walking in through the side door closest to the parking lot, you'll notice the abundance of old oak wood trimming everywhere as you wait for someone to greet you. Glancing around you get the feeling your about to indulge in something special. The dining room is located to the left and features some red velvet covered booth seating and many antique wooden tables and chairs. The floor is completely covered in maroon coloured, flower patterned carpet while the walls bare cream hued wallpaper from floor to ceiling. Framed pictures of Mount Albert’s history hang undisturbed on the walls and provide customers with a brief history of the village's past. There is also a picture for the ladies as we spotted a clipping of Bowie posing as a Sunshine Boy during his younger years.

There are many large windows letting in some natural lighting and are complimented by some low lying antique light fixtures. Dimpled cherry coloured tin ceiling, what seems to be standard in British style pubs, provides even more character to the dining area which also features a couple of tables located in a sun room towards the front of the house. It would be a nice place to sit and watch the traffic go by while supping on a pint.

The small ‘L’ shaped bar is located to the right separated from the dining room by a narrow hallway leading to a flight of stairs. Glassware hangs above the bar and stenciled glass signage adds an attractive element to its basic design. There are a number of bar stools lined in uniform at the bar to go along with a number of high top tables and chairs. A television sits in the corner, two small fish tanks sit atop a small floating bar and beer signage lines the walls along with more framed pictures.

The hallway that I mentioned leads to a flight of stairs where you will find another handful of rooms primed for drinking in. To the immediate right you’ll find another room with a bar, smaller in size than the downstairs bar area with more tables and another tv. There is a snug just off the bar area that features a large screen tv for sporting matches, a bunch of books on shelving and old Toronto Maple Leafs posters all over the walls. Back out to the hallway and to the left you’ll find a games room with a jukebox. A large pool table, another tv and dart boards are the feature of this room and Bowie mentioned that weekend evenings get packed with players. The entire upstairs area is covered with dark purple carpeting along with a handful of heavy wooden doors and lots of big thick wooden trim. It almost appears that the fixtures have been around since the construction of the house, making it feel like your drinking at home.

There is also a covered patio behind the pub called “Queen’s Courtyard,” for those that appreciate patios, and it features a large painted mural of the ocean.

I hadn't looked up the Prince Albert before driving there, so I was unsure of what the beer selection would look like. I was kinda disappointed to hear the line-up when the server ran through what was on tap. Blue, Keith's, Stella, Canadian, etc...... I was surprised to hear that Church Key's Northumberland was available - sign me up. Creemore Traditional Springs Lager was also on tap, a beer that is also a life saver in pubs with a beer selection such as this. But as I've said before, as important as beer is to me, it's not everything when I'm appreciating a pub. And I can understand why it's that way as I come to the realization that smaller towns have yet to grapple the craft beer movement...just yet.

It had just turned 12:00 and I was in the mood for breakfast. Luckily the Prince Albert runs an all day breakfast menu and breakfast special it was. For $4.95 I got a large plate of 2 eggs, 3 strips of peameal bacon, potatoes and toast! For the size it was it would have been $8.95 easily in Toronto. The rest of the menu is my kind of menu - a pub menu mixed with Canadian inspired food and British flair. Bangers and mash, fish and chips, "Mom's" meatloaf, snitzel sandwiches, pot pies, pasta's, burgers and more. Nothing over the top and all reasonably priced.

The Prince Albert is a terrific pub on the outskirts of Newmarket that offers so much atmosphere, while providing a wonderfully comforting environment. I wish I had had more time to learn a little more about the actual house itself, but I walked away with a deep love for what’s inside it. A true local pub, Bowie has accomplished the mission he set out on 10 years ago. It’s worth a trip to Mount Albert.

I forgot my camera on this day. Thanks to Prince Albert for letting me borrow your pictures.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Living With a Beer Nut - My Point of View

As I briefly mentioned here yesterday, my fiance decided to sit down at the computer and write a little piece on her view of living with a beer nut (Me). I gotta say that as someone with Celiac disease, she does put up with an awful lot of my obsession and as she points out, sometimes my beer stuff does come before things she wants to do. Sorry! So, here it is, enjoy.

Over the past year, I’ve watched Troy’s blog grow in its number of readers. From his favourite beers to his favourite pubs, and to the countless beer events that he’s attended, he’s tried his best to cover them. He does this for fun, or a better term would be "for the love of the game." Troy has been engulfed in this wonderful world of beer, and living with him, so have I. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to wheat and gluten which prevents me from being able to enjoy the immense option of beers that sit in our apartment waiting to be drunk. Sometimes it’s annoying to watch Troy crack open a unique beer that’s been ageing on one of our shelves. It’s especially annoying when he tells me how great it is and that I can smell it if I want. I know he’s just trying to be nice, but why would I want to enjoy the smell of a flavourful beer that I can’t drink?

Troy puts a lot of time and energy into his beer world, purely based on passion. He spends lots of time on his beer blog, he writes for TAPS magazine (which affords him passes to cover different beer events) and he meets with brewers to discuss potential advertising opportunities. Now before I go on, it must be noted that this is Troy’s “on the side” hobby. He works full time doing other things that have nothing to do with beer. Yet he somehow still finds the time to put quality work into his passion for beer - and not just any beer Troy would say, but Craft beer.

“For the dessert at our wedding, let’s do ice cream floats with Nickelbrook’s apple beer rather than a cake.”

Sometimes Troy’s beer world comes before things that I would like to do, but that’s what comes with the territory. For the most part, Troy invites me to the beer events that he attends. Again, it’s hard to be the only person at the beer event who asks for a glass of wine or cider. I get funny looks from people and the odd comment about drinking something other than beer, but what can you do. One thing that I really like doing is our day trips. Troy and I will randomly pick a town and drive there to scope out a pub – and not just any pub, but a true pub. I’m sure you’ve read about Troy’s definition of a true pub on his blog, so I’m not going to go into detail. We usually go for lunch, chat it up with the pub owner about its history, take some pictures, write in detail the décor of the pub, and then head home. I get a free lunch out of it, so I’m not concerned about not being able to drink the beer then.

If you could see our apartment, you would know that a beer fanatic (aka beer geek) lived there. We have a fair size bookshelf dedicated to beer books, a coffee table that, according to Troy, has to have beer magazines sitting on it for company to read when they come over, a medium sized shelf for his ageing beers, a mini fridge used only for beer, beer photos and posters on the walls,and other beer memorabilia sitting on side tables, etc. I mentioned one day that I would like to have some of my things around the place and he said “I know, that’s why I left you a wall.” Geez, thanks.

It’s been a fun watching him do something that he loves. Though there are times when I don’t want to hear one more thing about beer, it’s been fun overall. The latest two comments that almost sent me over the edge were: 1) “Let’s get married at Steam Whistle.” At the time, I didn’t know that there actually is an event room at the brewery for weddings. The wedding photos on their website are beautiful, but we’re not getting married there; and 2) “For the dessert at our wedding, let’s do ice cream floats with Nickelbrook’s apple beer rather than a cake.” Okay, seriously - as much fun as that sounds, I would like to eat something that I’m not allergic to.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Brewer Wanted: Beau's All Natural Brewing Co.

From Beau's All Natural Brewing Co.

Our 2nd brewer, Mark, has informed us that he has to leave our company for personal reasons. We are starting to put out feelers, looking for a replacement for Mark and possibly some additional production assistance.

We will be considering either professional brewers, dedicated homebrewers and skilled people in related fields (anywhere from microbiology to culinary). We're as concerned with personality fit as we are with experience and knowledge so the winning candidate might not necessarily be the most experienced.

We will start interviewing shortly, so if any of you MOBsters wants to go
from obsessed hobby to full or part time job, please send me an email.



Next Up - Living with a Beer Lover

My fiance has a month off school and faced with not much to do during the day she decided she'd contribute to the blog by writing a post.

It turns out that it has to do with living with me and my craft beer/pub obsession. Should be an interesting read.

Check back tomorrow.

TAPS:Canada's Beer Magazine-Issue 3

The newest issue of TAPS: Canada's Beer Magazine was recently released just in time for the Toronto Festival of Beer, complete with a new sleeker look and feel.

Gone are the paintings that graced the covers of the two previous issues, replaced instead with a picture of a beer on a side table beside a patio chair, in sync with other beer magazines. Above the picture is our new big bolded white title that 'pops' from the shelves at newsstands, making it easier to find among the various other beer and wine publications. The pages are also thinner than the previous issues, yet the entire magazine is still 100% colour with sharp photographs. The feedback was instantly positive from both retailers and customers alike, which was the aim for this new direction all along.

The stuff contained inside the magazine is fantastic as well. Many of the contributing writers are back with great editorials and educational articles.

Stephen Beaumont discusses glassware and how it can improve your beer;

Craig Pinhey weighs in on the debate between who's snobbier - wine or beer judges as well as offering some pub profiles in the Atlantic provinces and sharing his views on the World Beer Cup;

Bill White discusses malt and comes up with some good beer and food pairings for all to enjoy, along with a report from the Craft Beer Conference in San Diego;

Greg Clow teaches us about the wonderful wheat beers with German heritage and profiles some beer books;

Mirella Amato takes us to lupulin ride as she writes about double IPA's, the Montreal scene and her trip to San Diego;

Kristina Santone captivates women readers with a profile on female's in the brewing industry;

Connie Proteau tells us what's happening on the west coast;

Martin Sayers shares some London pub info;

Rob Engman drinks at the UFO in Nashville;

Bill Perrie takes you with him as he visits the Beer and Cocktail show, the Steelback re-launch and Saint John's Alehouse;

and I conduct interviews with Dogfish Head owner Sam Calagione, Steve Peters (the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario), and Val Stimpson of Neustadt Brewery, I also highlight the Weihenstephan beer launch and update readers with some Ontario and Alberta beer news.

The TAPS' website is currently being re-vamped to ensure friendly navigation and can be accessed by visiting Here you can browse through pictures, ask brew master Bill White any brewing related questions, check out advertising specifications, download any of the seven video podcasts for free and check out our subscription rates.

As mentioned here previously, TAPS is Canada's only beer magazine and is available coast to coast in select Chapters/Indigo bookstores as well as various Book City's and independent newsstands.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two New Faces at Amsterdam Brewery

I received an email two weeks ago from Andre Klinker, a man I had once met at the Mill Street Brew pub and remembered him because of his deep infectious laugh, big physical frame and his intimidating black overalls.

He wanted to let me know that for the last three months he has been working as the new plant manager of the Amsterdam Brewing Co. Klinker, a man who's proud of his German heritage and his love of quality lagers, worked under Joel Manning with Mill Street and previously with other breweries both large and small. He has always wanted to run a brewery and when the opportunity presented itself at Amsterdam he knew he had to seize it. Manning, he says, taught him a lot about the brewing operation side of things, and although not a brewer by trade, Klinker knows what he likes in a beer and his slowly learning the beer making process.

One of his first items of business was to bring in a friend to be his brewmaster. Jamie Mistry, who was profiled here back in May, decided it was time to be more adventurous with his brewing skills and made the transition from Cool brewery to the Amsterdam location at Fleet and Bathurst.

I had the chance to catch up with the two lads down at the brewery last week over a couple of beers and we chatted about the changes that Klinker has planned for one of Toronto's oldest breweries.

Mistry is highly regarded and well respected in the Ontario brewing industry by his brewing counterparts and his name regularly pops up when discussing talented brewmasters. "I am really looking forward to tweaking some of the recipes to make them pop a little more and we are also looking at the possibility of bringing back some of the KLB brands like the Cream Ale and Extra Special Bitter," stated Mistry in the office he shares with Klinker. "I had a great time at Cool and I'm really looking forward to brewing more than lagers now."

Another one of Klinker's goals is to whip the aging building back into shape. For anyone who's ever stepped foot in the old factory you'd know the upstairs event centre, which is just a large open dull area. Klinker plans to get the ceilings painted, hang some local art on the walls, add more lighting to assist with the soft glow the large windows offer and eventually open it up to more events. It has so much potential for Jack N' Jills, stag's, receptions, art shows and the list goes on.

The downstairs reception/store is in line to be another victim of Klinker's make-over. Right now there is a bar, a fridge and another floating bar with draught lines for tastings. The large glass see-thru window offers customers the opportunity to watch the guys hard at work and teasing them by waving a glass of beer in front of them would be priceless. The concrete slab flooring could use a touch up and the fridge will be re-shuffled. With a high number of beer sales through the store, Klinker acknowledges that the area could use some sprucing up. They sell six packs, singles, twelve packs 25 packs and kegs through the store, along with t-shirts, hats and various other items.

Plans are also in the works to brew more beer, something that excites both men. "We have a great sales team that are doing a good job pushing our beer and we're gonna have to brew more to meet our plans," stated Klinker.

We sat and chatted about the industry, the OCB, new beer styles and more for over an hour and I left with the feeling that these two men are 100% committed to their cause. Its obvious that they both love their jobs and have fun doing it and customers hope it can lead the brewery in the best direction possible. "It really is a nice old building and with a little bit of hard work and patience we will make it even more welcoming to the public." So keep your eye on Amsterdam over the next year or so and watch their revamping in progress. It will be interesting to see if some of the KLB brands will see the light once again and I look forward to attending their first bash in their re-made event room.

For a full list of their beers, visit . Please note, some beers aren't available in bottle format. They also offer brewery tours - $6 for a tour and 8 samples or $8 for a tour, 8 samples and a glass. They're open Monday to Saturday 11am-11pm and Sunday from 11am-6pm. They are located at 21 Bathurst street Toronto.

MPP Against Beer Store: Supports Petition

The following article was written by Dana Flavelle of the Toronto Star who put together an impressive feature on the Beer Store back in June.

A senior Tory politician says he's backing a private citizen's efforts to break up The Beer Store's near monopoly on beer sales in Ontario.

Ted Chudleigh, opposition critic on economic development and trade, said yesterday he's agreed to support and present Derek Forward's petition in the Legislature as a first step toward change.

The petition calls on the government to open up Ontario's $2.9 billion a year beer market to grocery and corner stores, creating more competition for The Beer Store.

The MPP for Halton said yesterday he supports Forward's view that a foreign-owned, privately-held company shouldn't control 80 per cent of beer sales in the province.

"I don't see how Ontario is benefiting the way it used to when it was Canadian-owned," he said, referring to the period before Canadian brewers Labatt, Molson and Sleeman became part of Belgium's InBev SA, Colorado-based Molson Coors and Japan's Sapporo, respectively.

Together, the three firms own and control The Beer Store in a way that small local craft brewers say makes it difficult for them to compete.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has said he doesn't believe The Beer Store is broken and so doesn't need to be fixed.

He has also said he believes The Beer Store does the best job of ensuring booze isn't sold to underage kids.

But Chudleigh, who once owned an IGA store in Niagara Region, says stores can train their staff how to check customers' ID and after renovating their premises to accommodate beer sales, they would be loath to lose their beer licence by selling to minors.

"It's less of an issue than it was before," said Chudeigh, referring to jurisdictions where beer is sold through competitive channels.

Chudleigh says he's hoping to present Forward's petition the week of Sept. 22.

Meanwhile, Forward says he's working on getting signatures. So far, his online petition at, has attracted more than 5,000 names.

But he now needs people to sign a formal paper document that Chudleigh can present in the Legislature.

As part of that effort, Forward says he'll be holding petition-signing days outside Beer Stores across Ontario, starting in his hometown of Burlington this Saturday, outside the downtown store on Elizabeth St.

Chudleigh said petitions can sometimes lead directly to change in government policy, as it did last year after 20,000 people signed his protest against eliminating the Lord's Prayer from the Legislature's opening ceremonies.

Other times, petitions are just a starting point. If the government declines to take action on The Beer Store, Chudleigh said he would take the issue to his party's caucus and try to make it part of their next election campaign platform.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why the Fuss Over Imports: Part Two

Back on July 28th, I ran a post written by Walter Leipurts, who we'll now call 'Uncle Walt,' about his views on the import selection at our various LCBO's and Beer Stores titled "Why the Fuss Over Imports?" It generated some good comments and prompted Uncle Walt to write a follow-up post. Here it is from his rocking chair.

I didn’t make it to the Toronto Festival of Beer over the weekend because of some health issues, plus the fact that we had a wee bit of rain. OK, so I’m a big baby but being soaking wet in an inebriated crowd no longer appeals to me like it once did. The Festival must be a very important venue; Molson and Labatt were there, each with 3 or 4 disguises. After attending the last 7 in a row, it was a shame to miss this one.

It was great to receive the feedback on my last rant- yes, some of my facts were dubious at best, but I was speaking from my Maple Leaf-shaped heart, and not from my oversized pumpkin-like head. It was wonderful to see that my article was worth tearing apart along with my heart. Yes, I am overly sensitive.

It’s true- some imports are desirable and we don’t produce them here in Ontario. If you want a beer from Togo, brewed using Betel Nuts that turns your lips, gums and teeth Red and paralyses your limbs, then Togo Betelmania is the brew for you. (Available at select retail outlets.) I’m sure there are many other fine upstanding brews made from all manner of ingredients, but I still maintain we have great beers here made from pure ingredients and a guaranteed freshness, not some travel-weary Eurotrash.

If we ever are able to purchase beer in retail outlets, I’m sure Wal Mart will only carry TsingTao as everything else there is made in China. Not an anti-Chinese bias, but I’d like to see a bit more manufacturing done here in Canada. Call me crazy.

One thing the LCBO and Beer store are doing well is their adherence to recycling; they were doing this before it became fashionable. If beer sales were switched to retail, I doubt we would have the same commitment to being environmentally conscious, and most stores would probably carry only the biggest sellers, so we would not have the variety we now enjoy. At that point, I would like to see a chain of small stores selling only Micro products. And I suppose we would allow some Togo Betelmania to be sold in these outlets to satisfy those who like the imports. Naturally, Taps magazine would also be sold here.

So keep drinking those imports and bankrupt Canada. And feel deep shame when you look in the mirror. “Oh you hard hearts, you fickle men of Scarborough, knew you not Pompey?” (I'm not sure what Uncle Walt's getting at here with this last sentence. Make of it as you will - Troy)

Bye for now,

Uncle Walt
(picture not actually Walt, who I've never met, but was borrowed from this site)

Have something to say? Send me a write-up about anything to do with the brewing/pub industry and have it posted on this site. Send your post to .

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

GCPB Blog: 1 Year Anniversary

Today marks the one year anniversary of Great Canadian Pubs and Beer blog and it seems like just yesterday when I was contemplating if I should write a blog or not.

I often get asked by other media outlets or curious beer drinkers why I started this blog, and the answer is I don't really know. I know that I had just returned from Halifax to my native province and was searching the web for some information about different Ontario pubs. When I realized that there were/are only a handful of beer blogs with limited pub information in Ontario, a light bulb went off in my head and the rest is history. I have a serious affliction with pubs and through that I have developed a palate that craves quality beers, I guess I just wanted to share my experiences.I don't know too much about computers, but setting up the site was pretty easy. I have thought of creating a website and directing this blog to the url, but like I said, I don't know too much about computers and frankly I don't really have the time.

My goal when I first started out was to try to post five times a week, and for the most part I have reached that. Blogging takes up time. When I write about a pub I usually spend a good 2 hours sitting and chatting with the pub's staff or owners. When I write about a brewery I go straight to the source, talk to the brewer and the staff and try to remember everything that happened in order to prepare a post. The blog has opened many doors for me as well. Getting out to the numerous beer dinners, festivals, new beer launch parties, LCBO tastings and more, is time consuming but loads of fun and educational.

I have learned a lot over the past year about the pub industry, the beer industry and everything in between. I hope I have shared some useful information with you that has been both beneficial and entertaining. It has been a blast. I think the part I most enjoy is the emails I receive from readers, here and abroad, asking me for my recommendations when their visiting a particular city or recommending a new pub for me to try (I wish I could visit them all). I've received emails from people in Ireland who are visiting Halifax on a cruise ship and want to know which places to visit. An interesting email came from Scotland asking for a list of Toronto pubs that he could drink Ontario craft beer in. I have even met some of these people over a couple of pints once that make it to Toronto. In Newfoundland I met up with a reader (Frank) who I brought along to tour the YellowBelly Brewery before it opened, and he made my day when he drove me to the airport afterwards. This is the most rewarding part of doing this.

So, where do I go from here? Nowhere. I'll keep getting up every morning and try to come up with something to post, covering beer events and pub visits. I do know that I'll be introducing more contest's, doing more brewery profiles and hopefully reviving the "meet the brewer/sales rep/marketing etc." series I had started. And who knows, I might even get a website.

So thank you to all you readers out there that have supported this blog since its creation 1 year ago. Also, thank you to all the hospitable pub owners, brewery owners, brewers and everyone else in industry that has supported me and my efforts of bringing you the tales of the craft beer and pub scene.

Steam Whistle has graciously provided some swag that I would love to give away to faithful readers, so stay tuned for another post with details.

Troy Burtch

Picture borrowed from JOELX blog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sociable! The Elbow Bender's Guide to Maritime Pubs

There are days when I miss the East Coast more than anything in this world. It is an amazing place to live and I'll always remember the year I spent in Halifax. So, when I received an email from a reader in Nova Scotia, who informed me that a new pub guide had just been released by a local bluenoser, I had to obtain a copy. Thankfully Bob Connon, the proud author, shipped me an autographed copy early last week and after a hectic weekend at the Toronto Festival of Beer I finally had a chance to thoroughly skim through it last night.

Sociable! The Elbow Bender's Guide to Maritime Pubs takes readers on a virtual journey through the three maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia) and explores the best pubs and breweries that each province accommodates. Connon, a musician who plays traditional Irish music every Sunday at Paddy's Brew pub in Wolfville, NS, visited 45 exceptional pubs and took extensive notes to paint a glowing picture of what each pub offers. The book is full of beautiful colour photographs, with many profiles showing both the exterior and interior of the pub. Connon interviewed owners, brewers, managers and other customers to get the full story behind each pub and his writing brings the atmosphere of each one into your hands.

Connon confesses that he is by no means a beer connoisseur and that the pubs selected weren't chosen based strictly on their beer line-up; however, he believes that the key ingredient to a successful pub is the serving of fresh, quality beers, ahead of food, music, scenery, history and ambiance. To Connon, a great pub is a combination of all the above mentioned ingredients, but it starts with the beer. He reminds us that a pub is more than about the pint glass in your hand, is a place to get away and relax in the confines of a social atmosphere.

This maritime pub guide will come in handy for any serious pub/beer lover who is planning a trip to any of the three provinces, as Connon provides in-depth descriptions of each pub, which includes the location, beers available, if there is public transportation available, wheelchair access, hours, entertainment options and much more. The guide would also benefit any maritimer looking to explore what their own province has to offer and may provide some surprise day trips along the way as Connon has laid out a map, complete with an index and dotted with pub locations.

Connon has also profiled the booming micro breweries like Propeller and Garrison's in Nova Scotia and Pumphouse and Picaroons in New Brunswick. Brew pubs are also highlighted with profiles on the Granite, Rogue's Roost, Paddy's, the Rare Bird Pub and Rudders in Nova Scotia; the Gahan House in PEI; and the Pumphouse brew pub in New Brunswick. Alexander Keith's, Oland, Sleeman and Moosehead also get a brief mention. A maritime beer book wouldn't be the same if Keith's wasn't profiled, craft beer or not, it's a large part of Nova Scotia history.

There is much more in the pub guide as well. Everything from what constitutes a 'real' pub to describing 'real' ale and the guide even includes a glossary of terms associated with beer styles. The maritimes are full of many English and Irish style pubs as the first wave of immigrants predominately came from England, Ireland and Scotland, and pubs were some of the first buildings erected. You'll see that this history has continued in the three provinces beautifully profiled in Connon's guide. This is a great book that I highly endorse and recommend for my pub loving brethren out there reading. It even has a great write up on my favourite pub - The Henry House, along with Rogue's Roost, The Knot Pub and the Red Shoe in Cape Breton.

"Sociable! The Elbow Bender's Guide to Maritime Pubs is something every serious beer drinking, pub goer should have on their bookshelf. Beautifully illustrated and carefully written, Sociable! is the ultimate reminder of why pubs have such a special standing in society."
How can you get your copy? If you live in the maritimes, just visit your local Chapters retail store or for those out of province, you can order your copy online by visiting the Chapters/Indigo here. The book retails for $19.95, but order online today and pay only $15.16 (plus s&h).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Toronto Festival of Beer: Days 2, 3, 4

It's all said and done. I was going to try to post a re-cap of every day the morning after it happened but a couple times the amount of beer I consumed warranted a lenghty stay in bed, only arising to make it to the festival right on time.

Friday - The rain came down hard early in the morning but luckily stopped right before opening. I crossed over the Bathurst street bridge to see a large line-up of people anxiously waiting to get into the grounds, that was an hour before opening. I arrived at our booth to find everything on the ground and our display broken. Not a good way to start the day. After resolving the issue (which was tough with the fierce winds) we watched the rush of people running into the venue and the token line grew huge.

Our booth was immediately busy, which surprised me, and many subscriptions were sold. People were pleased to see the summer issue was final released and many people had great things to say about it. It was nice to hear that the TAPS name is getting more recognizable, as people mentioned to have seen it in their local bookstores.

I got over to the Black Oak booth where Ken and Adrian were serving up their cask conditioned Hop Bomb and chatted with them for a bit. I am not to big on crowds, but I made my way through the line-ups and chatted with some brewery people. Cameron's Brewing Co. seemed to have the biggest line-ups throughout Friday (while I was observing anyway) and NickelBrook's ice cream floats were a hit.

Saturday and Sunday - Pretty much the same as Friday, just more people. The event got underway at 1pm both days and the line-ups at the gates were huge, some waited close to two hours to get in, and in the rain of course. The grounds were soggy on Saturday from the early morning drizzle and by 2:30 or so the drizzle turned into a full out pour. People were seeking cover under the tents, which made it pretty difficult to sell magazines and the amount of people already off their rocker was astounding. The rain continued all day and into the evening. By the time to close there were young guys body surfing through the mud pits which prompted someone in the tent to call the event "BeerStock." The security staff and police were becoming busy at this point, which was entertaining from our point of view.

I found that the Saturday crowd was less interested in trying different beers, opting to get as drunk as possible in the timeliest manner. The McAuslan booth was beside us and the people (not all the people) would try the Oatmeal Stout and state "this isn't beer," and move along to someone else. And Sunday was no better. The people that came to our booth to look at the magazine or to talk shop were mostly craft beer drinkers there to enjoy some new stuff and to meet brewers etc. This is the type of people we want to cater the magazine to.

I took off a little early Sunday as the rain continued all day and the four days of drunkenness and large crowds was getting to me. I managed to see a couple of familiar faces in the crowd who were also skipping out early as the police became busy once again. While I like the idea of beer festivals the Toronto does not sit high atop my list of favourites. Next year I won't be there for four full days.

And no pictures - sorry 'bout that.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Toronto Festival of Beer: Day 1

As my fiance and I were headed south on Bathurst, on the 511 streetcar, the rain started coming down in a murderous fashion. My heart sank a little as the gates were opening in less than an hour and a half and vendors were still trying to get their booths set-up. Luckily the rain stopped just as we stepped out onto Garrison road and the sun started peeking through the clouds.

Because TAPS: Canada's Beer Magazine has a booth at this years event we had to wait in line to obtain exhibitor passes from the festival organizers. Well, 1 hour and lots of Bud Camp girls butting in line later, we stepped into the trailer only to be informed that the camera's were not working and we would have to go back at a later time to get the proper passes. Geez. It was interesting to hear some of the conversations going on in the group of Beer Store girls behind us. Needless to say, they don't like beer.

We headed into the grounds of the historic property (Fort York) and instantly spotted a number of small Ontario breweries near the entrance. It took us a while to make our way over to the TAPS booth as greetings and introductions were in order before the onslaught of the young brash drinkers. I wanted to grab an Auburn Ale from the fella's at Cameron's and it was then that I realized that we weren't handed any sample glasses, so we were off to obtain some. Turns out through that exhibitors don't receive glasses as they are considered to be working the entire evening. It worked out well that we had a couple of VIP tickets but that required us to head back out to the main gate and wait in line again.

Peter Bulut Jr., of Great Lakes Brewery, stopped by and told me to keep my eyes open for the new ride the brewery just purchased. Moments later I saw this crazy looking car, which turned out to be a de-commissioned hearse, complete with shooting flames, skulls and crossbones and the Devil's Pale Ale 666 logo emblazoned everywhere. Wow. The tracks are still in the back of the hearse and Great Lakes will be hooking up a cooler that they will be serving beer out of today (weather permitting). Perfect marketing tool.

Speaking of Great Lakes, they brewed two new beers just for the event: Superior IPA and a Green Tea beer. The IPA has a nice big bold hop taste with a good amount of malt backbone. I didn't know what to expect but the maltiness did surprise me a bit. The Green Tea was nice. Very refreshing as the sun beat down on us (turned out to be a lovely night) and had small hints of the tea. Very smooth, not much carbonation and served cold, it would make a great beer for downing after a run or bike ride.

My fiance has celiac disease (can't have wheat products/gluten) so we searched for a cider. Nothing. She saw a Smirnoff booth but she can't stand the stuff, she really wanted a cider. Luckily we found Trafalgar and their raspberry and blueberry mead which she could consume. We talked to owner/operator Mike Arnold who confirmed he has a new beer in the works that will surprise many drinkers.

It was good to see so many brewery people and talk about the industry and today promises to be just as fun with the rumour that the Black Oak brewery guys will be offering a special beer just for the event.

Come over to the TAPS booth and introduce yourself, I'll be there all weekend providing information about the magazine - and try Nickelbrook's Green Apple Ice Cream Float.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Even More YellowBelly News: NFLD

I received another email from a reader in Newfoundland who mentioned that the YellowBelly Brewery and Public House (brew pub) was recently reviewed by the local St.John's newspaper and that the reviewer completly neglected mentioning the beers, instead talking about the wine selection.

Here is the review.

And here are the comments I received from the reader.

Hi Troy,

The Yellowbelly Brewery was reviewed in our local newspaper by the food critic, Karl Wells, a retired CBC TV weatherman. He seemed to like it but missed the good beer entirely. I am annoyed that he would go to a brewpub and comment on the wine list and not even taste the beer. He does seem to be in the minority though. On my visits there the place has been very busy and everyone is enjoying the beer. Ok, I saw one guy with a Coors Light. We can't win them all!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reminder: Golden Tap Awards Voting

Have you visited the Golden Tap Award's website yet and placed your votes? If not, your running out of time. Voting ends this Saturday August 9th.

As mentioned here early last month, the GTA's are now in their sixth year of recognizing the best in the Ontario brewing industry and the results come directly from you - the drinker.

Voting is simple - simply visit and click on the vote now! link. Questions are nicely laid out and offer multiple choice answers and also provides you with the option of submitting something not listed.

Categories range from best microbrewery in the greater Toronto area (GTA), best microbrewery outside of the GTA, best beer (regular or speciality) in the GTA, best beer (regular or speciality) outside the GTA, best pub in the GTA for draught, best pub in the GTA for bottle selection, best pub outside the GTA for draught, best pub outside the GTA for bottle selection, best brewpub or tied house in Ontario.

So get you votes in now - don't miss out. I don't want to sway anyone's vote in any way but try to remember the smallest of the small - like an independent such as the Granite Brewery and Brew Pub who are a fine establishment making terrific English style ales, some cask conditioned.

The awards will be handed out on August 23rd at Beerbistro. Visit for more information.

Hart House Craft Beer & Pig Roast Re-Cap

On July 31st, I was off to attend the first ever Craft Beer Festival and Pig Roast at the Hart House until I got sidetracked. My night actually started at Volo where I stopped in for a pre-event cask conditioned Hop Head. Ralph (owner) was there working in the beer fridge until a steady stream of brewery representatives decided to drop in. Rob Creighton from Grand River , Peter from Nickelbrook (we shared some good stories, but unfortunately they are un-postable) and finally Ken Woods from Black Oak all made appearances. Woods wanted to kill some time before the event so we sat and talked about his new brewery over a couple of pints. Before we knew it, it was time to go, so we hopped in the Black Oak mobile and headed off to the University of Toronto where craft beer and pig awaited.

The Hart House is located on the University of Toronto campus at and is a beautiful old large stone building that surrounds a marvelous grassy courtyard. This is where the event was held. It was a beautiful night with lots of sun, but the location of the courtyard and the high stone walls prevented to much sun from frying everyone and even provided some much needed shade. It was a terrific venue to hold a small beer festival, attractive and quaint, easy accessible and offered many places to sit.

Things got going around 7pm with the slicing of the pig and the line-up grew long. The breweries who had arrived early to set up where now in full serve mode and ready for the onslaught of thirsty customers. Many breweries were offering at least two brands from their repertoire.

U of T’s Jeff Cameron, a craft beer drinker in charge of public relations and marketing for the event, stated that ticket sales were strong leading up to the festival but he was hoping for a large turnout at the doors. He got more than he expected as the people kept coming and coming. I think it was the aroma of bbq’d pig wafting through the campus. It was my understanding that the event sold out – not bad for its first ever!

It was refreshing to see so many new faces in the crowd as opposed to the same faces at ever beer event (nothing wrong with that), just good to see so many other’s enjoying craft beer. The venue helped tremendously as many appeared to be or were U of T students and many were trying craft beer for the first time. I spoke with a number of people at various booths to gauge their ‘craft beer awareness’ and I’d say a good 90% of the people spoken to were unaware of Ontario’s small breweries. One ticket holder who was celebrating his 22nd birthday mentioned he had never heard of Creemore or Wellington before! Needless to say, his palate was awakened this night.

There were 9 Ontario small breweries in attendance and 1 from Alberta who helped ticket holders beat the heat with some cold delicious beers. Grand River, represented by brew master Rob Creighton, were so busy that by 9:30 they ran out of beer. Many others weren’t far behind. Creemore, Black Oak, Wellington, Cameron’s and Cool were all running low and by 11pm they were starting to pack up. People started flocking over to F&M’s booth who was represented by the colourful and charismatic George Eagleson and Toronto sales rep Jeff. F&M were pouring their pilsner and their 2007 Canadian Brewing Awards Gold medal winner Stonehammer Dark Ale. Both were big hits.

Hockley Valley was pouring their 3 offerings: Hockley Dark, Hockley Stout and their newest creation – Georgian Bay Dipper. It was nice to see Hockley Valley and their brew master Andrew Kohnen out at an event as they only get to 4 a year, which are mostly closer to their home base.

It wasn’t all bbq and beer though. Beerology creator and craft beer educator Mirella Amato was on hand to provide information to any interested people, which she did in informal presentations at the back of the courtyard, much to the pleasure of new craft beer drinkers. Amato, who has worked with the Hart House on a previous beer event, hopes to make this a regular festival, and judging by the turnout and how smoothly things went, it would be a shame not too.

The music was excellent as bands took to the makeshift stage and performed in the background. Their silhouettes from the flood lights hung high above on the fabulous stone walls, which was an amazing sight with a nice sample of Black Oak Pale Ale in your hand.

Everything was great about the first ever craft beer fest and pig roast and here’s one person (see pic) who’s hoping it returns for years to come.

**Congratulations to fellow beer enthusiasts Jeremy and Karen for their recent engagement!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

We Have a Winner

Congratulations to Glenn Post of Sudbury, ON for winning the first ever contest held here at Great Canadian Pubs and Beer Blog, with his submission on Ontario Craft Beer.

With the winning entry, Post will receive two tickets to the Toronto Festival of Beer for the Thursday night.

I will post his entry next week when I return from a short vacation up north.

Thanks to all those that participated, I hope you all had as much fun writing your entries as I had reading them.

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