Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Les 3 Brasseurs - Opening Soon

*** This post has been updated after speaking with one of the owners by telephone***

I tend to cruise up and down Yonge street during my daily lunch break and last week I noticed this large banner hanging above the new Toronto location of the Les 3 Brasseurs Micro-brewery(The 3 Brewers).

News of the France-based chain of restaurants coming to Toronto was announced by a member of Bar Towel back in November of 2005, so after 3+ years, it appears it will be up and running shortly. "We hope to be up and running by the 2nd week of June, but there are always delays with construction. Hopefully it will continue to go well and we'll open by our proposed date," stated Gerry, one of the owners of the 3 Brewers.

The brewpub (no off premise sales) will be situated just south of Dundas Street, on Yonge, mere steps away from Dundas Square. "The capacity will be set at 275 individuals, over three floors, and will feature a private dining area to accommodate large groups of up to 50."

"We will have our four beers on tap, and our one bottled brand: Blonde, The Virago Brown (Dark Ale), Red Amber Passion, and The Shy Sister Belgian Wheat will all be on tap. Customers can also purchase our bottled Red Ale with Maple (La Belle Province) to compliment their dinner," confirmed Gerry. The brewmaster started off working for the 3 Brewers in France, and according to Gerry, he has settled into Toronto already and getting ready to brew.

"We are really looking forward to being part of the Ontario brewing scene, and can't wait to open our doors to the public."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pump House SOB 6 Packs Released

According to the Pump House (NB) Brewers Blog, the brewery has released their Special Old Bitter (SOB) in six packs to the warehouse of the Nova Scotia Liqour Corporation (NSLC), along with multiple liquor stores throughout New Brunswick, and it is slated to be on store shelves soon. I did a brief mention here about the packaging back in March, so its nice to see it being rolled out.

This is good news for fans of the bronze medal winner at the 2008 Canadian Brewing Awards for the North American Pale Ale/Bitter Category.

2009 Ontario Brewing Awards

I just realized that I haven't posted the results from this years Ontario Brewing Awards. I attended the small ceremony at the Bier Markt two weeks ago and had a good time catching up with many of the brewery representatives from all over the province.

This year, as opposed to previous years, the organizing committee made the OBA's a BJCP sanctioned event, so all the individuals who scored the submitted beers were certified judges, a move to capture some much needed credibility. I judged in the 2008 awards and was somewhat shocked the night of the judging by the way in which it was conducted. However, it's good to see that the organizers (Toronto Festival of Beer - Eventrix) initiated this change.

As I mentioned, the awards ceremony was held at the Esplanade Bier Markt due to their ongoing sponsorship of the TFOB, but I find it weird that this location is used to highlight the OBA's when there is only a handful of Ontario produced beer available on draught at the restaurant. Not very local friendly.

Anyway, here are the winners. There were many breweries that choose not to enter the awards this year, but with it now being sanctioned, hopefully they'll be back next year. And just like other brewing awards, the breweries choose which category to enter their beers into, not the organizers.

GOLD: Cool Brewing Stonewall Light
SILVER: Flying Monkeys Antigravity Light
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Cool Brewing Stonewall Light

GOLD: Steam Whistle Pilsner
SILVER: King Pilsner

GOLD: King Dark Lager
SILVER: Steelback Tiverton Dark
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: King Dark Lager

GOLD: Old Credit Amber Ale
SILVER: Great Lakes Devils Pale Ale
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion

GOLD: Grand River Galt Knife Old Style
SILVER: Mill Street ESB
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Grand River Galt Knife Old Style

GOLD: Mill Street Belgian Tripel
SILVER: Great Lakes Winter Ale
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Grand River Curmudgeon IPA

GOLD: Black Oak Summer Saison
SILVER: Nickel Brook Green Apple Pilsner
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Black Oak Summer Saison

GOLD: Mill Street Belgian Wit

GOLD: Wellington Trailhead Lager
SILVER: Cool Beer

GOLD: Mill Street Stock Ale
SILVER: Nickel Brook Draught
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Cameron's Cream Ale

GOLD: Creemore Springs Premium Lager
SILVER: Great Lakes Red Leaf
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Creemore Springs Premium Lager

GOLD: Mill Street IPA
SILVER: Black Oak Pale Ale
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Mill Street Tankhouse Ale

GOLD: Steelback Red Maple
SILVER: Old Credit Holiday Honey Beer
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Old Credit Holiday Honey Beer

GOLD: Muskoka Dark Ale
SILVER: Black Oak Nut Brown Ale
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Wellington County Dark Ale

GOLD: Scotch-Irish John By Imperial Stout
SILVER: Black Oak Nutcracker Porter
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Black Oak Double Chocolate Cherry Stout

GOLD: Creemore Springs urBock
SILVER: Mill Street Helles Bock
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Creemore Springs urBock

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Heading to Halifax

I'm finally heading back to Halifax for a much needed visit, almost two years after moving back here to Ontario.

In two weeks I'm heading out there with my fiancee, and Cass Enright, to visit Garrison Brewery owner Brian Titus to discuss the importation of his beers and to check out Garrison's Firkin Friday's at Maxwell's Plum. There are also plans to indulge in the wonderfulness of the Henry House, hang out at the Propeller Brewing Co., drink at Rogue's Roost, check out the new brewpub on Spring Garden (can't remember the name), spend some time in the Labatt Atlantic Beer Institute, and much more. I know there are a bunch of readers from Halifax, so if your around for the second weekend in May, shoot me an email to see if we can hook-up for some pints.

There should be lots to write about upon returning, and I'm sure a lot of good old east coast beer will make the return flight with us.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Leslieville Cheese and Fine Food - Beer & Cheese Tasting

I found myself standing outside Queen Street East’s Leslieville Cheese Market and Fine Foods boutique last Thursday night, watching the crowd gathered inside sampling on some cheese while washing it down with some samples of beer. I was very early for the second of the two scheduled tastings, and seeing all the people crammed into the small artisanal storefront was encouraging for the session ahead.

Before I begin, I must admit that with all the beer events I attend, I’ve never been involved in, or participated in, a cheese and beer tasting. Cheese is something that I absolutely love to experiment with, problem is I never really pay to much attention to what I’m tasting. Whenever I head to a shop for cheese, I’ll grab something new, share it with others, and two months later I’ll forget its name, or where it was from. Also, I’ll admit that I don’t know that much about the cheese making process, or exactly how to properly taste it. I’m curious about all the varities, but so far I have yet to educate myself enough to be comfortable discussing its merits. I do know that cheese and beer go wonderfully together, and I’m trying to learn more about how to put together impressive pairings for get-together’s with friends and family. This tasting was a good first step in learning more.

When the first group left the store I crept in and had a good talk with Michael, the owner, and two other colourful staff members who told me I was in for a good time, with a bunch of terrific cheeses. Sam Corbeil, brewer with Mill Street and also a TAPS contributor, is the host of these tastings, and previous discussions with him had me very interested in attending. Corbeil is a great guy with loads of knowledge in both beer and cheese (so it now seems), and he was a terrific host.

Shortly after 8:30, with the last of the paying attendees arriving, Corbeil got things under way with a brief welcome, introduced himself, and explained how the tasting would flow.

This particular tasting was focused on the Germans. Well, German beer, not cheese. Corbeil explained the Reinheitsgebot to the crowd, and then cracked open the nights first beer: Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissbier. This was paired with weisswurst sausage, not cheese, and it was terrific.

The next round belonged to Mill Street's newly re-formulated Pilsner (not German style, but Czech and last of the test batches) that was matched up with an Ontario produced Black River 4 year old cheddar. Corbeil decided on this pairing due to the sharp bitterness and dryness of the new pilsner that would match nicely with the strong dry flavour of the cheddar. The carbonation of the beer helped to cleanse the palate in between bites, setting up your mouth for another dose of the cheese.

Round three featured Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel with a beautiful slice of Petit Basque, a soft, French sheep's milk cheese aged for 2 months. The dunkel poured a nice cola brown with a small ring of tan head and it was all malt on the nose. The cheese had barnyard-like taste, possessing earthly flavours that went very well with the maltiness of the dunkel. Many people liked this pairing the best.

Up next we tasted a Swiss Cave Aged Gruyere that had a nuttiness quality to it that matched well with the beer Corbeil selected - Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock. The doppelbock was a great beer with this cheese as the big malty body cut through the creamy texture of the Gruyere. This was my pairing of the night...until I saw what came next.

Schneider and Sohn Aventinue Eisbock paired with a Blue Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Truffle covered in crushed walnuts - amazing. The chocolate truffle was perfect with the eisbock, cutting through the high alcohol and worked well with the big malt and dried fruit profile of the beer. The unique taste coming from the sample glass was easily matched by the blue cheese centre, taming the beast inside.

Throughout the night Corbeil talked about the pairings: why they work, what other beers might go nicely with the cheese selection, and how to impress your guests at the next cheese party. The staff were great the entire night; throwing out some humourous jabs at some Molson employees in attendance (all in good fun), offered individuals more samples of the wicked cheeses, and answering all the questions about the products available in the small store, which you should visit if you have yet to do so.

All in all it was a great night. I really felt like I learned something and I look forward to experimenting a little more on my own. But this time I'll remember what I tasted. Brian Morin and Stephen Beaumont's new beerbistro cookbook is a great start with its nicely laid out charts featuring a number of pairing recommendations by the two highly skilled authors.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Beaumont

Jay Brooks over at Brookston Beer Bulletin has reminded us all that it's Stephen Beaumont's birthday today, with a post on his site. Beaumont, a friend and fellow contributor of TAPS, turns 45 years young today. And what a day to celebrate - I'm guessing a trip to a patio?

Happy Birthday Stephen.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Meet Joel Manning: Mill Street's Brew Master

Meet Joel Manning (in the middle), the talented Brew Master at the Mill Street Brewing Company. Manning is the man (no pun intended) behind the ever expanding Mill Street line-up, producing the beers that we in Ontario have come to love, and the rest of Canada for that matter.

Manning's products have won an astounding number of awards in the last couple of years, including nine medals at the 2008 Canadian Brewing Awards (6 golds, 2 silvers, 1 bronze). And again, under Manning's watchful eye, Mill Street was crowned the Canadian Brewery of the Year for the second year in a row, at the same awards.

I've known Manning for quite some time now, but got to know him a little better when we shot the Mill Street Video Podcast for TAPS. He is very passionate about the beer industry, which is clearly evident in his work, and that passion was recently showcased when he was profiled in the LCBO's 'The Inside Story - Meet the Makers' media program. People can keep tabs on the beer scene at Mill Street by heading over to Mill Street's website to check out Manning's brewmasters blog.

So sit back, pop a cap off a Mill Street product and get to know the man behind the beer.

How many years have you worked in the industry?
I have been a commercial brewer for 22 years.

How did you get into brewing beer?
I got a job in 1986 as a trainee at the Amsterdam brewpub in Toronto while I was taking a year off my studies at U of T and I never went back! I recognized it instantly as the combination of science and art that I had been looking for and took an opportunity that I knew was rare.

Where were you before Mill Street?
I was at the Amsterdam Brewing Co. in Toronto before I came here.

So how long have you been brewing with Mill Street?
I have been with Mill Street since December of 2005.

Can you provide a little history on the brewery?
Mill Street opened at the end of 2002 in the Distillery District at # in Toronto. It was housed in Building #63 which was an old "tank house" for the Gooderham and Worts distillery. All brewery operations were conducted at that site until mid-2006 when we opened a larger brewery in Scarborough due to increased sales--we had literally grown out of the Distillery building and there was no way to expand there. We re-configured the brewery in the Distillery District as a brewpub and retail store that year and it still operates that way. We make a number of small-run specialty and seasonal beers at the pub facility.

What is your best selling beer?
Too close to call! Our Original Organic Lager (certified by the OCIA) and our Tankhouse Ale are neck and neck.

How successful have the seasonals been for Mill Street?
We do the seasonals because we love them. They are not big commercial ideas, but they are very pure "beer" ideas. We have a very highly skilled group of brewers here at Mill Street (I have never seen such a competent technical team assembled in a brewery this small before) and we love beer and know how to make a huge range of traditional styles. The owners of the brewery give me completely free reign to make the seasonals the way I see fit, so we make some very rare and unique styles that you won't see elsewhere. From the point of view of making lots of money from the seasonals, they aren't very successful because they are very small batch and aren't designed for everyone. But from the point of view of Mill Street contributing to beer education and beer culture development in Canada, they are extremely important to us and we consider them very successful.

Which provinces currently sell Mill Street products?
We sell Mill Street products in every province except for Quebec, PEI and Newfoundland.

What is it like brewing in Canada's biggest beer consuming province?
Ontario is a great place to brew beer these days. There is a well-developed and ever-increasing beer culture here and Toronto is one of the best draught markets in North America, so it is an exciting place to be. Mill Street is a small brewery that has success making a range of craft-brewed beer, so with the diversity of both retail accounts (pubs and restaurants) and consumers in this province we make something for everyone without ever having to compromise the beer. We make a range of beers to each be different and stylistically accurate without making any one beer that is trying to please everyone. We make it the way we want to, and have been pleased to see that beer drinkers like it too.

Describe your time as President of the Master Brewers' Association of Canada.
I have been a member of the Master Brewers' Association of Canada since 1991 and served on its technical, executive and education committees since then. In 2003 I was fortunate enough to be elected as Chair of the Technical Committee and then by succession as President of the MBAC in 2004. It was a real honour to serve the MBAC in this capacity since it has such a rich and long-standing history (it pre-dates the First World War) and it gives you insight into the common goals that have bonded brewers together in this country throughout that whole time. The MBAC's commitment to technical advancement in brewing and personal development through a spirit of mentorship within the industry is essential to its growth and these commitments are independent of the name or size of the brewery you work for.
The involvement of craft brewers such as myself in an executive capacity further augments the relevance of the association in this day and age where craft breweries are commonplace. Craft brewers have gained respect both for business and brewing acumen but also bring in a lot of energy and resourcefulness which have always been essential in the very competitive world of the brewing industry. My time as president of the MBAC have made me a better brewer and strengthened my commitment to this industry as a whole. The friends that I have made through the MBAC are resources that have strengthened me in return and will continue to do so for the rest of my career.

Tell us something about yourself that not a lot of people know about.
I grow tropical epiphytic orchids as a hobby.

What's your favorite beer style?
Personally my favourite style of beer is Bamberger Rauchbier.

What is your ideal food and beer pairing?
Pale ale and curry.

Pick one Mill Street beer to drink forever.
Tankhouse Ale. It rocks.

What has been the highlight of your brewing career?
The first time that I was promoted to Head Brewer. One of those euphoric yet terrifying feelings when you are in charge of a brewery. I never forget that feeling.

Best time for a pint?
7 pm in a pub with friends.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Mill Street Variety Pack

There is some good news coming from Toronto's Mill Street Brewery today. The two time Canadian Brewery of the Year is getting ready for the launch of a new member of their bottling family, as they’ve recently received a green light from the LCBO to distribute a new six-pack.

The Mill Street Seasonal Sampler is anticipated to hit LCBO shelves late in May, and will feature their regular five year round products: Organic Lager, Tankhouse Ale, Coffee Porter, Stock Ale, and Belgian Wit. Joining them will be the newly bottled 2008 Canadian Brewing Award (CBA) Gold Medal winning Pilsner.

Mill Street has been working on this for quite some time now, but wanted to release the new mixed sixer in time for the summer months. I spoke with Mill Street’s Vice President of Sales, David Mitchell, about the news.

"The idea spawned from research that showed consumers really have an affinity for the variety of beers we make. The feedback was that many people who like Organic also like Belgian Wit and so on. We took the cue from other Craft Brewers in Western Canada, and the United States, who were bringing mixed six packs to market,” stated an excited Mitchell.

As mentioned, the Pilsner beat out a number of other great beers of the same style at the 2008 CBA’s to take home the gold and will be a nice addition to the other popular Mill Street products.

The Pilsner pours lovely bright deep gold with a rocky thin head and produces a sweet nose that co-mingles with some toasted grain and light floral notes. The taste is clean and satisfying, sweetness on the tongue up front, with some sharp spice in the finish from the Czech hops (which Brew Master, Joel Manning, has confessed to increasing). It's a nice clean, dry finish and a good example of a Czech style pils. ***This Pilsner is a new recipe. You can sample the last of the test batch down at the brewpub, which is where I tasted this the other day.**

Mill Street will also be following up this Seasonal Sampler with a Fall version that should roll out to LCBO stores in September, and it will include a different “Specialty” product.

“We have always taken pride in our "Specialty" beers that we have available on draught at our Brew Pub and in various licensees, and we wanted to deliver more variety to consumers at the LCBO level," he later added.

We have all witnessed the popularity of the Ontario Craft Brewers mixed “Discovery Packs,” so it should come as no surprise if these fly off the shelves. It will be a great way to introduce the traditional macro-lager drinkers to something new and interesting, without breaking the bank for separate six packs.

The seasonal beers that Mill Street have been producing lately have been stand-outs in the Toronto area (for those lucky enough to find some), with their Tripel, Milk Stout, dry hopped Scotch Ale, and more; which have been garnering a lot of attention. It is great to see an Ontario brewery playing with new beers on such a regular basis, and taking the first step with this endeavour should pay dividends for them.

No word yet on what the retail price will be.

Shipping Beer - Avoid DHL

I get a fair bit of beer sent my way from various breweries in Canada, and I've found that Purolator is the best shipping company to deal with. Not only is the warehouse situated close to my place, but the staff are great and it seems they honestly handle each package that bares a 'fragile sticker' on it with care.

DHL is by far the worst. I have had numerous packages either disappear in mid transit, or break upon arrival to their warehouse. A brewery from British Columbia sent some product my way two weeks ago with this company and by Thursday of last week I still had yet to get anything delivered. I got the tracing number, called the toll free line, and waited to hear what excuse they had this time.

The guy that answered looked up the number and informed me that an attempt to deliver was made and that the package was now back in the warehouse. Weird, I didn't receive any notice that someone tried to deliver the box. I changed the address to another location where I would be available for a signature and I was told the package would probably be delivered by Tuesday of this week. As of yesterday - nothing. Another call.

This time it was a different story. It turns out that my package was going through an inspection because of breakage. "Really, I wasn't told that the first time I called." I was to be called back by someone in the 'tracing' department but I didn't receive that call until this morning, and it was a call I didn't want to take.

"All the bottles in the package are broken," the woman explained. "The package was damaged when it was being transported from one warehouse to another, so we can't deliver it now."

Okay, timeout. You mean to tell me that the package made it from BC to Toronto without getting damaged, an attempt to deliver was made, a change of address notification was placed on the package, and I it was supposed to be delivered by Tuesday? And now I'm being told everything is broken?

So what did she have to say about all this after I finished my rant about how shitty DHL is? "Well, it really all depends on the shipper, and how they packaged it. We aren't responsible." Wow.

Stay away from DHL.

Got a DHL horror story? Or another one with another shipping company? Share.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bar Volo Gets Brewing Equipment

As if there aren't already enough reasons for people to head to Volo. Owner Ralph Morana has been bringing customers diverse beers for years, hosting tremendously successful cask events, boasts a rotating weekly cask and draught line-up, and he is one of the most dedicated publicans I have come across. You can now add another column to the Volo resume - brew pub, as Morana recently received his much anticipated brewing equipment, which he has set up in the bars kitchen.

The whole idea started along time ago. Morana was interested in cask conditioned beers, so he headed to England to learn as much as he could about the hardships of maintaining cask beer. It was a segment in the beer culture that Morana wanted to tap into, so when he came back from England he started the infamous Cask Days Festival, the pinnacle for cask ale events in Ontario.

Never one to sit and rest on past accomplishments, or ideas for that matter, Morana was interviewed by Cass Enright in May of 2007 for Bar Towel Radio and stated his plans for obtaining a brew pub licence for Volo. Since that time he has taken brewing lessons at UC Davis in California under the watchful eyes of some well known brewing instructors, toured many breweries for inspiration, and he recently put his new-found knowledge to the test and produced a mild that was served via handpump at a pub in Sunderland, England. "That was very cool," stated Morana at his bar some time ago. "The pump clip had our Bar Volo name on it, and it was consumed very quickly. I was very proud of it."

On a recent visit to Volo, Morana mentioned that he plans to start brewing very soon, producing a wide range of beers. "I think the first batch might be a hopped up IPA; however, Ontario brew pubs have to keep the alcohol content under 6%, but it will be a nicely balanced hop bomb."

Because he wants to brew a number of beers ranging in style, Morana hopes that he can brew new beers weekly, all on cask, though he understands it may not be practicable. "I'm only set up for brewing cask conditioned beers, so customers may be able to expect a new beer each week." That should impress the local beer enthusiasts' who make Volo their regular haunt.

There are also plans to incorporate homebrewers recipes, and pilot craft breweries recipes, under the Volo brand. "I'll still keep bringing in new beers, but most of my focus will be on brewing interesting stuff."

So, like I said, if you didn't already have enough reason to get into Bar Volo on a frequent basis, you do now. Stay tuned for details on the first beer to be served - via Ralph and Co.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CASK! Beer for the Cure Dinner: April 25th

After organizing a successful cask ale crawl through the streets of Toronto a couple weekends back, the CASK! group are gearing up for another cask event this Saturday (April 25th) as they are hosting a "Beer for the Cure" dinner at the Granite Brewery in support of the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada.

The group has put together a four course cask ale and food pairing, featuring newly released beers from Grand River and MacLean's Ales, along with fresh cask from the Granite, which will all be paired with a British inspired menu (see below).

Nicholas Pashley, a Core CASK! Member and author of Notes on a Beermat: Drinking and Why It's Necessary, will be the night's guest speaker, enlightening ticket buyers with his charming good natured wit. There will also be a silent auction and door prizes.

Tickets to the event are being sold for $65 per person and can be obtained by calling Caroline or Robert at .

Sausage Rolls
Along with Granite IPA
served from 6:30 p.m. on in the dining room

Granite Spent Grain Bread with Potted Beer Cheese
Matched with Granite Best Bitter Special

Roast beef with a Granite Peculiar gravy,
Yorkshire pudding and a medley of roast vegetables
Paired with MacLean’s IPA

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Served with Grand River Brewing Imperial Stout

*Partial proceeds from the dinner will be going to the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Welcome to Toronto Mr. Kissmeyer: Danish Beer Dinner

It took me a couple of days to recover from Wednesday's Danish Beer Dinner that was held at beerbistro; a dinner to celebrate two diverse Danish breweries: Norrebro Bryghus and Mikkeller. Eight courses of beautifully rich and flavourful food matched wonderfully with eight strong beers from the two respective breweries, over five hours, had both my head and stomach in a whirlwind.

After the dinner, on the streetcar making my way home, I thought how hard it would be to write a wrap-up post of the dinner here on the blog. How could I possibly capture the creativity of the food, the outstanding qualities of the beer, and the atmosphere, in a manner that would really justify what I had just taken part in? Let me just start off by saying that beerbistro Chef/Owner, Brian Morin, and his talented culinary wizards in the kitchen, pulled off another coup, proving once again that beerbistro is at the top of the class.

Just like the Dogfish Head dinner, I attended a little early to have a drink at the bar and I was lucky enough to share a lengthy conversation with Norrebro Bryghus' Anders Kissmeyer, the night's main attraction. Kissmeyer is the face of Norrebro Bryghus, a brewery created on an idea back in the late 90's. Kissmeyer worked as a master brewer and chemist for a company you might have heard of: Carlsberg, and after spending 16 years working for the multi-national brewery, Kissmeyer, inspired by the US craft brewing industry, started working on a business plan to open a craft brewery in Copenhagen. Backed with the money of a friend, Kissmeyer led an enthusiastic team in opening the brewery and attached restaurant (he mentioned that they don't call them brew pubs in Denmark) in Copenhagen's Norrebro region in 2003. They have since opened a second brewery to handle the increased demand.

Back to the bar. Kissmeyer had just arrived with the Roland and Russell Import Agency team, fresh from a trip to Mill Street Brew Pub, and decided on a King Pilsner to start things off. After introductions were made and a couple sips were had we got into talking about some Ontario beer. "From what I've sampled here yesterday and today, I've gotta say, Ontario brewers are doing a mighty fine job," stated Kissmeyer before going on about how great King Pilsner is. Interesting coming from a man who has new beers springing up at the original brewery almost daily, of all styles and flavours.

The event got started just minutes past 7:00pm when the master of ceremony and noted beer writer, Stephen Beaumont, took the mic and welcomed all in attendance. Beaumont highlighted what we were in store for, described the menu and explained how the matchings were chosen, provided some educational information on the blossoming craft brewing industry in Denmark, and introduced the crowd to Kissmeyer.

Before the first round of food and beer was set on the table, Kissmeyer spoke at length about the brewery, a little about his background, and promised us that the beers we would be tasting would take us well into the night. As he was wrapping up, the first samples were brought to the table - Mikkeller Warrior Single Hop IPA that Beaumont spoke on. With that the dinner was officially on the go.

As for the pairings, well, I liked them all. I really enjoyed the Smoked Cod with Norrebro's Skargaards Porter. It was an incredible match. The Rabbit terrine with Norrebro's Paske bock (get it - rabbit, bock - easter..) was really nice too. The bock was delicious. Not sticky or cloying, nice and malty, subtle, yet complex. All the beers were outstanding and incredible on their own. As I mentioned, my head was a little hazy in the morning, and I lay blame on the beers, as not one was under 6.0%.

The attendance was great, a sold out crowd for the $120 ticket dinner, and everyone seemed very interested in listening to Kissmeyer speak, straining to hear his voice over the chatter from the front bar area of the restaurant (which was still open to the public). Mike Shatzel, owner of Cole's Restaurant (Bar), the popular spot in Buffalo for a large selection of terrific draught and bottled beer from Belgium and American craft breweries, came with three friends (including Buffalo Beer Blogger, Mike) to take part in his first beer dinner and he expressed his enjoyment at the end of the night. "This was an amazing time. Great beers, amazing food, and very organized. I was very happy I came."

There were also a number of individuals who work in the Ontario brewing industry present, along with members of the Danish Consulate, members of the media, importers, and a good showing of craft beer supporters. "I was at the Dogfish dinner, and the Brooklyn dinner, and they were both unbelievable, but the beers that we had tonight, in my opinion, were the best to date," stated Cameron's Brewing Co. sales representative, Jon Graham. "The pairings were bang on, but the beer, on it's own, was terrific. The Old Odense Ale was/is out of this world."

Many others thought the same about the Old Odense. I thought it was the best and most interesting beer of the night. Using five different herbs, and other ingredients during a collaboration with Dogfish Head owner, Sam Caligone, Kissmeyer wanted to create a whole new style, yet take it back to a style that was around hundreds of years ago. "I love this beer," stated Kissmeyer after the dinner, "it is certainly one of my favourites."

My night ended after completing a 45 minute interview with Kissmeyer, and it was interesting to see all the ticket buyers coming up to him on their way out just to thank him for a wonderful night. He shook everyone's hand, thanked everyone for coming out, and handled all the attention like a pro. It was the perfect way to end a perfect night.

Kudo's go out to Vlado and Liliana of the Roland and Russell team, Brian Morin and his team at beerbistro, Stephen Beaumont who was a great MC, and finally, Kissmeyer himself. A terrific beer dinner well worth the price tag.

The menu
Round 1: Mikkeller's Warrior Single Hop IPA - Horse Tartare w/ Potato & Leek Soup
Round 2: Norrebro's Skargaards Porter - Smoked Cod w/ horseradish creme fraiche
Round 3: Norrebro's Paske Bock - Rabbit Terrine
Round 4: Mikkeller's Jackie Brown - Roasted duck breast & fois gras
Round 5: Norrebro's Old Odense Ale - Matane Shrimp & greens
Round 6: Norrebro's La Granja Stout - Beef & Bornholm potatoes
Round 7: Mikkeller's Stone Alesmith - Danish Blue Cheese
Round 8: Mikkeller's Beer Geek Brunch Weasel - Poached Pear w/ almonds & ganache (beer ice cream)
Round 9: Mikkels Monster

*Look for the entire interview with Kissmeyer in the summer issue of TAPS.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beer as an Embodiment of Canada: Guest Writer, Rob Symes

So, in a previous post Troy mentioned that I had been granted Canadian citizenship. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to now be a Canadian, and how I would define being Canadian. Citizenship documents talk about the responsibilities of citizenship – in essence the values and beliefs that we should all have as Canadians – and this provides some help, but it sure is hard thinking as a downtown Toronto dweller about what I have in common with my cattle rearing uncle in the Ottawa Valley. We’re a diverse people, and we can’t be placed into clean niches (other than that we’re nice… ‘nice’ is a word I hear a lot when people talk about Canadians). Naturally my mind wandered and I began thinking about what Canadian beer is, and how could I define the brewing industry of my new homeland. Just as I found it hard to generalise about what it meant to be Canadian, I also found it hard to generalise about Canadian beer; there are a lot of general common threads, but also striking differences. I then started thinking at a provincial and territorial level… what beer most represents the different parts of our glorious land? Here’s my best answer…

Ontario: My home province runs the gamut from heavy industry to pastoral farming, and is also home to some of the biggest (but no best) brewers in Canada. The common denominator is lager, but I’m not about to push Lakeport or Molson Ex anytime soon. Instead, Grand River’s Town Hall Lager should please everyone with its well-crafted clean profile of biscuit malt and citric bitterness. It’s a good honest working man’s beer.

Quebec: The beautiful province seems to be making a career out of Belgian-style ales, which reflect the cosmopolitan, patio culture of Montreal and the fortified grandeur of Quebec City. Unibroue’s Fin du Monde, with its corked and caged bottle and glorious label depicting Quebec would be equally at home in either situation.

British Columbia: BC produces some of the hoppiest beers in Canada, either because they neighbour hop-crazy Washington state, or because hop vines are cousins of the marijuana plant. Tree’s Hophead IPA seems perfect for both explanations.
Alberta: Oil, so it has to be a stout. Handily, Calgary’s Wild Rose produces the excellently named Alberta Crude, which by all accounts looks like the real deal, and is well worth fuelling up on.

Saskatchewan: I’m thinking grain… lots of grain, so perhaps a beer with a nice solid malt body. Paddock Wood produces an excellent pilsener by the name of Czech Mate which has just that, with an abundant prairie grassiness to boot.
Manitoba: Like Saskatchewan I think of Manitoba as a producer of grain, so a wheat beer would do the trick. How about Half Pint’s Holy Spirit, the last in a trinity of excellently adventurous prairie brews?

Nova Scotia: Garrison’s Tall Ship Amber reminds us of Nova Scotia’s proud seafaring history (if you need another reminder check out a dime). I also like how the brewery’s name conjures up images of Citadel Hill guarding over one of the world’s finest natural harbours.

New Brunswick: Its always stormy in the Maritimes. Whenever I turn the Weather Network on it seems that either a foot of snow is being deposited on the provinces or a hurricane is bearing down on them. A beer to warm the soul on a nasty winter’s night is Baltic Storm, a seasonal available at the Pump House Brewery.
Newfoundland and Labrador: In this province, The Rock is not a wrestler, and its certainly not a disappointing Michael Bay film. Eric’s Red from Quidi Vidi appeals to the Viking heritage evoked by L’Anse aux Meadows.

PEI: Tiny PEI will always be associated with Anne of Green Gables and Bud the Spud (I should get additional Canada points for that Stomping Tom reference). Gahan House is the only brewery on the island linked to the rest of us by a bloody big bridge, so in honour of the Confederation Bridge and the men who made Canada a country, I’ll select Sir John A’s Honey Wheat Ale.

Yukon: Without a doubt Yukon Brewing’s Lead Dog Ale, with its label of a husky and warming body not only embodies the rugged heart of the north, but also provides welcome warmth in cold climes.

*Neither the Northwest Territories nor Nunavut (with a combined population of 74,000) currently have any breweries. Its too bad because an eisbock would be a perfect representative. The beer is frozen and the ice layer skimmed off leaving a super-concentrated warming brew which would be ideal to take the edge off the chill.

Agree or disagree? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Alan

Happy Birthday wishes go out to Alan, the creator of A Good Beer Blog. Alan, who has been blogging about beer for a number of years, turns a young 46 today, which he will no doubt celebrate by cracking the top of some delicious beer.

Happy Birthday Alan!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Keith's Brewed in BC?

I woke up this morning and read this story from the Halifax Metro. It seems Nova Scotia will now be sharing brewing duties with British Columbia for Alexander Keith IPA, which does not sit well with some Halifax residents.

Keith's, which is owned by Oland, who are owned by Labatt, who is owned by AmBev/A-B, have stated that they can't keep up with demand so they will be assigning some production to their BC brewery in Creston.

As some of you readers may know, I used to work for Labatt's many years ago in Halifax, and even then I always wondered how they could produce all the Keith's in the Oland Brewery?

Click here for story, or read below.

Alexander Keith's to open second brewery in B.C.

April 16, 2009 12:50 a.mThose who like it, buy it a lot.

So much so that Alexander Keith’s, a beer closely tied to Nova Scotia, will now be brewed in British Columbia as well.

Labatt Breweries announced yesterday that Keith’s is doing so well it will begin brewing the beer in Creston, B.C. to service markets west of Ontario.

“The brand became the No. 1 draft brand in Ontario. It’s the No. 1 specialty beer in Canada,” said Richard Musson, the vice-president of marketing for Labatt.

“As we looked forward five years we’d see the brand getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And you start to say, 'well does it make sense to transport beer from one side of the continent to the other?'”

The change means the Halifax brewery will make less Keith’s, but more Budweiser and Bud Light for the Quebec market. There will be an overall drop in Halifax production by four per cent but no jobs will be affected in either brewery.

Labatt said Keith’s will only be sold after a rigorous quality control process to ensure it tastes exactly the same. Keith’s brew master Graham Kendall will go to Creston to teach the brewing recipe and process.

Musson said the beer will still be an ambassador of Nova Scotia.

“Everyone always knows Guinness is Irish, although a lot of it doesn’t actually come from Ireland,” Musson said.

“We’re never going to take the Nova Scotia out of Keith’s. Without Nova Scotia this brand wouldn’t be so successful.”

Musson said that one in four beers drank in Nova Scotia is a Keith’s product. Market shares are confidential, but NSLC spokesman Rick Perkins called Keith’s “by far the largest beer” with a “quite huge” market share.

“It’s just a dominant brand, and you see that by the footprint it’s given in our stores,” he said.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Raise a Pint for a New Canadian

Just want to give a shout out to Rob Symes, a great guy who has contributed to this blog on a couple of occasions with plans to write some more. Rob just got word that he passed the Canadian citizenship exam he took recently, and he is going to become a Canadian Citizen next Thursday.

"On Thursday I'll wake up and grab my poutine breakfast, before stopping by Tim's for a double double. I'll talk hockey with the mountie at the ceremony and celebrate by listening to the whole Celine Dion back catalogue. Gotta fit in, you know?"
Now, Rob's wondering what he should drink to celebrate the big day? Any suggestions?

Congratulations Rob!

Black Oak Grand Opening - Saturday Night

Black Oak Brewery President, Ken Woods (pictured) and Brew Master, Adrian Popowycz, along with the rest of the Black Oak Brewery staff, are getting ready to host their grand opening party at their new Etobicoke location. This Saturday, between 4pm and midnight, join the private party out at the brewery to welcome the group to the area. There will be some special whiskey barrel aged beers available for sampling, along with a cask of Hop Bomb.

This must be an exciting time for the Black Oak team as getting the brewery to where it is now has taken a little longer than originally planned. I visited the new location back in November, and I mentioned in the blog post that followed that they should have been up and running since Christmas, so having a grand opening now must be bittersweet.

I plan on attending, and I think you should too. And being able to board a bus to get to and from the party safely, for free, is an added bonus and a generous gesture from Black Oak.

The Black Oak Brewing Company is finally having a Grand Opening

You are invited to attend a private event at the new brewery.
Be a Black Oak Brewing Best Friend Forever (BOBBFF)
On Saturday April 18, from 4:00 pm - Midnite

(note: early people will forced to help set up & clean up and then wait last in line for beer)

No Need to RSVP, Just show up.

Just south of Evans Ave

Note: Our Retail Store Will be Closed for the Event.

Special Whiskey Barrel Aged Nut Brown and Double Chocolate Cherry Stout will be available in casks. Also Hop Bomb Cask Pale Ale will be available. In addition our regular draft beer will also be available. Soft Drinks will be available.

Live Music will be provided by local bands. For your enjoyment we will be serving some comfort food off the BBQ as well as chili from Local 4's own Nancy.

We have chartered the Magic Bus Company to pick up at the following Locations & Times:
Victory Cafe: 3:30
Volo: 4:30
C'est What?: 5:30

The bus will pick up and then drop at the brewery and then go to the next pick up location. If you miss the bus then you're on your own for getting to the brewery.

This Bus will also be doing runs to the Islington Subway starting at 10:00 pm, then at 11:00pm and the final bus will depart for the subway at midnite. We will also have taxis available at the door after 10:00pm.

To ensure everyone enjoys themselves and gets home safely, no Excessive consumption will be allowed. Guests abusing this privilege will be sent home.

Drinking and Driving will Not Be Permitted!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mikkeller Warrior Single IPA

I've never had a Danish India Pale Ale before, and due to curiosity I didn't want to read any information about the bottle of Mikkeller Warrior IPA that I had in front of me. Are Danish IPA's more European in nature, or are they modeled on the American version? From the stories I've heard, and from the articles I've read, I'm guessing (before I pop the cap) that this bottle of IPA would be more hop forward (American) then the traditional IPA's found on the other side of the ocean. And it helps knowing that the Warrior hop strand is of the American variety.

Off goes the top and the beer flows into the glass from the pink labelled bottle. What a beautiful head. Three good inches of the delicate white oxygen fighter look lovely atop the orangey, hazy, unfiltered IPA. The nose is a hop bouquet, very citrusy and zesty, with some floral notes, and a nice touch of toasted biscuity malts working together with a hint of sweet caramel, helping to strike a nice balance. I'm also picking up some barnyard like aroma's, something like rain soaked fence posts (I grew up on a farm). Very inviting and interesting indeed. The first drink supplied a nice Warrior hop wallop that immediately awoke my sleeping taste buds, providing them with the taste of a citrusy punch - think tangerine and lemon. The bitterness is up front, but fades off into a solid and lingering sweet aftertaste, coying me to have another drink. The highly carbonated, medium bodied IPA is nice and crisp, yet it leaves a stickiness on the tongue which has me smacking my lips for minutes after the bottle is done. I like it. I could drink more of this. I like how the hop (warrior - hence its name) stands out in both the aroma and taste, but also how it plays nicely with the malts and the carbonation to create an easy drinking, subtle American IPA.

The Warrior Single Hop IPA will be one of the 9 beers being served tomorrow at the Danish Beer Dinner at beerbistro, hosted by the Roland and Russell Import Agency. The latest word is that there are very few tickets available, so if you are sitting on the fence, now is the time to give beerbistro a call and get a pair today.

Mikkeller Warrior Single Hop IPA
Brewed De Proef Brouwerij, Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium
American Style IPA
Bottle: 33cl
Alcohol: 6.9%

Monday, April 13, 2009

Volo IPA Cask Challenge Round 2 - May 23rd/24th

After hosting a successful Round 1, Volo has announced the dates for the 2nd Round of Ontario's first ever IPA Cask Challenge.

Come out on Saturday May 23rd, and Sunday May 24th, and to participate in the blind tasting. Due to two ties during the first round, there will now be ten firkins available for judging. The doors will open at 12:00pm, and like round 1, there will be no admission fee. Samples can be purchased in either 1/4, 1/2, or full pint size.

Beers Moving On:
Granite Hopping Mad
Publican House Square Nail
Grand River Plowman's
Durham County Hop Head
Mike Duggan Number 9
Magnotta West Coast
Heritage Sgt. Major
Mill St. IPA
Mill St. Tankhouse
Durham Hop Addict

*And if you are wondering who is making these wicked Volo IPA Cask Challenge posters - it's Tomas Morana.

German Beer Tasting at Castro's Lounge

Castro's Lounge has announced the theme for their next tasting: The Germans Are Coming - Bocks, Maibocks, Doppelbocks, Urbocks and more.

The tasting will be taking place on Sunday April 19th at 3pm, and individuals are invited to participate in an interactive and fun session with host Chris Schryer. The $30 ticket gets you 8 healthy sample sized glasses plus an assortment of light snacks, and Schryer will discuss the history of the German brewing culture, provide some style guidelines, and share some tasting notes.

Reserve a spot by emailing Castro's at , or by calling . Or you can drop by 2116 Queen St East. in person, have a pint or two, and register.

Great Lakes Vice-President Discusses Green Tea Ale

For those of us who have the day off, check into today at 1pm - 1:30pm to watch a live interview with Toronto's Great Lakes Brewery Vice-President, Peter Bulut Jr., on the latest installment of Liquid Lunch.

The program, hosted by Hugh Reilly, is the flagship show for (a leader in online television), and Bulut is there to discuss the brewery's newest seasonal, Green Tea Ale, amongst other Great Lakes Brewery stories.

Click here to watch, or listen to the video.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Local Pub: Toronto, ON

My fiancee has been locked away in our apartment for the last couple of days preparing for her final exams, which means I have to find things to do to keep myself occupied, so to the pub it was.

Saturday was a beautiful day to hop on a streetcar and head off to an unknown destinations, hoping a good pub would greet me upon my arrival. To the best of my recollection, I had never set foot on a Dundas streetcar since moving to Toronto, so once I got to Dundas Square, the decision was an easy one.

As I was checking out the sites from my window seat, a thought occurred to me: Why not track down The Local Pub on Roncesvalles Avenue and have a pint of locally crafted beer? I had been to the Local on one other occasion, but it was for business, so that didn't count. And besides, it was a big snow storm that night and I couldn't exactly remember how I got there.

The streetcar went through little China, by the ROM, and through little Portugal, and 40 minutes later we finally arrived to a part of Toronto I had never seen in the daylight before.

It was a only a short walk south on Roncesvalles to get me to the front door, which is great if I was to stay late into the night. I love the pubs that are situated close to public transit. The facade of the Local Pub looks like a house from a fairy tale; cozy, small, quaint, and inviting. There is a large over-hanging sign signaling pedestrians towards the pub and the two large windows on either side of the front door allow passerby's to gaze in and see what's taking place inside.

I am greeted at the front door by Heather, a long time employee of the Local who apologizes for not being ready for opening. It is 4:15pm and the pub was supposed to open at 4pm, but usually Saturdays see the doors open closer to 4:30pm. Not to worry, she ushers me to the bar where she allows me to wait for a pint. Pretty soon people start filing in, taking up multiple tables and ordering drinks. It would appear that the local residents of the area are aware of the opening times and are eager to start their Saturday evening at, well, their local.

I glanced towards the taps to see the draught line-up; all local craft breweries with the exception of Guinness and Magners, and I let Heather pick one for me. She grabs me a pint of Cameron's Auburn Ale, which is poured into the appropriate Cameron's glass (good start) with a nice protection of thick foam that gives way to a nice lacing (clean glass - fresh beer + 2). So what else is on tap? Local Lager (produced by Great Lakes for the pub), Great Lakes Devil's Pale Ale 666, Great Lakes Green Tea Ale, Stratford Pilsner, Wellington County & Wellington Pale Ale, F&M Stonehammer Dark, Cameron's Cream (and Auburn), Amsterdam's KLB Raspberry Wheat, Amsterdam Blonde, Guinness, and Magners. With tax, at $7.75 a pint, the price is a little steep, but it was gladly paid as the beer was top notch.

As I mentioned, the place is filling up and it's yet to hit 5pm. Heather mentions to another customer that it is normally busier than this at this time, but she anticipates things are going to pick up soon, once the sun starts to set. The crowd that is present is pretty diverse. Some young artist looking types are off in one corner by the front windows, while a couple of elderly ladies hold up the bar with a couple of drinks. Heather says that the Local's atmosphere, along with their dedication to serving beer from craft breweries, attracts customers from all age brackets and is home to numerous regulars.

The front area of the pub hosts 8 tables, 4 on each side that is separated by a vacant walk way towards the bar. All tables come with bench seating and comfortable looking kitchen tables chairs straight from the 1970's. The bar is situated in the middle of the room, on the right side, and separates the front from the back, where there are more tables (booths) that are in front of the makeshift stage. The right side of the pub features an exposed brick wall and is lined with local art that is for sale. The left side also features art, but also some beer signage from local breweries. There is some artifacts hanging on the walls too, like the musical instruments and some funky art deco pieces. There are also strings of Christmas lights stretching from the front entrance to the very back, providing a little more light in the dimly lit pub. I like the size, 69 person capacity. Not to big, not to small.

The 'L' shaped bar is nicely sized and accommodates 10 bar stools for patrons to sit on. Behind the bar are a number of shelves lined with spirits, wine, and empty beer bottles, which are all clean and gleaning. There are a couple of low lying light fixtures hanging above that offer a glimmer of light, but the bar is kept bright by the use of tea lights. The bar is my favourite place to sit when I'm visiting a new pub for the first time, and I find the Local's pub a very friendly place to be, and I feel very comfortable here.

Music, well, by 5:15pm there is a three man instrumental band playing some Blue Grass (Kit Gut) music with a cello, banjo, fiddle, and guitar. I love it. Music is a big thing at the Local as musicians entertain 6 nights a week, and there is never any cover charge. Friday nights feature the 'war of the ipods' where the bar staff face off, playing music from their ipods. There is also no tv present in the place, which as you know, I like. And when there is no music, customers can entertain themselves by playing any number of board games that the Local have on hand for heated contests. Games in the pub, I think I've only seen this in three other Toronto establishments (if you know others, please let me know).

The Local Pub is a terrific place in the west end of Toronto that has been filling pint glasses for four years now. It seems to jump all over the place in terms of category - modern pub, traditional, or Canadiana, yet they got it right when they named it the Local, which is what it is all about. As I throw my glasses on and head back out into the sun, I think to myself - I wish that this was a pub closer to home.

The Local Pub
396 Roncesvalles Avenue
Toronto, ON
Open seven days a week: 4pm - 2am

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Brewers Plate Menu Announced

The menu for next Friday's Brewers Plate has been announced here, and thanks to Greg Clow- here, and it sounds friggin amazing. Local food, local beer, highly talented and skilled chefs, all together in a beautiful room on a Friday night - I can't wait.

Check out the official website to order your tickets.

Here is the menu:
From the Kitchen of Brad Long, Veritas
Cameron's Auburn Ale Poached Erie White Bass on Spruce Tip Crepe
Local Lake Erie White Bass from Diana’s Seafood Delight in Toronto
Cameron’s Auburn Ale from Cameron’s in Oakville, Ontario
Pickled Spruce Tips from Forbes Wild Foods in Toronto, Ontario

From the Kitchen of Karen Vaz,
Rebel House
Smoked Elk Sausage Ragout with Dark Ale and Leeks; served with Herbed Potato Gnocchi
The sausage is from SmokeKing in Meaford, Ontario
The potatoes are from Shelburne, Ontario
Vegetables will be supplied by Sanci's Produce

Paired with Mill Street

From the Kitchen of Jamie Kennedy, Jamie Kennedy Event Catering
Potato and Apple Doughnut with Fine Pork Fricassee: This is a yeast raised doughnut made with potato and apple. The fine pork fricassee is like a stew made with pork and onions and red peppers and cream and cider and reduced apple cider.
The pork is from Fred Demartines from Perth Pork Products in Sebringville, Ontario
The potatoes are from Markus of Klondyke Farms in Dashwood, Ontario
The apples are from Lincoln Line Orchards, Smithville, Ontario

Paired with Steam Whistle

From the Kitchen of Marc Breton, Gladstone Hotel (vegetarian selection)
Welsh Rarebit: Savoury bite size snacks combining
Great Lakes Brewery Devil’s Pale Ale and Monforte sheep milk Cheddar with a hit of Kozlik Dijon mustard served on a toasted St. John’s Bakery Red Fife bread.
Devil’s Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewery in Toronto
Sheep’s milk cheddar produced by Ruth Klahsen at Monforte Dairy in Millbank, Ontario
Kozlik’s Dijon mustard made by Anton Kozlik in Toronto and distributed by 100km Foods
St.John’s Bakery whole wheat bread baked on Broadview Ave. in Toronto with heritage Red Fife wheat grown by Patricia Hastings near Madoc, Ontario

From the Kitchen of Brook Kavanagh,
La Palette
Everspring Farms Muscovy Duck 2 Ways: Leg Confit Croquette and Seared Breast with Maple-Parsnip Preserve and Pickled Brussel Sprout.
Duck is from Everspring Farms, Ilderton, Ontario
Parsnips from Pfennings Organic, just outside Baden, Ontario
Brussel sprouts from Sosnicki Organics located in Waterford, Ontario

Paired with Wellington

From the Kitchen of Mark Cutrara, Cowbell
Legendary Beef Tartare: made from Dingo Farms Red Angus Beef and served on a crostini made from bread Cowbell bakes in-house.
Dingo Farms is located in Bradford, Ontario
Bread from Cowbell, Toronto, Ontario

Paired with Black Oak

With these dishes you can enjoy these fine craft beers: Black Oak, Cameron’s, Great Lakes, Mill Street, Steam Whistle and Wellington.

Appetizer restaurants include Oyster Boy, Buddha Dog, Hart House and Magic Oven with bar snacks from Daily Apple.

Dessert Artisans include LPK’s Culinary Groove, Ninutik Maple Sugar, and the Ontario Cheese Society with chocolates from Kakayo and Chocoland

Other wonderful beverage providers include The County Cider Company, Henry of Pelham, Arthur’s Fresh Company, Merchants of Green Coffee and Oikos Teas.

Another Ontario Craft Brewery On the Move

The St. Catherine's Standard is reporting that the Niagara's Best Beer Co. is set to make a move this summer.

Niagara Falls will be home to the region's two microbreweries, following a decision by a St. Catharines brewery to relocate there.
Niagara's Best Beer at 75 St. Paul St. is moving this summer to the former Niagara Brewing Co. (owned by Moosehead) facility on Lundy's Lane.
The new location will feature a brewery restaurant and because of the added capacity, there are plans to increase the number of brands. Right now all the brewery produces are a Best Blonde and a Best Lager, both generic in their own right.

The article provided me with some new information, information I had no idea about. Niagara's Best Beer was launched in 2005 by two former Labatt executives, Kent and Kristy Kraemers, who appear to be out of the picture. The article states that the Kraemers are no longer involved in the business and that the company is now a corporation, as said by business manager, Lou Stranges. It appears that even with the changes the brewery is still part of the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) as they are still listed on the OCB website which was recently updated to include Steelback.

No word on a proposed date for the move. Here's hoping that this new change will see more adventurous beer being produced for on-site consumption.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CRAP - Craftbrewers Recycled Art Project

Stephen Beaumont has beat me to it with his post on CRAP over on his WorldofBeer site, but I have to post on this new local endeavour regardless.

George Eagleson, the spirited head brewer at the F&M Brewery in Guelph, showcased some artwork he assembled from recycled brewing equipment at his annual Georgopoolza festival back in January (auctioned for charity), and has since created an online shopping site for individuals to purchase a variety of those items.

You see Eagleson, along with partner Hanna Senitt (who also sells other homey items under the name bananaknits), are two passionate people when it comes to the environment. Recycling means a lot to them, and working in a brewery Eagleson noticed many things were being tossed out that could still serve a purpose in some capacity. This passion has inspired the pair to turn used materials from around the brewery into wallets (malt bags), pen and desk organizers (brewing hoses), and market bags (spent malt bags), that will be sold under the handle CRAP, short for Craftbrewers Recycled Art Project. "We take stuff that would be CRAP and turn it into stuff that is not CRAP," stated Eagleson.

Their art speaks for itself. It is durable, very reasonably priced, and friendly for the environment. It would be nice to see some these projects in the retail stores of other local Ontario breweries.

But one of the coolest things about this project is that anyone living in Guelph who purchases an item will pay no shipping fee. In fact, the item will be delivered personally via bicycle.

Brewing Hose Desk Organizer: $20.00

Each organizer is numbered and signed by the artist

Malt Bag Wallets: $10.00

"Normally the malt bag get chucked out. However, Not anymore. oh what is the correct term????" Eagleson

Head over to their site to check out the items or to place an order -

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

IPA Cask Challenge Round 1 Results

Ok, the results have been tabulated and round two of Volo's IPA Cask Challenge has been determined. Here they are for your viewing pleasure.


Division 1
  • Durham Hop Head vs. Mike Duggan Number 9 - the winner will take on Grand River Plowman's
  • Granite Hopping Mad vs. Publican House Square Nail - winner to take on Mill St. Tankhouse

Division 2

  • Magnotta West Coast vs. Heritage Sgt. Major
  • Mill St. IPA vs. Durham Hop Addict


*Durham Hop Head IPA and Mike Duggan Number 9 IPA was a draw, as was Granite Hopping Mad and Publican House Square Nail Pale Ale. Therefore, all four casks will advance.
* If there was less than a point difference in score between beers it was considered a draw



ROUND 2: The date will be determined by the end of the week, most brewers have confirmed. Will be sometime in May.

This round will consist of 10 casks, and the tasting will be completely blind. The names of the beers will be disclosed the following day.

Beers will be served in 1/4, 1/2 and Full Pints. More details to follow.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cask Ale Front and Centre: Guest Writer Rob Symes

I had one hell of a good time this weekend. I headed to Volo on Friday afternoon immediately after clearing the work off my desk to kick things off, meeting a bunch of friends for numerous pints of cask ale. The hard work by the CASK! group was clearly evident and all the pubs involved did an outstanding job promoting this (hopefully annual) event. I managed to get to four of the six pubs featured and sampled from each other their offerings. I had many drinking buddies along the way, including an Englishman of my age by the name of Rob Symes, who has graciously offered us this post on his Cask Crawl wrap-up. Enjoy!

This weekend saw a new kind of beer festival hit Toronto, as six locations across the city opened their doors and allowed beer lovers to sample cask conditioned ales. For those of you who are unclear what is meant by cask conditioned, let me explain. Cask beer undergoes a secondary fermentation in the barrel, is free of chemicals and preservatives, and is unfiltered and fresh. It can either be served by gravity (a tap in the bottom of the barrel opens to let beer into the glass), or by using a handpump on the bar. People who like cask beer tend to like it a lot, appreciating the freshness and enhanced taste and texture. This weekend’s event was organised in conjunction with Cask! Toronto, a group of cask devotees dedicated to promoting awareness and growth of cask beer in the province of Ontario.

On Friday night I had a chance to check it out for myself. Bar Volo has an outstanding reputation as a fine beer establishment, and in recent years has become a mecca for cask lovers due to its choice selection of local casks, and its annual fall festival in honour of the great elixir. The MacLean’s Country Organic Ale was a good choice to start, full of lemongrass and herbal flavours; it struck me as a great candidate for a summer patio. As a follow-up, C’est What’s Chocolate Hazelnut Ale made a rare appearance on cask, and would appeal to lovers of nutella with its rich milk chocolate base and strident hazelnut bouquet. The clear winner for me was Neustadt’s Texas Tea Stout, a rich creamy beer, full of roasted coffee, chocolate and cream. This beer is truly a remarkable achievement from a brewery who has hit their stride. The grand-daddy of them all (and an appropriate finisher) is Grand River’s Russian Gun Imperial Stout, a high octane beast of a beer that hides its alcohol well, and goes down a little too easily for something so strong. Grand River has become somewhat of a darling in the local beer scene, and their imperial stout should help cement their reputation.

A pub crawl demands at least two bars in an evening, and a number of people headed to the Victory Café, location of the wildly successful winter cask festival held on a frigid day earlier this year. The bar’s very own Compass Starlight (Nickelbrook) proved to be the perfect session ale, full of citrus notes, and balanced by a biscuit background. Along with the Neustadt, this is my favourite beer of the whole event, and I’d heartily recommend a visit to the Victory to try it. The County Durham Signature would also make an excellent choice for an evening’s drinking, mixing citrus with caramel and floral hints. Our final visit of the night took in C’est What, which was still packing in a crowd despite the late hour. For the Toronto cask lover this may well be ground zero – five handpumps dispensing delicious ale, including the very sessionable house brew, Al’s Cask Ale. County Durham’s Hop Head provided a wonderful burst of grapefruit and Grand River’s Curmudgeon IPA benefits nicely from the cask format. We returned the next day to try the Ploughman’s Ale and Black Oak Double Chocolate Cherry Stout with some friends. In keeping with a theme, C’est What also offers its own festivals and cask events, so check out the blog because they are always a great experience.

The festivities carried on throughout Sunday, with a marquis Cask IPA challenge at Volo (which I’m sure you’ll read about once Troy recovers enough to write it up), and the participating bars still pouring the remaining beers. However, the cask conditioned fun does not end with the close of this event. You can grab a pint at a number of fine establishments in the city , including those who took part in this event (The Granite, Volo, The Rhino, Mill Street Brewpub, Victory Café and C’est What?). For a list of other locations in Toronto and the rest of Ontario check out the Cask! Website for further details (hyperlinked:

Granville Island Launches Brockton IPA

British Columbia's Granville Island Brewery is one of the granddaddy's of micro-breweries in Canada, and to help celebrate their 25th anniversary in the business, the brewery has announced the release of new IPA - Brockton IPA.

The new beer is named after the Brockton Oval in the famous Stanley Park and was chosen by residents of the West coast in a number of blind taste tests. I should have a bottle in my hands this week, so look for some notes soon.

Here is the press release:

Granville Island Brewing celebrates 25 years of originality

British Columbia’s own Granville Island Brewing is celebrating 25-years of innovation and quality with the launch of Brockton IPA, a golden-coloured, well-hopped and refreshing India Pale Ale.

Named after the Brockton Oval in Stanley Park, the Brockton IPA was chosen by {Vancouverites/British Columbians} in a series of taste tests to complement the true West Coast lifestyle.

“Brockton IPA reflects our twenty-five years of innovation and dedication to high-quality handcrafted premium beers that {Vancouverites/British Columbians} have come to know and love,” says GIB brewmaster Vern Lambourne. “Its crisp flavour and aroma can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates the taste of a true West Coast IPA.”

GIB is well-known for its handcrafted premium beers. Inspired by the West Coast lifestyle GIB’s beer line-up includes local favourites such as its English Bay Pale Ale, and Cypress Honey Lager. The brewery uses all natural ingredients in the beer making process to ensure that its award-wining beers are 100 per cent pure: Canadian two-row barley malt and imported malts, the finest blend of European and Pacific Northwest hops, special yeasts and of course, fresh BC water.
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Winter Ale