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.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Get These Men A Beer

There are a couple of very respected publicans celebrating birthdays this weekend - Bar Volo's Ralph Morana and Adam Grant from The Monk's Table.

Last night, folks in attendance for session 1 of the start of Cask Days, happily sung Happy Birthday to Morana to help kick start his hectic weekend. Morana has been running Volo for over 20 years now and the bar has since become a mecca for beer lovers, attracting visitors from all over the world for their bottled beer selection, rotating draught menu, and for the numerous events that are held throughout the year. Morana can usually be found at the bar, chatting with regulars about the industry while making sure everybody is having a good time.

And also celebrating a birthday this weekend is The Monk's Table owner, Adam Grant, who's establishment is just a bit north of Volo. Grant recently ditched the former name of the bar (The Abbot on the Hill) in favour of the Monk's Table, a name that was submitted by a customer during a challenge organized by Grant when he and his partner took over sole-ownership of the restaurant. The bar is well known for their delicious food, terrific import draught menu, and their knack for hosting beer launches. Grant seems to always be around, greeting people at the door and is quick to chat about his passion for good beer.

Usually these two men are the ones pouring and/or serving us our drinks, so this weekend is your turn to say thanks by offering birthday wishes, and maybe even grabbing them a pint at the bar.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cheers! A History of Beer in Canada

Nick Pashley, a hell of a nice guy who wrote what is possibly my favourite book of all time, Notes on a Beermat: Drinking and Why Its Necessary, has informed me that he has a new book hitting store shelves throughout Canada today.

Cheers! A History of Beer in Canada, which was published by HarperCollins Canada, will be retailing for $19.99 and is now available coast-to-coast at select Wal-Marts, Costcos, Chapters/Indgio's, McNally Robinson's, University bookstores and many, many more. Click here for more locations, which have been nicely divided by province.

Go get your copy now! Buy the book as a gift for a buddy! I haven't seen the book yet, but I know it will be a page turner full of interesting information that will undoubtedly be combined with Pahsley's enjoyable, and very readable wit.

Cheers! A History of Beer in Canada
By Nicholas Pashley
HarperCollins Canada $19.99

The author of Notes on a Beermat: Drinking and Why It’s Necessary is back. Nick Pashley brings his wit to bear on beer’s illustrious history in Canada, from Prohibition (and who thought that was a good idea?) to the beer that turned Quebec City drinkers blue and actually killed sixteen of them in 1966. Where else this season will you find a book that includes Prince Charles, Paris Hilton, Ron Keefe, and Rocco Perri, the great Hamilton bootlegger of the 1920s (you may be able to find him today encased in cement at the bottom of Burlington Bay)?

Because you can’t drink Canadian beer without leaving the comforts of home, Nick went out to drink beer across this very big country, from St. John’s to Victoria, Winnipeg to Whitehorse, using twelve airplanes, five trains, two Greyhound buses, and a catamaran. His tireless quest for local beer is recorded for posterity in this amusing and fact-packed new book. Cheers is now available in fine bookstores (and probably one or two mediocre ones as well) across Canada.

Watch for news of a live event at Bar Volo this fall. Otherwise, Nick can usually be found in fine pubs, bars, taverns, and taprooms somewhere near you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Volo Tonight - Ontario IPA Cask Challenge Re-Cap

It's hard to believe that three of the seven days of cask related events have already gone by at Volo, as the Pre-Cask Days Traditional English Style days came to an end last night. However, today marks the start of the one day re-cap of the final four of Volo's very successful Ontario IPA Cask Challenge they held back in the spring.

You'll be able to induldge in 1/2 or full pints of the following cask ale:

Duggan's Number 9 IPA (eventual winner of the challenge)
Granite's Hopping Mad
Sgt. Major's IPA
Durham's Hop Addict

Doors open at 2pm. 1/2 pints $4.50, full pints $6.50.

**Volo will also be offering customers the chance to polish off the remaining beer from the casks of the Traditional English ales that have been featured since Monday. You'll be able to find:

Granite Best Bitter Special
Mill St. ESB (Dry Hopped)
Granite IPA
Gruit Ale - Great Lakes Eunuch Brew

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Disappointing Brick Press Release

It seems that every new press release that Brick Brewery issue these days has to do with another bland version of their Red Baron, new packaging for the Baron, or a Statement of Claim.

Back in March, Brick announced that the Red Baron brand would undergo significant packaging changes while maintaining the discount 'lowest' price cost. Then in May they received a Statement of Claim by Labatt Breweries of Canada for Red Baron's infringements on Labatt's Brava. And at the end of July, Brick announced that they would be introducing the Red Baron in a 15pack for $18.25.

Then, this summer, Brick decided to throw their hat into the Lime Beer ring as they introduced Ontario citizens to six packs of Red Baron Lime for just $9.35. A beer that sold very well and probably pleased the shareholders no doubt. Brick again received another Statement of Claim from Labatt Breweries of Canada for their use of limes on the packaging and their website.

And today, a press release about another new Red Baron product - Red Baron Light. The new beer is now available at the Beer Store in 12packs for $15.95.

Why do I bother mentioning all this? It all has to do with a line in the press release, "Brick Brewing Company has crafted Red Baron Light to compliment their already successful Red Baron Lime and Red Baron Lager line up of premium blonde beers. Like the Red Baron family, Brick will be launching Red Baron Light in a clear glass bottle giving Ontario beer drinkers another reason to help celebrate Brick's 25th Anniversary as Ontario's first craft brewery."

I don't like that line. As Ontario's first craft brewery, it would be nice to see Brick do some interesting beers to help celebrate the 25th anniversary. I know they produced a limited run of their once respected Bock, but you'd think that "as Ontario's first craft brewery" and celebrating a true milestone, Brick would come out with something unique for the people that helped propel them to where they are today. 25 years ago, Brick was a struggling small brewery that opened the eyes of beer drinkers in this province with beers baring a flavour profile not tasted in years. This 25th year has been rife with lawsuits, uninspired beer releases, and bad press (the whole Brickman saga), and that is not something other Ontario craft breweries need to be associated with.

Yes, as their bio indicates, "credited with pioneering the present day craft brewing renaissance in Canada", with releases like these however, Brick is no longer helping the craft segment or promoting what craft beer is all about - something that was lost along the way.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Volo Cask Days Hours

FYI - Volo will be opening the bar early this entire week in celebration of their week long cask events.

Doors will be open at 2pm. Closing time remains the same - 2am.

"Support your locals"

And It Begins...Volo Pre-Cask Days

Game on. Today marks the start of Volo's week long lead up to the infamous Cask Days festival this weekend, and they're opening up the bar with 13 Traditional English Ales that will be served until Wednesday.


No tickets required, serving between 2:00pm-2:00am
All servings will be 1/2 ($4.50) and full pints ($6.50)
No taps will be served during these sessions. Until Supplies Last

Pale Ale - Durham's Signature Ale, Magnotta Pale Ale

Bitter - Granite Best Bitter Special, Saint Andre Brass Monkey Ordinary Bitter

E.S.B - Chesire Valley ESB, Durham ESB , Maclean's Battle X ESB, Mill St. ESB (Dry Hopped), Duggan’s #6 ESB

I.P.A - Durham Triple X IPA, Granite IPA

Brown - Hockley Valley Traditional Dark Ale

Mild - Grand River Mill Race Mild

Porter - Scotch Irish Black Plain Porter, F&M Porter

Stout - Durham Blakk Katt Stout

Strong Ale - Wellington Iron Duke Strong Ale

Old Ale - Granite Peculiar Old Ale

Barleywine - Granite Gin Lane

Gruit Ale - Great Lakes Eunuch Brew

Guest - Fullers ESB / Fullers London Pride

See you at the bar!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

November 7th: Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day @ Amsterdam

Homebrewing is something that I've always wanted to get into but for various reasons I just haven't been able to get it together. Maybe it's the fact that I live in an apartment in the city that is already packed with beer from different parts of the country, or the fact that while I enjoy the idea of making my own beer I might prefer to avoid all the hard work and just enjoy the products made by the talented men and women out there brewing for a living. It is something that I intend on doing in the very near future however, so I was intrigued when I received the following email from George Leet the other day about an event coming up on November 7th.

November 7th - The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) formally runs something call "Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day". In the past, I have had a couple of friends over, and brewed up a big batch of something for us all to share.

This year, I wanted to do something a little bigger!

We will bring our brewing gear to the Amsterdam Brewery for a day of public demonstrations. We're still somewhat in the planning stages, trying to pull this together, but for now we have 12 different brewers (room for 16) who belong to "Are You An SOB? (Southern Ontario Brewers)", bringing their gear down and helping with the big event. Jamie Mistry, the Brewmaster at Amsterdam, has offered us yeast (ale and lager) and hops, and he will also be brewing with us. On top of that, we have grain donations from Weyermann Malts in Germany, and Gilbertson & Page in Fergus. I'm hoping that we will attract members of the public who have an interest in homebrewing or enjoy the taste of unique beers. And who knows, perhaps it will become an annual affair?

The Amsterdam Brewery will also be open, with public tours of the brewery, and Amsterdam beers will be available to sample. Better yet, buy a case to take home!

Other items available for purchase include "Are You an SOB?" T-shirts, items from Craft brewers Recycled Art Project (CRAP), and brewing kits and other supplies from

Amsterdam Brewing
Weyermann Specialty Malts
Gilbertson & Page
Amara Studios Photography
CRAP - Craft brewers Recycled Art Project

P.S. Amsterdam Brewmaster Jamie Mistry will be handing out a recipe for home-brewing "Amsterdam Nut Brown"... Look for a clone contest in the next couple of months!

The Facebook page for the event is here

Do it, go check out the Facebook page and make sure that date is free on your calendar. This certainly sounds like a great way to learn about the brewing process, meet people who have been homebrewing for years, taste some beer from Amsterdam, and take a tour a working brewhouse. The event starts at 10am and runs until 6pm. Judging from the Facebook page, it seems that the homebrewers who have committed to brewing on this day are going to be producing barley wines, porters, stouts, and more.

A little about these SOB's: Southern Ontario Brewers - a group of homebrewers from Toronto (and beyond) who are not only passionate about homebrewing, but are a bunch of SOBs! - We are informally pulling together this group, with the intention of sharing our knowledge, group purchasing power, and stage the occasional gathering to brew together and perhaps share our beers. - The SOB mandate is to be inclusive, not elitist. We hope to have a little fun, and perhaps break some of the rules along the way. You can contact the group at -

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Propeller Pumpkin Ale: Halifax, NS

A week and a half ago I was sitting on the couch having a glass of Dieu Du Ciel's Corne du Diable when the buzzer sounded indicating someone wanted to be let into the apartment. When I saw the box tucked under the man's arm I got excited, knowing it was another box of beer arriving from an unknown sender.

Four bottles of Propeller's latest seasonal came out of the box upon opening it and straight into the fridge they went. It was hard not popping the cap of one, but it was off to Newmarket for the wedding. 9 days have since gone by and today I spent the entire afternoon working on TAPS Magazine stuff, and whenever I do that a beer is always near my computer. It was no different today, and it was the Pumpkin Ale's turn.

There has been a lot of talk about pumpkin beers this season as a number of the deliciously spiced beers have been popping up all over the place, Ontario that is. Great Lakes Pumpkin, Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin, Grand River Highballer Pumpkin, McAuslan Pumpkin, Niagara's Pumpkin (at the pub), and more. I happen to quite enjoy the different complexity that each of these beers offers, as no one pumpkin ale mentioned above taste the same.

Propeller's Pumpkin pours a beautiful hazy golden to orangey colour with a rocky cloud like head. The aroma on this baby is subdued hints of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and freshly chopped pumpkin, all very mild under the billowy cap. There is also a touch of citrus hop on the second sniff. I was expecting a little more in the aroma, so I let it warm up a bit longer but I came away with the same mild notes. Still quite nice though. The light to medium body throws more of the aforementioned spices out in the taste and it all ends somewhat calmly on the tongue, not cloying, yet somewhat sweet. No real huge 'pumpkin pie' flavour with this beer, just a nice quaffable drink that wouldn't offend someone trying a pumpkin ale for the first time. And I love the packaging of this beer. The logo is nice and simple, yet artistic enough to be different than other generic labels.

Propeller has been producing the Pumpkin Ale since 2004 and every season it sells out very very quickly, so make sure you get a bottle or two before it's gone. You can find the product at the brewery in the cold beer store, Bishop's Cellar, Premier Wines and Spirits, and a couple other small boutiques in Nova Scotia.

Propeller Brewing Company
2015 Gottingen Street
Halifax, NS B3K 3B1

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Mill Street Beer Dinner

It seems I've managed to fall behind in some of the things I've been meaning to write about over the last couple of weeks, but if you read the post below, you'll understand why.

One of the events I had planned to cover was the Mill Street Brewmasters dinner that was held down at the brewpub in the Distillery District back on October 8th. Better late than never.

Mill Street, seeing how popular pairing beer with food has become, and noticing the increased popularity of recent Toronto beer dinners, decided it was time to host one of their own using beers available down at their brewpub.

The $49.99 price tag provided customers with a welcoming glass of their Organic Lager, plus four other beers throughout the night, which were paired with sausage, soup, beef tenderloin, and a chocolaty dessert. Very reasonably priced for the amount we would be receiving.

By 6:30pm 101 people had filled the back of the brewpub. Pub owners, industry representatives, Mill Street employees (including owner Irvine Weitzman, who was very excited for the release of the Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale), craft beer enthusiasts (some Bar Towel faces) and people from the area who call the brewpub their local, were all in attendance. It was a good mix of people, which made for pleasant conversation. David Mitchell, the VP of Sales at Mill Street, mentioned before the dinner commenced that tickets sales were great and at one point there was a waiting list, which he was thrilled to say, and it showed that Ontario craft breweries can actually pull off a beer dinner (granted, the location did help tremendously).

The first pairing arrived to the table - bratwurst sausage with fixins and it was paired with the Oktoberfest Marzen. Joel Manning, Brewmaster, spoke about the beer, how it was developed, and explained why the pairing with the sausage would work. Everything on the plate went together wonderfully with the Marzen as it was allowed to stand out on its own without comprising the taste of the food.

Round two had many people in the crowd excited as it would mark the official launch of the Pumpkin Ale, which was paired with a butternut squash soup topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. This was a pairing I dug, and judging by the responses of the others at our table, they did to. The spices in the beer married nicely with the soup, complimenting the toasted seeds and not overloading the palate with two different sensations. The beer itself is medium-bodied with a nice balance of the various spices used in creating the beer. Manning pitched in a bunch of vanilla extract at the end of the brew to help round out the roughness of the pumpkin ale and the result is a super smooth, beautifully coloured, with a pleasant pumpkin pie aroma, and very drinkable.

Red chili beef tenderloin came up next and was paired with the IPA that can only be found down at the brewpub. It was a huge plate and simply delicious. The pairing was okay, I might have used the Tankhouse though, as the hop bite may have taken a bit off the red chili crust. Dessert featured a delectable piece of chocolate pecan pie that was matched up with the Extra Special Bitter, another beer only available at the brewpub. The pie was amazingly rich, maybe to rich for the ESB. I think the Coffee Porter or the Cobblestone Stout would have been a better match in terms of matching flavour profiles.

It was a terrific beer dinner and like I mentioned earlier, well worth the $49.99 admission. Mitchell stated during dinner that they are looking at doing this every so often, at the brewpub, using different beers each time, so keep an eye out for the date of the next one. Hopefully we'll start seeing more and more Ontario breweries doing dinners like this in the near future.

Round 1
Grilled Bratwurst Sausage skewer on a bed of Oktoberfest beer braised sauerkraut, served with apple and mint relish - Oktoberfest Marzen

Round 2
Butternut Squash soup topped with toasted pumpkin ale infused pumpkin seeds - Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale

Round 3
Red Chili crusted beef tenderloin with parsnips, mashed potatoes and buttered autumn vegetables drizzled with a balsamic reduction - India Pale Ale

Round 4
Chocolate pecan pie with caramel and chocolate sauce - Extra Special Bitter

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cask Days 2009 Final List


Scotch Irish Brewing Company - Black Plain Strawberry Porter
Heritage Brewing Company - Hop Fresh 2009
Beau 's All Natural Brewing - Tommy Gun Pale (Caba Caba Hey) / Night Märzen Aged in Wood Cask
County Cider* - Waupoos Cider
Barley Days - Harvest Gold Pale Ale
Church Key - Purple Loosestrife Mead / Oaked Islay V Scotch Ale
Publican House* - McHenry Red Ale

Lakes of Muskoka Cottage Brewery - 2009 Harvest Ale
Hockley Valley - Peanut Butter and Jam Ale
Flying Monkey* - Netherworld India Pale Porter
King - Dry Hopped/Unflitered Pilsner
Black Creek* - Traditional Pumpkin Ale
Magnotta - Festa Best Bitter (Dry hopped mid Atlantic Pale Ale)

Thornbury Village* - Peeler Cider
Battleaxe Brewery* - Old Angus Old Ale
F&M Brewery - Nightmare On Ale Street
Wellington - Iron Duke Strong Ale
Grand River - Highballer Pumpkin Ale

Railway City - Dead Elephant Ale
Stratford - Empire Strikes Black
Niagara’s Best - Portage Pale Ale
TAPS Brewing Company* - Rosberg's Porter (Dry Hopped)
Nickel Brook - Wooden Nickel IPA
Trafalgar - Pickled Corpse
Cameron's - Vanilla Dark Ale

Mill St. - 08/09 Blend Barley Wine (Dry Hopped)
Granite Brewery - Gin Lane Barley Wine
Duggan's Brewery* - Duggan’s #7 Stout
Denison’s - Dunkel from a Wood Barrel (Not Cask-Conditioned) Session 3A Only
Durham Brewing Company - Black Eye Ale
Amsterdam - Oaked Oktoberfest 2009
Great Lakes - Morning Glory Breakfast Stout
Great Lakes & BarVolo - Matt’s Marathon Mild
Black Oak - Lime Light Pale
Cheshire Valley Brewing* - Ginger-Lime Ale
St. Andre - Freshly Squeezed Barley Juice

Brasserie Benelux* - Amato Texas Reserve Brown
Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! - Corne Diable IPA / Péché Mortel / Penombre Black IPA
Brasserie Hopfenstark - Post Colonial IPA
Fullers - London Pride Pale Ale / Extra Special Bitter / India Pale Ale / Red Fox Red Ale

* First Appearance at Volo Cask Days

Unibroue and a Wedding

After ten years of dating, I finally tied the knot with my longtime girlfriend this past weekend, and we celebrated in style.

We decided months ago that a location in Newmarket would work out best for our respective families and we settled on the beautiful Silver Lakes Golf and Country Club in the North end of the city.

The first time we checked the site out I noticed the draught lines - Coors Light, Heineken, Rickard's Red, and Canadian, so you can imagine what my next thought was: What can we do to switch this up for the big day?

Luckily the Silver Lakes wedding facilitator listened to my idea of bringing in some craft beer from some small breweries she'd never heard of and surprisingly the golf course was very receptive and genuinely interested.

The next step was putting together a beer list that would please everyone invited to the wedding. I knew Mill Street's Organic would be a great choice for the Orillia group, so it made the list. Great Lakes just released their fall seasonal, Pumpkin Ale, and being that it was a fall wedding it made sense to offer that. Cameron's Auburn Ale was picked to give the more seasoned craft beer drinkers a bit of hop bite while not scaring off people interested in trying something new. And finally, I chose the Hefe-Weissbier from the Muskoka Cottage Brewery as a nice thirst quencher. With that on draught I felt that everyone would be happy throughout the night. The whole keg of Organic (50l) lasted all of 1 hour.

There was one more thing to work on though. Beer for the tables during dinner. I don't drink wine to often, I can appreciate it, but I can't drink much of it. I wanted to be able to put some beer on the table during dinner service while the bar was closed and I looked to Sleeman for the answer - Unibroue. I managed to grab 50 bottles of Maudite and La Fin Du Monde (25 each) and the golf course had no issue with us bringing them in with the proper paperwork. Each table was provided with one bottle each of the Unibroue beer and the Maudite went beautifully with the Angus beef that was served.

The rest of the wedding went off without a hitch and everyone had a good time, which I'm sure the beer played a significant role with. Thank you to all the breweries for helping make our day great!

*Photo taken by Scott Turnbull of Turnbull Photography, who was excellent throughout the day*

Turnbull Photography
Windermere, ON
P0B 1P0 ~

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

11 Alberta Brewers to Collaborate on a Charitable Brew

Something pretty special is set to take place next Saturday (24th) out in Alberta. 11 brewers from the 11 Alberta breweries will be heading to the Grizzly Paw Brewery in Canmore to work together to produce a Dark Rye India Pale Ale that they've branded as Unity Brew. The brewers will make 2000 litres and each brewery will receive 3 kegs to re-sell at their establishments. All the proceeds from the sale of the collaborative ale will be donated to a charity of each brewery's choice. Michele Lowry, Brewmaster with the Grizzly Paw, thought up the collaboration when brainstorming ideas for a yearly charitable beer, and thought there was no better way than to bring all small Alberta breweries together.

It should also be noted that Canada Malting will be donating all the ingredients that will be used in producing the Dark Rye IPA.

The Micro-Breweries of “THE UNITY BREW”
Alley Kat Brewing Company - Edmonton
Ambers Brewing Company - Edmonton
Big Rock Brewing Company - Calgary
Brew Brothers - Calgary
Brewster’s Brewing Company - Calgary
Drummond Brewing Company - Red Deer
Jasper Brewing Company - Jasper
Roughneck Brewing Company - Calmar
The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company - Canmore
Wild Rose Brewery - Calgary
WildWood Brewing Company - Calgary

*On a side note, Wild Rose will be pouring their ration once its available in November. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Creemore to Acquire Granville Island

I just arrived to Niagara on the Lake for a brief honeymoon getaway and after checking my email account, I noticed a flurry of emails from Creemore Springs Brewery indicating that they would be acquiring Granville Island Brewery in BC with plans to finalize everything by early 2010. I'm led to believe that it is Molson-Coors acquiring the BC brewery under the Creemore name though.

Here is the press release.

VANCOUVER: October 19, 2009 – Granville Island Brewing and Ontario-based Creemore Springs Brewery are planning to join forces, to continue bringing Canadians superior craft and specialty beers.

Creemore will announce its intention to acquire Granville Island Brewing from Andrew Peller Limited. These two leading Canadian craft brewers, each with specialty product portfolios that complement existing offerings across Canada, will be able to offer their wide range of brands to more markets in Canada, while continuing to maintain their distinct positions in BC and Ontario.

The Granville Island Brewing brand image and brewing operations will remain unchanged. The acquisition presents Creemore with a strong potential to enhance product sales, and expand to new markets.

Celebrating its 25 year anniversary, Granville Island Brewing has built a strong reputation as a brewer with super-premium and select small batch beers. Granville Island Brewing is a natural addition to Creemore, which has demonstrated leadership in its home market of Ontario as a leader in craft brewing since August 1987.

WHAT: Creemore announces intention to acquire Granville Island Brewing
DATE: Monday, October 19, 2009
WHERE: Granville Island Brewing Taproom, 1441 Cartwright Street, Granville Island, Vancouver
TIME: 3:30p.m. PT


For more information and to confirm your attendance:
Yvonne Chiang

Jive Communications

For immediate release


VANCOUVER: October 19, 2009 – Granville Island Brewing and Ontario-based Creemore Springs Brewery will be joining forces, to continue bringing Canadians superior craft and specialty beers.

Creemore announced today its intention to acquire Granville Island Brewing from Andrew Peller Limited. These two leading Canadian craft brewers, each with specialty product portfolios that complement existing offerings across Canada, will be able to offer their wide range of brands to more markets in Canada, while continuing to maintain their distinct positions in BC and Ontario.

Celebrating its 25 year anniversary, Granville Island Brewing has built a strong reputation as a brewer with super-premium and select small batch beers. Granville Island Brewing is a natural addition to Creemore, which has demonstrated leadership in its home market of Ontario as a leader in craft brewing for since August 1987.

“The Granville Island Brewing brand portfolio compliments Creemore’s portfolio and will strongly position us for growth in the craft and specialty segment, providing beer drinkers an enviable selection of the finest craft beers,” said Jason Moore, President and CEO, Creemore Springs Brewery. “Granville Island Brewing brands, when added to our Creemore Springs brand portfolio, will bring a wider range of selection in taste and profile for discerning beer drinkers. Creemore’s intention is for Granville Island Brewing to continue operating as a distinct organization benefiting from its own people, knowledge, recipes and marketing methods, in much the same way that Creemore operates in Ontario,” added Moore.

The Granville Island Brewing brand image and brewing operations will remain unchanged. The acquisition presents Creemore with a strong potential to enhance product sales, and expand to new markets. Creemore will work with the organization to evaluate expansion opportunities to other parts of Canada, as well as increasing Granville Island Brewing’s awareness through increased investment in marketing, which will remain truthful to the brand identity.

“Creemore understands and appreciates what is special about the Granville Island Brewing brands, much like their Creemore brands in Ontario,” Moore added. “These brands are true authentic craft beers, and with 25 years in the market delighting consumers with a West Coast affinity and award winning quality, Granville Island Brewing is a clearly tremendous asset and we welcome it to the Creemore family.

“We’re pleased to be joining forces with another of the great craft brewers in Canada,” said Walter Cosman, Director of Marketing and Sales for Granville Island Brewing. “Creemore is committed to keeping the unique formula that has made Granville Island Brewing what it is today – finest quality ingredients, unpasteurized product, dedicated people and brewed locally in British Columbia, while leveraging their abilities to enable more and more people to enjoy our west coast inspired craft brews”.

About Granville Island Brewing (GIB)
Established is 1984, Granville Island Brewing (GIB) is Canada’s first microbrewery offering a variety of award-winning beers which are brewed and sold here in BC. GIB is dedicated to handcrafting only the finest premium beers that are 100 per cent all-natural and brewed in small batches to provide consumers with the ultimate tasting experience. In celebration of their West Coast heritage GIB names each beer after iconic Vancouver locations that embody the local lifestyle. From the original Island Lager and English Bay Pale Ale, to Cypress Honey Lager, and now their latest innovation; Brockton IPA, GIB continues to produce a diverse portfolio of beers inspired by life on the West Coast. For more information, visit

About Creemore Springs Brewery
Creemore was established in 1987. Its direct fire brewing process uses only pure spring water, from the Creemore Springs, the finest malt barley, imported hops and select yeast to make its unique amber lager. Each batch is crafted by a team dedicated to producing the perfect beer. Creemore employs approximately 75 people in Ontario and its craft brews enjoy a great reputation among beer connoisseurs. Creemore is part of Molson Coors Canada.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sea Level Brewing: Blue Heron Extra Special Bitter

My fiancee and I have been spending the day going over last minute wedding details and at the end of the day I was ready for a beer. The first bottle I saw upon opening the fridge was a Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch, but I didn't feel like it tonight. Hiding behind it however was a beer from Nova Scotia - Sea Level Brewing's Blue Heron Extra Special Bitter, a nice beer from the lovely Port Williams.

The beer pours a dirty amber into the pint glass and produces a nice billowy layer of white foam that sticks around for five minutes or so before reducing to a thin protector atop the liquid. Each sip leaves behind thick lacing reminding me how many times I've raised the glass to my mouth. The aroma is a mix of dried fruits, apricot, apple and a slight hop nose of kiwi skin. There is a touch of sweet malt in the first sip that gives way to a subtle hop punch from the last minute dry hopping the beer goes through, and I'm picking up a touch of slightly charred wood. It's a nice balance between malt and hop that produces a medium body, making for a quality sessionable product that I'd continue to reach for if it were available around here.

The beer is produced by Randy Lawrence at the tiny brewery attached to the Port Pub, a gastropub that opened back in March of 2008. Bottles can be purchased at select Nova Scotia private liquor stores like Bishop's Cellar and Premier Wine and Spirits.

It did just the trick I was hoping it would due tonight.

Sea Level Brewing

Port Williams, NS

Blue Heron Extra Special Bitter
5.5% alcohol
650ml bottle

Mill Street on The Pub Radio Show

Last night a couple of Mill Street faces made the drive out to Stouffville to take part in the weekly radio show that I help out with every Wednesday evening. The Pub airs every Saturday from 4pm - 5pm and repeated on Monday nights at 8pm.

Joel Manning (brewmaster) and Steve Abrams (one of the original founders) were part of the show and talked about the history of the brewery, spoke about a number of products that were being sampled, and shared some secrets about some new seasonal beers that Mill Street is working on.

Look for the following beers to be released in the not to distant future at Mill Street's brewpub:

Roggenbier - November 9
"a spicy, clovey, slightly sweet, mid-copper coloured rye based ale made with German Weizenbier yeast"

2009 Barley Wine - being packaged in the next few weeks for retail at the LCBO

Rauchbier - mid December

Fall Seasonal Sampler - Featuring the Helles Bock, a 6.6% beauty.

Tune into Whistle Radio this Saturday to listen to the show.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Survived the Bachelor Party...Barely

4 days to go until the big day (I'm getting married on the 17th). Everything is starting to fall into place. The DJ is booked and ready to go, the photographer is ready to shoot, table arrangements are complete, the beer menu has been selected, and most importantly, I survived the bachelor party.

Back on October 3rd, a bunch of my buddies came down from Orillia to meet up with friends here in Toronto to embark on a five pub, pub crawl through Toronto, stopping at Mill Street, C'est What, 3 Brewers, Granite, and the Victory Cafe. We started at 3:45pm and it was light's out by 2am - good times.

It Begins
After cracking open a couple of beers at my place, a group of us headed west down Queen Street on the 501 streetcar to Parliament before walking down to the Distillery District to visit Mill Street, our first stop. We got there right at the 3:45pm start time and headed to the back of the large pub for pints of Oktoberfest, Tankhouse, ESB, Pilsner, and more. The servers were exceptional, very quick and speedy and gracious, as they brought out enough food to feed a small army. We were whisked away by Simon (retail store employee) to the brewhouse for a quick tour and sampling (btw - the 2009 Barley wine is tasting damn fine).

Out the door and on our way to C'est What, our second destination. We arrived shortly after five and headed straight to the bar to get our hands on some of the left-over beers from the Fall Festival of Craft Brewers that took place the night before. We met up with a bunch of other people who had been to Volo for the Dieu du Ciel event and the total number of pub crawlers jumped to 28, each provided with a t-shirt with all the names of the pubs.

After getting through a number of pints and giving away a bunch of brewery t-shirts, everyone was rounded up and we headed off to the 3 Brewers for more food and pitchers of the brewed on site beer. I wish I could say that I thoroughly enjoyed the newest seasonal, Harvest Season 7 Grain Ale, but I can't really remember it. I do remember saying I enjoyed it, so I'll have to get back to sample some before it's gone for good. Platters of wings, flamms, and nachos were delivered to our table and we played some toonie tosh and watched the Leafs fizzle in the first period.

Onto the subway after two hours at the 3 Brewers and off to the Granite. We occupied the front of the pub while there was a large wedding reception taking place in the back. Ron Keefe was there to greet us and we provided his crew with t-shirts to wear for the rest of the night. I wish there were some pictures taken. I remember a Best Bitter Special, one of my favourite beers of all time, and a Hopping Mad, which at this time was probably into the teens for pints consumed. I love going to the Granite and the out-of-town folks thought it was a pretty cool place.

To end the night we got back to the subway and headed to the Victory Cafe in Mirvish village. We managed to fit the remaining soldiers into the snug on the left of the entrance and the group proceeded to sing happy birthday to a group in the corner. This got us going and Oh Canada was sung next. I wonder what it sounded like? After a couple more pints the guys thought it was time to send me home before I crumpled to the street, so off in a cab it was. I survived!

It was a great night with lots of good solid craft beer and some of the best pubs in Toronto. Everyone was well behaved made it home safely, which is always a bonus. I would to thank John Bowden and Great Lakes for the t-shirts and cans of Devil's Pale Ale they donated, Jon Graham and Cameron's for also donating t-shirts, and to all the owners/operators of the pubs mentioned for allowing us to crash your location.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Volo Cask Days Working Line-Up

Click on the image to view it in a much larger format.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mike Laba Joins Muskoka Cottage Brewery

Mike Laba, who has worked for Cameron's Brewing Company for the last three years, is moving on. The Muskoka Cottage Brewery in Bracebridge, ON, has announced that they have hired Laba as their new Marketing Manager effective October 19th.

Laba has also worked for Brick Brewing Co. where he managed trade marketing, promotions and special events for over three years. He then moved onto Cameron's where he handled all the promotions and marketing initiatives for the Oakville brewery, highlighting the Cameron's brands at unique events and helped develop the very successful monthly cask night.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Buy These Guys a Pint Today

Greg Nash, the colourful brewer with the Hart and Thistle Gastropub & Brewery in Halifax, NS, is celebrating a birthday today. Nash, who I met for the first time when he drove through snow storms and freezing rain from Halifax to Vaughan in 2007 to accept the beer of the year award during his time with Garrison, is one of the most passionate craft brewers I've had the pleasure of getting to know personally.

Although he needs no introductions here, Nash is well known for his extreme, yet nicely balanced hop bombs and he continues to experiment at the Hart & Thistle after stints with Garrison Brewing and Pump House. He is also working towards opening his own brewery, which, for us hopheads, is wonderful news.

Also celebrating a birthday today is Ceili Cottage owner and oyster shucker extrordinare, Patrick McMurray. I remember meeting McMurray for the first time back in March as construction was taking place in what would become a terrific, authentic, Irish local in Leslieville. We stood in the middle of a shell of an old garage and I listened as McMurray outlined the future of the local. Months after that encounter the Cottage was erect and looked exactly as I pictured it would (based on our conversation) and it has become a busy destination in the months its been open.

Please join me in wishing these two men, a talented brewer and passionate publican, a happy birthday.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lakes of Muskoka Harvest Ale

I received an email this morning with the latest information on Lakes of Muskoka's newest beer, Harvest Ale. The beer will be available as soon as this weekend at the following places.

Bar Volo
C’est What
Rhino Bar
The Local
Safari Bar & Grill (Toronto and Pickering Village)
Victory Café
York U Grad Club
Blueberry Hill – York U
Queen’s Grad Club – Kingston
Kingston Brewing Co. – Kingston
U of Waterloo Grad Club - Waterloo
Griffin GastroPub – Bracebridge
The Old Station – Bracebridge

The email indicated that the Harvest Ale is being delivered to the GTA today.

The OCB website describes the Harvest Ale as a beer brewed to celebrate the harvest, our brewers have created this fine autumn ale from 100% Ontario grown barley and hops.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Local Pub Crawl: October 7 - 13

Every Wednesday I'll be posting a round-up of of local pub updates relating to new beers being tapped, events/festivals, tastings taking place, or new initiatives that readers might find interesting. All the information is straight from the pubs themselves.

The Roy Public House: The Roy will be open on Thanksgiving Monday serving a turkey dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetables. Call ahead for more details.

Bar Volo: Here we go...we would like to officially announce that CaskDays 2009 Tickets will go on sale Tuesday October,13th at 4:00pm at Volo. Tickets will be on sale at the bar until the event begins. We are finalizing the last minor details and hoping to release them, as well as this year’s new logo by the end of the week.

This Friday (October 9th), Volo will be tapping Dieu Du Ciel! Corne Du Diable and Dieu Du Ciel! Aphrodisiaque (until supplies last)

Also, Volo currently has a number of terrific beers on tap: Dieu Du Ciel Peche Mortel, Heritage Hopfresh, Macleans Pale Ale, Dieu Du Ciel! Derniere Volonte, Dieu Du Ciel! Route Des Epices, Dieu Du Ciel! Rosee D'Hibiscus, Niagaras Best Dark, Dieu Du Ciel! Solstice D'Hiver, Koningshoeven Quadrupel, Dieu Du Ciel! Rigor Mortis ABT.

-----And take a look at this ------

3 Brewers: The large brewpub is still serving their newest seasonal, Harvest Season 7 Grain Ale.

Feathers: October-Feathst continues every Tuesday in October with draught and food specials, prizes and give aways. On October 13th Feathers will be featuring Steam Whistle and Wellington.

And this Friday (October 9th) starting at 5pm, Michael Hancock from Denison's Brewery will be on hand to discuss brewing and his fabulous beers.

Griffin Gastropub: The Griffin is currently featuring Hockley Valley Brewing Co. for the month of October with the Traditional Dark and the Stout on tap, and the Georgian Bay Dipper in cans. On October 25th (the last Sunday in October) they will host their "Brewmasters Dinner" where a representative from Hockley will join the Griffin chef to create a four course beer paired gourmet dinner. Two seatings are available, one at 5pm and one at 8pm. You can book your seats by calling us at . As always live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the best selection of craft beer north (Bracebridge, ON) of the GTA.

The Twisted Kilt: Toronto's newest pub opened their doors last Friday in the old Bow & Arrow location at Yonge and Davisville. The draught line-up: Sleeman Cream Ale, Sleeman Light, Okanagan Spring 1516 Bavarian Lager, St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat, Steam Whistle, Unibroue Ephemere Casis, Wellington County Ale, Black Oak Pale, Blackthorne Cider, Warsteiner Verum Bier, Fullers ESB, Marstons Pedigree, Steigel, De Konick, Affilgem. Black Oak brewery owner, Ken Woods, paid the Twisted Kilt a visit on opening night and had good things to say about it here, and mentioned that he'll be delivering a cask for this weekend.
reet, Toronto, ON

Magpie Tavern: The quirky pub on Dundas street (831 Dundas West) will now be serving cask conditioned ale from County Durham, as CASK! Toronto informed their members through email last week. More information here.
No website, . Please note that the Magpie hours are 7pm to 2am.

C'est What: Next Saturday (October 17th), the CASK! group will be holding their second Social! at C'est What between 3pm - 6pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Volo News Bulletin - Cask Days (Week) Line-Up

My God! Volo just doesn't know how to slow down! And thank god for that. Here is the latest news about Cask Days, Toronto's - Ontario's - Canada's, premier Cask event that will span an entire week this year. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

Pale Ale - Durham's Signature Ale / Magnotta Pale Ale
Bitter - Granite’s Best Bitter Special
E.S.B - Chesire Valley ESB / Durham ESB / Maclean's Battle X ESB / Mill St. ESB
I.P.A - Durham Triple X IPA / Granite’s IPA
Brown - Hockley Valley Traditional Dark Ale
Mild - Grand River Mill Race Mild
Porter - Scotch Irish Black Plain Porter / F&M Porter
Stout - Durham’s Blakkat Stout
Strong Ale - Wellington Iron Duke
Old Ale - Granite’s Peculiar
Barleywine - Granite’s Gin Lane
To Be Announced - Duggan’s & St. Andre

1st Place Mike Duggan No. 9 IPA
2nd Place Durham Hop Addict IPA
3rd Place Granite Hopping Mad IPA
4th Place Scotch Irish Sgt.Major IPA

Tickets will begin to go on sale at 4:00pm at bar Volo.

No Tickets Required, Between 4:00pm-2:00am
All Servings will be 1/2 ($4.50) and Full Pints ($6.50)
No Taps will be served during these sessions.

The final four beers in the Ontario Cask IPA Challenge will revisited for a second tasting. No Tickets Required. During regular hours. All Servings will be 1/2 ($4.50) and Full Pints ($6.50)

Session One 4:00pm - 8:00pm $15.00 (100 Tickets)
Session Two 9:00pm -1:00am $15.00 (100 Tickets)

Brewer’s Breakfast (A) 10:00am - 3:00pm $35 (25 Tickets)
Session Three (B) 12:00pm - 3:00pm $10 (35 Tickets)
Session Four 4:00pm - 8:00am $10 (100 Tickets)
Session Five 9:00pm - 1:00am $10 (100 Tickets)

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1ST, 2009 FROM 12:00PM - 9:00PM
No advance tickets will be required for this session. With 2009
Cask Days No Admission at Door. Without Glass $10.00.

All remaining casks will be sold for $5.00/per pint.

Ontario North East
Scotch Irish Brewing Company - Black Plain Porter With ?
Heritage Brewing* - To Be Announced
Beau 's All Natural Brewing - To Be Announced
County Cider Co.* - Waupoos Cider
Barley Days Brewery - To Be Announced
Church Key Brewing Co. - Mead / To Be Announced
Publican House Brewery* - McHenry Red Ale
Durham Brewing Company - To Be Announced

Ontario North
Lakes of Muskoka Cottage Brewery* - Harvest Ale
Hockley Valley Brewing Co - To Be Announced
Flying Monkey Brewery* - To Be Announced
King Brewery - To Be Announced
Magnotta Brewery - To Be Announced

Ontario North West
Thornbury Village * - Peeler Cider
Neustadt Springs Brewery - To Be Announced
Maclean's Ales* - Old Grumpy Old Ale
F&M Brewery - To Be Announced
Wellington Brewery - Iron Duke Strong Ale
Grand River Brewing Co. - Highballer Pumpkin Ale

Ontario South West
Railway City Brewing - Dead Elephant Ale
Stratford Brewing Co. - Empire Strikes Black
Niagara’s Best Brewery - To Be Announced
TAPS Brewing Co.* - To Be Announced
Nickel Brook Brewing Co - Wooden Nickel IPA
Trafalgar’s Ale’s and Mead’s - To Be Announced
Cameron's Brewing - To Be Announced

Ontario (Toronto)
Mill St. Brewery - To Be Announced
Granite Brewery - To Be Announced
Duggan's Brewery - Be Announced
Amsterdam Brewing Co. - To Be Announced
Great Lakes Brewing Co. - To Be Announced
Black Oak Brewing Co. - To Be Announced
Chesire Valley Brewing Co.* - Ginger Lime Ale
St. Andre Brewing Co. - To Be Announced
Black Creek Brewery - To Be Announced
Premier Brands - Headstrong Pale

Guest (Quebec)
Brasserie Benelux* - Amate Reserve American Brown
Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! - Corne Diable IPA / Peche Mortel / Penombre Black IPA
Brasserie Hopfenstark - Post Colonial IPA

Guest (England)
Fullers Smith & Turner
London Pride Pale Ale / Extra Special Bitter / India Pale Ale / Red Fox Red Ale
* First Appearance at Volo Cask Days

1/4 PINTS 5 Ounces $2.00 1 Tickets
1/2 PINTS 10 Ounces $4.00 2 Tickets
FULL PINTS 20 Ounces $8.00 4 Tickets



21st Annual Fall Festival of Craft Breweries: C'est What Wrap-Up

The following was written by guest writer and friend Rob Symes, as I couldn't lift my head on Sunday after a long night of pub crawling.

Earlier this year I wrote a piece on C’est What’s Spring Festival of Craft Breweries. Either it wasn’t too shabby or Troy is still recovering from his bachelor party because he’s asked me to do a report on the Fall edition.

As always, C’est What? Does a great job of holding these events, and the ability to sample for $1 or $2 really gives the punters the opportunity to broaden their horizons, try new styles and become introduced to new breweries. This year showcased 46 beers from 33 breweries, and most notably of all saw 11 casks on offer, which is a new high water benchmark for the pub. Attendance was high, seats were at a premium and the servers did the place a credit with their endless pouring.

A definite highlight for me was Great Lakes Redneck IPA, one of the hoppiest and tastiest beers I’ve had from them yet. Full on citrus greets the palate, but has just enough malt to keep things balanced. If you’ve not had a Great Lakes one off yet then you’ve been missing out. The brewery has taken a new direction in recent years with the addition of interesting seasonals, and has continued to accelerate with the installation of a pilot system that they are using to make experimental cask beers. You’ll find the occasional offering popping up at the usual places, but where its really at is their regular Project X event, on the second Thursday of the month.

Experimentation was to be found elsewhere, but with more mixed results. The last C’est What festival saw the debut of Flying Monkeys’ Hoptical Illusion, which has been a nice addition to the LCBO’s shelves with its sessionable character and gentle Amarillo hopping. For the fall edition the brewery brought down the Hoppopatamonkey, a device which allows the beer to filter through fresh hops as its poured. This has been tried before, most notably by Dogfish Head of Delaware, but Flying monkey’s still have a few kinks to work out. While the aroma of the hopped up Hoptical Illusion was delicious and enticing, the flavour erred towards the antiseptic. Though I finished my sample, several around me did not. I believe this was the Hoppopatamonkey’s public debut, and I’m sure with some refinements it will prove to be an interesting and worthwhile twist, so watch this space.

Another unique sight at the festival was a huge wooden barrel sat at the end of one of the bars. This offering was a porter from Black Creek Brewery, who are trying to brew beer the old fashioned way in the pioneer village tourist attraction. I say trying because I don’t know how well they are doing. If this beer is reflective of how things used to be then I’m glad we’ve moved on. If you didn’t get a chance to try it, but a cheap bottle of red wine, pour a glass and have it for breakfast the next day. I like what they are doing up there (I’m a history grad so I dig this), but I can’t see this beer winning over many admirers.

My beer of the fest? Step up Black Oak Brewing to receive congratulations on your new fall seasonal! Black Oak Oaktoberfest will be available at the brewery shop in a couple of weeks. Big toasted malt flavour with hints of caramel and smoke come on top of a great appearance and smooth cask pour. Ken and Adrian know how to do a great cask, but I think this one will also transition well into bottle.

Other new beers on show at the fest included a vienna lager from Grand River, a smoked beer from C’est What and a brown ale from Charles MacLean. Grand River’s cask Vienna was vanilla heavy and easy drinking, so it should appeal to a broad market. C’est What’s Big Butt brings a smooth smoky flavour and the opportunity for some rather obvious jokes (most people seem to like Big Butt), and I believe it is now a regular addition to their lineup. Finally MacLean’s brown ale hit the style spot on. He does some great English cask beers that have subtle flavours but great potential for sessionability.

All things considered, I didn’t find the quality of this fall’s offerings to be as good as previous events, most likely because previous incarnations had set the bar so high. What I did so, though, was our brewers making huge steps in the right direction. Black Oak’s new seasonal was spectacular, Great Lakes continue to surprise, and experimentation has increased. Best of all, cask is becoming more of a preferred format, driven in part by the enthusiasm of our brewers, partly by the market, and partly by bar owners, like George, who are shaping that market.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great Lakes and Seafood Make a Nice Match

It isn't that often that I get invited to a food event as I don't write about food, but last Thursday I was presented with an opportunity to head over to the famed Starfish Oyster Bed & Grill seafood restaurant to indulge in a number of fabulous seafood dishes, which were paired up with beers from Great Lakes Brewing Co.

The Farmed Seafood Extravaganza (as it was called) was organized by the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance who were in town to celebrate every type of seafood farmed in Canadian waters. There were representatives from various companies who had traveled from all parts of the country to showcase their products.

To be honest, I had no idea what I was really attending. I thought it was going to be a dinner of some sorts with a number of courses paired with different Great Lakes beer. However, when I arrived it was announced that a number of foods would be served shortly and it was going to be a stand-up social event, with the bar soon to be covered with plates and plates and plates of various seafood dished prepared by Starfish Chef Kyle Deming. Each of the dishes were given a suggested Great Lakes beer to serve it with and John Bowden was on hand to help explain how he choose the pairing and why he thought it went together. I was expecting to see some familiar faces, like at all beer events, but the only people I knew there Taste TO husband and wife tag team, Greg Clow and Sheryl Kirby who are way more schooled in the culinary arts than I, so I listened keenly to their observations.

Bowden was pouring from bottles of Orange Peel Ale, Red Leaf Lager, along with cans of Devil's Pale Ale, and Patrick McMurray, the well known oyster shucker and owner of the Ceili Cottage and Starfish, was pouring glasses of Pumpkin Ale from the tap for all the people in attendance. McMurray was also working his oyster knife to the delight of the hungry crowd. There was some outstanding food to sample from, and the matching of the beer was nicely done. Here are some examples of what was available.

Peat smoked Atlantic salmon with horseradish creme fraiche
Pairing: Devil’s Pale Ale

Atlantic mussels steamed in Orange Peel Ale
Pairing: Orange Peel Ale

Seared Rainbow trout with wax beans and hazelnuts
Pairing: Red Leaf Lager

Sablefish poached in garlic olive oil with chorizo salt
Pairing: Pumpkin Ale

BC scallop ceviche with yellow curry and coconut
Pairing: Golden Horseshoe Premium Lager

Whole roasted halibut with chive butter
Pairing: Pumpkin Ale

Throughout the night, Executive Director of the CAIA Ruth Salmon (ironic last name), spoke about the alliance and and I really enjoyed hearing her bring up why beer was chosen to go with the food other than wine. Salmon mentioned that wine and seafood pairings have been done numerous times and although enjoyable, pairing beer with seafood offers people a new way to enlighten their farmed seafood experiences while supporting small local regional breweries - like seafood, beer is best consumed in its freshest state.

So what did I take away from this experience? Well, for starters, it was great to see craft beer getting some attention from a national industry association that has deep roots in the Canadian seafood industry. Craft beer, Great Lakes in particular, was being showcased to a group of professionals here from all over Canada, and that will hopefully translate into further partnerships with other craft breweries around the nation at future events like this one.

* Pic 1 - Starfish owner, Patrick McMurray
* Pic 2 - Great Lakes, John Bowden
* Pic 3 - line-up of samples

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Canadian Beer Tasting

One of the perks of helping out with the Canadian Brewing Awards is getting to try all of the beers submitted from all parts of the country. While the judging is taking place I am behind the bar (on in this years case, in the kitchen)
sipping beers that I wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to readily sample.

The other perk to assisting with the CBA's is the left over beer. I usually get to load up a couple of plastic bins with beers of my preference and take them home for personal consumption. In the three years I've been involved, I always plan a tasting with some buddies featuring all the beers and it is always a great day. This year we didn't get around to the actual tasting until last Saturday and I think I can safely say it was the best tasting to date.

Everyone conducts their tastings in their own way. I prefer to send out a list of all the beers being offered before-hand to all the participants so they can arrive at the tasting with an idea of what they'd prefer to sample. When everyone arrives to the house, they each get to take turns choosing what beer we will all taste. I find it keeps the tasting interesting, you never know what you'll be tasting next.

Anyways, last Saturday's tasting went over well. Between 7 of us we managed to kill over 30 beers from all over Canada, one from Belgium, and some Biergotter homebrew, which was very well done!

DDC's L'Aphrodisiaque
Black Oak Summer Saison
Bushwakker Trephination IPA
Bushwakker IPA
Bushwakker Chico Pale Ale
Bushwakker Palliser Porter
Garrison Oktoberfest Brau
Garrison Winter Warmer
Grand River Bumbleberry Wheat Ale
Grand River Hannenberg Pils
Old Yale Sasquatch Stout
Old Yale Sergeant's IPA
Phillips Accusation ESB
Phillips Double Barrel Scotch Ale
Phillips Surly Blonde Big Belgian Triple
Pump House Dementia Double IPA
Pump House Maltitude Russian Imperial Stout
R&B Hoppelganger IPA
Russell IP'eh
Saltspring Golden Ale
Saltspring Porter
Swan's Buckerfield's ESB
Swans Tessier's Witbier
Tree Hop Head
Tree Hop Head Double IPA
Wild Rose Barley Wine
Wild Rose Czechs Pilz
Wild Rose Crude Oatmeal Stout
Yukon Ice Fog IPA

Belle Gueule 20 Years Anniversary Brew
Biergotter's Dunkel Rogen-Weizen

Winner's of the day? Well Pump House's Double Dementia was beautiful, Phillip's Double Barrel Scotch Ale always impresses, DDC's L'Aphrodisiaque (tried for the first time - stunning), and Tree's Hop Head Double IPA were my personal fav's, if I had to choose. Biggest letdown of the tasting was Yukon's Ice Fog IPA, which surprised us, as Yukon's beers are all very (normally) well done.

Toronto's Magpie Now Offering Cask Ale

I just received the following email from CASK! Toronto that informs all their members of a new location that has joined the growing number of others serving cask conditioned ale in Toronto - Magpie.

This is a quick note to let you all know that, as of today, the Magpie Tavern "home of delicious booze and whiskey" at 861 Dundas St W has added a cask to their already fabulous lineup of beers! The owner, Graham, has informed us that the first cask they will be serving is County Durham's XXX British I.P.A. What better way is there to spend a rainy evening than in a cozy tavern enjoying a fresh cask-conditioned ale?...

***Please note that the Magpie hours are 7pm to 2am***
If you're not on the CASK! membership list, head over to their website today and sign up for their periodic news releases, and why not, it's free.

Much On The Go This Weekend

There are a bunch of events taking place this weekend that will be featuring some terrific beers and offering some great foods.

Here is a run down of things taking place tonight or tomorrow....

Fall Festival of Craft Brewers
Friday Oct 2nd
Location: C'est What
Time: 5pm - 10pm
*The 21st annual C'est What Fall Festival of Craft Brewers takes place tonight and the no admission event - promises to have a number of unique beers on offer for sampling at the low cost of $1.

Propeller Pumpkin Ale Launch
Friday Oct 2nd 7pm
Location: The Foggy Goggle
*Halifax's, The Foggy Goggle, will be hosting the launch of Propeller's seasonal Pumpkin Ale tonight for all to enjoy. Head down to 1667 Argyle Street and get a taste.

The Bar and Bench
Friday Oct 2nd 5:00pm - 1:00am
Location: Campbell House Museum
Host: The Monk's Table: A Gourmand House
*Check out this link for more information about a great charity event taking place tonight that will be hosted by The Monk's Table.

Garrison Brewing Oktoberfest
Saturday Oct 3rd 2pm-10pm
Location: Halifax Seaport (Brewery)
*Brewmaster Daniel Girard recently brewed up an Oktoberfest beer and bottled it in Garrison's new attractive 500ml bottles just in time for their first Oktoberfest party at the Seaport (next to the brewery). I can't be there to join them, but I got in a taste of the new beer last weekend and can state it's a beauty.

Beau's Oktoberfest
Sat. October 3rd
Location: Vanleek Hill Fairgrounds
Time: 11am-9pm
Tickets: $12 advance, $15 at door
*Beau's beer, hayrides, keg toss, brewery tours, Bavarian foods, and George Wendt (aka, Norm from Cheers), will all be part of the Oktoberfest celebrations being hosted by Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. in Vanleek Hill tomorrow. Call for ticket information.

Dieu du Ciel Party
Sat. October 3rd
Location: Bar Volo
Time: 7pm - 2am
Cost: $10.00
*The tasting will take place between 7pm-2am at Volo, where you will be able to try a handful of Dieu Du Ciel beers on tap and cask! Admission will be $10.00 which includes a Dieu Du Ciel glass! $2.00 will be donated to Sick Kids charity. This is a 19+ event with a capacity of 100 people. Beers are subject to change.
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