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.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cheshire Valley Brewing Co. Set To Roll

Paul Dickey has been working hard to get his Cheshire Valley Brewing Co. up and running throughout the summer, and good news arrived my way today. Dickey informed me that customers at the Stinking Rose Pub in Campbellford, ON will be able to try his Unfiltered ESB tomorrow as owner, John Graham (Church Key Brewery), picked up the first keg of the ESB from the first batch brewed on Dickey's own system at Black Oak Brewery.

Dickey had his own fermenter assembled this summer and plans on brewing a number of Cheshire Valley beers on a contract basis at Black Oak. The Unfiltered ESB is the first batch to come from the tank and kegs will start rolling out to C'est What, beerbistro, Allen'sThe Rhino, barVolo, Harbord House, and Chancey Smith's sometime this week, so keep your eye out for it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekend In Buffalo

I don't get to Buffalo that often, but I had the chance to hit the road this weekend with my wife and another couple and Buffalo was our destination. Unfortunately I had to miss the Muskoka Beer Festival for the second time in as many years, but I was glad to hear that the festival was a success again this year upon my return home.

We made it over the border first thing in the morning to do a little bit of shopping before heading over to Consumers Beverages, which is conveniently located minutes away by car (from the outlet mall). We loaded up the cart with some beers you can't find here in Ontario, even scooping up the last bottles they had of Saison Dupont and Brooklyn's Sorachi Ace.

After the back of the car was full of beer we headed to Elmwood Village to check into our hotel. Our goal was to head out for a bit to eat, get a couple of beers somewhere and check out the progress on the (the Blue Monk, for those of you who don't know, is a new project that Cole's owner, Mike Shatzel, has been working on. It is going to be a Belgian beer bar right in the heart of Elmwood Village).  There was an art festival taking place that had Elmwood Avenue closed to vehicles, so we strolled through the crowd watching individuals drinking beer openly and freely on the road - something we'd never see here in Ontario.

Shatzel was hoping to have the Blue Monk open for the weekend (for the art festival crowd) but their liquor permit is taking longer than expected and by Wednesday of last week he realized that it wouldn't be approved in time. Nonetheless, Shatzel had the new location open on Saturday. There was no food being served, and obviously no beer, but there were loads of people coming in off the street to walk around the place checking it out. Shatzel told me that the place was busy from the minute he opened the doors and that many of the people stopped by to offer him well wishes in securing the much needed permit. *Update: Forgot to mention at time of posting* - Shatzel hoped to be open in two weeks

The building isn't hard to miss as the front of the place is painted blue and there is a large mural indicating the name of the establishment painted on the wall above the entrance (on the north side). Walking in from the street you'll find yourself immediately in the bar area. Two clear garage doors roll up letting in the sun at the front of the building and the bar is situated along the south side wall. It's a long shiny wooden bar that has numerous stools to accommodate customers. Glassware of all shapes and sizes sit on shelving behind the bar, ready to serve their respective beer, which will flow from one of the 26 draught lines.

There is Belgian beer signage scattered on the walls throughout the lower level and you'll find more of the same on the upper level of the bar. There is a small sidewalk sit-down in front of the building where people will be able to drink under a large awning to beat the heat.

Walking back to the hotel we stopped into the Village Beer Merchant to pick up some more beer. Never being in VBM before I didn't know what to expect. I was pleased with their selection and pricing and I thoroughly enjoyed going through their big collection of rare beers. Growler fills seem to be popular at the store, so said the one staff member who was pouring some Dale's Pale Ale for a customer.

Cole's was our destination for dinner... and some drinks. We started off big with the new Ithaca Super Friends IPA (collaboration: Ithaca, Ommegang, Captain Lawrence, Flying Fish, Southampton Publick House)- very very good. Lots of exotic fruit on the nose with notes of vanilla and loads of hops on the palate. I had to get another at the end of the night. We made it through a bunch of others before heading back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Toronto Beer Week Update

Things are really starting to pick up with Toronto Beer Week. Events are starting to come in (we just posted the series of events that barVolo has planned yesterday) and we expect more and more will be pouring into our inbox in the weeks leading up to the September 20-26 week.

10,000 copies of the official TBW Passports just came off the printer and they will be available at all participating licensees very shortly. The fold up  - pocket sized passport features images and descriptions of all the participating establishments, including breweries and importers on one side, and the other side features a map of Toronto, marking all the locations where you'll be able to join in on events. The passport is free to grab and we hope that you'll want to keep your copy year round, using it as a guide to the places that support good beer in the city of Toronto.

We also received some good news the other day from Amsterdam Brewing. They have agreed to brew a 10hl batch of the winning entry for the first ever TBW Homebrew Competition. Rob Symes, a TBW Executive Committee member shared the news recently at a Board Meeting, explaining that the brewery will bottle and keg the winning submission similar to what they did with Derek Hyde's Bock recipe over a year ago. The beer won't be produced commercially until after the new year. If there wasn't much incentive to enter your beers before, well, there is now. Contact Symes at to get more information on the competition or visit our website and click on the TBW Homebrew Competition.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The 8th Annual Golden Tap Awards

The 8th annual Golden Tap Awards were handed out on Saturday night at Toronto's beerbistro before a large group of brewery and licensee representatives... and passionate craft beer drinkers.

The GTAs, as the are affectionately known, are hosted by Cass Enright of Bar Towel fame and are meant to celebrate the best in the Ontario beer industry; recognizing breweries, pubs, and the people dedicated to growing and building the industry.

I sit on the panel that determines the Editor's Circle awards and it was a pleasure to come up with the four winners this year. It keeps getting harder and harder to come up with our list as the beer landscape in Ontario continues to evolve. There is so much going on now, so many individuals out there working to take the industry to the next level and festival's continue to emerge in this province that focus on providing quality experiences in intimate settings.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Best Microbrewery in Ontario:
Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Company

Best Brewery for Cask-Conditioned Ale in Ontario (presented in partnership with CASK!):
Granite Brewery

Best Bar for Draught Beer Selection in Ontario:
C’est What

Best Bar for Bottled Beer Selection in Ontario:
Bar Volo

Best Brewpub or Tied House in Ontario:
Granite Brewery

Best Bar for Cask Ale in Ontario (presented in partnership with CASK!):
Bar Volo

Best Regularly-Produced Beer in Ontario:
Beau’s Lug-Tread Lagered Ale

Best Seasonal or Specialty Beer in Ontario:
Black Oak Ten Bitter Years

Best Cask Ale in Ontario (presented in partnership with CASK!):
Granite Hopping Mad

Editor’s Circle Award: Great Lakes Caskapalooza
Editor’s Circle Award: Drinkvine
Editor’s Circle Award: Milos Kral & Chancey Smith’s
Editor’s Circle Award: Brian Morin & beerbistro
Best Beer of the Festival: Church Key Black IPA

Monday, August 23, 2010

Don't Forget To Blog...Troy

Sorry for the lack of posting on this here 'ol blog lately. My wife asked me the other day how I was managing to keep this updated and it hit me, I haven't been. Things have been quite busy in my life at the moment and trying to find the time to sit down and hammer away at posting something here has been challenging to say the least.

I have been out on the road a bit for my job with TAPS. At the end of July and into the earlier days of August I loaded up the TAPS trailer and set off to visit a number of breweries in Ontario to kick-start a little initiative that the magazine is working on, hitting up places like Grand River, Wellington, F&M, Cameron's, Flying Monkey's, Great Lakes, Steam Whistle, Muskoka Cottage Brewery, Lakes of Bays and the Black Creek Pioneer Village. It's always great to get out of the office and connect with individuals in the industry. It's a refreshing change of pace.

Lately I've been back in the office working on the 8th annual Canadian Brewing Awards (CBAs). We took our old entry forms and style guidelines and made some significant changes with the hopes that we would be able to attract more breweries from around the country. We also had all the forms translated into French, something that should have been done years ago. So far the response has been nothing sort of tremendous. This year's edition of the CBAs will have over 70 breweries participating and the amount of beer to be judged has almost doubled in volume since 2008!

The judging takes place over two days in September and the awards show and gala will take place during the first ever September 20-26). Unfortunately the CBA gala is not open to the public, but TAPS will be holding a contest, in conjunction with TBW, to provide a number of tickets that can be won leading up to the event.

Speaking of TBW, that is the other thing that is eating up a lot of precious blogging time. I sit on the Executive Committee of TBW with John Bowden, Cass Enright and Rob Symes, and we have been very busy working on getting this up and running. We have a passport put together that should be ready this week (you can get a glimpse of it on the TBW website - working on making it more readable), which will be available at ALL participating establishments very soon (breweries and licensees). I'm doing the website as we go, something I've had to learn on the run.

We managed to sign up over 40 pubs/bars/restaurants, 3 brewpubs, 15 breweries and 5 Importers to participate. Not bad for year one.

The one question that keeps coming up is, "when are there going to be events posted?" Quick answer - we're working on it. We have to wait until the participants notify us with their event details, but the minute we get them they'll be posted on the website for all to see. We have some starting to trickle in, but  please note that the ones being planned are going to be great!

And, on top of all of the above, we have a Fall Issue of TAPS to put together! So back to the start, yes I'm busy, but I'm loving every second of it.  Thanks for continuing to visit the blog, even with the lack of fresh content.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Golden Tap Awards

Just a reminder that this afternoon, starting at 4pm, the 8th annual Golden Tap Awards takes place at beerbistro.

Winners will be announced at 8pm. No admission.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chris Talbot
Toronto Craft Beer Examiner
Beer Blogging: Roughly five years

Meet Chris Talbot, the man behind the Toronto Craft Beer Examiner blog. Talbot, as you will read below, has been blogging about beer for roughly five years, off and on, and now writes a great deal for the Canadian Amateur Brewers Association (CABA). Talbot is also doing video blogging, where he tastes and reviews beers and makes homebrew.

Meet Chris Talbot

Describe the moment when you first saw the craft beer light?
I'm not sure I had an “aha!” moment, but instead I became a more discerning beer drinker over time. Like most people, I started with the Canadians and Blues of the world, and if it wasn't blonde or golden in colour, ice cold and following a standard taste, I wouldn't touch it.

I think it was Creemore that opened the world of craft beer to me, but I'm still learning about different breweries and styles of beer. Perhaps the biggest moment in my education in craft beer was when I tried a real IPA (read: not Keith's). Buying a six-pack of the Sgt. Major IPA stubbies and sampling such a hoppy beer was one of the best new experiences I've had.

What made you decide to blog about beer?
I like to blog about my interests and hobbies. I've had a general blog since 2003 on my own website, and I've used that as a platform to blog about beer and homebrewing. I started writing articles for when someone recommended that I check the site out. I discovered didn't have a local beer writer, so I suggested the idea of a Toronto Craft Beer Examiner. I'll be participating in the upcoming Canadian Amateur Brewers Association blog on a regular basis, so watch for that.

How long have you been blogging about beer and how long do you think you'll continue?
Irregularly, I've probably been blogging about beer for five years on my website, with the golden years being the last three years (although I relaunched my website earlier this year and moved all the old posts to a Blogspot account). It was my interest in homebrewing that really started to get the creative juices flowing when it came to blogging about beer.

As long as blogs are still a form of communication on the Internet, I suspect I'll be blogging about beer. … Unless I suddenly develop an allergy to barley and hops, at which point life is over, anyway.

What has been the biggest change in the Ontario brewing industry since you started blogging?
The LCBO has become much more open about bringing in craft beer, and the organization is certainly more communicative about its efforts. This is something I'm happy about, even if you have to learn which are the good LCBOs and which ones are less likely to bring in new craft beers. Between the LCBO and the Ontario Craft Brewers' marketing, I think the beer-drinking public has become far more aware of craft beer and the different styles of beer available. I think that has fundamentally changed the market.

If you could change one time about the industry here in Ontario, what would it be?
I'm going to be cliché here and say the one thing I hope to see is the monopoly held by Brewers Retail being broken up. If there is one thing that would really help the craft beer industry to grow, it's the ability to have its own retail outlets – or better yet, multiple private stores and chains owned by different interests. There's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, and the simple fact is The Beer Store doesn't carry enough craft beer. Someone else needs to pick up the slack, but for that to happen, changes in the liquor laws need to happen.

What beer book would you recommend to someone looking to learn more about beer?
I've been a homebrewer since 2007, and I've learned a lot more about beer by engaging in that hobby than I have by sitting in pubs or visiting LCBO locations (or even by visiting beer forum sites). The book that got me started was “Homebrewing For Dummies” by Marty Nachel, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the process.

When you're not drinking, writing, or out at the pub, what else preoccupies your time?
Writing and drinking go hand-in-hand with my chosen career. I'm a journalist (currently freelance), so I do spend a lot of time doing both. Hobbies occupy my time outside of my writing, pubbing and drinking, though. I'm a board game player and collector. I have a large DVD collection. I listen to an eclectic music collection (and I have music playing just about 24/7). I'm also an avid outdoorsman (although not necessarily a skilled outdoorsman). I enjoy hiking, camping (especially back-country camping) and fishing (but I am the worst long-time angler you'll ever meet; good thing for beer).

Best beer festival or event you've attended?
I hope to have a better answer by the end of the summer (as I plan to attend the Muskoka Beer Festival), but I'd say the best event would have to be the Toronto Wine & Cheese Show. I know, it's not really a beer event, but there are enough craft brewers that attend that I get in a good deal of beer sampling throughout the day. Sadly, I did not attend this year.

Name your favourite beer blogging experience
Shortly after I became the Toronto Craft Beer Examiner, I was invited to the Muskoka Cottage Brewery launch party for the Pilsner Light. Walking into that event reminded me very much of my early days as a reporter. Sure, I had been a professional writer for more than a decade, but I was walking into an entirely new community of people. I'm always keen to learn the ins and outs of a community or industry, so it was very exciting.

Best time for a pint?
It's five o'clock somewhere. … That's not much of an answer, though, is it? Some of my favourite pub visits have been on Friday afternoons in the middle of summer. Having a pint in the middle of a Friday afternoon, especially when it's a hot day and the sun is shining, generally leads to great conversation and good times.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Meet Jack Bensley: Russell Brewing Co.

Meet Jack Bensley, Russell Brewing Co's. brewmaster. Bensley, who got into the commercial brewing industry just two years ago, has had a big year, winning two bronze medals at the 2010 World Beer Cup in Chicago and working on product development/new recipes for Russell's Brewmaster Series of beers.

Here's Jack!

Where is the Russell Brewing Co. situated and what beers do you currently produce?
We are located in Surrey, BC. Currently we produce: Russell Cream Ale, Honey Blond Ale, Extra Special Lager, Pale Ale, Lemon Ale, Lime Lager, Rocky Mountain Pilsner, Marzen, IP'Eh, Black Death Porter, and A Wee Angry Scotch Ale. The last 4 are part of our Brewmaster Series which started last year.

Describe the history behind the brewery.
Russell Brewing was started in its current location by the Russell family in the mid 90's. The cornerstone brew for Russell Brewing was (and still is) Russell Cream Ale. The Harris family purchased the brewery in 2004 and took the company public. With the brewery expansions that have occurred and the new products we are now producing, sales have gone from $135000 in 2004 to projected sales of 9 million dollars this year! That's a lot of beer out of our (relatively) small brewhouse!

What is your best selling beer?
Our best selling beer is still Russell Cream Ale. Out here on the west coast Cream Ale means something very different than in the rest of North America. Our Cream Ale would probably remind people more of an English Mild than a "traditional" North American Cream Ale. It's toasty, nutty, and dangerously drinkable.

Our Brewmaster series beers are really starting to fly out the door. So much so that we're looking at getting another bottler to increase our 650 ml bottle filling ability. Now that our Wee Angry Scotch is available in BC Government Liquor stores it's going to be fun trying to keep up!

What's new at the brewery?
Well, the big news for us is our 2 bronze medals at the World Beer Cup. One for our IP'Eh in the English-Style IPA category, and one for our A Wee Angry Scotch Ale in the Scottish-Style Ale category. We were actually in Chicago at the Craft Brewers Association Conference when the awards were announced and were thrilled when we got the first bronze. When the second was announced I nearly fell out of my chair. That 3 out of the 7 awards received by Canadians (at what was the biggest judged beer competition ever with 3330 different beers entered) came from Surrey breweries is unbelievable.

We are working on some new beers at the moment, but right now we're just in the planning stages. Look for more Brewmaster Series releases before the end of the year. We're also focusing on growing our cask program. There are at least a couple of our casks pouring every week in the Lower Mainland.

Why did you get into the brewing industry and describe your passion for it.
That's a long story! 2 years ago I was teaching senior Mathematics and Physics at a local high school. I loved the teaching but was becoming disgruntled with the general state of the public school system. My love of craft beer, inherited from my parents, was driving me to devote more and more time to brewing at home. I began researching brewing education programs and realized that I could do a M.Sc in Brewing and Distilling through Heriot-Watt University and then would earn more as a teacher. The plan was to finish the program and then think about switching careers, but by the time I'd finished my first 2 courses I'd gotten a job at Russell and quit teaching! It's been 2 1/2 years since I started at Russell, and my life has changed immeasurably. In that time we've doubled the types of beer we offer, created the Brewmaster Series, and won some major awards.

I love brewing and everything about beer in general, a fact my patient wife will attest to. I get to make and drink great beer, and work with some fantastic people every day. Most days it doesn't actually feel like work (aside from when I'm shoveling 1200 pounds of malt out of the mash tun...).

What is the best aspect of working in the Canadian craft brewery industry?
The people!

It's such a small scene here as compared to across the border. All the brewers locally know one another, and are more than willing to help one another out with whatever they can. There is so much good beer being made here, and it's so cool to watch the continued growth and change in the BC beer scene. I love going to local beer events and seeing not just the same faces over and over, but fresh new faces excited about exploring the world of craft beer.

The guys I work with in the brewery are a prime example of the kind of remarkable people in this industry. Cheers to Eric, Anders, Jitendra, and the packaging crew for their hard work!

Where can someone find your products?
You can find our beer in most cities in BC, and as far away as Winnipeg. If you're in BC and looking for our beer try using the beer locator at If you're out of province then give us a shout at the brewery and we'll help you find our product.

Tell us something about Russell that not a lot of people know about.
We make lots of different beers! I love introducing a Russell Cream Ale drinker to one of our big beers. Often these are people that were drinking our beer on draught before we canned or bottled, and they're sometimes not aware of all our new products. They're a little harder to find on draught or in the liquor stores, but they're worth tracking down.

What advantages do smaller breweries have over the big guys?
Our ability to move and adapt quickly. If we decide to do a new product, we can usually brew it within the week. This means that we can move from idea to packaged product in as little as 4-6 weeks.

Best time for a pint?
Seeing as how I'm usually at the brewery by 5:30 am, anytime after 7 am!

Actually, the first beer after the work day is done, or a beer up on the local mountains after snowboarding always tastes great.

What is the highlight of your brewing career?
Without a doubt the night in Chicago when we won the World Beer Cup awards. That's going to be hard to top..

Cold clean lager, big hoppy pale ale, or a nicely roasted stout?
Big hoppy pale!

Name your favourite non Russell produced beer.
Anything from Gary at Central City Brewing. His IPA, ESB, and Barley-wine make me drool just thinking about them. Fantastic local beer made by great people.

How successful have the seasonals been? And what has been your favourite?
More successful than we could have imagined. We're not far off maxing out our capacity without making major changes, and a lot of that is due to our Brewmaster Series. Some of these beers have gone from one-offs to regulars in our lineup.

My favourite so far is still the Scotch Ale, it goes so well with so many different foods.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Toronto Beer Week Updated Brewery List

Toronto Beer WeekSeptember 20-26, 2010

Follow us by bookmarking these links:

- Twitter Hash Tag

Brewdog, Het Anker, Panil, Southern Tier, Nogne O, Propeller, Mikkeller and more!!

Delirium Tremens, Stigel, Erdinger, Affligem and more!!

The Bar Towel/Cecktor Imports
Garrison Brewing Co., in Halifax and Picaroons Brewery in Fredericton

Beer Barons
Weihenstehpan Hefeweissbier and Dunkel

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Toronto Beer Week: September 20 - 26th

Toronto Beer Week
September 20-26, 2010

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- Twitter Hash Tag

Stephen Rich
Definitive Ale
Beer Blogging: 6 Months

Meet Stephen Rich, the man behind Definitive Ale.  Rich, who recently left behind a life in the Finance career to embark on a beer adventure, has been blogging for six months and his website is full of tasting notes, event reviews, educational material (beer and cigar pairings) and more.

Describe the moment when you first saw the craft beer light?
I went through high school assuming that I was drinking great beer – I was drinking the higher end commercial beers and imports expecting that this was as good as it gets. Then, it took just that first sip of Schneider-Weisse Aventinus in 2004 and I was changed forever. I had no idea you could enjoy flavor like this from beer. The Aventinus, and the beers that followed it opened my palate, my mind and my heart to a spectrum of flavors that I didn’t even know existed! I went to see a movie on a Tuesday night with some friends. After, we were looking for a place to grab a beer. We must have passed 3 or 4 closed restaurants and pubs before we stepped into the recently opened (at the time) beerbistro. The Bar Manager and Part Owner, Dayna, was working, and charmingly enchanted us with stories of amazing beer. The first beer she served me was the Aventinus, and all of a sudden my –mouth and soul was filled with a rush a complex flavors that I had never known. This was a remarkable beer. Little did I know (until later that night), that there were hundreds, even thousands of beers that can do exactly that!

That was the beginning for me, but one beer truly got me hooked. It was a miraculous thing for me in 2004, the first time I ever tried an Innis & Gunn; I was enjoying a beer and a meal at my favorite restaurant and beer bar in Toronto, the beerbistro. At the time I was just getting into real beer, and the Beer Bistro was the catalyst for that new found passion (obsession). Around then I was just beginning to learn the differences between mass produced commercial beer and craft made beer; there was really no better place for me to do that either. Then one night not unlike any other a beer caught my eye on the expansive beer menu called Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer, which explained that it had been aged in previously used oak whisky barrels. Now, while this may sound very commonplace these days to the avid beer connoisseur, in 2004 oak ageing was still very fresh, and to me it was exceptionally exciting. There wasn’t really a question in my mind; I really loved whisky, so I had to try this beer. If the Beer Bistro was the catalyst for my ascent to beer appreciation, then the Innis & Gunn Original Oak Aged Beer without a question was my guide. The first time I enjoyed this beer (and still every time) it absolutely floored me! I was then beginning to learn about and appreciate all the flavors that beer could posses, and the Innis & Gunn came along and just swept me off my feet! I was speechless, even still I am in awe of how delicious and fantastic this beer is. In fact, I have spent the last 6 years introducing my friends to Innis & Gunn and explaining to them why it is so exceptional – and have easily converted commodity-grade beer drinkers into real beer aficionados! Thanks Innis & Gunn!

What made you decide to blog about beer?
In February I left the world of Finance, and my job with a Canadian Mutual Fund Company to turn my greatest passion into my livelihood. One of my original inspirations was Ken Woods, the owner of the Black Oak Brewery in Toronto. Ken had spent much of his life as a corporate accountant, but one day realized that he hated it, loved beer, and decided to open up a brewery; one of the breweries that taught me about what craft beer truly is. I am wholeheartedly entrenched in the world of real beer, and I knew if I did not make something of that with my life I would be left empty. Ken inspired me to make this move now, rather than waiting until I am 50.

Who long have you been blogging about beer and how long do you think you'll continue?
I have been blogging since the beginning of March, and have no plans to stop. The context in which I blog may change as my career path dictates, but whether I am a beer journalist, work for a brewery, or run a restaurant, I will continue to blog in one capacity or another about beer and how it can enrich your life.

What has been the biggest change in the Ontario brewing industry since you started blogging?
As stated, I have only been blogging for the five and a half months, so in the wide context of Ontario Craft Brewing not much has changed. On a smaller scale however we are seeing more and more people get passionately involved in the craft beer community. This year will mark the inaugural year for the Toronto Beer Week, and this was also the very first year of Session, A Craft Beer Festival. As well, Mike Duugan has opened an already popular Craft Brewery in Downtown Toronto, and Beaus beers from Vankleek Hill continue to gain popularity among beer fans and non alike. So I have not witnessed a significant change in the market in the past 5 months, however an increased enthusiasm for craft beer is always a notable accomplishment.

If you could change one time about the industry here in Ontario, what would it be?
I would loosen the immensely tight restrictions that exist on both Ontario Craft Brewers and Servers of beer in Ontario. There is a hectic amount of red tape that you must cross in order to produce and sell the beer you want to, or import and serve exciting beers. The LCBO’s beer selection is improving, but why can’t we hold onto some of the amazing products that are seasonal to us, but year-round for the producer? Why can’t we get larger ranges of brands from brewers who we are already importing one of their products – ie. Dogfish Head, Southern Tier, Affligem, Samuel Adams, Brooklyn, Rogue, Victory, Dieu Du Ciel, etc. 

What beer book would you recommend to someone looking to learn more about beer?
The Brewmasters Table by Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery is an amazing overview of beer history, production, style guidelines, how to pair it with food and more. It is a relatively large book, and may be more than what the average person wants to know about beer. But if you are truly interested in learning more about beer, how to appreciate beer, and how to understand beer, then Garret provides you with an enthusiastic, experience based tour through the wonderful world of real beer from the perfective of a brewmaster, foodie, and kid in a candy store.

When you're not drinking, writing, or out at the pub, what else preoccupies your time?
From September to late January I am completely obsessed with the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I haven’t missed a Steelers game in 7 years, and every Sunday you can find me decked out in black and gold in front of multiple TV’s with a beer in hand. Beyond that I cook and bake everyday and consider it a huge passion of mine. I also love cars, baseball, cigars, whiskey and bodybuilding.

Best beer festival or event you've attended?
There are many on my “to-go-to” list, but the best that I have been to se far was the Vermont Brewers Festival in Burlington Vermont. It is located in a park against the water, and is filled with craft brewers from the NE United States, and parts of Canada. Vermont has a rich brewing community and a strong foodie culture. The city is absolutely beautiful and always provides my bugs and I a fantastic time. Also, the Beverage Outlet in Winooski has one of the best beer selections I have ever seen.

Name your favourite beer blogging experience
Hopefully there are many more to continually top my list as I move forward, but one of the greatest thrills in the last 4 months was when I received a bottle of the Stone, Victory, Dogfish Head collaboration beer Saison du BUFF completely unarranged. The great guys at Stone were nice enough to send it to me, and receiving it in the mail by surprise lit me up for days. 

Best time for a pint?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What If Ontario Had A Beer Revolution? By Steve Beauchesne

The following article was written by Steve Beauchesne, co/founder of Beau's All Natural Brewery in Vankleek Hill, ON.

Steve was asked to speak at last weekend's Toronto Festival of Beer (TFOBand he decided to pitch anyone listening on the benefits of drinking locally brewed beer, which could lead to an Ontario Beer Revolution.

Steve posted the following article on the brewery's blog as the format for his scheduled speak at TFOB wasn't what he figured it would be, and it has been reposted here with Steve's blessing.

To read original post, click here to go to Beau's Blog
I was asked if I wanted to speak at the Toronto Festival of Beer this year and I said yes, of course (I like to talk), but I didn’t want to just do the regular this-is-the-brewing-process or the my-dad-and-I-started-up-the brewery... kind of talk, I figured after saying it at the booth for a couple days, it might come out a little over-rehearsed. So I decided instead to give a pitch instead for drinking locally brewed beer in general.

As it turns out, the format was interview style and the placement of the speaking corner was in direct line of the main stage so it was impossible to hear and the tent (which was named craft beer corner) wasn’t given any signage that might let people know where to find it. Suffice to say, I didn’t get to give my pitch and there weren’t a lot of folks that would have heard it anyway.
So instead, I figure I might as well throw this on the blog, and see if it can get some traction here...

But a word of note first...I've footnoted my sources used, but I’m sure there are some better pieces of data out there that would refine some of the projections used. Please comment with better sources if you have them. I’ll edit the piece to include better figures as I get them and leave the comments in place to show the progress.

With that here is my pitch...
Thanks for coming, my name is Steve, and my Dad and I started up Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co 4 years ago. We’re a local, organic, family-run, award winning and totally independent brewery. But I’m not going to talk much about my brewery today; instead I’d take this time to throw out a pretty radical thought...What if Ontario had a beer revolution?

What do I mean by a beer revolution? Well revolutions usually involve overthrowing tyrants, and instituting a new form of governance, but my revolution is maybe a little less violent than that, although by no means is it less radical.

Right now in Ontario, 1 out of every 20 beers drank came from an independent, Ontario brewery.(note 1) By beer revolution, I mean, what would happen if Ontarians chose to drink an Ontario-made independent beer 1 out of every 2 times they drank beer?

I’ll talk about how this revolution might begin and what it would look like a little later, but I think it is important to address why this would be so important first and the best way to do that is describe what Ontario would look like after the revolution, when 1 out of every 2 beers drank in this province was independently made in the province.

So let’s look into the crystal ball...

Canadians drink about 85 litres of beer every year, which means in Ontario, about 800 million litres of beer are drank each year.(note 2) That means that after the beer revolution, Ontario brewers will have grown from selling about 40 million litres of beer to 400 million litres.

What is the most important change that would occur after the beer revolution?
Just think of the beer we’d get to drink!

Our 35 independent brewers on average produce about 1 million litres of beer every year, with about an average of 4 brands each (note 3). To get to 400 million litres of beer, we’d need to add 315 new breweries (for a total of 350 breweries) and 1,260 new brands of beer (for a total of 1,400).

One thousand, four hundred brands of beer!!! It would also mean that almost every city and town in the province would have at least one local brewery to check out when you visited.

The Beer Store currently boasts 350 brands from 90 breweries (note 4), the LCBO claims 341 (note 5). Think of how much more choice there would be if Ontario alone had 1,400 brands from 350 brewers – and that was still only half of the beer drank! Think of what the Toronto Festival of Beer would look like...It would be heaven on Earth.

If this sounds outrageous and unachievable to you, consider that the German state of Bavaria has a population about the same as Ontario’s6 and is home to 629 breweries. (note 7)

After the revolution, with independent breweries holding 50% of the Ontario market share, think of the employment that would create...

Monday, August 9, 2010

LCBO Autumn & Halloween Release

LCBO # PRODUCT NAME BREWERY NAME % alc./vol. Unit Size  Price 
121574 Orval Tappist Ale BRASSERIE D'ORVAL S.A. 6.90% 330 ML $3.60
54106 Smoked Oatmeal Stout TRAFALGAR ALES AND MEADS LTD. 5.00% 650 ML $4.75
84889 Hofbraeu Oktoberfestbier STAATLICHES HOFBRAUHAUS  6.30% 500 ML $3.00
125401 Peche Mortel MICROBRASSERIE DIEU DU CIEL 9.50% 341 ML $3.90
173534 Southern Tier Choklat SOUTHERN TIER BREWING COMPANY  11.00% 650 ML $10.75
177550 Belhaven Scottish Stout THE BELHAVEN BREWERY CO. LTD. 7.00% 500 ML $3.50
177568 Dark Star Brewery Espresso Stout BRANDED DRINKS LTD. 4.20% 500 ML $3.45
174581 Blackberry Porter CANNERY BREWING COMPANY 6.50% 650 ML $6.10
173633 Wychcraft THE WYCHWOOD BREWERY COMPANY 4.50% 500 ML $3.50
172957 Innis & Gunn Limited Edition Highland Cask INNIS & GUNN BREWING CO LTD  7.10% 330 ML $4.95
173641 Muskoka Harvest Ale LAKES OF MUSKOKA COTTAGE BREWERY 6.00% 650 ML $4.95
173658 Garrison Brewing Imperial I.P.A. GARRISON BREWING CO. 7.00% 500 ML $4.25
173047 Samuel Smith's Organic Cider SAMUEL SMITH OLD BREWERY  5.00% 550 ML $4.95

Halloween releases (available in-store at the end of September):

LCBO # PRODUCT NAME BREWERY NAME % alc./vol. Unit Size  Price 
90738 St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale MCAUSLAN BREWING INC 5.00% 4X341 ML $9.95
182287 Southern Tier Pumpkin Ale SOUTHERN TIER BREWING CO 9.00% 650 ML $8.95
201665 Nasty Habit IPA MT BEGIE BREWING CO 5.70% 650 ML $6.10
67710 Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale GREAT LAKES BREWERY 5.50% 650 ML $4.95
90373 Brooklyn Post Pumpkin Ale BROOKLYN BREWERY 5.00% 330 ML $2.50
186775 Rigor Mortis MICROBRASSERIE DIEU DU CIEL 10.50% 341 ML $3.50
676676 Guinness Draught 8 pack Value Add GUINNESS BREWING 4.20% 8X440 ML $20.95

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