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


Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Here's to a Happy and Prosperous New Year! Whatever your plans may be tonight, drink good beer!

I'll be back in a couple of days to start updating the blog with new posts, getting back to the way it used to be in the past with a post a day, including new pub reviews.

I'll also be putting together a review of 2010 post on here shortly, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here are some links from the past.

Sam Adams launch in Toronto - with shoddy video

Session: A Craft Beer Festival

8th Annual Canadian Brewing Award winners

Toronto Beer Week Thoughts

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meet Reid Pickering: The Feather's Pub - Toronto, ON

Meet Reid Pickering, the owner of The Feather's Pub on Kingston Road. Pickering used to call The Rebel House on Yonge St. home as he was a longtime manager there before purchasing Feather's off of a retiring Ian Innes, who opened the popular pub almost 30 years ago.

Since the purchase, Pickering has altered a couple of taps at Feather's, bringing on more local craft beer and continues to serve cask conditioned ale to his loyal customers. Pickering also took part in the first ever Toronto Beer Week, running events with Wellington, Steam Whistle and Creemore.

How long have you operated your establishment
1 1/2 years

How did you get into the hospitality industry?
I started washing dishes at age 15.

What is the best part of operating a pub?
The people

What is the worst?
The people

How do you go about selecting the beer for your establishment?
I try to maintain list of good quality and seasonal beers from around the world.

Where did the name of your establishment come from?
The original owner Ian Innes named it after a pub in his native Scotland.

What has been the biggest change in the beer industry since you started your business?
I have seen a huge growth in cask or real ale as well as so many new micro breweries.

If you could change one thing about the industry (pub/bar/restaurant), what would it be?
I would like it if the LCBO would allow licensees the ability to split cases or privately order in higher end product. As it is right now it is very cost prohibitive to try to maintain a specialized cellar.

What do you get up to when your not at your establishment?
I sing and play guitar in local roots rock band

If you're not drinking at your own bar, where do you head to for a beer?
Kilgour's or Fanny Chadwick's

Name the last beer you consumed?

The Feathers Pub
962 Kingston Rd
Toronto Ontario

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vancouver Island Brewery - Virtual Tour

Vancouver Island Brewery have posted a short video on YouTube that takes you inside the brewery for a virtual tour as their highly acclaimed Hermannator Ice Bock is being bottled.

Ontario's Roger Mittag and B.C's Chester Carey provide tasting notes for the 2010 Ice Bock in the current winter issue of TAPS The Beer Magazine, both providing glowing reviews.

Monday, December 20, 2010

barVolo - Holiday Heavy Hitters

The following is a message from Toronto's barVolo

Join barVolo for our last two events of the year featuring our favorite beers of 2010 and special beers from Quebec on draught.

Thank you for all your support this year!

HOLIDAY HEAVY HITTERS Monday, December 27th, 2010 (4pm-2am)

Mill St. Barley Wine 2010
Black Oak Ten Bitter Years Double IPA
Scotch Irish Jon By Imperial Stout 2010
Grand River Russian Gun Imperial Stout 2010
Duggan's TBA
Wellington Russian Imperial Stout 2010
Muskoka Double Chocolate Cranberry Imperial Stout 2010
Taps Belgian IPA
Granite Gin Lane Barley Wine 2010
Great Lakes Stalin’s Choice Russian Imperial Stout
Grand River Jubilation Ale 2010
Nickelbrook Belgian Double
** All beers will be served in 300mL glassware.
** All beers are limited in quantity and subject to change

NEW YEARS EVE Friday, December 31st, 2010 (4pm-2am)

Le Trou Du Diable Sang-d'encre Dry Stout
Le Trou Du Diable La Saison Du Tracteurs
Taps Belgian IPA
Hopfenstark Saison Du Repos
Denison’s Weissbier
Flying Monkey Smash Bomb IPA
Black Oak Ten Bitter Years Double IPA
Great Lakes Ace Of Spades Single Hop Black IPA
Hopfenstark Kamarad Friedrich Russian Imperial Stout
Dieu Du Ciel! Peche Mortel Coffee Imperial Stout
Dieu Du Ciel! Rigor Mortis Abt
Mill St. Barley Wine 2010
Hopfenstark Framboise

Black Oak Nutcracker Porter (Cask)
Volo / Biergotter “V” Black IPA (Cask)
Volo / Biergotter / Dieu Du Ciel! Lendemain De Veille (Cask)
Volo Johnny Boy Ontario IPA (Cask)
Volo Hip-Hop Series #1: "RUN ESB" Black Extra Special Bitter (Cask)

** No Reservations, pre-fix menu, dress code or door admission
** Regular food menu will be served plus daily specials
** All beers are limited in quantity and subject to change

December 20th-23rd: 12PM - 2AM
December 24th: 12PM - 5PM
December 25th-26th: CLOSED
January 1st - 2nd: CLOSED

LCBO Sam Adams Utopias Update

Cass Enright of Bar Towel was the first person to break the news in October, and Josh Rubin of the Toronto Star built upon it days later, leaving Ontario beer enthusiasts thirsty for more news about the release of the famous Sam Adams Utopias.

Earlier today Rubin posted some news on his about an update he received and an hour or so ago I received a message from Chris Layton, the LCBO's Media Relations Coordinator, who had this to share.

The LCBO has purchased 70 bottles (710 mL) of Utopias for customers. It will retail for $114.95 per 710 mL bottle. Due to the extremely limited availability of this product, and to ensure all customers have an equal opportunity to purchase it, the LCBO will be offering Utopias via online and telephone orders only – not in LCBO stores.

Orders received by the assigned deadline will be randomly selected. This is the same process that the LCBO uses to offer rare, limited-edition wines through its Vintages fine wine and premium spirits business unit. 
The LCBO will accept orders starting January 6, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. up until 6:00 p.m. on January 13, 2011. Given the very limited availability of this product, only one order per customer will be accepted and allocation will be limited to one bottle per customer. We regret that we cannot guarantee that all orders will be filled. Orders randomly selected will be confirmed by either telephone or email on or after January 17, 2011. Orders will be shipped to the LCBO store of the customer’s choice at no extra charge.

Order by Online Form
Submit your order before the deadline using Vintages new Direct Sales Online form. Sign up today for your Online Direct Sales account at

Order by Telephone
Submit your order before the deadline by calling Vintages Sales Centre at , or toll free , Monday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

As you know, Sam Adams Utopias is considered by some beer collectors to be the culmination of the art of brewing. The 2009 release, which the LCBO is offering, is a blend of batches, some aged as long as 16 years in bourbon, sherry and port casks. 
I've been lucky enough to share in a number of bottles in the past and at $114.95 people lucky enough to get their hands on a bottle will be rewarded for their patience.

Paddock Wood Winter Ale

I received a couple bottles of Winter Ale from Saskatchewan's Paddock Wood Brewing Co. a couple of week's ago and decided to get into one this morning. The beer was released back in November in limited quantities alongside their Grande Reserve Winter Ale. Only 300 of the latter were released in 750ml champagne bottles where they have undergone secondary fermentation.

This Winter Ale, brewed in the Belgian Dubbel style, and inspired by a classic Belgian brewery. The Belgian brewery is unknown to me, but Steve Cavan, owner of Paddock Wood, mentioned that instead of replicating the original recipe they received from said brewery he would add his own elements to it, which included creating their own candi sugar to use in the beer.

"In one of those 'friend of a friend of a friend' relationships, we have recipes direct from the source. It gave us a basic parameter for brewing a Dubbel, but we decided not to replicate it for various reasons. One being we had to make the Candi ourselves. That was very cool, boiling the sugar to about 300F and adding water," said Cavan.

It pours a lovely deep copper with a streak of red hues shining through. The nose contains whiffs of Belgian yeast, warming alcohol notes, some roasted malt and grape skins.

Flavour is nicely balanced. Good carbonation level with some sweet caramel malt, complex sugars, steeped raisins, christmas cake, and a hint of spice in the finish. Lingering on the palate, the Winter Ale provides a nicely warming affect with it's 8% alcohol content while going down nice and easy. It's well rounded, full of flavour and begs for more.

From the label:
Winter Ale warms the cockles of your heart on a cold winter evening. A complex blend of malts makes a rich toasted caramel profile

Friday, December 17, 2010

Amsterdam Bottles Smoked Porter - Winning Entry From Toronto Beer Week Homebrew Competition

The first ever Toronto Beer Week (TBW - held back in September) held a Homebrew Competition that attracted homebrewers from across Canada.

Kyle Teichert, from Egmondville, ON, wowed the judges with his Smoked Porter recipe, going on to win the judging.

Toronto's Amsterdam Brewing Co. offered to brew the winning entry on a commercial scale, and yesterday, December 16, 2010, the Smoked Porter was bottled and will be available for purchase from the brewery very shortly. There are only a couple of kegs floating around - 1 is heading to Toronto's Burger Bar in Kensington and 1 to Chancey Smith's in London, ON

Teichert, who isn't big on words, had this to say about winning the first annual competition. "It was unexpected because I had just started homebrewing. It was great to see my beer brewed here at Amsterdam and I think it's great for homebrewers. Also, it's neat to know people will be drinking my Smoked Porter. Thanks to Amsterdam and the TBW organizers."

Amsterdam's Blake van Delft said, "It's been a fun experience doing this beer and I think people are really going to enjoy it (Smoked Porter)."

Here are some pictures that were taken yesterday during bottling.

Smoked Porter - Winning entry submitted by Kyle Teichert of Egmondville, ON

Jamie Mistry (Amsterdam Brewmaster) & Teichert - about to enjoy a taste
Bottles about to be filled with the Smoked Porter

The Smoked Porter gets capped

After capping the Smoked Porter receives a cold shower

Coming off the bottling line and into boxes

One of Amsterdam's barrel projects - Brown Royale. There is also a barrel of the Smoked Porter kicking around the brewery

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Niagara College Brewmaster Students 101 - Mark Murphy

I last reported on the new Niagara College Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program back in May 2010 (well, actually earlier today) and since then a lot has happened. A 1,600 square foot brewery has been built, brewing has commenced, their first beer has been launched and a semester has passed. The school received 186 applications, and 24 students were selected to be part of the inaugural class. Throughout the next year of the program I'd like to introduce you to a few of the students and allow them to provide updates on how the course is progressing.

First up is Mark Murphy, who I first met when he volunteered to help steward the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards.

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you find yourself enrolling in the Brewmaster program?
Well, like a lot of people I've meet, beer was not my first career path, but became a passion that could not be ignored. I graduated with a Bachelors of Accounting degree from Brock University in 2005, and went on to get my Chartered Accountant (CA) designation in 2007. Since 2005 I've worked as an auditor performing financial statement audits, tax returns and operational audits. I can say that I loved the challenge of obtaining my CA designation, but once that was done, I quickly learned that I'm not the type of person who will enjoy sitting at a desk for the next 40 years, doing work that I'm not passionate about. In addition to a love of great beer, I've always had an entrepreneurial mindset and also really enjoy rolling up my sleeves and getting dirty. I actually first heard about the program on this very blog, and immediately could not shake the idea from my head. Since I'm still (relatively) young and don't have kids I figured there would be no better time to make the switch.

Describe the moment when you first saw the craft beer light?
Throughout university I guess you could say I was "price conscious", so I bought pretty much anything that was on sale. It's funny to look back now, but when I first discovered the existence of Keith's red I thought it was a 1,000 times more interesting than the more bland lagers of the day. At the same time I was always open to a Guinness, so there was definitely some potential there. After graduation (when I had a bit more money) I would routinely load up on LCBO single cans and bottles. The scales definitely tipped when I first tried Innis & Gunn (original oak aged) and Fullers annual vintage release (bottle conditioned). At those moments, my mind was blown in terms of the flavour possibilities with beer. Since then I haven't looked back.

What's your favorite beer style?
I love this question! Since I'm in the brewmaster program I usually get asked what my favourite beer is by friends and family... How could I possibly choose just one? These days I'd definitely side with the big American IPA's.

Stay tuned for the next post as Mark updates us on how the first semester has progressed. For more information on the program you can visit and be sure to watch here ( for the launch of the college's first beers.

First Draft - Niagara College Brewmaster Program Launches First Beer

Friday December 10th was an historic day for Niagara College as they launched their first student brewed beer for the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program at the Niagara-On-The-Lake campus.

The first bottle of First Draft

First Draft, as the college is calling it, is a fairly standard pale ale and was bottled in a standard 341ml non-twist bottle and will be available for purchase at the college's retail store shortly (on campus). Proceeds of sales support student learning. You can follow along at the students' website (currently being updated) at:

Jon Downing with some of the students

Coming up later today on the blog, Niagara Students 101 with Mark Murphy. Mark will be sharing information with us in the coming weeks on the progress of the course, introducing us to other students and will be taking us into the teaching brewery to share some tasting notes...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kichesippi Beer Co. To Take Over Heritage Brewing

While I was out having a liquid lunch, I missed a tweet from the good people at Kichesippi Beer Co. about some important news. It turns out that they will be taking over Heritage Brewing Co. as of December 14th.

I spoke with Kichesippi owner Paul Meek back in April, for a short 'bar snacks' piece in TAPS, and even then he mentioned that he'd like to operate his own brewery in Ottawa one day, and, as of December 14th, after brewing Kichesippi at Heritage on a contract basis for seven months, that will become reality.

"I'm very excited about this news," said Meek this afternoon over the phone. "It's great for Kichesippi Beer as we'll be able to expand our production," he said.

"When we started Kichesippi seven months ago we knew that the contract brewing aspect would only be temporary, that we'd be looking to operate our own brewery one day, in Ottawa. This opportunity arose and it's perfect for us. We look forward to taking the things Heritage has accomplished, and what we've been able to accomplish, and put them together for our future goals," said an excited Meek who will be solely focusing on the Ottawa region for the time being.

In a post from an Ottawa based blog, Apt613, the site that broke the story, the author indicates that current Heritage owners, Ron Moir and Donna Warner are second time grandparents and are ready to move onto something else, something Meek confirmed.

He also stated that Kichesippi will be keeping the Heritage staff who will work together with the Kichesippi staff to take the brewery forward. Kichesippi will continue to brew the two Heritage beers -  Premium Lager and Traditional Dark Lager, but unlike what another site previously mentioned, the Scotch Irish brands were not part of the deal, and there is no word on their future at the moment.

The husband and wife team (Ron and Donna) have been two very passionate people in the Ontario brewing industry and will be missed with their departure from the scene.

Kichesippi Natural Blonde is currently available in 33 locations across the Ottawa region and 6-pack long-neck bottles are currently in the works for LCBO approval. Meek also noted that with the purchase of Heritage, the company will be able to expand production and will take a look into a seasonal program, which will start with the brewing of their Anniversary beer to mark their 1st year in business.

Buskwakker Mead - 2010 Release

Every year the Bushwakker Brewpub in Regina, Saskatchewan releases a Mead in time for the holiday season (this year a Blackberry Mead). And being the first brewery to ever produce a mead in Saskatchewan, Bushwakker receives tremendous response each year from their customers, with this year's edition the largest to date.

Selling out in less than 90 minutes, individuals lucky enough to get their limit (2 six-packs per person) for $60 (a six-pack) were thrilled as some people left empty handed due to a significant increase in interest this year.

Here is a video of this year's release, which took place on December 4th.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Garrison Brewing Up A Spruce Beer

Daniel Girard, the Brewmaster at the Garrison Brewing Co. dropped me a line yesterday informing me that he and another Garrison brewer (Qian) would be heading out to one of their hopyards, Meander River Farms, to pick over a dozen bags of spruce tips for a new beer he was brewing today - a strong Spruce Beer.

If you head over to page you can view images of Girard and Qian at the farm cutting the spruce tips and then back at the brewery while they make the beer.

This is Girard's second spruce beer, but first since brewing with Garrison.  The beer uses the outer 4-6 inches of spruce and fir branches for aroma and flavours plus molasses and dates for sugars.

President Brian Titus had this to say about the new beer, " running naked through an Acadian forest - pretty intense!"

The brewery plans to have some bottled by next weekend and it's intended to come in at 7.5%. "Definitely a traditional ale essentially using what was available at the time. Dark with some residual sweetness, should make for a rich and intensely flavourful mid-winter brew," said Titus.

From the label:
At Halifax, spruce beer was the big commodity and thought to be a very good beverage for the men... Will be Brewed for the Health and conveniency of the Troops, which will be ferved at prime coft... it is made of the tops and branches of the spruces-tree, boiled for three hours, then strained into casks... 5 Quarts of Mollaffes will be put into every Barrel of Spruce Beer... as soon as cold, it is fit for use... while encamped at Halifax the soldiers drank great quantities of spruce beer, "the allowance was two quarts per day to each man, or three gallons and an half week, for which he paid seven pence... the Seamen always continue healthy and active when drinking spruce Beer."

Creemore Springs Brewery Looking For Ontario Sales Leader

Creemore Springs Brewery in Creemore, ON, is currently looking for an Ontario Sales Leader to join their team.

Have a read of their job description and click on the link provided to be directed to the website where you can apply if interested.

Job Description
The ideal candidate has a passion for the craft beer business, is results focused and personally accountable for their actions, thrives on innovation and has the desire to be part of a winning organization.

We are looking for a Sales Leader who is excited about the opportunity to add value to our company, to our customers and to the craft beer segment; and can execute the following with precision and enthusiasm:

• Develop and implement a sales plan that delivers on combined measures as well as sales standards.
• Lead, coach and develop a team of Sales Representatives including championing a solution based selling orientation.
• Be an active participant in the business with a minimum of three days a week in the field accompanying the Sales Representatives.
• Develop and maintain strong key targeted market partnerships (customer and industry) including leading relationships for key accounts. Work closely with Marketing Director of LCBO account.
• Partner with Brand Marketing in the development of trade initiatives and programs to ensure the sales team has appropriate tools to succeed.
• Monitor, measure and communicate monthly business performance indicators against regional plans/targets including competitive review.

Education and Experience requirements:
• Post secondary education with a minimum of 10 years progressive sales experience. Prior experience in leading and managing a team is required.
• Experience in a specialty alcohol beverage market and/or in the craft beer market is preferred.
• Solid understanding of brewing and styles with a keen interest in beer reverence and food pairings.
• Intimate knowledge of Creemore Springs Brand and other specialty brands in the portfolio.
• Strong relationship builder with the ability to influence others.
• Exceptional interpersonal, presentation and communication skills.
Company Description

Creemore Springs, a dynamic and growing business within the craft beer segment, is currently seeking a highly motivated and inspiring Ontario Sales Leader to join their Sales and Marketing team in their Toronto office.

Creemore Springs Brewery opened for business in 1987 and has become a leader in the craft brewing industry in Ontario. This role will provide leadership to the sales team to drive the achievement of Ontario sales volume and quality execution targets.
Additional Information

Type: Full-time
Experience: Mid-Senior level
Functions: Sales

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Help Name Church Key's New Beer

John Graham, the owner/brewer/keg washer of the Church Key Brewing Co., needs your help with naming his new beer.

Through History Television's, Graham is featured in a short video asking individuals to provide names for a new Biere de Garde he has created under his Heavyweight Series. There is some criteria you have to follow though - the suggestions need to be fun, memorable, and it has to fit on the label.

There have already been some names submitted: Whammo, Cup of Gold, Knucklestein Stock, and more.

Click here for more information and to watch the video

A MolsonCoors Procession

I just came across this interesting article on the Hamilton Spectator website - Now That's a Beer Run

MolsonCoors are getting some new tank, which are currently sitting at the Hamilton Port. After traveling 15 days on a cargo ship from Germany, six 45 tonne vats have to make it to MolsonCoors' huge Toronto plant. It will require four nights of travel at walking speed, paid-duty police from five different jurisdictions, a 40 vehicle convoy, road closures, and the removal of hydro wires and traffic lights!

Click on the link to read the article...and the comments.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Great Lakes Brewery - Hops For Hunger Back Again

Great Lakes Brewery have launched their annual Hops of Hunger initiative at their Etobicoke brewery. The annual program is in support of the Daily Bread Food Bank and will be running until December 24th (it started on December 1st).

Here's how it works - Anytime a customer purchases beer from the brewery's retail store, Great Lakes will donate the corresponding poundage of food to the food bank. Last year Great Lakes surpassed their goal of 2000lbs and are aiming for 3000lbs this year.

The brewery is open Monday to Saturday from 10am - 6pm and is located at .

Beau's + CABA = BOOM

Press release from Beau's All Natural Brewing Co.

Vankleek Hill, ON - Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. is proud to present the 2010 edition of its CABA CABA HEY series of beers “Boomerweiss Weissbier” a collaborative effort from BEAU’S and ‘Home Brewer Of The Year’ John Baine from Dundas, Ont.

Thanks to this unique partnership between the Canadian Amateur Brewers Association (CABA) & Ontario Craft Brewers, the Home Brewer Of The Year not only gets an award and bragging rights, but also gets to help design & brew a beer with the folks at BEAU’S.

John’s award winning entry is called “Boomerweiss Weissbier”. A beer that features an intense banana flavour that goes all the way to 11 and is complimented by clove-like spiciness and a bubblegum aroma. Lively carbonation helps to accentuate this classic hefeweizen’s drinkability.

"It’s great to work with a passionate home brewer like John,” says Steve Beauchesne of Beau's All Natural Brewing Company, ”And help take his dream of beer to the next level"

CABA CABA HEY! 2010’s “Boomerweiss Weissbier” is available now for a limited time at

Meet Troy Kirkby: The Spitfire Arms Alehouse - Windsor, NS

front of the Spitfire Arms Alehouse
Meet Troy Kirkby (without a picture), the publican of The Spitfire Arms in Windsor, NS. While I have never personally met Kirkby, we've been emailing each other for a number of years, dating back to the first time I visited his pub, and based on those emails, Kirkby sounds like a passionate publican. A guy you'd like to have a beer with.

The Spitfire Arms is a great little pub in the small community of Windsor, NS and boasts a credible beer menu that satisfies both the beer enthusiasts' and macro drinkers alike (Garrison, Propeller, Granite, etc). It's also home to Kirkby extensive WW2 aviation museum, free to view.

How long have you operated your establishment
I purchased this circa 1898 commercial building in June of 2002. It was derelict, full of rats, mice, bats and junk...lots of junk. A rough estimate puts the demolition debris total weight at approximately 20,000 pounds! The second floor apartments were brought up to living standards first so I had a place to live. November 2002 saw the first phase of construction on the main floor, it was here that my dream of building a pub became a sudden reality. Since there had never been a restaurant on these premises, everything was new from the floors joists up. After months of hard labour, blood, sweat, tears and thousands of dollars invested into the "swear jar", we finally opened for business on April 19, 2003.

How did you get into the hospitality industry?
In 1999, while on vacation in England I visited dozens of pubs including my Great-Grandparents "local" and the Packington Arms, Islington, London which my Great-Uncle ran during WW2. It was then that I decided by the time I turned 30, I would open my first pub somewhere in Canada. As it turned out, I celebrated my 31st birthday, eight days before The Spitfire Arms opened.

What is the best part of operating a pub?
There have been countless moments over the past eight years that have been significant to me personally. But in reality, it's the simple fact that any great pub finds its way into peoples everyday lives and becomes an extension of their own space. We have celebrated births, deaths, anniversaries, marriages, birthdays, Friday's, holidays right beside our friends and customers. If you aren't a part of the local community, you don't last very long in this business.

What is the worst?
To be honest, it can be challenging to separate personal lives and emotions with everyone who walks through the doors. Finding a balance between personal and public life is something I believe most hands-on owners face at some point in their tenure as a "Publican".

How do you go about selecting the beer for your establishment?.
"Market Research!!!" I love using that phrase. I'm a beer guy, through and through. If there's something new or unique available to the trade, I want to find out as much as possible about the brand, its history and its representation prior to putting it on draught or in the fridge. To the best of my recollection, we have offered something in the region of approximately 230 different brands from across the globe since 2003.

Where did the name of your establishment come from?
My life-long passion for Commonwealth aviation history was the main inspiration for choosing the "Spitfire" as the name for the pub. My Grand-mother served in the Royal Air Force as a WAAF, she grew up in Islington and I've listened to her telling stories about growing up during the Blitz and seeing and hearing the Spitfire's and Hurricane's roaring through the skies over London. It's an Iconic aircraft and in my opinion still one of the most beautifully designed airframes of all time. I also wanted to exhibit my personal collection of RCAF and Commonwealth aviation artifacts, so there is a display case built into the pub that allows customers of all ages to see the genuine article. The pub has been referred to as "the fourth aviation museum in Nova Scotia". I use the phrase "The Spitfire Arms Alehouse, not just a pub, it's a place of Remembrance" to express my thanks to an entire generation of common people who did remarkable things during uncertain times. It is to them that I owe my freedom.

What has been the biggest change in the beer industry since you started your business?
It was an emerging trend in the Maritimes that I was able to capitalize on when we first opened - SELECTION. People thought I was crazy to open a pub outside of Halifax with eight draught lines in 2003. We now offer sixteen choices and a guest beer. A shift in people's tastes to import, specialty and microbrewery beers, coupled with tailoring a great food menu to compliment the entire experience. I believe we were at the right place, at the right time with the right idea.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
One word...Government.

What do you get up to when your not at your establishment?
I've been involved with the preservation and restoration of an Avro Lancaster bomber in Edmundston, New Brunswick since 2001. It is my other passion in life. Aside from that I collect Francis-Barnett motorcycles (one of which belonged to my Great-grandfather), I travel as much as possible to experience new cultures, especially their food and drink! And, as I mentioned before - MARKET RESEARCH!

If you're not drinking at your own bar, where do you head to for a beer?
I have a few favourite spots in Halifax. In no specific order; Durty Nelly's, Finbar's, The Henry House...but there's one in Ontario close to my Mum's place in Paris - The Cobblestone Public House. Great people, great food and great beer!

Name the last beer you consumed?
Funny enough, it was Lancaster Bomber by Thwaites Brewery, Lancashire, UK. It was given to me by someone at an aviation conference in Ottawa a few weeks ago...nice and hoppy!

The Spitfire Arms Alehouse

Windsor, Nova Scotia B0N 2T0

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reminder - CASK! Social Tomorrow

Just a friendly reminder that the Victory Cafe will be hosting the December CASK! Social between 4 and 7pm.

Here are the details (from CASK!)
Saturday December 4th 2010
Time: 4:00 – 7:00 pm
Location: The Victory Cafe

It's that time again.... time to meet up over a few pints of delicious cask-conditioned ale!

Join us for the December Cask! social on December 4th at the Victory Café. This month's social will feature the beers of F&M brewery (StoneHammer beers.) The Victory will be serving a Harvest Pale Ale, an IPA as well as the Oatmeal Coffee Stout...Please note that this month, the social is from 4pm to 7pm...all are welcome!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

McGill Economist Throws Beer Drinkers Under The Bus

I was listening to the radio on my way into work today when the host of the program brought up a topic about tax cuts. Normally I would switch the station and listen to something else, but before I could the host brought up a quote uttered by Thomas Velk, McGill University's Economist.

The discussion, and I won't bore you with it, was around statements made by Ed Clark, the Chief Executive of TD Bank, who had made a speech in Montreal last week about urging tax cuts for poor Canadians.

Velk meanwhile, doesn't agree with Clark's approach and had this to say to the Financial Post on November 26th - "I would really dispute Mr. Clark's notion that we need to give money to the beer drinkers." He continued, "We can't afford it. We've got to build future productivity and we have to do that in the private sector. And the only way to do that is to give funding to the productive citizens who privately invest."

Now, I don't want to delve into this any further than needed, but what is he saying here about beer drinkers? He's making a pretty general statement that beer drinkers are poor and that they are not productive citizens. So, are all wine drinkers rich? Are all scotch drinkers productive citizens? What an absurd comment to make.

Years ago a Liberal MP made comments similar to this and it caught the attention of Rick Mercer who launched the "Beers Not Kids" petition in response. He didn't know why everyone was beating up on beer!

Yet once again, beer drinkers get thrown under the bus. But being low class, unproductive citizens and all, we might welcome it.
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Winter Ale