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.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Toronto's Queer Beer Festival

No, you read it right. Toronto's Queer Beer Festival.

I received an email today from the group that puts on the Toronto Festival of Beer stating that they'd be hosting the Queer Beer Festival on August 4th of this year; a first of its kind beer event in North America. They have listed a website where more information will be eventually posted, but it has not gone live as of yet.

The message indicated that the event will be a celebration of beer and the diversity of the gay community with great beers, delicious food and fantastic entertainment.

Make sure to check out for more details once it's up and running.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Meet Barbara Ziola - Railway City Brewing Co.

 "Brew Crew" (l-r) Tom Anguish, Ziola, and Mike Gardner
Meet Barbara Ziola, Brewmaster at the Railway City Brewing Co. in St. Thomas, ON.

Ziola is a former Creemore Springs brewer who made the move to St. Thomas to take over all brewing responsibilities in 2008, a year after the doors were open at the brewery. The Dead Elephant Ale is her creation, which had a great year, winning a gold medal at the Ontario Brewing Awards and getting selected as the Speaker's Selection for Queen's Park.

Where is the Railway City Brewery situated and what beers do you currently produce?
Railway City Brewing Company is located at 168 Curtis Street, in the City of St. Thomas which is located in southwestern Ontario. We currently produce four beers, Blonde, Copper, Amber, and Dead Elephant Ale with a rotational seasonal. Our current seasonal is a Chocolate Cherry Porter which uses local sour cherries from Delhaven Orchards in Blenheim, ON

Describe the history behind the brewery.
Railway City Brewing Company was founded by Al Goulding and Paul Corriveau in 2006. In 2007 they purchased all of the equipment and one year later all of the renovations were finally completed. In January 2008 the first test batch was undertaken with the doors opening in April 2008. I came on board in October 2008 and took over all brewing responsibilities.

What is your best selling beer?
Our Dead Elephant Ale is what put us on the Craft Beer map and is the beer that is synonymous with our little brewery. Our Dead Elephant Ale was originally created as a tribute to Jumbo the Elephant, who was tragically killed in a railroad accident in the late 1800’s in St. Thomas. Incidentally, the Dead Elephant Ale was supposed to be a one off seasonal beer.

What's new at the brewery?
We just finished a very busy 2010 and are looking forward to a couple of months of relative quiet (and maintenance!) before the next busy season hits. In April of 2010 we won silver at the Ontario Brewing Awards in the IPA category with the Dead Elephant Ale and our Dead Elephant Ale was also chosen in May by the Hon. Steve Peters as the Speaker’s selection at Queens Park.

Why did you get into the brewing industry and describe your passion for it.
My passion for beer came from my father. I was born in Germany and from an early age I remember seeing the beer delivery man come to our house with my Dad’s weekly supply. When we returned to Canada my Dad took up the art of home brewing and with that came my lifelong interest in brewing. I vividly recall on more than one occasion the smell of wort boiling on the stove…I also remember the smell of that same wort boiling over as well.

Years later I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Creemore Springs Brewery which began my professional brewing career. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity that Gord Fuller and the Management Team extended to me.

What is the best aspect of working in the Canadian craft brewery industry?
The camaraderie of all of the breweries and their respective brewers. I am very appreciative of all of the help that I have received from other brewers. I would be remiss if I did not send a special thank you to Rob Creighton from Grand River Brewing Company who endured many calls from me during the early days of my tenure at Railway City Brewing Company.

Where can someone find your products?
We have our full line up of all brands at our retail store. Our Blonde (product # 132779) and Dead Elephant Ale (product # 175356) are available at select LBCOs. We are also available at a number of restaurants from Windsor to Toronto.

Tell us something about Railway City that not a lot of people know about.
Due to our size (and a major lack of square footage!) we do not have the ability to do test brews prior to brewing our seasonals. I formulate the recipes and then we go ahead and brew. It is a tricky prospect, but each time I gain a better knowledge of how the raw ingredients interact in relation to the final outcome.

What advantages do smaller breweries have over the big guys?
Local flavour. As a small craft brewery we have the privilege of being able to incorporate local ingredients into our products. One of the criteria for our seasonal beers is to showcase a locally produced ingredient. Some of our past seasonals include:
o Colonel Talbot’s Coffee Stout featuring locally fresh roasted Petrolia Blend coffee from Coffee Lodge of Petrolia/Sarnia.
o Honey Brown featuring local honey from Clovermead Apiaries of Aylmer
o Orchard Harvest featuring locally grown Macintosh Apples from Gredig’s Orchards, outside of St. Thomas
o Double Dead Elephant featuring locally grown hops from Elgin County
o Fire Roasted Mocha Porter featuring locally roasted Coffee from London’s Fire Roasted Coffee Company

Best time for a pint?
Anytime that I can enjoy it with friends and family.

What is the highlight of your brewing career?
It would have to be when my boss Gord Fuller (Creemore Springs Brewery) asked if I wanted to be a Brewer. A very close second would be the creation of the Dead Elephant Ale. It was my first attempt at producing a seasonal product and I knew that it would be special the moment I had my first taste out of the filter.

Cold clean lager, big hoppy pale ale, or a nicely roasted stout?
IPA all the way; however, nothing beats a big stout in the middle of winter.

Name your favorite non Railway City produced beer.
I spent 15 years in Nova Scotia and consumed a fair bit of Alexander Keith’s, I will still reach for it when the mood hits. I still am a big fan of the Creemore Springs Lager…old habits die hard.

How successful have the seasonals been? And what has been your favorite?
Our seasonals have really generated a huge interest in our little brewery. Each month we launch our latest offering by way of a small tasting party. The tasting party is always sold out within a few hours of being posted.

My favorite is the Dead Elephant Ale. What can I say, I am an IPA kinda gal!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meet Mike Lackey: Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Ladies & Gentlemen - Mike Lackey!
Meet Mike Lackey, brewer at Etobicoke's Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Lackey has been with Great Lakes for over 20 years now, and has recently become their go-to experimental brewer, creating and brewing up unique one-off beers for their monthly Project X nights.

He has recently started to work on barrel aging some of his creations and has played around with other styles that he feels are underrepresented in Ontario.

Meet Lackey!

Why did you get into the brewing industry and describe your passion for it.
I feel like I've gotten into the business two or three times actually. I knew Peter Bulut growing up, so when I heard his family bought a brewery and I was looking for a summer job before going to university I was on the phone immediately. I started sweeping floors in 1991 and eventually did every job at the brewery, from cellarman, to driver, to brewer. By the end of the 90s I felt like I had to do some travelling and figure out what "I wanted to be when I grow up". While some people go out west to figure shit out, I went to Europe and Australia for a year or so. When I got back, I realized I was already doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. Most recently, I've been brewing a lot on the pilot system trying to make styles that I like or that I feel are underrepresented in Ontario, like IPAs, belgian styles, barrel aged or lambic.

What's new at the brewery?
Wow, a whole lot right now. Canuck Pale Ale which is a recipe based on the first brew I did on the pilot system - "My Parents Went to the West Coast and All They Brought me Back Was This Lousy Pale Ale" - won a gold medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards and is heading into the LCBO shortly. Project X nights continue to get bigger and better all the time. And best of all, from my perspective, is the new, fun stuff we're experimenting with at the brewery like barrel aging and wild beers. I'm still kinda bitter they changed my name for the pale ale though - they said it was too long!

What is the best aspect of working in the Canadian craft brewery industry?
Passion and integrity. Not many people can truly say that they love their jobs and are able to go into work every day to do something they believe in. Most of the people I meet through work and get to work with, share the same passion. How cool is that?

You're known for brewing a lot of the Project X beers, what has been your favourite?
The Imperial Stout.

How successful have the Project X beers been?
Most have been well received. Personally I would like to see more made on a bigger scale and get a wider distribution.

Where can someone find your products?
The beers I brew can be had at monthly Project X nights and often in bottles from our retail store. As I mentioned, Canuck is going into cans at the LCBO and then hopefully followed by Miami Weiss...and maybe an opportunity for more Project X beers at the LCBO down the road. You can often get the one-off beers on cask or tap at barVolo or Brydens, sometimes at Burger Bar, Cest What?, Rhino or Cloak and Dagger. Oh, and in my garage fridge - usually something good in there.

What is the highlight of your brewing career?
Probably last years caskapalooza at the TFOB. Just the amount of work and logistics that goes into trying to serve 28 casks of 20 different varieties, outdoors in the middle of summer is daunting. It was gratifying to be part of.

Tell us something about Great Lakes that not a lot of people know about.
I've been at the company for 20 years and know so much about it that people don't know that if I answered truthfully, in full, the data would eat up your allotted bandwidth.

What advantages do smaller breweries have over the big guys?
The ability to innovate, switch gears quickly and to make decisions that aren't necessarily great for investors but for the betterment of beer and, in turn, life. : )

Cold clean lager, big hoppy pale ale, or a nicely roasted stout?
Love all of the above. Recently I've been drinking sours/lambic/wild beers whenever I can get my hands on them, which isn't very often in Ontario right now. This is a big reason why I've started trying to make my own.

Name your favourite non Great Lakes produced beer.
Impossible to pick just one but once in a while we all have a beer that makes us step back and say wow. Most recent one for me was Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux.

Best time for a pint?
I will not be constrained by time! But since I seem to be making a habit of delivering long-winded answers, I'll relay a great beer experience I had last year. I was coming home from San Francisco and tried to smuggle a couple of Pliny the Elders on the plane but was caught by the scanners. I told them to just keep the beer because, after 3 days spent at the Russian River brewpub, drinking a couple of warm double IPAs wasn't on the top of my to do list. The security girls called me a sissy and insisted I drink the beer at the airport, so I did. Such a well put together beer. So I guess that's my answer - piss-warm beer, sitting on the floor of S.F. airport, hungover as a dog - that's the best time for a pint.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Propeller Brewery - The One Hit Wonder Series

Halifax's popular Propeller Brewing Co. have big plans for small batch one-offs this year with their "One Hit Wonder" series.

Introduced at the beginning of January, Propeller will be releasing a One Hit Wonder at the beginning of each month leading up to the summer months. First up was a Zwickelbier, an unfiltered lager that sold out in just a few days, and now Propeller plan to release a Double IPA on February 1st.

The beers featured in the series will only be made available at the brewery in growler format, and once they're gone, they're gone.

From Propeller's website
This full bodied Double IPA is brewed with ridiculous amounts of premium Pacific Northwest Warrior and Cascade hops and is paired with a rich blend of 2-row Pale and Crystal malts. The result is an unapologetic and exhilarating hop explosion that will bully your senses. At 7.1% alcohol by volume and 99 BUs, Propeller DIPA is not for everyone… It is a TRUE hop bomb, for TRUE hop freaks!

A Night With Le Trou Du Diable - barVolo

From HMH Negotiants & barVolo 

Sat February 19th, 2011 @ barVolo (Main Event Starts at 7:00pm)

If you haven’t heard of these guys before – you will after this one. Flying in from Shawinigan, Quebec, Micro-brasserie Le Trou Du Diable will be taking over barVolo with the brewers and founders in the house. Le Trou Du Diable beers will only be served on this night.

To commence the occasion, House Ales and Le Trou Du Diable are teaming up to brew a special one off collaboration batch brew that will be open to the public starting at 12:00 noon.

The following beers will be served starting at 7:00pm:


All beers are subject to change and availability. Main event runs from 7:00pm-2:00am. No Admission or Tickets Required. 19+ Event. Please Drink Responsibly. For more information; | | |

Monday, January 24, 2011

Stout Irish Pub: Toronto, ON

Stout Irish Pub
The beer drinkers of Toronto's Cabbagetown have a reason to smile today as the area welcomes the Stout Irish Pub, a pub that opened their doors this past week at 221 Carlton Street (Carlton and Parliament). A good friend and I decided to indulge in a couple of Sunday afternoon pints and we were both pleased to find this new establishment offering us a number of local Ontario craft beers and a comfortable atmosphere in which to enjoy them in.

The 506 College/Gerrard streetcar will drop you off just doors down from the Stout Irish Pub, a section of Toronto that has been lacking a pub with a craft beer frame of mind. Sure, there is The House On Parliament around the corner, and JamCafe isn't to far away, but local residents pining for a craft beer would be left to wander down to Yonge street to find something different than the likes of Guinness, Keith's, etc. 

The building that formerly housed the Brass Taps (pizza pub) has undergone significant renovations to conform to the vision that owner Erin Gamelin had in mind since purchasing the location. Gamelin, who spent many years working for establishments in both the Prime Pubs and FAB Concepts companies, including time at Bier Markt (where she gained an appreciation for quality beer) wanted to create a warm and inviting pub, and so far so good.

The outer facade now bares a new colour as black replaces the old dull yellow of the Brass Taps and new windows allow for a good amount of natural light to penetrate the interior. Two temporary signs hang above the door (the new permanent sign is now up), but like many things we noticed during our visit, touch-ups concerning aesthetics are ongoing everyday, for the better.
The Den

Walking in through the front doors you'll enter the lower level, already nicknamed "The Den" by Gamelin. There are a number of leather chairs in a circle that will be great for groups looking to chill in front of the gas fireplace that is situated along the western wall, next to a piano that has an interesting story behind it. "My father owned a bar in Alberta in the 60's and that piano was there for people to play. When I decided to open my own place I knew I'd have to get it shipped here for our customers," stated Gamelin as she sat with us by the fire and explained how Stout Irish Pub came to be.

Up a couple of stairs and onto the front section of the second level is the pub where you can choose from a large selection of beers produced by members of the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB). 20 in total, ranging from light lagers to hoppy IPAs. "We did a tasting a while ago to determine our beer line-up," stated Gamelin, who took part alongside her employees. "It was really tough as there are a lot of great beers out there."

There are a handful of bar stools to perch yourself on, or you can choose to sit at one of the hightop tables scattered in front of the wavy wooden bar. The back area of the second floor features more tables, low lighting, a more intimate setting for large groups. There are two television's in this room, on mute, that will play sporting events as they happen.

Back to the beers - as mentioned, the pub stocks a large number of beers produced by members of the OCB, including: Murphy’s Irish Stout, Caffrey’s, Steam Whistle, Mill Street Organic, Mill Street Tankhouse, Creemore, Great Lakes Cask - Seasonal Canuck, King Pilsner, Amsterdam Big Wheel, Big Rock Grasshopper, St. Andre Vienna Lager, Railway City Dead Elephant, Scotch Irish Corporals Bitter Brown Ale, Cameron’s Auburn Ale, Muskoka Cream Ale, St.Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, Apricot Wheat Ale, Scotch Irish Sgt. Major’s IPA, Big Rock Cider. Not the most diverse beer menu out there in Toronto, but a great start. Easy lagers for beginners, malty beers for the curious, and hoppy ones for the hopheads. The prices for certain points seem a tad expensive, but you'll find simliar pricing at various pubs throughout the city. I stuck with Great Lakes Canuck Pale Ale, and it was tasting damn fine.

And you'll notice I didn't mention Guinness on the list above. No, Gamelin chose not to put it on tap as you can find it almost everywhere, and she believes that Murphy's and St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout are terrific beers which more than make up for the lack of the world's most popular stout. 

Final Thoughts
There are flashes of FAB Concepts/Prime Pubs in the design in both the menu and layout, that "Irish pubco feeling", yet Gamelin seems to have done enough to distant her place from the others due to her beer selection and amenities like the piano and the fireplace. When we arrived, CBC radio was playing a mix of music that felt right in the pub. However, as it was getting time to leave we quickly noticed when CBC was switched and Michael Jackson was its replacement - not such a good fit. But you can't please everyone. Though, it should be pointed out that Gamelin plans to hosts Ceilidh's at the pub in the near future featuring individuals from the community.

Gamelin did come through on her promise of offering patrons a comfortable atmosphere to come relax in and the peat smoking away in the corner of "The Den" added to that warmness. A welcome addition to the Toronto craft beer scene.

Stout Irish Pub
221 Carlton Street East
Toronto, ON M5A 2L2

Back Room
Tap Handles

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meet Brock Shepherd: The Burger Bar - Toronto, ON

Brock Shepherd - Burger Bar CASK! Social
Meet Brock Shepherd, the owner of The Burger Bar in the Kensington area of Toronto, ON. The first thing that needs to be said about Shepherd is that his enthusiasm, when discussing beer, is very contagious. He is one of those people who remind you about all the passionate people you'll find in the brewing industry.

Since turning Burger Bar into a craft beer hangout, Shepherd has talked about turning the back area of his establishment into a working brewhouse to create his own beer, giving Toronto another brewpub in the future. He has also become one of the most recent pub owners to catch the 'cask ale flu', offering customers real ale at all times.

How long have you operated your establishment?
I have owned BB for 1 1/4 years now.

How did you get into the hospitality industry?
Started as a busboy when I was 17 at RPM Night Club ( Now THe Guvernment/Koolhaus). Became a waiter/bartender there when I was 18. I could serve liquor to people but wasn't allowed to drink there because I wasn't 19.

What is the best part of operating a pub?
All the beers I get to try. I know... I'm supposed to say It's the people!

What is the worst?
Things always breaking down. Staffing problems.

How do you go about selecting the beer for your establishment?
It has to be Craft and has to be unique. 90% of our beer comes from Ontario, but as long as it's interesting and good from a small brewer, I'm into it.

Where did the name of your establishment come from?
I wanted a no nonsense name. You can understand what we are from our name.

What has been the biggest change in the beer industry since you started your business?
The growth and support of Craft beer, it's snowballing, and the plateau-ing of Big Beer. Craft is growing at leaps and bounds where the big guys aren't seeing much increase. And I like that a lot.

If you could change one thing about the industry (pub/bar/restaurant), what would it be?
The Government strangle hold. Why can't we have Craft Beer stores owned by independents? Get a better selection of out of province and American beers. Why can't we have off-license where you could pick up 6 beers or a bottle of wine from your local bar, we are already handling internal sales. I'm not talking privatization to have beer in corner stores. But open it up a little to those that are already responsibly selling the stuff.

What do you get up to when your not at your establishment?
I'm at home with my Son and my Lady, that's my entertainment now. I go out to lunch a couple of times per week to a handfull of places in the area.

If you're not drinking at your own bar, where do you head to for a beer?
The last time I went out for beer was to the Victory Cafe, they are close enough to home, and have good tap selection.

Name the last beer you consumed?
Amsterdam Boneshaker!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chancey Smith's Changing Name - Gambrinus

Chancey Smith's, a popular beer bar in London, ON, officially announced today that they have decided to change the name of their establishment to Gambrinus Bistro & Cafe, a name that reflects the values and attitudes of the business.

General Manger, Milos Kral, who was profiled on this blog back on November 26th, had this to say about the exciting news:
Over past two years Chancey Smith's gradually changed and became a true beer place in London. We want to express our new identity and concept with a new name. Gambrinus seems to be most befitting name. Known as a patron saint of brewers, the name will clearly express that to all informed. At the same time, we want to make a clear break with a steak and seafood place.
We are changing the concept to a bistro and cafe. Black & white checkered linen are replaced by solid oak table tops. The entire place (with exception of bar area) is decorated with local art.
Bar area, for now is being adorned with retro beer posters. Eventually, we would like to showcase mostly Ontario breweries inspired art, too.
The new menu will be more in tune with our beer selection, including beer in some of the dishes and suggested beer pairings.
We are in the process of setting up a beer engine so we can offer cask ales on a regular basis. I view all these changes just as a small step toward much more exciting future of good beer in London.
Kral also mentioned that their website was recently compromised, so they weren't able to update it with the change.

Upright Night at barVolo - January 28th

Toronto's barVolo will be hosting another unique tasting on Friday January 28th, 2011 at 4:00pm, this time featuring beers from Portland, Oregon's Upright Brewing Co.

From barVolo:
Discover the beers of Upright Brewing of Portland, Oregon. barVolo will be serving five of their brands in bottles and tasters:

Upright Four
Upright Five
Upright Six
Upright Seven
Upright Late Harvest

More information can be obtained by visiting

Thursday, January 20, 2011

BlogTO's Best Pubs in Toronto...Thoughts?

BlogTO, a 2010 Toronto Beer Week (TBW) sponsor, came out with their annual Best Pubs of Toronto list yesterday and 7 of the 11 mentioned were TBW participants, something we like to see!

Congratulations go out to C'est What, Victory Cafe, The Local, Betty's, The Queen & Beaver, The Only Cafe, and Duggan's Brewery.

However, there are some notable absences of some great establishments. Granted, the ones listed on BlogTO were chosen by online voting, and most of them are good spots to knock back a couple of pints, but the beer geek in me thought it could be better... so here is my Best Pubs in Toronto list. And as with any list of sorts, it is subjective. Everyone I know would probably add and subtract a number of the places I mention.

Without ranking in order from 1 to 10 and using the following criteria - Must have a solid beer selection, good service, good atmosphere, knowledgable staff, host beer events, have caring owners/managers, respect for the customer:

The Monk's Table
C'est What (BlogTO List)
Victory Cafe (BlogTO List)
The Ceili Cottage
Queen & Beaver (BlogTO List)
Dora Keogh's/Allen's
The Only Cafe (BlogTO List)
Granite Brewery

Actually, I couldn't stop at just ten, so here are numerous honourable mentions:
Burger Bar & Tequlia Tavern
The Harbord House
Smokeless Joe
The Local
Mill Street Brewpub
Duggan's Brewery
The Rebel House
Dominion on Queen
The Feathers Pub

One thing this list made me realize was how good the pub scene is here in Toronto. When we set about organizing a list of possible licensees list for TBW our group was both surprised and encouraged when we saw the outcome on paper - Toronto has great pubs! And one trend that is being noticed is when a new establishment opens, craft beer, or a selection of solid imports are taking up the draught lines and beer fridges.

*Note - beerbistro is all by itself. Have to give props even though it's no pub!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TAPS The Beer Magazine - Winter 2010 Issue Contents

Up front disclosure: It is no secret that I am now employed by TAPS Media, the parent company of TAPS The Beer Magazine. From time to time I've posted material on this blog (before and after being hired) with respect to work that has appeared in TAPS. My intention when posting said material, and the material below, is only meant as news, nothing more.  

TAPS Winter Issue Contents

p.6 Bar Snacks
Coast-to-Coast Industry News

p.12 1st Annual AMBQ Congress by Deborah Wood
Montreal. November 15-17 - The first Association of Micro-Breweries of Quebec (AMBQ) Congress was dedicated to educating its members and celebrating the many positive accomplishments of the Quebec craft beer industry...

p.14 Quebec Dispatch by Mirella Amato
Brewing news from the belle province

p.15 Beer Worth Freezin' For by Matt J. Simmons
Does Yukon's Lead Dog Ale really warm you up on a cold day? Probably not enough to let you trade in your toque for a Speedo, but...

p.17 Beery Baltimore by Chuck Cook
A raft of serious beer bars and a Beer Week so jam-packed with beeriness they had to extend it to 10 days makes Charm City USA "Beery Baltimore"...

p.20 Editorial - Hopping On The Harvest Bandwagon by Craig Pinhey
Wet hopping... Fresh thinking or just a marketing ploy?

p.22 Hop Culture by Christine Beevis
Nova Scotia's craft breweries going local, not loco...

p.24 Beer Tickers by Rob Symes
Go into a great craft beer bar and you may see a strange phenomenon - someone sitting in a corner intently taking notes while swirling, sniffing and sipping their beer...

p.26 Land Of Ice, Fire & Beer by Shaun Cumming

It has only been legal to consume beer in Iceland since 1989, and that's not much time to have learned the trade. Shaun Cumming recently travelled to Reykjavik to see if they are fast learners...

p.30 Down The Hatch With Dieu du Ciel's Jean-Francois Gravel by Troy Burtch
Tasty quick hitters with Jean-Francois Gravel of Montreal's famed Dieu du Ciel brewery

p.31 Wind Powered Hippies Brew Great Beer by Mike Tessier
Self-described as 'alternatively empowered', New Belgium Brewing boasts employee shareholders, the title of the world's greenest brewery and environmental initiatives that would make David Suzuki do back flips....

p.34 The Emergence Of The Craft Beer Foodie by Tracey Phillipi
Who would have thought that supporting your local farmers and brewers could be so much fun?

p.36 Beer Goes Deep...Into The Past
Canadian archaeologist suggests that beer may pre-date the Sumerians by 5000 years...

p.37 Target Practice by Greg Clow
Breweries large and small are eager participants in the social media revolution...a look at Creemore Springs, Wild Rose Brewery, MolsonCoors & Beau's All Natural

p.42 Micro-Adventures In The Business Of Brewing - Brewing A Brewery by Matt J. Simmons
Chapter 1 - With a failure rate anywhere from one in four to one in ten, statistically speaking, we are not going to succeed...

p.43 Quaffs Questions & Answers by Mirella Amato
Portait of a beer industry great, revealed by 10 questions - Jon Downing

p.46 Where Do Canadian Westerners Drink by
Winnipeg ... really?

p.47 Young. Brash. Irreverant - Interview With James Watt by Troy Burtch
From the world's strongest beers to stuffed Road Kill packaging to dwarf protesters and the Equity for Punks business model... it's all in a BrewDog day.

p.52 Confessions Of A Brewer by Sam Corbeil
The hardest part, young brewer, is the waiting... As far as I'm concerned, patience is the most over-stated, overused and over-abused of all virtues. Take for example, Star Wars...

p.55 Vessels Of Inspiration by Mirella Amato
Beer glasses come in all shapes and sizes. There are tall, narrow glasses like the Pilsner glass and German Wheat beer glass, then there are wide ones like the Shaker, Nonick or Tulip pint and there are also stemmed glasses...

p.58 Great American Beer Festival by Bill White
Sold out! Not even the bear gets in... Another year of record-smashing accomplishments at the 29th annual Great American Beer Festival.

p.61 't Brugs Beertje - Interview With Daisy Claeys by Troy Burtch
Tucked away on a quiet cobblestone side street in the medieval town of Bruges lies a treasure. A destination that beer lovers the world over pilgrimage to when visiting Belgium, sharing the bar with locals. 't Brugs Beertje - The Little Bear of Bruges.

p.64 The Perfect Pair
Beer and food extraordinaire with guest chef's Michael Olson and Marc Thuet...

p.68 Toronto Beer Week by Jordan St. John
17 breweries, 3 brewpubs, 5 importers, nearly 50 venues, Canadian Brewing Awards night, a BrewDog beerbistro dinner, tastings, ladies' nights and meet the brewer events...

p.70 Mr. Wiebe Goes To Washington by Joe Wiebe
After a slow start and a couple of misses, the hits came fast and flavourful...

p.73 TAPS Holiday Gift Guide 2010/11
Industry elves have been busily putting together gifts for the holidays and TAPS has a few suggestions for the beer lovers on your Holiday lists.

p.77 Oktoberfest In Palestine - Taste The Revolution by Andrea & Magda
98% of the population is forbidden to drink alcohol and advertising alcohol is prohibited... starting a beer business looked like an impossible challenge.

p.80 Renaissance by Matthew Bellamy
John Molson and the re-emergence of commercial brewing in Canada,

p.82 Western Homebrew by James Burla
Calgary, Regina and Edmonton are home to arguably the country's most aggressive beer clubs... Regina's club has been top 10 in North America for many years and has hit as high as forth overall...

p.83 Moosehead Cask Ale by Craig Pinhey
Moosehead takes a bold step with cask ale... and it's the real thing.

p.86 Ask The Brewmaster by Bill White
Iron brewer competition: It was an apple vs. orange competition and each guest was only allowed to vote for a single beer...

p.88 Science Goes To Your Head by Luke McKinney
On a list of things that last forever, bubbles are right at the bottom, even below Justin Bieber...

p.90 Carboys In My Laundry Room by Christine Beevis
Hop to it. A homebrewer's 101 on hops...

p.91 Tasting Notes
Unity Brew (12 Alberta breweries), Old Credit Holiday Honey, Vancouver Island Hermannator Ice Bock, Le Saint-Bock Enigma, Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique, Wellington Imperial Russian Stout - tasting notes provided by Stephen Beaumont, Roger Mittag, Chester Carey, Greg Clow, Craig Pinhey and Troy Burtch

p.93 Homebrew Recipe #9 by Eric Ecclestone
Sometimes referred to as Bracket, this is a very old, very tasty, mead & ale beverage....Braggot

p.94 The Enunciator by Matt J. Simmons
Delving deep into the world of doppelbock...

p.96 My Shout by Stephen Beaumont
Barrels then and now - the current wave of wood conditioning makes use of the character of the barrel to intentionally impart certain flavour and aroma traits to the beer...

CASK! Social Line-Up: January 22nd

CASK! Toronto has announced the casks that will be available this Saturday at their monthly CASK! Social, which is taking place at the Burger Bar & Tequila Tavern in Kensingston.

Attendees will be able to work their way through pints of:
Beau's Bogfather
Durham Red Dragon
Cheshire Valley Robust Porter
Augusta IPA - a collaboration between Brock Shepherd, owner of the Burger Bar, and Great Lakes Brewery

Saturday January 22nd 2011
Time: 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Location: Burger Bar & Tequila Tavern
, Toronto

Monday, January 17, 2011

Name Our Big Bottle Beer - Alley Kat Contest

Edmonton's Alley Kat Brewing Co. is reaching out to their fans to help with the naming of their next big bottle beer, which will be an Oatmeal Stout. The contest has begun and will run until tomorrow.

From Alley Kat:
Alley Kat is hosting a "Name our Big Bottle Beer" contest. We are inviting all of you, our customers and fans, to put your thinking caps on an send us your ideas for our next big bottle beer: Oatmeal Stout. The contest ends Tuesday, January 18, 2011and the winner will receive an Alley Kat prize pack.
To submit your entries please post them to our facebook fan page at: or email them to .
Good Luck!

F&M Brewery - StoneHammer Dark Ale

StoneHammer Dark on ice
I had the chance to catch up with George Eagleson, head brewer of Guelph's F&M Brewery, on Friday afternoon, who happened to be in Toronto (at a local brewery) to brew something special for an upcoming event. We shared some beers and some stories and talked about some of the Ontario beers out there that don't get enough recognition from the general public, and I remembered I had reviewed Eagleson's Dark Ale, a beer we didn't mention, in a past issue of TAPS.  So I thought I'd post my short review here today.

The following tasting note appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of TAPS The Beer Magazine

F&M’s StoneHammer Dark Ale is one of those beers that fly under the radar here in Ontario. Light bodied and quenchable, yet flavourful and intriguing, this amber-brown ale can be enjoyed by all sorts of beer drinkers. A malty nose with touches of roasted nuts and wisps of chocolate and raisin, the aroma of this beer is quite nice. The taste reveals pretty much what is detected in the smell with a slightly sharp but gently bitterness towards the end playing side by side with notes of hazelnut. It all finishes dry and clean and surprisingly has a more roasted profile than the colour would lead you to believe. Very nice.

The Dark Ale also went onto win a Bronze medal at the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards in the brown ale category.

*Pic borrowed from

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Malt Exchange

Signe Langford
Consider us a matchmaking service for local brewers who have spent malt to get rid of and local farmers who have animals waiting to eat it up!
That is the first line on the The Malt Exchange website, which briefly describes the mission that local food champion, Signe Langford, has created for herself.

Langford wants to ensure that spent grain from local Ontario breweries doesn't go to waste. Her goal is to get it into the hands of farmers who will in turn use it for animal feed. By creating partnerships and working together, craft brewers and farmers can easily eliminate the unnecessary dumping of the spent grain at landfills and turn the process into something positive for both parties.

To kick things off, Langford has enlisted Ron Keefe of Toronto's Granite Brewery, who will be supplying around 600kg of spent barley malt per week to Kawartha Ecological Growers (KEG) (a farming co-op with about 20 members), who will then use it to raise various animals including chickens, cows, lambs and pigs.

Featuring a full menu at the tied-house, Keefe has been in discussion with Mark Trealout of KEG about the possibility of one day serving meat from the animals that will soon be consuming his spent grain. As Langford says on her website, "It's win win for everyone."

Should any breweries be interested in participating in The Malt Exchange, or finding out more about Langford's initiative, they can contact her by visiting the website.

Garrison Brewing Now Shipping To Alberta

Good news for residents of Alberta today as Halifax's Garrison Brewing Co. announced that they have starting shipping beers to the prairies.

Under an agreement with DeLancey Direct Inc., craft beer import agents in Calgary, Garrison beers like Imperial IPA and Hopyard Pale Ale will soon be available in 80-100 stores across Alberta, according to a press release issued by Garrison today.

From the press release - “We’re very excited about this next step in our growth,” said brewery President Brian Titus. “There are plenty of thirsty Maritimers out West and the market for independent craft beers - particularly hoppy ones - is strong."

Click here to read the full press release

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mill Street Video Blog With Brewmaster, Joel Manning

If you don't follow Toronto's Mill Street Brewery on Facebook or Twitter, you may have missed the message they posted announcing that their first video blog featuring their Brewmaster, Joel Manning, is set to roll.

In the video, which is embedded here below with permission from Mill Street, Manning discusses Mill Street's Barley Wine, a popular winter seasonal here in Ontario.

Mill Street's Steve Abrams stated that the brewery will be airing a number of video's in the near future featuring Manning who will talk about the various beers he produces with his team.

Canuck Brewer...

Some of you may know him, others may not, but a good friend of mine has decided to make a change in his life, getting out of the beer industry for the time being to travel across Canada. And he's started a blog to record his adventure so I thought I'd share that with you.

John Bowden, a former long-time employee of Etobicoke's Great Lakes Brewery and co-founder of Toronto Beer Week, decided to pack up his things and hit the Trans Canada highway to see all that Canada has to offer between Ontario and B.C., and you'll be able to follow his progress on his Canuck Brewer blog. Bowden will be stopping in little towns and villages, trying to find good beer bars and breweries along the way.

The trip started yesterday with his first overnight stay in Sault St. Marie, but not before visiting the Laughing Buddha in Sudbury, a beer bar that is receiving some good chatter over on Bar Towel.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Job Posting: Great Lakes Brewery - Sales Representative

The following is a job posting from Great Lakes Brewery

Job Title: Sales Representative
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Salary: Commensurate with experience
Apply before: Jan 15, 2011
Job Type: Full-Time
Experience: 3 years - 6 years

The oldest craft brewery in Toronto is also one of the fastest growing breweries in Ontario! We are seeking a highly motivated individual with a sales background to help coordinate various initiatives at the brewery. Please visit to learn more about the company.

Your responsibilities will include:
• Coordinating sales to the LCBO.
• Organize and attend promotional events
• Develop sales strategy and targets for LCBO sales and track progress.

It is expected that the qualified applicant will have at least 3 years experience in the food and beverage industry, display proven leadership, communication, coaching and interpersonal skills, and must be a proactive initiator able to work in a team environment.

• 3+ years experience in the food and beverage industry
• Sales experience, preferably in the food and beverage industry.
• Strong track record of managing accountability with proven leadership skills
• Strong communication, coaching and interpersonal skills
• Valid driver’s license in good standing and vehicle are required

How to Apply: Send your cover letter and resume via email to with ‘Sales Coordinator’ as the subject line. Please send your application as a single document – either Microsoft Word or PDF.

Deadline: Jan 15, 2011

We thank all who apply but please note that only those applicants selected for further consideration will be contacted.

Friday, January 7, 2011

January CASK! Social Announced

From CASK! Toronto

The next CASK! Social will take place on:
Saturday January 22nd 2011
Time: 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Location: Burger Bar & Tequila Tavern

Hello everyone,

The Holidays are over and a new year has begun. What better way to jump into 2011 then with a Cask! Social? Join us at the Burger Bar at College and Augusta on Saturday, January 22nd from 3-6pm for some delicious beers and great company!

We hope to see you there

NC Brewmaster Program - Semester One Thoughts

Part 2 of Mark Murphy's take on year one at Niagara College's Brewmaster & Brewery Operations Management Program

by Mark Murphy
In short, the program has been amazing. I think I’ve increased my beer knowledge 1,000% and have found myself consistently bringing up beer in conversation and introducing new styles to friends and family over the Christmas break.

Niagara College Teaching Brewery
From the school’s standpoint, the program has been a huge success. They received over 180 applications for just 24 spots. I was originally wait-listed but I think persistence paid off, as I called the admissions office weekly for a couple of months to check on my status. Part of me thinks they only let me in so that I would stop calling. Of the 24 students in the program, there are 4 from the US, 2 from the East Coast, 2 from Alberta, 6 from the Niagara region, 4 from the GTA and 6 more from other areas of Ontario. There are a handful of people who have actual industry experience and the majority are college or university educated (including engineering, chemistry, music, business and communications majors). I think our diversity bodes well for future job opportunities as most people will likely move back home after school, which means all 24 of us won’t be competing for the same jobs.

We had seven courses this semester, four of them relating to beer (Intro to Brewing, Sensory Evaluation, Basic Practical Brewing and Brewing Ingredients). Of our four instructors this semester, I would guess that they combine at least 70+ years of industry experience, which is pretty awesome. For the school’s brewmaster, Jon Downing, the teaching brewery represents the 107th brewery opening that he’s been a part of. Clearly, we’re learning from the best.

This semester, we’ve covered topics such as the malting process, barley physiology, brewing water, hops and have discussed brewing equipment from the hot liquor tank through to the fermentation tanks and packaging equipment. In our sensory class we tasted 13 different kinds of malt, smelled lots of hops, explored American, English, German and Belgian beer styles and have run through the entire Siebel off-flavour tasting kit (those were some bad weeks!). We’ve also had presentations from Hop Union, Canada Malting, General Filtration, Criveller Brew Tech (our equipment supplier), Eco Lab and Bill White (who will be teaching us next year). We’ve visited Taps Brew Pub, Niagara’s Best, Sleeman’s, Mill Street and Steamwhistle. As you can see, we’ve been pretty busy so far, and this is followed up next semester with 6 of our 7 courses relating to beer.

The program hasn’t been without its faults though, the major one being that we didn’t start brewing until the end of November. On the plus side we have the benefit of being the first students to use the system, and figuring out all the quirks as we go along. Our first releases “First Draft” lager (a crisp golden lager) and a Canadian Pale Ale are already on sale at the campus retail store.

I think things will start to get really interesting once we’re unleashed on the pilot system and start getting into our own recipe formulation. I know everyone is really looking forward to that.

Stay tuned for a chocolate beer in February to be released during the culinary program’s “Decadence” chocolate and ice wine festival. All in all I’m having the time of my life and can’t wait to find a job in the industry this summer.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Picture Of A MolsonCoors Vat Heading To Toronto

Remember that link I posted a while ago about the MolsonCoors procession from Hamilton to Toronto? The one about six vats, each one that can hold up to six million bottles of beer each, causing havoc over five nights as thousands of overhead wires and traffic lights get cut and roads are closed?

Well the CBC has a photo of the huge vats on their website today, courtesy of MolsonCoors.

The 1 kilometre convoy leaves the Hamilton port tomorrow night and consists of a crew of 40 vehicles, including mechanics, police and welders, who will all be moving at walking pace speeds between 9pm and 6am Friday to Tuesday.

Utopias - Place Orders Today

January 6th - today. A lot of people in Ontario have been waiting for this day to come, hoping they'll get lucky on January 17th with a phone call from the LCBO indicating that they've been randomly selected for a bottle of Sam Adams Utopias.

The coverage has been pretty extensive since Bar Towel broke the story months ago. Newspapers and beer bloggers have helped spread the word, leading me to believe that hundreds of Ontario residents will head to the LCBO's online ordering site to submit orders at

There are only 70 bottles available, so good luck to all!

From Chris Layton, the LCBO's Media Relations Coordinator:
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.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Look For GCBBeer Blog

Sometime yesterday, and I'm not sure when, my old template was erased while I sat at work. The blog reverted back to the look it had when I first started it in 2007. I searched for ways to correct it, but to no avail, so I took it as a sign to update the layout and design. After a couple of hours trying to figure Blogger out all over again I ended up with this look.

If you notice any bugs or misplaced items, I would greatly appreciate it if you could shoot me a message letting me know so I can try fixing it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

King Brewery Sold To Beer Barons

*Update below*

Rumours were going around a couple of weeks back that Phil DiFonzo, founder of King Brewery in Nobleton, ON, had sold his brewery to the individuals behind Beer Barons, best known as the importers of the world famous Weihenstephen. I contacted both parties before the holiday's but I have not received any comment to date.

However, Roger Mittag, a TAPS contributor, beer educator and operator of the , has confirmed the rumours today in a .

Says Mittag:
A significant deal has emerged in the past few days and I’m proud to bring this to you.

Beer Barons is a company that was formed a few years ago. Sean Fleming and Troy Taylor began with what could be described as an iconic brand as their cornerstone. Weihenstephan is not only one of the best Weizenbiers in the world, it is also home to the oldest active brewery in the world and if that’s not enough, home to the technical brewing university of Bavaria.

They succeeded in picking up a few brands along the way but recently solidified their position in the beer industry by acquiring King Brewing. This wonderful brewery that was created by award winning brewer, Phil DiFonzo, is going to provide the beginning of a portfolio of beers that will only enhance the position of Beer Barons. Being able to offer a solid Pilsner, Dunkel and now the Pilsbock will complement the Weissbier of Weihenstephan.
King Brewery was founded in Nobleton, ON by Difonzo in 2002 and quickly received high praise for his traditional style Czech Pilsner, which has won it's fair share of awards throughout the years, including a Gold Medal at this year's Canadian Brewing Awards. King also produces a Dark Lager and most recently released a Pilsbock.

Mittag also mentions that DiFonzo will remain with the brewery as the brewmaster.

*I just spoke with Sean Fleming of Beer Barons and he confirmed the acquisition, stating that they acquired King on December 24th. Fleming mentioned that they have plans for expansion and greater distribution in the near future. "King is a great brand with lots of potential," said Fleming, "and we will be working on a significant expansion and will look at getting into other Canadian markets." He also indicated that there is a great synergy between Weihenstephan and the King Brewery and wouldn't rule out future collaboration.

Mill Street Robbie Burns Brew Masters Dinner

Toronto's Mill Street Brewery will be hosting another Brew Master's Dinner at their brew pub down in the Distillery District on Tuesday January 25th at 6:30pm - a traditional Robbie Burns Supper.

The dinner will feature Mill Street's Brew Master, Joel Manning, who will speak about each course, which includes five courses and six beers (Royal York Honey Beer, ESB, IPA (cask), Black Watch Scotch Ale (cask), Coffee Porter, Orange-Chocolate Stout (cask)).

Tickets for the dinner cost $59.99 per person, plus tax and tip.

beerbistro & Dieu Du Ciel! Beer Dinner - February 8th

Bar Towel has all the information on the Dieu Du Ciel! beer dinner taking place at Toronto's beerbistro on February 8th, but I thought I'd mention that the tickets are half-way sold out at this point. So, if you're thinking of attending, you better act now!

Dieu Du Ciel! Beer Dinner
Tuesday February 8th, 2010 6pm
Location: beerbistro -
10 Course dinner with beers from DDC
Cost: $125 per person, plus HST and gratuity

Call beerbistro to purchase your tickets at
Newer Posts Older Posts Home

Winter Ale