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


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hop City To Launch New Pilsner

Have any plans next Thursday evening? Curious to try Hop City Brewing Co's. fourth release?

On Thursday April 7th Hop City will be launching a new Pilsner at 99 Sudbury street and they want to open the doors to readers of this here blog! Yes, Great Canadian Beer Blog readers (you) are invited to attend the party, as long as you .

The Brampton based brewery, which is a subsidiary of Moosehead Breweries Ltd. and distributed by the Premium Beer Company, has been around for a little over a year and in that time they have released three brands - Barking Squirrel Lager, Lawn Chair Classic Weisse and Happy Hour Premium Ale.

The Barking Squirrel won an impressive silver medal at the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards in the North American Style Amber Lager category and the Weisse, along with the Barking Squirrel, won medals at the 2010 Ontario Brewing Awards.

From Hop City:
Join us for live entertainment, hors d’oeurves and of course, a couple delicious pints.
When: Thursday April 7, 2011. 7:00pm - 1:30am
Where: 99 Sudbury, Toronto

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Canada Malting Launching New Maritime Malt Tonight

Canada Malting is proud to launch their new Maritime Malt tonight in Halifax, and to help celebrate they'll be bringing a number of Atlantic Canada breweries together to pour some special beers.

Starting at 7pm tonight in a private event, at the Hart & Thistle Gastropub, seven breweries will be serving a number of beers that were brewed using the new barley, which is grown exclusively in the maritimes:

Propeller Brewing Company - Propeller Mild Brewery
Rudder's Seafood Restaurant & Brew Pub - Pompey Dick IPA
Garrison Brewing Company - Hopyard Pale Ale Brewery
Yellow Belly Brewery & Public House - Yellow Belly Single Malt
Paddy’s Brewpub & Rosies Restaurant - Rosies Red Anniversary Ale
Northampton Brewing Company (Picaroon's) - Maple Cream Ale
Granite Brewery Ltd. - Hopping Mad Ale

In a press release issued last week, John Holliday, the President of Canada Malting, had this to say about the new malt: "The launch of our Maritime Malt is consistent with our goal to support producers and brewers across North America and to offer high-quality, regionally produced products. The Maritime malt brings our Central and Eastern Canadian malts to a total of three: 'Ontario Select', 'La Québécoise' and 'Maritime Malt'. We are happy to be a part of this collaboration between the farming, brewing and malting industries and we are very pleased with the warm reception from the Atlantic brewing community."

For more information, please contact 

Meet Matt Caldwell, the man behind the One Beer At A Time blog. 

It turns out the movie Julie & Julia inspired more than wanna be chefs, it helped form the motive behind Caldwell's blog. Instead of creating one Julia Childs recipe every day, Caldwell decided to try a new beer a day for a year and keep notes on them. From heavily hopped IPAs to roasted stouts and light lagers, Caldwell tastes them all.

Meet Matt Caldwell

Describe the moment when you first saw the craft beer light?
My first exposure to craft beer was around 1995 when I was working in a small restaurant in London, Ontario called the Pelican Diner. We only had 2 beers on tap and both were from Upper Canada Brewing Company. The Lager and the Dark Ale. I was particularly fond of the the Dark Ale. This was where the love for craft beer started but I think it fully developed when I moved to Toronto around 1999 and started working in renovations during the summer time. My boss Frank was a home brewer and craft beer nut. He really helped me develop my tastes for all things craft beer. Especially really hoppy beers!

What made you decide to blog about beer?
It was kind of a dare from my wife. We were watching the movie Julie and Julia where Julie does one Julia Childs recipe a day for a year. My wife said I should try it with beer. I said sure no problem, I could drink one new beer a day for a year easily......! Well it was not as easy as it sounded, try having a beer while you are sick. Not much fun!

My wife also thought it would be a good way to get out of my comfort zone of beer. Specifically Hoppy IPA's and APA's! She was right - I have really developed a love for many different styles since then. Especially Porter and Imperial Stouts.

How long have you been blogging about beer and how long do you think you'll continue?
I have been blogging about beer for just over a year. I am definitely going to continue as I have met so many industry people and new friends since I have started this adventure. I think that my blog will likely morph into more tales about beer pairing, events, and my trials in home brewing once I have finished posting all 365 beers.

What has been the biggest change in the Ontario brewing industry since you started blogging?
I would have to say that one of the biggest changes has been the amount of specialty/seasonal/one-off brews that have popped up. Brewer's like Beau's, Mike Lackey/Great Lakes, Amsterdam and Barvolo's own HouseAles (and a many more) have really pushed the envelope as far as variety. So much so that you hear of other brewers installing pilot systems and starting to produce more one-offs every day.

If you could change one thing about the industry here in Ontario, what would it be?
I think like many of the other bloggers that you have spotlighted it would be the draconian liquor laws in Ontario. Instead of me rehashing it here, just go read which has a much better explanation than I will ever be able to give!

What beer book would you recommend to someone looking to learn more about beer?
I think a great book is "Learn To Brew" by John Palmer. I know that it is a Home Brew book but I think it would be a good read for anyone interested in beer. John has a keen way of making it interesting and really gives you good insight on what goes into making beer, it pretty much answers any question you would ever have had about beer.

When you're not drinking, writing, or out at the pub, what else preoccupies your time?
Work :(....Just kidding! My family takes up most of my time since I have a young daughter but for fun I love to snowboard and travel!

Best beer festival or event you've attended?
I would have to say the best was my first time at C'est What's Festival of Craft Brewers. I am not sure which one since it was around 8 years ago but I had a blast and have been to many since! I am looking forward to going to Mondial this year though!

Name your favourite beer blogging experience
Hmmm....that is a tough question. I have been to so many fun events this year but I would have to say it was heading to The Burger Bar to share some special beers and finish my 365 different beer in 365 days.

Best time for a pint?
Saturday afternoons. I love being able to sit down with family/friends on a patio or in the backyard on a sunny Saturday afternoon and enjoy a pint. But really, is there a bad time for a pint?

Monday, March 28, 2011

O'Canada - Canadian Craft Brewers Belt Out The Tune

Thank god they're not considering a career change!

On the last night of the 2011 Craft Brewers Conference in San Francisco, after the last bottle had been poured at the closing reception, a large group of Canadian brewers/writers/trade/licensee's gathered in the lobby of the SF Hilton to pose for a group photo only to belt out O'Canada at the top of their lungs... and guess what? I captured it on video using an iPhone (thanks Jordan).

The quality of the video isn't the greatest, and I am up on the next floor looking down on them, but the key message is heard loud and clear; and like I said, no career changes!

This group represented only about 1/3 of all Canadians who were in attendance during the Conference, many many more had already left the hotel for the lobby when this was taking place. In total, based on my estimation concluded through sloppy note-taking, was that there appeared to have been as many as 200 Canadians, if not more, out of the roughly 3900 people registered for the conference. (I'll be posting a full list later in the week sometime)

Here's the video - enjoy!

April CASK! Social

From CASK! Toronto

The next CASK! Social will take place on: Saturday April 2nd 2011
Time: 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Location: The Twisted Kilt
reet, Toronto, ON

Hello everyone, 
Our next CASK! Social will be held at The Twisted Kilt, reet, Toronto, just North of Davisville subway station, on Saturday April 2nd, from 3:00 to 6:00 P.M. This is another new venue for us, and the owners will have three different cask ales for us to try. Two casks from Muskoka Brewery are currently planned, one of which is a special one-off. We look forward to seeing everyone there. 


Mirella, Maz, Robert & Nick

Tweets From The Craft Brewers Conference

Just arrived back in Toronto late last night after a great trip to San Francisco for the 2011 edition of the Craft Brewers Conference put on by the great folks at the Brewers Association. Four action packed, fun filled days learning more about the industry, drinking west coast IPAs, visiting the craft beer hot spots and catching up with the large contingent of Canadian craft brewers.

I'll get to all that later, sharing some stories throughout the week once I catch up on my exploding inbox. And I hear a lot happened here in Ontario while I was gone (LCBO back at it again with their social responsibility...), so I've got some catching up to do with that news.

In the meantime, here are a I posted from my blog account throughout my time in SF, some of which include images and video of the conference (links). Click here to read th, which I was also tweeting from.

Mar 27, 3:24pm via Twitter for iPhone an I are drinking the good stuff @ SF airport! @beerwithmeTO Not a drop of #craftbeer to be found @ Pearson airport. Show Conversation

Mar 27, 3:22pm via Twitter for iPhone
Anchor Steam at the SF airport bar... To be followed up with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Mar 27, 3:18am via Facebook
Um, yum!

Mar 27, 3:14am via Facebook
My boy (George Eagleson - F&M Brewer) and I in San Fran at

Mar 27, 2:51am via Facebook
(bad quality...) A bunch of Canadians at the Thirsty Bear in San Fran! Wait for the O' Canada tomorrow!

Mar 26, 2:45pm via Twitter for iPhone
Normal beer, old beer, under-carbonated, dirty draught lines & compressed air gas.. Interesting off flavours in each one

Mar 26, 3:34am via Twitter for iPhone
Calling it a night... Great times with great #canadiancraftbrewers , great beer & food tonight. Tomorrow brings another day & more

Mar 26, 1:02am via Twitter for iPhone
We're dancing in the moonlight... Moonlight Death & Taxes

Mar 26, 12:40am via Twitter for iPhone
Sitting in Pi Bar in SF's Mission District w/ drinking off this menu:

Mar 26, 12:36am via Twitter for iPhone
I got the pics! Memories were made and lost last night at the Russian River & @SierraNevada collaboration event w

Mar 25, 7:26pm via Twitter for iPhone
Just had a great meeting with Joe Tucker @ratebeer and now listening to sour seminar with 3 outstanding brewers #cbc2011

Mar 25, 3:36am via Twitter for iPhone
Btw - I won! The craft beer debates are getting intense. @troyGCPBBlog #CBC2011

MuskokaBrewery Mar 25, 3:35am via Twitter for BlackBerry®
The craft beer debates are getting intense. @troyGCPBBlog @bartowel Retweeted by

Mar 25, 2:12am via Twitter for iPhone
Yeah we are! Pliny baby! Strong beers and jukebox @toronado with @troyGCPBBlog Show Conversation

Mar 24, 10:11pm via Twitter for iPhone
@21Amendment drinking a 21A Ninkasi Collaboration Ale with a great bunch of Ontario peeps!

Mar 24, 8:17pm via Twitter for iPhone
Last #cbc2011 seminar of the day -exporting... Is Canada a viable market?

Mar 24, 5:16pm via Twitter for iPhone
Which to chose from?

Mar 24, 1:55pm via Twitter for iPhone
Samples coming! Sierra Nevada & Anchor collaboration sounds of hundreds of corks popping #awesome

Mar 24, 11:19am via HootSuite
RT @bimddc: Honestly an amazing night at day 1 CBC in San Francisco. Man! Let's put it this way.. I have the best job in the world!

Mar 24, 3:33am via Twitter for iPhone
Hello Cali! Finally arrived in San Fran for with Checking into hotel then off for a quick pinty!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Off To The Craft Brewers Conference In San Francisco

After surviving the publication of the Spring issue of TAPS The Beer Magazine, and living through the event on Saturday, I'm off to San Francisco today to represent TAPS at the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC).

For the next five days I'll be sampling, socializing, and networking with numerous brewery representatives from a number of Canadian craft breweries while taking part in daily seminars that cover everything from how to open a brewpub to social media panel discussions, sensory panels and so much more. The conference has witnessed a huge growth over the last number of years, attracting more and more Canadians who bring the wealth of information learned back to their respective breweries.

I'll be posting tweets throughout the conference on my and on the .

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

And A Successful TBW Pub Crawl - Kensington/Annex

TBW Pub Crawl wristbands
By 2pm on Saturday afternoon the inside of the Cloak and Dagger was beginning to fill with loyal supporters of Toronto Beer Week (TBW). The same was happening a couple of kilometres away at the Queen and Beaver on Elm St. It was the beginning of the TBW six-month countdown event - Two simultaneous pub crawls through the streets of Toronto, visiting 10 establishments along the way and knocking back numerous pints from the fine producers here in Toronto.

Nick Pashley, the author of notable beer books like Notes on a Beermat: Drinking and why it's Necessary and Cheers! An Intemperate History of Beer in Canada, joined me in leading a pub crawl in the Kensington/Annex area of the city while Bar founder, Cass Enright, and Rob Symes led another one in the downtown core. (all four of us are founding members of TBW)

The Kensington/Annex Crawl
As soon as the doors opened at the Cloak and Dagger a handful of eager beer drinkers made their way towards the bar for what would be a great day of socializing, drinking, and celebrating the 2011 edition of TBW.

Armed with special edition TBW wristbands, pub crawlers were entitled to a number of discounts and prizes throughout the day, and the Cloak started our crawl off right as ten tap lines were devoted to $5 pints; a great way to kick things off.

Drinking on Caplansky's patio
After 45 minutes of introductions and sampling, Pashley took to the stage and awarded a number of prizes - two passes to Amsterdam Brewing Co. for brewery tours, a couple of TAPS The Beer Magazine t-shirts, a Great Lakes t-shirt, and a number of Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) podcast cd's. A representative from Spearhead Brewing Co. (first commercial brew fast approaching) graciously donated some swag, including a hat and bottle opener at the Cloak.

Out the door and after a two-minute walk east our group stood in front of Caplansky's Deli at College and Brunswick. All the tables in the deli were jammed packed with hungry customers, so crawlers decided that the weather was good enough to claim their patio as ours. Chairs and tables were arranged and pints of Denison's Dunkel were consumed. We reached 40 people near the end of our time at Caplansky's and by our next stop, it jumped to 49.

The Burger Bar & Tequila Tavern is on the east side of Augusta just south of College. Another two minute sojourn. Again, upon arrival we were greeted with a packed house of Burger eaters and thristy beer drinkers. Thankfully the patio was wide open and it called out to us, as did the Robust Porter from Cheshire Valley Brewing Co., which word has it, we almost drained. Some more prizes were awarded at the Burger Bar before we pulled up stake and headed to our fourth stop -  The Harbord House.

 Rob Morra (Beau's) & Paul Dickey (Cheshire Valley)
The longest walk between establishments, The Harbord House crew were ready for us when we arrived. Our large crowd was whisked to the second floor where Superman, I mean, ummm, of Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. was waiting for us with a pin of Beau's Winterbrewed. We promised we'd do our best and dammit, we did it - we drank every last drop... After drinking on Caplansky's patio, and the Burger Bar's patio, the upstairs sit down area at the Harbord House was most welcoming.

We gave away some more prizes before heading onto the last stop on the crawl- a wall mounted Steam Whistle retro bottle opener and a bucket full of beer and swag from Great Lakes.

Another quick journey brought us to our final destination - The Victory Cafe on Markham. I'll admit it now, but I was concerned about showing up a 6pm on a courageous day. The Victory is known for filling the place and we weren't 100% sure if we'd be heading to the second floor or not. Luck was on our side as the pub was light in attendance, so we did our best to fill the place. After taking part in a very encouraging chat with the Victory's new owner we handed out the grand prize to one lucky winner - a tub of beer and goodies from the OCB.

By 7:30pm we called it a day. Some individuals moved onto other well-known Toronto craft beer pubs, some went home, and some stayed and helped the Victory empty their kegs. It was a great day from start to finish with 52 people taking part throughout the crawl! People in Toronto love their craft beer!

It needs to be said that the staff at all of the places we attended did an unbelievable job making us feel welcome, serving us in a timely and efficient manner, and doing so with a smile on their face(s). A huge thank you to the staff at Cloak & Dagger, Caplansky's Deli, The Burger Bar & Tequila Tavern, The Harbord House and The Victory Cafe!

Toronto is home to some amazing craft beer establishments and we touched on but a few. Get out there and explore!

We'd also like to thank the following breweries/organizations for donating prizes for the crawl - Steam Whistle, Great Lakes, Amsterdam, TAPS The Beer Magazine, OCB, Spearhead Brewing Co.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Toronto Beer Week Website

If you happened to make your way over to today you may have realized that we've got a new website up and running. We're very happy with the new layout and design and we'll be adding more content in the next couple of weeks. More images, more video, more information for you to browse through!

It will also be going through other changes late in the spring once we have the confirmed breweries and licensee list, complete with a comprehensive events listing index that will be searchable by area, event, day, etc. This will allow individuals living in the east end to search events based on their location, seeing which licensee or brewery will be hosting an event in their area.

Chris Schryer, the mastermind of Toronto Beer Blog, is the man behind the new site. Check out his other work here:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Today's the Day! Toronto Beer Week 6-Month Countdown Pub Crawls

It's go time... 2 separate Toronto Beer Week (TBW) 6-month pub crawls through the streets of Toronto at the same time today, kicking off at 2pm.

Downtown crawl: Hosted by Cass Enright and Rob Symes
2pm: Meet at Queen & Beaver
2:45: Head to 3 Brewers (arrive 3pm)
3:45: Head to Duggan's Brewery (arrive 4pm)
4:45: Head to beerbistro (arrive 5pm)
5:45: Head to C'est What (arrive 6pm)
7:00: Wrap Up

Visit of -

Kensington/Annex crawl: Hosted by Nick Pashley and myself
2pm: Meet at Cloak & Dagger
2:45: Head to Caplansky's Deli (arrive 3pm)
3:30: Head to Burger Bar (arrive 4pm)
4:40: Head to Harbord House (arrive 5pm)
5:45: Head to Victory Cafe (arrive 6pm)
7:00: Wrap Up

- The OCB has provided TBW with some beer tubs full of ..... one winner per crawl (to be awarded during crawl - handed out at a later date)
- Steam Whistle has donated some prizes for the pub crawl - winners will be chosen at the Harbord House and C'est What.
- Amsterdam Brewing Co. has also graciously donated some prizes for the crawl that will be awarded along the way (on both crawls)
- Great Lakes are putting together two cool gift packs that are going to be sweet!
- TAPS The Beer Magazine has some t-shirts to award lucky crawl participants
- 2 reps from Spearhead Brewing Co. will be joining the crawl (one on each) and will have some swag

- beerbistro: Free frites
- Queen & Beaver: App specials
- Burger Bar: $5.50 tax in for a pint or a flight
- Cloak and Dagger: $5.00 select pints

- 3 Brewers is offering a Pubcrawl-exclusive $6.50 (tax and tip IN) flight of their beers
- Duggan's will be featuring the new Irish Cream Ale for the crawl
- Harbord House will have a pin of Beau's Winterbrewed
- Burger Bar: Hockley Stout, Cheshire Robust Porter, Beau's IP'eh, and Railway City ShamBock. On Cask GLB Citra Blast
- C'est What will be tapping a special cask of Big Butt (version 3) just in time for the pub crawl

Craft beer - great establishments - lots of prizes - creating memories: Join us!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cabin Fever - Muskoka Cottage Brewery One-Off Series

Cabin Fever* - Chiefly Canadian acute depression resulting from being isolated or sharing cramped quarters in the wilderness, esp during the long northern winter.

Some cool news from the Muskoka Cottage Brewery in Bracebridge, ON.

Starting next month, the brewery will introduce drinkers to a new series of one-offs beers that will be made available at a very few select bars/pubs.

The series, dubbed Cabin Fever, will debut on April 6th at Muskoka's next Monthly Event at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto. It's a guessing game as to what the beer will be, as Muskoka is keeping that close to their chest.

"Restless Brewers = One-off Brews. These will be 20 barrel batches that are 100% the mind melding of our brewers looking to experiment with ingredients and flavours. Cabin Fever No. 1 will be available at our April 6th Muskoka Monthly Event at the Dakota Tavern where will also be launching our Summer Weiss. Very Raven Indeed," stated (poetically I must say) Mike Laba, Director of Marketing for Muskoka.

Keep an eye on the and to see where the Cabin Fever beers will make appearances.

(*Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Prud'homme Beer Certification Program - Now Online

As first reported here on February 15th, The Prud'homme Beer Certification course (Level 1) founded by Thirst for Knowledge Inc. President, Roger Mittag, is now available to participate in online.

For $150, individuals can sign up to take the Level 1: Beer Enthusiast self directed course that focuses on: Brewing Concepts - Understanding Beer - Beer & Food - Draught Beer Quality - Pouring & Serving, and is shaped for hospitality providers, retail beer sellers, brewers and distributors of beer and the beer enthusiast.

In a press release issued yesterday, Mittag had this to say about his program: “Modern beer consumers are asking for more selection, more information on beer styles and how to pair beer with food. This program simply meets those demands.”

Prud'homme Beer Certification was created in 2009 and is named after Canada’s first licensed brewer, Louis Prud’homme.

Head to to obtain more information.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Coast - Halifax's Weekly Newspaper: The Brewers Speak

Christine Beevis, a TAPS The Beer Magazine regular contributor (Carboys In My Laundry Room - Homebrew Section), has a great piece in The Coast, Halifax's free weekly newspaper titled "The Brewers Speak," part of a Beer Guide the newspaper features today.

Beevis emailed me a week ago to let me know that she was working on this project for the paper, and this morning she notified me that the story is now online for all to view. And it's a great read.

In the piece, Beevis introduces readers to all the men brewing in Nova Scotia in interview style format, similar to what I do here with the "Meet the Brewers..." Eight brewers in total were interviewed and eight questions relating to their brewing career were answered.

Brewers Involved:
Bobby Zacharias (Propeller) - (Bobby has taken over the head brewer position since Don Helms moved to Ontario to manage the brewhouse at Kichiseppi Brewing Co.)
- Brett Mason (Sleeman)
Daniel Girard (Garrison)
Greg Nash (Hart & Thistle)
- Kevin Keefe (Granite)
- Lorne Romano (Rogue's Roost) - (Look for Craig Pinhey's profile of Romano and Rogue's Roost in the spring issue of TAPS)
- Randy Lawrence (Sea Level Brewing)
- Graham Kendall (Alexander Keith's - Labatt)

Other stories featured in the Beer Guide: Take it to the limited, by Craig Pinhey - The beer doctor is in, by Beevis - Six hacks for a six pack, by Lizzy Hill - Barley Whines, by Amber Young - The gassy truth, by Allison Saunders

LCBO Raises Funds For Japan Relief

The following is a press release from the LCBO that is worth reading:


March 17, 2011 - Effective immediately, the public can help support those whose lives have been devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan by making donations to the Canadian Red Cross Japan Earthquake/Asia-Pacific Tsunami Fund at any of the more than 600 LCBO stores throughout Ontario.

“Ontarians have a long history of giving generously to help others affected by natural disasters,” said LCBO President and CEO Bob Peter. “LCBO staff at checkouts will be inviting customers from now until April 2 to contribute to the relief effort in the aftermath of this catastrophe.”

“The Red Cross Movement is rapidly mobilizing to meet the urgent humanitarian needs following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan,” says Ron Kelusky, director general for the Red Cross in Ontario. “We are extremely grateful to the LCBO and its customers for their compassion and support of Red Cross relief and recovery operations in affected communities.”

Donation boxes for the Japan earthquake and tsunami relief will be displayed at all LCBO store checkouts until further notice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beer For A Cure - The Not So Official Royal Wedding After-Party

CASK! Toronto will be holding their annual Beer For A Cure fundraiser on April 30th at Toronto's Granite Brewery in support of Prostate Cancer Canada, an event being tagged as "the not so official Royal Wedding after-party."

For $65, part of which includes a partial donation receipt, ticket buyers will take part in a four-course dinner matched with different real ale from the Granite, MacLean's Ales and Cheshire Valley Brewing Co.

Robert Hughey, a founding CASK! member and Ontario beer writer for Great Lakes Brewing News, will be the evening's master of ceremony and will be joined by guest speaker Nick Pashley (Toronto Beer Week board member and another founding CASK! member) who will be celebrating all things English. There will also be an auction, fancy hats and door prizes.

You can purchase tickets by calling Caroline or Robert Hughey at or by emailing Robert at 

Beer For A Cure
Saturday April 30th - 7pm
Tickets: $65 per person
4 courses, 4 beers (real ale)

Monday, March 14, 2011

...Counting Down The Days - TBW 6-Month Pub Crawl

Six days to go... 2 separate Toronto Beer Week (TBW) 6-month pub crawls through the streets of Toronto at the same time.

Craft beer - great establishments - lots of prizes - creating memories: Join us!

Downtown crawl: Hosted by Cass Enright and Rob Symes
2pm: Meet at Queen & Beaver
2:45: Head to 3 Brewers (arrive 3pm)
3:45: Head to Duggan's Brewery (arrive 4pm)
4:45: Head to beerbistro (arrive 5pm)
5:45: Head to C'est What (arrive 6pm)
7:00: Wrap Up


College/Kensington/Annex crawl: Hosted by Nick Pashley and myself
2pm: Meet at Cloak & Dagger
2:45: Head to Caplansky's Deli (arrive 3pm)
3:30: Head to Burger Bar (arrive 4pm)
4:40: Head to Harbord House (arrive 5pm)
5:45: Head to Victory Cafe (arrive 6pm)
7:00: Wrap Up

Friday, March 11, 2011

North American Craft - Representing Small Breweries Through LCBO System

A couple of weeks ago I shared some pints with Claude Lefebvre, the founder of North American Craft, for a small piece I was doing for TAPS The Beer Magazine's blog, which has been posted here.

Lefebvre, through North American Craft, helps a number of small Ontario breweries navigate their way through the LCBO retail system by representing and promoting their various brands from store to store.

Less than two months into operation, Lefebvre has already increased the visibility of brands from Ontario breweries like Black Oak Brewing Co, Denison's Brewing Co., and Stratford Brewing, and the company has had success with getting more six-packs of Halifax's Propeller Brewing Co's ESB onto store shelves.

After spending the last twelve years working for brewing companies like KLB, Unibroue, Sleeman and Mill Street, Lefebvre felt he was in need of a change. "I think I identified an opportunity about five years ago that there was a lack of representation amongst the smallest craft breweries in Ontario," Lefebvre told me during that interview. "I think offering craft brewers consistent representation is something that I found to be non-existent with some breweries and so I decided to take on the smallest craft breweries in Ontario and kind of build stability in the marketplace for them at the retail segment of the LCBO."

As mentioned, North American Craft is working with Black Oak, Denison's, Stratford and Propeller. The company is also working with Paddock Wood of Saskatoon, who are currently in Ontario through the Beer Store system but are trying to get into the LCBO.

There will be more breweries added to the portfolio over time, so watch his website for new listings in the future.

St. Patrick's Day... uh, Week at Toronto's Ceili Cottage

St. Patrick's Day isn't the best day in the world for those of us that enjoy ducking into pubs for a quick pint and maybe a short scan of the latest book on the go. No, we tend to stay at home, away from the throngs of people out in our local establishments looking for a green beer.

However, that being said, if you are one of those people who feel the need to be Irish for the day, check out Toronto's Ceili Cottage on Queen East. One day of celebrations isn't enough for oyster shucker and Ceili Cottage owner Patrick McMurray - no, he and his staff have planned a week-long series of events!

Word to the wise - plan to get to the Cottage VERY early on the 17th to avoid the long line-ups!

Saturday March 12th - St.Practice Day 12pm-Close
Food: St. Pat's Menu: Specials all week
7pm: Gil-Can Dancers - show - 20mins
9pm: Band-Mere Mortals - Deacon's Bench stage

Sunday March 13th - Family & Parade Day 12pm-11pm
St. Pat's Parade: 12pm start, downtown route
Face painting, beginners dance lessons & info-post parade
Emergency services 911 discount - Fire, Ambulance, Police
7pm: Gil-Can Dancers
8:30pm: 2011 Limerick Open Mic Night & Contest

HARP Monday March 14th - Restaurant Industry Day 4pm-Close
St. Patrick's open: oyster shucking contest - register by 7pm, starts at 7:30pm
$1.50 oysters for the non-shuckers - HARP Specials
7pm: Gil-Can dancers
7:30pm: CeiliGrass Boys - bluegrass band
Food-Lord of the Flies roasted pig's head - after the oyster shucking contest

SMITHWICK'S Tuesday March 15th - Trad Day 4pm-Close
Irish Ex-Pat Day - Associations, Business', Sports and Tourism info.
Smithwick's specials
7pm: Gil-Can dancers - 20min
8pm: Massive St. Pat's Jam Session with Ena & Friends

KILKENNY Wednesday March 16th - Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Day 4pm-Close
Kilkenny specials
Meet with the Matchmaker & singles barn dance - "The Paul Jones"
6:30pm: Gil-Can Dancers
7-10pm: CeiliGrass Boys & Barndance
The Big Ceilidh - info & signup -
10pm-close: Tunes and socializing

Thursday March 17th - St. Patrick's Day... Let there be CRAIC!
12pm-Close: $10 cover (100% to Gil-Can Irish Dance School) for the day - general debauchery & organized chaos
2pm: Gil-Can Dancers
3pm: Mere Mortals Marquee Stage
5pm: Mere Mortals Marquee Stage
7pm: Gil-Can Dancers
9pm: Brian Taheney - Deacon's Bench Stage

For more information, visit the e.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March CASK! Social

**Please note that I had the wrong date listed in the original post - the actual date of the March CASK! Social is this Saturday, March 12th! Sorry for any inconvenience.**

From CASK! Toronto

The next CASK! Social will take place on:
Saturday March 12nd 2011
Time: 3:00 – 7:00 pm
Location: Black Oak Brewing Co.

Hello everyone,
It seems our Cask! Socials are becoming increasingly popular and word is getting around. For this month, Cask! will be teaming up with the Toronto Beer Lovers Meetup Group and the Social will be hosted by Black Oak Brewing Company (75 Horner Ave, Unit 1, Etobicoke) on Saturday March 12th, 3:00 - 7:00 P.M. There will be a range of cask ales, including a special Calibration brew from Black Oak's pilot system.

Admission details and TTC directions:
$15 per person which includes cask ale and simple snacks. To respect the brewery's capacity, a maximum of 70 CASK! members will be admitted. Sign up for "save me a spot" if you'd like us to hold a spot for you at the social or, if you'd rather decide last-minute, feel free to drop by and we'll do our best to squeeze you in!

TTC directions:
Location 75 Horner Avenue, Unit # 1
On the corner of Judson & Horner
Go To Islington Subway Station
Take 110 A Islington South
(or take 110 Islington South and get off at Judson and walk West until you get to Horner)

A note from Black Oak:
One cup per person
One name tag per person
Early people will be under-appreciated.
We discourage driving, but encouraging having a designated driver.
No Official tour but there will be lots of Black Oak People to answer questions!!!!

Craft Brewery Tours in Ontario

Check out the new ad to the left. Craft Brewery Tours in Ontario is a new(er) tour company that, well, you guessed it, offers tours of craft breweries in various regions of Ontario.

With the upcoming 2nd annual Ontario Craft Beer Week (June 19-25), this could be a great way to visit a number of breweries, enjoy some samples, see how the product is produced, meet the brewers, etc.

If you're thinking of a neat idea for a company team building session, or you and some friends want to visit a number of breweries without worrying about drinking and driving, contact Jim Bruce at the information listed on their website.

**although this may seem like a paid advertisement, please note that it is not

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

OCB Announces Dates For 2nd Annual OCB Beer Week

June 19 - 25, 2011
The Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) sent out a press release yesterday announcing the dates for the 2nd annual Ontario Craft Beer Week.

OCB Beer Week will kick off on June 19th and will run until June 25th throughout the province of Ontario, featuring beers and events organized by the association's 25 member breweries. And like last year, the week will close out with a big event on the Saturday (25th), but with something new in the works, you'll have to wait until a future post with more details.

Last year Cass Enright and I threw a very successful pub crawl in the Kensington area and we have plans to do something again this year for OCB Beer Week. You'll have to wait for more information closer to the date, but it should be a great time.

Here is the entire press release issued by the OCB:

TORONTO, ON – (March 7, 2010)ONTARIO CRAFT BEER WEEK -- Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) are pleased to announce the second annual ‘Ontario Craft Beer Week’, a celebration of our province’s thriving, locally-based craft beer industry. Launching Father’s Day, festivities will be held in communities throughout Ontario from June 19 – 25, 2011. OCB is the association representing 25+ small, independent craft brewers in Ontario.

Ontario Craft Beer Week will feature a series of special events designed to expose consumers to the craft beer experience with tasting events, brewery tours, cooking demonstrations, food pairings, beer dinners, and much more. Activities will take place in breweries, restaurants, bars and outdoor venues throughout the province.

Ontario Craft Beer Week is co-chaired again this year by Steve Beauchesne of Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. in Vankleek Hill and Jason Ellsmere of Cameron’s Brewing Company of Oakville. An organizing committee of brewery representatives from all regions of the province is also lending their time and talent to this unique celebration.

“Last year’s inaugural Ontario Craft Beer Week exceeded our expectations,” says Jason Ellsmere of Cameron’s Brewing Co. “There were over 125 events in communities throughout the province. The week kicked off with breweries hosting Father’s Day events and went on to include: specialized tastings, beer and food pairing dinners, beer and cheese parties, meet the brewer nights, comedy, musical and sporting events. The week culminated with SESSION, Toronto’s newest craft beer festival that featured 25 craft breweries.”

“This event is an opportunity for Ontario’s craft brewers to share and showcase our products with consumers in Ontario,” says Steve Beauchesne. “Our industry is very proud of its growth and we want to be sure to spread the joy throughout the province. It’s also a great way to kick off the summer.”

Any interested parties with ideas or suggestions should contact their local brewery or send an email to with “Ontario Craft Beer Week” in the subject line. New details, when they are available, will be posted on the OCB’s new website for Craft Beer Week,

Ontario craft beer sales at the LCBO are up 52% from 2010. Ontario boasts a thriving craft beer culture and more consumers are choosing to support their local breweries and experiment with the incredible range of beer styles and tastes available. Fresh, Ontario craft beer is produced in small batches with lots of care and attention to detail. Using the brew master’s own authentic special recipes, OCB’s 25 independent craft brewers produce fresh, top quality beer using all natural, pure ingredients, and no additives or preservatives.

With its rich brewing history and culture, Ontario is becoming an increasingly popular tourism destination for those interested in discovering craft beer, visiting local breweries, experiencing beer cuisine, etc.

Monday, March 7, 2011

NC Brewmaster Program - Students 101: Jeff Vlasman

Back in December I started a small feature on the first batch of students enrolled in the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program at Niagara College. The first student profiled was Mark Murphy, who has been coordinating with his fellow classmates to bring readers of this blog more interviews (with students). 

I'd like to continue with the student introductions and allow them to provide updates on how the course is progressing.

So, without further ado, meet Jeff Vlasman.

Tell us how you came to be in the Brewmaster Program?
I’m the oldest student in the class, at 39, my friends tell me it’s my mid-life crisis kicking in. But like a few of my classmates, I was working in an established career and I was ready for a change. I’d spent the last fifteen years or so moving around western Canada and Ontario working in forestry. My last job was with the local conservation authority here in Niagara and I became aware that this program was in the works. I applied and when the offer of acceptance came in it was time for a tough decision. It was hard to justify leaving a solid job with a steady paycheque, but in the end the opportunity was just too good to pass up.

How did you come about your passion for brewing?
Having moved from place to place I was able to sample the many options for local brews throughout western Canada. The first time I visited a brewpub was when I lived in Vancouver in the late 90’s and I was hooked. I love the idea of having these beers that you can’t get anywhere else and are unique to the establishment.

Before I entered the Brewmaster Program though I had never brewed anything myself. I have always been curious about home brewing but not knowing anyone who was into the hobby I never took the plunge. That all changed this past fall when I purchased a Brew Magic system made by Sabco. It’s basically a complete professional mini brewery ready to go out of the box. It’s a great system and I’m having loads of fun with it. I get lots of offers from classmates to come over and brew, which a couple have. I’ve definitely caught the bug though because I am now constantly looking to add more equipment to my set up. The garage is filling up but I see it as an investment in my brewing education and who knows, it could serve as a pilot system for a microbrewery someday.

So how do you rate the Brewmaster program so far?
We are in the home stretch towards the end of the first year and I can say that I’ve absorbed a phenomenal amount of knowledge and it’s still just a scratch in the iceberg of what there is to know. The instructors all work very hard to help us succeeded and their combined knowledge is mind boggling. My classmates are enthusiastic and I’ve learned a lot from them too. Working in the teaching brewery has been an invaluable experience and I learn more every time I walk in the door there.

The best part about the teaching brewery is making mistakes in a controlled environment. It’s especially true in brewing that the best lessons are had when you screw up, and in that regard I’ve learned tons. You take some gentle good natured ribbing from your class mates, you all have a laugh, but you take away something you can’t learn from a book.

Where do you see yourself in 2013, one year after finishing the program?
With any luck I’ll be working at a microbrewery or a brewpub, looking forward to work every day and taking in the satisfaction of seeing others enjoy the fruits of my labour. There is not a single aspect of the brewing industry that does not interest me so I will keep my options open.

That having been said I haven’t lined up a summer job yet, but I am hoping that I’ll be able to secure something soon. Distance isn’t a barrier; I’m used to going where the jobs are. Niagara College is organizing a job fair in the near future so if any brewers are reading this and are interested I would urge them to contact the college and get involved. I can vouch for the work ethic and quality of my fellow students; it’s always a joy to work with them in the brewery.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Father John's ESB - Mill Street Brewery

Mill Street comes out with seasonals down at the brewpub all the time: Vanilla Porter, Scotch Ale, Roggenbier, Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale, Milk Stout, Oktoberfest Marzen, Rauchbier and more. Their brewpub allows them to experiment with recipes, going from kettle to keg to the draught lines, getting them into the hands of patrons at the pub in the Distillery District in a timely manner.

The dedicated crowd who frequent the brewpub on a regular basis usually do good work polishing off each product in a short amount of time. Thankfully Mill Street also has an excellent on-site retail store that allow individuals to purchase growlers, and many of these seasonal offerings mentioned above find their way to the fridge. Which is how I came across their latest batch - Father John's ESB, a beer that is close to heart of Mill Street's Brewmaster's.

"This is a beer that I last brewed in March, 1991 to give to Lisa’s (his wife) step-father, John Cooper who was a publican in the English Midlands (I think it was a Bank’s Brewery pub) but he originated in Devon on the south coast, so I made a beer in the style of his home county," stated Joel Manning.

"His quote to Lisa when she took it to him and he tried it was “Cor! THAT’S a beer a man can take his coat off to!” meaning of course that you can settle in and session this beer which is exactly what John Cooper then did. John used to call to Lisa’s English cocker spaniel named Billy by slapping his knees and yelling “Come to Father John, Billy! Come to Father John!” Thus the name of the beer. I married Lisa 5 months later. Dismissed as co-incidence? I don’t think so…"

The 6.3% ESB pours a bright cooper with a creamy froth of head that sticks around for most of the pint. The nose picks up notes of slightly roasted malt, a touch of nut, some sweet fruity esters and a very slight whiff of earthy hops. The first thing I pick up on palate is a nice balance between the malt and the every so slightly spicy hop bite. A little nutty up front, more of those fruity esters in the middle, it finishes with a subtle bitterness. The 6.3% is a little deceiving, as the medium bodied ESB goes down very smooth and traces of alcohol are well hidden within the malt profile, it makes for a session, but you have to pace yourself.

On tap down at the brewpub. Check in with the retail store in advance to see if they have more growlers available.

" is by far the most “Manning-esque” beer I have brewed since coming to Mill Street 5 years ago," said Manning. "

Meet Adam Grant: The Monks Table - Toronto, ON

Meet Adam Grant, the owner of The Monks Table: A Gourmand House in Toronto's Rosedale area. Grant, along with his wife Melissa, purchased the former "Abbott on the Hill" in 2009 and later rebranded as The Monks Table.

Grant decided years ago to focus on import beer rather than domestic craft beer, creating a unique draught line-up that can't be found anywhere else in the city. A great bottle menu, delicious food, and their knack for hosting beer launches, have made the pub a great destination to have a pint in Toronto.

Grant always seems to be around, greeting people at the door and is quick to chat about his passion for good beer. He is a dedicated publican, and a very proud supporter of Toronto Beer Week (Monks Table was recognized for their efforts during the 2010 TBW).

How long have you operated your establishment?
5 years. First as The Abbot on the Hill then The Monks Table after the name change.

How did you get into the hospitality industry?
30 years ago I said to my self "Adam... work for ONE Summer as a Server/bartender and make some extra cash for school"..... sigh.

What is the best part of operating a pub?
Working with my wife.

What is the worst?
Working with my wife. (You try working with me)

How do you go about selecting the beer for your establishment?
Tons of customer input. Often reps from the big two (you know who I mean), who I don't carry, try and buy you with swag, but my distributors help to brand me with unique events where my patrons have a say in what goes on tap.

Where did the name of your establishment come from?
My patrons helped us choose it in a four month long contest. I wanted something that spoke of our concept and The Monks Table accurately reflects our beers which are all European (many with Monastic Roots), and our simple but high quality fare.

What has been the biggest change in the beer industry since you started your business?
I think people are backing away from generic massive brands. I can't remember the last time somebody asked for a Stella at the Monks Table.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
I'd like to change how the city deals with an industry that supplies so much taxes, jobs, and income. New bylaws restricting where restaurants can be, their size, etc are unfair and fiscally irresponsible.

What do you get up to when your not at your establishment?
I like to "research" my neighbours (other pubs...). If that means I have to have a few pints ...cest la vie.

If you're not drinking at your own bar, where do you head to for a beer?
The Rebel House is an institution and one of the trail blazers in carrying all micro brews.

Name the last beer you consumed?
Chiswick Ale. When you do as much "research" as I do its best to have a low alcohol ale.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Roland & Russell Imports Hosting Southern Tier Bus/Brewery Tour

Roland and Russell, the Ontario based import agents for Lakewood, NY's Southern Tier Brewing Co., have put together a cross border brewery tour that will take passionate beer drinkers from Toronto to Lakewood to check out one of America's most diverse breweries.

On April 30th, for $65 per person, individuals will be able to hop on a bus that will be departing Toronto's Union Station at 8am sharp which will take them to Southern Tier. People will have the opportunity to meet Phin DeMink, Southern Tier's owner, and the rest of the team that produce a number of highly popular beers sold here in Ontario.

Included in the $65 price tag, along with transportation, are six beer samples, a pulled pork sandwich, a private tour of the brewery and the opportunity to try all the available Southern Tier beers from their rotating draught list.

The bus will then depart the brewery at 4pm for the journey back to Toronto.

"It promises to be a wonderful way to spend a Saturday in spring and try some tasty beers on draught and tickets are selling briskly so please don't delay, contact us asap to reserve your seats," said Liliana Pavicic, one half of the Roland and Russell team. "Payment may be made by cheque, money order or email money transfer (contact us for details).Thank you for supporting this great brewery and making Southern Tier beers such a hit in Ontario!"

Seating is limited, so contact R&R to RSVP soon! ()

When: April 30, 2011
What: One day brewery tour
Where: Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood, NY
Why: To meet Phin DeMink and his team and to sample some great beers.
Price: $65.00 pp
Other details: Departing Toronto at 08:00 AM

Beau's Beaver River IPA To Hit Select LCBO Stores Soon

Beau's All Natural Brewing Co.'s Beaver River IPA will be released tomorrow (March 3rd) to mark an early start to spring, and for the first time ever, the IPA will be available at select LCBO retail stores in Eastern Ontario, Kingston, and Toronto, joining Beau’s popular flagship brand, Lugtread Lagered Ale.

“Our seasonal program has been designed so that all year we have a second, complementary beer to offer alongside Lugtread,” says Beau’s co-founder, Steve Beauchesne in a press release issued on February 28th. “The seasonals change up every three months, and have been paired to suit the season. We’re very excited to be able to starting getting these beers out to a wider audience starting this spring,” he adds.

As mentioned, it will be available for the first time ever in select LCBO stores and will retail for $4.35 including tax and deposit for the 600ml bottle.

To help celebrate the launch of the IPA Beau's will be hosting an Open House Afternoon at the brewery in Vankleek Hill this Saturday (March 5th).

From the press release:
Saturday March 5, Beau’s will be celebrating the return of Beaver River (and hopefully an early spring!) with an OPEN HOUSE AFTERNOON at the brewery. Brewers will be tapping a naturally carbonated cask of Beaver River for guests to enjoy by the glass. The afternoon will also feature brewery tours, food, and themed activities for adults and families. Limited samples of Beau’s upcoming releases –right out of the aging tank -- will also be available upon request.

The 1.89 L jugs of Beaver River will be available for purchase at the brewery retail store starting Thursday March 3. A list of selected LCBO stores across Ontario that are confirmed to carry the Beaver River spring IPA will also be available soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Colin Jack - Just Here For The Beer 1970-2011

Pic-via Facebook
This morning my twitter feed informed me of the sad news about the passing of Colin Jack yesterday. Jack was the co-owner of Vancouver's Just Here For The Beer Ltd., festival coordinator for the Canada Cup of Beer, radio show regular (discussing beer) on CKNW 980, host of the Just Here For the Beer Radio show on AM 650, beer columnist for Vancouver 24 Hours and longtime beer educator.

I had the pleasure of meeting Colin a number of times and we stayed in touch via email over the years. He was a big supporter of TAPS The Beer Magazine and shared some insight into the BC craft brewing scene with us on a number of occasions. We shared drinks at the 2009 Toronto Festival of Beer and I can truly say it was a pleasure talking beer with him.

Colin Jack

A Night With... Mike Lackey & Great Lakes Brewery - barVolo: March 12th

barVolo & keep6ix Presents
A Night With…Mike Lackey & Great Lakes Brewery

With all the great work put out by our friends Mike Lackey and Great Lakes Brewery Company for Project X and the new cask-ale program, we thought it would be a good idea to feature 19 of their one offs in one night at barVolo. We will only be serving the following Great Lakes beers including the House Ales / Great Lakes collaboration brew “California Love Pale Ale”;

Saturday, March 12th, 2011 @ 7:00pm

1. Dude Where's My Czar? Russian Imperial Stout (9.8%)
2. Pompous Ass English Pale Ale (4.2%) CASK
3. My Bitter Wife India Pale Ale (6.5%)
4. My Bitterer Wife Double India Pale Ale (8.0%)
5. Where There's Smoke There's Fire Spiced/Smoke (5.5%)
6. Lazarus Breakfast Stout (St. John's Wort Collaboration) (6.0%)
7. Miami Weiss Wheat Ale (4.5%)
8. Lackey's Cask (5.2%) CASK
9. Johnny Simcoe India Pale Ale (6.2%) CASK
10.Harry Porter and the Bourbon Soaked Vanilla Beans Porter (5.3%)
11.Unicorn Ale American Style Barrel Aged Barleywine (9.5%)
12.Does This Muumuu Make Me Look Hefe? Imperial Hefeweissen (6.8%)
13.Redwood Pale Ale Barrel Aged Pale Ale (6.2%)
14.The Dalai Lambic Wild Ale (5.5%)
15.Heavy Petting Saison (Bartle Collaboration) (6.0%)
16.Aces High! Single Hop India Pale Ale (6.7%)
17.Karma Citra Single Hop India Pale Ale (6.6%)
18.Armadildo Single Hop India Pale Ale (6.5%)
19.California Love American Pale Ale (5.5%) (House Ales Collaboration) CASK

*All Beers Are Subject to Change and Availability
*Event is CASH ONLY. No tickets or admission required.
*Event runs from 7:00pm-2:00am Until Supplies Last
*19+ Event. Please Drink Responsibly
*All Beers +7.0% will be served by the glass (300mL)
*Only the above Great Lakes beers will be served (no bottles or other taps)
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