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 30, 2012

Inside Look - 75 Victoria Ave: Six Pints Specialty Beer Company

It's no secret, Six Pints Specialty Beer Co. will be occupying the former Duggans Brewery location at reet in Toronto. You've probably heard about it by now.

Toronto Life's Daily Dish first broke the story (publicly) about the new Molson Coors Specialty Beer Division back in early December after a reader sent in an image of the a building permit in the name of Creemore Springs. The speculative article was later clarified somewhat when a story about the plans for the building in the Creemore Echo paper made it's way online. Roger Mittag over at has written about it, as has Jordan St. John at QMI Agency. All the information about the new venture can be found on their sites. And there will be a piece about it in the Spring issue of TAPS The Beer Magazine that will shed some more light on the plans. I have some thoughts on this myself, but I'll reserve them until a later date, once the place is open for business. 

But I want to take you inside the building to show you some of the plans that Six Pints has (many images below). 

In a nutshell, Six Pints will act as a Beer Institute of sorts that will feature a small beer museum and timeline, a beer library, computers for brewing research, growler sales, beer academy and a hospitality training facility. The brewhouse will remain; though a number of upgrades and repairs are currently underway to get them to up to spec. 

But before we begin, here are some interesting notes:
  1. Six Pints is using Creemore Springs manufacturer's licence to produce beer here, and sell beer here. Six Pints will not be brewing Creemore Springs brands or Granville Island brands.
  2. While Six Pints will be allowed to sell Creemore Springs brands out of the retail store, they will not be able to sell brands from Granville Island.
  3. This is not a brewpub. In fact, Six Pints have made it clear that it will only serve food for special events, conferences, beer academy sessions, etc. 
  4. Six Pints will be working with some local beer people to showcase beers timeline in Canada
  5. Six Pints are still working on the name(s) of the on-site brewery and brands. It was rumoured that they'd like to use some sort of numbering system to help individuals identify which batch they preferred over another, but I believe this is no longer the case.
  6. All the renovations are scheduled to be completed in March. 
  7. Unrelated to the building, but look for Six Pints to start bringing other Molson Coors products from other markets into Canada - ie. Worthington's White Shield.

Six Pints - 75 Victoria in pictures (click image to expand)

Upstairs - Front Entrance: The brewery will remain on the right (equipment remains as well - needs some work)

Front Entrance - There will be a 'beer timeline' that runs the length of the wall. The timeline will be about beer, not just Molson Coors history

Upstairs - around the corner from the front entrance. The 'beer timeline' will start on this wall and extend around the corner to the front entrance

Upstairs - This is the main bar in left side of the building. There will be displays of ingredients, a fancy (specially designed) draught tower, glassware - From Grain to Glass. Educational bar for tastings

Upstairs - besides the 'Grain to Glass Bar' is the Beer Library. Six Pints will stock a number of beer books on homebrewing, history, tasting guides, magazines, etc. There will be seating here for people to sit down and browse through the books

Upstairs and to the back - right before the doors lead you out to the old patio, there is a small room that Six Pints will be using as a Multi-Purpose Room for conferences, presentations, tastings etc

Upstairs - right side of building: There will be a retail bar for tasting the various beers that Six Pints will be brewing a number of different styles that will be available for tasting and take home consumption. Growlers and large format bottles will be available. 

Upstairs - right side of building: Where the old Duggans bar was, will now be a large beer fridge and coolers

Downstairs - back of room on the left: This will be the home of the Beer Academy. There will be a functioning kitchen, seating, bar area and more. Educational courses and tastings will be held in this room

Downstairs - left side of building: Six Pints' offices

Downstairs - right side of building: Tucked away behind and besides the brewhouse is a small room that will act as the Bottling Room. Growlers and large format bottles will be filled here
So there you have it. A very early inside look at what Six Pints has in store for reet.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Only Cafe Winter Beer Fest, Feb 3rd & 4th

I'm looking forward to this event.

On February 3rd and 4th (Friday and Saturday), Toronto's The Only Cafe on Danforth Avenue will be hosting a Winter Beer Fest on their outdoor patio. The event already has a number of terrific Ontario breweries who will be participating, and I'll be there representing TAPS The Beer Magazine - handing out issues, and chatting about the beer industry.

If you don't have anything scheduled for that weekend, mark this into your calendar. It's cheap too! For a 5oz sample of any of the following beers (see below), you'll only have to fork over $1! Solid deal (no cover charge).

The fest, which will be the largest that the longtime Toronto beer bar has hosted (20 different breweries) kicks off at 5pm both days and goes until the place closes for the evening. There will also be live music.

Friday February 3rd
Steam Whistle Brewery
Flying Monkeys Brewery
Sawdust City Brewing
Black Oak Brewery
Creemore Springs Brewery
Railway City Brewing
Cameron's Brewing Co.
Wellington Brewery
Beau's All-Natural Brewing
Brasserie McAuslan
Duggan's Brewery
King Brewery

Saturday February 4th
F&M Brewery
Keep6 Imports-representing Central City Brewing, Dieu Du Ciel & Microbrasserie Charlevoix
Better Bitters Brewing Co.
Sawdust City Brewing
Kensington Brewing
Railway City Brewing
Amsterdam Brewery
Muskoka Cottage Brewing

The Only Cafe

Toronto, ON M4J 1M1

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Getting To Know Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. - Thunder Bay, ON

2011 was a good year for beer drinkers in Ontario. New beer styles, some incredible seasonals, proliferation of cask ale and many new breweries/contract brewing companies opened their doors and introduced individuals to a variety of new beers. Most of the noise took place in the Toronto area with companies like Spearhead, Kensington, Junction, Sawdust City, Indie Alehouse,  and more opening, and 2012 is already shaping up to be another great year as Hogtown Brewers, Bellwoods Brewery, Snowman Brewing, Double Trouble and a couple others are planning on joining the burgeoning market.

Well, Thunder Bay is getting in on the action as the Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. is hoping to open later this Spring (May) as they're getting set to receive their brewhouse in early March.

There are four friends behind the new venture who secured a building at 946 Cobalt Crescent in the middle of Thunder Bay, and close to both the college and university. The crew took some time to answer some questions I had about the brewery, the beers they intend to brew and how cool it will be to be the only brewery north of the Muskoka's to Manitoba!

Tell us about the Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. Where did the name come from?
The name embodies our area and city that we love. We also find that when other people think of Thunder Bay they visualize the Sleeping Giant. Being the only current brewery in NorthWestern Ontario (NWO), we wanted the Sleeping Giant to be our Ambassador for us and our area.

You'll be the only brewery north of the Muskoka's to Winnipeg - how cool is that? 
Cool. We would love to bring beer culture to NWO. There are difficulties to being isolated and our craft beer market is smaller so we have to work to make it bigger.

Where will the brewery be situated in Thunder Bay? Will you be working on capturing the attention of Lakehead students? 
Geographically, we are in the “middle” of Thunder Bay (946 Cobalt Cres), within walking distance of both our College and our University. We will be looking the capture the attention of Lakehead and Confederation college students. We to look forward to expanding beer knowledge in those groups AND everyone looking for great tasting beer. Our head brewer is already making friends with some Lakehead students and staff who our just starting out in the home brewing game.

There are four of you involved. How did you all come together? 
We befriended each other in our neighbourhood, our kids have grown together and we fostered our beer knowledge and beer making skills together over the past 10 years. We our four besties who want to bring our passion for beer to our community in our next big adventure.

Where are you currently working on your recipe development?
Recipe development occurs in a small 10g homebrew set up. It also comes from course work, reading from the masters and trying new things.

What beers will you be offering on opening day? 
When we start, hopefully we will be able to offer the Elevator Wheat and 360° Pale Ale right away.

Why have you chosen the styles of beer that are mentioned on your website? 
Our picks come from a good starting point for our city. The pale ale is not quite an English and not quite a North American, but takes the best of both worlds into a tasty but not over the top ale. Our stout is loved by many, even people who don't necessary like dark beers. It's an easy drinking introduction to dark malts. The wheat ale is already loved in Thunder Bay and we want to bring more hop forward flavour to it and adjust local beer drinker's palates to more flavour in their beer. We hope to push the taste envelope more with our seasonal and limited editions.

The four founders
Is Thunder Bay ready for beers with bolder flavour?
Thunder Bay is getting ready. Not everyone is thirsty for more taste but we have lots of beer geeks out there who are trying to spread the word. Thunder Bay is also big on local and that will help us.

How has the local support been so far? 
Local support from previous brewers, locally-owned licensees and potential beer drinkers has been great.

Educating consumers will be a big part of your business plan I'm sure. How will Sleeping Giant Brewing go about this?
Our plans for educating people starts with licensees (the folks who will be selling our beer at their establishments), and tours at the brewery. We want to work with local restaurants and charities on pairings and tastings. Our female founders will be starting a chapter of Barley's Angels. We plan on inviting Mirella Amato of Beerology to help share her specialized knowledge. We hope to start a regular column in the local paper to spread knowledge. The best way to educate is to share a pint with potential customer and ambassador at the brewery or local pub. We enjoy that part the most!

Do you have any plans to get your product, once available, into the LCBO or Beer Stores? 
We will have kegs and growlers to start... tall boy cans in the future. Initially we'll just focus on draught and the brewery retail store and look to the LCBO once we start canning.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus - Sawdust City Brewing

Sounds like the title of an adult film...but wait, it's a new beer!

Sawdust City Brewing Co. is getting set to launch yet another beer to the public after successful debuts of their Golden Beach Pale Wheat, Ol' Woody Alt and Lone Pine IPA. The new brewery (contract) hopes to take beer drinkers on an adventure with a Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus, the new name of their latest concoction - a Uranal Imperial Stout.

Sam Corbeil, Sawdust's Brewmaster, describes the beer, which made a secretive debut (with some tweaks) back in late September at the Iron Brewers Competition, as follows:

8.5% ABV, 85 IBU and 2.57 billion SRM, this decadent treat is loaded with rich, sinful flavours of chocolate and espresso. It has a big bitter kick though, so approach with caution… this is not for the faint of heart.

Corbeil only produced 500 litres of the beer, which will start making appearances at select Toronto beer bars starting early next week. For those living in London, ON, you won't miss out. Gambrinus Cafe & Bistro will be getting some sent their way, as will the Griffin Gastropub in Bracebridge.

And, if you haven't had the chance to try some of the Sawdust beers, make your way to The Only Cafe for their Winter Beer Fest (February 3rd & 4th). Corbeil will have some of the Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus, Lone Pine IPA and the Ol' Woody Alt.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Flying Monkeys Tap Takeover @ Gambrinus Cafe & Bistro

If you find yourself in London, Ontario this Saturday (January 28th), head over to Gambrinus Cafe & Bistro to try a variety of beers from the Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery from Barrie, ON as they are doing a tap takeover at the popular beer bar.

The takeover commences at 6pm and will feature the following 17 beers, most of which were created solely for this event and will take up all of Gambrinus' taps:

Little Red – Late-hopped Red #1
Weizen Doppelbock
Galaxy IPA
Test Batch - Pre-Divinity
Imperial Stout
Big Red – Late-hopped Red #2 (Imperial)
Test Batch - Stereovision
Test Batch - Genius of Suburbia (American Wheat)
Milk Stout #1 for nitro tap
Belgian Pale Ale
Double IPA
Rye PA
Beer Geeks Stout
Hoptical Illusion

There are no reservations being taken and no cover charges.

Gambrinus Cafe & Bistro

London, ON N6A 1C5

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Growlers Now Available At Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria, BC are now offering growlers of their beer for take home consumption.

Announced in their latest online newsletter, the oldest independent brewpub in Canada have started a growler filling station at their retail store. The growler will set you back $5 and it will only cost you $10 to $12 to fill it, depending on the style you purchase.

Spinnakers is now offering Original Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale, North West Ale, Blue Bridge Double Ale.

Here is a short video that TAPS The Beer Magazine shot with Spinnakers co-founder, Paul Hadfield, back in the Spring of 2011. Spinnakers has been in operation since 1984 and produce a number of brands that are available in the BC market. Every day at 4pm the brewpub puts on a new cask and only charges $5 a pint.

How Old Is This Molson's Bottle Opener?

Shortly after I posted about the revolution of beer bottle openers (Jan 7th), I've received a number of emails from readers about helping date some of their own.

There was one in particular (below) that I'll need some help with. If anyone out there can provide a rough estimate of the date for the following bottle opener, I, along with the individual who submitted the images to me, would appreciate it. Please leave your comments in the comment section below, or shoot me an email to . You can click on each image to see it larger.

Molson Bottle Opener - From Michel in Montreal

The old Molson symbol - Crown atop anchor

Font - Molson's

The whole opener

Monday, January 16, 2012

OCB President Talks Grant Cancellation With CTV News

John Hay, President of the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB), was recently on CTV News Weekend to discuss the Ontario craft brewing industry and the recent news about their provincial grant/funding being cancelled at the end of the 2011/12 fiscal and not being renewed as hoped.

Waterloo's Brick Brewery was the first to break the news of the cancellation of the grant when they released a press release on January 11th stating that they made the most of Ontario Craft Brewers Opportunity Fund, which was launched by the provincial government in 2008.

The OCBOF was created by the Liberal government as an $8 million, four-year commitment to help support craft brewers in Ontario and the significant economic contribution they make to the province. The province provided the OCB and their member breweries $2 million per year under the OCBOF to be used for marketing, job creation, education and to help create market awareness at the LCBO level.

Phillips Mass Extinction Ice Barley Wine

Phillips Brewing Co. of Victoria, BC has announced via a press release that their latest seasonal offering is ready for consumers to purchase - Mass Extinction Ice Barley Wine. 

According to the press release, this 12% barley wine was frozen three times during fermentation:

It’s called Mass Extinction Ice Barley Wine and just like the dinosaurs this beer was ice-aged at glacial temperatures. It was frozen 3 times during the Fermentaceous Period causing the remaining liquid to distill into naturally-sweetened nectar, and driving the ABV up to a mammoth 12%. 

The beer is available now in 341ml bottles at the brewery's retail store and select private retail stores on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

Caps, Corks & Forks - Beer vs Wine @ Niagara College

The students at Niagara College's Teaching Brewery (Brewmaster and Brewery Management Operations program) are getting set to face off against the students in the Teaching Winery program in a Caps, Corks and Forks Beer vs. Wine dinner at the college's Benchmark Restaurant at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus.

On February 2nd, students in both programs will be offering beer and wine pairings to go along with an elegant six-course menu (prepared by the college's culinary students), explaining why they chose the pairings and why they believe it works together. All the beer and wine will have been prepared by the students themselves.

The individuals in attendance will then vote on which beverage (beer or wine) went best with the food on their plate, which will determine the ultimate winner at the conclusion of the six courses.

Tickets are available by contacting Benchmark at . Seating is limited.

If you are looking for local accommodations, contact the White Oaks Resort which is right across the road from the college.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Innis & Gunn Looking For A Canadian Brand Ambassador

Innis and Gunn, the popular Scottish based brewery, has announced that they are in the search for a Brand Ambassador role for its Canadian sales team in order to help with the surging increase in Canadian sales.

In a press release sent out this week, Innis and Gunn state that the Canadian sales of their oak-aged series of beers (Original, Blonde, Rum Cask, Original Draught and a number of seasonals) increased 46% over their 2010 numbers, and with the addition of their signature Innis and Gunn Original available in draught format, the brewery requires a body to help continue their momentum into the new year.

“2011 proved to be a very strong year which saw our first-ever release of a Limited Edition Innis & Gunn Canada Day Beer featuring original Canadian artwork, the permanent release of our popular Innis & Gunn Rum Cask and the launch of draught Innis & Gunn Original,” said Innis & Gunn International Brand Manager Nicol Rennie. “The addition of a Brand Ambassador to this market represents another exciting milestone that deepens our relationship with Canada."

Interested applicants for this new position can direct resumes to . You can also send an email to the mentioned email address to request a job description.

January CASK! Social

From CASK! Toronto

The next CASK! Social will take place on: Saturday January 21st
Time: 3 - 6pm
Location: C'est What
67 Front Street East, Toronto, ON

Hi Everyone, and happy new year.

We are pleased to announce our first CASK! Social of 2012, taking place on Saturday January 21st from 3:00-6:00pm at C’est What, 67 Front Street East. It’s our usual format; just show up, buy a pint and join your cask friends for some friendly banter.

The folks at C’est What have long been proud supporters of cask conditioned ale and with 5 hand pumps to choose from we should indeed have a fine selection for our Social. So, forget the fizz; celebrate the New Year with a pint of something cask conditioned!

TAPS Video - Down The Hatch With Great Lake's Mike Lackey

Up front disclosure: It is no secret that I am 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 or entertainment, nothing more.

The winter issue of TAPS The Beer Magazine profiled Mike Lackey (old Meet the Brewer link...), a brewer with the Great Lakes Brewery in Etobicoke, ON., as part of the regular "Down The Hatch" column.

One part of Down The Hatch is a short video of the brewer profiled, which TAPS posts on their and website. Here is the video with Lackey, who discussing his past with Great Lakes, Project X, his experimental beers, the pilot system, where he gets his inspiration, the worst beer he's brewed and winning back to back gold medals at the Canadian Brewing Awards for his Crazy Canuck Pale Ale.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tonight - Great Lakes Project X

The January edition of Great Lakes Brewery's takes place tonight  and there will be a number of special beers on hand to sample from, including one of the Toronto Beer Week HomeBrew Competition winning beers that was commercially brewed at Great Lakes.

Kama Stoutra Indian Imperial Stout won a gold medal at the 2011 TBW HomeBrew Competition and moved onto the final rounds for additional prizes. One of those prizes was the opportunity to brew the beer on a larger scale at Great Lakes with brewer Mike Lackey, which Zach Weinberg, who brewed the beer, won.

of Toronto Brewing (homebrew supply store) wowed the final judges of the competition as they were amazed at how complex the beer was with all the spices used in its creation (madras curry, cayenne pepper, cumin and toasted coconut). Together, Lackey and Weinberg brewed the beer at Great Lakes back late November and tonight it is ready to be released to Project X members.

Here is the video of the two men talking about the beer. Weinberg also provides a brief description of the beer.

Here is the complete list as taken from  - In bottles - varying quantities:
Feature - Kama Stoutra
IPAs - Karma Citra, I saaz her standing There
Saisons - No Chance With Miranda, The Ginga Ninja, Same Ol' Citrasaison, Saison du Pump, Rye did the Chicken?
Porters - Currently Incarcerated, Harry Porter
Big Beers - Vanilla Imperial Stout, Apocalypse Later, Barley Wine, A Waste of Men.....
ALSO- Sour Mash, Belgian Rouge, Black Wit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beau's Greener Futures Program - New Release Tomorrow

The team at Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. in Vankleek Hill, ON have announced that the latest offering in their Green Futures Program will be released tomorrow.

Beau's Bourbon Barrel Aged Dunkelbuck (Dunkelweizen Bock) was brewed last fall and has been aging in bourbon barrels since that time. The brewery only produced 400L of the beer and it will be available tomorrow for members of the Greener Futures Program; with a very small amount available to the public.

The program is beer club/co-operative that the innovative brewery created last year as a way to raise funds in order to install solar panels on the roof of the brewery (30,000 sq. ft). Individuals who sign up to become members, and pay the $300 membership fee, are entitled to 30 bourbon/rye barrel aged beers (10 x 600ml bottles per year) over 3 years. The program won the Beau's an award in 2011 as the Globe and Mail Newspaper named it one of the 10 Ideas that Changed Food in 2011.

Check out Beau's website for information on how you can get a membership for the program.

The Bourbon Barrel Aged Dunkelbuck will be available while quantities last through BYBO, the Ottawa-based home beer delivery service, as well as direct from the brewery in Vankleek Hill. The 600 ml bottles retail for $12 including tax and deposit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New TBS Beer Boutique Opening Soon

The Beer Store (TBS) has announced, via their online blog, that the second Beer Boutique is inching closer to opening in Toronto's Distillery District.* The new location will be at 41 Mill Street, around the corner from the Mill Street Brewpub.

You may remember that TBS opened the first of many rumoured Beer Boutique locations in June of last year in Liberty Village, which received a very lukewarm response from craft beer enthusiasts who were hoping for more 'craft' selection. Many commented on the fact that it appeared to be nothing more than just a fancier Beer Store with no real change on the shelves.

However, if you are looking for work, TBS is currently accepting applications and resumes at the Liberty Village location for positions at the new Distillery District store until January 13th.

*No actual word on the actual opening date.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Evolution of Beer Bottle Openers

I believe I've mentioned it on this blog before - I collect the odd breweriana. are just some of the items that take up room in boxes scattered throughout my place.

I was recently given some 'new' old bottle openers during the holiday's and when I went to put them with some of the others that I have accumulated throughout the last couple of years I took notice of how different they all are. From the early 30's (first images - so I've been told) to the 50's, 60's and today, the shapes, design, material have all changed, but all do the exact same thing: open your beer.

Bottle openers aren't just a device to allow you access to your beverage, they are also a key marketing feature that breweries have used since their inception. Each opener that I have in my possession all bare the name of the brewery and/or a brand that a particular brewery makes/made. Some fit in people's wallets (Cameron's below), some are wall mounted (think Steam Whistle's big metal and magnet one), some take on a persona (O'Keefe's below) and some smaller ones are perfect for keychains (allowing you to have one wherever you go, Bar Towel below). The latest bottle opener that caught people's attention in the last year are the BBbarfly butterfly knife style openers (TAPS below) that are not only durable and sleek, but are is fun to play with and a great conversation starter. 

Here are just some of my openers. If anyone has ideas on dates for any of the openers, please leave a comment.

No branding - very old bottle openers that are also equipped to pierce an old tin beer can

Molson's, Canada - still the most common style of opener

Colt 45 - hard plastic (think hockey boards)

O'Keefe, Canada - starting to realize the importance of branding

Carling Breweries, Canada - continuing with unique branding (one of my favourites - so simply yet cool)

Labatt Blue, Canada - cheap material, but shows the brand quite well

Lowenbrau - plastic with metal opener

Carlsberg - metal with plastic covering

The Bar website - key chain

Brahma, Brazil - sleek, wavy-said to be shaped like the curves of a woman's body

Creemore Springs Brewery, Ontario - also acts as a paint can opener

St. Bernardus, Europe - wooden handle (old wooden handle openers become more beautiful the more they get used imo)

Flying Monkeys, Barrie, ON - wall-mounted, great for cottages

Boston Beer Co., USA - classic for bartenders

Peroni - Sleek and slim, yet heavy and durable

Grand River Brewing, Cambridge, ON - solid and durable, with hole for keychain

Steam Whistle Brewery, Toronto, ON - the brewery releases new openers each year

Cameron's Brewing Co., Oakville, ON - Credit card opener. Fits nicely in your wallet to take with you wherever you go

Alley Kat Brewing, Edmonton, AB - key chain and other side has a cap to place on your beer if you can't drink it all at once 
Dogfish Head Brewery, USA - in the shape of their actual logo

BBbarfly butterfly knife style bottle opener

TAPS The Beer Magazine - BBbarfly butterfly knife style bottle opener

Newer Posts Older Posts Home

Winter Ale