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.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Growlers of the Canadian Kind

I've previously brought up the fact that I've started collecting Canadian breweriana, posting a quick photo display of some of the old bottle openers I've accumulated over the years. However, it's growlers from Canadian breweries that I'm really into. (Don't ask me why)

As you can see below, I have obtained quite a few over the years. According to some collectors, I may just have the largest collection of modern day growlers out there (Canadian growlers), which is pretty cool. I believe the growler from the Granite (old Halifax location) was the first one I ever purchased. I was living in Halifax at the time and remember walking over to the brewery on Barrington Street and bringing one home to get me through a Leaf game. After that there were trips to both Propeller and Garrison breweries who also sell growlers, and looking back, I guess that was the start of the ongoing accumulation.

One of the most prized growlers in my collection comes from Amsterdam Brewery in Toronto. The growler from them (first row, middle image) dates back to the King Street location and I've been told that Amsterdam only ran the growler program for a very short time.

While growlers may not be the best way to package beer, they do come in handy for parties, dinners, etc. - anytime sharing is in order. They are also a great conversation starter and in most cases they allow individuals to share different styles with friends or family while not breaking the bank. And depending on how the growler was filled, the beer can be nice and fresh if consumed right away.

More and more Canadian breweries are getting growlers for their retail stores. I know of at least two 'new' Toronto breweries that will offer them once their stores are open, and it seems like more breweries out west have started selling them. New Brunswick breweries/brewpubs have also started filing and selling growlers at their respective locations. So as the Canadian growler market grows, as will my collection.

Shown in alphabetical order. You can click on any picture to make see it larger:

A La Fut - QC
Amsterdam - ON

Beau's 1 - ON
Beau's 2 - ON

Beau's 3 - ON

Black Creek - ON
Central City - BC

Church Key - ON

Duggan's - ON

Garrison - NS

Grand River - ON

Granite - ON & NS

Kichesippi - ON

Mark James Group - BC

Mill Street - ON

Niagara College - ON

Paddock Wood - SK

Phillips - BC

Propeller - NS

Railway City - ON

Red Racer - BC

Steam Works - BC

T' Cheque Bec - QC

Taps - ON

The Gahan House - PEI

The Publican House - ON

Tofino - BC

Village Brewery - AB
Picaroons Traditional Ales - NB
Mill Street Brewpub (Ottawa) - ON

YellowBelly - NFLD
Barley Station Brew Pub - BC

Le Naufrageur - QC

Hell Bay - NS
Granite (Halifax) Rare - NS

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekly Blog Post Links

This weeks posts:

Meet Mike Clark & Luke Pestl: Bellwoods Brewery - Toronto, ON -

Sneak Peek - The Legendary Muskoka Spring Oddity -

OCB Announces Plans For 3rd Annual OCB Beer Week -

Creemore Springs Teams Up With German Brewery For 25th Anniversary Beer -

Meet Jim Button: Village Brewery - Calgary, AB -

One Chapter Ends and Another Begins -

Friday, February 24, 2012

Meet Mike Clark & Luke Pestl: Bellwoods Brewery - Toronto, ON

Mike and Luke incognito
Meet Mike Clark and Luke Pestl, the co-founders and brewers of the soon to be open Bellwoods Brewery.

The two highly educated and talented brewers, who worked together at the Amsterdam Brewing Co. before embarking on their dream of running their own brewery, are inching closer and closer to opening their doors at 124 Ossington Avenue. They've already brewed a number of the regular offerings, which are all nicely fermenting away as we speak and should be ready in early March.

The brewery will have a cafe, a patio, and will offer variety of bottles in their retail store (once open) that will allow individuals to purchase beer to take home. Keep an eye on their account for news about their opening.

*Questions have been answered by both gentlemen, so L stands for Luke and M for Mike.

For those that don't know, you are in the middle of building a new brewery in Toronto. Can you tell us about it? 
Bellwoods Brewery is a microbrewery, retail store and café that will be opening at 124 Ossington Avenue sometime in March. We will be running a 8.5hL direct-fired brewing system, as well as a 50L pilot system. We will have a small bottle filler to supply our retail store, which we will stock with some staple brews, as well as seasonal and one-offs.

The café will provide a relaxed space where people can enjoy our rotating beer list with some great food. Guy Rawlings (Cowbell/Black Hoof/Brockton General) will be setting up the initial menu.

How are plans coming along? When do you plan on opening your doors?
We started brewing on Feb 6 and spent that week filling up our four fermenters. We’ll be packaging those brews off and doing another full round of fermentations before we open. We’ve also been brewing on the pilot system. The space is filled with the sound of bubbling - it’s great. We’ll most likely open the café in mid to late March. The retail store area will open later on, most likely in May.

What kinds of beer will you be producing? What will set you apart from other breweries?
We have been developing a number of different recipes over the past few months, including various porters, IPAs, pale ales, saisons, trappists, and even some sours. We will definitely be experimenting further after opening.

We plan to operate our pilot system as much as possible as a way to continuously develop recipes, and to provide an ever-rotating menu of beers. Though I don’t presume this will set us apart from other breweries, Great Lakes for one already does this, I do think it will add to the creative brewing environment that is beginning to develop in Ontario.

We’re also excited to collaborate with other brewers. We did a collab on the pilot system with Sam from Sawdust City last week. We’re looking forward to having a few other brewers in over the next month.

Why did you get into the brewing industry and where did your passion for it come from?
L. For as long as I can remember, brewing beer seemed to be one of the greatest things someone could do for a living. In my mind, it carried with it a badge in the highest level of self-sufficiency. I still can’t think of a career I would rather have.

After a degree in Biochemical Engineering, and getting through a year of a Master’s degree, the Amsterdam Brewing Company offered me a brewing position. Grad school was put on the back burner. My passion for brewing (and drinking) beer was cemented while working at Amsterdam, largely thanks to being a part of a great brewing team.

M. I spent three years sitting on wait lists for medical school. I drowned my sorrows in beer…then had a revelation. I’m glad I didn’t get in.

Have you brewed at any other breweries in Ontario?
L. I brewed at Amsterdam Brewing Company from 2007 to 2011.
M. Same…for a year starting in 2010.

What is the best aspect of working in the Canadian craft brewing industry?
L. It’s great to be a part of such a passionate community. I love brewing, and the people I meet throughout the industry are all so driven by what they do. It can be really inspiring.

M. Lots of good people. It’s a diverse group too, which is cool.

What kind of reaction do you get when you first tell people that you’re a brewer?
L. Occasionally, it lights up someone’s face as if it where the coolest thing I could have told them – that’s a great feeling.

M. It ranges from confusion, to suspicion to exactly the reaction Luke just described. Over the course of our renovation we’ve had lots of different people helping us. It’s funny how many people seem willing to help us just a little bit more when they find out we make beer.

Tell us something about Bellwoods that not a lot of people know about... yet!
We will be expanding into the property to the north of us (126 Ossington Ave.) at the beginning of March, so Bellwoods is really 124-126 Ossington Ave. The 126 space will provide ample cellar space for our inventory, as well as space for additional tanks, for barrel aging and potentially bottle conditioning. 126 will also be the site of our retail store.

To date, what would you say is the highlight of your brewing career?
Probably assembling and doing the initial brews on the new brewhouse at Bellwoods.

Name your favourite non Bellwoods produced beer.
L. I don’t have any absolute favourites, there are way too many great beers out there. Of Canadian Craft, I recently had a couple Driftwood beers (Singularity and Bird of Prey) both of which were fantastic. One that I always try to keep stocked in my cellar is Douchesse de Bourgogne.

M. Yikes….impossible. I’m having a Bear Republic Racer 5 right now…and it’s very good. I’m a big fan of Corne du Diable and Peche Mortel from Dieu Du Ciel! My local LCBO isn’t exactly pushing the envelope in the beer dept, but they do have Chimay Red and White as well as Duvel, all of which I like a lot.

Best time for a pint?
L. After my two young boys are in bed.

M. Again lots of options, but being up north on a dock in the summer and having happy hour with my Gran (she’s 91 and loves her Creemore) is about as good a time as any.

Sneak Peek - The Legendary Muskoka Spring Oddity

Bracebridge's Muskoka Brewery have offered a sneak peek at the label for their upcoming spring seasonal beer - Legendary Spring Oddity.

Without saying what the style of the beer will be, the label indicates that it will be available in 750ml bottles (same as Winter Beard, Harvest Ale and Summer Weiss) and will clock in at 8%.

I've had some conversations with Mike Laba, Muskoka's Director of Marketing, in the past about this beer but he's done a great job keeping it under wraps. I do know that the beer will feature a number of unique ingredients gathered from the Muskoka's.

As with each Muskoka beer, the Legendary Spring Oddity comes with a story. "Each year the tempered thaw of a Muskoka winter gives rise to new and strange creations. Legends date back to the 1800's when lumberjacks and fur traders took to the woods and encountered the mysterious culture and wildlife in the unknown Northern Ontario region. Today, we echo our ancestors quest and have unearthed this season's most distinct offerings. The culmination of these ingredients rests in Muskoka's Legendary Spring Oddity brew. We invite you to Release the Legend."

The beer is slated to be released in April and will be available until June.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

OCB Announces Plans For 3rd Annual OCB Beer Week

The following is a press release from the Ontario Craft Brewers announcing the plans for their 3rd annual Ontario Craft Beer Week.

(TORONTO) – February 17, 2012 -- The third annual ‘Ontario Craft Beer Week’ launches on Father’s Day, running from June 17 – 23, 2012 throughout the province.

The annual week-long, beer-themed salute to Ontario’s small, independent brewers celebrates the burgeoning local craft beer scene, exposing consumers to the fun and fresh quality of Ontario’s homespun brews.

Hosted by 29 OCB member breweries, hundreds of beer-themed, grassroots events will be held throughout the province in breweries, pubs, restaurants, event venues and service clubs from Cambridge to VanKleek Hill and Muskoka to Niagara.

The festival continues to grow in size and scope and promises plenty of unique beer-tasting opportunities. OCB is also pleased to announce that Amsterdam and Steam Whistle have joined the festivities this year.

“We’re aiming for the biggest and best Ontario Craft Beer Week yet,” says Anetta Jewell of Great Lakes Brewery and co-chair of Ontario Craft Beer Week 2012. “There’s no better way to kick off summer than with a province-wide beer festival that opens up a world of Ontario craft beer to consumers.”

Highlighted under a banner theme of “Your First Time”, this year’s festival will focus on newbies and naysayers, encouraging people to try new local beer flavours, styles and brands and report on their experiences using social media like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.

Events will be listed on the Ontario Craft Beer Week website under the following themes:

1) Craft Beer & Dad
2) Craft Beer & BBQ
3) Craft Beer & Cheese
4) Craft Beer & Chocolate
5) Indie Beer & Indie Culture
6) Casks & One-offs
7) Meet the Makers
8) Brewery Collaborations
9) Craft Beer 101

“OCB breweries are working together to make this a great event and we have some amazing collaborative events and beers brewing already,” says Steve Beauchesne of Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. and co-chair of Ontario Craft Beer Week 2012. “Our passionate brewers look forward to sharing the love of good beer (and food) with adventurous folks open to exploring new tastes and experiences.”

Events throughout the week include tasting opportunities at pubs and restaurants, craft beer 101 courses, beer and food/cheese/chocolate matching, meet the brewer, pub crawls, collaborative/competitive brewing, indie beer & music appreciation, and much more.

Many of the OCB members will kick off the week with Father’s Day celebrations at their breweries or on premise with local licensee partners. In Toronto, the week is bookended by such large scale gatherings as the Toronto Wine & Spirits Festival, Beach BBQ & Brews Festival at Woodbine Park and the week finishes up with SESSION 99, A Craft Beer Festival at 99 Sudbury.

Last year’s Ontario Craft Beer Week saw 23 breweries hold 120+ events in 25+ towns and cities across the province.

First round of event listings will be posted on May 1st, 2012 at or visit

Any interested parties with event ideas or requests should contact their local brewery or send an email to .

“We hope to attract visitors from outside of Ontario,” says Jewell. “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 and experiencing beer cuisine.”

Creemore Springs Teams Up With German Brewery For 25th Anniversary Beer

Creemore Springs Brewery will be celebrating their 25th anniversary this summer and to mark the occasion the brewery has teamed up with Zum Schlüssel – a 162-year-old brewery brewpub in Düsseldorf, Germany – to create a new beer for the Ontario market.

Creemore brewmaster Gordon Fuller and head brewer Bryan Egan are on their way to Zam Schlussel where they will brew on location over a two day period to help gain some insight and to get some inspiration. The pair will come back to Ontario, with some yeast, and will brew an Altbier, which Zam Schlussel is best known for, and will be launched in the summer during the brewery's annual Cooper Kettle Festival to highlight their anniversary.

In a press release sent out yesterday, Creemore's Director of Marketing, Karen Gaudino, had this to say about the project - “Zum Schlüssel is a perfect partner for us to collaborate with, they have been brewing Altbiers for about 160 years. This is a rare style, not often seen outside its’ local market of Düsseldorf. We are fortunate to have an expert partner to collaborate with.“ 

The press release also provides some historical information about Zam Schlussel: Zum Schlüssel, which has been an institution in Düsseldorf since 1850, is located in Düsseldorf’s old town of narrow cobble stone streets and charming medieval half-timbered houses in a building that was first mentioned in documents in 1632. Today it is run by the Gatzweiler family whose members have been in the brewing trade since the year 1313, only 25 years after Düsseldorf received its city charter!

You can follow Fuller and Egan as they travel to Dusseldolf (with stops in Brussels and Köln) as Creemore will be using the following social media sites (Untappd, Foursquare, and ) to capture their trip.

Meet Jim Button: Village Brewery - Calgary, AB

Jim Button
Meet Jim Button, one of the men behind the brand spanking new Village Brewery in Calgary, AB.

After spending a number of years in the marketing business buying television ad space for Molson, consulting with Big Rock Brewery and Sleeman Breweries on marketing and special events, and assuming the position of VP of Corporate and Community Affairs for Big Rock, Button and a number of other gentlemen opened the Village Brewery in Calgary this past December. Their motto - "It takes a village," pays homage to their commitment to bring the Calgary community together and will focus on the showcasing the Calgary arts community.

I wanted to learn more about the new brewery so I connected with Button to get the scoop.

Meet Jim

Where is the Village Brewery situated and what beers do you currently produce?
We are located at 5000 12a Street SE Calgary Alberta and we currently have two beers ready for Calgarians - Village Blonde, A Natural Golden Ale and Village Blacksmith, an India Black Ale. We are working on a spring/summer beer right now.

Describe the history behind the brewery.
6 partners joined forces after being engaged in the beer industry for a combined 140 years. We all came from our respective careers to this point in time where we wanted to explore the fun of owning our own brewery. We started the conversations in the spring of 2010 and started putting brewing equipment into our facility September 2010. First beer was brewed in December 2011 and our first keg was tapped in a bar on December 21st. The 6 partners come from different parts of the beer industry so we are very well positioned - a brewer, business operations, finance, marketing, sales and facility operations. Each partner is involved and hands on in their respective area. You will see in my answers below that everything we do is about gathering people around community and that we are proudly Calgarian. We love our beer and we love the opportunities that beer brings to making our neighbourhood a better place.

What beer is selling more?
Hard to tell but it looks like the Blonde has a slight edge over the Blacksmith. Blondes have more fun.

How did you get into the brewing industry?
My first marketing job was buying TV time as a media buyer for Molson Breweries, but I really started to understand the industry after working as a consultant for Big Rock for 10 years in the capacity of marketing and special events. Also did a bit of consulting work along the way for Sleeman. In 2007 I joined Big Rock as VP Corporate and Community Affairs.

How have the locals embraced the brewery?
This brewery has been built to help gather people around community. We have taken the name Village Brewery because we truly believe in the idea that 'It takes a Village...' So far we have exceeded sales expectations and have had great feedback from our friends and neighbours.

Growlers - Blacksmith IPA & Blonde
We host a weekly session on Wednesdays between 2-4pm called 'Hump Day Social' in which Tom and I book all our meetings. We find that we accomplish all the meeting requirements and that each of the participants get a chance to meet and discuss their interests and respective business interests. Last week for example we had 4 musicians, 2 artists, a large format digital salesman, a retired police officer, a carpenter, 2 bar owners, a wine rep, a music promoter and a gentleman that was starting a new music festival. We took the time to meet each person and from there everyone shared a beer and a conversation. Truly an example of gathering people around community.

Where can someone find your products?
This brewery was built for Calgarians and we have no plans to sell outside of our city. To date the beer is available on premise at the brewery as well as;

The Blind Monk
Fergus & Bix
Ironwood Stage & Grill
Double Zero Pizza
Beer Revolution
Craft Beer Market
Brasserie Kensington
The Rose & Crown
Pig and Duke
Wild Wing
Candahar (3 month Irish Pub art installation at Alberta College of Art + Design)


Tell us something about Village Brewery that not a lot of people know about.
Our 6 partners wanted to build a brewery that gathered people around community, specifically the Calgary Arts community. To do this we took the position that we should open up the brewery to allow those engaged Calgarians to participate. We also built into the structure the ability for the Brewery to be owned by people that were already doing things to make this a great city - we hand selected people that would embrace our desire to be seriously civic minded. We imagined a group of people, when gathered together, that would take on a cause and work together to make something happen. These people are called Beer Barons - they have invested in the Brewery so the Brewery could invest in the city.

Looking into your crystal ball, what does the future hold for Village Brewery?
Beyond lots of support for community all we can see is that we stop at 20,000HL. We like the idea of being a small community brewery and are fearful of the trappings of chasing volume.

What is the highlight of your career in the beer industry - to date?
For me personally I was most proud that we used a picture of my Mom on our marketing materials for the Village Blonde. She passed away from cancer over a year ago and she would have loved to have seen this adventure finally come to fruition. Now whenever I drink a Village Blonde and look at the materials I think of my mom.

Name your favourite non Village Brewery produced beer?
I have three favourites: Big Rock's McNally Reserve, Wild Rose's Alberta Crude Oatmeal Stout and Brew Brothers Black Pilsner. See a trend there?

Best time for a pint?
When you are with a friend.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Chapter Ends and Another Begins

I made a big change in my employment status yesterday.

Yesterday was my last official day with TAPS Media, the parent company of TAPS The Beer Magazine and the Canadian Brewing Awards.

I joined TAPS in April 2010 to look after all the Sales and Marketing initiatives for the Canadian market. My role was to sell ad space for the magazine, help organize the Canadian Brewing Awards, market the TAPS brand using various traditional and non-traditional avenues and to increase our distribution and subscription numbers. I'm proud to say that in just under the two years that I was employed with TAPS Media we accomplished many of those items and helped put TAPS The Beer Magazine into the hearts and minds of craft beer drinkers across Canada.

I'm extremely proud of where we've taken the magazine since the first issue I worked on in Summer 2010. Perfect binding, thinner pages, better contributors, terrific advertisers, good layout and more. We've been able, in less than two full years, to put the magazine into the hands of beer drinkers throughout Canada using grassroots distribution methods - getting to festivals and events, getting Canadian craft breweries to sell the magazine at their retail stores, and by offering bars and pubs with the opportunity to showcase the magazine at their establishments. TAPS is a beer magazine, created by and written by beer drinkers for beer drinkers.

The biggest comment I used to get during my time with TAPS was "man, you have the coolest job in the world!" I'd get that at every festival, at beer dinners and at various meet and greets around the country. And to tell you the truth - I did. So why leave?

I was offered a position within the industry for a company that will allow me to bring the skills and beer knowledge that I developed with TAPS into their family. It's an exciting opportunity to be part of this company as they continue to grow in the brewing industry here in Ontario. In next couple of weeks I'll be joining the team at Toronto's Great Lakes Brewing Co. and will be part of their sales team.

There were a number of amazing people I met in the industry through my role with TAPS. People that I consider close friends and many of whom I admire greatly for the hard work and efforts they put into making their product and selling their product. TAPS has allowed me to get to intimately know the Canadian brewing industry, of which I am very thankful for.

So now I begin another new chapter with the exciting team at Great Lakes.

Friday, February 17, 2012

February CASK! Social

From CASK! Toronto

The next CASK! Social will take place on Saturday February 25th
Time: 3 - 6pm
Location: Castro's Lounge
2116e Queen Street East (Beaches)

Greetings cask ale fans!

Guess what? There's a new (cask) kid on the block. Castro's Lounge in the Beach is now serving cask ales and we thought it would be fitting to hold this month's CASK! Social there.

The Social will take place on Saturday February 25th 2012 from 3:00 to 6:00pm at Castro's Lounge, 2116e Queen Street East, conveniently located on the 501 Queen street car route.

Join us on Feb 25th to celebrate yet another cask ale pub in Toronto.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Meet Ryan Morrow: Better Bitters Brewing Co.-Burlington,ON

Hanging at Cask Days 2011
Meet Ryan Morrow, the head brewer at the Better Bitters Brewing Co. (better known as Nickel Brook) in Burlington, ON.

Morrow has worked for both big and small breweries, starting out with Molson Coors before heading to Better Bitters. Armed with a degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics, Morrow decided to put it to use in the brewing industry rather than sit in a lab all day. 

The brewery is known for their Gluten Free beer, their Green Apple Pilsner  and their Organic Lager, which aren't high up on the craft beer drinkers' radar, but some new creations Morrow has been working on have started gaining some attraction, like the new Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout and his Cuvee. The brewery is also installing a pilot system, which will allow Morrow to experiment with more flavours and styles.

Meet Morrow!

Where is the Better Bitters Brewing Co. situated and what beers do you currently produce?
Better Bitters (Nickel Brook Beers) is located in Burlington Ontario. We produce a wide variety of full time and seasonal brews. Our year round lineup is: Headstock IPA, Organic Lager, Draught, Headstock Light, Green Apple Pilsner and we are the first Brewery in Ontario to produce a Gluten Free Beer, which is a Pale Ale in style. Some of our seasonal varieties include: Maple Porter, Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout, Cuvée, Bohemian Pilsner, Canadian 80/- and Märzenbier. We plan on expanding our seasonal and one-off selection this year with the addition of our new Pilot system. We are also the only company in Canada producing a 100% all-natural Root Beer.

Describe the history behind the brewery.
Brothers, John and Peter Romano first opened Better Bitters 20 years ago as a Brew-On-Premise facility and soon became one of the largest in the province. Seven years ago the demand was so high for BOP beer that they purchased the Brewhouse from Hart brewery which had just recently closed. About the same time, the ‘Buck-a-beer’ craze hit Ontario and really affected the BOP beer industry and thus they decided to use their brewhouse to launch a Microbrewery. The name Nickel Brook originates from the combination of Johns two children, Nicholas and Brooke. After some trial-by-fire, a few different brewers, and a bit of luck, here we are!

What is your best selling beer?
This often varies from season to season, but we seem to always do a large volume of Organic Lager and Draught. The Gluten Free beer has also been a huge hit.

What's new at the brewery? 
The Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout has been well received as our newest seasonal. Our Headstock IPA is set to launch very soon in the LCBO in a 473 mL can. We also have some beer sitting in bourbon and wine barrels that we look forward to offering as limited releases. We are in the process of installing a full Pilot system which should allow us to produce some different one off’s and seasonals. We’re also installing a new bottling line and expanding our tank capacity by 30% this spring. It should be a busy year!

How did you get into the brewing industry?
I’ve always been a huge fan of beer (even way back before I was legally allowed) and I attended the University of Guelph for Molecular Biology and Genetics degree, so I have an extensive science background. I was in the middle of doing a Masters at Guelph when I realized I couldn’t be stuck in a lab all day and I needed to do something I truly loved. Thus I decided to get into brewing industry. Molson-Coors in Etobicoke were actually the first to hire me, but I only stuck around a few months because I wanted to move to a Micro and Better Bitters were kind enough to offer me a job. I took over the Brewmaster’s duties a little over two years ago.

How is the local support in Burlington?
Not gonna lie, Burlington is a tough craft beer market. The company as a whole is supported well in the community as it’s been around for two decades. However, it’s safe to say the palate of the average Burlingtonian is less refined than the rest of the province, but we’re trying to change that.

Where can someone find your products?
Of course, the great craft beer locations across the province. We also have a wide distribution in the LCBO and we’re toying with idea of going more heavily into The Beer Store, but that obviously has its many issues. We’re also examining some possibilities of branching outside of Ontario in the near future.

Tell us something about Better Bitters that not a lot of people know about?
Just because I get asked a lot…Yes, Tim Blakeley is still alive and doing well.

Which Better Bitters (Nickelbrook) beer do you find yourself drinking most these days?
Probably the Imperial Stout. The new beer always seems to get the love.

What is the highlight of your brewing career - to date?
I suppose I have been, and probably still am, one of the youngest brewmasters in the country. So that’s somethin’ I guess.

Name your favourite non Better Bitters produced beer?
Damn you Troy! Why’d you have to go and ask a question like that? You know I can’t possibly answer this. Waaaay too many to choose from.

Best time for a pint?
Right now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

HE'BREW Genesis 15:15 & Jewbelation 15 Coming To Ontario

Roland + Russell, the Ontario based import agency who bring in product from Southern Tier, Het Anker, Schloss Eggenberg, Panil, and more, have let me know that they will be importing a couple of beers from the Shmaltz Brewing Co. out of the US.

The two beers that will be coming first, Genesis 15:15 and Jewbelation 15, both from the HE'BREW series, are slated to arrive to selected Ontario beer bars in late March.

The Genesis 15:15 is a Barrel-aged Harvest Barleywine that is brewed with pomegranate, fig, date and grape juice, and then barrel-aged in rye whiskey barrels.

The Jewbelation 15 marks the celebration of Shmaltz's 15th anniversary and is brewed using 15 different malts and 15 different hop varieties.

You can contact Roland and Russell for more information.

Picaroons Traditional Ales (Northampton Brewing) Hiring

The Northampton Brewing Co. in Fredericton, NB (better known as Picaroons Traditional Ales) are looking to hire a Brewers Assistant to join their team.

Job Description from their website:
We are looking for a brewer’s assistant to add to our team of dedicated, hard-working staff in the brewery. We need someone who is able bodied and willing to be a part of the wet & dirty (but fun!) conditions that are part of working in a brewery. Knowledge of the brewing process is a great asset, as well as a good attitude and work ethic! Could lead to other possibilities in the Picaroons world!

You will be assisting the brew team with packaging, bottling and labelling as well as documentation controls, and general maintenance of the brewery.

The 2011 Canadian Brewery of the Year will only be accepting resumes by email, which can be sent to

Great Lakes Brewery & C'est What? Celebrate Milestones

Great Lakes articles of incorporation - Feb 12, 1987
February 12, 1987 - the day and year that the Great Lakes Brewing Co. from Etobicoke, ON received their articles of incorporation from the province of Ontario. 25 years ago this past Sunday.

It has been an interesting adventure for Great Lakes. They started out as a malt extract brewery using plastic bottles before switching over to all grain and glass. They went through an ownership change in 1991 to the current Bulut family, and a location switch in 1992 to their current location just off the Gardiner expressway.

The focus in the beginning was on the Golden Horseshoe Lager, Red Leaf Lager and Black Jack Lager back in the day, and back in 2006/07 the brewery started introducing Ontario residents to new seasonal beers like their Pumpkin Ale, Orange Peel Ale, and Winter Ale.

Then a small batch of Devil's Pale Ale (666) made it's way to the Toronto Festival of Beer and it went over very well. So well in fact that the brewery decided to brew it regularly and came up with a great design for their can, which was another change for the brewery. Along with their line-up of seasonals, which were and still are very popular at the LCBO, the brewery started brewing and kegging a number of different one-offs for their Project X nights and some have since been adding to their core offering of brands (Crazy Canuck). The brewery has also stepped up big time at the last three Canadian Brewing Awards, winning a number of gold medals for a variety of their beers (Miami Weiss, No Chance With Miranda, Crazy Canuck).

So, 25 years old. How will the brewery celebrate this milestone in 2012? Well there are some big plans. Great Lakes plans on introducing four new beers during the course of the year that will surely catch the attention of craft beer drinkers. More info on that to come.

C'est What? Turns 24
George Milbrandt
Also celebrating another milestone is Toronto's C'est What?, a longtime craft beer hot spot on every beer drinkers list of places to visit when in the city, and a place for Toronto residents to get the latest offerings from Ontario breweries. Yesterday (Feb 13th) C'est What? celebrated their 24th anniversary and they offered this interesting tidbit on their

Our customers have helped the local brewing industry by consuming somewhere in the order of 2.9 million pints of beer over the past 24 years. If you were able to set these pints next to one another they would stretch from C'est What to Kingston. That would be a great pub crawl.

Publican George Milbrandt has done a great job over the years to help shape the Ontario brewing industry by supporting the beers that the men and women in this province brew. With so many taps devoted to so many breweries, customers always have a number of styles and flavours to choose from; something for everyone. Their cask program has also helped develop the real ale movement we've witnessed in Ontario over the last seven years.

Here's to both of these companies on their significant milestones!
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