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


Friday, December 18, 2009

The Countdown's On - Last Minute Gift Ideas: Beer Education

Seven shopping days left. That’s it. I’ve already listed some of my suggestions for the beer lover in your life, books, but let’s take a look at some hands-on educational opportunities that will be a huge hit for the craft beer drinker on Christmas Day.

Granite – Be A Brewer For The Day
Reading about beer is one thing, experiencing the daily rigours of brewing beer on a commercial scale is another, and Toronto’s Granite Brewery provides you with that opportunity.

Ron Keefe, the brewer/owner of the Granite has been offering citizens the chance to ‘be a brewer for the day’ at the Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton brewery for some time now, doing everything from working the mash to pitching the yeast. For $150 you can join Keefe in the brewhouse for the day, learning about his English style ales, the intricacies of cask conditioned ales, getting a better perspective of the ingredients used in brewing, along with having some lunch and some samples of the Granite’s line-up. You’ll also receive a certificate of completion at the end of the brew day.

Visit for more information or call the brewery at 416-322-0723.

Serious Beer
Vancouver’s Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts offers a comprehensive eight-week beer program with the next course running from January 13 to March 17. For $475 students will be educated on beer styles from various brewing countries, the history of beer, brewing techniques, the role ingredients play in beer, and taught how to properly taste. The admission fee also includes a text book, the cost of tasting, and a certificate upon successful completion of the course.

The deadline for registration is January 6th.
Call (604) 734-4488 to register.

Beer Appreciation
A couple of years ago, when I moved back to Ontario from Halifax, I enrolled in a Beer Appreciation course at George Brown College in Toronto to meet some new people, taste some beer, and to learn a little more about the brewing process. Ron Keefe was the instructor then and still is today offering students a great teacher with many years of experience. The cost of the six-week course is $339, which includes a text book, tastings, discussions on the brewing process, the history of beer, ingredients, and a site visit to the Granite’s brewhouse. This course is a great way to introduce your friends to craft beer.

The next course begins on January 11 and takes place every Monday evening.
Call (416) 415-5000 ext. 2517

Better With Beer
Bill White knows beer. He spent 30 years as a brewmaster with Labatt and led the Oland Specialty Program. He also set up the Labatt Beer Institutes that can be found in different provinces throughout the country. These institutes feature a classroom and a bar and Labatt employees, trained by White, would lead education seminars on all their products. Fast forward to today. White no longer has any ties to his former employee and has a heart for craft beers. He runs his own business, Better With Beer, where he hosts beer tasting parties, hosts beer dinners, and provides educational talks to bar and restaurant staff. If you want to throw a beer dinner in the future, give White a call at 905.949.2312 or send him an email at to see if he's available. No website.

Mirella Amato teaches people about beer for a living and she loves it. She loves talking about the history of beer, discussing the styles, helping you experience craft beer the way its deserved to be experienced, showing you how to serve, and she puts everything together for her comprehensive beer tasting sessions. Shoot her an email at or head to her detailed website for more information.

Thirst for Knowledge
After spending numerous years in the sales business with Labatt, Roger Mittag set off to education Ontario citizens with his Thirst for Knowledge beer programs. He recently created the Prud’homme™ Beer Certification three level program. Level 1 - Beer Enthusiast (for anyone interested in learning more about beer: $249+gst)), Level 2 - Beer Specialist (for individuals in the hospitality industry: $499+gst), Level 3 - Beer Expert (for those who want to educate others in beer related program fields: $799+gst). Head over to for more information on Mittag's courses.

*It should be noted that all the above people, with the exception of the Vancouver Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, are all friends and with the exception of Keefe, all are contributors to TAPS magazine, of which I'm apart of.

If you know of any other courses offered in other parts of Canada that I'm not aware of, I'd love to hear from you.

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