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, December 30, 2009

My 2009 Beer Year in Review - A Look Back

Another year is coming to an end and it was quite a year in the beer industry. I've been fortunate enough to be involved with another successful Canadian Brewing Awards that had more participants and product than ever submitted before; TAPS magazine continues to evolve into a serious beer resource made available across the country; and I became a co-host on the Pub Show at a small independent radio station in Stouffville. I made it out to some beer dinners, spent a bunch of time in pubs around Toronto, made it back out to Halifax to visit Garrison, Propeller, the Henry House, and more, and I drank some damn fine beer in the good company of others. And I've managed to keep this blog up to date with almost daily postings.

Here's a look back at my experiences during the 2009 beer year.

January – After attending a great party (Georgepalooza) at Toronto’s Cloak and Dagger a buddy and I headed to Buffalo to take part in Cole’s Rare Beer Festival where I had the opportunity to sample the 2007 Sam Adams Utopias, the strongest beer in the world at the time. I paid a visit to Mississauga’s West 50 Pourhouse, an establishment with over 100 draught lines. I interviewed Steam Whistle’s brewmaster, Marek Mikunda and posted two interviews that appeared in TAPS: Canada’s Beer Magazine – Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione and Leanne Rhee, the LCBO’s category manager of beer.

February – February brought with it the sad news that the Granite (Halifax) would shut its doors on Barrington street for good, giving up the pub business (Ginger’s Tavern) in order to open a small brewery in the city’s north end. Tree Brewing got into it with California’s Green Flash brewery over the use of the term Hop Head (Tree Hop Head vs. Green Flash Hop Head Red). Garrison earned a gold medal from the Beverage Tasting Institute for their Grand Baltic Porter after scoring 94/100 at the World Beer Championships. I visited the great little pub in Bracebridge, ON, the Griffin Gastropub and I’ve been back many times since. And two new IPA’s were released: Grand River Curmudgeon IPA and Wild Rose’s Imperial IPA.

March – Pump House Brewery starts bottling their SOB in Moncton, NB; The Roy Public House opens in Toronto but only features beer from one craft brewery; Stephen Beaumont and Brian Morin release a wonderful book – The beerbistro Cookbook; Cass Enright (Bar founder) announces that he has started an import business and will be representing Garrison Brewing in Ontario (the first private order sells out in four days); I interviewed extreme brewer Greg Nash who was with Pump House at the time, Steelback owner Jonathon Sherman, and Propeller’s two head brewers Don and Bobby; Etobicoke’s Great Lakes brewery launches their Green Tea ale at the Dominion Pub; and Toronto’s Amsterdam brewery introduces a new Doppelbock (Dehydrator) that was based on a local homebrewers recipe.

April - What a busy month. The Ontario Brewing Awards were announced and Mill Street took home seven medals; Alexander Keith’s announces that the Labatt brewery in BC will start brewing Keith’s for the west; Mill Street launches their first seasonal sampler six pack; Mill Street’s brewmaster, Joel Manning, takes some time to answer some questions; Roland and Russell Import Agency organize a Danish beer dinner at beerbistro with beers from Norrebro Bryghus and Mikkeller and feature Anders Kissmeyer from Norrebro; Black Oak opens their new brewery in Etobicoke after months of delays; Bar Volo’s first ever Ontario IPA Cask Challenge commences and attracts many; Volo owner, Ralph Morana, welcomes brewing equipment with the plan to start brewing his own beer for the bar; CASK! hosts Toronto’s first ever Cask Ale Crawl through the streets of Toronto; Granville Island in Vancouver launches Brockton IPA, named after the Brockton Oval in Stanley Park; I visited the Local Pub in Toronto; and I posted an interview with Brooklyn’s brewmaster Garrett Oliver that originally appeared in an issue of TAPS.

May – Exciting news hits Niagara as the local college announces plans to start working on a brewmaster certification program; Volo’s IPA Cask Challenge continues; Kevin Keefe opens the doors to the new Granite brewery in the north end; Black Creek Pioneer Village announces plans to start an historic brewery on their property in partnership with Trafalgar Brewing; Ontario MPP’s choose seven craft beers to be served exclusively at the Legislative Assembly for 2009/10; I received a ridiculous response to a letter I wrote the Premier about the beer retail system in Ontario; and Scotland’s Innis and Gunn brewery launches a Canadian Cask version of their Oak Aged beer.

June – Great Lakes brewery announces a new initiative, Project ‘X’; I interviewed Garrison brewmaster, Daniel Girard; Ian Innes, founder and longtime owner of the Feather’s pub in Toronto sells the pub to Reid Pickering; two new establishments in downtown Toronto open their doors – the Queen and Beaver and the 3 Brewers; Brick brewing sues founder Jim Brickman for $1 million; I paid a visit to Toronto’s newest brewery, Black Creek Historic brewery; rumours that Fat Cat shutting down proved false and the Cat still meows; I profiled Bryden’s pub and the Kingston brewpub; and Steam Whistle releases their first ever commercial.

July The Ceili Cottage opens in Toronto to much delight; Creemore brewery knocks one out of the park with a new beer, Kellerbier; Greg Nash leaves Pump House to head back to Halifax to look after brewing operations at the Hart & Thistle brewpub; the LCBO launches a new feature on their website (beer selector) that fails right off the bat; Michael Duggan’s No.9 IPA wins Volo’s IPA Cask Challenge; I paid a visit to Neustadt and toured their beautiful old brewery; the voting commences for the 7rh annual Golden Tap Awards hosted by Bar Towel; Victory CafĂ© holds another successful cask festival; and the University of Toronto’s Hart House hosts their 2nd annual craft beer fest.

August Beau’s win big at the 7th annual Golden Tap Awards taking home best of the fest and best craft brewery in Ontario; I interviewed Nickel Brook’s head brewer, Tim Blakeley; Coors Light launches an ad mocking Torontians in BC; Canadian Brewing Awards judging takes place in Etobicoke; Abbot on the Hill re-brands, taking a new name The Monk’s Table; Great Lakes brings 20 different cask ales to the Toronto Festival of Beer, which took place at the CNE grounds for the first time; and this here blog turns 2.

September - Bill Perrie's Pub Radio show launches with me acting as a co-host and Cameron's sales rep Jon Graham is the first guest; I interviewed Wild Rose founder and president, Mike Tymchuk, Creemore Springs brewmaster Gordon Fuller, and Mill Street brewer Sam Corbeil; Duggan's Brewery in downtown Toronto starts to take shape; I visited the new bbq joint Highway 61; and the Canadian Brewing Awards gala took place before a packed audience of brewers and brewery representatives from across the country and the results were posted here first.

October - Nick Pashley's latest book, Cheers! An Intemperate History of Beer in Canada is released; Bar Volo's 5th annual Cask Days takes place over 7 days featuring over 70 casks from 40 breweries; Southern Ontario Brewers (SOB) take over the Amsterdam brewery and homebrew all day; Mill Street threw one hell of a beer dinner at their brewpub where the Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale was launched; 11 Alberta breweries got together and whipped up a collaborative beer for charity; MolsonCoors, using the Creemore Springs name, purchases BC's Granville Island brewery; Muskoka Cottage brewery releases a very good seasonal; and I got married.

November - I interviewed Richard Mclelland from Scotland's BrewDog brewery; helped brew some beer on Great Lakes pilot system (went over pretty good); a Microfest and Conference was announced for the fall of 2010 in Halifax; Mill Street releases a Roggenbier; Black Oak celebrates their 10th anniversary by releasing a beer they call 10 Bitter Years; I posted an interview with Anders Kissmeyer of Norrebro Bryghus that first appeared in TAPS; and the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) released their 3rd Discovery Pack, this time in cans.

December - I had the pleasure of sampling the world's current strongest beer - BrewDog's Tactical Nuclear Penguin; posted a number of last minute gift ideas for the beer lover; interviewd Matt Phillips, owner of Phillips brewery; shared an interview with Chief Beer Officer Scott Kerkmans that appeared in TAPS magazine; Mill Street releases yet another seasonal, Weizenbock; and PEI's Gahan Brewery opens a production and bottling facility in Charlottetown (the Gahan House brewpub is still in operation as well).


Grimes said...

It's been quite the year! Thanks, Troy, for keeping us in the know! Looking forward to 2010!


Mike Laba said...

A great year and a another exciting year right around the corner.

Thanks for all of your hard work Troy and congrats on building such a solid blog and readership.

Happy New Year to you and Jess.


Troy Burtch said...

Grimes - my pleasure.

Mike - thank you for reading...see you soon for some Muskoka!!

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