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, June 30, 2011

Canada Day Shopping Cart

One of the perks working for TAPS The Beer Magazine is the amount of samples that arrive to our office from all parts of Canada. Beers from British Columbia to Nova Scotia make their way to my desk every now and then and it's always a pleasure trying something new, or something I haven't tasted in a while.

I received a box of beer the other day, beer with a strong emphasis on celebrating Canadiana, and it got me thinking about Canada Day what other people will be drinking, so I put together this little list of beers from different parts of the country that would make for a nice long weekend, and some reasons why.

Great Lakes Crazy Canuck Pale Ale
Great Lakes Brewing Company, Etobicoke, ON
*Winner of the gold medal for the North American Style Pale Ale category in the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards
*With a name like Crazy Canuck, and with images of the maple leaf on the can, why wouldn't you pick some up.

F & M Maple Red Ale
F & M Brewing Co., Guelph, ON
*Using local maple syrup in this limited release Red Ale - how more Canadian can you get.

Beau's Lug Tread Lagered Ale
Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. - Vankleek Hill, ON
*Winner of the gold medal for the Kolsch category at the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards
*Beau's will be celebrating their 5th anniversary tomorrow (July 1) A very proud Canadian brewery!
*And for reasons like this (celebrating their employees - new green initiatives - barrel aging program)

Dominus Vobiscum Blanche
MicroBrasserie Charlevoix, Baie-Saint-Paul, QC
*Winner of the Belgian Style Wit/White category at the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards
*Tasting Notes from summer issue of TAPS: There is no doubt about it - this Belgian Wit will have a regular spot in my beer fridge this summer. Stunning when poured into the right glass, the Blanche pours a pale yellow with a billowing white and creamy head. Lovely notes of freshly cut flowers (chamomile) and lemon zest on the nose that co-exist with a slight hint of smoke before leading into a smooth, nicely carbonated body that delivers a refreshing mix of citrus and soft pleasant spice. Charlevoix must be applauded on this 2010 CBA gold medal winner!

Red Racer IPA
Central City Brewing Co., Surrey, BC
*Winner of the gold medal for the American Style IPA category in the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards.
*Central City is the Canadian Brewery of the Year for 2010 (Canadian Brewing Awards)

Thirsty Beaver Amber Ale
Tree Brewing Co. - Kelowna, BC
*Packaged in 473ml cans, the Thirsty Beaver is good for camping excursions this long weekend, and goes great with bbq.

Sir John A's Honey Wheat Ale
Gahan Brewing Co. - Charlottetown, PEI
*Pays homage to the first Canadian Prime Minister and is a great patio beer on a hot day

IP'eh! (IPA)
Russell Brewery - Surrey, BC
*A play on our fondness for using the expression - eh!
*Solid IPA with a big hop bite

Honourary Canadian beer -  Innis & Gunn Canada Day 2011
Innis & Gunn Brewing Co., Edinburgh Scotland
*Brewed specifically for Canada!
*Deborah Colvin, a celebrated Canadian artist, supplied the artwork for the attractive box packaging

And for old times sake, 1 bottle of Molson Canadian...not 67, not Canadian Light or Molson 67 Sublime, just plain old Canadian - straight from the bottle.

What will be in your glass this long weekend? Happy Canada Day!

Getting To Know Garrett Oliver

Garrett Oliver with Brookly Lager
Garrett Oliver, the Brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery and the author of The Brewmasters Table, was in town last weekend for a number of events and I had the chance to spend the entire day with him on the Friday.

Over the last couple of years I've had the opportunity to get to know Garrett, first interviewing him for the winter 2008/09 issue of TAPS The Beer Magazine, and it's always a pleasure re-connecting as he is one of the best spoken craft beer advocates in the world and an all-around nice guy.

From 12 - 3pm, Garrett and his import team were pouring samples of the Brooklyn Lager at the Summerhill LCBO where he spoke to curious customers and met with some local Toronto beer enthusiasts', and he took the time to make sure he spoke with anyone who stopped by to say hi and to sign the occasional autograph. (Read Chris Schryer's blog post - Toronto Beer Blog)

They pushed a lot of beer in those three hours and Garrett was pretty impressed with the look of the LCBO, yet he voiced his dismay a number of times about the process of getting product to Ontario. He mentioned that Brooklyn would love to have more of their brands here but that it takes a lot of time to work out all the kinks and go through all of the paperwork to get that to happen.

After the tasting was done, our group headed up to the Monks Table at Yonge and Summerhill; who brought in bottles of the Lager just for the occasion. For over an hour TAPS sat down with Garrett for an interview, asking him various questions about the major expansion of Brooklyn, his new book (The Oxford Companion To Beer), and the state of the US craft brewing industry. The interview turned out great and you'll be able to read the entire thing this Fall in TAPS.

At 6pm there was a tasting taking place at beerbistro, so we headed there to grab a bite to eat and to go through some different brands of Brooklyn that beerbistro had just received the day prior. We made our way through some Brooklyn Local 1, Brown Ale, East India Pale Ale, Black Chocolate Stout and more, which was paired wonderfully with some beerbistro appetizers.

Drinking at beerbistro
It was then off to barVolo for the launch of HouseAles. A crazy event that saw HouseAles launch 19 different beers in various formats. It was a packed house when we got there but we settled in for a number of pints. Garrett seemed to appreciate a number of the beers he sampled and claimed that the Tu-Hop was his favourite. Luc Lafontaine and Stephane Ostiguy from Dieu du Ciel were also in the house for the launch, who also happen to be friends with Garrett, and there were a number of Ontario brewers and brewery representatives there as well, so it was a good industry night mixed with a bunch of beer enthusiasts'. It made for a great night.

The next day Garrett was off to the Session 99 Craft Beer Festival to kick things off before heading back to Brooklyn.

His new book, The Oxford Companion To Beer, will be out in the fall, and judging by the cover and the information Garrett shared with us, it is going to be a huge hit.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cass & Troy's Outside IN Pub Crawl - Thanks For Joining Us

Happy east-enders
Last Thursday night, Cass Enright and I led two separate pub crawls through Toronto for the 2nd annual Ontario Craft Brewers Week.

The Outside IN Pub Crawl, as we coined it, had Enright leading a bunch of individuals in the west end of the city, stopping for pints at Bryden's, Whelan's Gate and Ciro's. I led a group through three east end pubs - Taps & Tales, The Only Cafe and Dora Keogh's.

Our two groups then met in the middle at Victory Cafe, where we all came together to drinks pints of Hawaiian Style Pale Ale by Spearhead Brewing Co. and various Mill Street offerings. We packed the upstairs section of the Victory and many of us stayed late into the night.
Muskoka Mad Tom IPAs at The Only Cafe

Many of the locations offered our groups discounts on pints and appetizers and provided us with exceptional service. Both Cass and myself would like to thank all the participating licensees for everything, and we encourage you all to visit them!

However, we'd both really like to thank all the people that attended both crawls. It's you guys and girls that make the crawls so much fun to organize!

If you missed this pub crawl, stay tuned for something we're planning for Toronto Beer Week. It will be one to remember!!

*unfortunately I didn't pull out my camera for pictures (just phone), so if anyone from the crawl has any to share, please post on my Facebook page (

Another Terrific Mondial de la Biere

A little overdue and a tad incomplete, here is my post Mondial post.

Lisa Morrison (author: Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest) 
& Gary Lohin (Brewmaster, Central City Brewing Co.)
The 18th annual Mondial de la Biere took place a couple of weeks ago and unless you've been living under a rock you probably don't need an explanation of why it is considered to be the premier beer festival in Canada by beer enthusiasts'. With over 600 beers from 136 breweries to sample, including 26 craft breweries from Quebec, the five day festival is a beer drinker's paradise.

For the second year in a row I was fortunate enough to spend an entire week in Montreal at Mondial representing TAPS The Beer Magazine, where I got to meet so many TAPS readers over some incredible beer. Working the festival is a completely different experience than simply going to the festival to drink. It entails long days, lots of 'festival food', dealing with the inebriated on a nightly basis and losing your voice; though I love doing it every year.

The Grimley's made their way from Toronto to indulge 
in some of the 253 new beers never offered at Mondial before
We arrived to Montreal on the Tuesday afternoon to set up the TAPS booth. I had the pleasure of bringing along Eric Eccelstone with me for the week to help sell our merchandise, and frankly, to have a drinking partner. Eric, also known around Toronto as the other half of the Biergotter Homebrew Team, is the man behind the TAPS homebrew recipes that are found in each issue. We checked into our accommodations before heading off to Brasserie Benelux for some Alter Novis (Belgian Pale Ale with Brett), which was ridiculously close to where we stayed, before heading off to Mondial.

After getting the booth set-up the two of us set off to explore the new home of Mondial, Place Bonaventure. Other breweries and vendors were also setting on their site so we'd pop into different locations to say hi, grab a sample or two, then continue on. Right away the new location (totally indoors)  won me over. Air conditioned, lots of tables and chairs for patrons to rest, more food vendors and more space to walk around freely. The new addition of the beach volleyball court, DJ/dance floor, Petit Pubs and the cheese dome were all looking great before the festival got underway and were a big hit throughout the five days.

L to R: Eccelstone, myself, Jean-Francois Gravel (DDC), 
Caroline & Frederick Tremblay (Charlevoix)

With the booth set up we set off to the Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! brewpub to meet up with some friends. Four beers and some food later we all jumped in a cab and headed to Vices a Versa, a place I hadn't had the chance to previously visit, yet one I'll happily return to on future trips to Montreal. Armed with an incredible Quebec beer menu, classy music and graced with a European bistro flair, VV won me over the minute we sat down.

We said our goodbyes and headed back to Benelux for a night cap before calling it a night - we did have a long day ahead of us after all.

L to R: Jeannine Marois (Founder of Mondial), 
Jean-Francois Gravel (DDC) winning an award

Wednesday - Mondial de la Biere kicks off
We were up early and off to the festival to make sure that our booth was ready for the onslaught of people to walk through the doors at the 11am start time. The first day of Mondial is probably my favourite as a vendor. Wednesday is when the most passionate beer drinkers seem to flock to the festival, and many of them stop by our booth to see what we're all about. It's always a pleasure talking beer with people from Quebec, the east coast or the US. It's also the best time for TAPS when it comes to selling subscriptions!

Eccelstone and I would take turns heading out into the sea of people to fill our glasses with a different beer. Over the course of each day we were able to discover a wide array of new beers that we'd both never tried before, and re-visited many old favourites, including Hopfenstark's Berliner Weiss, which was tasting terrific.

Complete list of Greg Noonan MBiere Winners:

Platinum Medals
• Helles 

• Fusion
• Saison 

Gold Medals
2011 Mondial de la Biere 
Greg Noonan MBiere Winners
• La
– Benelux
• Grande
– Benelux 
• Millésime
 2010 – Brasseur
• Double
 – Broue Pub 
• Bodebrown
– Cervejaria
• Helles 
• Captain
• Big 
Maui Brewing 
• Terre Ferme 
• Pike
• Russian 
• Chipotle
Ales (US)
• Chocolate
• Don
 Unibroue (Chambly)

• Blonde
• Fin 
Monde – Unibroue (Chambly)

Part of the 96,000+ customers
Over the next four days we sold a huge amount of TAPS branded BBbarfly bottle openers, TAPS branded glassware, subscriptions and t-shirts, some of which we'll have with us at festivals were attending throughout the summer. There were over 96,000 people that walked through the front doors, making Mondial the largest beer festival in Canada without a doubt.

We met a lot of great beer folks, drank a bunch of beautiful beer, hung out at a number of Montreal beer institutions (Le Saint-Bock, VV, Dieu du Ciel, Benelux, Le Chaval Blanc, and more), and fell in love with Mondial de la Biere all over again.

Congratulations to all the organizers for taking the new venue and building on the 17 previous Mondial's. I'm already looking forward to next year, which by the way, will take place between June 6 - 10, 2012.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beau’s Celebrates 5th Birthday with Beer-to-Energy Project

Here is a press release from my good friends at Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. in Vankleek Hill. This press release will be of most interest to craft beer drinkers across the province and is a must read... What a great idea and a terrific way to celebrate their upcoming 5th anniversary!

“Green Futures” Program will help beer drinkers contribute to a greener future

OTTAWA — (June 27, 2011) Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. will be celebrating five years in the beer business on July 2 with a launch of a new project that converts sips of organic beer into units of energy. The program, which Beau’s calls Green Futures, is a unique initiative that will allow members to purchase shares in a beer “co-operative” of sorts.

The local microbrewery has been aging several brands of their beer in bourbon barrels, with this special goal in mind. They will be releasing 3 of these bourbon aged brands this July 2 as they launch details on the Green Futures Program. It is designed as a co-op type club that entitles members to 10 beers aged in bourbon barrels per year for three years, at a membership cost of $300. The program is called Green Futures because the brewery will use membership fees to install solar panels on its 30,000 sq. ft. facility.

Aging beer in bourbon barrels is a recent trend in craft beer. The additional flavours and aromas of bourbon in a strong beer add interesting complexity and because bourbon barrels are only used once for bourbon, they also add oak flavours and aromas.

“Beer tastes better when you can feel good about the brewery you bought it from,” says co-founder Steve Beauchesne, who started the brewery with his father Tim on July 1, 2006. Tim agrees: “We really wanted to mark our 5 year mark with an ambitious project that furthers our work in creating unique, tasty beer with our work in creating a truly sustainable business.”

Steve & Tim (Founders) Matt (Brewer)
Beau’s has applied for approval for the installation project and is awaiting confirmation to begin installation, but has already begun making the roof ready for the project. In total, 600 shares will be made available, raising $180,000. Total cost for the entire project is estimated at $500,000, but the solar energy will bring revenue in as well, allowing the brewery to finance a large portion of the installation and pay the remaining balance from the revenue created.

Initial estimates completed by Solera Sustainable Energies, the company Beau’s has contracted with to complete the project, of solar energy captured through this project is over 90,000kWh per year. Beau’s recently contracted the Guelph Food and Technology’s Sustainability Division to complete an energy assessment and has determined that this energy creation equates to almost 40% of total electrical usage at current usage.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Meet Luc 'Bim' Lafontaine: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!

Bim with barrels at Trou du Diable
Meet Luc 'Bim' Lafontaine, head brewer at the infamous Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! brewpub in Montreal, QC.

Bim, as he's affectionately known, has been with Dieu du Ciel! since 2001 and in that time he has created some of the most hyped and sought after beers in Canada. Beer lovers from all parts of the world make a note to visit the brewpub should they find themselves in Montreal, where they can indulge in some of Bim's creations.

I've had the pleasure of getting to know Bim over the last couple of years, sharing drinks with him at various beer festivals and conferences and I can tell you that he is a very humble brewer, proud of his work ... and not a bad DJ :) !

Dieu du Ciel! are represented in Ontario by keep6imports and you'll be able to find Bim in their booth serving up the following DDC beers at Session 99 this weekend -  Rosee D’Hibiscus, Rescousse, Peche Mortel

Meet Bim! - Follow Bim on Twitter: @DieuduCielMtl

Why did you get into the brewing? And how?
1988 was the year I first drank a beer in my life. And this beer was called Satan Red, a beer from Belgium. I just fell in love with good beer right away. All this logically lead me to homebrewing and traveling around the world seeking out good beers. Then, when Dieu du Ciel! opened, I was like, “yes, this is the place, this is what I want to do, and this is where I’m gonna work.” And it all happened.

You brew exclusively at the brewpub?
Yes, I am the head brewer at the brewpub. It is a big enough job and I consider it the fun part. The production brewery doesn’t call me too much. I way prefer my “lab” (that’s how I call the Montreal brewpub). It is a wonderful playground where I can experiment and brew many different styles throughout the year. I just updated our recipe database and we’re up to more than 100 different Dieu du Ciel! beers now. Just last year I brewed 60 different styles. It’s a cool life.

Which Dieu du Ciel! beer would you consider your favourite? Or the one your most proud of?
The one's I create of course (with a laugh). I would say that the beer I brewed with my Japanese friend from Shiga Kogen (“Isseki Nicho” meaning to kill 2 birds with 1 stone) is quite amazing. And the response from the people was amazing too. It’s a strange beer, very unique. We were working on something like an Imperial Stout using a Saison yeast, but when we were building the recipe it changed a bit. We ended up using a way different malt bill, using some of my favourite malt in the world (CaraAroma from Weyermann) and some Japanese hops that I brought back in my suitcase from Japan. The version we brewed in Japan includes Shiga Kogen’s own grown sake rice Miyama Nishiki. Quite nice!

Dieu du Ciel! is considered to be one of the best breweries in Canada, and your beers are right up there with the best in the world. When you hear that, how does it make you feel?
You know, when people tell me that, it feels very good of course. It motivates me a lot to be a better brewer, to make better products. I know that every Monday morning I’m in the brewhouse doing what I have to do. We know that brewing good beer is a never-ending learning process; it’s so complex. It’s very hard work (sometimes it doesn’t look like it when we’re out having fun at events), all this to say that it’s so nice to be rewarded by our customers.

What will we be hearing about Dieu du Ciel! in 5 years?
Hopefully it’s not going to change too much. The brewery could be growing very fast you know, so everyone at Dieu du Ciel! has to realize that we have to do things right, keeping in mind of expanding in a good way. Of course, in the years to come our production will grow and our beers will be exported to more and more places. It’s a must to maintain the high quality of our products and this with zero compromise. We want to be the reference point for people when they think of Quebec beer*.

*Which brewery do you think of when you think of Quebec?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tomorrow's Pub Crawl Update

What are you doing tomorrow night for Ontario Craft Beer Week? If you haven't decided as of yet, join Cass Enright and myself on our 2nd annual Toronto Pub Crawl - "Outside In" (check into our last minute FB event page)

As mentioned on here the other day, Enright will be leading a group in the west end of the city, starting at 6pm at Bryden's (Bloor and Jane) before heading off to Whelan's Gate (Bloor and Keele) and Ciro's (Bloor and Lansdowne). 

I will be leading the east end leg of the pub crawl, stopping at Taps & Tales (Danforth and Greenwood), The Only Cafe (Danforth and Donlands) and Dora Keogh Irish Pub (Danforth and Broadview). 

Shortly after 9pm, both my group and Enright's group will meet in the middle at the Victory Cafe (Bloor and Bathurst) to come together to debate which end of the city is for beer drinkers. 

Some things to look out for:

Bryden's - Best of the West: The one-offs that Great Lakes Brewery have produced are moving fast, but I've been told that a keg of Etobichoker will be tapped on Thursday in time for the crawl. The Etobichoker is a Double Belgian IPA that was produced as a Great Lakes/Black Oak collaboration.

Taps and Tales - The east end pub will be offering pub crawl participants with $5 pints of King Vienna Lager and Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion. There will also be $5 appetizers just for the crawl.

The Only Cafe - Muskoka Cottage Brewery will be on site pouring pints of their Mad Tom IPA and Summer Weiss. There is also a bbq taking place and Muskoka will be donating a number of prizes for pub crawl participates. 

Dora Keogh Irish Pub - cask conditioned ale

Victory Cafe - There may be some surprises during our last stop! Also, the new Spearhead Brewing Co. will be at the Victory with their new Hawaiian Style Pale Ale.

Prizes - there will be some brewery t-shirts, OCB bottle openers and tasting glassware, Brewery Market glassware, TAPS The Beer Magazine subscriptions and a free pint or two....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Alpha-Fornication: Barrie, ON's Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery to Release World's Hoppiest Beer**

The following is a press release from the Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery in Barrie, ON

June 20, 2011 – (Barrie, Ontario): As part of Ontario Craft Beer Week, this Tuesday, June 21, at Gambrinus Bistro & Café in London, Ontario, the Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery is unveiling Alpha-fornication, their claim to the World’s Hoppiest Beer!

Peter Chiodo, Founder & Artisan Brewer, says of Alpha-fornication:

“Clocking in at 2500 IBUs and 13.3% ABV, Alpha-fornication proves that sometimes people climb mountains just because they’re there. And sometimes, Beer Geeks will try anything on a dare. The hoppiest beer we know of was a meager 2007 IBUs, so we bested that and then some. We Flying Monkeys see extreme beers as the continuing evolution of Craft Brewing and the expansion of Ontario beers. It's not just a contest of bravado to see who can make the world's strongest beer (even though now we’ve got the world’s hoppiest one covered); it's a movement - a movement to showcase the craft and how complex and versatile beer can actually be.”

Named for the alpha acids, or the compounds in the hop plant that are the source of hop bitterness, Alpha-fornication is brewed through highly creative and complex manipulation of the high alpha acid hop varieties, Warrior (17% AAU) and Centennial (11.5% AAU). A hop-steeped wort re-circulated through an additional “Hop Vorlauf” punches up the insane intensity of this brew to a stupefying 2500 IBUs. Keeping with the concepts of extreme brewing, the 13.3% ABV of Alpha-fornication adds bigness to this beer.

When asked about availability, Chiodo noted, “This creation was so highly specialized and it was such a small pilot batch, by the time we kegged 15 litres, in the end, we only saved 6 bottles! We’ll sell them for $45 at the brewery store –first come, first “alpha-fornicated!” It would be a fun beer to sample with a big group of friends.”

Created as part of the Flying Monkeys’ Everest Experiments, a series of extreme beers showcasing the complexity and versatility of artisan brewing, the Flying Monkeys are actively engaging the expanding minds and palates of Ontario’s craft beer drinkers.

*International Bitterness Units

**Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery claim

Cass & Troy's 2nd Annual Toronto Pub Crawl

Cass & Troy's 2nd Annual Toronto Pub Crawl
Join Cass and Troy in their East vs. West showdown
3 East End Pubs – 3 West End Pubs – Two Groups Meet In The Middle For A Showdown

Cass and Troy's 2nd annual Pub Crawl
June 20, 2011 - (Toronto, ON) - Join Cass Enright and Troy Burtch on Thursday June 23rd for their 2nd annual Toronto Pub Crawl during Ontario Craft Beer Week 2.0 hosted by the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB).

Enright, the founder of The Bar Towel, The Brewery Market and the Golden Tap Awards, and Burtch, Director of Sales and Marketing with TAPS The Beer Magazine, creator/publisher of the Great Canadian Beer Blog and co-founder of Toronto Beer Week (TBW), will be leading two groups of passionate craft beer drinkers on two fun and distinct pub crawls through the East and West ends of the city, before meeting head to head in the middle at Victory Café in Mirvish Village to determine which end of the city is better for craft beer drinkers.

Enright will lead the West end tour, stopping at Bryden’s, Whelan’s Gate Irish Pub and Ciro’s. Bryden’s will be featuring “Best of the West” beers from popular west end breweries like Great Lakes and Black Oak, where double IPAs and unique one-offs will be available.

Burtch will lead the East end tour, where crawlers will prop up the bar at Taps & Tales, The Only Café and Dora Keogh’s. Muskoka Cottage Brewery will be on site at The Only Café with their Mad Tom IPA and Summer Weiss and there will also be BBQ food available (separate from pub crawl). There will also be real ale pouring at Dora Keogh’s.

Every stop along each crawl will feature a Cheers! led by both men who will address the crowd with a story or two about their experience working and dealing in the Ontario craft beer industry. There will also be numerous prizes handed out along the way including: subscriptions to TAPS The Beer Magazine, bottle openers, t-shirts, OCB glassware, gift certificates and more.

• Bryden’s – 6pm
o 2455 Bloor Street West
o TTC Station: Jane

• Whelan’s Gate – 7:15pm
o 1663 Bloor Street West
o TTC Station: Keele

• Ciro’s – 8:15pm
o 1316 Bloor Street West
o TTC Station: Lansdowne

• Taps n Tales – 6pm
o 1282 Danforth Avenue
o TTC Station: Greenwood

• The Only Café – 7pm
o 972 Danforth Ave
o TTC Station: Donlands

• Dora Keogh’s – 8pm
o 141 Danforth Avenue
o TTC Station: Broadview

• Victory Café - 9ish..
o 581 Markham Street – TTC Station: Bathurst

Must be 19 years of age or older
Must be willing to have fun
Must be open to trying new beers
Must wear your personal Cass and Troy’s pub crawl wristband…and love it!
NO ADMISSION - you only pay for what you order

Cool Stuff To Know:
Wear a 2010 Toronto Beer Week t-shirt and get a free high-five!
If you wear a beer shirt featuring an OCB member brewery, you get a double high-five!
If someone dances an entire song at any pub – free pint!
You should obtain a TTC Day Pass in advance – NO DRINKING & DRIVING


Cass Enright and Troy Burtch

Facebook Event Page

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Great Lakes Brewing Co. Adds Talented Brewmaster - UPDATE

Peter Bulut Jr. (GLB) welcoming Adrian Popowycz to GLB
Yesterday afternoon I broke the news about Adrian Popowycz, the former Brewmaster at the Black Oak Brewing Co., joining Etobicoke's Great Lakes Brewing Co. as their new Brewmaster and Plant Manager and it generated a number of emails and chatter on the social media sites.

Big news... Adrian Popowycz, former Brewmaster at Black Oak, has joined Etobicoke's Great Lakes Brewing Co. as their new Brewmaster and Plant Manager!

More information to come....

The announcement was made official yesterday at Great Lakes in front of a number of people during the 10th anniversary of Bar Towel collaboration brew. However, earlier in the day the rumour had been confirmed during a conversation I had with Popowycz and Great Lakes, thus the tweet and the subsequent post.

Popowycz confirmed that his last day with Black Oak was in fact yesterday afternoon and that he's set to start with his new employer on Monday. "It was a great run with Black Oak," Popowycz said, "we accomplished many great things during my time there and it was always fun. This new opportunity presented itself and I felt the timing was right to make a change, to take on a new challenge.... and I'm very excited!"

We chatted briefly about the new role he'll be stepping into and all Popowycz could do was smile and say, "Great Lakes have been doing a number of great things lately and their long-term plan is exciting and something that I'm really looking forward to being a part of."

Great Lakes new Brewmaster
Shortly after 1pm, Great Lakes President, Peter Bulut Jr. presented Popowycz with his Brewmaster staff shirt and welcomed him to the brewery, stating that they're very happy to be bringing him on board. "Adrian brings a wealth of brewing knowledge to Great Lakes and the whole team here is looking forward to working with him," said Bulut Jr.

Popowycz also addressed the group and mentioned that he leaves Black Oak on great terms and that he is excited to get started with Great Lakes.

Popowycz, who also serves as Chair for Niagara College's Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management Program Advisory Committee, has a very good reputation in the Ontario brewing industry and is one of a handful of brewers that were professionally trained at VLB Berlin, so the news of him leaving Black Oak, a place he called home for a number of years, came as both a shock to those who follow the industry, and excitement.

Great Lakes have been consistently building on their own reputation over the last number of years and have garnered praises for the seasonal, experimental and one-off programs. Adding a talented brewmaster like Popowycz to the fold is a very positive step for the brewery, for both their core brands and their seasonal/one-off program. Thus the excitement for the continued growth and development of Great Lakes.

I spoke with Ken Woods (Black Oak President and Founder) last night and he said he is happy for Popowycz. "Adrian gave us so much over the years and now it's Simon's turn (brewer at Black Oak - Simon DaCosta) to fill that role." Woods also mentioned the names of two local individuals who will be assisting with the brewing at Black Oak, but I'll reserve naming them for the time being.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Great Lakes Brewing Co. Adds Talented Brewmaster

Breaking news from my Twitter account -

Big news... Adrian Popowycz, former Brewmaster at Black Oak, has joined Etobicoke's Great Lakes Brewing Co. as their new Brewmaster and Plant Manager!

More information to come....

Spearhead Hawaiian Style Pale Ale Launched Last Night

Last night the team behind the Spearhead Brewing Co. launched their Hawaiian Style Pale Ale at Toronto's barVolo with great success. barVolo was rammed throughout the night during both the media time-slot, and the general public tasting session.

The general consensus of people I spoke with was that the new beer by Toronto's newest contract brewery was solid, a very good offering that did in fact surprise some people. The glassware that the brewery decided to go with also generated some positive comments and the beer did look awfully good in it.

I didn't have too much time to take part in the launch as I had a Toronto Beer Week meeting before hand, so I didn't take tasting notes or pictures of the launch, but TAPS The Beer Magazine was with Spearhead on the day they brewed their first commercial batch of the Hawaiian Style Pale Ale and below is a small video they (TAPS) put together.

Starting today you'll be able to find the Hawaiian Style Pale Ale on tap at various establishments throughout the city.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Updated Canadian Beer Directory

You may have noticed that I added some tabs directly below the header of the blog a couple of months ago. One of those tabs, CDN Beer Directory, has recently been updated to reflect the live links of various Canadian beer blogs and websites, Canadian beer education courses, Canadian associations/organizations, Canadian beer publications, importers and agents, Canadian brewery blogs and some Canadian homebrewing sites.

However, it is still a work in progress. Please feel free to shoot me an email if you would like to have your site listed in the directory and/or if you know of a site that is currently missing that should be added.

I'll continue to update the list as recommendations come in and as new sites are discovered. I'm also updating a working list of all Canadian breweries.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Consumed: Black Oak Summer Saison

Black Oak Summer Saison (iPhone image)
I promised myself that I'd go for a run at lunch today. I've been trying to increase my physical activity level to where it once was, but beer seems to keep getting in the way. Today, it happened again.

A quick car ride over to Black Oak Brewing Co. from the TAPS office to pick up the OCB Summer 2011 Discovery Pack (#9) resulted in an additional six pack being loaded into the car -  Black Oak's summer quencher, Summer Saison, thus quashing my lunch time run in favour of a glass (or two) of the popular beer.

Armed with a brand new label that puts an emphasis on the Summer with big bright images of the sun, the unfiltered Saison pours a lovely hazy orange with a gentle layer of a snowy white head.

The first swirl of the glass produced notes of coriander, fresh apricot and orange peel on the nose and a second and third whip up delicate traces of white pepper, only slightly. After only a few short sniffs it's time to raise the glass. Sweet up front with a nice, moderate carbonation, the 4.2% Saison leaves behind notes of pleasant orange zest with a touch of lemon before giving way to a subtle peppery finish. It finishes nice and clean, dry, stripping the palate down with each sip, which readies me for another drink. The overall sessionability and gently spiciness of the Saison is what I'm really digging in this beer. A great beer for the summer.

Black Oak have been producing this beer for a number of years now and the consistency of said product is quite amazing. Like all other beer drinkers in this province who are fans of this Saison, I would love to see this listed in the LCBO and Beer Store one day in the near future... and who knows... it could be in the works :)

The Summer Saison is available for purchase at the Black Oak Brewery at 75 Horner Avenue Unit #1 in Etobicoke. Call ahead for hours and availability. And look for it at select establishments throughout Ontario.

OCB - Discovery Pack #9 - Available This Weekend

The Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) will be releasing the 9th edition of their popular Discovery Packs this weekend in various LCBO retail stores across Ontario, just in time for Father's Day and Ontario Craft Beer Week.

The new Summer 2011 Discovery Pack will consist of 2 cans and 4 bottles from six different OCB member breweries.

Mill Street Belgian Wit (341ml bottle)
Great Lakes Canuck Pale Ale (473ml can)
Lake of Bays Pale Ale (341ml bottle)
Beau’s Lug Tread Ale (341ml bottle...1 time - just for the Discovery Pack)
Wellington Silver Wheat (473ml can)
Trafalgar Elora Grand Lager (341ml bottle)

The LCBO product code is #241778, so you can search the online database to check for availability in your area. And you can visit the OCB website to get tasting notes on each product.

Steam Whistle Brewery To Introduce New 355ml 6 Packs

The good folks from Toronto's Steam Whistle Brewery are getting set to release a new 6pack that will consist of 355ml cans.

I was at the brewery a month ago and Steam Whistle was preparing the canning and packaging line for the new can format, and a in a recent press release the brewery stated that the new 6packs should be available across Ontario and to select Alberta private liquor stores by Canada Day. The 6 pack will retail for $14.50 in Ontario and prices for Alberta will vary.

“There are some interesting regional differences we considered when developing this new package offering,” acknowledges Steam Whistle Director of Marketing, Jamie Humphries. “For example, residents of Alberta had a 63.4% purchasing preference for canned beer last year, so we’ll be shipping these western drinkers our canned 6packs right away.”

The 6 pack will feature the signature Steam Whistle packaging as you can see in the image on the right, complete with the convenient handles.  The new 6 packs will join Steam Whistle's 4 pack 500ml cans that they introduced back in 2008 (old blog post)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brewers & Craft Beer Enthusiasts Pass Out FREE Beer Tonight

Brewers & Craft Beer Enthusiasts Pass Out FREE Beer to Liberty Village Residents
Dressed Prohibition-Style with Horse & Carriage
Tues, June 14, 5 - 5:30 p.m.

Organizers of Toronto's upcoming SESSION99 craft beer festival, craft brewers and beer enthusiasts dressed in prohibition-era clothing accompanied by horse and carriage.

Beer gangsters will hit Liberty Village neighbourhood handing out free beer to residents to promote the craft beer festival SESSION99 (June 25 at 99 Sudbury Avenue). The walking procession will include a horse and carriage filled with cold, craft beer that will be offered to residents of Liberty Village with legal ID. SESSION99 is the final event of Ontario Craft Beer Week 2011 (June 19-25, 2011).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
5:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Parking lot, 99 Sudbury Avenue & travelling through Liberty Village (Sudbury Street, King Street West, Strachan Ave.)

Why not? Who wouldn't want a free beer delivered to their door! It's summer, it's beer and it's almost Ontario Craft Beer Week (

Jed Corbeil, SESSION99, 705-706-5252

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 CASK! Ale Crawl: June 17 - 19

The annual CASK! Ale Crawl will be taking place this Friday evening starting at 5:00pm and will run until Sunday, ending on the day the 2nd annual Ontario Craft Beer Week kicks off!

There will be a total of ten Toronto establishments participating this year, including a number of newer pubs who now serve cask ale.

2011 Participating cask ale pourers:
Granite Brewery
Twisted Kilt
Victory Cafe
Cloak and Dagger
Burger Bar
C’est What
Ceili Cottage

From CASK!
For those of you not lucky enough to have experienced previous cask ale crawls, this event is a fun and informal trail around several of Toronto’s cask ale pubs. There is no fixed schedule or sequence, and no admission charge. Just pick up a passport at any of the participating pubs and visit any or all of the pubs during the course of the weekend. Sample one or more of the cask ales available and get your passport stamped to be entered into a prize draw.

House Ales Launch Party Info - June 24th

On Friday, June 24th, 2011 Starting At 5:00pm barVolo (587 Yonge St.) Will Host The Official Launch Party Of House Ales Nano Brewery Project. The Following Beers Will Be Available In Limited Quantities;

House Ales   X   Spearhead - Heart Of Darkness - Belgian Dubbel
House Ales   X   Bartle - Dumb Pig - Rauchbier
House Ales   X   Jason Tremblay - Abbey Normal – Belgian Strong Ale
House Ales   X   Biergotter - Saison In The Abyss – Black Saison
House Ales   X   Flying Monkeys - Cause Of Death - Russian Imperial Stout
House Ales   X   Amsterdam - Left Of The Dail Mild (Side B) - Brown Ale
House Ales   X   Great Lakes - California Love (Remix) - American P.A

House Ales   X   Hip Hops        Tu-Hop – American P.A
House Ales   X   Hip Hops        Notorious IPA - American Ipa
House Ales   X   Hip Hops        Run ESB – Black English Esb (Gravity Cask)

House Ales        The Punishment Due - India Red Ale
House Ales        Jonny Boy - Double India Pale Ale (Handpull Cask)
House Ales        Back In The Day Bitter - English Best Bitter (Handpull Cask)
House Ales        “V” Black India Pale Ale (Handpull Cask)  
House Ales        Punter’s Gold - English Golden Ale (Gravity Cask)
House Ales        Ralph’s Bitter - English Ordinary Bitter (Gravity Cask)
House Ales        Tim’s Way - Robust Porter (Gravity Cask)    

House Ales        Wild Style Mild (Vanilla) (Gravity Cask)

House Conditioned. Nano Brewery

House Ales is the newest craft beer project led by Ralph Morana, proprietor of barVolo in Toronto, Ontario and his assistant brewer; Jonathan Hodd. In August 2010, a one-hectolitre pilot system was setup in the kitchen of barVolo. Since then, House Ales has experimented with over 60 batches of beer and collaborated with several brewers from Quebec and Ontario. Six months have passed and we are ready to present you our new craft beer concept. During Ontario Craft Beer Week, on the evening of Friday, June 24th 2011 beginning at 5:00pm, House Ales will pour 18 different beers including seven collaboration brews at barVolo.

Event Is Cash Only – ATM Available At Barvolo  |  All Beers Are Subject To Change And Availability   |  Certain Beers Will Only Be Available By The ½ Pint  |  Doors Open At 5:00 Pm – No Admission Required  | Only House Ales Beers Will Be Served

Monday, June 6, 2011

Off To Mondial de la Biere

This is a busy time of the year; a time when blogging about beer becomes increasingly difficult. I'd much rather be drinking it on a patio with friends then sitting behind a computer...

Over the last month I've been working with my TAPS colleagues to get the summer issue of the magazine wrapped up, have been preparing for 7 days in Montreal for Mondial de la Biere, getting set for Ontario Craft Beer Week, trying to catch up on some outstanding projects and hitting the streets signing up pubs, restaurants and breweries for the 2nd annual Toronto Beer Week. A lot of fun indeed, but it has affected my blogging habits.

I miss blogging on a daily basis.

That being said, tomorrow morning I'll be heading to Montreal to set up the TAPS booth at Mondial, where we'll be selling subscriptions, t-shirts, glassware and bottle openers for the duration of the festival. I'll do my best to update the blog with daily thoughts, pictures and the occasional video. And I will be using Twitter and Facebook throughout the festival to highlight some terrific beers and to interview some brewers.

Great Canadian Beer Blog - twitter @troygcpbblog
Great Canadian Beer Blog

TAPS - twitter @tapsmagazine
TAPS - Facebook -

Friday, June 3, 2011

Meet the Keefe's - Granite Brewery (Toronto) Video

Another video...

I could really use a pint of the Best Bitter Special right about now!

Ron Keefe, who has been profiled on this blog many times, and his daughter, Mary Beth Keefe, who has started brewing with her father on a regular basis at the Toronto Granite Brewery, have released a video on YouTube that takes you inside the 20 year old brewery as the two discuss the line-up of beers they brew, the history of the family run Granite and why they think you should visit.

It's a fun little clip that was prepared just in time for the upcoming 2nd annual Ontario Craft Beer Week.

Here's is the old Meet Ron Keefe interview I posted back in December of 2008.

Meet Ron Keefe, owner/brewer/pioneer of Toronto's Granite Brewery, home to a great line-up of craft made English style ales. The brewery is located at the corner of Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton and attracts real ale drinkers, many locals and craft beer drinkers from all over the world who are visiting Toronto. You can usually find Keefe at the brewery, in the small brewhouse whipping up another small batch of one of his seven beers.

Did you always want to be a brewer?
I probably never thought much about it until the late 80’s when I started talking with my brother in Halifax about opening a Toronto Granite. Up until that point I followed a business career in production and marketing. I certainly always loved beer and made a little beer at home with some success.

So how did you get into brewing?
My brother Kevin started the Granite in Halifax at a tavern called Gingers, he owned with another brother Wilfred. Kevin trained at the Ringwood brewery in England. We often talked about opening a Granite in Toronto and we did in 1991. The restaurant business on its own was never a big attraction to me but combined with a brewery it seemed like the natural thing to do.

Why did you go the ‘tied house’ route as opposed to just a brewery?
We started as a brewpub and at the time you were only allowed to sell beer at the restaurant on premise. In 2004 regulations were changed to allow breweries to have a tied house. It was a natural extension for us, allowing us to sell to other pubs, open a retail store and bring beer to festivals. In the eyes of the law we switched from a restaurant with a brewery to a brewery with a restaurant, a subtle but huge difference.

Why did you choose to brew English style ales?
As mentioned, Kevin started the Granite in Halifax and he learned to brew at the Ringwood Brewery in England so ales were the natural thing to do.

Name your favourite Granite beer.
I don’t really have one favorite. It depends on my mood, time of day, season etc. although I am certainly most partial to the cask beers.

Hopping Mad. What inspired you to offer something new?
It started with an idea to do something new for Volo’s Cask Days this past fall. I would love to do different beers from time to time but I am between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”. Since the brewery is quite small and we have no more room to store beer I must take a beer off to make way for a new one. When we do that we alienate the regular customers who come to that Granite for that particular beer,

Are there any plans to get your beer back into the LCBO?
No plans at this time. Every once in awhile I consider a contract brew with a local craft brewer to expand into the Beer and Liquor stores. I do not have the capacity at the Granite to take this on.

Your beers have won numerous awards, which one are you most proud of and why?
Any award I ever received has been most appreciated.

What is the best aspect of working in the brewing industry?
It is a great industry with many great people. Almost all your “competitors” are also good friends. Everyone loves talking about beer not to mention drinking it.

You teach a Beer Education program at George Brown college. How has that been?
It is a lot of fun. I get to meet a number of people each term with varying degrees of beer knowledge but with a great desire to learn more.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

TAPS - Down The Hatch with Denison's Michael Hancock

The spring issue of TAPS The Beer Magazine profiled Michael Hancock, the founder of Denison's Brewing Co., 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 YouTube page. Here is the video with Hancock, who will be at Toronto's Brewery Market this Sunday (June 5th) between 1-6pm serving his very popular Weissbier and Dunkel.

As mentioned on here before, the Brewery Market allows individuals to try out some of the best beers available in Ontario in a comfortable and relaxed setting (Wychwood Barns). Each week a different craft brewery will be featured, with a number of different beers available. 11 breweries in total will be featured in The Brewery Market’s summer 2011 series. Check the Brewery Market's website each week for a profile of the upcoming brewery.

Web Analytics

Winter Ale