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, November 30, 2011

Beau's BYBO During Question Period - Queen's Park

Buy Your Beau's Online (BYBO). I wrote about the operation being shut down last Thursday evening, shortly after it was announced. The unique home delivery program that Beau's created with Operation Come Home, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting street youth, began on November 24th after getting the go ahead from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), and was subsequently curbed later the same day after the AGCO received a complaint from another brewery.

There was immediate chatter on Twitter, Facebook and a number of other beer blogs and newspaper websites that followed and helped to explain the entire situation.

Since Thursday, there have also been a number of positive messages that have emerged, including a number of tweets from Beau's themselves providing individuals following the situation with brief updates. One such update mentioned that Beau's was already discussing the matter with their MPP who then spoke with Premier McGuinty.

With the large media coverage, and due to Beau's being Beau's, this situation made it's way to Queen's Park question period yesterday, and while not available to view online through the Legislative Assembly of Ontario's website, Beau's have put up a video on YouTube that highlights PC MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) speaking about BYBO. MacLeod did a nice job getting the message across, and the Attorney General (Honourable John Gerretsen), while sounding like a true seasoned politican, did say that his government/office was looking into it and would be "... working out the situation as quickly as possible because we think it's the right thing to do." Video below.

Back in May of this year there were a number of industry representatives that sat in front of the Ministry of the Attorney General's staff (George Milbrandt - C'est What, Cass Enright - Bar Towel, Jed Corbeil - Griffin Gastropub and Session 99 and myself) where discussions took place about the archaic regulations in the Liquor Licence Act. The four of us were proud to hear that a number of our suggestions were adopted along with some other changes. This discussion, home delivery, was never brought up, but the conversation is long past due.

This may well be the situation that helps government to take another hard look into the Liquor Licence Act and how many of the regulations don't make sense in today's market place. The Act was created at a time when only a handful of breweries operated in the province and have yet (in most updated circumstances) to adapt to the growth in our brewing/retail industry along with the impact that craft breweries have on the province.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Meet Bryan Carver: Gahan Brewery, Charlottetown, PEI

Meet Bryan Carver, brewer with the Gahan Brewing Co. in Charlottetown, PEI.

Carver, a construction worker by trade, got into the brewing industry by chance. When Gahan was building their bottling plant, Carver was one of the contractor's on site and he be-friended Gahan's Brewmaster Trent Hayes, who eventually got him into brewing beers for the brewpub (Gahan Brewing Co. has a brewpub and a larger brewing and bottling facility).

With some staff changes, Carver went on to be brew full time at the brewpub, brewing a number of brands that aren't available in bottle. He now spends his days between both locations, which he says keeps things interesting.

Meet Bryan Carver!

Where is the Gahan Brewery situated and what beers do you currently produce?
Gahan Brewery is located in Charlottetown, PEI. We have a brewpub and bottling plant currently producing our beer. At the brewpub we make Sir John A's Honey Wheat Ale, Island Red, 1772 IPA, Harvest Gold Pale Ale, Sydney Street Stout, Iron Horse Brown Ale and usually have a seasonal beer on too. We bottle the Honey Wheat, Red, and just recently our IPA and Brown Ale have been added to the line up.

Describe the history behind the brewery.
The first inception of the brewery was a 3 barrel system located at a Lone Star Cafe in Charlottetown back in 1997. In 2001 a larger brew house was purchased and moved into an historic property in Old Charlottetown. Demand grew beyond the production capability and in 2007 a new DME 20 hectoliter system was set up at our current bottling plant.

What is your best selling beer?
Sir John A's Honey Wheat and Island Red Ale have been pretty much neck and neck in sales. We have been seeing good growth with our IPA and our seasonal beers sell pretty well at the brewpub.

What's new at the brewery? 
We just started bottling our IPA and Brown Ale. Next we are getting ready for an expansion that will give us a bit more room to grow, as well as exploring canning options available to a brewery our size. We also just won a Gold at the Canadian Brewing Awards with our Sir John A's Honey Wheat Ale, which was our first medal and a great feeling at the end of another busy summer.

What is the best aspect of working in the Canadian craft brewery industry?
Definitely the people. I have been very fortunate getting to know many top notch people from all over the world, all passionate about beer. There is a great sense of community in a relatively small industry, especially in this part of the country.

Where can someone find your products?
Our bottled beers are available at PEI Liquor Commission stores and growlers are available at the pub. A lot of restaurants across the Island carry our beer too, Albert and Crown in Alberton, Ship to Shore in Darnely and Island Stone Pub in Kensington just to name a few.

Tell us something about the Gahan Brewery that not a lot of people know about.
We are a small crew of a few guys that love beer and spend a lot of time making sure that all aspects of the operation are well taken care of. During the summer we are run off of our feet for three months, which is unfortunate because we hardly get to enjoy the beauty of PEI in the summer. At least we have beer close at hand!

PEI is a small province - how is the local support?
Local support is great! The Gahan House is one of the busiest restaurants on the Island. I can't believe the amount of people that come in every day of the week. During the summer we can hardly keep beer on the shelves at the liquor stores.

What is the highlight of your brewing career - to date?
Getting our IPA into bottles was a great highlight. The beer selection on PEI is limited and getting a strong hoppy ale on the shelves was way past due. Also, George Wendt was in Charlottetown a couple of years ago performing in 'Hair Spray'. He walked past a co-worker as he was moving garbage cans of spent grain and proceeded to say "You do good work, God's work!" Knowing he said that put a grin on our faces for weeks.

Name your favourite non Gahan Brewery produced beer?
The beers I have had from Central City have been great, their Red Racer IPA is terrific. Picaroon's Best Bitter is another great beer that I wish was in my fridge more often.

Best time for a pint?
Sunday Afternoon, without question.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Canadian Beer News Announces New Dinner Series

Greg Clow, the publisher of the Canadian Beer News (CBN) website, is pleased to announce the start of the Canadian Beer News Dinner Series.

The CBN Dinner Series will bring together some of Canada’s top breweries and beer importers with outstanding chefs and restaurants to create unique and exciting beer and food pairing experiences.

The first such dinner will take place on Tuesday December 6 at The Windsor Arms Hotel (18 Saint Thomas Street, Toronto) featuring beers from Beau's All Natural Brewing Co., which will be paired with gourmet vegan food prepared by Chef Doug McNish.

Schedule for dinner:
6:30 PM – Reception with passed hors d’oeuvre & beer pairing
7:15 PM – 4-course Dinner with beer pairings

The $95 per person ticket will allow individuals to sample a variety of Beau's beers, including a number of their rarer brands from their Wild Oats Series and their Greener Futures Bourbon Barrel Aged Series. Each food course will be paired with a different beer and tasting notes will be presented by Beau’s co-founder Steve Beauchesne.

Clow let me know by email that tickets are moving very well, with less than a 1/4 of the tickets remaining, so you better act fast if you're interested in attending.

(NOTE: Ticketing for this event is being managed by the Windsor Arms Hotel. For any questions or issues related to ticket ordering, please contact Christine Korda at or 416-934-6022.) CLICK HERE TO ORDER TICKETS

Beau’s All Natural Brewing is a family-run and totally DIY beer company based in Vankleek Hill, a small town about an hour east of Ottawa. They brew interesting, award winning, tasty beers using the highest quality, all natural ingredients like certified organic hops & malts and local spring water. Best known for their flagship brand, Lug-Tread Lagered Ale, they also brew a number of seasonal and one-off beers, and are well-known for their support of charitable initiatives in their local community and beyond.

Doug McNish is one of the foremost vegan/raw food chefs in the world. After losing 100 pounds on a plant based diet, he decided to change his career path and become a professional vegan chef. He is a Consulting Chef at The Windsor Arms, where he has developed vegan options for the hotel’s dinner and brunch menus. Doug is a contributor to health and wellness websites and various magazines, has been broadcast on both local and national television, and is currently writing a raw food cookbook to be published in March 2012.

Consecutively voted the #1 hotel in Toronto by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, the Windsor Arms Hotel is nestled on a quiet street ideally located just steps away from Yorkville, the heart of Toronto’s most fashionable shopping and entertainment district. An aura of warmth, discreet luxury, and the latest technology combined with our exceptional level of service makes Windsor Arms Toronto’s most luxurious boutique hotel. The Windsor Arms is host to the Courtyard Cafe – open for Sunday brunch and special events; Prime Steakhouse – open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; the Tea Room for traditional afternoon tea; and Lounge 22 for tapas and cocktails.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Buy Your Beau's Online... AGCO Says NO Go!

The news you are about to read is not pleasant. In fact, it stinks. Bloody Ontario and their damn archaic alcohol rules and regulations.

The awesome folks at Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. have been talking about a new and exciting program for a number of weeks  that was launched today - Buy Your Beau's Online (BYBO). The delivery program allowed individuals to pre-order their Beau's beer, or merchandise online, which  would then be delivered to Ottawa area homes by Operation Come Home,  a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting street youth. There was to be a $15 delivery fee that would go straight to charity. You can read more about the program here.

I know right! A great idea! A forward thinking idea! Imagine, adults being able to order their beer from a brewery and have it delivered to their home with some of the proceeds going to charity - everybody wins!

Well, immediately after Beau's launched BYBO earlier today, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) promptly shut it down. The reason, according to a blog post written by Beau's Co-Founder Steve Beauchense, was this:

That’s right, after less than a day of operation, BYBO has been closed, after another brewery (we weren’t told which one) complained. The complaint has nothing to do with the service or the fact that at-risk youth were involved, but over a technicality involving what I believe to be a typo in the regulations around home beer delivery services.

Brutal right?

Beauchense went on to provide more insight into the situation with the following paragraph:

Our retail store operates as an authorized beer store by the LCBO, but the regulation around home delivery uses the wording ‘operated' instead of ‘authorized’, which is how it is worded to allow us to sell to special occasion permit holders, and retail customers. It is interesting to note that the Beer Store, which is not operated by the LCBO or government is somehow allowed to sell to home delivery services.

I was able to reach Beauchesne by phone shortly after the news broke, and although he and the rest of the Beau's team are upset with this, they pledge to do what they can to ensure BYBO happens. "Obviously we don't have a team of lawyers, so our ability to fight this is limited," said Beauchesne. "We will work with Operation Come Home to see what options are available to us."

Beauchesne did tell me that they just found out that Operation Come Home can appeal this decision to the AGCO, which would allow them to find out the identity of the complainant. "The AGCO approved the delivery licence application knowing how the operation would work, and all it took was one complaint..." Operation Come Home does have the delivery licence, but the wording of the regulation ultimately means that they would have to purchase the beer from The Beer Store in order to deliver it, a place where Beau's isn't available.

The saddest thing about all of this is the youth who would benefit most from this. "We had two youths ready to go, so this hurts," said Beauchesne.

Now, to the brewery out there that complained (based on what was written in Beauchense's blog post) - you should be ashamed of yourself. Beau's, since they've bursted onto the Ontario craft brewing scene, have done nothing but come up with great ideas. Ideas that essentially benefit the Ontario beer drinker. This is why they are successful. There is no room for petty jealously. Focus on your own business model and worry less about what other innovative and inspiring breweries are doing. You'll never get ahead with this attitude.

Readers and beer drinkers of this province - if this story irks you as much as it does me, please contact your local MPP and let them know.

Meet Jason Fisher: Indie Alehouse, Toronto, ON

Fisher with mash tun
Meet Jason Fisher, Founder and President of the Indie Alehouse, a new Toronto brewery (in progress).

Fisher has been dreaming, and planning, about opening his own brewery for over 25 years now, and he is close to reaching that goal as the Indie Alehouse inches closer and closer to opening. Located in Toronto's historic Junction area, the Indie Alehouse will operate as a tied-house, selling bottles and growlers of their beer out of an on-site retail store and will have a fully functioning kitchen and seating for approximately 100 people. 

The Indie Alehouse is situated at 2876 Dundas St West, just west of Keele Street. The brewery will be a welcome addition to the Junction as it was the last Toronto neighbourhood to remain 'dry' (1904 - 2000). 

Meet Jason!

The Indie Alehouse - what can you tell us about it?
The Indie Alehouse is a small microbrewery in the west end of the city, near High Park in the ‘Junction’ neighbourhood of Toronto. To a casual observer we look like a brewpub that also sells beer-to-go at a store on the side. But partially because of technicalities in the licensing as well as because of our philosophy about the business, we are actually a brewery with a restaurant and retail beer store attached all in one space. Seems like the same thing, but to us it helps put focus on three distinct areas – Beer Production, Food, and offsite beer sales – all of which are equally important to our brand.

How are the plans coming along? When do you plan on opening your doors?
This has become the question I hate the most, since I have not got the right answer in years of asking, and saying ‘soon’ is not a great answer, but soon. Plans have been mostly useless because each day something comes up that messes with your ‘plans’ but I knew going in that was the way it would be and have been able to ‘roll with it’ most days. Most days. The day the boiler fell down the stairs or the day the HVAC quote came back 300K over budget were ‘exceptions’ to the roll with it approach. The outlook right now is that we should have the restaurant side all finished work by early December and the brewery side 2-4 weeks later. Then final inspections and who knows what else will come up but there is still hope of a 2011 opening, if not very early 2012.

Some Toronto bars have seen some of your beers already. What other styles will you be producing?
We’re luck that our Brew Master, Kevin Somerville, is also the program coordinator at Niagara College Teaching Brewery so we have been able to have our beers made to our standards by the college and offered in the city. So far we’ve made 4 beers – A Belgian Wit with ginger and lavender, our ‘Breakfast Porter’ with lots of oats, chocolate and coffee, our West Coast IPA and a Belgian IPA. We also plan to make a 5th beer and a variety of rotating seasonals but that lineup is not 100% set yet. A sour-raspberry, spicy saison, Russian Imperial Stout, among other are in the running for 5th beer. We also want to do a lot of one-off and barrel aged beers that are very hard to find and exclusively at our location only.

What will set you apart from other breweries?
It sounds funny to say to people who are not knowledgeable about the craft beer industry, but we want to be like some of the great American small craft breweries who are content to make a big impact with a small footprint. We’re not interested in world domination, or even Toronto domination. We will be on tap in very few accounts in the city – probably less than 10 places for the first few years. We will make only ales, no light lagers or pilsners. Just bigger, stronger, bolder beers. We want to make our beers in small batches only – no mass production, no mass sales (so no LCBO or Beer Store). Small, quality focused, big-bold beers, targeted to more adventurous drinkers tired of blander beers. We want to be the “advanced class” for craft beer. It doesn’t mean everything is extra bitter or high alcohol, or we will be snobby or all ‘hipster about things - just beers made well focusing on bigger flavors. We’re lucky to be able to do this because of the work of a few other local brewers who have laid the groundwork for us in Toronto, so we plan to take advantage and go to the next level. Also, because of our – brewery, restaurant, beer store setup and philosophy we can interact directly with customers about what they like and react to our market easily.

What did you do before embarking on this venture?
I don’t even want to think about it… ☺ I mostly worked in jobs I didn’t like, wishing I worked in a craft brewery. I worked for two very large multi-national corporations and one very small entrepreneurial company in sales and marketing. Sometimes the jobs were fun, sometimes they were awful, but I did my best to learn along the way and hope to put all of that to use at The Indie Alehouse.

Why did you get into the brewing industry?
I made my first homebrew – from a ‘John Bull, Export Ale’ kit I got a Zellers in 1985 in Gr.10 for my science project. It was awesome. At least that’s how I remember it now. I got an A – although the teachers did express some concern that a 16yr old was making ‘very drinkable beer’ in a lab on school premises. I emphasized the yeast / science elements of the ‘experiment’, but had to take my learning to my basement. I always loved things that combined art and science in school and work and as I travelled I learned more about great beers – spending time in Europe and the United States exposed me to so much I couldn’t get at home, I knew this would be a good business as well as more fun than working for a big corporation.

How has the response been from the community? Are they excited to be getting a brewery in their neighbourhood?
I knew the response would be good but I never imagined it would be as good or as positive as it has been. I honestly get an average of 40 people emailing me per week, over the last 6 months from people excited about our opening. I think it’s partially the demand for great beer in the city is bigger than ever, partially our location in an area that is very underserved (there is not much west of Yonge and north of Bloor in Toronto), and I hope, partially because of our approach to the business. Also I have to say, that a lot of bars and other breweries have been VERY helpful and supportive. It’s so nice to not be viewed as competition and more as a partner in this venture. I feel like I owe a lot of people already for the help I’ve been getting, and I’ll make sure to pay it back or forward when I get the opportunity.

Tell us something about Indie Alehouse that not a lot of people know about... yet!
Have I mentioned the boiler fell down the stairs? (I still lose sleep at night about this) – and let’s see, I wrote my first business plan for a microbrewery 25 years ago and walked around with it in my bag for 15 years incase I met someone who could help me. And on the food side of the business, I’m very lucky to have the help of two world class chefs in the city – Todd Clarimo, (formerly Oliver Bonacini and now head of Trump Toronto food and beverage) and Albino Silva (Chiado, among others) have been amazing in helping set up the menu, kitchen design and a million other ways. I can’t wait for the food.

What has been the biggest challenge to date?
Not being able to control time and space, Everything is a challenge! Money and Time – with more of either it would be much easier. And the boiler fell down the F@$#*&g stairs, so gravity has been a challenge too.

Tough question - Name your favourite non Indie Alehouse produced beer.
Favourite beer? Really? Impossible – way too many to choose from. I have a strong love at the moment for beers by Stone and Dogfish Head in the US as well as New Glarus ‘raspberry tart', Black Oak ‘ten bitter years’ and just about anything make by Mike Lackey at Great Lakes in his one-off series of funky beers.

Best time for a pint?
It sounds cheesy, but any time with friends is a good time for a pint. Everyone in the city is crazy about pints on a patio in the summer, but for me a pint by a fireplace on a cold night is just as good or better and we have a lot more opportunity for that in Toronto.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Brewstache Beerfest @ Amsterdam Brewery

There will be an abundance of facial here at the Amsterdam Brewery this Friday night as the brewery will play host to their 1st annual Brewstache Beerfest in support Movember.

As you can see from the advertisement on your left, there is a $20 admission fee to attend, with all proceeds going to prostate cancer research and awareness. Admission includes 2 beer sample tokens. Tickets can be purchased at the brewery's retail store at 21 Bathurst Street, Toronto, or by calling the brewery at 416.504.6882.

There will be a great selection of local Ontario craft beer on tap, along with a number of cask conditioned beers (see list below).

Amsterdam will also have The Toasted Tangerine food truck coming down cooking up a special Movember menu incase you get hungry, and there will be live music throughout the night.

Here's the list of breweries/beers that are participating:
Amsterdam Brewery - Citra Kolsch, TBW Homebrew winner (Black IPA), Barrel Blend, Coffee Mild
Great Lakes - Burt Reynold's Reserve Stache (Belgian IPA)
Stone Hammer - Imperial Oatmeal Coffee Stout
Cheshire Valley - Snidley Stache (IPA @ 50 IBU)
Black Oak - MOstacher in the Rye (Roggenbier)
Denison's - Dunkel
Wellington - County Dark Ale (Cask)
Beau's - Pumpkin Weisse
Nickel Brook - Sir, Your Moustache Tastes Sour (Brown Belgian Sour)
House Ales - Bellwoods cask

Video - Driftwood Brewing Co., Victoria, BC

Up front disclosure: It is no secret that I am employed by TAPS Media, the parent company of TAPS The Beer Magazine. From time to time I've posted material on this blog (before and after being hired) with respect to work that has appeared in TAPS. My intention when posting said material, and the material below, is only meant as news, nothing more.

I had the opportunity to travel to Victoria, BC this past May to attend the wedding of some Ontario friends who now call British Columbia home.

My wife and I landed in Victoria on a Wednesday morning, ready to see the town... and to visit a number of the local craft breweries. The beautiful city boasts a number of terrific breweries like Phillips, Swans, Vancouver Island, Lighthouse, Canoe Brewpub, Spinnakers and Driftwood.

We were staying in one of the guest houses at Spinnakers, which I highly recommend doing if you find yourself on a trip out west, and we made it a goal (ok, I made it a goal) to visit each and every place, have a beer at each one, take a brief tour of the brewing facilities and record a small video for TAPS Media (see note above).

One of the first places we made it to was the Driftwood Brewing Co., makers of beers like Old Cellar Dweller Barley Wine, Farmhand Ale, Driftwood Ale, Crooked Coast Amber Ale White Birch Wheat, Fat Tug IPA (2011 Canadian Beer of the Year) and more.

I had the chance to check out their barrel-aged and sour beer program (Flanders Red just came out - Bird of Prey), sample some beers, and chatted with one of the co-founders, Jason Meyer, who took some time to go on video.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cloak & Dagger Caskfest

The folks over at Toronto's Cloak and Dagger pub have announced that they will be holding a weeklong Caskfest starting next Monday.

From November 21st - 27th, the Cloak and Dagger will be tapping three new casks each day. People will find casks from Granite, Blak Oak, Beau's, Durham, Great Lakes, Flying Monkeys, F&M and more.

The Cloak will also be providing some food samples off of their new menu throughout the week.

Should you find yourself out at the Cloak for Caskfest and you have a Twitter account, try using the #oncask hashtag to let your followers know what's on cask. #oncask was brought about during Cask Days this year as a cool new method to spread awareness of cask ale in Ontario. You can also follow the @OnCask account. (Chris at Toronto Beer Blog has more on that, click here to read it)

*The Cloak also have a website now!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November CASK! Social

From CASK! Toronto

The next CASK! Social will take place on: Saturday November 19th
Time: 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Location: Dominion On Queen
500 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON

Greetings, Thirsty Cask Ale Drinkers,
Our next CASK! Social will be held on Saturday November 19th 3:00 - 6:00pm at the historic Dominion on Queen, 500 Queen Street East, Toronto. The Dominion has been a Corktown landmark since 1889, and is now proudly serving cask conditioned ale. There will be several cask ales available for us, one of which might just be a tasty stout from F & M Brewery. The rear lounge, complete with brewing memorabilia, has been reserved especially for us. See you there!


Mirella, Maz, Robert & Nick

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Toast for Those That Fought

Today is Remembrance Day. At 11am we are to take some time to stop and reflect on the peace and freedom we have today due to the sacrifice of so many before us.

I would like to raise a glass today for all the men and women who have served this great nation in battle, and in peacekeeping efforts, and to those who continue to serve us today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dieu du Ciel Receives Federal Funding

Josh Rubin, the Toronto Star's Beer Columnist, sent out a Tweet on November 8th that indicated that Dieu du Ciel (DDC) would be getting some sort of funding from the Federal government, and yesterday it was announced that DDC would receive $300,000 to assist them in increasing capacity and productivity at their brewery in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec.

Jacques Gourde, Member of Parliament for Lotbinière–Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, made the announcement yesterday in Saint-Jérôme. “Our government is proud to support enterprises that, like Microbrasserie Dieu du Ciel, are doing everything they can to increase their productivity and export their products to new markets,” said Mr. Gourde. “Moreover, this contribution from our government will help stimulate economic growth and job creation in the region.

The $300,000 is a repayable contribution through the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions and the Business and Regional Growth program. According to the CED website, the program aims to "strengthen the conditions conducive to the sustainable growth of Quebec’s regions and small- and medium-sized enterprises"

The press release on the CED website also states that DDC will be using the financial assistance to acquire a new, faster bottling line and fermentation tanks. The brewery also intends to install a conveyor, an accumulation table, a warm room and a refrigeration system.

Consumed: Alley Kat Cringer Cranberry Ginger Ale

I've been meaning to get around the drinking this latest offering by Alley Kat Brewing Co.  for over a week now. The two bottles, the newest of their Big Bottle Series, kept staring me in the face every morning I came into work. It's getting close to press time (winter issue of TAPS) at work so things have been a tad busy. I managed to crack the top of the Cringer Cranberry Ginger Ale this afternoon though, and I'm glad I did.

The 4.8% beer produces a big billowy white head that forms a layer of protection atop the hazy golden liquid in the glass. It doesn't seem to fade, even after multiple sips. It's quite attractive.

The nose is nice, interesting. Exactly as you'd think, given the name of the beer. Fresh ginger dominates, almost as though it was cut and added yesterday. It's matched by a delicate sweetness and candied cranberries that create a flowery aroma with a bit of lemon zest.

It's nice and soft on the palate up front. Pleasant finish that starts sweet before yielding to a bready malt backbone that then gives way to the ginger, the star of the show. It all ends with a lingering presence of ginger coating of the mouth. Not too sharp though as the malt profile kicks in and balances out all the flavour. The cranberry presence is subtle, adding just enough fruity (sweet) notes to play nicely with the ginger.

I'm digging it. The bottles came with an Alley Kat opener that has a resealer attached to it for those that can't finish an entire 650ml bottle...I didn't need it.

Alley Kat Big Beer Series

Home Delivery of Beau’s Beer Coming Soon to Ottawa

Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. is getting set to launch a new home delivery aspect to their business.

Slated for roll-out on November 24th, individuals in the Ottawa area will be able to order Beau's beer online and have it delivered to their home by Operation Come Home, a local not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting street youth. The service is called “BYBO,” which stands for “Buy Your Beau’s Online.”

From Beau's press release:
“Offering home beer delivery through a charitable organization is a pretty revolutionary model,” explains brewery co-founder Steve Beauchesne. “The fact that Operation Come Home was already collecting and returning our empty bottles through BottleWorks made the collaboration a bit easier though,” he adds. “For years people in Ottawa have been telling us they love our unique packaging and specialty beers, but find the hour’s drive out to Vankleek Hill difficult. This service is great for folks in Ottawa, and helps at-risk youth at the same time.”
Interested individuals will not only be able to order Beau's beer, they'll even be able to order Beau's merchandise. You can head to or Payment is accepted via PayPal and the ordered items will be delivered in the evening within 72 hours. There is a delivery fee of $15, which is will be collected by Operation Come Home, who will provide a charitable receipt. Empty bottles of Beau's will also be collected if the customer requests.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Video - Daniel Girard, Garrison Brewing Co.

Up front disclosure: It is no secret that I am employed by TAPS Media, the parent company of TAPS The Beer Magazine. From time to time I've posted material on this blog (before and after being hired) with respect to work that has appeared in TAPS. My intention when posting said material, and the material below, is only meant as news, nothing more.

Back in August I was asked to host a beer dinner at Brussels Resturant and Brasserie in Halifax to help kick off the 5th annual Halifax Seaport Beerfest. The dinner was a complete success and a lot of fun, using beers from Le Trou du Diable, Spearhead, Shipyard and more. Brussels did a great job with the pairings and I'll I had to do was talk about how everything went well together while providing some quick notes about the industry.

The next day it was off to the actual beer festival to represent TAPS The Beer Magazine (my day job). After joining some of the Garrison Brewing Co. team in the brewhouse for a couple of samples I shot a short video with Daniel Girard, Garrison's Brewmaster, which was later used alongside the "Down The Hatch" column in the Fall issue of TAPS.

Girard discusses the brewery's LCBO Brewery Feature, which is fast approaching. He also talks about various Garrison beers.

Each issue of TAPS features an interview with a Canadian Brewmaster, which is accompanied by a short video interview. Dension's Michael Hancock was the first. Watch the video here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Amsterdam Tempest Stout Back For A Day - International Stout Day

For those of you who missed out on getting your hands on some of Amsterdam Brewery's Tempest Imperial Stout back in the summer, now might be your chance.

The brewery will have a very limited number of bottles available today at their retail store as a means to celebrate International Stout Day, which is today.

Here is a review that Rob Symes wrote for the Tempest back on July 8th.

by Rob Symes:
There’s a storm brewing at the Amsterdam, though this kind of storm only includes a wind warning if consumed with a side of chilli nachos. Amsterdam’s newest beer – Tempest Imperial Stout – joins a small stable of Ontario examples of this weighty style. The buzz on the rating sites is that this brew delivers and that an increasingly experimental direction is paying dividends for the Bathurst Street outfit, and we’re ready to join the chorus.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the packaging for this beer is sexy, dark and sinister. A back and white image of the high of a hurricane casts a shadow over the label, but it’s the waxing that really grabs your attention. It’s rare to see a bottle dipped in wax in Canada. The practice is becoming increasingly prominent in the US – partly to indicate bottles suitable for aging, partly because it looks so damn good, and partly because it improves the appearance of a bottle and increases the chances of the sale. With a few notable examples (Half Pints Burly Wine springs to mind) our brewers have left waxing to their legs and chests, so it’s encouraging to see a waxable style on the market, and a fantastic job done of making the bottle look good.

So, the bottle looks good, but what of the contents? Another thumbs up, and a classic appearance, with a bordering on midnight body and a couple finger of dirty tan head that leaves abundant lacing. A few bubbles lazily make their way up the glass, indicating that the requisite full body is in place. The aroma is the weak point, lacking the fullness of Southern giants like Great Divide’s Yeti, but it still delivers a decent punch, mixing old coffee grounds with a light lactic note. It’s very much in the vein of a traditional English take on the style, and that continues in the flavour, which delivers a good coffee hit, followed by anise and bitter chocolate. I heard that the IBUs for this came in quite high, but it seems more subtle and drinkable than expected, and the bitterness seems to emanate more from the roast than anything. The posted ABV of 9% is nicely integrated – you can tell this is a big beer, but at no point does it cross the line into boozy. The medium body helps to boost the flavours, and a pillowy carbonation bulks things up somewhat. Things improved further as it warmed, and a little below room temperature is probably the best serving point, allowing the full range of flavours to make their presence felt.

Canada’s most populous province sorely lacks imperial stouts, and this entry from Amsterdam is a welcome addition. Its bad boy looks and robust flavour makes for a satisfying quaff, and for those interested in cellaring, this should hold up relatively well.

Amsterdam Tempest Imperial Stout is currently available at the brewery retail store: 21 Bathurst Street, Toronto.

Great Lakes Project X Movember @ The Rhino

This month's Project X, a monthly event that Great Lakes Brewery in Etobicoke hosts, will be moving to The Rhino on Queen Street West on Thursday November 10th.

Project X is normally $10 to attend, however this month's party will cost you $15 at the door with $5 going to support Movember. The fee gets you food and samples of 4 unique Great Lakes cask and draught beers.

The event kicks off at 6:30pm and runs until 9:30pm.

From Great Lakes:
The Rhino is one of the city's top craft beer bars and we feel that it's just the place for us to share our wares. There will be several one-off cask and draft beers including our newest addition to the Project X family, Burt Reynolds Reserve Stache! There will also be a tasty food pairing plate prepared by the kitchen at The Rhino.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

LCBO To Offer Sam Adams Utopias Once Again

I just received an email from the LCBO that informed me that they will be offering Sam Adams Utopias from the Boston Beer Co. again this year.

The email stated that the LCBO has purchased 210 bottles (710ml) of the 2011 Utopias, which will retail for $114.95, the same price as last year.

Last year the LCBO purchased 70 bottles and organized a lottery system to chose from a pool of people who were interested in purchasing a bottle.

Also, like last year, the Utopias will not be made available for purchase in store. The beer will only be made available for sale over telephone orders, and to ensure customers have a fair chance to obtain a bottle, the LCBO will open phone lines on Friday, November 18 at 9am sharp and it will be a first-come, first-served basis. And due to the extreme availability of the Utopias, customers that do get through over the phone will only be permitted to order one bottle.

The 2011 release is a blend of batches, some aged as long as 16 years in bourbon, sherry and port casks.

Vintages Sales Centre at 416 365-5767, or toll free 1-800-266-4764 (Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.). Payment may be made by Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Orders will be shipped to the LCBO store of the customer’s choice at no extra charge.

Black Oak's Crazy Cask Contest

The Black Oak Brewing Co. is getting set to host their 11th anniversary party on Friday November 11th and they've come up with a neat contest for cask ale.

The brewery is looking for a creative recipe, with conditions that they can mimic into a cask ale for the party.

Recipe submission for the "Crazy Cask Contest" must be sent to Black Oak via their Facebook page by November 9th, must use Pale Ale or Nut Brown as the base beer and the recipe can only contain three additional ingredients. The recipe also needs a name.

If your recipe is chosen, and you want to help Black Oak's brewmaster, Simon, make your cask, you can stop by the brewery on Thursday November 10th. If you’ve got any questions, email Tracy at
Web Analytics

Winter Ale