Beaumont's Beer Blog
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With this last post, Beaumont’s Beer Blog will be calling it a day, following four years of beer-fueled rants and raves, insight and invective. But that doesn’t mean I’m going away. In fact, beginning later on this week, I’ll be bringing a much wider view to That’s the SPIRIT in a new blog we’re calling…
Because life is too short to drink only beer, even only really good beer, my new blog will be devoted to all things beverage, from newly released spirits to trends in beer style, cocktail recipes to grape varietals and wine and food pairings to, well, beer and food pairings! Basically, if it is tasty and liquid, I’ll be covering it, from the point of view of a guy who has spent the past two decades following the drinks business and sampling everything he can get his palate on. So stay tuned and join me soon, as Beaumont DRINKS!
What is to my understanding the first ever Beer Week to be held in Canada, Vancouver Craft Beer Week, is fast approaching. For all you westerners, or beer aficionados within a quick drive or flight of the lower mainland, everything gets started May 10 and lasts for one week, until the 16th. Details are available here.
Of course, when BC accomplishes something, you can bet that the heartland won’t be far behind, and so we also have fast approaching Ontario Craft Beer Week. It kicks off June 20, and while details are sketchy, what info there is thus far may be found here.
Of course, like San Francisco in the States, Montreal has had a sort of unofficial Beer Week happening around the Mondial de la Bière for years now. This year’s edition begins June 2.
Let’s hear it for Food & Wine Magazine! In their latest issue, they cite their 100 Best New Food & Drink Experiences, and throw a little love to beer and the Ontario capital in so doing.
First, the beer love:
61. Under the heading “Breakfast Twists,” the magazine delivers deserved accolades to the tasty Founder’s Breakfast Stout. Imagine what they might have written had they tasted Canadian Breakfast!
88 – 90. Under “Beer Innovators,” the magazine shines the spotlight on Baird Brewing in Tokyo, Brasserie 4:20 in Rome and the new Moerder Lambic bar in Brussels. The last in particular has me still contemplating a visit to Belgium for the sole purpose of drinking there!
And now, Toronto:
3. Yes, you read that right, number 3 in the list is Toronto’s secret dining club, Charlie’s Burgers. And based on the lone Charlie’s meal I’ve been privileged enough to enjoy, it is indeed a deserved position of honour.
86. In the “Innovative New Bars” section, F&W gives a shout out to our own Frankie Solarik (pictured right) and Barchef, the coolest bar and bartender in central Canada.
Congrats to all!
There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the international beer blogging community these days over so-called “cult beers” and their rapid followers. It all stems from the April edition of The Session which asked “What beer would you stand in line for hours to taste?”
Ireland’s Beer Nut offered his rejoinder, decreeing that beer does not truly matter, while young Mark Dredge of the U.K. chimed in with a contrary view and fellow Canadian Alan McLeod offered his view that…well, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what his view is. And from the look of things, he may not be, either.
Of course, I couldn’t help myself and felt the need to chime in on my other blog. But I felt that this topic was in need of a distinctly Canadian spin, too, and so I am here to tell you all that, absolutely, Canadian beer needs higher prices and more cult beers. Here’s why.
Ask almost any Canadian craft brewer and they will tell you how hard it is to survive in the current environment. Margins are tight, they’ll say, and distribution is difficult unless you make a ton of any one brand. But that’s because most of them are producing solid but generally unremarkable ales and lagers. I say that more of them need to think like American craft brewers!
(Which is why, incidentally, I’m delighted to see a strong Ontario contingent en route to the Craft Brewers Conference in Chicago this week.)
Especially around our major urban centres, which is where most craft brewers are based, there now exist more than sufficient beer fans who will travel distances and pay good money for special releases and one-offs, à la Dark Lord Day. Hell, the LCBO in central Toronto sold 20 cases of $18.40 a bottle beer in a matter of hours without any advance press whatsoever! You think a whole whack of extraordinary, limited edition bottles of some bizarre but delicious hybridized style of over-the-top barley wine or IPA or Belgian-inspired lunacy wouldn’t sell just as well? Of course it would.
And here’s the kicker: such special releases not only add to the bottom line, they also tend to attract the media, thus resulting in great publicity. It’s the exact strategy pursued by Boston Beer in the U.S., and they are now the largest craft brewer in the country.
Brewers get money and hype. Beer drinkers get greater variety and more exciting brews. It’s a classic win-win!
Edmontonians have cause for celebration, as their oldest local brewery is turning 15 this year! And better still, the co-owners of the Alley Kat Brewing Company, Neil and Lavonne Herbst, have decided to celebrate with not one, but a series of limited edition anniversary beers, beginning with a Smoked Porter, to be released at the brewery tomorrow, March 12.
As much as I appreciate it when Canada’s craft breweries celebrate important anniversaries, I can’t help but feel a little old when they do. After all, when I wrote the first Great Canadian beer Guide, Alley Kat did not even exist, and their groundbreaking Old Deuteronomy Barley wine was not even a glimmer in the eye of founding brewer Neil Herbst. (Okay, maybe it was, but I’m betting he was thinking more about his soon-to-be-born breweries initial two offerings, a soon-to-be-discontinued amber lager and wheat ale, than he was about a 10% alcohol barley wine.)
Congratulations Neil and Lavonne. I won’t be in your area tomorrow, but will lift a glass in Toronto in honour of your birthday.
March has been kind to us thus far in southern Ontario: high single or low double digit temperatures in the day, loads of sun, cool but still above freezing nights. Just the kind of weather fit for a cigar and a beer.
Okay, so maybe it’s not ideal cigar-and-beer weather, since sitting outdoors – so as to either comply with the law or not stink up the abode – would still call for a warm jacket in the evening. But the idea is not without its charms, even as just the briefest taste of spring.
Yet, what beer? It would need to be sturdy enough to stand up to cigar smoke, potent enough to warm the soul in cooling temps, and yet refreshing in the way that a good cigar beer needs be. Doppelbock, perhaps? Or better still…
If you pass by the corner of Spadina and Front in downtown Toronto this eve, look up and see the jacketed outline of a soul with a glass of something black in one hand and a smoking Cuban in the other, well, that will be me, and that will be the beer.
I am not a big Winter Olympics fan, never have been, but as the Vancouver Games progressed through their two-plus weeks of excitement, I found myself drawn further and further in to a wonderful, completely compelling spectacle. By the time Sid the Kid put the puck in the back of the American net in overtime, like millions of other Canadians, I had become a rabid fan of these Games.
So congratulations Vancouver! Well done, Canada!! And thank you to all the athletes, Canadian and otherwise, who put years of heart, soul, toil and effort into creating an event for the ages!!!
And just to provide a little beer content for this post, I started yesterday’s game with a Blanche de Chambly and ended it with a Czechvar.
The IOC and the COC and, for all I know, the kids from The OC are all atwitter about gold medal winning Canadian women hockey team celebrating on ice with beer and champagne and cigars an hour after the game was over and long after all the spectators had left the building. Get a grip! They won, convincingly, and had reason to celebrate. And as any athelete will know, there is something special about revisiting the place where it all went down, so why not at centre ice!?!
Apologies are unnecessary. Their lone mistake was not having more flavourful beer, but since Molson is a big sponsor at these Olympics, I’m guessing that was because Canadian was the only beer around. And as for the “controversy” over goal-scorer Marie-Philip Poulin being only 18, or in other words not of legal drinking age in BC, that serves only to cast light on how ridiculous arbitrary legal drinking ages are.
Congratulations, ladies. You won well and celebrated well.
This coming week will se the arrival in western Canada of Martin Jensen, the brewer behind, and the face on the label of, the beers of Raasted Bryghus of Denmark.
According to info culled from the website of Delancy Direct, Martin will be visiting Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina over the course of a one week visit, hosting events that are both trade only and open to the general public. (Please see Delancy’s website for details.)
I had a chance to sample three of Martin’s beers this past week and awarded each a most respectably scoring. The Vinter tastes to me like schwarzbier tending a bit towards a Baltic porter, with an appealing aroma reminiscent of hot chocolate left to cool and a flavour marked by notes of burnt toast, liquorice and mild dark chocolate. The Imperial Stout is a bit on the light and thin tasting side for the style, although at 9% alcohol hardly a gentle and unassuming beer. It offers a yeast nose underscored by notes of chocolate biscuits and fresh hops, followed by a palate containing roasty flavours of 90% cocoa content chocolate and espresso, with American hop characteristics rising throughout the taste. And finally, although presented as an IPA, I would characterize Grilløl instead as a very good pale ale, with 5% alcohol, a fragrantly nutty-fruity aroma and a well-integrated nutty-citrusy bitterness that rises through the taste to a dryish and bitter finish.
But you needn’t take my word for any of this. Go out to see Martin when he comes to town and taste for yourself!