Tag Archive: beer


Greg Clow, publisher of Canadian Beer News and Beer, Booze & Bites, is pleased to announce the Canadian Beer News Dinner Series.

This ongoing series of dinners 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 dinner will take place at The Windsor Arms Hotel on Tuesday, December 6th and will feature a gourmet vegan meal prepared by Chef Doug McNish. Paired with the four courses will be the beers of Beau’s Brewing, presented by Beau’s co-founder, Steve Beauchesne.

If you’ve only tried a couple of their beers before (Lug-Tread and Festivale) this dinner represents a great opportunity to try some of their more limited releases that don’t always make it over to this part of Ontario, including rarities from the Wild Oats Series and the Greener Futures Barrel Aged Beer. Having had the pleasure of sampling some of Chef McNish’s fare before, I’m expecting this night to be a good one.

According to Greg, the dinner is almost sold out so if this sounds like your sort of thing, you best jump on it soon.

Canadian Beer News Dinner #1: Beau’s Brewing & Chef Doug McNish

The Windsor Arms Hotel
18 Saint Thomas Street, Toronto

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
6:30 PM – Reception with passed hors d’oeuvre & beer pairing
7:15 PM – 4-course Dinner with beer pairings

Tickets are available now for $95 (inclusive of tax and gratuities).

The Toronto Festival of Beer has gotten quite a bit of flack in years past for being a vehicle for all of the mainstream brands and this criticism isn’t entirely unwarranted.

I’ve only been going for a couple of years but both times featured plenty of tired brews being sexed up with “booth babes” and loud music, a real-life commercial.  Neither they nor the massive drunken hordes they were serving knew or cared much about beer; the modus operandi could very aptly be summed up as “if it feels good, do it”.

While it can be easy to dismiss this attitude as simplistic and stupid, it can also be a lot of fun with the right friends. I still have fond memories of Human Foosball from two years ago and while a crowd this size will always draw its fair share of idiots, I tend to remember the people I liked.

Bacchanalia notwithstanding, there is some other merit to the event. Great Lakes Caskapalooza!, featuring 20+ unique casks that encompass a wide range of beer styles, has been a consistent favorite ever since it started and I’d expect this year to be no different. Mill Street will have a “busker experience” which I imagine will pair music with their beers.

Last year, all of the Ontario craft beer was featured in the center of the grounds, giving them some much-deserved attention. This year’s attendees include Flying Monkeys, Railway City, Black Oak, Amsterdam, Spearhead and Granville Island, at least a third of which will be featuring seasonals.

Mirella Amato of Beerology will be offering guided tours of the festival on Sunday, at 2:30 and 3pm.

One interesting feature making its debut this year is Mash Up, where 8 breweries will collaborate on developing one-off beers for the festival. Pairings include Beau’s/Black Oak, Nickelbrook/Flying Monkeys, FM/Wellington and Amsterdam/Great Lakes. Expect to see these special brews at each of the brewery’s booths.

I really enjoyed the joint cask by Great Lakes, Amsterdam and Bar Volo that was featured at the Hart House Craft Beer Festival and am definitely looking forward to see what these guys bring to the table this time.

While those who don’t appreciate drunken crowds will stay away, those up for a bit of fun with their beer will probably manage to enjoy themselves. It’s not Session, it’s not even the Hart House Craft Beer Festival but it really shouldn’t be.

I’m just happy I’ve had four festivals to go to this year.

The festival runs from Thursday, Aug. 5 to Sunday, Aug. 7. Thursday and Friday will be evening hours from 4 till 10pm while Saturday and Sunday will be more of an all-day affair from 1 till 7pm.

Friday and Saturday are already sold out but you can still get tickets for Sunday (and avoid some of the weekend crush).

(Photo taken from the Toronto Festival of Beer website.)

If you attended the first outing of Session last year, you might have been inclined to think it didn’t have a much of a future. Despite the quality of the beer and a thoughtful crowd, the location at Sunnyside was difficult to arrive at, the weather was tempermental and the G20 was a collective bummer in Toronto’s psyche.

Thankfully, Jared Corbeil and Curt Dunlop are back this year with a second iteration of the Session Craft Beer Festival, this Saturday (June 25) and desire to a expand on the possibilities of what a beer festival can be.

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COCKTAILS

Got the perfect summer cocktail? Whether it be something original or a clever twist on a classic, Adam McDowell would like you to submit it for his contest. Winners get bragging rights, 15 min of fame and some bar swag. I entered for the hell of it. Rob Montgomery’s already been featured with his Blackberry Cabarnet Caipiroska, a take on the Brazilian caipirinha. (National Post)

NEWS

While the situation for established and aspiring bartenders may be improving, it can still be difficult to source out all of the right products. (NOW)

Why booze doesn’t have nutritional information on the label. (The Globe And Mail)

There are macro-lagers and then there is craft beer and no matter how much Molson-Coors or InBev would like us to believe, never the twain shall meet. They can buy up as many breweries as they like but there will always be some ambitious fella who wants to make beer his way. (National Post)

Mill Street Brewery’s expanding to Ottawa. The way they’re going, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes knocking, looking to buy. (CTV)

If you’re young and Irish and your country’s going to hell, you come to Canada and ask Jimmy McVeigh Sr. to find you a job. (Open File)

Toronto used to be a whisky-town before cheap beer and Prohibition came a-knocking. (Toronto Standard)

FOOD

The best burgers are griddle-smashed burgers. Go to Burger’s Priest and then get back to me. (National Post)

While the Globe might be none-too-subtly trying to suggest birch syrup might be better than maple, I’d posit they both have their own merits. Give the former a try if you haven’t yet. (The Globe And Mail)

I know I said I’d get links up each and every Monday but it’s time for a reassessment. I have far too much fun on the weekend and not enough happens in a week that’s worthwhile compiling. Every other week, on a Tuesday, gives me time to grab some real gems and recover from whatever I trouble I found myself in from Thursday-to-Sunday.

COCKTAILS

I don’t know about you but for me summer is less about boozy, classic cocktails and more about fresh ingredients. I want it to fizz and remind me of all the fantastic things I could be doing outside!

To that end we have the Unstrung Harp, a Dark’n'Stormy by way of Italy. The NY Times is calling it the drink of the summer; I don’t know if I’d go that far but if you have a little bubbly and ginger syrup (you do, don’t you?), you might as well whip one up. (The New York Times)

We can all agree that fresh is what it’s all about when it comes to this season’s cocktails but there’s no point in punishing your ingredients. All you need to do is spank your herbs. (The Kitchn)

New York City agrees with me! Check out these outstanding cocktails and then tell me you don’t want to jump on a Porter flight tomorrow. (Time Out New York)

If you love Great Lakes’ Crazy Canuck Pale Ale as much as I do, make a cocktail out of it and convert the rest of those unbelievers! The Gringo is the perfect marriage between a couple of essential summer elements (St. Germain elderflower liqueur and freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice) and my go-to refresher. (Endless Simmer)

Summer’s different once the sun goes down and you need a different kind of drink at night. Something edgy that burns a little. You need the Spicy Lady. (Marcus Samuelsson)

NEWS

How to drink with Koreans. It’s kind of like drinking with Russians. (Los Angeles Times)

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Infinium (227660, 750 mL, $15) is not a great beer. It’s not as bad as you might have heard but it’s certainly interesting and a bit unexpected; like a blind date where you both choose the same bar to meet up at.

The girls I was having dinner with that night got excited when I pulled it out of my bag. “Oooh, you brought champagne!” Bring it to any party and you’ll probably get a favorable reaction but the similarities end there. Might as well get that out of the way right now.

Infinium is not like champagne.

It’s housed in a champagne-style bottle with a cork you can pop to great effect. It’s made with champagne yeast and is indeed effervescent although not dry. Those of you looking to make that comparison will be disappointed; as will anyone hoping to persuade their significant other to drink more beer.

Infinium is no gateway beer.

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Is the idea of legalized public drinking inexorably linked for you to the sort of behavior in the video above? While the cynical boozehound in me views the proposed changes to our province’s liquor laws as an attempt by McGuinty and Co. to ward off PC leader Tim Hudak and Ford Nation, I can’t help but get a little excited.

No more beer tents! Whether you’re going to a music festival or the Ex, this is potentially huge. No lineups! No more missing bits of the show because you need another drink.

Anyone who claims we’ll have more drunk assholes like the fella above is missing the point. They’ll always be around. There’s no sense in punishing the vast majority of responsible adults because a few idiots can’t handle their liquor. If they get out of line? BAM, the hammer falls. Zero tolerance.

Of course, Hudak chimed in that he was all for “treating people like adults and not children”. While his point that the Liberal provincial government ignored similar recommendations made in a 2005 study is a good one, I fail to see how bringing back “buck-a-beer” is a grown-up idea.

Wet blanket and New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath stated that “when and where people drink beer is not a priority for most Ontarians”.

Andrea, last time I looked, you’ve never come close to winning an election and judging from the comments appended to this article, I’d say people do give a shit. Maybe you’re not as in-touch with the people as you think?

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Nørrebro Bryghus, hailing from the Danish craft beer scene, is the latest brewery to have its turn in the spotlight of the LCBO’s Featured Brewery program.

Like Harviestoun before, Nørrebro can be a bit tricky to locate. I had no trouble picking up the first four but the Var Tripel (210773, 600 mL, $9.35) eluded me. From what I’ve read, it’s a Belgian-inspired triple with lots of spice and citrus notes. Sounds tasty.

Attractively-packaged with a color scheme right out of the ’70′s, the large bottles are designed for sharing so I invited some friends over to help me drink them before we went out that night. Here’s what we thought…

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Huzzah! Best TV spot I’ve seen in awhile. You can watch the apology for it and the apology for the apology here. |AdFreak|

Cross-border shopping is impossible unless you’re willing to stay over for a couple days. Thankfully, the LCBO is finally catching up with America in some ways. You can get St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur (180695, 750 mL, $49.95), Aperol (176834, 750 mL, $22.95) and four different Amaros but where’s my Luxardo Maraschino and Crème d’Yvette?

Despite the snarkiness from some of my colleagues, it’s still nice to see the LCBO bringing in some quality, established products and I really hope they penetrate into the mainstream bar-consciousness. |The National Post|

What if an iconic beer brand died and no one gave a shit? Josh Rubin’s calling the near-future expirations of Molson Canadian and Labatt Blue. Maybe they’ll revamp it like 50 but in a market where people are drinking better, it’s going to be difficult to make them marketable. |Toronto Star|

While I’d love to see more BC wine in Ontario, I’d rather see the rules preventing this not be struck from the books if it means being flooded with cheap, foreign stuff. Maybe an amendment of some kind could work which allows for personal imports/exports? |The Globe And Mail|

Apparently, a new study says that couples who drink together, stay together. Drinking apart or not drinking the same amount tends to make things worse but I feel like that’s the kind of wisdom my papa would’ve laid on me before I get married. No surprises here. |Physorg|

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Over a week into my vacation on St. Martin and I’m not sure I want to come back. This is quite possibly one of the best islands I’ve been to and considering how little decent information is available online, I’m pleasantly surprised.

Of course, the weather’s really nice. Most days, there was a constant breeze and although it got really hot in the afternoon, it was temperate the rest of the time. I did get a bit of sunstroke but this can easily be avoided by heading out to the beach early, from 8 am till about 11.

The beaches aren’t spectacular but they suffice. For some reason, the French side has a nicer waterfront (come to think of it, the French side is pretty much better in every way) but no matter which end of the island you’re on, you’ll be able to find some sand to settle down on. I liked Grand Case best.

The people are very friendly but this holds true for most French islands as opposed to the British ones. Those who have good manners will go far. I enjoyed my stay here far more than I did my visits to the Virgin Islands and Antigua.

No, I think my favorite thing about St. Martin is the how cheap and available the booze is.

I’m going to get into that and, in the process, offer you a decent guide to the island. This is not where you’ll be looking for where to rent a car or which hotel to stay; those sort of mundane details are best left to the forums.

Many of the articles written about the nightlife of St. Martin read like the authors never hang out in those places. While I may not have visited every bar on the island where drinking is a national pastime (except during the Heineken Regatta where they add sailing into the mix) it pays to know the ins and outs of the system that fuels the party.

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