I‘m going to be honest, despite having a name and quantity of beverage selections that seems tailor made to entice beer loving folks like me, the Bier Markt has never really been my cup of tea.
Sure, I’ve been there a handful of times–it’s inevtiable that eventually someone you know will propose going there and, if you can handle the usual wait times, the patio at their King Street location is top notch–but it’s just that it’s never been a place I’d think to go to for a couple reasons.
I certainly appreciate the attention to detail and their clear enthusiasm for my favourite beverage. Take this blurb from their website, for example:
“We are also one of the rare (if not only) locations in Canada that has three different gas blends to push the bier from their kegs. Why is this important? Well, it means that none of your bier comes into contact with oxygen, keeping your bier as fresh as it was the day it left the brewery and the way the brewer intended you to drink it!”
However, European beers aren’t necessarily my favourites. I know it’s blasphemy. I’m a beer writer and Europe is the birthplace of beer and some the best beers in the world are from Germany and Belgium, et. al. but I just tend to favour big, in your face flavour that crazy craft-brewing North Americans tend toward and I also like to keep my beer drinking as local as possible (I’m one of those people).
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I’ve never really liked the clientele that seems to frequent the Bier Markt’s two Toronto locations. I know it’s unfair to sweepingly dismiss all their customers but I’ve found that, when I visit the King Street and Esplanade locations, the folks drinking there tend to be of a certain type and let’s just say it rhymes with mouche mag.
Having said that, the Bier Markt seems to be coming up more often in conversations with people whom I don’t consider mouche mags. I’ve even started seeing “is drinking @ Bier Markt” cropping up on my twitter feed thanks to the litany of beer folks I follow and their tendency to share their drinking habits with the world via the ubiquitous social drinking app, untappd.
The reason, it seems, is that the Bier Markt appears to have embraced a bit of a new approach, or at the very least, has allowed some North American craft beer onto the menu (although perhaps only temporarily).
In a recent press release, the Bier Markt announced its “Biers of Spring” menu which they note “is ushering in the essence of the season – fresh, floral aromas, grassy tang and gentle bitterness.” So, beers right up my bitter, hop worshipping alley then. Tell me more, press release!
“For Biers of Spring we carefully picked a selection of lower intensity Hop Biers that have a vibrant bite and a burst of flavor synonymous with freshness. Each Bier is light and fun and complements spring.”
Nice! So what’s included? Well the Biers of Spring include a downright respectable lineup comprising:
- Yellow Snow IPA from Rogue
- Hop Mason IPA from AB InBev’s Keith’s
- Houblon Chouffe IPA from Brasserie d’Achouffe
- Hawaiian IPA from Spearhead
- Bone Shaker from Amsterdam
- Hops & Robbers from Double Trouble, and
- Okanagan Pale Ale
I followed up the press release with a couple questions to see what prompted the shift toward a hoppier, North American-ish menu and got a vaguely PR-ish but nonetheless friendly and telling response. It seems that “We [i.e. Nathan Cameron, Bier Markt’s beverage director] felt that no Bier profile/category was more “Spring like” than the floral, fragrant and fresh characteristics found in big hoppy Pale Ales and India Pale Ales.”
I agree! Wheat beers be damned! Cascade Hops for life!
On why there’s a little more local content on their menu these days, the Bier Markt noted that “We’ve always had an appreciation and interest in many of these fantastic North American Biers, however limited supply made them more difficult to offer. That has now changed, and as a result we are offering a more dynamic and Globally balanced Bier selection that still remains rooted in Northern Europe.”
And so reading between the lines, it seems like the push in a slightly new direction for the Bier Markt was dictated by the market–a super awesome result for everyone involved, really.
It means that the city’s beer drinking has matured in such a way that it’s caused the Bier Markt to take notice; it means that Nathan Cameron is a smart guy who sees this opportunity and is taking action as a result; and it means that there is a growing list of places to drink the hoppy North American and craft(y) beers that I love.
So it seems like I might have to start going to the Bier Markt. I’ll just have to avoid peak hours for the mouche mags.