A month ago, I contacted the folks at Great Lakes Brewery to see if I might come out to do little profile and photo spread for blogTO (a post that, aptly, ended up being called “Behind the scenes at Great Lakes Brewery“). When I called, the always congenial Troy Burtch, GLB’s resident social media dude and sales rep, said “Why don’t you come out and brew a collaborative beer with Lackey?” As you can imagine, my answer was something along the lines of “Fuck yes.”
And so on a rainy Friday last month, I got the opportunity to brew a beer with Mike Lackey, a guy who’s been making beer for over 20 years and who’s responsible for some of my favourite local options of the past little while. And when I say “brew a beer with” I mostly mean “added the stuff he told me to add then manned the brew kettle while he disappeared and reappeared sporadically to make sure I didn’t hurt myself/burn the place down.”
In reality my contribution was little more than choosing the style we’d brew and naming said style, both tasks at which I feel I excelled. I opted (naturally) for an American-style IPA and owing to my preference toward bitter beers, chose to name it Old Man Johnson, a charming nickname my wife has given me for those times I’m complaining about sore joints, shaking my fist at teenagers, or wearing a certain unflattering sweater that’s one of my favourites.
The beer–the result of my hard work stirring mash, sparging, throwing in measured quantities of hops when I was told to, and watching Troy struggle with a stubborn USB stick for the better part of a morning–will be available for a limited time at Bryden’s on Bloor, a place that legend has it you can find Mr. Lackey at the close of many a brew day. I’ve yet to try the beer myself, but on paper, it looks like a beauty. Old Man Johnson weighs in at a potent 7.3% ABV and features healthy doses of Simcoe, Galaxy, Citra, and Nelson hops and features a fairly standard mostly two-row pale malt profile. And, thanks to my day out at the brewery, I have a better understanding of just what exactly that all means.
Old Man Johnson will officially launch on the evening of Thursday May 23rd with ideally zero fanfare and, hopefully, people will keep the noise to a minimum and just enjoy the beer. I’ll be there for a few so come on out for a pint. And would it kill you to put on a clean shirt?