In case you weren’t aware, we are currently in the final throes of “Flagship February.”
Flagship February is an idea that sprang forth last year from the mind of professional drinks writer Stephen Beaumont to give some love to the flagship beers that we often overlook. Beaumont has written a baker’s dozen worth of books on beer and understands the beverage’s history and tradition.
I’ve seen him backhand a bartender for serving him a Kolsch that wasn’t in a stange. He once called in a bomb threat to a bar on St Patrick’s day because he knew they consistently poured pints with the tap nozzle touching the beer. It’s rumoured he once hobbled a server who had never heard of ESB. “You cut the achilles,” he told me once with fire in his eyes. “The limp will ensure he never forgets again.” He’s a man who takes beer seriously.
This February, as with last, Beaumont and a team are preaching the merits of mainstay beers with a series of essays. As Beaumont’s site explains,
a Flagship is the beer that defines a brewery. It’s the one that you immediately think of when you hear the brewery’s name, the one that most people associate with the business. In most cases, it is their best-selling beer and often the one that outsells all their other offerings by a wide margin. A good flagship also allows a brewery to be able to afford the seasonals, specialty beers and the other one-off beers in their lineup.
Earlier today I caught wind of the fact that Toronto’s Steam Whistle Brewery had called an all-staff town hall meeting for some kind of announcement.
As is occasionally my wont, without any intel available I lazily stipulated on Twitter that I thought the announcement might be about either a sale of the company to a bigger brewery or some kind of venture related to legalized cannabis. As it turns out, the announcement was actually that Cam Heaps, Steam Whistle’s lone remaining co-founder, had announced his retirement from the company. Continue reading “Cam Heaps, Steam Whistle co-founder, announces retirement”→
infiltration [in-fil-trey-shuh n] noun
a method of attack in which small bodies of soldiers or individual soldiers penetrate the enemy’s line at weak or unguarded points in order to assemble behind the enemy position and attack it from the rear, harass enemy rear-area installations, etc.
Toronto Beer Week, which was created in 2010 by a group of like-minded publicans, beer writers, cask ale supporters, homebrewers, and craft beer enthusiasts, launches today.
The week-long celebration of local beer was originally launched with no sponsor investment and a stated purpose of helping promote the city’s burgeoning craft beer movement.
This year, it seems like that’s definitely changed.
Each consecutive year has seen TBW grow even larger in scale and, in the opinion of some grumbling beer nerds, become more and more marketing-focused in its attempts to attract evermore new participating bars and breweries.
In May of this year, Toronto Beer Week was acquired by St Joseph Media, the company that produces Toronto Life and Fashion magazine, and many of these same beer nerds wondered what this would mean in terms of the tone and direction of the nine day series of once craft-beer-focused events.
Because it’s that time of year, here are the things that I think are going to shape the conversation as it relates to beer, especially in Ontario, in 2018.
When it comes to the craft beer industry, it seems kind of crazy to me how little attention is being paid to the legalization of marijuana in Canada. To my mind it is impossible to suggest that the destiny of any meaningful changes to our beverage alcohol sector won’t now be intrinsically tied to all things pot.
Government resources are right now being dedicated to drafting new legislation, debating policies, and creating laws that will govern how each province will handle the prospect of legal weed. And if you’re a pot fan or a policy wonk, these are exciting times, but if you had any hope that you might see meaningful changes to your respective province’s liquor laws anytime soon, I’ve got some bad news for you: Much of the resources and political capital that would be needed for progress in the world of beer are going to be focused squarely on sticky-icky for a while. Continue reading “What to expect from Ontario beer in 2018”→
On Thursday, at Beer Bistro in Toronto, awards were handed out to the fan favourites in a variety of categories for Ontario’s beer scene for the 2016 Golden Tap Awards.
The occasion, which likely skews a little too heavily toward Toronto beer bars and breweries, is probably about as good a way as any to take the pulse of the province’s current beer trends, and thus seemed to me like an appropriate time to reflect on the Ontario beer scene generally. Also, yes, I won one of these awards again last night and so I feel compelled to actually contribute something instead of resting on my laurels.
And so I had a few beers and thunk on it, and I’ve concluded that the craft beer scene in Ontatio is great.
In a few hours, Toronto Beer Week will kick off with a launch party at the Summerhill LCBO.
The next week will feature a slew of events in and around the city and even an official beer, Interloper, a barrel-aged, blended farmhouse beer made by Indie Alehouse and available at the LCBO, participating TBW bars and at Indie’s bottleshop.
That much you probably already knew.
But to help you make the most of your Toronto Beer Week and give you the inside scoop, I’ve put together this list of 10 totally true facts about Toronto Beer Week.
The Proust Questionnaire is a famous questionnaire about one’s personality. Its name and modern popularity as a form of interview is owed to the responses once given by the French writer Marcel Proust. Ben’s Beer Blog has co-opted this format in order to provide a revealing look at people making beer and working in the beer industry in Ontario. As such, I’ve renamed it The Proost Questionnaire, since “proost” is the Dutch word for cheers. Clever right?
Iain McOustra, the brewmaster for Toronto’s Amsterdam Brewery reveals his affinity for chefs, the British overseas intelligence agency, and swimming off Caribbean islands.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Walking with my wife around the city. Stopping in at our favourite spots and wasting the day away eating and drinking.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Tracking down all of Pavement’s record store day releases.
What is your favorite occupation?
Brewing beer “not to style” but how I like it.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be among a select group of “media influencers” chosen to attend a private dinner at the still-under-construction second location for Toronto’s Rock Lobster. Now if hearing “media influencers” and “private dinner” makes you picture an intense session of social media junkies instagramming the shit of their meals, you should know this: 1) You’re absolutely right, and 2) I don’t care what you think I ate an amazing seafood dinner and got an article out of the deal.
You should also know this: In addition to the aforementioned delicious meal, the evening provided some excellent libations. Barrel-aged cocktails are the name of the game at Rock Lobster so it was no surprise when a handful of good ones ended up in my belly that evening. What was a surprise though was the appearance of a collaboration I had heretofore never heard of: Trombsterdam, a seemingly-right-up-my-alley joint effort from Tromba Tequila and Amsterdam Brewing Company. Continue reading “The lost barrel of “Trombsterdam””→
If you read blogTO with any sort of frequency, you’re probably aware that the comments section tends to head toward negative town in quite a hurry. Typically, I accept this as part of blogTO’s charm. Sort of a “Come for the news, stay for the angry urban snark (or, transversely chest-thumping 905er indignation).”
With this bloody cold nip in the air, but still a couple months before the official start of Winter, we’ve entered a nasty, windy, often wet part of the year frequently devoid of sunshine, but without any of the charms that snow can bring.
Accordingly, it’s a time of year that’s best suited to a certain kind of beer with a hearty dose of that most comforting autumn ingredient–and I’m not talking about pumpkin.
No. I’m talking about my old friend alcohol. It’s cold and rainy out and it’s a time for comforting oneself with strong drink. So in the spirit of this drab season, here are some potent local offerings that just might serve as a welcome port in the storm.