Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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A Canadian-made Sierra Nevada beer comes to Ontario today

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In August, 14 beer-loving Canadians traveled to the Mills River, North Carolina brewing facility of famed pioneer craft brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. for a collaboration.

The result of that collab, the unfortunately named “The Eh! Team” beer, is a peppercorn-spiced farmhouse saison that has just hit the draught lineups of a handful of great Ontario beer bars, all of whom were on hand for the beer’s creation.

The beer was made as part of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp collaboration series that welcomed Ontario beer writer Crystal Luxmore and the owners of Picton’s County Canteen, Kingston’s two Red House pubs, Toronto’s beerbistro, Birreria Volo, Bar Hop, and the Indie Ale House. Continue reading


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Come enjoy beer, bourbon, and smoked meat (with me!)

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A few months ago, I had an opportunity to host an event organized by the folks at Orchestra Marketing that combines the typically forced act of “networking” with the slightly more enjoyable act of drinking beer.

Dubbed “beerworking” the event was an exercise in learning a little about beer while meeting new people and has since blossomed into a popular ongoing series of get-togethers hosted by knowledgeable fellow beer scribe, Crystal Luxmore, for whom I was substituting when I last hosted.

Thankfully for me, Ms. Luxmore again finds herself otherwise engaged for an upcoming event and I’ve been asked to fill in.

Also thankfully for me, this event, taking place on Thursday March 12, from 6:30pm – 9:30pm  has evolved to include not just craft beer, but also bourbon and smoked meat. No really. It’s like they’ve taken a page from my dream journal. All that’s missing is 90s era Tiffany Amber Thiessen.

The event will feature beer from Sudbury craft brewery Stack Brewing who, rumour has it, are gearing up for broader distribution of their heretofore relatively unknown beers, so you’ll have a chance to try a few beers you probably haven’t had before.

We’ll also be enjoying a selection of bourbons from the portfolio of Kirkwood Diamond Canada, including Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare and I’ll make some effort to explain why beer and bourbon go well together (aside from the answer my grandpappy always gave that “you got two hands for a reason!”).

Lastly, because all this good drinkin’ will surely work up a hunger, we’ll be enjoying a selection of cured meats from none other that Toronto’s Caplansky’s.

I know, I know. At this point you’re probably already saying “Just shut up and take my money,” so here’s the link to get tickets

It’s just $50 a person which, considering you’re getting three beers, three bourbons, and three different sandwiches, is a hell of a deal (even if the experience will be marred slightly by having to listen to me pretend I know what I’m talking about).

If you bring a friend you can get a pair of tickets for $90, but considering the event is designed to meet new people, rolling solo is obviously cool, too.

See you there! I’ll be the guy covered in mustard.


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Making the connection: Talking beer and food with Crystal Luxmore

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Crystal Luxmore is a Toronto-based beer writer whose work has appeared in The Toronto Star, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, The Walrus, The New York Times, CBC and msn.ca and she was the “Hopped Up” columnist for what was easily Toronto’s best weekly magazine, The Grid (RIP).

She’s also a Certified Cicerone and a Prud’homme Beer Sommelier.

Accordingly, it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about beer. This month, as part of my ongoing efforts to explore the relationship between dining and beer, I chatted with Crystal via email about beer, food, and why beer isn’t afforded the same respect as wine–yet.

Ben Johnson: As a cicerone and prud’homme certified beer sommelier, do you put a lot of thought into beer and food pairings when you’re dining at home or eating out?

Crystal Luxmore: I do, but I don’t sweat it too much. At home, I see what’s in my beer and main fridge, and usually choose the best possible match from what’s already chilled once dinner is ready. At a restaurant, I do think about it, but sometimes I’m more interested in trying a new one-off than finding the perfect match for my burger. Luckily with beer, it’s so versatile and easy to pair that if you’ve got great food and a great pint, you’ll be satisfied.

BJ: I feel like once you start paying attention to what beers work with what foods, you can’t NOT pay attention. It’s like a new level of snobbery when I’m with friends. First it was, “oh don’t drink that.” Now if I say, “well don’t drink THAT with THAT” I feel like I’m going to get punched in the head.

CL: Yeah. I would punch you in the face if you told me that. Taste is subjective and everyone’s palate is different, so what you think is right, is right—but only for you. Continue reading


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Ben’s guide to talking like a beer snob

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Last week, I hosted an event organized by Orchestra Marketing that looked to combine the typically forced act of “networking” with the slightly more enjoyable act of drinking beer. Appropriately, they called the event “BeerWorking” and what it boiled down to was essentially non-romantic speed dating wherein the participants received a different beer each time they rotated to a new table of people to meet.

My job, as the evening’s host, was to fill the participants in on some of the finer points of beer tasting (disclosure: I was paid to do this. I don’t wander the streets looking for people to preach beer stuff at [much]).

The event was pretty laid back and pretty much guaranteed to be a success (easy money for me! *mimes guitar solo*) given that the organizers were on the ball, the space was decent, the room was full of people eager to meet other people, and we were all sampling tasty beer from the good folks at Black Oak Brewery; who make some downright decent beverages. Continue reading