Putting away pints: Are cellars worth it or just expensive beer purgatory?

This piece originally appeared in print and online for the first edition of The Growler, Ontario’s Beer Guide.

When I mention my beer cellar, my wife usually rolls her eyes.

Mainly she does this because she knows when I say something like, “I’ve got some really good stuff in the cellar right now,” I’m actually referring to rows of dusty bottles on the metal shelving that I bought at Home Depot and put in our basement.

And while, of course, it is a tad pretentious to refer to these shelves next to the laundry tub as a “cellar,” it doesn’t take much more to have a functioning beer storage space. Indeed, the ideal conditions for storing beer are essentially just a cool, dark place where you can fit a bunch of big bottles.

Tomas Morana is the co-owner of Birreria Volo, arguably one of Canada’s best beer bars. He’s also a co-founder of Keep6Imports, a company that works to bring rare and funky imports to Ontario. At Birreria Volo in Toronto’s Little Italy, the cellaring program is very much part of the venue’s draw and he takes it seriously. Continue reading “Putting away pints: Are cellars worth it or just expensive beer purgatory?”

Amsterdam’s Iain McOustra on what to expect from the brewery’s new Barrel House

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“We have sourced a small 3 hL brewhouse from a manufacturer located in Cambridge, Ontario. Our focus at the Barrelhouse will be on farmhouse ales and barrel-aging.

We have been working with barrels and brettanomyces since 2010 but it is difficult to do so in a working production brewery. Our new location will be a safe space to experiment with different Brett strains as well as aging with bacteria cultures. Our goal is to continue developing our house wild yeast strain while using the space to test different brewing techniques and raw ingredients. It’s essentially a lab, separate from the production brewery, that we can use to focus on making farmhouse ales that we love to drink.

It’s going to be a lot of fun and each of our brewers will have a chance to rotate through and learn about brewing with wild yeast and bacteria.

The majority of our barrels will continue to be stored at the Esandar Brewery (around the corner from the Barrel House). We don’t have enough room to store the entire program onsite at the Barrel House.”

~Iain McOustra, Brewmaster for Amsterdam Brewery, on the company’s forthcoming third location, which will open at the end of September. For a couple more details, check out my brief post in Toronto Life yesterday, here

Iain McOustra: The Proost Questionnaire

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?

Harry Smith.

Which living person do you most admire?

Chefs. They all seem to be a little crazy.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Impatience and a tendency to respond without thinking. Continue reading “Iain McOustra: The Proost Questionnaire”

‘Dam Good News for Beer Drinkers

With the announcement yesterday that Amsterdam Brewing Company is not only moving to a location with bigger distribution capabilities but also opening a brew pub on Toronto’s waterfront, it seems clear that they’re poised to become a bigger player in the city’s, if not the province’s or country’s, beer scene (and we won’t mention which Toronto beer writer was the first out with that story–ahem), and that is really, really good news for Ontario and for beer drinkers in general.

This move–with the company’s focus on having all their products available for retail sales and the strategic choice of a tourist-friendly site for their proposed brewpub– is sure to get an even larger swath of the the population drinking Amsterdam’s beers, so it will be that the rest of the world is soon likely to find out what Toronto’s beer nerds have known for a long time: Amsterdam Brewing Company makes really good beers. Continue reading “‘Dam Good News for Beer Drinkers”