Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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The best beer I’ve ever had: Doug Lounsbury

As part of an ongoing series, The best beer I’ve ever had, I put the call out to other beer folks and ask them to detail their “best beer” experiences for me.

For today’s installment, Doug Lounsbury shares his (illegal) story. Lounsbury is one of the founders of the Georgetown Craft Beer Festival , now in its third year and taking place Saturday Sept. 16th, from 11-6pm.

This story might not be politically correct, as my best beer memory actually came at very young age.

When my father was in his mid 30s, he decided to move away from the city and give farming a shot. I was born a few years after this transition.

In the early 70s, when I was young, rural living was much the same as it is now. It meant early hours and hard work, with friends and neighbours helping each other out; especially at harvest time. My father had pigs, corn, and hay and it is hay that that led to my best beer memory.

In late summer, all of our neighbours would move from farm to farm assisting in the harvest. The hay was in bales and the men would follow the tractor and trailer, throwing the bales into neat stacks. Every man was needed for this backbreaking job and so who was left to drive the tractor? Well, at all of five years old, that job fell to me. My instructions were simply to keep the steering wheel straight and, on the turns, someone would jump up and maneuver it for me. I’m not entirely sure how many times I got to do this, but it is ingrained in my memory for one important reason: Beer.

When we were done I remember we all gathered in the shade and everyone had a Labatt’s Blue. I was having water, but I distinctly remember my dad let me have a taste of his beer.

I remember it being cool and bubbly.

To this day, whenever I finish working in the garden or cutting the grass, I have a cold beer and it brings me back to those days. Of course, these days it’s usually Steam Whistle, not Blue.


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The best beer I’ve ever had: Mark McEwan

Previously I’ve asked “beer folks” to talk to me about memorable beers for my ongoing series, The best beer I’ve ever had. Recently, I put the call out to chefs and restaurateurs to detail their “best beer” experiences for me in hopes of exploring the important connection between food and beer.

For today’s installment, Mark McEwan shares his story. McEwan is the Chef/Owner of North 44, Bymark, One, McEwan and Fabbrica. He is also the author of Great Food at Home and Fabbrica, the star of The Heat and Head Judge of Top Chef Canada.

Mark McEwan

For the past three years, my executive assistant Jordie, executive chefs Andrew Ellerby (One, Fabbrica, McEwan), Brooke McDougall (Bymark), and I head down to Barbados in November for the Food, Wine and Rum Festival.

The four of us work for 12 hours a day prepping items for their main event, called Ambrosia, where 1200 guests enjoy appetizer offerings from six international chefs and six on-island chefs at the polo club [i.e. the ridonkulous Lion Castle Polo Estate.~ Ben.]

We are known for showing up at the prep kitchen with a great playlist, speakers, and cold Banks beer to get us through the days of 100-degree temperatures inside the non-air conditioned kitchen. Continue reading


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The best beer I’ve ever had: Jay Meyers

Previously I’ve asked “beer folks” to talk to me about memorable beers for my ongoing series, The best beer I’ve ever had. For the month of July, I put the call out to some of Toronto’s best chefs, restaurateurs, and bartenders to detail their “best beer” experiences for me in hopes of exploring the important connection between food and beer.

For today’s installment, Jay Meyers details his best beer experience. Meyers is the head mixologist at Hudson Kitchen.

Jay Meyers

The best beer I’ve ever had was during the summer between my first and second years of university. A bunch of my friends and I fixed a week up at a cottage near Kearney in early August. There were very few of us who had moved away from our hometown and even fewer of us who had any responsibility.  One of those days up at the cottage started with a conjoined paddleboat and floating dock, anchored in the middle of a lake with a bag of beer tied to the anchor, and ended with a Huntsville parking lot dance party and a brief but pleasant conversation with the OPP. Continue reading


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The best beer I’ve ever had: Justin Cournoyer

Previously I’ve asked “beer folks” to talk to me about memorable beers for my ongoing series, The best beer I’ve ever had. For this month, I put the call out to chefs and restaurateurs to detail their “best beer” experiences for me in hopes of exploring the important connection between food and beer.

For today’s installment, Justin Cournoyer  shares his story. Cournoyer is the Chef/Owner of Actinolite, where the menu changes according to what’s in season and the result is a dining experience that prompted The Globe and Mail’s Chris Nuttall Smith to dub Actinolite”one of the most essential places to eat in Ontario, if not in Canada.”

Mikkeller

Most days, there just isn’t enough time. As a chef, restaurant owner, husband and father, downtime is not something I’m used to. Most of the week I’m in the restaurant, and when I’m not, my thoughts often wonder back to it. What do I need for service tomorrow? Is the fish going to come in on time? What’s going to break down today? That’s why it’s important to make the most of the time you do get.

Such was my thinking last summer before the restaurant shut down for a much-needed vacation. With my wife stuck at work, I decided to take my then three year old son, on an impromptu adventure to Copenhagen. It’s easy to get trapped into the daily routine of service, and to lose the inspiration one needs for creativity. I wanted to soak in as much food culture as I could, to experience the delights of Amass, Relae, and Manfreds. To recharge really.

And in between seven course tasting menus and weird natural wine, came Mikkeller. Out and about on a single rented bike, Toby and I would stop in for a midafternoon tipple, then return again after dinner. In the same glass as his father, my son would have the fresh-pressed apple juice they made daily. I would make up gibberish and tell him it was Danish. He’d speak it back to me.

As for the beer, the one I remember best is the Vesterbro Spontanale, an unfiltered lambic on tap that summer. It was sour, with loads of grapefruit, rhubarb, and lemon. Of course it could have been a Blue Light, for all I cared. Just to spend time with my boy, half a world away from the pressures of the restaurant, was enough to make everything taste sweet.

This summer, as we close for vacation, I won’t be making the trip again. I’ll be welcoming the birth of my second child. I suppose whatever I drink that night is likely to taste just as sweet.


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The best beer I’ve ever had: Jim Koch

As part of my ongoing series, The best beer I’ve ever had, I put the call out to other beer folks and ask them to detail their “best beer” experiences for me.

For today’s installment, Jim Koch shares his story. Jim Koch is the co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, the producers of Samuel Adams

Jim Koch

To date, I’d estimate I’ve had more than 21,000 beers so as you can imagine, choosing the best one is a real challenge. There was the time I enjoyed Samuel Adams Boston Lager at the top of Mount Aconcagua (the highest point in the Western Hemisphere), the beer I brewed for my daughter’s wedding – Samuel Adams Noble Pils, and countless other beers enjoyed with family and friends over the years. But if I had to choose, I’d say my favorite beer was my very first Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Continue reading


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The best beer I’ve ever had: Fabian Skidmore

As part of my ongoing series, The best beer I’ve ever had, I put the call out to other beer folks and ask them to detail their “best beer” experiences for me.

For today’s installment, Fabian Skidmore, bartender at Danforth craft beer staple, The Only Cafe, shares his story.

coleman

Ah, the things we do to get us through university.

I spent a lot of time digging holes, painting walls, cleaning things, chopping veggies as quickly as I could while ducking and dodging flying pots and pans originating from unstable, drug addled chefs.

One day, I even helped re-wire a house.

Continue reading


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The best beer I’ve ever had: Sam Corbeil

As part of my ongoing series, The best beer I’ve ever had, I put the call out to other beer folks and ask them to detail their “best beer” experiences for me.

For today’s instalment, Sam Corbeil, Brewmaster at Sawdust City Brewing Company, shares his story.

DraftBeerBar 

I‘ve drank a lot of beers in my day. Many of them have been fantastic and entirely memorable, but the “Best Beer I’ve Ever Had” was completely and utterly unmemorable. The beer itself was more of a catalyst in a pivotal moment in my life–a bit player in a larger scene. Maybe a long time ago, I used to know what type of beer it was but like a smell that conjures up a distant memory, this beer lives only in the cavernous recesses of my sub-conscious. Deep regression hypnosis may be the only way to dig it up. Also, the actual type of beer is some what unimportant, it’s the fact that beer was present at this moment in my life that is more to the point.

Okay, let me set the scene. Continue reading