Category Archives: blogs & websites

There Are Some Things I've Been Meaning To Tell You…

…and here they are:

  1. My weekly column for Taste T.O. this past Tuesday was a re-review of Great Lakes Devil’s Pale Ale – “re-review” because I had previously written about it three years ago when it was first launched in cans, but the recipe has recently been tweaked to make it hoppier and much more enjoyable.
  2. Speaking of re-reviews – last night I cracked open one of those lovely 750 ml ceramic swing-top bottles from Beau’s All-Natural Brewing, containing their limited edition Screaming Beaver Oak-Aged Angry IPA, which I had been sitting on since May. I tried a pint of it on cask back in the spring and didn’t care for it at all – it was boozy and sticky and just a big hot mess. But either the three months or so of sitting in my fridge took the edge off the bottled version, or it was a beer better suited for bottle format over cask – either way, I enjoyed the hell out of it this time. Big aroma with the oak, malt and hops playing very nicely off each other, and a flavour that starts sweet, with some notes of caramel and tropical fruit, before it turns dry and bitter with a wonderfully long and lingering finish of pine and grapefruit and wood. Mmmm-mmmm!
  3. Not sure how I missed mentioning this before, but a few weeks back, my buddy Troy over at the Great Canadian Beer Blog did a Q&A with me as part of a series of Ontario beer blogger profiles. Seven of us have been featured so far, and as the blogroll I maintain over at Canadian Beer News shows, Troy will have plenty more to choose from if he decides to continue, especially if he expands to cover all of Canada. Hard to believe that just a few years ago, there were only 3 or 4 of us doing the beer blogging thing in the whole country.
  4. Finally, I’m flattered to have been asked by George down at C’est What? to participate in one of the events they’re holding during Toronto Beer Week. Dubbed “Not Always In Good Taste – a beer writers-in-the-round“, it’s gonna feature Stephen Beaumont, Nick Pashley, Ian Coutts, Steve Cameron, Troy Burtch, Aonghus Kealy, Josh Rubin and myself sitting on stage talking about beer. And drinking some as well, I would expect. Which could be pretty boring, but given that it’s happening at 10:00 PM following several other TBW events, including what is sure to be an epic Brewdog beer dinner at beerbistro, I fully expect that most of us – and most of the audience – will be half in the bag before it even starts. So best luck to whoever is supposed to moderate the damn thing…

The Beer Blogging Axis

While attempting to catch up on my reading of other beer blogs  this evening, I got to thinking about the old “quality vs. quantity”  equation. It applies to more than just beer blogs, of course – to more than just blogs in general, even – but I found it interesting to analyze things just in terms of those of us who fill our little corners of the Internet with ramblings about beer and brewing.

While I won’t mention any names in order to avoid unnecessarily offending or ego-boosting, I was especially struck by the vast variation on both sides of the equation amongst our clan. There are highly skilled writers who post very infrequently; remarkably prolific bloggers who can barely string a sentence together; those who manage to write both often and well; those who offer their clunky and turgid content on a mercifully infrequent schedule; and any and every combination in between.

As for this blog, it’s pretty obvious where it fits on the quantity scale (i.e. pretty freakin’ low), and as the sloppy image to the right indicates, I have enough confidence in my writing ability to think (or at least hope) that it sits somewhat higher on the quality axis. I often wish that I could even things out with some more frequent content, and I always have at least a half-dozen ideas that I’d like to write about. But as long as this poor little blog continues to play fourth or fifth fiddle to my writing for other places, not to mention my job and other real life stuff, posts here will likely always come in fits and starts. I can only hope that the quality is high enough to keep people coming back for my less-frequent-than-I’d-like-them-to-be musings.

Anyway, speaking of those other places I write for – here are my beer-related articles for Taste T.O. from the last couple of months:

Feb 16th: Beer of the Week – Great Lakes Canuck Pale Ale
Feb 9th: Beer of the Week – Michael Duggan Number 9 IPA
Feb 2nd: Get Yer Drink(vine) On (profile of a handy new website for Ontario booze drinkers)
Jan 26th: Beer of the Week – Harviestoun Ola Dubh 40
Jan 19th: Beer of the Week – Black Oak Ten Bitter Years
Jan 12th: Beer of the Week – Amsterdam Dry Dock Porter
Jan 5th: Beer of the Week – BrewDog Punk IPA

Canadian Beer News Launches

cbn

I was planning on waiting until after the holidays to officially announce this, but it came together a lot more quickly and with a lot less effort than I expected, so I figured I’d give you all an early Christmas gift:

I’m pleased to announce the launch of Canadian Beer News, a new blog from yours truly that will focus exclusively on news from the Canadian brewing industry. There will be no beer reviews or opinion pieces, simply press releases and news bulletins with announcements of new beer releases, brewery openings and closures, news about festivals and events, and other information from breweries all across the country.

Giving credit where credit is due, I must admit that the idea was ripped off of – uh, I mean, “strongly influenced by” – beernews.org, the excellent and informative blog/website that provides similar information on the American craft brewing scene. Since there was nothing similar here in Canada (or at least no blog dedicated exclusively to new beer announcements and other news), and I was already getting a lot of press releases and announcements sent to me from various breweries, I figured I might as well set up a place to cut & paste the info for all to see.

Please pop over for a look, and let me know what you think. And if you’re a brewer in Canada, please add me to your mailing list so I can spread the word on what you’ve got going on.

Stuff & Things

One of the results of my unintended hiatus from blogging during August through October was that my inbox filled up with assorted blurbs and announcements that I might’ve posted about, had I had the time.

It’s obviously too late to do much with the more time-sensitive stuff, but while doing some email clean-up and sorting today, I came across a few things that are still worth mentioning:

  • I expect that most of you will have already heard about this, as it’s been all over the beer blogs and magazines for months now, but in case you’ve somehow missed it: One of North America’s top drink writers, Rick Lyke, was successfully treated for prostate cancer early this year. Following his recovery, he launched Pints For Prostates, a campaign to raise awareness of PSA testing, one of the best ways for prostate cancer to be detected before it’s too late. Since my day job is with Cancer Care Ontario, I know how many men are affected by prostate cancer, and important it is to get tested, so I’m more than happy to support the cause.
  • Joe Redner at Cigar City Brewing, a soon-to-open microbrewery down in Tampa, emailed a while back to let me about their blog where they’ve been documenting the entire process of getting the brewery together. I finally spent some time poking through the blog this weekend, and it’s a pretty fascinating journey they’ve been on. Hope I’ll be able to get my hands on some of their brews when they open (which should be before the end of the year by the looks of things).
  • Ed Westin wants me to mention California Beerzine, an online magazine that fittingly covers beers in California. I’m a bit confused by the site, as the top banner says “FIRST ISSUE” even though they launched in July and are supposed to be publishing monthly. It looks like there have been a couple of things posted in the past few months, but perhaps things aren’t going as smoothly as they had hoped? Whatever the case, the content that’s up there worth a peek.
  • They tell me that the kids today are into something called “social networking”. Which I guess explains the existance of sites like Kegerator Social Network (launched in September) and Democracy’s Drink (which recently passed the 500 member mark).
  • Joel Mayer wrote me a nice note saying that he enjoyed BBB, and inviting me to check out his blog, The Alemonger. So I did, and while he posts even less frequently than I do (I didn’t think that was possible!), what’s there is good stuff. Write more, Joel!
  • And jeez, I just realised that I never got around to mentioning CASK!, a group that came together in the summer to raise the awareness of cask ale in Toronto and surrounding area. The four founders of the group – Mirella Amato, Maz Brereton, Robert Hughey and Nick Pashley – decided that they wanted a fifth member in the core group, and I was very flattered to be asked to fill the position. Busy schedules for all of us mean that we’re still in a bit of a “getting shit together” phase, and one of our first projects – a bus festival to the upcoming Buffalo Cask Festival – had to be cancelled due to lack of interest. We did, however, pull off a successful “cask vs. keg” event at C’est What last week (although I sadly had to miss it due to a scheduling conflict), and plans are afoot for several things in the new year. Stay tuned…

Don't Put That In Your Mouth, You Don't Know Where It's Been!

Catching up on some blog reading recently, I came across posts from Jay Brooks and Stephen Beaumont regarding The Omnivore’s 100, a list of 100 food items – some really weird, some not so much – that bloggers are supposed to post their blogs, bolding items that they’ve eaten and crossing out items that they’d never consider eating.

Since I ate bull testicles (which are notably missing from this list, I might add) for the first time last week, I thought it would be fun to find out my results:

Homer has eaten #46 on the list, but I have not.

Homer has eaten #46 on the list, but I have not.

  1. Venison
  2. Nettle tea
  3. Huevos rancheros
  4. Steak tartare
  5. Crocodile *
  6. Black pudding
  7. Cheese fondue
  8. Carp
  9. Borscht
  10. Baba ghanoush
  11. Calamari
  12. Pho
  13. Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich
  14. Aloo gobi
  15. Hot dog from a street cart
  16. Epoisses
  17. Black truffle
  18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
  19. Steamed pork buns
  20. Pistachio ice cream
  21. Heirloom tomatoes
  22. Fresh wild berries
  23. Foie gras
  24. Rice and beans
  25. Brawn, or head cheese
  26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
  27. Dulce de leche
  28. Oysters
  29. Baklava
  30. Bagna cauda
  31. Wasabi peas
  32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
  33. Salted lassi
  34. Sauerkraut
  35. Root beer float
  36. Cognac with a fat cigar **
  37. Clotted cream tea
  38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
  39. Gumbo
  40. Oxtail
  41. Curried goat
  42. Whole insects
  43. Phaal
  44. Goat’s milk
  45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $60/$120 or more
  46. Fugu
  47. Chicken tikka masala
  48. Eel
  49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
  50. Sea urchin
  51. Prickly pear
  52. Umeboshi
  53. Abalone
  54. Paneer
  55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
  56. Spaetzle
  57. Dirty gin martini
  58. Beer above 8% ABV
  59. Poutine
  60. Carob chips
  61. S’mores
  62. Sweetbreads
  63. Kaolin ***
  64. Currywurst
  65. Durian
  66. Frogs’ legs
  67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
  68. Haggis
  69. Fried plantain
  70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
  71. Gazpacho
  72. Caviar and blini
  73. Louche absinthe
  74. Gjetost, or brunost
  75. Roadkill
  76. Baijiu
  77. Hostess Fruit Pie ****
  78. Snail
  79. Lapsang souchong
  80. Bellini
  81. Tom yum
  82. Eggs Benedict
  83. Pocky
  84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
  85. Kobe beef
  86. Hare
  87. Goulash
  88. Flowers
  89. Horse
  90. Criollo chocolate
  91. Spam
  92. Soft shell crab
  93. Rose harissa
  94. Catfish
  95. Mole poblano
  96. Bagel and lox
  97. Lobster Thermidor
  98. Polenta
  99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
  100. Snake

* It was actually alligator. But close enough.

** Never been much of a congac drinker, but back when I occasionally smoked cigars, I’d often pair one with a nice bourbon or big, peaty single malt scotch. So again, close enough.

*** I had to look this one up. According to Wikipedia, Kaolin is a mineral which was “the active substance of anti-diarrhea medicine Kaopectate” until the early 1990s. I can’t remember if I used Kaopectate before that point or not, so I’ll count it as half.

**** I don’t think Hostess Fruit Pies were ever available in Canada, as we had a different Hostess company up here that made potato chips. But I ate plenty of Vachon snack pies and cakes as a kid, which was sort of the Canadian equivalent. I’ll take a half-point here as well.

So my total is 80 out of 100. Not bad! And none of the remainder that I’d absolutely never try. (Well, roadkill isn’t exactly at the top of my “must try” list, but as Stephen said in his post, “you just never know”…)

I Made The Top Ten!

number101

I’ve got no idea how this happened and who decided I deserved it, but I’ve somehow made it into the Top 10 beer blogs on the whole, entire Internet (or at least, out of the 104 that are listed) according to Blogged.com.

I’m frankly humbled and confused by this. Humbled, because it puts me into the company of beer writers who are much better and more prolific than I. Confused, because they have me ranked higher than some more worthy bloggers, such as Alan (#13) and Stan (#14) – and hell, Lew doesn’t seem to be listed at all!

At least Jay and Stonch came in ahead of me, which is where they belong.

Bloggy Stuff: Menu For Hope & Food Blog Awards

A couple of things are happening out in the greater food & drink blogiverse that readers here might be interested in.

First, there’s the 4th annual edition of Menu For Hope, a fundraising campaign undertaken by food & drink bloggers around the wold each December. Originally started in 2004 to raise money for victims of the tsunami, it now raises funds for the UN World Food Programme, with this year’s take earmarked for a school lunch program in Lesotho.

While I’m not participating in the event via this blog, we’re going to be raffling off a great prize package over at Taste T.O. with the theme being a “Culinary Tour of Toronto”. Preliminary details are up now, and the campaign officially kicks off next Monday, December 10th.

Under-way now is the nomination period for the 2007 Food Blog Awards, presented by the Well Fed Network. While I harbour no illusions that this blog world have a hope in hell of winning anything – even if I did meet the ’6 posts per month’ minimum for consideration – there are several other beer blogs that would be well deserving of the award for ‘Best Blog Covering Drinks (Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic)‘. So if you have a particular favourite, get over there and nominate it.

The Value of Beer

Work and other things have been leaving me little time to keep on top of the beerblogosphere recently, but I’ve been catching up when I can, and tonight I spent some time reading a fascinating string of comments on a post written by Alan over at A Good Beer Blog entitled “Are Craft Beer Prices Too Low? No, They Are Not Too Low.” Inspired by recent musings by other beer writers that the high-and-getting-higher prices being charged for rare/limited/exclusive beers are a-ok, assuming the purchaser feels that the experience is worth the cost, Alan played the contrarian:

Beer is craft, a mass product. It is not art. And, as a craft in the medium of food to boot, a consumable that depends on its destruction. Second, while I admittedly have a very high level of sensitivity to it, this line of discussion could really be taken to smack of snob (not something I associate with the three gents mentioned so please leave that alone) or at least it is an idea that is paying a visit to the Neighbourhood of Snob and, you know, is finding it somewhat attractive. Fergit it.

An absolutely insane number of comments have followed in the 24 hours or so since Alan’s original post, with most of them coming from those who inspired the post in the first place – Messrs. Beaumont, Bryson & Hieronymus – plus a smattering of other bloggers, brewers, and ne’er-do-wells who are all much more eloquent than I. Which is why I’m posting my thoughts here, where a lot less people will see them.

Personally, I disagree with much of Alan’s original line of reasoning, at least when it comes to the odd, weird, “extreme”, one-off, limited-bottling beers that are heading into wine-price territory. Such beers are much more labour- and ingredient-intensive than everyday brews, and are generally intended to be a special treat. And they’re most definitely “art”, IMO.

As Stephen notes in one of his comments, the relative quality of the cheese he buys – and in turn, the amount he pays for it – varies depending on what he’s going to use it for. Similarly, while I stick with “normal” craft beer at “normal” craft beer prices for everyday drinking, I have no problem splurging more on a bottle of something a little (or a lot) different for a special occasion, or for a tasting with friends, or if I just feel like treating myself. In those cases, I’m willing to pay a premium for the experience.

And hell, if the rumours are true, we’re going to be paying more for all beer soon enough, so we might as well get used to it…

New(ish) Blog Alert: Great Canadian Pubs and Beer

Some time ago, I was lamenting about the fact that the number of Canadian beer bloggers seemed to be disproportionately low in comparison to our American counterparts. There hasn’t been a huge change since then, but I’m happy to report that at least one newcomer has joined our ranks, with more enthusiasm than the rest of us combined.

troyburtch.jpgGreat Canadian Pubs & Beer was launched by a young fella named Troy Burtch back on August 13th, and in less than 2 months, he’s already made 47 posts on, well, pubs and beers in Canada. It took me something like 7 months to reach that same point. Yikes!

I really like what he’s doing with his blog. While it’s fine and good to rate and review beers, and debate the merits of a particular style, and delve into some of the business behind it, and so on and so forth, beer lovers need to remember that beer is a social drink, and where you drink can be just as important as what you drink. A whole bunch of us wrote about this for an instalment of The Session a few months back, but it’s great to see someone writing about beer and pub culture on a regular basis – especially from a Canadian perspective. It’s something that Pint & A Smoke was set to focus on, but that blog is seemingly abandoned now, so I’m glad someone else has taken up the gauntlet. Or the pint glass, rather.

Welcome, Troy. Keep it up.

Green Beer

No, I’m not getting an early start on St. Patrick’s Day. (And besides, I wouldn’t be caught dead drinking fizzy yellow beer with green food colouring in it on March 17th – or any other day, for that matter.)

By “Green Beer”, I’m referring to beer that is produced and distributed in environmentally friendly ways, which is the focus of Beer Activist, a newish blog that I discovered this week. It’s the online home of Chris O’Brien, author of a book called Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World that I got for Christmas but have yet to read. Chris looks like a pretty interesting guy – he has brewed in South Africa, worked with fair trade organisations and co-ops, and is currently part owner of a store specialising in organic brewing supplies and organic/fair trade home coffee roasting supplies. I’m looking forward to reading his blog, and (finally) reading his book as well.

Between this, and meeting/chatting with Garrett Oliver the other night, and attending a Slow Food conference earlier in the week, I’m seeing the worlds of local/organic/sustainable food and craft beer becoming more and more entwined. Very exciting stuff!

Speaking of Mr. Oliver – my encounter with him was at a fantastic Brooklyn Brewery beer dinner at beerbistro on Tuesday night. I’ll be writing up a full report this weekend, and it will probably be published at Gremolata, assuming Malcolm is interested. If not, I’ll just post it here.