Category Archives: beer events

Movember Spawned A Mon-stache

As the blurry self-portrait above attests, I’m a participant in this year’s edition of Movember, the annual campaign in which men grow ugly things on their faces in order to raise money for prostate cancer research.

More specifically, I’m one of a number of local beer writers and bloggers who are taking part in Beauvember, in which we’re each growing a moustache & soul patch combo that’s meant to resemble the one famously worn by Stephen Beaumont.

To cap this dark month that our respective significant others have hated, those of us who have been growing the Beau will be gathering at Burger Bar on the evening on Wednesday, November 30th to mock each other, have a few beers, and receive final judgement on our ‘staches from Mr. Beaumont and his lovely wife Maggie. Onlookers are welcome to come out and heckle, as long as you’re also willing to throw in a few bucks to support the cause.

If you can’t make it in person – or if you’re just feeling extra-generous – you can donate online via my page on the Movember website. Please help if you can!

Announcing the Canadian Beer News Dinner Series

It occurred to me this morning that I’ve been spending so much time contacting other blogs and media outlets about this that I’ve forgotten to post about it on my own damn blog. Which is pretty ridiculous, because if you don’t use your blog for shameless self-promotion, why bother having one in the first place?

Right, here’s the deal: I’m starting a new beer dinner series under my Canadian Beer News alter ego. Fittingly enough, it’s called the Canadian Beer News Dinner Series, and the dinners will feature great breweries and import agencies paired with great chefs and restaurants. My participation is basically curatorial – I’ll be bringing the talent together, and saying a few words, but mostly I’ll just be enjoying the meals.

The spark for the series was a dinner I attended earlier this year that featured food prepared by vegan chef Doug McNish and paired with organic wine. After the dinner – which was one of the most astoundingly good meals I’ve had this year, vegan or not – I started talking with Doug about organic beer, and casually brought up the idea of him doing a dinner with Beau’s All-Natural Brewery since all of their beers are organic.

One thing lead to another, and the dinner will be happening on Tuesday December 6th at The Windsor Arms Hotel (18 St. Thomas St., Toronto), where Doug has been consulting on some vegan menus recently. And I’ve also got two more dinners in the works for early 2012, and hopefully many more to follow.

This inaugural dinner will include a welcome reception with passed hors d’oeuvre followed by a four course meal, with the reception and each course featuring a beer pairing presented by Beau’s co-owner Steve Beauchesne. Tickets are available online, and should be purchased sooner rather than later, as there are a couple of large groups that have expressed interest in attending, so a sell out is a strong possibility.

And for those who may balk at the fact that the meal will be vegan – as I noted in the announcement over on CBN, Doug’s food will “show us that there is much more to vegan food than tofu and sprouts.” I was blown away by some the flavours and textures of the food he served at the dinner earlier this year, and I’ve no doubt that he’ll pull off something equally impressive for this event. And while I can’t speak for the rest of you, I know that my fat ass and expansive waistline could certainly do with a little less meat once in a while.

So, in summary:

Canadian Beer News Dinner #1:
Beau’s Brewing & Chef Doug McNish

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
The Windsor Arms Hotel
18 Saint Thomas Street, Toronto

6:30 PM – Reception with passed hors d’oeuvre & beer pairing
7:15 PM – 4-course Dinner with beer pairings

$95 per person including taxes and gratuities


Hope to see you there!

Cask Days 2011: A Quick Review

Anyone with at least a passing interest in Toronto’s craft beer scene will likely be aware of the almost legendary reputation of Cask Days, the cask beer event that Ralph Morana and his sons and team at barVolo have been hosting each year since 2005. Over the years it’s grown from a single day event with a couple of dozen casks from Ontario breweries, to a week-long celebration featuring various cask-themed evenings leading up to the main multi-session weekend.

Sometime around the third year, as the popularity and crowds started to grow, Ralph began talking about moving the main event to a larger venue. While some expressed concern that doing this would have a negative impact on what was admittedly a pretty fun event, those of us with slightly claustrophobic and mildly misanthropic tendencies loved the idea of having more room to spread out, and potentially more beers to choose from.

This past Sunday, the curmudgeons were proven right, as the Cask Days festival was moved to the regal and spacious Hart House on the University of Toronto campus, and ended up being one of the best beer events Toronto has ever seen.

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Toronto Beer Week 2011: The Opening Weekend

I must admit that up until a week or so ago, I wasn’t overly excited for this year’s edition of Toronto Beer Week. Aside from a few gems, the line-up of confirmed events was a bit underwhelming, with many key venues and breweries missing from the list completely.

But then the week leading up to Friday’s kick-off saw a deluge of new listings added, and suddenly number of events that I was planning on checking out grew so quickly that I’ve got myself booked for at least one event every evening from now until next weekend. And while daily updates/recaps are unlikely, I’ll do my best to getting something written up a couple of times during the week, starting with this review of how the opening weekend played out for me.

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From Blogging to Brewing (& Bragging)

Anyone who makes a living or hobby out of being a critic has likely received feedback to a negative review accusing them of not knowing what they’re talking about. It’s equally likely that the feedback will suggest that the critic should try creating their own version of whatever it is that they’re reviewing before passing judgment on others.

Personally, I’ve always looked at this as a bit of a spurious argument. The fact that my musical ability extends to knowing how to play about three notes on a guitar doesn’t mean that the opinions I expressed in my many years as a music writer were invalid. I just knew what I liked and what I didn’t, and had spent enough years obsessing about music to know what I was writing about. (Well, most of the time, at least.)

The same goes for beer. I’ve never had a lot of interest in being a homebrewer – I have neither the patience nor the imagination needed to do a good job of it – but I’ve consumed enough of the stuff, and read enough about both the product and the process, to have a pretty good understanding of how beer is made, and how to differentiate between good ones and bad ones.

Still, even if I don’t consider it to be a necessary precursor for writing about beer, a bit of hands on experience can never hurt. So when Mike Warner of the excellent (but no longer accurately named) blog A Year of Beer let me know that he was planning a event for Toronto Beer Week that would feature beers created by beer bloggers and writers in partnership with pro brewers, I was pleased to be invited to take part. Even moreso when Adam Grant of The Monk’s Table came on board to host the event, and provided a bunch of 10 litre oak barrels for aging the beers, adding another interesting element to the proceedings. Taking place tonight under the name Barrel Bragging Rights, it’s one of the kick-off events for TBW 2011.

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Quick Quaff: Hop City Mr. Huff Persuasion Pilsner & Happy Hour Ale

Say what you will about Moosehead and their beers – and lord knows I’ve said some not-so-positive things about them in the past – but one thing you can’t say about them is that they don’t know how to throw a party. From their small afternoon media scrums to big evening blowouts, every Moosehead event I’ve attended has been a great time, even if I haven’t always been a fan of the beers being presented.

This reputation continued with last Thursday’s launch party for Mr. Huff Persuasion Pilsner, the awkwardly named new release from Hop City, a small Moosehead subsidiary that operates out of the former Cool Brewing facility in Brampton. Held at 99 Sudbury, a swank events space in downtown Toronto, the bash also did double duty as an after-party for Moosehead’s annual sales meeting, which meant that the company big-wigs were on hand along with a few hundred other folks. In the main space, a DJ and cover band got the party mood going, while endless pints of all four Hop City beers kept attendees well lubricated.

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Take A Trip To The Tier

For my Torontonian readers, here’s something pretty cool that’s coming up:

The fine folks at Roland + Russell, importers of many excellent beers (along with wine, spirits and other tasty things) are arranging a bus trip down to Southern Tier Brewery on Saturday, April 30th.

In addition to touring the brewery and meeting Southern Tier brewer/owner Phin DeMink and his crew, there will be pulled pork sandwiches for lunch, and yes, some beer to drink.

All of the details, including ticket info, are up on the R+R website.

I Was Not Informed That There Would Be Cameras Present!

Or maybe I was informed. I was pretty drunk after all. But either way, there is some unfortunate video evidence of the “Not Always in Good Taste: Beer Writers in the Round” event that I was part of at C’est What during Toronto Beer Week back in September.

In the video above, you’ll see Josh Rubin, yours truly, and Troy Burtch revealing some embarrassing beer-related moments; and below, you’ll see the two Steve’s – Beaumont and Cameron – and I ranting about some of the worst beers we’ve tried. For my part in this second video, I gave a spoken variation of the especially (and deservedly) scathing review of Wellington Silver Wheat Ale that I’d written for TasteTO a couple of weeks earlier.

Assuming that you can stand watching these two videos, there are a couple more posted to C’est What’s YouTube account, both of which are mercifully free of any of my aimless ramblings.

Toronto Beer Week – Day 1: Tappin' and Shuckin'

I feel it only proper that any city-wide beer festival should be kicked off with a ceremonial cask-tapping, preferably by a political figure of some sort. And apparently the organizers of Toronto Beer Week agree with me, as they put together a trade and media launch of the event yesterday at Mill Street Brewpub, with Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, MPP Steve Peters, doing the cask-tapping honours at 11:00 AM.

This is hardly the first time that Peters has been involved in a beer-related event. In fact, he’s a long-time fan and supporter of craft beer, and in his role as the Speaker, one of his initiatives has been an annual tasting at Queen’s Park to choose which Ontario craft beers will be served in the dining room and at catered events. So while his riding isn’t in Toronto, he was still a great choice to kick the week off.

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Toronto Beer Week – Day 0: Dieu Du Ciel!

It’s only a few hours old, but I already feel like I haven’t written enough about Toronto Beer Week. Loads of other folks – like Jordan, like Stephen, and Jordan, and Troy, and Jordan, and Chris, and, uh, Jordan – were all over it well in advance, which has given me a bit of the ol’ blog guilt.

In order to assuage that guilt somewhat, I’m going to attempt to post a daily TBW diary this week, which will likely consist mainly of photos and a couple of paragraphs posted each day as a recap of the day before. Or that’s the plan, anyway. And I’ll likely be doing plenty of tweeting, as will many other folks.

To kick it off, here are some highlights from the TBW pre-party of sorts that took place this weekend, when the folks from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! came in from Montreal for a few events to mark their recent brewery feature at the LCBO.

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