Tag Archives: TAPS Magazine

Does This Make Me a Social Media Guru?

It’s been a while since I last mentioned it here, but I’m still doing a some writing for TAPS Magazine, the quarterly publication that looks at the beer and brewing industry from a Canadian perspective – although since changing the subtitle from “Canada’s Beer Magazine” to “The Beer Magazine” a few issues ago, the scope has expanded to include more content from beyond our borders. It’s a magazine that keeps getting better and better, and even if wasn’t writing for it, I’d be reading every issue from cover to cover.

While my “Beer Styles 101” column is no longer appearing in its pages (since, as I noted last summer, I pretty much ran out of major styles to feature), I’m still on the review panel for the “Tasting Notes” in each edition, and I’m contributing other stuff from time to time. Amongst that other stuff is an article in the Winter 2010-11 issue looking at how Canadian breweries are using Twitter, Facebook and other social media to promote their brands and connect to their customers.

My original intention was to write an editorial-style article with quotes interspersed here and there from some brewery folks that I interviewed via email. But when I started getting fantastic answers back from the interviewees – including Steve Beauchesne of Beau’s All-Natural Brewing, Karen Gaudino of Creemore Springs Brewery, Tina Wolfe of Wild Rose Brewery, and Ferg Devins of Molson Coors Canada – I realized that running the four Q&As pretty much in full along with a short introduction would give a better idea of the whats, hows and whys of beer and social media in Canada than anything I could write myself.

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More Stuff I've Written Elsewhere

The Summer 2010 issue of TAPS Magazine is out now, and you can read a bit more about it (including details of both a format and subtitle change) over at Canadian Beer News (aka the blog that I actually post at more than once a every few weeks). Over here, I’ll just mention that it includes the 11th installment of my “Beer Styles 101” feature column, this one focused on Belgian-Style Ales.

This will likely be my final column in the series as well. While it would be nice to hit an even dozen, the 11 styles I’ve featured so far – Pilsner, Dunkel & Schwarzbier, Hefeweizen, Porter, Barley Wine, Pale Ale & Bitter, Belgian Witbier, Stout, IPA, Fruit Beer & Belgian-Style Ales – encompass the vast majority of the craft beers brewed in Canada. And since half the point of the column is to mention Canadian-brewed beers in the style being discussed, it would be tough to get a full feature out of any remaining style.

(You may also notice that only a few of the styles in the list above are linked to earlier posts that reprint the articles. That’s something I really should rectify, so I’ll try and get the rest of them posted here soon.)

In the meantime – here are the beer reviews & articles I’ve written for Taste T.O. since my last round-up at the end of March.

July 13: Hockley Black & Tan and Headstrong Black & Tan
July 6: Samuel Smith Organic Raspberry Ale
July 1: Read Local, Drink Local – Article about an initiative of the Ontario Media Development Corporation to pair the books shortlisted for the Trillium Book Awards with Ontario beers and wines.
June 29: Georg Schneider’s Wiesen Edel-Weisse & Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse
June 22: Ölvisholt Brugghús Skjálfti
June 15: Drinking for Politics & Pleasure at Ontario Craft Beer Week – Preview of the first OCBW.
June 8: Mill Street Lemon Tea Beer
June 1: Third Time’s The Charm For The Brewers Plate – Re-cap of the third annual Brewers Plate local beer & food event.
May 25: The Beers Of Summer – Preview of the LCBO’s Summer beer promotion.
May 18: Brewers Plate 2010: Bigger & Beerier Than Before – Preview of the Brewers Plate.
May 11: Quaffing Local Beer at Queen’s Park -Re-cap of a craft beer event at Queen’s Park, hosted by Steve Peters, the Speaker of the House.

(There were no posts in April or early May due to Taste T.O. being on a publishing hiatus.)

Repurposed Content: The Busy Blogger's Best Friend

Since being prominently mentioned on two of the world’s most popular beer blogs has drawn in literally hundreds of visits in the last couple of days, I was thinking it might be a good idea to get some new stuff posted to try and impress my new readers. But as usual, I’m too busy to sit down and write something new that would actually be worth reading (although that reminds me that I really should get the second part of my Montreal/Mondial trip report written before it’s completely irrelevant).

However – I do have a stockpile of material written for the last few issues of TAPS Magazine that I figured I could “reprint” – or to use some entertainment industry lingo, “repurpose” – in order to keep things from getting too stale.

Here, then, are my contributions to “Tasting Notes”, a beer review feature that started running in the mag as of the Fall 2008 issue. In a format that was shamelessly nicked from All About Beer, each beer is reviewed by two different writers, although we only do two beers each rather than the four covered in AAB’s “Beer Talk“, and the focus is exclusively on Canadian beers. My counterpart for these reviews has been Stephen Beaumont, and it’s been interesting to see which beers we agree on and which we don’t.

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A Primer on Porter

While I haven’t actually seen a copy yet, the Winter issue of TAPS Magazine is apparently available (or soon to be), with my regular “Beer Styles 101” column covering Barley Wine. Those in Canada can look for it on the shelves at Chapters/Indigo and other newsstands.

In the meantime, for those who missed the Fall issue, my column from that edition appears below. It’s on Porter, one of my favourite styles of the beer, and also one of the most misunderstood, at least in terms of it’s history.

[And while I mention it within the column, I’d like to note right off the top that Martyn Cornell‘s excellent e-book Amber Gold & Black was an indespensible source of information for this article, as well as my Barley Wine feature in the newest issue. Many other beer bloggers have already raved about it, and I’ll join the chorus in recommending that you purchase it as soon as possible.]


porterWhen it comes to wars, monarchies, empires, and other major events and institutions that created and changed our world, history texts can generally be considered to be reliable and complete. Even events that happened centuries ago were well-documented at the time, and while we may not always have the full story, historians and researchers usually manage to put enough pieces together to give us a pretty solid idea of what happened at the most important times in our planet’s past.

The history of beer, however, isn’t always so clear. Sure, there are some milestones in brewing that are well-documented and therefore well-known, such as the creation of Pilsner by Josef Groll in 1842, or the isolation of the lager yeast strain Saccharomyces carlsbergensis by Dr. Emil Christian Hansen in 1883. But the vast majority of brewers over the years were simply too busy making and selling their beer to bother writing down every detail about what they were doing, and because of this, the origins of some of the world’s classic beer styles are often shrouded in mystery. A good example of this lack of clarity can be found in what we know (or think we know) about the dark and roasty brown ale known as Porter.

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A Brief History of Hefeweizen

coasterI got word from my editor at TAPS Magazine that the Winter issue will be back from the printers next week, featuring the fifth instalment in my “Beer Styles 101” column, this one focussed on barley wine.

My intention was to post each edition of the column here on the blog when the next issue comes out, which means that I should be posting my fourth column (on porter) from the Fall issue right about now. But then I realized that while I had posted my first (pilsner) and second (dunkel and schwarzbier), I never got around to posting the third.

So, since my mild case of OCD demands that things be done in the proper order, here is my column on hefeweizen as originally featured in the Summer issue of TAPS. As with all of the columns in this series, the intention is to give a condensed history of the style, followed by a list of examples of the style being brewed across Canada.

I’ll follow up with the porter article from the Fall issue in a week or so, once the Winter issue is out.

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The Comeback Kid

This is what bars looked like the last time I made a post to this blog.

This is what bars looked like the last time I made a post to this blog.

So the other day, I was catching up on some beer blog reading, and I saw a post on Troy’s blog where he apologized to his readers for not “posting nearly as frequent as I normally do” – i.e. he had only been posting once every two days or so, rather than at least once a day.

Which made me feel like a schmuck, since I hadn’t made a post to my blog in three months.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to. It’s just that work and Taste T.O. and various other things (some of which are beer-related, and some of which aren’t) have been taking up more and more of my time lately. But still – three months? That’s just pathetic, innit?

So I figured it was about time to do something about it. Problem is, I’m not one of those bloggers who can quickly crank out a few lines and be happy with it. I guess I’m more of a blessay type. Which might make my blog more interesting (or so I hope, at least), but also makes it harder to keep it rolling with new and fresh material.

Still, I’ve got a bunch of topics and ideas in my virtual BB&B file that I’d like to get to sooner rather than later, so I’m going to make more of an effort to make updates here on at least a semi-regular basis. And to help pad things about a bit, I can always fall back on reprinting things that I originally wrote for publication elsewhere.

Like, for instance, the following article on dark German lagers that I wrote for the Spring, 2008 issue of TAPS Magazine as the second instalment in my “Beer Styles 101” column. Because as the TV networks like to say about reruns: If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!

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TAPS Magazine – New(ish) Issue & Old(ish) Column

As I was finishing up my contributions to the upcoming Summer issue of TAPS magazine last week, it occurred to me that I’d completely forgotten to post a mention here back when the Spring issue came out back in early May.

So, here’s the mention: The Spring issue of TAPS magazine came out in early May. A bit later than planned, but in the right season at least. And while it’s still not perfect, it was a marked improvement over the Winter issue. The layout is less busy, are there are more contributors from across the country so it’s less Ontario-centric. I’m still not a fan of the corny bar jokes that are sprinkled throughout as filler, and I think the order of the features still needs some tweaking, but all in all, it’s continuing to move in the right direction.

While I’m on the topic of TAPS – as I mentioned previously, my main contribution to the mag is a series of articles on different beer styles, presented under the horribly unoriginal title of Beer Styles 101 (a title I came up with myself, by the way, so don’t go blaming anyone else for it). Hopefully, most of my pitifully small blog readership will be buying copies of the magazine to read my scintillating words in print, but for those who have some sort of aversion to paper, I’m going to start reprinting each column here as following issue comes out.

Since the Spring issue is out now, here’s my column from the Winter issue…

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TAPS Magazine – Winter 2007/08

taps_winter0708.jpgDuring my decade or so as a music writer and reviewer, I had my work published in a number of magazines around the world. I even spent a year or so as the editor of an electronic music section in Chart, a national music magazine here in Canada. Even so, I couldn’t help but feel a little giddy when I received some copies of the first issue of the newly relaunched TAPS magazine this past week and saw the first print byline in my beer writing “career”.

For those who familiar with TAPS from its previous incarnation as a frat-boy oriented mag filled with plenty of chicks and cars and other “lifestyle” articles, you’ll probably be happy to know that aside from the name and a couple of contributors, the new version bears little resemblance to the old. As he says in his introduction, new publisher Rob Engman intends for the new TAPS to “focus on one thing… beer!”.

My main contribution to TAPS is going to be a series of articles on beer styles. For the first instalment, I focus on pilsner, expanding on pieces that I wrote here and for Taste T.O. around the time of Pilsner Urquell’s 165th anniversary earlier this year. Also new to the magazine, besides Rob and myself, are fellow beer blogger Troy Burtch; CABA member and legourmet.tv beer host Mirella Amato; and editor, photographer and writer Karla Dudley. Contributors remaining from the old guard include Bill Perrie, a writer of pub & beer guides who has visited more than 2000 pubs across the country; renowned brewmaster Bill White; and Kevin Brauch of Thirsty Traveller and Iron Chef America fame. Between the 8 of us, we’ve somehow managed to fill over 50 pages with lots of great content.

Like any new venture, the relaunched TAPS isn’t perfect. The design is a bit busy in places – although I tend to like stark and minimal graphic design, so that complaint can probably be chalked up to personal preference. There’s also a bit too much of an Ontario-centric focus to some of the content (I’m especially guilty of this in my own article, as I focus almost exclusively on beers available at the LCBO and Beer Store), although there are already plans to have contributors from the east & west coasts in the next issue, which should help it live up to the “Canada’s Beer Magazine” subtitle. And on a personal note, I’m not really happy with the odd layout choice that was made with the end of my article (once you see it, you’ll know what I mean).

In general, though, the new TAPS is a huge improvement over past issues, and it should only get better as copies make their way into the hands of beer drinkers and brewers across the country and more feedback starts coming in. Speaking of which: TAPS is available at Chapters and Indigo stores, via subscription, and if you’re lucky, you might come across some complimentary copies at various pubs, bars, and other beer-friendly establishments. Please check it out and let Rob, Karla, and the rest of us know what you think.