Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Let’s just get this out of the way- I never fully understood the saying “put your money where your mouth is.” Expressions have never been my forte. This article is about taking action and making smart choices as a consumer. But that doesn’t make for a very interesting blog title. Anyway, here we go.

Pictured: My muscles, which I use to crush stereotypical gender roles.

If you know me or have read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I have no problem calling out sexism when I see it. In fact, *sips from mug of White Male Tears* it’s actually a source of joy for me, to do my part to squash the patriarchy at every possible opportunity. It’s pretty easy to look at the beer industry (as well as the beverage industry in general) and find inequalities between men and women*, from the way their treated at the time of service, to the types of jobs they hold at the brewery level. Calling these instances out and talking about them is important. But what do we do about it?

Well, I may not have an all-encompassing answer for you regarding these complex problems. However, I know at least one way to make yourself heard, and it comes down to the concept of “voting with your dollar” or using your power as a consumer to make conscious choices about where you spend your money. Ladies, I know what you’re thinking: “But Victoria, we only make 77% on the dollar to what males make, I don’t have piles of money to be spending on all the companies I’d like to support!” Girl, I hear you. So I’m going to make it easy for you, let’s talk about the bars you go to. If you’re reading this, you probably like drinking (can I get an amen?) and no matter how much your bank account may be hurtin’ this month, let’s be real- you’re probably going to go out and buy a pint or 5 anyway. So take your beat-up credit cards and head to an establishment where ladies are thriving in senior leadership positions or are owners. Show them that you dig what they’re doing and the places they’ve created, and appreciate them for the badasses they are.

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Photo from the Ladies Pub Strut during OCB Week 2016

Below is a list of  bars that my friends and I like to go to in Toronto that are owned or spearheaded by strong women. If you have more that you want me to show love to, tweet them to me @_VictoriaBrews! Shoutouts to The Danforth for having so many BossLadies!

  1. Grand Trunk
  2. Brass Taps
  3. Folly Brewpub
  4. The Edmund Burke 
  5. I’ll Be Seeing You 
  6. Little Sister & Noorden
  7. Sauce on Danforth
  8. The Old Nick
  9. Wise Bar
  10. The Local

There you have it. Now get out to these bars and make it rain on these ladies! Just kidding, you should probably just politely pay your tab like a normal human.

 

 

 

 

* I’d also like to acknowledge that there is substantial inequality faced by those in this field that identify as non-binary, and that these issues also disproportionately affect women of colour. However, I do not feel that my lived experience allows me to speak authentically on these topics, and encourage you to research literature written by my awesome friend Robin Leblanc, and interviews done with my other super cool friend, Renee Navarro, for some more intersectional perspectives.

PRESS RELEASE: Nickel Brook Converts Burlington Brewery To Funk Lab

Awesome news from the good folks at Nickel Brook Brewery! With sour beers becoming a huge trend in Ontario, it’s harder for the bigger breweries to participate without contaminating some of their equipment and their core brands. This is an innovative move, and a great way to utilize the facility. Read below for full details: 

funk-lab

Nickel Brook Converts Burlington Brewery to Funk Lab

For Immediate Release
BURLINGTON, ON – September 28 2016 – Nickel Brook Brewing Co. announced today that its original brewery at 864 Drury Lane, Burlington is now operating as a full-time funk and sour beer facility known as The Funk Lab, making Nickel Brook the foremost funk brewer in Ontario.

The announcement follows Nickel Brook’s purchase of a new production facility in Hamilton, Ontario.  Their award-winning lineup of core beers, including Headstock IPA and Naughty Neighbour APA, are now produced in the larger brewery, which they co-own with Collective Arts.  The Funk Lab is dedicated to brewing small-batch funk and sour beers using rare and wild yeast strains, as well as barrel-ageing beers such as fan-favourites Cuvée and Winey Bastard.

Nickel Brook has already made waves with some of its earliest funk creations, including winning a Gold medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards for their Uber Raspberry Berliner Weisse, a sour German wheat beer aged on Canadian raspberries. The delicious Uncommon Element Brett Pale Ale and Brett Saison will be year round staples of the Funk Lab, with other unique recipes, such as a Cucumber-Lime Gose, being released throughout the year.

To celebrate this announcement, Nickel Brook will be hosting a Funk Lab Launch Event at BarHop, 391 King Street, Toronto on October 3rd, 2016. A by-invitation  event will begin at 5pm, with an open-to-the-public tap takeover starting at 7pm. Further details will be available on the brewery’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.

For more information, please contact:
Matt Gibson, matt@nickelbrook.com (289) 208-8295

About Sour and Funk Beers
Historically, beer became funky when wild bacteria found their way into open-air fermentation tanks.  Over time, brewers and scientists worked to isolate the good bacteria from the bad ones, creating a catalogue of delicious funk strains.  The three most common strains of funk bacteria are Lactobacillus (aka Lacto), Brettanomyces (aka Brett,) and Pediococcus (aka Pedio), each of which contribute their own unique flavours and aromas.  Some brewers avoid the use of such bacteria for fear of cross-contamination, but Nickel Brook’s dedicated Funk Lab embraces the unique and wild flavours these microbes impart on beer.

About Nickel Brook Brewing Co.
Nickel Brook Brewing Co. was founded by John and Peter Romano in Burlington, Ontario in 2005. They have since expanded operations to Hamilton, Ontario where they co-opened the Arts and Sciences Brewery with Collective Arts Brewing.  They are committed to using only the finest natural ingredients from around the world, and brew them in small batches for the highest standard of quality.  This award-winning Ontario craft brewery constantly strives to push the boundaries of brewing culture.

Beer In The Burbs- Putting the “Great” in the “Greater Toronto Area”

Or perhaps… making the GTA great again? Nah- I’d rather not go there…

For the past few years I’ve either been working or studying in Toronto while living in Ajax with my roommates (see: Mother and Father). I’ve found that it’s very easy to become very narrow-minded about the city, and all of the things going on in it. Many people can be reluctant to go North of a certain street if they live in the Entertainment District, hesitant to travel West of a certain street if they live in the Beaches, and so on. I’ve noticed that this hyper-local allegiance is also prevalent in beer, as well as when discussing better beer bars. Some people are choosing to drink only from breweries that are from their stomping grounds of Toronto, or will only support a bar that’s within spitting distance.

This observation has only been amplified by the recent adoration for the “Toronto VS Everyone” trend. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with this trend (much love to Peace Collective, do your thang dawg). I actually think it’s awesome to see people showing love for their city and remaining loyal to their neighbourhoods and local stops. However- there’s some seriously good stuff happening in the suburbs these days, and I don’t think they are getting enough recognition. You may be thinking I’m being biased since I’m a burbs girl born and raised, but I have actually just signed a lease on an apartment in the city, so I see firsthand the draws to both ways of living. I’ve also noticed while working at a brewery, that events like Ribfests or some of the specialty activations during Ontario Craft Beer Week are far more impactful and well attended in these regions. Of course this is, in part, due to the relative quietness of the regions in comparison to the city. But the significance of the events to these communities is, in turn, exponentially more impactful- and I think that needs to be noted and rewarded. I think there should be more attention paid to the suburbs and the GTA, because any effort exuded in these regions seems to be paid back tenfold by the appreciation and participation of consumers.

Outlined below are three examples of areas outside the city that are home to some awesome bars and breweries, with a few gems being highlighted as inspiration for you to get in a car, or dare I say it, on the GO train, to visit these not so sleepy suburbs.

Whitby/Oshawa

Bar to Visit: Tap & Tankard

Live Music, daily specials, and two different bars with over 15 taps and plenty of tall cans to choose from. This bar is a hub for the community, and houses many different groups throughout the week including philanthropic and running groups. The food is excellent, proving it’s far more than just that bar you went to when you were perhaps slightly less than 19 years of age.

Breweries To See: 5 Paddles, Brock St, and while you’re out here, go to Bowmanville and see the nice folks at Manantler.

Photo by The Tap & Tankard.
Photo by The Tap & Tankard.

Mississauga/Etobicoke

Bar to Visit: Rib Eye Jack’s Ale House

Ridiculously long bottle list (100+ beers in total between bottle and draught) with goodies from Ontario and Quebec, as well as rotating cask selections. Need I say more? Oh yeah, they also have pretty great whisky if that’s your thing. They try to use local ingredients when possible, and the atmosphere is laid back and welcoming.

Breweries to See: Trafalgar and Cameron’s in Oakville, Black Oak & Great Lakes Brewery in Etobicoke

Photo by Hungry Brew Hops.
Photo by Hungry Brew Hops.

Newmarket

Bar To Visit: Hungry Brew Hops

Amazing rotating tap selection that changes so often they have an “on deck” section in their beer menu so you can plan accordingly. The owner Boris is well known in the industry, and for good reason. Tons of variety in the food offered, amazing beer and the atmosphere is exciting and just upscale enough without feeling stuffy. If you know someone who’s been here or lives in Newmarket, people love to rave about this place! Good vibes all around.

Breweries to See: Arch Brewing

Photo by @rebeccabentolilaphoto on Instagram.
Photo by @rebeccabentolilaphoto on Instagram.

I’ve barely skimmed the surface of what these regions have to offer, but I hope this encourages you to venture outside of Toronto if you get the chance. Thanks to the following lovely folks for inspiring this article, who work (and drink) in these places and helped me create this blog post: Kristin MacDonald, Jen Reinhardt, Mike Relic, Jon Graham, Jared Allen.

Have any suburban spots that you think should have been included? Tweet me and tell me about them: @_VictoriaBrews

5 Things I Wish All Beer Nerds Would Start Doing

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4 Beer Nerds in the wild drinking from their local watering hole. The Festival-branded 5oz glassware is native to their geographic area.

In the craft beer world, we like to brand ourselves as a welcoming and friendly industry that is filled with people and companies that are more like friends than competitors. Yet, there’s still so many people too intimidated by condescending beer nerds to get into craft beer, people that back away hesitantly from their local breweries clinging to their wine glasses with white knuckles.  Humour me here, let’s pack away all of our certifications and beer biases for a hot minute and get back to why craft beer is so great- community. Too far up your own butt to know how to do that? Don’t worry, I got you covered- in a fancy listicle format because who doesn’t love listicles??  HERE’S HOW:

  1. Stop bashing people’s beer choices.

If you think you’re going to switch somebody off of a corn-based macro brew to your barrel aged saison by berating and belittling their beer choices- you’re going about it the wrong way. I know, we all get a bit caught up in the excitement and wonder that is locally made, quality driven, and naturally created beer. It’s easy to become blinded by passion for quality and complexity in your beer and let it take over your better judgement. That’s why I’m here. So don’t. Okay? It’s mean and it’s not cool, especially when you know that person paid money for that beer.

2. Remind yourself that craft beer is for everyone- not just you and your super rad friends.

Remember when men used to think women couldn’t drink beer? That was pretty terrible and no fun at all. Can we please just let everyone enjoy beer now? Don’t overlook a person or rule them out because of the group of people they associate with. Don’t assume Brad in the Leafs Jersey only enjoys crushing Budweiser in the locker room, he is just as capable of enjoying and respecting craft beer as you are.

3. Be confident in your own preferences and tastes, and let that be enough.

Be confident enough that you don’t have to try to validate yourself by bullying someone else into agreeing with you about what specific orchard fruit is on the nose of that Belgian ale you cracked open. Shoving beliefs of any kind down a persons throat is generally a terrible idea, but it can be pretty discouraging to a person just starting out their foray into craft beer. I’ve said it before, but beer is totally science, so take a hint from scientists and encourage people to prove you wrong and give you different results from the particular beer experiment in your hand. Any time I’ve spoken with Brewers about their beers, they’re intrigued and open to hearing about what flavours and feelings you get from their brew, so don’t take it upon yourself to decide that there can only be one correct way to experience any given beer. Science, bitch.

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Bar Hop Peter St.- Natural habitat of the wild Torontonian Beer Nerd. Photo by Mike Burton.

4. Understand that craft beer is not the be all and end all of beverages.

The Craft Beer world is amazing, but there are many different worlds our there that are amazing to a lot of people. Let’s talk about Brad again. Maybe he’s crushing a Budweiser. What you may not know is that maybe he’s hesitantly enjoying that Budweiser because last night he dipped into his private scotch collection that he’s been grooming for years and got a little too crazy and just wants something different today. Brad is a genius when it comes to scotch and knows a whole lot more than you, and places a lot of value in scotch rather than beer- but you didn’t know that when you interrupted him and trashed his beer choice. Respect that, appreciate it, and give that Brad some props for having a beer at all. Because he’s a whole lot closer to being persuaded to drink craft beer than a full-on beer hater. Feel me? It is okay for people to not enjoy beer.

5. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

I’ve met a lot of people who have been in the beer industry for longer than I’ve been alive, and they are the first ones to reach over and shake hands and make friends and buy rounds, and most of the time they aren’t the ones bashing anyone else. Remember that beer has been around for a pretty long time, and just because you developed a passion for it when it started to become trendy, does not make you an expert. Be forgiving and allow yourself to enjoy a beer without scrutinizing it too carefully, or attend a party without trying to convert someone to craft beer. It’s just beer after all, we’re all going to carry on living our lives after we finish our pints. And don’t get me wrong, if you love craft beer, please indulge in all of the resources and literature and certification programs there are in this world and soak up every piece of information you can. Learning is seriously the best. Just remember why you liked beer in the first place, and allow yourself to take it easy every now and then.

Thats all for now. Feel free to disagree with me, or if you’d like, add to this list. I’m open to discussing with anyone who has an open mind. Let’s try a bit harder to live up to the reputation of the inclusive community that we started out as and are known as, and appreciate the different places and backgrounds that all beer drinkers come from.

*exhale*

PRESS RELEASE: Folly Brewpub’s Bechdel Brett Releasing April 16

I had the chance to help brew this beauty of a Brett C Ale, and it would give me warm fuzzies if you all head out to the brewpub on the 16th to go get some. I haven’t yet tasted Bechdel Brett (infinite props on the name),  but I hear it tastes of gender equality, with a nose of rich inclusivity. 

NEWS RELEASE

Folly Brewing and International Women’s Collaborative Brew Day

Collaborative Limited Release Beer for Charity

Toronto – 7 April 2016 – Brewer Christina Coady and the team at Folly Brewpub are thrilled to invite you to the launch of their limited release beer next Saturday, April 16 beginning at 1pm. The beer, aptly named The Bechdel Brett, was brewed with over twenty women in a unique collaboration celebrating International Women’s Day (March 8) and International Women’s Collaborative Brew Day (March 8). The Bechdel Brett, 6.2% ABV, was brewed with a Brettanomyces Claussenii strain and hopped with Calypso and Cascade hops.

International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day (IWCBD) fell on International Women’s Day (March 8th) this year. IWCBD allows women to experience brewing in a welcoming space. Says Coady, “we’re starting to lose the attitude that brewing and working in a brewery is a man’s job. IWCBD and women friendly beer events are excellent for encouraging women to not only check out what the beer industry can offer for potential careers but also feel more included in the beer community.”

An immediate outpouring of support following Coady’s January blog post (What We Don’t Like Talking About) encouraged the team at Folly Brewpub to create an event where women could come together to brew, chat, and create something truly their own. The women who brewed with Coady on March 5 were novices, homebrewers, brewing students, and more. The beer has been happily fermenting away since March and is now ready to be released to the public. Folly’s beers are known for their occasional tongue-in-cheek references, and the nod to American cartoonist Alison Bechdel seeks to reinforce the attitude that women can not only drink and talk about beer, but they can brew it too.

Folly Brewpub will be welcoming everyone – both women and men – to celebrate the launch of The Bechdel Brett with them. Proceeds from the official launch event will be going towards the Working Women Community Centre (WWCC) (www.workingwomencc.org). This centre is committed to providing services and programs to immigrant women in an effort to help them succeed in Toronto. A portion of the beer will also be available for purchase in Folly’s Bottle Shop, with $1 from each sale also going to the WWCC.

About Folly Brewpub

Folly Brewpub features Belgian inspired beers, specifically saisons and farmhouse ales, while providing ‘comfort food’ dishes and a relaxed, social atmosphere. Their focus is on local in both food and beverage, working with Ontario suppliers wherever possible. Folly Brewpub also assumes the honour of being (unofficially) the largest ‘pouring’ whisky bar in Toronto, with 400 unique bottles on their wall.

www.follybrewing.com

Press enquiries:

Michelle Genttner tel: 416-533-7272

email: michelle@follybrewing.com

Brew Like A Girl

12822959_10205018597218258_427009148_oHave you ever been surrounded by a group of uplifting and passionate people who understand things you go through and want you to succeed and give you warm fuzzies? If not, you seriously need to try that shit.

This past Saturday at Folly Brewpub, Christina Coady headed up a completely wonderful and educational brewing session for International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. For more details on the awesomeness that is IWCBD, do yourself a favour and read her thoughts on it and sexism and the industry here. We brewed up something really special- Brett C Ale with Cascade and Calypso hops. It’ll be ready on April 16th at Folly Brewpub, and all proceeds from sales will be going to Working Women, an organization that provides services to help new Torontonians get on their feet. Keep your eyes out for this tasty brew, I’ll definitely be getting my hands on some (read: come drink with me on the 16th?)

The day was all about women brewing together, but really, it was about so much more than that, it was about artistry, quality, and encouragement. Christina says it best, “Everyone wants good beer and to feel welcomed…So please, stop it with the uncomfortable labels. Stop explaining beer to us. Just make and sell women great beer.” The group of women I was brewing with in the first session echoed these sentiments. My fellow east-ender, Erin Broadfoot (@ErinBroadfoot) explained that there have been many men in her career that have been instrumental in her education in brewing, and that isn’t something she magically forgets about. But it’s possible to recognize that AND also really hate the misogynistic labels and derogatory marketing that many breweries still make use of. It’s possible, as a woman, to brew with your husband, and still hate the way that bartenders treat you when you order a IIPA. In fact, that’s probably what makes it so difficult to deal with; the fact that it is so pervasively engrained in all of the menial things like getting interrupted when speaking, not just big huge things (although, beer has it’s share of glaring instances of sexism as well). We all swapped some of our war-stories, and griped about the dumbest comments we’ve ever heard, but that was only for a tiny part of the morning, the rest of the day was spent brewing a damned good beer with a bunch of cool new friends.

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Adding in Whirlfloc tablets for clarity- no filtering at Folly, just tasty, hazy goodness. Photo by Caroline Avery

Christina shared a ton of knowledge with us, and I had been dying to ask her about the freedom that being a small operation lends her. She went on to share with us that the fact that Folly is a strictly farmhouse and Belgian-inspired brewery allows them to do a lot of experimenting with yeast, which many bigger breweries don’t get to do without out tossing their bottling lines out a gigantic window immediately after packaging. Contamination, what a buzzkill. They have access to many ingredients that a lot of bigger breweries have a hard time getting- namely a lot of experimental yeast strains from great friends of Folly, Escarpment Labs.

Surprisingly, my favourite part was getting to spend time with so many women that are seasoned home-brewers. There’s something weirdly romantic about the way that the women were chatting about the different ways they filter water or chill the wort, and all of the mad-scientist methods they have developed. And also hearing about how home brewing has made a lot of them better cooks and bakers. It was inspiring to say the least; I could have listened to it all day.

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Erin Broadfoot and I, new buds. Hit her up for all things BJCP related.

So what does this mean for feminism? You had a collaborative women’s brew day, now what? Well, this is the hard part. And it involves speaking out, it involves being supportive, and it involves EVERYONE- folks of every gender, calling out bullshit when they see it and demanding something better. We have to listen to all voices and we have to include everyone, or else this remarkable thing that we all love- beer- isn’t really all that awesome.

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Ferment away, sweet yeasties.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts, I’m still a new voice to this issue and this industry. So this is where I direct you to further reading from some eloquent and important people.

On inclusivity- Robin LeBlanc Queer Beers  & Inherent Weisse

On Exclusion in General- Ben Johnson Let’s Stop Beersplaining 

I Say Kombucha, You Say Ketchup – Why Beer is Subjective and You Should Drink Whatever You Want

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Beer is pretty. Photo taken by Mathew Renda at Folly Brewpub

Picture yourself in a crowded and dimly-lit bar with your best pal, trying out a fancy new kombucha flavoured beer. You’re sipping it, you’re well on your way to reaching pinnacle Adventurous Beer Drinker status, and the Untappd badges are just rolling in. Tastes like glory. But then, in a cruel twist of fate, the girl next to you looks at you and says, “I don’t know, it kind of tastes like ketchup.” You take another sip, convincing yourself that there’s no way that this super awesome beer could taste like a processed red condiment… oh wait, there it is. It’s all you can taste now. (This story is based on true events, sorry to publish your pain, Melissa).

Even though that’s a tragic tale that ended in a dumped pint- there is an important lesson to be learned here. Beer is completely and exclusively subjective, and the way you taste a beer can be affected by a whole lot of different factors. The kombucha story wasn’t enough to convince you??

Take for example a story from my coworker: she was guiding a tasting of 7 different beers at Your Friendly Neighbourhood Brewery, and bravely led people through flavour profiles of one of her favourite Scotch Ales, only to realize afterwards that she actually poured them a very bitter American brown ale (okay, okay, it was totally me, I am ashamed). But the weird part is, as she (ahem, I… cowers in embarrassment) was describing the sweet flavours of honey, caramel, bold notes of coffee and espresso etc. to the group, absolutely NOBODY stopped her and said “I don’t know, I taste pine needles and a grassy bitterness.” Could this have come from lack of experience on behalf of the tastees? Quite possibly. But it brings up an important point: you probably shouldn’t believe all of the things people tell you about flavour.

On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve had someone taste the same APA as me and tell me that they taste dill. Like the pickle. To that person, I say bravo. Congrats on not letting anyone tell you how to enjoy your beer, and I applaud this person’s ability to dig deep and find complex flavours out of their beers. This method is referred to as The Drinking Whatever You Want, and Not Giving A Shit Method, and I wish for all beer enthusiasts to embrace it.

Basically, the purpose of this article is to tell you to trust in your own abilities and tastes. People will always be eager to tell you what you SHOULD be tasting, and sometimes that can be really helpful. But the best way, in my opinion, to truly taste a beer is to draw your own conclusions rather than adopting the views of others. This requires a certain degree of attention to context (see more about being present in Mike’s article here) because there are way too many things that can affect the way you taste your beer. Whether it is what you ate earlier that day, what the room smells like, what order you tried beers in, or what the label says- there are tons of ninja deception tools that can trick your tongue into tasting specific things. It can get pretty confusing, but it will inevitably always lead to you tasting a beer differently than someone else. It also takes a degree of confidence- it can be hard to offer up your take on a beer to a bunch of seasoned beer snobs.

Ultimately you have to learn how to come up with these tasting notes yourself, and discover new aromas and flavours that are personal to you. It starts with being able to distinguish flavour profiles that you like and don’t like, and then from there, trying out more and more different styles of beers until you can decipher what it is that you are tasting in a brew. Trust your own palate, and understand that your opinion about a beer is the only one that matters. When it comes to Yours Truly, I’m recently discovering that I am not a huge fan of Galaxy hops- or at least that’s what my beer sleuth skills have been leading me to believe. I could be wrong, but hey, that’s my take on it. Yours can be completely different.

Me and three other beer nerds, drinking whatever we want.
Me and three other beer nerds, drinking whatever we want.

P.S. Yes I work at a brewery, no they don’t pay me to say anything, yes I can still have neutral views on issues in the beer industry. Drops mic

 

Best Beers of the Year: Round 2 – Victoria Rombis

Wow. So let me preface this article by saying that although I’m still kind of a newbie to the craft scene, this year was a crazy ride. I’ve been drinking craft beer for as long as I’ve known my personal beer snob/partner Mike, but I have sort of taken a mutual hobby of ours and full on adopted it and have become a little (a lot) obsessed with it. This summer, I got a job at a local brewery, which has been nothing but an amazing learning experience. Of course part of this learning also included a crap ton of, what I like to refer to as, “field experience,” and I tried an outlandish amount of beers this year through fully embracing my new digs at the brewery. Also, the badass ladies of SOBDL totally took me under their wings and have introduced me to even more facets of the craft beer world. So, you could say that 2015 was the year of Victoria’s Beer Awakening. Needless to say, coming up with my top three beers of the whole year was next to impossible, but here I am, soldiering on for you readers.

In no particular order:

  1. Flying Monkeys 12 Minutes to Destiny

This year, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Ontario Craft Brewers Conference in Toronto (shout outs to Christine and Jenny Mulkins & the awesome team that put the whole show together). There I was, chatting away with beer industry friends and meeting cool people and pouring 25+ types of beer at the bar I was stationed at (1 of 4 throughout the event, OCB knows how to throw a conference). Someone asked for this beer by name, and so I cracked the bottle open unknowingly and started to pour it in their glass and was so blown away by how gorgeous the colour was. Gave it a try for myself and BOOM I was struck by cupid’s arrow and thus began my obsession with Hibiscus beers. I’ve tried three or four since then and have a Hibiscus Sour from Left Field in my fridge waiting for me. I am infatuated with the sweet and tart flavours that hibiscus brings to brews and this was the beer that started it all.

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The crazy-fantastic selection of beers I got to pour at the 2015 OCB Conference
  1. Siren Craft Brew Gueuze-style Sour

I talked about this beer in my article about my trip to the U.K. This beer holds a special place in my heart because not only was it the most flavourful and full-bodied beer that I tried on the trip, it was also at one of my favourite pubs that we went to on our trip- The Draft House. We had just walked across one of the many gorgeous bridges overlooking the Thames River and sat down here for a pint and a quick bite, only to be floored by the great beer and huge (for London, at least) portion sizes. Then we left the bar, got lost, and still laugh about how long it took us to figure out a way back to our flat. This beer may win for having the best story attached to it for this year!!

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The glorious brew itself, on tap at The Draught House in London.
  1. Redline Brewhouse Aggressive Jazz Hands Belgian Golden/IIPA Hybrid

This beer was such a star to me at Cask Days. Hidden among all of the dark, boozy beers and the casks with things added to them that should never be in beer, was this unique brew with the characteristics of two of my favourite styles. The most perfect balance of simplicity and complexity – simple in that it wasn’t trying too hard to punch me in the face with hops or yeast, yet complex enough to give me the bitterness of an IIPA and the earthiness of Belgian Ale. It wasn’t trying too hard but it held its own in a sea of casks from all over the world. Excited to see more from Redline in the future.

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Very blurry, alcohol-induced selfie from Cask Days 2015

 

BONUS ROUND

This is where I pick an event or fun piece of beer news from the past year that was memorable. I think I’ll go with Experience Beer at Berkeley Church to kick off Toronto Beer Week 2015. Incomparable venue, plus every brewery brought some fun one-off stuff because we are all spoiled and need that kind of thing these days. Imagine if all we had to drink were a brewery’s core brands? Scoffs Anyway, had tons of good beer at this event and loved the atmosphere. It felt more like a cozy night with good friends and good beer, which was a nice break from the fun-but-frantic beer festival vibes.

That’s all from me, look forward to seeing Mike’s post next week!! Thanks for rocking, 2015. Hey 2016, how you doin’?

*Featured Photo taken by the wonderful Renee Navarro

All Or Nothing Brewhouse- Trademark Issues Cause Underdog Brewhouse to Drop Their Gloves

Within their first year of business, the folks at -what will now be called- All or Nothing Brewhouse have faced a ton of obstacles. But perhaps none as troublesome as being handed a lawsuit from another craft brewery telling them to nix their name. Eric Dornan, one of the founding brothers of the brewery, appropriately says that “with yet another obstacle behind us, the path ahead is clearer than ever. We promise to continue delivering the beers you’ve come to love, and new favorites for years to come.”

Fellow Bottomless Pint Writer Mike Burton and I had a chance to meet with a few of the folks that work for All Or Nothing at Wayhome Music & Arts Festival (more to come soon on our thoughts of this festival) and we cracked a few beers together. We admire your decision to back out and change your name, while still coming out swinging. All the best to you folks in the coming future from us at Bottomless Pint.

Check out the full press release below.

 

For Immediate Release: Underdog’s Brewhouse announces new company name:  All or Nothing Brewhouse

Oshawa, Ontario – (December 1, 2015) – Today, Underdog’s Brewhouse announced that it is rebranding itself as All or Nothing Brewhouse. Since 2014, the company has worked tirelessly to establish Underdog’s as the source for premium craft wheat beer in Ontario. Underdog’s has been overwhelmed at the positive reception from bars, restaurants, LCBOs and Beer Stores and, most importantly, the people drinking their beer. As of today, their Hopfenweisse is available in over 400 retail and licensee locations, with more being added every week. The company is also in the middle of planning the construction of a bricks-and-mortar brewery, and perfecting their next delicious beer recipe.

 

“We originally decided on the name Underdog’s Brewhouse because it represented who we were in the Canadian beer market” said co-founder Jeff Dornan “Facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, including long-established macro-brands with limitless marketing budgets, we knew we had an uphill battle ahead of us. However, we also knew that through creative marketing, a careful attention to quality and detail, and sheer hard work, these hurdles could be overcome, and the Underdog would rise to the top. We put our dukes up, and came out swinging. We gave it our all.”

 

During the company’s first year of business, a fellow craft brewery served a Statement of Claim, alleging that the name “Underdog” violated a trademark that brewery had been using for a few years. It should be noted that prior to establishing the company, all necessary steps for ensuring that no Underdog trademark was already registered were conducted.

 

Rather than spend countless hours and dollars squabbling in lawyers’ offices and court rooms, the Dornans have decided to focus on what they do best: making outstanding wheat beers and delivering excellent service to their customers. Co-founder Eric Dornan said “We got into the brewing business because it’s something we believe in one hundred percent, something we can put our entire focus into. We want to create a new brand identity that reflects those values, and All or Nothing is the perfect way to do that. We don’t need to fight over who gets to call themselves the Underdog.”

 

All or Nothing will continue to be represented by its beloved mascot, Cornelius. A gentleman and a boxer, Cornelius is never afraid of a fight, but knows that sometimes it is better to take the high road. He is strong but refined, just as All or Nothing Hopfenweisse is bold yet approachable, complex but refreshing. He stands at the ready, his dukes up but his mustache impeccably groomed. And in every instance, he goes in with an All or Nothing attitude. He will continue to grace the company’s cans, cases, tap handles and merchandise, signaling to consumers a consistency in product quality. The new brand will also continue to be identified by the bold yellow and black colour palette, standing out in increasingly-crowded retail shelves.

 

All or Nothing Brewhouse would like to thank everyone who has supported its growth and success so far, and will continue to do so in the future. Said Eric: “With yet another obstacle behind us, the path ahead is clearer than ever. We promise to continue delivering the beers you’ve come to love, and new favorites for years to come.”

 

About All or Nothing Brewhouse

 

All or Nothing Brewhouse was founded in 2014 by brothers Jeff and Eric Dornan, on the core philosophy that a true innovator can overcome any challenge put before them, no matter the odds. Embracing an “all or nothing” attitude, the brewery is delivering premium craft wheat beers that defy the expectations of what a Weissebier can be. The company is committed to pushing the boundaries of good beer across Canada, and strives to be a leader in the Better Beer Revolution. To learn more, visit www.allornothing.beer or contact All or Nothing’s media contact, Matthew Gibson.

 

Contact Information:

Matthew Gibson, Sales and Media Relations

(647) 965-7289

matt@allornothing.beer

I Drank Beer With The Queen and Frolicked About The UK

By Victoria Rombis

So no, I didn’t have beer with the Queen. But now that you’re here, strap in for a blogtacular journey through the things I learned about beer on my trip to England, Scotland and Ireland!

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Rose St Brewery, Edinburgh


1. Hand-pumped beers (aka real/cask ales)
Usually, you head out to a pub, pray for there to be some sort of half-decent craft beer on tap, and order a pint of that in a cool frosty glass, am I right? NOT ACROSS THE POND, YOU DON’T! At almost every pub I went to in all three countries, there was some type of hand-pumped cask ale on tap. This means that instead of kegs under the bar in a beer fridge, they have casks of extra special beer hanging out in the basement or beer cellar of the pub (usually kept at just below room temperature) and they manually pump the beer through the lines and up to the bar to serve a pint. This ALSO means that all of the carbonation is naturally occurring – I know what you’re thinking, “who wants to drink (comparatively) warm, flat beer??” I’ll tell you who – you. Although not as crisp (generally speaking) as the carbonated beers I’m used to in good ol’ Ontario, this method of serving beer makes one really appreciate the subtlety and flavour of the beer. I tasted as many of these cask ales as possible, some of my favourites being the Broughton Ales Elder Power, Siren Craft Brew Gueuze-style Sour, and By The Horns Samba King Rye Blonde Ale. Also, it sort of makes you feel like a badass Englishman from the 1700s or something.

The best beer I had on the trip. London.
The best beer I had on the trip. London.

2. Don’t mess with Irish people and their Guinness
I’ll be the first to admit that Guinness is by no means my favourite stout. Although I don’t consider this style my favourite, I’ve had many stouts and porters that I adore because of their complexity and balanced sweetness and bitterness (J.W. Sweetman Porter, Wellington Brewery Chocolate Milk Stout, Amsterdam Brewery Tempest Imperial Stout). However, when in Dublin, a beer fan is pretty obligated to stop by the Guinness Storehouse, because this experience is mind blowing. Arthur Guinness was making beer and employing thousands of Irish people for a good 100 or so years before Canada was even a Confederation! The story of Guinness is a story of the evolution of transportation, storage and brewing of beer, and one that everyone should respect.

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Guinness from the original brewery, overlooking Dublin.

3. Beer is a tasty addition to stews/pies
When we landed in Edinburgh at about 2pm, once we hiked (so many hills) to our place and ditched our stuff, we hit up a pub, as one does in Scotland. Little did we know that we stumbled upon an absolute gem of a place called the Rose St. Brewery where we ate the first of, admittedly, many meat pies flavored with some type of ale. I can’t even begin to explain the richness and warmth that you experience when you eat a traditional Scottish or Irish stew, with the added depth of the ale in the gravy. To die for. See more gems – The Celt Bar , Biddy Mulligans, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Ye Olde Six Bells.

Meat, beer, pie. Notice I get my own gravy boat. Jealous yet?
Meat, beer, pie. Notice I get my own gravy boat. Jealous yet?
Bonus beer wizardry: Guinness-broth stew.
Bonus beer wizardry: Guinness-broth stew.

4. It’s hard to bring beer home
Much to my chagrin, I was unable to bring home any of the tasty beer that I had in these places, mainly due to the fact that I had one backpack to carry everything I needed in (the best way to do it, will never travel with a suitcase again if I don’t have to).  A lot of what I sad, sadly, is not available in our fair LCBO; save for the delicious Brewdog Punk IPA (which you can also find on tap at The Caledonian on Ossington), Fuller’s London Pride, and Smithwicks; all of which I picked up as soon as I got home!

I had an amazing time traveling through these three countries and would definitely recommend a trip across the pond to any of you readers out there. Cheers!

 

– Victoria

 

About the Author

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Thrown headlong into the Toronto craft scene by her

adoration for the sustainable and local business, 

Victoria holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies.  

She works in the bottle shop of one of Ontario’s

best craft breweries, and adores the children she 

teaches dance, a good book, and investigating new beer. 


Find her on twitter here