To say that Ontario’s craft beer scene is on fire is an understatement.
New breweries, brands, festivals and brewpubs come on stream weekly. Craft beer is in to the chagrin of multinationals that continue to churn out insipid suds!
On September 15, Drink Inc. organized the first event of the Craft Beer Week where 17 breweries poured their suds to an appreciative crown of young and old.
I noticed too some ciders and at least one sparkling wine from Prince Edward County.
Among the attendees were bohemians, young office workers, regular work-a-day people, and old beer fanciers.
Most of the beers offered were ales. Craft brewers prefer to brew ales. They can be brewed in less time than lagers, and require less space.
Draught ales contain less carbon dioxide, and generally, are full bodied.
English brewers invented IPA (India pale Ale) to supply the English bureaucracy and military in India.
Craft brewers use quality ingredients, and never employ short cuts (i.e. corn and less expensive cereal) to cut costs. Good beer is made with passion by brewers, who care about the end product, and not by marketing teams that dictate how beer should taste to appeal to their target market segment.
True ale connoisseurs prefer draught ales, served in pubs.
English invented pub, and no other country has been able replicate the pub atmosphere. A pub is neither a home nor a workplace; it has its own place in English culture.
People visit “their” pub to meet friends, where publicans know you by name and pout your preferred brand of ale in your own glass that stay at the pub. You have your own corner, your “drinking buddies” and the staff knows your likes. They welcome you warmly, treat you kindly, and make you feel as if you are at home.
In contrast to English pubs, Germans invented their beer gardens and beer halls in Munich.
Beer halls are huge buildings with long tables, offerings traditional Bavarian music. Ladies who can carry up to eight liter mugs in their hands without spilling a drop are fascinating to watch.
Germans, pending on where they live, frequent neighborhood pubs to drink beer or wine (in wine producing regions), to discuss serious matters, or carry on lighthearted conversations. German pubs offer a different, maybe more formal and somber atmosphere.
Some Ontario craft brewers use Ontario malts, others imported malted and at least one uses its own spring water (Beau’s from Ottawa Valley), and a few use hops grown around the nation’s capital.
Over all Ontario craft beers are capturing market share from multinationals. You as an Ontarian and beer aficionado should support craft breweries, and see how rewarding their suds are.
I tasted 17 beers and the following stood out:
Boneshaker Unfiltered IPA, Amsterdam Brewery
cans only. Buy it at the brewery store.
Cherry Saison, Big Red Brewery
(Draught only. 5.8 per cent alcohol)
Vienna-style lager, Beau’s
4.7 per cent alcohol)
Harvest Ale, Granite Brewery
5.6 per cent alcohol)
Golden Lager, Cameron’s Brewery
Rambler IPA. Goose Island Brewery, Chicago.
The beer is brewed under license in Montreal
4.9 per cent alcohol Available in cans and bottle
Summer Ale, Granite Brewery
4.0 per cent alcohol
Canuck Pale Ale, Granite Brewery
5.2 per cent alcohol
Oktoberfest Marzenlager, Black Oak Brewery
5.0 per cent alcohol,650 ml bottles