Hey Big Rock, I’m coming to see you next week and I’d like to introduce you to my friends.
Since my college days in Lethbridge, many, many pints ago, we’ve had a pretty solid relationship. Sure, we’ve seen less of each other since I moved to Toronto twelve years ago, but we’ve stayed in touch. Two, three times a year I’d come back to Calgary and we would share a table on the patio of the Ship & Anchor, belt out some tunes at Ducky’s or catch a game at Schanks. When my job took me to Red Deer, I took myself to The Rock because rumour had it you were hanging out at the bar under an assumed identity. I’m not positive that was you, but the conversation sure did seem familiar.
A few years ago I swung by your place to check out the Kasper Schultz. I see you’ve picked up some shiny new Nano gear from Specific Mechanical since then. Congrats! I’m pleased to see you’re still having fun conjuring your magic.
A few weeks ago I read a Herald article about how the company’s President recognizes the growth potential in Ontario. That Bob Sartor guy… he seems like a pretty sharp dude. You’ve got to like someone that encourages creativity, respects tradition and invests in being an industry leader.
As successful as you’ve been as a Regional Brewery, it’s inspiring to see you still take an active role in great causes like Unity Brew, and that you give social media props to the micros like Wild Rose, Brew Brothers and Alley Kat, which are also close to my heart. Your ongoing commitment to charity through The Eddies makes me proud to call you my friend.
People here in Toronto – they don’t know you like I do, but they do ask. I tell them about Ed McNally’s background in law and his successful court challenge on behalf of barley farmers. I tell them how your Brewmaster, Paul Gautreau, worked every position on the floor while building his impressive international brewing credentials. I tell them that if they’re ever lucky enough to get a McNally’s Extra on this side of the country they should invest in a good cigar to go with it. I speak of you often and I speak of you fondly.
Actually, that’s what I’m coming to see you about. When I’m sitting at the Town Crier, telling my neighbours about the beautiful combination of Fuggles (Old World) and Cascades (New World) that sets your IPA apart, they get it. If I could find SAAZ Republic on tap, I could also explain the subtle, peppery goodness that makes it distinct in the Canadian market and it would find plenty of fans here too. I want to talk to you about telling your story to more people out here.
This last year I’ve immersed myself in the industry. I’ve completed two of three levels towards my Prud’homme Beer Sommelier designation (the third to be completed this Spring), authored a slew of beer-related articles for The Toronto Standard and spent quite a bit of time on the road, getting acquainted with the beer scene in New York, Montreal, Belgium and The Netherlands. I’ve connected to the local industry, having made friends with publicans, beer writers, festival goers and other craft beer enthusiasts around these parts. They’re really good people here in Ontario. I know you would get on with them beautifully.
Beer drinkers here are awfully bright. They take pride in the contents of their glass. They love that Mill Street Organic is now 100% Canadian-sourced organic grain. Torontonians boast about Steam Whistle’s water conservation initiatives, which are both inspiring and good for the bottom line. They adore Beau’s – the first brewery in Canada to achieve B-Corp Status – for its all-natural approach to beer and benevolence.
Your own admirable initiatives – the barley and pea fields you’re planting, the customizable greenhouses for your hops, your generous festival sponsorships – would resonate with these good people.
I want to help, my friend. I’ve built a lot of goodwill on this side of the country. So can you.
I’ll be there next week. Please let me know a good time to stop by.