Category Archives: Photos

Lewis Kent needs your help

This guy needs an Ontario craft brewer to sponsor him.

A few months ago, while my wife was out of the country, I thought it would be a good idea to try my first Beer Mile. I wasn’t wrong.

My time wasn’t great, but I did have a great time. The best part though, was being in a field where one of the fastest Beer Miles ever was taking place.

Lewis Kent finishing his 3rd laps at the Toronto Spring Beer Mile. Photo: KORAY SALIH
Lewis Kent finishing his 3rd lap at the Toronto Spring Beer Mile. Photo: KORAY SALIH

The guy who did this is 21. In fact Lewis Kent still gets carded every time he buys the beer he needs to compete (sidenote: Andre De Grasse is still 20, and can’t legally purchase beer where he spends most of the year). Since October, Lewis has shaved more than a minute off his time, and continues to improve at a pace that could see him crowned World Champion as early as this year.

In a couple weeks he joins other members of Team Canada at the World Beer Mile Classic in San Francisco. You might already know Canadians invented the Beer Mile and claim a staggering number of the top times. This guy though… he’s something else.

Lewis Kent + Amsterdam Blonde... killing it.  Photo: KORAY SALIH
Lewis Kent + Amsterdam Blonde… killing it. Photo: KORAY SALIH

Right now Lewis is looking for a sponsor – a brewery that wants to have the beer-of-record when the world mark falls. And take note: beermile.com isn’t updating as frequently as it should be, but they do list the beer in the stats.

To be eligible, the beer needs to be in 355ml packaging — ideally bottles — and should be at least (definitely not much more than) 5.0% ABV.

To get a sense of just how remarkable the Mississauga runner is, here’s a video taken last month, where Lewis (in yellow) set the 3rd fastest time ever. The guy behind him — Phil Parrot Migas, also drinking Amsterdam Blonde — set the 9th best mark in history.

They may have both fallen one place, as Australian Josh Harris awaits verification of his recently completed 4:56.2. Lewis tells me though, he expects to be under 4:55 before 2016 rolls around.

Short of sponsoring Lewis, you can still help by purchasing a Team Canada Beer Mile t-shirt,

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Beau’s All Natural Maddaddamite’s NooBroo

Beau's All Natural Maddaddamite's NooBroo
Beau’s All Natural Maddaddamite’s NooBroo

Inspired by the Margaret Atwood MaddAddam trilogy, Beau’s All Natural MaddAddamites NooBroo Gruit (5.2%) is an unhopped ale, infused herbs and berries.

I prefer some of Beau’s earlier gruits, like St. Luke’s Verse (really tasty) and Bog Water (not bad at all), just as I liked Atwood’s first offering in the trilogy, Oryx & Crake (fantastic!) better than Year of the Flood (it was okay) and MaddAddam (I wanted the pigoons to take out the insufferable, long-winded Toby, from about page 10).

If you’re just getting into Atwood, Blind Assassin, Alias Grace and Oryx & Crake are my three faves. Cat’s Eye and The Handmaid’s Tale are also excellent. I’d take a pass on The Edible Woman, Life Before Man and Robber Bride.

Oh, and NooBroo is now available at the LCBO. A portion of each sale goes to nature conservancy.

Lake of Bays #16 Crazy Eyes Darcy Tucker Winter Bock Lager

Little Known Fact: I went to journalism school because I wanted to be a sports reporter. Then I met other sports wannabes and decided they weren’t the people I wanted to spend the rest of my life around. Too many open mouths and closed minds. In retrospect, I was naïve to think that was limited to sports.

Or other people.

When Darcy Tucker played, like nearly every Canadian that doesn’t bleed blue I thought he was the worst! I wouldn’t listen to anyone who said otherwise. Grit is one thing, but all he brought, in my estimation, was something that rhymed with it.

Then he retired and I re-evaluated his contribution to hockey. In hindsight… I was right all along.

But I sure do like this beer.

Lake of Bays #16
Lake of Bays #16 “Crazy Eyes” Darcy Tucker Winter Bock Lager

Lake of Bays #16 (@lb_brewing) “Crazy Eyes” Darcy Tucker Winter Bock Lager is part of the Baysville brewery’s NHL Alumni Signature Series. It’s sweet & malty and kind of perfect to sip on. At 8.0% ABV it’s also stronger than probably everyone Tucker ever sucker-punched.

I’m just kidding about Tucker. I actually have a lot of respect for what he brought to the Leafs and the league. I’d sit and have a beer with him any time.

Darian Hatcher, on the other hand…

Migration Week is coming!

If you see an uptick in Goose Island (@gooseislandbeer) activity coming from Toronto in the next few weeks, it’s because Migration Week arrives between May 26th & 29th.

Last week several of us beer writer types got IPA delivered to our doors. Today, I’m enjoying a nice, cold one.

I was a bit wary because the last pour of it I had in Canada was at Fynn’s of Temple Bar, and it was clearly off (plenty of Big League Chew bubblegumminess). I don’t want to belittle Labatt’s commitment to clean draught lines… but a lot of other people sure do.

This one you’re looking at now, however, is outstanding. I LOVE English IPAs and this one has all the earthy, long grass and black tea bitterness I adore.

Goose Island IPA
Goose Island IPA

Dutch Beer in Canada

Belgium to the south. Germany to the east. It’s not difficult to understand why The Netherlands doesn’t get much recognition for its beer, considering its entire land border is up against the world’s two most renowned brewing nations. Heineken, Grolsch, Amstel, Bavaria and La Trappe are well known, but even the more astute beer drinkers outside that region would have a hard time naming three more Dutch breweries.

Jopen Brewery, Haarlem
Jopen Brewery, Haarlem – from my 2013 cycling tour

Historically however, the Dutch were among the foremost producers of beer, exporting as far as Russia and even to colonies in the Pacific. Now several of the country’s new generation of craft brewers are working to put traditional Dutch beer back to into the mainstream and their research is bringing into question the origins of certain other well-known styles.

In the new issue of Taps Magazine I go into much more detail about the reawakening of Nederlandse Bier. The article was inspired by the best road trip of my life, cycling around the lowlands for two weeks in 2013.

There I learned that Poorterbier, which shows up in Dutch records as far back as 1301, may or may not have been the precursor to what we commonly call Porter. No one has unearthed a recipe for the older style so it’s impossible to compare the two, but while British beer history mostly neglects the period prior to the 18th century, it is known that most of the beer in England was produced by Dutch speaking “Strangers” who numbered 16,000, as far back as the 15th century.

Stranger beer was so popular in fact, that Edward VI brought a Dutchman by the name of Peter De Wolfe to England “for planting and setting of hoppes,” or basically, to teach hop farming to the locals.

And then there’s India Pale Ale, a more durable beverage first brewed by the English to withstand the long voyage across to India. Long before the first recorded use of the term IPA (1829), the Dutch were shipping stronger, hoppier beer to their colonies in the East.

Chief among exporters was Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (United East Indies Company), also known as the Dutch East Indies Company. Its beer had to survive the voyage to what we now know as Indonesia (then called Oost Indies).

Oat Malt
Oat Malt — about 50% of the grain bill.

In that spirit, Niagara Oast House Brewers has brewed the first known Oost Indie Bier by a Canadian brewery. This Dutch style Pale Ale makes its debut at WVRST, Tuesday, March 10th at 7:00 p.m., which will also be the launch party for TAPS new issue (more information here).

The wort, which will become Niagara Oast House's Oost Indie Bier (February, 2015)
The wort that became Niagara Oast House’s Oost Indie Bier

I had the privilege to sit in as Brewer Mike Pentesco whipped up this first batch, with imported oat malt and a variety of European hops (including Strisselspalt, which not only smell amazing, but are super fun to say when you’ve spent an afternoon sampling).

Strisselspalt Hops
Wonderfully aromatic Strisselspalt Hops

I hope you’ll join us at WVRST to celebrate the launch of this new beer, and pick up a copy of TAPS to learn more about two fascinating eras in Dutch brewing.

Oast House co-founder Andy Vanderkaay clearing  out the spent grain
Oast House co-founder and Dutch descendant Andy Vanderkaay clearing out the spent grain
Oast House Hockey Pucks
The most (m’oast?) Canadian beer coasters ever!
The Niagara Oast House taproom
The Niagara Oast House taproom
Bière de Garde, barrel-aging
Bière de Garde, barrel-aging like a pro.

Pedals and Paddles

Yesterday I sat my ass on a bike for nearly six hours, conveniently pausing for a break in Whitby, at 5 Paddles Brewing Company. The interruption was so worth it.

5 Paddles Brewing Company
5 Paddles Brewing Company

Co-founder Ian Mills was in for a brew day and took some time to give me a tour of the small space and the story behind it. The name “5 Paddles” refers to the five craft brewers that decided to turn their shared passion into a business. None planned to quit their day jobs – this was entirely meant as a side project – but within months the brewery was doing well enough that in addition to their own full time attention they were actually hiring.

The set-up itself is impressive, in that it’s a hodge-podge of tanks and kegs that came from other recently expanded brewers, failed wine-making suppliers and time spent scouring kijiji. The fridge – mostly hand-built – is cooled by a used, window-mount air conditioner that has run without interruption since July of 2013.

Newer tanks at the front
Some of the newer additions

The brewers’ enthusiasm is palpable. They hadn’t planned on doing a pumpkin beer this year, but got excited thinking about possibilities and instead opted to each create a different take on gourd-infused beers.

Currently, only a basil-infused summer ale called Italian Backyard (which I’m really enjoying RIGHT NOW) and a dry-hopped saison named Le Chant des Walloons are available. The saison is part of their Sixth Paddle program, which invites other local brewers to get into the game, using 5 Paddles’ system. This one shares the handiwork of Brent Lessard and Chris Meade from Brewer’s Pantry.

5 Paddles Italian Backyard
5 Paddles Italian Backyard, in my own backyard

From hectic beginnings – literally bottling with a Blichmann Beer Gun, capping and handing off to waiting customers – the popularity of the Durham County brewery shows no signs of waning. To keep pace the brewers invested in more equipment and opened the shop seven days a week.

To be honest, it ain’t the prettiest place, but that’s part of its appeal. You can actually see how five guys have grown into their success, sticking fermenters and bright tanks wherever the hell they can.

Tastings and tours are free, and styles rotate frequently. I strongly suggest swinging by when you’re in the area to see the makings of something pretty great. Other than a few licensees, you won’t find their beer anywhere other than at the bottle shop.

I’ll definitely be back.