Monday, June 08, 2009

Gananoque Thousand Islands Mini Convention

I thought it was about time to report on our May 2009 show. Better late than never!

It may seem that there were only the events below, but really there was a lot of wheeling and dealing (trading) going on as well!

The show officially got under way on Friday, but many folks showed up earlier. (See my previous entry for one unofficial event.) This was mainly a meet-and-greet day with the Registration table and Hospitality Room open for business. We even managed to get the free hot dogs going as well!
In the evening, the Skedder Chapter held their Invitational Trade Session while the Hockey Corner drew a respectable crowd to see the playoffs.Skedder king Kerry Winters was also kept busy switching channels to catch both games and also running down to his room for the soccer(or was it baseball?) scores. Here's Bob Brecka checking out the thousands of schedules available.

Saturday was to be a busy day.
We started off with Tim Horton's coffee and doughnuts in the Hospitality Room. One of the people that made it by 9:00AM was Les Gradski.

Next came our popular (borrowed from the Blue-Gray show) Mix-Six trade.
Participants brought in a 6-pack of micro-brew from their region and were then able to take out 6 new beers to try. Some people had trouble with the concept, especially lining up to take one at a time. Thankfully, this year Ralph Nunnaro got it right and showed up with some decent stuff!
Right, Mark Armstrong, Jay Dertinger, Jen Biro and Paul Rivard look over the selection. Above right were my picks. The Golden Horseshoe Premium Lager was my favourite of the six.

Next it was off to the Kingston Brew Pub for lunch. Glen, our trusty bus driver picked us up promptly at 11:00AM for the short ride to Kingston.
Our host, Van Allen Turner was there to greet us and gave a short intro before announcing that the first round was on him. Damn! I had only ordered a half-pint to start!
During lunch, TJ Clifford presented Van Allen with some Hart Brewery memorabilia to add to his collection. This came about through the efforts of Terry Keough, when the old brewery building was sold.

Far right are some of the collectors enjoying lunch in the upstairs room.

We also took advantage of a photo-op at the downstairs bar.

The bus left promptly at 2:00PM and we didn't have to leave anyone behind this time!

Next on the agenda came the auction, with many interesting (and cool!) items up for grabs.
Once again, George Vine and Wray Martin were pressed into service as auctioneers. Administrators were Bob Berry and Mark Armstrong who gave yeoman service as usual. Below are some pics from the auction. Left are our auctioneers, George and Wray. I'm the guy in the middle, acting as a runner (a tough job). Right is a view of the crowd. Below,
Peter Bechtel (with Laura) seems to be praying for a win-"Please, God, I want this!"

Later in the evening, after dinner, it was time for the Euchre Tournament.
The defending champs, Dick Piche and Peter Lindsay, lost the first round to Jay Dertinger and Dave Platt. Jay and Dave went on to win the tournament and it was my sad duty to hand over the trophy to them. Its whereabouts are unknown at this time, as Jay is from New Jersey and Dave is from Kingston. Just make sure it returns to Gananoque next year guys!

The evening ended with TJ's Charity Raffle with a lot of great prizes donated for the cause. Winners had lots to choose from and cleared the table happily!

We closed the Hospitality Room down for another year with only a few stragglers hanging in to finish that "last beer".

Next year is our 20th anniversary and I'm looking forward to another great show!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A wacked-out beer tasting!

CANada's Capital Chapter held their 19th Annual Thousand Islands Mini-convention in Gananoque on May 1 and 2 this year. This is a great opportunity for breweriana collectors to get together and have some fun!

For the last few years, many of us have been arriving early to have more fun (and get a jump on the trades!).

This year, Ray P. thought it would add to the fun if we had a beer tasting on the Thursday night before the official start of the Convention. So we went through the corridors announcing a beer tasting was set for 8:00 PM.
We assembled all the beers in my room and thankfully, Jay D. jumped in to organize them in some kind of tasting order.

The list: Samichlaus; McAuslan Stout; Snowshoe Grizzly Brown Ale; St. Ambroise 2009 Vintage; Rogue Brutal Bitter; Aventis Eisbock; Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA; Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA; and a 2008 Thomas Hardy Ale.

What follows is the wacked-out part - people floated in and out of the room, trying 1 or 2 beers and giving opinions and then leaving! So there is absolutely nothing scientific about this! But we had fun, which was the idea anyway.

If you're still with me, here are some comments. I did my best to record them, but it became increasingly difficult as the beers got stronger! (up to 18%)

Samichlaus: Kerry W. - sipping beer; Ken K. - good in the hood (?); others - sweet and malty.
Score: 7.5 (out of 10)
McAuslan Stout: general comments - smoky, on the thin side
Score: 4.0
Grizzly Brown Ale: had an off taste, but the Americans liked it (?)
Score: 5.0
St. Ambroise 2009: general comments - brewed to perfection; well-balanced
Score: 7.5
Rogue Brutal Bitter: general comments - hoppy and bitter; well-balanced; good head
Score: 7.5
Aventis Eisbock: general comments - sweet with a taste of cloves
Score: 2.5
90-Minute IPA: general comments - hoppy and smooth; Al D. says it's the best he's had so far
Score: 7.2
120-Minute IPA: general comments - too sweet; fell short of expectations
Score: 3.0
Thomas Hardy Ale: general comments - a little young; needs further aging
Score: 6.0

The participants that were still in the room were asked for their favourites:
Ken K. - 90-Minute IPA; Al D. - Thomas Hardy; Dick P. - Brutal Bitter; Ron A. - 90-Minute IPA; Ray P. - Brutal Bitter

BTW, I did get some pictures of this event, but the images were blurry and unusable. I must get my camera checked out!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Beer Odyssey to Fredericksburg, Virginia

Terry and I decided that it was time for a beer trip once again. What better destination than the 30th Annual Blue and Grey Show in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is perhaps the largest show on the East Coast.
To make it even more interesting, we decided to take the long way and visit as many breweries and brewpubs as we could in the 4 days that we had allotted.

So we passed through US Customs at Ogdensburg at 11:45 AM on Thursday, Feb 12. (mileage on the old Volvo was 244575 kms.)
Our first stop was Binghampton, NY (244916 km) to visit Sam the Beer Man (a distributor) to pick up some Smuttynose IPA for the hotel room later.
We passed through Scranton, PA around 5:10 PM and finally hit King of Prussia, PA at 7:00 PM. (245225 km)
This is a suburb of Philadelphia and the home of Rock Bottom Brew Pub (actually a chain).
We checked into the Motel 6 since the RB manager had told us it was just across the street.
What he didn't say was that there were no pedestrian crossings to this mall! And of course we wanted to drink, not drive!
What to do?? Why, call a taxi, of course!
We spoke with Steve at Main Line Taxi who was very understanding of our situation. I guess he felt sorry for us because he sent a limo to pick us up and drive us across to the huge mall. He also sent a car later on to get us back to the motel.
We ordered food and lots of beer! There was a Cask Conditioned House IPA available and we made full use of the barkeeps pulling arm! This was a very hoppy but not bitter beer at 6.6% and we enjoyed it immensely! The food was great also.

Next morning it was in to Philly to pick up a receiver. Not only are we Hop-Heads but now we are also Marantz-Maniacs!
After stopping at a diner for breakfast, it was on to Twin Lakes Brewing in Greenville, DE, home of Vice President Biden. They were busy kegging a Vice-Presidential Ale when we arrived.
We met Matt Day, Director of Sales who offered us several samples of their product.
They have an idyllic location and use a former art studio for the brewery. Since it is a land conservancy area (only one house per 100 acres) the water is very pure and untreated.
We picked up a growler of their Pale Ale for later quaffing.

Next was lunch at Stewart's Brew Pub in Bear, DE. (245380 km)
This place has been operating since 1995 and it's in a strip mall!
We had a decent lunch with a very nice IPA. They do a large variety of beers here.

We continued heading south and finally found Dogfish Head Brewing in Milton DE around 4:00 PM. (245493 km)
The brewery was very busy as a tour was just getting started.
We met Nora Sheehan, the Brewceptionist and snagged a few goodie bags of labels, etc.
We opted to just try the samples at the bar. There was Aprihop, 90-minute IPA and 120-minute IPA and a few others available. Of course, I was anticipating the 120-minute IPA after hearing so much about it. I was not disappointed!! I worked my way through the other beers and then went for the 120-minute. Wow! At 18% (yes 18%) and 120 IBU's you would think it would be almost undrinkable. Terry and I were surprised at how delicious it was and how easy it went down.
That's me enjoying a 120-minute IPA in the lounge!
Before leaving, we purchased a few 6-packs and a 4-pack of 120-minute IPA (for $30) ! This will make a nice item for a future tasting.....stay tuned!

Dogfish Head operates a brewpub in Rehoboth Beach and that's where we headed next.
We checked into our hotel just down the street and walked up to the brewpub for dinner.
This brewpub is used as a "test bed" for any new brews they come up with and if the clientele like it, it becomes a regular product. There are about 20 taps at the bar, but as usual, we went for the IPA. While waiting for our table, we sat at the bar. I noticed that there was a supply of liquor on the back-bar labeled Rum, Vodka, and Jin. (?) We met a couple from Baltimore, DE (not MD) who were quite friendly and he told us that there was a distillery upstairs where Dogfish made their liquor! Later on, he brought over a couple of Jin and Tonics for us to sample! A very pleasant evening.

Next morning, we checked out the beach before leaving for Fredericksburg, VA and the B&G show. We drove across Delaware and over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, heading south until we reached Fredericksburg around 2:15 PM (245828 km).

Of course, by this time the show was mostly over, but display tables were still set up and the Hospitality Room was in full swing! The great part of this show is that they have 4 kegs going 24/7 for the duration! We met up with our other Canadian friends who always attend and spent an enjoyable evening with them.
Room-to-Room trading is the highlight of this show and you're sure to find whatever breweriana you may desire. Here's a pic of someone's room who specializes in neon signs!

The next morning, we decided to head directly home, but then came to our senses! Victory Brewing in Downington, PA was only a bit off our route, so off we went.
We made our way North through DC, Baltimore, MD, and Wilmington, DE before crossing into Pennsylvania.
We found the Brewery easily( 246152 km), but it was mainly a very busy restaurant (on the left side of the pic) and didn't really cater to beer enthusiasts it seemed. There was a gift shop where we purchased some glasses and 6-packs of Hop Devil (yum!) and we actually scored some labels.

We then headed back up I476 and I81 with the obligatory stop at the Cracker Barrel in Binghampton to satisfy Terry's craving! (246464 km)
We had no problems going through Customs with all our goodies and we arrived safe and sound back in Iroquois around 8:45PM (246820). If you've been keeping track, that's a total of 2245 kms. That Volvo wagon was great!

All in all, a very fun trip with lots of beer tasting to boot!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beers down under.......

Many thanks to Mark Armstrong for inviting Terry and myself to taste a few Down-Under beers.
Mark recently returned from an extended vacation in New Zealand and Australia where he picked up samples of 7 beers.What follows is a decidedly unprofessional review of these beers, but hey! - we had fun! We decided to taste them from lowest to highest ABV, except for a light thrown in the middle.
So here they are:
  1. Cooper's Original Pale Ale, South Australia, 4.5% - This beer had a nice head, clean and pleasant with a clean finish. Not one of my favourites in tastings of previous years, but seems to have improved.
  2. Cascade Premium Lager, Tasmania, 5.0% - An immediate skunky nose on opening the bottle, reminiscent of Steinlager and even Heineken! No head in the glass and an unexceptional taste.
  3. Hahn Premium Light Lager, Sydney, Australia, 2.7% - This light beer had good head retention in the glass with a smooth finish. Just a hint of skunkiness at the end. I imagined drinking this on a hot afternoon after mowing the lawn!
  4. Moo Brew Hefeweizen, Tasmania, 5.1% - Came in a unique bottle. On opening, the nose was sweet with hints of banana and clove. Very tight bubbles and golden colour.
  5. James Squire Porter, Malt Shovel Brewery, NSW, Australia, 5% - Malty molasses taste with a long-lasting effervescence. Light creamy finish.
  6. Green Man Whisky Bock Limited Edition, Green Man Brewery, Dunedin, NZ, 9% - This was bottle 200 of 1400. No head to this brew. It had a malted whisky nose and a light whisky taste. In fact, it looked like whisky in your glass! Good to share, since you couldn't drink more than one!
  7. Enrico's Cure for Saints and Sinners, Green Man Brewery, Dunedin, NZ, 14.5% - Labelled as the world's strongest organic beer. This bottle sold for CDN $22.00! Again, no head with a caramel colour. Very rich taste and smooth drinking with that warming feeling, no doubt from the high alcohol content.
Our favourites? Well, I would have to say that for a hot summer day, when you're having more than one, the Hahn's would be the choice. Besides, I love their TV ads! The others were either unimpressive or too strong to be a regular drinking beer.

Just for giggles, we decided to sample a couple more brews for comparison. Yes, we were still capable!
  1. KB Double Chocolate Ale, Kamloops Brewery, BC, 5% - This beer was all show and no go. Impressive packaging didn't follow through to the beer. It had a subtle cocoa nose and felt very thin in the mouth. There was a slight chocolate after taste as well.
  2. Old Engine Oil, Harviestoun Brewery, Scotland, 6% - This beer was dark and viscous as expected. Also surprisingly dry and well balanced taste.
Click on the images for a closer look at the labels.

All in all, it was an interesting evening with a bit of label and coaster trading thrown in!
Thanks to Mark for the beers and Terry for driving (I know it was a sacrifice to limit yourself to one mouthful!) - I'll drive next time.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coors Light Cold Certified Bottle

Coors Light introduces Cold Certified Bottles to help beer drinkers beat the summer heat.

"It's like having a personal beer alarm clock."

The new Coors Light Cold Certified Bottle features proprietary temperature-sensitive thermal chromatic ink technology that turns the Coors Light mountains from white to blue when the beer is chilled to four degrees Celsius or less, signaling the beer is ice cold and ready to enjoy.
To get all the details (and some cold facts) go to:

Thanks to Debra Douglass, Pilot PMR for Coors Light

Monday, June 02, 2008

Here's the latest on Steelback Brewery from Maryam Mirkhaef []:

Steelback Beer Is Back

TORONTO, May 22 /CNW/ - Today in Toronto, the new Steelback management team announced their business plans for success after a six-month restructuring process that saw Jonathon Sherman become the new owner and CEO.
"These are exciting times for the new Steelback," says Sherman. "The future success of Steelback is rooted in three things - good people who make up the Steelback team; good roots - our renewed commitment to our local
heritage in Tiverton, Ontario; and good beer - where we continue to be recognized by the industry and beer drinkers alike, winning medal after medal for our great tasting, premium crafted beer.
On May 6, 2008 the sale of Steelback to Jonathon Sherman was official.
Steelback Brewery is also focused on filling a gap in the beer market place by offering premium quality craft beer at mainstream domestic prices. To date this category has been non-existent, and is set to offer beer drinkers a
high quality premium beer at an everyday price.
"We're truly offering champagne taste on a beer budget," says Ian MacDonald, President, Steelback Brewery. "The price of the beer will appeal to beer drinkers of any age who enjoy good quality beer. We will offer this great brew throughout Ontario with the main focus on our local community of Bruce County. We're all about the beer and we hope that consumers will try Steelback and enjoy the award-winning taste."

Steelback Brewery is all about quality and integrity of product from
locally-sourced honey, using only natural ingredients with premium malted
barley, the finest hops from Europe and North America, and a painstaking
fermentation process. The entire process takes a minimum of 28 days. Steelback
is bottled to retain freshness. Producing only five types of beer affords
Steelback greater focus on the product.
Steelback will market its beer on billboards, local print media ads and
some radio spots. The new packaging is rooted in tradition, where a local
lighthouse figures prominently in the design. Sponsorships will be focused on
sampling the beer and in helping consumers try and enjoy the taste of

Steelback brewery is located in Tiverton, Ontario on the shores of Lake
Huron. The retail store is open 7 days a week Monday through Saturday 10am-6pm
and Sundays 11am - 6pm.