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by Stephen Beaumont

People came to Toronto. Awards were bestowed.

That is, of course, a gross simplification of the recent Canadian Brewing Awards (CBAs), held at the downtown Westin Hotel at the start of May. To be perfectly frank, however, it is also the way I feel about many brewing and beverage awards, even some of those I help judge or organize. That being now said, I must also add a very large caveat, although only after a brief explanation.

As a long-time taster, critic and writer, I get invited to judge at a great many contests, beer and otherwise, but because of the large amounts of time judging consumes, I actually participate in relatively few. Those I choose are selected based upon a pair of criteria:

1) They need to provide me with some sort of professional benefit, such as an overview of a beer scene with which I am not familiar or a flight to some place I want to visit after the judging is done; and

2) I need to be happy with the way the judging is organized.

(Note: I did not serve as a judge for the CBAs, but not because they didn’t satisfy the above. I simply wasn’t asked.)

Now, while criteria #1 is usually pretty easy to determine, #2 can be a bit of a minefield. I have been asked to judge far more beers in a session than I think my or anyone’s palate can accurately assess, pressed into multiple judging session situations to the point that not just palate, but mental fatigue becomes an issue, and presented with judging methods that I consider inexact or unbalanced. Any of these are a cause for politely declining to the offer to participate the following year.

Even under the best judging conditions, however, odd results do occur, sometimes as a result of the inexperience of the judges, unfamiliarity with a particular category – I’m reminded of a Best in Show winning beer that I, as table captain, rescued from receiving relatively low scores from judges who didn’t fully understand the style – or simple circumstance. Rearrange the order in which the beers are tasted and winners can change; enter a beer in a different category and a low-showing ale could become a gold medalist; switch around the judges and personal preferences that could hamper a particular lager’s advancement might wind up benefiting that same beer.

All of the above happens because beers are judged by humans, not machines, and humans are marvellously fallible. Even so, when skilled judges are on the case, as I am sure they were for the CBAs, more rather than less accurate results will occur. How can I tell? Simple, I look at those results.

Take, for example, this year’s Brewery of the Year, Clifford Brewing of Hamilton, Ontario. While I cannot say for certain that it was the finest brewery judged at the Awards, I can say that every time I have tried a Clifford beer over the past year, I have thought it tasted better than the previous time I enjoyed the same beer. Or Four Winds Brewing’s gold medal for Nectarous, a simply wonderful beer I have championed since my first sip. Or Glutenberg’s sweep of the gluten-free category, because, let’s face it, nobody is doing gluten-free like those guys are doing gluten-free. Or local heroes New Limburg using that amazing yeast they have to win two of the three medals awarded in the Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadrupel category.

These are all solid results, as are, in my view, the great majority of the awards handed out that Saturday night. Of course, the overall winners board is skewed somewhat by the breweries that did not enter and all of the judging factors I noted above, but in the end the medal listing provides what all good awards should – a strong suggestion for beers that deserve your notice. Meaning that you should probably check out https://www.canadianbrewingawards.com/2019-winners/ and start making yourself a shopping list.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Chan Photography

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By Lundy Dale

BEER OF THE YEAR – Central City Brewers – After Hours Pale Ale

The 2019 Canadian Brewing Awards was held in Toronto this past week and it was great to see a blend of old and new breweries taking awards home with them. Congratulations to all the winners across the country, and especially to Clifford Brewing in Hamilton, Ontario for taking home the “Brewery of the Year”.

British Columbia  also did pretty well this year with a trophy count of fifty awards! Four of those fifty awards went to two-time past “Brewery of the year” winner Central City Brewery of Surrey, BC. Their After Hours Pale Ale won Gold in the “Experimental Beer” Category and was also the big winner of BEER OF THE YEAR!

The 16-year-old Central City Brewing Co, with Gary Lohin as head brewer, took the BC craft beer world by storm back in the early 2000s with their innovative and hop forward IPA. Since then, the brewery and the team has grown much larger, with an added distillery in 2013. Stuart McKinnon, mixologist at the downtown location of Central City (now named Red Racer Taproom) joined up with Lohin and took on the role of Distiller. In addition to producing distilled and barrel-aged spirits (and they have a lot of cool barrels to play with) they have collaborated on a beer/spirit blend, aptly named “Spirit Series”. The After Dark Pale Ale is one of those and is based on the classic Old fashioned cocktail.

This 6.5% (and 35 IUs) ale pours a rich copper colour with a slight off white head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is a blend of oak, whisky, oranges and cherry, just what you would expect from an Old Fashioned cocktail.

The taste? Well, if you you could pour this into an old-fashioned style crystal glass, you would swear that’s what you were drinking as there’s no need for the addition of bitters, orange slices or a cherry garnish because this beer has it all. It’s also interesting to note that both the whisky and the bitters used were in house and award winning. That my beer friends is why this beer won GOLD and BEER of the YEAR!








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By Sam Corbeil

After weeks of decompression and a slow return to normalcy, I’ve finally been able to fully digest all the information, all the introductions and all the insanity that was the Craft Brewers Conference 2019.

When I first landed back in Toronto, my nerves were jangled, my body was exhausted, and my mind was a pulpy mess of memories I couldn’t quite sort out. I knew I was in Denver for four days, but those four days of blistering intensity all seemed to gel into this one single disjointed mass. Rest was needed.

This was my 8th CBC in 9 years and it began like any other, with an almost overwhelming feeling of excitement and anticipation.  For weeks leading up to the event, I’d been crawling through the conference website and app marking off all the technical conferences I wanted to attend and all the vendor booths I wanted to see.  I accepted all the email invitations I got to industry parties and texted back and forth with friends asking if I was going. Then lastly, I google mapped the hell outta downtown Denver and drew a mental picture of all the breweries, distilleries, beer bars and pizza places I could possibly get to in four days. Pretty much par for the course. And like so many other years I promised myself I’d do everything on my list. I’d manage my time properly, get the proper amount of sleep and come home refreshed and full of new found knowledge.  And for the 8th time in 9 years I failed.

Yes of course I went to a few technical discussions, and yes, they were insightful and helpful.  I gained new knowledge from industry experts I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access. But I didn’t get to as many as I first hoped. This tends to happen.

And yes, I did walk the trade show floor for many hours, stopping in to learn about new products at as many booths as I could.  And yes, there were many that I’m very excited about and hope to use in the very near future. The trade show is a massive, awe inspiring spectacle that I look forward to each year. But I didn’t spend as much time as I’d hoped. This tends to happen.

And yes, I did spend a few hours (actually many hours) each day following that mental picture I’d drawn of all the breweries and beer bars I wanted to visit in downtown Denver. Denver is a wonderful city, that’s navigable, with many breweries and bars within close walking distance. But I didn’t get to as many as I wanted. Again, this tends to happen.

But it isn’t all bad, ‘cause another thing that tends to happen at the CBC is, I got to meet people. And yes, I did meet as many as I could.

When I was finally able to sort through my rambling, scrambled memories of my four days at the CBC, the one thing that stood out to me, the one thing that stood above everything else, was just how many wonderful people I’d met.  And looking back over the past nine years, this has been a reoccurring theme. I always leave the CBC buoyed by the human connections I’ve made. Yes, the trade show and technical conferences are wonderful resources that everyone should experience. And yes, exploring a new city each year is a fantastic way to open your mind and gain experience. But it’s the friends I’ve made at these conferences that make me want to come back year after year.  Even though I’m almost certain it’s meeting these people that’s causing me to fail on all my plans. But I’m okay with that.  Because it’s the friendships that endure, long after the memories have faded.

These two weeks of sober reflection have allowed me to realize the importance of the CBC, at least for me. After a long winter, which in the beer business can be somewhat brutal, I’m in desperate need of inspiration. A pick me up before the sudden onslaught and craziness of the summer months is needed, and the CBC is that shot in the arm.  Coming to the CBC every spring and meeting all these wonderful people, inspires me. It reminds me why I got into this business in the first place. Brewing can be hard, it can be thankless, but coming away from the CBC always leaves my heart swollen with excitement and pride. Excitement for the months to come and what possibilities the future holds. And pride from all the great brewers, co-workers and industry folks I get to call friends.

So, I look forward to next year, when sometime in early March I start scrolling through the CBC app again and that overwhelming feeling of excitement and anticipation takes hold. When I start google mapping a new city and make a million new plans that I promise myself I’m going to do. And for the 9th time in 10 years, I look forward to failing to do them.


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Scholarship preps Canadians for beer’s biggest test
Second Annual National Beer Scholarship announced at Canadian Brewing Awards

May 4th, 2019 CHICAGO 
Contact: John Scholl 
john@cicerone.org / 773-549-4800 

The Cicerone® Certification Program and the Canadian Brewing Awards are partnering to help Canadian beer professionals excel. Last night, the partners announced the second annual national scholarship program at the 17th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards in Toronto.

The scholarship will help Canadians begin their Cicerone journey — a global certification program that puts beer professionals to the test.

The scholarship will award 12 recipients, one from each province and territory, with a Certified Beer Server study and exam package. Plus it will award three Canadians with a study package to prep them for the Certified Cicerone® exam — a rigorous five-hour test involving blind tastings, demonstrations and essays.

“As the operators of Canada’s National beer competition, we know how important the Cicerone designation is in helping people to assess and evaluate beer,” says Rob Engman, president of TAPS Media and the Canadian Brewing Awards. “We’re proud to partner on this scholarship to help beer professionals on their path to excellence.”

The scholarships winners will be chosen by provincial brewing associations and awarded to beer professionals who demonstrate a strong passion for beer knowledge.

“Cicerone has been a part of the Canadian beer scene since we launched in 2008,” said Ray Daniels, founder and director of the program. “We are proud to have helped thousands of Canadians begin and advance their careers in beer. At the same time, we’ve been able to help everyone from brewers to retailers improve beer quality and beer service. We believe that all these efforts help to improve beer not only for beer drinkers, but for everyone in the industry.”

The applications are available under the Blog & News section of the Cicerone Certification Program website, with a deadline for submission of Monday June 24, 2019. The scholarships will be awarded in September.

The scholarship program awards the following:

Certified Beer Server Scholarships (12), which will include the following:
• BeerSavvy® online training program
• Certified Beer Server Exam

Certified Cicerone Study Packages (3), which are a suite of study materials and online tests designed to help prepare candidates for their Certified Cicerone exams. Each package includes:

• German Styles Coursebook + Specialist Exam
• British and Irish Styles Coursebook + Specialist Exam
• American Beer Styles Coursebook + Specialist Exam
• Keeping and Serving Beer Coursebook + Specialist Exam
• Brewing Ingredients and Process Coursebook + Specialist Exam
• Complete set of Beer Style Profile Cards

Scholarship applications can be found at the following links:
Certified Beer Server Scholarship: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/F55LGFV
Certified Cicerone Study Package: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3V283TG

The Cicerone Certification Program is built around a series of four professional certification exams starting with Certified Beer Server and ending with the top-level Master Cicerone. 
The Cicerone program has become the global standard for assessing beer professionals since its launch in 2008, with over 100,000 people having achieved certification.

# # #

The Cicerone Certification Program holds trademarks on use of the word “Cicerone” as it pertains to beer, beer service, beer education, and beer events in the United States and 43 additional jurisdictions including Canada, Australia, the European Union, and much of Latin America and Asia. The trademarks include the word “Cicerone®” and the titles “Certified Cicerone®,” “Advanced Cicerone®,” and “Master Cicerone®.”
As a result, in anything beer related, no one should be called a “Cicerone” unless they have earned one of the trademarked titles.
The Cicerone titles (Certified Cicerone®, Advanced Cicerone®, Master Cicerone®), are both trademarks and the proper name of a specific title. They should only appear in association with the name of an individual who has earned the appropriate certification. Both words of the title should be capitalized. (The AP StyleBook says that trademarks should be capitalized in all uses.)
Those who hold the first level certification awarded by the Cicerone Certification Program are referred to as “Certified Beer Severs” and not “Cicerones.”
You may wish to include this trademark notice at the end of any publications: Master Cicerone®, Advanced Cicerone®, Certified Cicerone®, and Cicerone® are trademarks of the Cicerone Certification Program, a Chicago-based beer education and certification organization.
For more information, visit: https://www.cicerone.org/titles-trademarks-proper-use
# # #

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Here are this year’s 2019 CBAC Award Winners…

European Style Lager (Pilsner)
Bronze: Red Racer Pils – Central City Brewers and Distillers – British Columbia
Silver: East Hamilton Lager – Clifford Brewing Company – Ontario
Gold: Jagged Little Pilsner – Stray Dog Brewing Company – Ontario

European Style Amber to Dark Lager
Bronze: Dingman Dark Lager – Herald Haus Brewing Co. – Ontario
Silver: Raven – Old Flame Brewing Company – Ontario
Gold: Dark Lager – Steel & Oak Brewing Co. – British Columbia

Bock – Traditional German Style
Bronze: Elevator HBB Seasonal Strong Ale – Hell’s Basement Brewery Inc. – Alberta
Silver: Grumpiest Of All Time – Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. – Ontario
Gold: Ides of February – Henderson Brewing Co. – Ontario

Bronze : POTTS PILSNER – Moon Under Water Brewery – British Columbia
Silver: Simple Things – Steel & Oak Brewing Co. – British Columbia
Gold: Schwartz – Pump House Brewery Ltd – New Brunswick

German Style Kölsch
Bronze: 78 Kolsch – Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. – British Columbia
Silver: 1857 – Abe Erb Brewing Company – Ontario
Gold: King Kolsch – Axe & Barrel Brewing Co. – British Columbia

Wheat Beer – Belgian Style (Wit)
Bronze: Barbe Blanche – Brasserie Tuque de Broue Brewery Inc. – Ontario
Silver: Waterfront Wit – Walkerville Brewery – Ontario
Gold: Witty Belgian – Torque Brewing Inc. – Manitoba

Wheat Beer – German Style (Weiss)
Bronze: Fahr Hefe – Brauerei Fahr – Alberta
Silver: Idyllique – Microbrasserie le bockale inc – Quebec
Gold: Sundown Hefeweizen – Sundown Brewing Company LTD – British Columbia

Baltic Porter
Bronze: Fireside Porter – Yaletown Brewing Company – British Columbia
Silver: Black Mountain Side Baltic Porter – Thornbury Village Craft Brewery – Ontario
Gold: Baltistar Galactiporter – Bent Stick Brewing Co. – Alberta

Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadrupel
Bronze: Dubbel – New Limburg Brewing Company – Ontario
Silver: Quadrupel – New Limburg Brewing Company – Ontario
Gold: Assoiffé 8 – Brasseurs du Monde – Quebec

Belgian-Style Tripel
Bronze: Red Racer Ocean Playground Belgian Tripel – Central City Brewers and Distillers – British Columbia
Silver: Tante tricotante – Microbrasserie du Lac-Saint-Jean – Quebec

Belgian-Style Abbey Ale / Pale Ale
Bronze: Marigold – Belgian Golden Ale – Clifford Brewing Company – Ontario
Silver: Grimdonk – Grimross Brewing Corp. – New Brunswick
Gold: Mons Abbey Blonde – Belgh Brasse – Quebec

Belgian-Style Strong Ale(Pale / Dark / Specialty)
Bronze: Forty Nine Karat (Juicy Golden Strong Ale) – Collaboration brew with Parallel 49. Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Company – British Columbia
Silver: 350 Orange Chocolate Belgian Rye Ale – Nonsuch Brewing Co – Manitoba
Gold: Dark Strong V.1 – Big Rig Brewery – Ontario

French and Belgian Style Saison
Bronze: 3-Point Saison – The Collingwood Brewery – Ontario
Silver: Le Collabo – (Collaboration with La Goutte d’Or) Brasserie Dunham – Quebec
Gold: Clean Slate – Bench Brewing Company – Ontario

Belgian-Style Brett Beer
Bronze: Brett Quad – Royal City Brewing Co. – Ontario
Silver: Boulet Funky – A la Fut – Quebec
Gold: Mélange À Trois – Strange Fellows Brewing – British Columbia

German-Style Sour Ale (Berliner-Style Weisse or Gose)
Bronze: Limoilou Beach – Brasserie Artisanale La Souche – Quebec
Silver: Tourbiere – Brasserie Artisanale La Souche – Quebec
Gold: Gosé Cuervo Tequila Lime Sour – People’s Pint Brewing Company – Ontario

Belgian-Style Sour Ale(Flanders Red Ale , Oud Bruin , Lambic / Gueuze , Fruit Lambic)
Bronze: Cherry Barn – Half Pints Brewing Co. – Manitoba
Silver: QV10 – A la Fut – Quebec
Gold: Cuvée Western – A la Fut – Quebec

Bronze: The Darkness Porter – Origin Malting & Brewing Co. – Alberta
Silver: Final Bow – Overflow Brewing Company – Ontario
Gold: Clifford Porter – Clifford Brewing Company – Ontario

Brown Ale
Bronze: British – A la Fut – Quebec
Silver: Rail Ale – Howe Sound Brewing – British Columbia
Gold: Bear’s Hump Nut Brown Ale – Coulee Brew Co. – Alberta

Scotch Ale
Bronze: BEER 101 Strong – Niagara College Teaching Brewery – Ontario
Silver: Wee Angry Scotch Ale – Russell Brewing Company – British Columbia
Gold: Andys Wee Heavy – Common Crown Brewing Company – Alberta

English Style Pale Ale
Bronze: Golden Grover – Foghorn Brewing Company – New Brunswick
Silver: Moosehead Small Batch Ten Penny Stock Ale – Moosehead Breweries – New Brunswick
Gold: 9 Mile Ale – 9 Mile Legacy Brewing Co. – Saskatchewan

English Bitters(Ordinary or Special Bitters / Best Bitter or ESB)
Bronze: BEER 101Bitter – Niagara College Teaching Brewery – Ontario
Silver: Arkell Best Bitter – Wellington Brewery – Ontario
Gold: Warthog (English Style Mild Ale) – Big Rock Brewery – Alberta

Sweet Stout or Cream Stout
Bronze: Darkside Chocolate Stout – Upper Thames Brewing Company – Ontario
Silver: Midnight Kissed My Cow – Big Rig Brewery – Ontario
Gold: Vox Stout Chocolat – Vox Populi brewery – Quebec

Oatmeal Stout
Bronze: Darkling Oatmeal Stout – The Cannery Brewing Co. – British Columbia
Silver: Stout à l’avoine – Brasserie Mille-Îles – Quebec
Gold: St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout – McAuslan Brewing – Quebec

Dry Stout
Bronze: Dry Irish Stout – Persephone Brewing Company – British Columbia
Silver: Stout – Anderson Craft Ales – Ontario
Gold: Black Donald – Calabogie Brewing Company – Ontario

Imperial Stout
Bronze: Nokomis Imperial Stout – Nokomis Craft Ales – Saskatchewan
Silver: Tempest – Amsterdam Brewing Company – Ontario
Gold: Str8 Flexin – Twin Sails Brewing – British Columbia

English Style India Pale Ale
Bronze: Geronimo IPA – Walkerville Brewery – Ontario
Silver: Tin Hat Dry-Hopped – Townsite Brewing Inc. – British Columbia
Gold: White’s Bay IPA – The Collingwood Brewery – Ontario

North American Style Lager
Bronze: Mucho Oro Lager – Barkerville Brewing Co. – British Columbia
Silver: 3 Speed – Amsterdam Brewing Company – Ontario
Gold: Ides of January – O-PEE-CHEE Lager – Henderson Brewing Co. – Ontario

North American Style Premium Lager
Bronze: Paradise Lager – The Grove Brew House – Ontario
Silver: Helles Lager – Wellington Brewery – Ontario
Gold: Road Trip Classic Lager – Red Truck Beer Company – British Columbia

North American Style Amber Lager
Bronze: Pond Surfer California Common – Town Square Brewing – Alberta
Silver: Millennium Buzz Hemp Beer – Cool Beer Brewing Co. – Ontario
Gold: Brunette – Old Flame Brewing Company – Ontario

Light (Calorie-Reduced) Lager
Bronze: Jackrabbit (Light Lager) – Big Rock Brewery – Alberta
Silver: Stonewall Light – Cool Beer Brewing Co. – Ontario
Gold: First Light Session Lager – Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Ontario

Cream Ale
Bronze: Roger That – Overflow Brewing Company – Ontario
Silver: Okanagan Lake Cream Ale – A-FRAME Brewing Company – British Columbia
Gold: Gold – Big Rig Brewery – Ontario

North American Style Amber/Red Ale
Bronze: 18 Karat Ale – Barkerville Brewing Co. – British Columbia
Silver: Doc Perdue’s Bobcat, West Coast Red Ale – Cowbell Brewing Co – Ontario
Gold: Red Line IPA – Torque Brewing Inc. – Manitoba

North American Style Blonde or Golden Ale
Bronze: Brewmaster Blonde Ale – Common Crown Brewing Company – Alberta
Silver: Bastion Blonde Ale – White Sails Brewing Ltd. – British Columbia
Gold: La Blonde de L’Anse – Pit Caribou – Quebec

American-Style Black Ale
Bronze: Mhmm, Okay. – Four Father’s Brewing Company – Ontario
Silver: Snake Island CDA – White Sails Brewing Ltd. – British Columbia
Gold: DarkHop – OverHop Brewing – Quebec

North American Style Pale Ale
Bronze: Ten Times Ten – Brassneck Brewery – British Columbia
Silver: Forward Progress Pale Ale – Annex Ale Project – Alberta
Gold: Campout West Coast Pale – Fernie Brewing Company – British Columbia

Wheat Beer – North American Style
Bronze: Nine Locks Dirty Blonde – Nine Locks Brewing Co – Nova Scotia
Silver: Rabbit of Caerbannog – Indie Alehouse – Ontario
Gold: Jerkface 9000 – Parallel 49 – British Columbia

American Style India Pale Ale
Bronze : Iron Horse Trail IPA – Red Circle Brewing Co. – Ontario
Silver: IV010 – Four Father’s Brewing Company – Ontario
Gold: This Must Be The IPA – Cold Garden Beverage Company Ltd – Alberta

New England Style India Pale Ale
Bronze: Freestyle Milkshake IPA – The Collingwood Brewery – Ontario
Silver: Humans an IPA for the People – The Parkside Brewery – British Columbia
Gold: Life In The Clouds – Collective Arts Brewing – Ontario

Session India Pale Ale
Bronze: Featherweight IPA – Four Winds Brewing Co. – British Columbia
Silver: Sidekick ISA – Bridge Brewing – British Columbia
Gold: Exhibition – Royal City Brewing Co. – Ontario

American Style Imperial India Pale Ale
Bronze: OneLove – OverHop Brewing – Quebec
Silver: Faces Double IPA – Wellington Brewery – Ontario
Gold: The Forgetful Brewer – Outcast Brewing – Alberta

American Belgo-Style Ale
Bronze: Sextuple – Dageraad Brewing – British Columbia
Silver: Grain Bin Landlocked IPA – Grain Bin Brewing Company – Alberta
Gold: Saison houblonnée – Bièrerie Shelton – Quebec

American-style Brett Beer
Bronze: Mr Natural – Brassneck Brewery – British Columbia
Silver: Dry Hopped Brett Saison – The Establishment Brewing Company – Alberta
Gold: Wild American Brett IPA – Field House Brewing Co. – British Columbia

American-style Sour Ale
Bronze: New World Sour – Luppolo Brewing Company – British Columbia
Silver: ZAP! Sour IPA – Nickel Brook Brewing Co – Ontario
Gold: Nectarous Dry-Hopped Sour – Four Winds Brewing Co. – British Columbia

Special Honey/Maple Lager or Ale
Bronze: Moosehead Small Batch Honey Wheat Ale – Moosehead Breweries – New Brunswick
Silver: Heist Maple Stout – The Cannery Brewing Co. – British Columbia
Gold: Moosehead Small Batch Sugar Bush – Moosehead Breweries – New Brunswick

Fruit Beer / Fruit Wheat Beer / Pumpkin Beer
Bronze: After Hours Raspberry Sour – PEI Brewing Company – Prince Edward Island
Silver: Cup Lake Lemon & Earl Grey Sour – A-FRAME Brewing Company – British Columbia
Gold: Anchor Shoes – Short Finger Brewing Co. – Ontario

Gluten Free Beer
Bronze: Glutenberg Gose – Glutenberg Craft Brewery – Quebec
Silver: Glutenberg India Pale Ale – Glutenberg Craft Brewery – Quebec
Gold: Glutenberg Stout – Glutenberg Craft Brewery – Quebec

Session Ale
Bronze: Squirrel Chaser Hazy Pale Ale – Yellow Dog Brewing – British Columbia
Silver: Abbey Lane English Mild – Ribstone Creek Brewery – Alberta
Gold: Throwback: Belgian Table Beer – The Exchange Brewery – Ontario

Experimental Beer
Bronze: BXL FNK – Brasserie Dunham – Quebec
Silver: Fargo – Short Finger Brewing Co. – Ontario
Gold: Red Racer After Hours Pale Ale – Central City Brewers and Distillers – British Columbia

Herb and Spice Beer
Bronze: Coffee Lager – Coal harbour brewing – British Columbia
Silver: Stoked Winter Ale – Mt Begbie Brewing Company – British Columbia
Gold: Whistler Winter Dunkel – Whistler Brewing Company – British Columbia

Smoked Beer
Bronze: Gratzer – Bièrerie Shelton – Quebec
Silver: Smoke & Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale – Coal harbour brewing – British Columbia
Gold: Prairie Fire Rauchbier – Town Square Brewing – Alberta

Barley Wine-Style Ale(English Style / American Style)
Bronze: Wooly Bugger – Howe Sound Brewing – British Columbia
Silver: Bjorninn Barleywine – Brazen Hall – Manitoba
Gold: Gros Torrieu – Ras L’Bock – Quebec

Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer(Pale to Amber / Dark)
Bronze: Beau Bouquet – Matera Brasseurs Tonneliers – Quebec
Silver: Clifford Barrel Aged Porter – Clifford Brewing Company – Ontario
Gold: Mistral Strange – Brewing – British Columbia

Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer
Bronze: Nine Locks Barrel Aged Barley Wine – Nine Locks Brewing Co – Nova Scotia
Silver: Doan’s Brewing Collaboration Barrel Aged Rye Wheat Wine – Russell Brewing Company – British Columbia
Gold: Double Tempest – Amsterdam Brewing Company – Ontario

Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer
Bronze: As You Wish – Small Pony Barrel Works – Ontario
Silver: They Go Up – Small Pony Barrel Works – Ontario
Gold: Boxcar Tourist – Iron Road Brewing – British Columbia

Flavoured Stout/Porter
Bronze: Everything is Awesome – Backcountry Brewing – British Columbia
Silver: Bean Me Up Espresso Milk Stout – Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks – British Columbia
Gold: Nutty Uncle Peanut Butter Stout – Dead Frog Brewery – British Columbia

Best of Show(Beer of the Year)
Red Racer After Hours Pale Ale – Central City Brewers and Distillers – British Columbia

Brewery Of the Year
Clifford Brewing Company – Ontario

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Saturday May 4th, 2019

2019 Canadian Brewing Awards Winners Announced!

Toronto, ON — The 17th annual Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference (CBAC) was held in Toronto on May 2nd-4th, at the Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto. Attendees enjoyed a bustling expo floor featuring the industry’s top suppliers, informative and educational seminars and fantastic networking events. The Keynote speaker was Tanisha Robinson, Chief Disruption Officer of BrewDog. The exciting CBAC Awards Gala concluded a great event for craft brewers across Canada.

The Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference broke the record for participation this year. There were over 2000 entries from 308 breweries across Canada with more than 600 industry professionals attending the event.  

While this was the 17th annual event, for the past eight years, the Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference has been hosted in cities across Canada from Victoria to Halifax and has become the premiere craft brewing industry event in Canada.

“Our goal is to continually evolve and celebrate the success of our Canadian brewing industry.” says Rob Engman, TAPS Media President. Engman adds, “I am extremely proud of this years CBAC and the milestone launch of the Canadian Craft Brewers Association. We’re all looking forward to next years event which will be held in Victoria, British Columbia. Congratulations to all the winners of the 2019 CBAC.”

The Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference would like to especially congratulate the winners of two coveted awards: Beer of the Year went to Red Racer After Hours Pale Ale – Central City Brewers and Distillers – British Columbia, and Brewery of the Year went to Clifford Brewing Company – Ontario. Job well done.

For a complete list of winners, please visit www.canadianbrewingawards.com

About TAPS Media

TAPS Media is the parent company to the Canadian Brewing Awards & Conference, TAPS Online, the Ontario Brewing Awards, the Canadian Cider Awards, SESSION Toronto, SESSION Muskoka, beer411.ca and breweryjobs.ca
TAPS Media is the definitive voice of the brewing industry in Canada.

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A new organization representing over 700 craft breweries from every province and territory in Canada has just been formed and was just launched at the CBAC.
Click to read more about the new Canadian Craft Brewers Association/Association des Microbrasseries Canadiennes!
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by Stephen Beaumont

Ontario Premier Doug Ford seems obsessed with booze.

Truly, the man can’t stop releasing initiatives connected to the beverage alcohol industry, from the buck-a-beer fiasco of his administration’s early days to the recent budget measures aimed at, among other things drinks-related, allowing bars to open earlier and legalizing the pre-sporting event parking lot parties known as ‘tailgates.’ And with every announcement, the media jumps on board to help make these minor matters into major ones.

(Hey, I just had a thought! Since the media always seems to pounce upon these proclamations, maybe the whole point of them is to distract us from more serious matters. Do ya think?)

Now, a lot of people are saying that, regardless of whether you love or hate the current government, these moves are ridiculously overdue, considering the antiquated alcohol retailing system in place in Canada’s most populace province. And given that they are undeniable steps forward, even if tiny ones, it is not surprising that trade groups like the Ontario Craft Brewers fall over themselves heaping praise upon the government’s efforts.

Equally unsurprising, however, is the backlash from public health advocates, such as the view displayed in a recent op-ed column by physician Daniel Myran in The Globe and Mail, entitled ‘Ontario has an Alcohol Crisis. The Ford Government is Making it Worse.’

Thing is, all sides are missing what could be the biggest step towards the modernization of alcohol consumption in Ontario, one that would benefit consumers, satisfy – admittedly, to a limited degree – those who decry the negative health effects of alcohol and help small business – that last point supposedly a cornerstone of the Ford government’s mandate. Allow me to explain.

As most reasonable people understand, the health issue where booze is concerned is not the enjoyment of a beer or two from time to time, but its persistent and/or intense abuse. The consequences of such drinking patterns typically arrive in one of two ways, either the breakdown of the body’s natural defenses in the case of the former or injuries resulting from the latter. A core preventative for both is oversight.

And by ‘oversight’ I am not talking about what is often called The Nanny State, but rather that provided by your friendly neighbourhood bartender.

Bars are the best places for people to drink, period. In cities, at least, they are usually easy to access and regardless of location they are staffed by people who by law need to be trained to spot and address alcohol abuse. The problem is that they are also expensive, not just because bar owners pay sometimes exorbitant rents, particularly in city centres, but also, perhaps principally because bars pay the same prices for their beer, wine and spirits as do the rest of us, sometimes even more! As a result, a beer that costs a couple of bucks in the LCBO is sold for three or four times that in a bar, pricing that encourages people to drink in the unsupervised environment of home.

The solution, then, is to allow bars to buy their booze more cheaply: Reduce the taxes bars have to pay on all alcohol and thus eliminate the double taxation we pay as customers; allow suppliers to offer bulk purchase deals; and stop forcing bars to buy certain brands only from the Beer Store. This would allow the bars to lower prices and make drinking in them – under the supervision of a trained professional – more affordable. As bar drinking thus grows, the government would be able to claw back some of its lost wholesale tax through the increase in the amount of sales tax paid by a larger consumer base.

The end result? Bar ownership becomes more viable. Bar patronage becomes more affordable. And, in theory, at least, increased oversight reduces the number of instances of alcohol abuse. Win-win-win. You’re welcome, Mr. Ford.


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by Stephen Beaumont

Let’s face it, it took Canada a while to embrace innovation in craft brewing.

In the early days of small-scale brewing in this country, right up until very recent times, in fact, Canadian brewers were mostly content to brew pale ales and golden lagers, cream ales and the occasional porter or stout, rather than veer towards anything relatively odd or unusual. Testament to this general reticence is the fact that in the second edition of my Great Canadian Beer Guide, published in 2001, even something as commonplace today as an IPA is a rare sighting, with fewer than twenty listed among the hundreds of beers reviewed, and most of those the product of brewpubs rather than higher volume production breweries.

Fast-forward fourteen years to the second edition of Joe Wiebe’s Craft Beer Revolution, of course, and IPAs appear in the portfolios of almost all the B.C. breweries listed, as is also the case for Ontario breweries in the 2017 second edition of Robin LeBlanc and Jordan St. John’s Ontario Craft Beer Guide and Atlantic Canada breweries in Christopher Reynolds and Whitney Moran’s East Coast Crafted.  And it is the rare craft brewing operation today that lacks a hazy or New England IPA, much less something barrel-aged, kettle-soured or lactose-infused.

Still, I sometimes wonder if we might have been better off back in the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I have rallied as much as anyone against the conservative streak in Canadian brewing. When I was stocking the taps at Toronto’s beerbistro, I bemoaned the lack of options on the strong, Belgian and hop-forward fronts, and when barrel-aged beers and barley wines and hoppy behemoths finally did arrive in Ontario, I very publicly criticized the lack of nuance and complexity they contained.

And, not as a result of my criticism, I’m sure, the Canadian beerscape changed, improved and matured. Barley wines became global competition winners, saisons and, to a much lesser degree, tripels spread from coast to coast and IPAs improved immeasurably. Yet still, following a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, the first two beers I drank back on Ontario soil, both locally respected IPAs, left me feeling oddly dissatisfied. Not that they were at all bad beers, but they somehow lacked the brightness and vitality of many of the IPAs I had supped in ‘Beervana.’

Of course, Portland breweries have been at this whole IPA thing much longer than have Canadians, yielding a sort of collective understanding of what makes a beer merely strong and hoppy and what makes one strong and hoppy and exciting and memorable. Just as German brewers seem to instinctively understand pale lagers and English brewers get best bitter.

Which made me think that perhaps Canadians have some of that juju themselves, and maybe it resides in those styles we used to brew almost exclusively.

Then I thought about the Canadian beers that have excited me the most over the last year or two, and I realized that almost every one of them is of a style sorely out of fashion today, like basic pale ale or Dortmunder lager, ordinary dry stout or Czech style pilsner, dunkel or Belgian style wheat beer. They are drawn from different parts of the country and different brewing influences, but all are underappreciated and seriously unsexy, at least when presented next to an IPA that’s cloudy to the point of turbidity or a stout that’s laced with lactose and chocolate and who knows what else.

While we Canadians are so often influenced by what happens in the United States, and craft brewing has been no exception to this tendency, perhaps it’s now time to turn our attention more inward and appreciate the beers of our past brewed in the present. They might not be as Instagramable as a mango lassi IPA – although I still think that a bright golden pilsner with two fingers of white foam is about as beautiful as beer can get – but done right, they are pretty damn delicious.





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by Stephen Beaumont  

The relationship of the following story to beer won’t immediately be apparent, but please bear with me.

Last night, while listening to jazz on the radio, I heard a tale about the storied musician Dave Brubeck and the even more legendary Duke Ellington. It seems that when the two were touring the United States together back in the day, Ellington arrived one afternoon at Brubeck’s hotel room with a newspaper which contained a lengthy story about the latter musician. The great pianist and composer wanted to make sure that the younger artist saw his feature.

The announcer said that Brubeck later described the experience as the best and worst moment of his life. He was obviously happy at receiving the publicity at a relatively early stage of his career, but he was also mortified that this musical great was delivering a newspaper that highlighted Brubeck over Ellington. The way the story was told on the radio, Brubeck felt that all he was doing was following Ellington’s lead, and as such he was far less deserving of the coverage.

Beer can be like that, too.

When you look at the evolution of what I’ve taken to calling the ‘flavourful beer renaissance,’ it has been built by brewers following the lead of the brewers who came before them. As Pete Brown noted on his blog in the wake of the Fuller’s sale to Asahi, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale started life as an attempt to emulate Fuller’s ESB. Sierra Pale then, of course, became a beer for other brewers to emulate, in so doing creating a flow of styles that led to the omnipresence globally of the American style pale ale which begat the American style IPA which evolved – by accident and design – into the American style double IPA and eventually the New England IPA.

In Canada, almost every Belgian influenced beer brewed domestically has a debt of thanks to pay to Unibroue, which led the way in the early 1990s with Blanche de Chambly and Maudite. In Italy, countless brewers can trace their success back to the pioneering days of Birrificio Italiano and Theo Musso’s Baladin. In Mexico, Primus and Minerva paved the way for Fauna and Wendlandt; In Australia, Coopers conditioned the public to beers outside of the cold, wet lager norm so that Stone & Wood and others might follow; and as Neil Miller pointed out on February 10, Epic Pale Ale instigated the Kiwi appreciation of hoppiness that ultimately led to 8 Wired’s Hopwired and many, many others.

And so on. And on. And on.

The point being that virtually all modern beers have had their creation inspired by Flagship beers that have come before, just as I stand on the shoulders of the great beer writing pioneer Michael Jackson. And as I would encourage anyone interested in beer to go back and read Michael’s iconic books, beginning with 1977’s World Guide to Beer and 1993’s Beer Companion, I think that people jumping from Budweiser or Coors Light straight to Central City’s Red Racer IPA or Russian River’s Pliny the Elder deny themselves the joys of experiencing along the way the foundational beers that came before.

Likewise, the rightly acclaimed work of people like Pete Brown and Jay Brooks and Matt Kirkegaard does nothing to diminish the still-powerful effect of Michael’s writings, any more than the deliciousness of that new-release hazy IPA or bourbon barrel Imperial stout does anything to discount the beauty of Great Lakes Canuck or Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, or Brubeck’s many significant musical accomplishments serve to lessen the impact of the Duke’s Mood Indigo or Take The ‘A’ Train.

It’s all part of, as we say on flagshipfebruary.com, “celebrating the beers that got us here,” and the reason why #FlagshipFebruary exists today and likely will again for several years to come.

As Pete Brown noted on his blog in the wake of the Fuller’s sale to Asahi: https://www.petebrown.net/2019/01/28/fuller-love-the-beery-heart-and-the-head-for-business/

As Neil Miller pointed out on February 10: https://flagshipfebruary.com/2019/02/10/neil-miller-on-epic-pale-ale/

the reason why #FlagshipFebruary exists today: https://flagshipfebruary.com/

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