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The World of Beer Festivals and Their Advantage of Breweries

By: James Burt

When asked about partaking in beer festivals, Rebellion Brewing Company’s Mark
Heise of Regina, Saskatchewan distinguished between participation and patronage
with slight humour.

“I actually don’t enjoy festivals as an attendee,” he said. “Too crowded. But we built
brand awareness for Rebellion out of taking part in them, so they are important. If
you want people to know about your beer, a festival is an inevitable option.”
Not many months pass on a Canadian calendar that a beer festival isn’t in operation
in some city or public space. Given that so many breweries have risen within the last
decade, Canadian beer festivals are as plentiful as ever. They aren’t just industry
events either—many parlay new and established breweries with musical
showcases, food trucks, and even children’s activities akin to a circus or country fair,
something Heise has witnessed several times.

“A lot of Saskatchewan beer festivals are ‘cabaret’,” he said. “They are held in halls
with music or performances. It’s a great excuse for people to get out, go to a hall, and
try some beer while seeing a show you can’t get anywhere else.”

With many breweries seeing increased number of beer festivals in Canada and the
United States, many have opted to pare down which ones they attend.

“They’re all the ‘liquid-to-lips’ situations, where you have a lot of people under one
roof trying beer. That’s great,” said Red Thread Brewing Company’s managing
partner Carl Milroy of Newmarket, Ontario. “But we’ve been approached by many
festivals to come and take part but there are only so many you can realistically be a
part of.”

Beer and brewery festivals are unquestionably communal, exciting events, but many
breweries, especially newer ones, need to make note of key concepts when
attending them and what strategies to utilize if they wish to simultaneously join the
beer festival circuit to gain attention to their wares while seeing any success for

“You’ve got to get the right information down before you even go,” Milroy said. “How
much is it going to cost? How much is the sample size? The festival organizers often
underestimate how many people are going to show up so you should always bring
extra beer. The only other downside is that certain organizers start charging more
to be part of the festivals due to their own increasing popularity year-to-year.”
“The costs can be huge,” added Heise. “In Regina, you’ll likely spend a good two
thousand dollars at a weekend festival and get only five hundred dollars in revenue.

You’ve got to pick festivals case-by-case and be wary of the festival snake oil of,
‘Well, you’ll get exposure of two hundred people if you come to our festival.’ That’s
not always going to pan out as they describe, so you have to choose the festival you
want to be part of. Whichever one fits your needs and budget, you want to
(re)attract loyal fans.”

Increasingly, breweries themselves are hosting their own festivals and giving a stage
for their own local brewing and artistic creativity. This includes being the festival
organizers and/or brewing special beer for that particular festival.

“We put on a cask festival every April,” said Heise. “We’re very proud of that—there
wasn’t much cask culture in Saskatchewan before our festival and we include
breweries from Manitoba and Alberta in attendance. We also host an IPA festival
which we brew a special cask IPA for.”

“We’re launching our own festival in mid-June,” added Milroy. “We’ve got a good
space in Newmarket with a kind of small town feel. We’re expecting a good turn

A look at upcoming events in a calendar year helps many new breweries create their
own beer festival strategy, even right in their own areas and in terms of how much
preparation to do beforehand.

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Rob Symes

Honey isn’t just for bears, its for beers too, with a long history dating back 15 millennia. Here’s the buzz:

13,000 BC: Our distant ancestors daub primitive paint on the walls of a cave, indicating that early man has started to collect honey from wild bee colonies. Beer has still not been invented (though neither has the wheel).

7,000 BC: The first beehives show up in the Middle East. We know this from beeswax found in broken pottery that dates to this time. Honey = fermentation, so good things are around the corner.

2,700 BC: King Midas is interred with a brew that contains barley, grapes, honey and saffron. Beverage historian, Dr. Patrick McGovern calls this ‘Phrygian grog’ and partners with Sam Calgione of Dogfish Head to recreate it for modern consumers. Midas Touch proves to be popular in the beer community, as does its partner honey brew – Chateau Jiahu, which predates Midas by six thousand years, but arguably is even less beer like due to uncertainty over whether it contained barley.

1000 BC: The Picts begin their ascendancy as Scotlands leading tribe – a position they will hold for centuries. Abetted by plentiful heather, they begin producing braggot, a real cross-over brew that edges the character of honey brews ever so slightly closer to beer.

775: The Vikings are just one of several European cultures who are drinking mead. Predominantly brewed by women, Viking mead is powerful stuff, and predates beer in their civilization. However, as the centuries progress, mead begins to fall out of favour, and beer begins its ascendancy. Honey sticks around as a flavouring, frequently turning up as a sweetener in brews.

1988: Sleeman Brewery returns, having previously lost its license in the 1930s for bootlegging. Once created, their Honey Brown Lager will becoming the leading honey beer brand in Canada. Its not the first modern North American honey beer, but it will be most Canucks intro to the style.

Mid-1990s: The Vaux brewery in England creates Waggle Dance – a beer made with 20 percent honey. Its marketed as “The Original Honey Beer” – a claim throughly debunked by noted beer legend Michael Jackson, who dismisses it as “rather extravagant” given several thousand years of evidence to the contrary.

Post-2000: Honey beers begin to pick up pace as interest in local products and regional flavours grows. Craft brewers had always been pioneers in this space and begin to lay down their marker in style, incorporating honey into every conceivable type of brew.

2006: Colony Collapse Disorder is coined to describe a startling decline in bee populations. It applies whenever half of a colonies worked bees disappear, and it becomes so well-known that the plight of the honey bee enters public consciousness. Unsurprising, this brings out the best in people, and backyard bee-keeping flourishes as part of an informal effort to help pollinators. In turn, this filters into home brewing as honey makes its way from hive to garage.

2011: White House Honey Ale becomes the first beer known to have been brewed in the Whitehouse. Using his own funds, President Obama purchases a home-brew kit and his team of chefs incorporate honey collected from the bee hives on the South Lawns. The ale is the first of four to be brewed and served to celebrities and politicians alike, with a blonde ale, porter and brown all joining the mix – all with added honey.


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For a brewery that is not even 1 ½ years old, 2 Crows has become a well-received brewery in the world of barrel-aged sours. The husband and wife team, Mark & Kelly Huizink along with brewer Jeremy Taylor opened in late January of 2017 with an impressive line up of unique beers and already were prepping themselves with a foedre ( a large wooden barrel for long term fermentation or aging) for future beers. Their first foedre-aged release was in July of 2017. The “Magic Touch” Golden ale was one of five beers released in honour of their one year anniversary.



STYLE: Foedre – aged golden ale

ABV: 6.8% IBU: 22 SRM: 4.4 OG: 1.056 FG: 1.004

This golden ale captures two hot trends in beer these days: wood aging and brettanomyces wild yeast fermentation.  This ale pours hazy gold, with a white, frothy and creamy head that lingers for pretty much the entire duration of drinking. The nose is an intriguing combination of fruit (grapefruit/tropical) and spicy/funky brett, but it isn’t cursed with the unpleasant hospital/used bandaid (or worse) characteristics that can happen with brett. There’s a strong, fresh, citrus undercurrent to the palate, balanced by slightly sour, bretty notes, but they are quite subtle. According to their website they used brett claussenii, a strain that is subtle in terms of brett funk and known for producing pineapple notes. The body is medium, and the higher alcohol is not very noticeable. It finishes dry and clean. What is not evident, however, is significant wood influence. A foedre is a large oak barrel. The one used for this beer is an old one that used to contain Calvados (French apple brandy). It had been used for beer a couple times before this. They don’t use it to add oak character, but because it maintains the wild yeast/bacteria population after making a beer with those cultures. Who knows what will come out of that foedre next?


One of the all-too-common sins in the beer world these days is the release of Brettanomyces-affected beers too early, since such brews require months to condition properly, without which they become simply odd-smelling ales. Magic Touch, I’m pleased to note, is not such a sinner, with a lovely complexity integrated into the aroma of this hazy golden beer: Imagine a perfumey bowl of slightly overripe fruit – mandarin oranges, peaches and pears – coupled with slightly musty wood and accents of hay and black pepper. On the palate, that aforementioned wood comes across a trifle too foecrefully, but gets support and moderation from a mildly tart peach, apricot and orange fruitiness and considerable peppery spice, all of which starts lightly sweet and dries to a mildly bitter and, yes, woody finish. I suspect that the strong wood notes are due to the youth of the foeder (large wooden tun) in which this has been conditioned, and that will ease as more brews make their way through the barrel, resulting in even better Magic Touches to come.


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The Re-Discovery of Mead and Its Growing Influence in Canadian Beer

By: James Burt

Ancient Elixirs

“Mead’s one more thing that people can add to their basket on a sampling night,” said Trafalgar Brewery co-founder Eric Dornan of Oakville, Ontario. “Sure it’s a niche market but people are starting to dabble in it more and more.”

Trafalgar Brewery has seen growing interest in mead firsthand with its Chai Mead and Mead Braggot releases. Dornan pointed to today’s media as an influence in driving people to discover mead for themselves.

“With all the popularity around Vikings and Game of Thrones on television or in print, fans see the characters drinking mead and want to seek it out for themselves. It’s interesting even how Trafalgar came to mead: fifteen years ago, the former owner was asked to brew it for a renaissance festival—a pumpkin-cranberry mead. We’ve been making it ever since then.”

Dornan’s references to historical fiction are perhaps necessary to understand both the history of mead and its revival in the modern age. Reading on the history of beer, one will inevitably discover mead, the ancient alcoholic drink that dates back to both ancient China and later prominently in Ancient Greece. Unlike beer, a drink based in fermented grain, mead comes from fermented honey. Any party that kept beehives through time, from monasteries to Norse armies, could make mead, flavouring it with fruit and spices.

Today, mead is often a choice product of select wineries.

“Mead has the same base as ice wine, just without bubbles. Something sweet being fermented,” said Planter’s Ridge Winery’s Janine Radul of Port Williams, Nova Scotia. “We add the bubbles later, in a brewery. For some of our drier meads, we stop fermentation early to get the flavour we want.”

Crossover Potential

It’s not surprising that amidst the revival of lost or vintage styles of beers that mead is gaining prominence. What is surprising however is its modern incorporation aspects of beer in its brewing process, resulting in the form of the mead-beer crossover of braggot.

“We are a brewery so we use hops and barley as we have before,” said Dornan. “But with mead, we only use marginal amounts of both to create the braggot. In the end, it’s about fifty-fifty of wild flower honey and barley.”

The mixing of grain and honey to make braggot has paralleled with brewers creating meads the same way session brewers concoct experimental beers. Trafalgar has expanded its product line with mead to include its Chai mead, a mixture of masala chai tea, mead, and barley, plus a Braggot and Peach Mead line.  

“You often have to explain these products to everyone and the public can be a bit suspicious,” said Dornan. “It’s half this and half that, but people are often willing to give it a go once you do.”

Regional Resources and Growth

Just as small batch and independent beer has helped facilitate wheat and hop production, mead has also lent itself to the growth of regional resources that go into mead’s production, allowing even more systemic growth in several offshoots of the beer and beverage industries.

“We source our honey from bee keeper Perry Brant in Wolfville, Nova Scotia,” said Radul. “He’s got ninety-five hives and is working as a sustainable beekeeper. Four hundred pounds of honey yields five hundred litres of mead, so we tend to use quite a bit.”

As Planter’s Ridge’s director of sales, Radul has also concocted unique ideas to promote their mead lines.

“Since people aren’t very familiar with mead, we’ve found that doing meal events where we can present a flight of mead to pair the drinks with the food.”

“There are government hits you have to get over to get meads on the shelves,” added Dornan. “But how different is that from beer today? Mead doesn’t have the same competition level as beer today does so it’s interesting to consider how the future will play out for mead and braggot.”

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By: Jesse Reynolds

Beer’s potential is infinite. From a blank slate, you can use a multitude of ingredients to build a recipe to be as complex as you want it to be.

But sometimes you don’t want complex. Sometimes, particularly on a hot day, you just want to sit in the sun and crush a cold beer or six. On such a day, what better to drink than a style commonly nicknamed “lawnmower beer”?

Cream Ale is an excellent style for the homebrewer because it has all the simplicity and drinkability of a lager, but doesn’t require low fermentation temperatures and cuts the time between brewing and drinking in half.

With roots in Canada and the Northeastern United States, this ale variety originated in the 1800s as an alternative to lagers which were becoming more popular at the time. Its light gold colour, somewhat corny malt sweetness and low-medium hopping offers a similar beer to a typical American Lager, but with slightly more character and complexity.

Highly carbonated, highly thirst-quenching and absolutely gorgeous to look at, the speedily-produced Cream Ale is an underrated variety nowadays. Some microbrewers are beginning to pay attention, and as the demand for craft lagers increases we may start seeing more Cream Ales on beer store shelves.

This recipe should produce a clean, crisp, straw gold beer with hints of sweet malt and corn. The balance of the finished beer is fairly even, but the malt and adjuncts do most of the heavy-lifting.

Using a portion of 6-row malt in addition to 2-row helps break down the sugars in the corn and rice, increasing fermentability and lowering the amount of corn flavour to a desirable level. The flaked corn also imparts colour and a slight sweetness, while the flaked rice keeps the beer crisp without adding much else. A bit of Carafoam will increase the body, which could otherwise be thin like a Light Lager, and provide a frothy white head.

The hop selection skews toward American hops, but these varieties were specifically grown to imitate the spicy, floral notes of German noble hops. 20 IBU is the upper limit as per BJCP guidelines, but increasing the amount of flavour and aroma hops at the end of the boil is a great way to achieve more character in this beer without straying too far off the beaten path.

As always, the yeast selection can have a huge effect on the beer, especially one that’s meant to be clean and crisp. A simple but effective US-05 or California Ale will do the trick, although some prefer to use Cream Ale or Kolsch yeast to provide more fruity esters to the finished product. However, the latter yeasts require more fermentation time to drive off sulfur compounds. I recommend brewing with California Ale the first time and taking it a step further if you’d like to have more yeast character.

A word of warning, once this beer starts flowing it doesn’t usually last long!


Cream Ale (BJCP Category 1C)


(all-grain, 5.5 gallons)


OG: 1.046


FG: 1.008


ABV: 4.99%


IBU: 20


SRM: 2.68




8.5 Gallons Tap Water (Treated w/Campden Tablets) or Spring Water


Add ¼ tsp Calcium Chloride to mash




4 lbs 2-Row


2 lbs 6-Row


0.5 lbs Carafoam


1.5 lbs Flaked Corn


1 lb Flaked Rice




1 oz Crystal, 17 IBU (60 mins)


1 oz Liberty, 3 IBU, (5 mins)




Safale US-05 Dry Yeast (re-hydrated) or White Labs WLP001 California Ale


Brew Day Instructions


Mash-in grains with 4.5 gallons of treated water to reach 153F (67C) and hold for 90 minutes. Use direct heat or infuse with boiling water to raise temperature to 168F (76C) and hold for 15 minute mash-out. Drain your wort into your boil kettle and slowly sparge until you have seven gallons of wort.


Bring wort to a boil for 90 minutes, adding hops at times directed above. Remove from heat and chill rapidly to 64F (18C), transfer to fermenter, aerate your hopped wort and pitch yeast.


Ferment the beer at 64F (18C) for seven days, then free rise to 68F (20C) to encourage complete fermentation. When the beer’s gravity has reached or surpassed FG and holds steady for three days, package, carbonate and enjoy! For best visual results, fine with gelatin or isinglass for several days before packaging.


Questions or comments? Contact the author at craftbeerjesse@gmail.com

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Rob Symes

The FIFA Soccer World Cup is almost upon us, and its famous bracket could act as inspiration for a beer tournament of your own making. How fun would it be to pit the best beers of each nation against each other to pick a winner?

Here’s why that might be a bit of a problem. Outside of the world’s craft brewing strongholds, you’ll be lucky to find a beer from each country, and when you do it’s likely to be the nation’s leading brand, which would be the equivalent of flooding your field with Labatt Blue and Coors Light. In fact, Group G is the only one that could lay a claim to containing two great beer nations, with England and Belgium meeting on June 28th.

Another problem lies in the sheer quantity of drinks that would need to be consumed. With 64 matches played, there’s no way you could do a head to head for each game without doing yourself some damage.

Fortunately, if you want to join in the fun, there’s a better way to build your World Cup beer bracket.

1)      Pick the best beer you can find to represent a nation. In some cases, you will not have to stray beyond their borders to have a choice of great options – for example, the last World Cup was won by Germany, and a top quality fresh German hefeweizen could be a serious contender.

2)      Accept that a country does not always produce great beer, or if it does, it may not find its way to your fridge. Likely Group A also-rans Saudi Arabia fall into this category. Make your peace with this and sub in a brew of your own choice, with bonus points for a lame tie to that nation. For example, the Saudis could be represented by an export stout because they’re famous for a black liquid which is also exported.

3)      Take your time with the round robin format. You’ll have 32 beers to drink in 2 weeks. It’s a lot, but you simply need to order them from best to worst within their group. It’s probably ideal to tackle each group over a couple days, so your memory and taste buds stay fresh.

4)      Once the round of 16 starts, there are two games a day, which means 4 beers a day. At this point you may want to enlist the help of a friend. Prep yourself for some strange match ups, because you are probably going to get wildly different styles facing off, but that’s no different to the game on the field. This is also where your bracket will diverge from the teams on the field – you’re winning IPA from Group

5)      The time difference between here and Russia means a host of breakfast starts, which is why it’s unlikely your own bracket will happen in real time with the games, but by the final you’ve earned it. What better way to wrap up your bracket (and the world cup) by drinking your final two beers while watching the big game.

The World Cup begins on June 14th and runs until July 15th. Find the official bracket here.


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Style: Red Ale Format: 355ml cans

ABV: 6.7% IBU: 30 SRM: 17 OG: 1.064 FG: 1.013

On March 8th, International Women’s day, 11 women from the Blindman Brewing Taproom, wives of the brewery and some local business gathered together to create their version of the Pink Boots Collaboration Brew. A meeting was held with the head brewer Curtis Lawrence-Ross and the decision was made to brew a hoppy red ale, emphasizing the YCH Pink Boots hope blend made especially for the Pink Boots Society® And really, how could you go wrong with a blend of Palisade, Simcoe. Mosaic, Citra and Loral?

This unfiltered, slightly cloudy ale pours a lovely mahogany red with a light tan coloured head that dissipates quickly. With the first pour, there is an aromatic immediate release of toffee from the malts, followed by a hint of pine. The taste is hops, with a blend of citrus, floral and pine and makes for a perfect complement to the sweet toffee and caramel malts. It is hop forward red ale, but it is well balanced making for easy drinking, but at 6.7% it does have a bit of a punch at the end. All I need now is those ruby slippers so I get to Blindman Brewery for another this red ale.


Brown in colour with a hazy appearance, this ale offers a smooth drinkability with layers of flavours and aromas to enjoy. The toasty malt aroma is rich, with a hint of toffee. Hop aromas contribute an earthy, piney character with subtle floral notes. On the flavour, the malt has a grainy character with caramel and a toasty impression. The hop flavour is resin-like and piney. Neither malt nor hop flavours dominate and the beer is well attenuated with a clean fermentation. The balance tips slightly toward the hop bitterness and finishes with a light, yet appealing roasted dryness. The moderately high carbonation makes this ale feel lighter than it is accentuating the drinkability. What stands out about this ale is the fine balance between the malt and hop character, making this a rounded and very tasty beer.


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Home Brewing on a Budget and Its Re-shaping of Canadian Beer Tastes
By: James Burt

“The thing I love about home brewing,” said Zack Weinberg, proprietor of Toronto
Brewing, a home brewing supply store. “Is that with a little practice, you can brew
beer at home that’s just as good as something that’s produced at a commercial
In an era of so much Canadian brewing activity, Weinberg’s statement is hard to
ignore. While once thought of as an activity for middle-aged men at a local u-brew,
home brewing has shown itself to be a process that yields refined products of
quality. Moreover, it’s something that can be done under a tight budget by almost

“You can get started with a good homebrew kit for just fifty dollars that will come
with all of the basics you need to brew your first batch at home,” Weinberg said.
“They are complete except for a few items you’ll need to make the brewing process
that much easier. We always recommend grabbing an extra bottle of sanitizer, a
wort chiller, and a fresh case of clean bottles to ensure a successful brew.”
Home brewing is also a vehicle to make lifelong connections and experimentation
with some creative brewing. Brad Blahnik of Winnipeg’s Grain to Glass home
brewing supply centre learned this first hand.

“I met my partner Paul Tower in my band days,” he said. “We jammed together and
Paul mentioned he home brewed, inspiring me to do the same.”
Blahnik set about getting a brew kit and eventually joined a local brew club that
helped propagate rigorous local brewing competition.

“We were involved with the Winnipeg Brew Bombers, our local brew club, that
always had lots of activities going on. That included the Half Pint Grain to Glass Pro
Am competition where Paul and I took home four medals in IPA brewing.”
As both Weinberg and Blahnik have seen, home brewers have to make
considerations before and after they start to brew. Beginning with smaller batch
brewing kits before going onto larger volumes or complex brewing set-ups is
recommended. Attending a weekend home brewing class or event to get the basics
down is also suggested. Home brewers often encounter common problems in the
brewing process that can result in beer batches going foul.
“The importance of cleaning and sanitation is paramount in brewing,” said
Weinberg. “You’ll always want to make sure your fermenter, bottles, and any
transferring equipment are kept completely clean and free of anything that can
cause infection in the final product. You’ll also want to maintain a consistent

temperature throughout fermentation, as this will produce the cleanest possible
beer. Temperature swings can cause the yeast to produce fermentation byproducts
like diacetyl, a buttered popcorn off-flavouring agent, or acetaldehyde— that creates
the sour apple off-flavour in home brew! With these considerations in mind, you
can easily set something up in your home or condo with just a sturdy stove to brew
on and a cool, dark place like a closet to ferment.”

Some non-home brewers might be surprised in how great of a beer can be made or
what interesting home brewing set-ups can be devised in one’s own living space.
“One man we know re-wired his garage to create his own brewing system,” said
Blahnik. “It’s a one barrel operation, like a nano-operation, and it takes up the whole

“I recently brewed a coconut barley wine with my friend Matt Duimering from our
local homebrew club, GTA Brews. We added brettanomyces—a special yeast-type—
for some added punch and aged in on charred oak for six months,” added Weinberg.
“It was pretty phenomenal.”

Blahnik speculated on the possible future of home brewing. In the case of Manitoba,
it has only been since 2015 that the province has allowed brewers to offer half-pints
or to sell small-sized beer batches. The recent changes to these laws have helped
facilitate both home brewing innovation and people’s perspectives on home brewed
beer overall.

“I’ve had so much good homebrew, I have a hard time buying commercial beer,” he
said. “It’s hard to go to the store to buy beer now. Here, people can brew decent beer
for one dollar per pint. Most of the people that got good at homebrew have gone on
to open breweries. The whole climate is changing in terms of quality, people’s
abilities, and the new laws that are more favourable to those that want to brew and
showcase their wares.”

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  Lundy Dale

Over the last five years, during the week of International Women’s Day (March 3 – 10th), women in the brewing industry from around the world have been getting together to collaborate on a brew, with proceeds going back to the Pink Boots Society. Most women and teams try to brew on the actual day, March 8th, but it does not always work out, especially with so many groups wanting to meet up and collaborate.  What started out in the first year one with 60 brewers in five countries has grown now to include 240 teams from over ten countries. The growth is amazing and I am so proud to have been a part of it for the last four years.

Who are the Pink Boots Society®?

The Pink Boots Society is a non-profit international organization that was founded in 2007 by Teri Fahrendorf, a professional brewer for 19 years. The PBS teaches, supports and encourages women in the brewing industry or wanting to get into the brewing industry. Most importantly, it helps advance beer careers for women  by raising money for educational scholarships.

What is the 2018 Pink Boots Brew Collaboration beer style?

Every year, a team of women, usually led by a member of the Pink Boots Society® , gets together to brew a beer based on a style suggestion. From 2014 to 2017 there were specific brew requests with suggested hops or malt profiles. This year, due to the sponsorship of YCH Hops, out of Yakima, Washington, a “Pink Boots Blend” was created for the society and became the only requirement. For 2018 the blend was Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic, Loral and Palisade. How could you go wrong with that combination? When opening the bag on arrival, you knew the beer would be a hop bomb! And, as a bonus, YCH HOPS will be donating $3 from each pound sold back to the PBS scholarship funds!

So, what did we brew in Canada?

Of the 18 (yes, 18!) brews, Alberta was the most prolific province, providing 12 of them! BC brewed four, with Ontario and New Brunswick each brewing one. A few of these beers will be reviewed as part of the tasting panel in the near future.


The biggest brew in BC  (and the one that I was apart of )  was held in Vancouver and hosted by Bomber Brewing.  The style choice was a very juicy, hop forward New World-style hazy IPA that we called “Pink Haze”. What was extra exciting for me is that this was the first year that the product was packaged. Due to the passion of co-owner Kayla Vear of the newly opened, Mile 37 mobile canning line, we had a sponsor for the canning, labeling and design. And thanks to Bomber Brewing we had distribution.

The brewers from Coast Mountain Brewing in Whistler and the yet-to-be-opened Pemberton Valley Beerworks got together with a few ladies from the area to create the “Pink Boots ISA,” a very crushable and highly aromatic and hoppy India session ale, in kegs with a very limited supply of 650mL bottles. The support was huge in the Whistler area.

From up north in Quesnel, Erin Dale, head brewer at Barkerville Brewing, took the lead, along with two breweries from Prince George (one yet unopened) as well as women from Gambrius Malting in Armstrong to create their Hurdy Gurdy Hibiscus pale ale. They also had a graphic designer, Emily Luce, who used only female-made fonts, and designer Alanna Munro donated one of these fonts “TofinoPro” for this brew. The beer has been so popular that Barkerville is in the process of making an additional brew!

And from picturesque Nelson, Torchlight Brewing, led by assistant brewer Kerilyn Faulkner joined up with three other breweries in the area and some avid home brewers to create “Harmonia Hoppy Saison”, a harmonious blend of a saison and a hoppy pale ale. The combination makes for a very juicy and slightly citrusy and tasty ale. It is only available on tap but a few bottles were hand-bottled and labeled for a limited few. It appears to be a hit among those people who don’t like hoppy beers as well as those that do!

Breweries in Alberta have taken part in the Pink Boots brew for at least the last four years with Old College Brewery and Tool Shed being the first. While in the past few years there were less brews with more collaborations, this year a lot more breweries just went out on their own to create this one-time brew. Twelve breweries with twelve brews and styles ranging from gruits, blonde ales, pale ales, ISAs, IPAs to DIPAs! In addition to the breweries from previous years (Banff Ave Brewing, Blindman Brewing, Grizzly Paw Brewing, Old College Brewing, Village Brewing, Mill Street Brewpub, Wild Rose Brewery – and sorry if I missed any), it was great to see a few new ones, including: Banded Peak and Cold Garden Beverage Co, Trolley 5 (co-owner by PJ L’Heureux, brainchild of Craft Beer market) and the just newly opened nano-brewery, Red Bison! Well done Alberta!


Hard to believe there was only one brew this year from Ontario. Hopefully there will be many in the years to come.

This is the second year that The Mill Street Brewpub in Toronto has been a part of the Pink Boots Brew. Led by master brewer Kaitlin Vandenbosch and head distiller Martha Lowry, this year’s team brewed “She’ll Be Right pale ale”, a very sessionable pale ale at 4.4% using Vermont yeast for extra juiciness and all Australian hops. The name of the ale is an Australian slang meaning, “It’ll all be okay.” This beer was actually brewed in February and was released on tap and for growler fills on International Women’s Day.


There is only one brew from the Atlantic Provinces and this one is a true collaboration of two New Brunswick breweries: Les Brasseurs du Petit – Sault from Edmundston (a regular participant of the Pink Boots Brew) and Big Tide Brewing from Saint John. The lead and head brewer (and only brewer) for this brew was Wendy Papadopoulos, owner and head brewer for Big Tide Brewing. The style choice for this brew was a collaborative effort and also one of the few brews in Canada that decided not to use the YCH hops and instead went for a chocolate porter with maple syrup! Why did they not use the Pink Boots hop blend? The team at Petit-Sault had never brewed a porter, while Wendy at Big Tide has, and the idea of taking one of their signature ales, Phémie-la-Bootlegger, traditionally a maple brown ale, and changing the recipe to a porter sounded like a fun challenge.

So, maybe in 2019 we can have more women in Canada get onboard and brew some amazing brews from every province. We can do it! But for now, time for you to head to one of these host breweries, to a liquor store or do some beer trades. That’s what I’m doing!

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Canadian Brewing Awards and Cicerone® Certification Program launch National Beer Scholarship

The Cicerone® Certification Program and the Canadian Brewing Awards announced a nationwide scholarship program for Canadian beer professionals at the 16th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards in Halifax last night.

The scholarship will award 12 recipients, one from each province and territory, with a Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server study and exam package, and three Canadians with a study package for the Certified Cicerone® designation. 

“Our Awards recognize excellence in 55 Beer Style categories and we are proud to work with the Cicerone Certification Program to grow knowledge of beer styles and sensory evaluation throughout the country,” says Rob Engman, President of the Canadian Brewing Awards.

The scholarships will be awarded to beer professionals who demonstrate a strong passion for beer knowledge.

“As the Canadian beer industry continues to grow, the variety of beers available and the demand for proper beer service increase as well,” says Pat Fahey, Content Director for Cicerone. “We hope that these scholarships help a new generation join the growing ranks of Cicerones in Canada to raise the bar for quality beer experiences.”

The applications are available under the Blog & News section of the Cicerone Certification Program website, with a deadline for submission of Monday July 9th, 2018. 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
  • Keeping and Serving Beer Coursebook + Specialist Exam
  • Brewing Ingredients and Process Coursebook + Specialist Exam
  • Full set of Beer Style Profile Cards

Scholarship applications can be found at the following links:

Certified Beer Server Scholarship: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NZ82B5D

Certified Cicerone Study Package: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N6JBKSN


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.

With roots in the North American craft beer movement and in-depth coverage of classic European beer culture, the Cicerone program has become the global standard for assessing beer professionals since its launch in 2008. 


The Canadian Brewing Awards is Canada’s national competition for judging the quality of Canadian manufactured beer. The Canadian Brewing Awards invites Canadian majority-owned breweries of all sizes to compete in a Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) sanctioned blind tasting determining the best beers in 55 style categories. A Canadian Brewing Award medal is a widely recognized symbol of Canadian brewing excellence.


Launched in 2008 by brewer, author, and beer educator Ray Daniels, the Cicerone Certification Program seeks to ensure that consumers receive the best quality beer at every service occasion. To facilitate this, those who sell and serve beer are encouraged to acquire knowledge in five areas: 1) Keeping and Serving Beer, 2) Beer Styles, 3) Beer Flavor and Evaluation, 4) Beer Ingredients and Brewing Processes, and 5) Pairing Beer with Food.

The Cicerone Certification Program certifies beer professionals at four levels:

  1. Certified Beer Server
  2. Certified Cicerone®
  3. Advanced Cicerone®
  4. Master Cicerone®

To date, more than 100,000 individuals have been certified through the program. 

For more information on “What is a Cicerone?” visit: http://cicerone.org/about

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