Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back From Boston

I'm still reeling from my trip to Boston. Every year the Brewer's Association holds a craft brewers convention in a different city, this year in the land of chowder. Because it was relatively close, we were able to bring a few people from the brewery...so Dad, Matt, Jamie and I piled ourselves into a minivan and headed south last Monday.

We arrived Monday night (after a dinner stop at 7 barrel brewing co.) in time to check in and go grab our first Boston pint. Tuesday morning was the brewery tour day, so by 7:30am we were loaded into a bus on the way to Trinity Brewpub, Buzzards Bay Brewing, Mayflower Brewing and Cape Cod brewing. By 9am I had an oak aged scotch ale in hand, while munching on bacon out of a chalice. Very nice way to start the day. After the tour we hit the welcome reception at Harpoon Brewing Co., where 2000 brewers were allowed to wander around the entire brewery.

On Wednesday the seminars and tradeshow began. Crazy good opening speach and keynote address by Greg Koch of Stone brewing. It started off with a video highlighting the best parts of being a craft brewer and a challenge to brewers to continue with what makes us great. You can watch it here: http://vimeo.com/4298464. After the seminars ended, there was a visit to Boston Beer Co., where Mr Sam Addams treated us all to Lobster and crazy beer brewed at their research brewery. Dad was very happy because they also had the hockey game on.

Thursday was more seminars and tradeshows, followed up by 60+ cask conditioned beers back at Harpoon. Friday was all day seminars and closing reception. On saturday we headed home, stopping only for beer to bring back to the brewery (Phil in particular was itching for some hoppy stouts) and lunch at American Flatbreads.

I've been back for a few days now and my head is still going in a million directions - between catching up on being gone for a week and starting to work on all the big projects that I want to undertake this year, now that I'm full up on inspiration again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A-Channel, CABA, Black Oak, Chez Piggy, Oh my!

Oh man, I love my job. I’m heading to Boston this week for the annual Craft Brewers Convention. Boston is one of my favourite cities, and it is shaping up to be an awesome time. I love this convention; it is inspiring, educational and an opportunity to taste about 7,000 of the best beers in the world. The convention moves to different cities every year, and this is the first time it has been on the east siiiiide since we started, so we get to drive instead of fly to it.

But to make things even better, what a weekend leading up to the conference. On Friday, the A-Channel came down to film a few segments for an upcoming show, and we had a blast! Had the whole fam-damily giving the tour, and doing the beer talk.

Then, off to Toronto where I was giving a talk to the Canadian Amateur Brewers Association (CABA) about brewing with Bog Myrtle for our Bog Water beer. The event was at the RHINO on Queen St., part of my old stomping grounds and an awesome place to go for a pint. The event was licensed as a special event so that they could serve homebrew as well, and what a great time I had trying everyone’s stuff. In my opinion, good homebrew is superior to craft beer for the same reasons craft beer is superior to the mega-brewed crud. The financial motive is completely removed, the pressure to brew for the masses does not apply and the pride and the passion for the beer is the sole motivation behind the creation. I got to try the same recipe brewed with Westmalle and Chimay yeasts, homebrewed Sake, a monster of an IPA and a leftover-malts-and-hops beer all brewed in batches that make our tiny system seem like a giant. Such a good group of folks and an amazing experience.

Because I’m going to be gone all week in Boston I brought Nicola and the kids with me, so that I got to spend some family time over the weekend, too and Nicola’s parents were kind enough to do some babysitting for us, so she met up with me after the event and we spent a few hours wandering through the streets of Toronto. Good times.

Saturday we got up, took the kids to the park and Riverdale Zoo during the day, and then ditched them with Grandma and Grandad again to take in the Black Oak’s grand reopening in Etobicoke. It was a great party, and well attended. John Graham, Bill White, Ron Keefe, Bob Latimer, Stephen Beaumont, Cass Enright, Mike Duggan, and many more familiar faces were out to show their support for Ken, Adrian and the rest of the Black Oak crew. Our brewer, Matt, was brewer at Black Oak before moving out our way, so we have owe these guys a debt of gratitude. Great beer, good food, and super conversation.

Speaking of super conversation...on the bus ride up to Black Oak, I was returning a few phone calls I’d received, and one was to Ralph Morana at Cafe Volo to let him know I was in the city and I’d see if I could swing by and say hi. Turns out he was on the exact same bus as me and at some point we figured this out...funny stuff.

Today, I went to Kingston to take part in a beer dinner at the Chez Piggy restaurant in Kingston. What a way to spend an evening! 5 great beer with 5 great food pairings, and lots of fun. Now I just have about 10 million things to do to get ready for Boston. Dicky Barrett, If you’re reading this, I hope not to annoy you on my vacation.