In this episode we chat about the beer and brewing scenes in Buffalo and Ontario, Mike’s history in the bar and beer industry, how Thin Man got started and about their beers, and some other beery reminiscing and storytelling including the now-legendary Bar Towel Bus Trip to the Blue Monk.
Recently I sat down for a beer and a chat for Bar Towel Radio with Peter Bulut and Mike Lackey of Great Lakes Brewery, as they celebrate the 30th anniversary this year. In this episode we chat about their favourite GLB and collaboration beers from the past and present, some memorable stories from the brewery’s past, their new pilot brewing system, and their thoughts about how the Ontario beer scene has evolved and where it’s going.
As a part of their 30th anniversary celebrations, Great Lakes Brewery will be doing a Tap Takeover of the Brewer’s Backyard on Canada Day, this Saturday, July 1st at the Evergreen Brick Works, from 11am until 5pm. They will have six booths set up with almost 20 beers available. Check out the full tap list below and we hope to see you on Saturday!
In our newest episode of Bar Towel Radio, we go continental with a conversation with Marc Rauschmann, Master Brewer of BraufactuM in Frankfurt, Germany. Marc was recently in Toronto to launch a number of his beers at beerbistro, which will be available on draught in Ontario. During our chat we discussed his background and the beer scene in Germany, plus his beers coming to the market here, including the smoked wheat Roog, pale ale Palor, IPA Progusta, weizen IPA Indra and saison Soleya.
At Toronto’s Festival of Beer Spring Sessions a couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have a beer with the Juno Award-winning band Elliott Brood. In this episode of Bar Towel Radio I chat withband members Casey Laforet, Mark Sasso and Stephen Pitkin about their favourite beers and breweries, some of their beer memories from the road and what’s coming up from this great Canadian band.
The Bar Towel continues our series entitled “A Beer At…”, where we feature a single bar or restaurant, have a beer or two and get a feel for what makes it special. This visit is to the La Quinta Brewing Co., located in the Coachella Valley of California.
Good beer is everywhere. From big city to small village, it seems nowadays that there’s a small brewery there now, and thriving. This is no different in the desert region of California, where although the heat can be unlike anything we see this side of the border, plenty of good beer is available to help cool things down.
In the Coachella Valley, probably most well known around these parts for the music festival named after it, contains a row of small cities including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta and Indio, about 130 miles inland from Los Angeles. It was here recently where I spent a few days in La Quinta, a golfer’s haven and home to the La Quinta Brewing Co.which I was able to visit.
The draught lineup at the Old Town Taproom.
La Quinta Brewing Co. is actually comprised of two locations, the actual brewery which includes a taproom, and a second, non-brewing taproom. The brewery is located in an industrial area just off Interstate 10 in Palm Desert, with the views of the Joshua Tree mountains in the distance. The brewery’s taproom has about a dozen beers available – during my visit there was a wide range of styles including a blonde, amber, honey wheat, brown, American IPA, coffee porter (plus the bourbon barrel aged version, which won the gold medal in the Wood and Barrel Aged Beer category of the 2016 World Beer Cup), session IPA, blood orange ale, maibock and Irish red. The brewery taproom was a cozy spot with samples, flights, glasses and merchandise available.
Their second location is in an area of La Quinta called Old Town, a quaint little walkable area with shops and restaurants. Walking into the Old Town Taproom is a respite from the usual heat that is common in the region, with a direct line right to the bar, where the orders are taken. Similar to the brewery taproom plenty of beer options abound here, as La Quinta eschews traditional seasonal choices for a wide range of styles, as it’s always hot here. There was much overlap from the offerings at the brewery taproom, but with the additional of eight guest taps accompanying the house beers, including offerings from Pizza Port, Anderson Valley, Hangar 24 and others.
The Old Town Taproom.
It’s a simple place, made for drinking. It’s a fairly stark interior, marked by a concrete floor and metal tables and chairs. But it’s a warm spot, where’s a long bar around the taps, communal high top tables, TVs and board games. It has the definite feel of a locals place, with folks at the bar on a weekday afternoon chatting about happenings about town, tales from working at the local resorts and previous nights at the taproom.
A side door access leads to a nice patio facing some of the other shops of Old Town, where you can sit at a table and get occasionally misted with overhanging mist ropes. It’s a nice touch when you’d like a little heat and sunshine but with some relief from time to time.
While I was at the brewery I was fortunate to have a quick chat with Mychal Renteria, Sales Representative from La Quinta Brewing about the history of the brewery, what it’s like to have a brewery in the desert and other great craft beer spots in the area. Give a listen to this episode of Bar Towel Radio below or on iTunes or Google Play:
The Coachella Valley area is a great destination – quite literally unlike anything in Canada. It’s a resort community built up from the desert, where it is easy to spend the days taking in the perpetual warmth. But with La Quinta Brewing and the area’s emerging scene, there is now some great beer to savour in the sunshine.
The La Quinta Brewery Taproom is located at 77917 Wildcat Drive in Palm Desert, CA and is open Sunday-Thursday from 2pm-8pm, and Friday-Saturday from 2pm-9pm. The Old Town Taproom is located at 78-065 Main Street #100 in La Quinta, CA and is open Sunday-Thursday 12pm-10pm, and Friday-Saturday 12pm-12am. Note that minors (under 21 years of age) are not permitted, and food is not served at either location.
This week we sat down for a beer and a chat with Aaron Spinney, the brewer of the soon-to-open Merit Brewing in Hamilton, Ontario. Aaron is one of the many nice dudes in the Ontario beer scene, and it is exciting to see his new venture take shape alongside Tej Sandhu and (OG Bar Towel Forum member) Jesse Vallins, two other well-known players in the local beer and food world.
On October 1st, 2016, Bar Volo, one of Toronto’s most revered beer bars, closed its doors due to a future development on the property. Bar Volo has been one of the most influential beer bars in the local beer scene, as they have hosted numerous tap takeovers, beer events and tastings over the years, perhaps most notably Cask Days, which is now a stand-alone festival at the Evergreen Brick Works.
Bar Volo’s final day coincided with this year’s Zwanze Day, an international, simultaneous beer festival of sorts, whereby numerous bars around the world all tap a special keg from the Cantillon Brewery of Belgium.
Being Volo’s last day, I took this opportunity to chat with the many brewers, beer lovers and other members of the beer industry who attended to celebrate this momentous beer bar, and look forward to Volo’s new beginnings on College Street and Church Street.
Thanks to the participants which included Maz Brereton, Nick Pashley, Ken Woods, Doug Shoemaker, Russ Burdick, Jason Fisher, Ryan Morrow, Robin LeBlanc, Rob Morra, Mike Lackey, Cody Noland, Michael Hancock, Sam Corbeil, Zack Weinberg, Matt Tweedy, Jason Tremblay, Iain Mcoustra, Luc Lafontaine, Julian Morana and Ralph Morana.
Earlier this week Muskoka Brewery hosted a beer dinner at Café Belong at the Evergreen Brick Works, to promote the launch of their new winter seasonal, Shinnicked Stout. Around the outdoor campfire which concluded the dinner, I was able to have a quick chat with Gary McMullen, founder of Muskoka, about their history, the evolution of the Ontario beer scene and the current state of their brewery.
Give a listen to the latest episode of Bar Towel Radio below or on iTunes or Google Play:
Please note: as the episode was recorded outdoors, at times there was some wind noise. Hopefully that will not interfere with your enjoyment of the episode.
Jim Koch, Founder and Brewer of the Boston Beer Company, known for the legendary beer brand Samuel Adams, was in town last week for Toronto Beer Week. During that time I was fortunate to record a podcast with him, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my beer drinking lifetime.
Samuel Adams has had a long history in Ontario and with my own personal beer experiences. I recall Samuel Adams Boston Ale hitting the LCBO shelves in the 1990s and how delicious it was. Of course how could I forget the appearance of Triple Bock, a beer so different I don’t think anyone of my generation had tried anything like it before. I remember interesting seasonals like Old Fezziwig coming to Ontario which were unlike what we were seeing locally at the time, and spent early travels in the United States seeking out others. And I was grateful to Samuel Adams (and their local partner Moosehead) for entrusting me to the scoop of their initial release of Utopias and Infinium to the Ontario market back in 2010.
It was an absolute pleasure to chat with Jim, a charming man who has been a pioneer in the microbrewing and craft beer industry and an extremely astute and successful businessman, but a humble and friendly individual generous enough to spare some time for a long-time fan. Give it a listen below, or via iTunes or Google Play.