Posts in On The Road Reports

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The Bar Towel Escapes to Chicago for Great Beer

May 20th, 2015 Posted by Feature, On The Road Reports No Comment yet

logo_EN (1)The Bar Towel is thrilled to announce a new collaboration with Porter Escapes, all in the name of great beer!

It’s no secret that Porter Escapes is a fabulous way to enjoy some amazing destinations, and one thing you’ll be able to find at all of them is delicious craft beer.  So, The Bar Towel is going to bring you information, insights, reviews and profiles about the best craft beer spots at select Porter Escapes destinations.  With a Porter Escapes travel experience that includes flights and hotels, now you’ll be able to add a delicious beer itinerary to your upcoming trip!

Delicious house blend Lambic Doux at Chicago’s Publican Restaurant.

Delicious house blend Lambic Doux at Chicago’s Publican Restaurant.

First up in the wonderful city of Chicago.  Home to such famous beer havens such as Goose Island, Local Option, Half Acre, Piece, Map Room, The Publican and more, Chicago is a great destination for beer, food and culture.  And it just so happens that we are in the middle of the 6th annual Chicago Craft Beer Week, running until May 24th, with numerous beer-related celebrations and events occurring across the region.

Please (virtually) join us this weekend (May 22nd-May 24th) as we tour and highlight some of Chicago’s great craft beer destinations, events during Chicago Craft Beer Week, and other unique sights along the way. Follow along via our Twitter and Instagram feeds, and when we’re back we’ll recap all the spots in a feature article on The Bar Towel.

Cheers to a delicious “beer escape” to Chicago!

Inside Magnolia's new Smokestack in San Francisco.

Bar Towel Radio with Dave McLean of Magnolia Brewing

April 13th, 2015 Posted by Bar Towel Radio, On The Road Reports No Comment yet

I’ve written fondly in the past about San Francisco, one of my favourite beer cities in North America. This year I was fortunate enough to visit again, and while I was there I recorded an interview with Dave McLean, the founder and brewmaster of Magnolia Brewing Company, now featured in our latest episode of Bar Towel Radio.

In the episode I chat with Dave at Magnolia’s Smokestack, their new production brewery and BBQ restaurant, and highlight some of San Francisco’s top beer destinations. Give it a listen here:

 

If you enjoy Bar Towel Radio, please consider subscribing to via iTunes.

The CBC's host venue, the Oregon Convention Center. Photo courtesy travelportland.com.

Our Seminar Picks at the 2015 Craft Brewers Conference

April 10th, 2015 Posted by Beer Events, On The Road Reports No Comment yet

The Bar Towel is proud to once again present our annual preview of the Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America (CBC), taking place from April 14th to 17th, 2015 in at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. Part One of the preview covered our highlights of breweries, bars and other sights of the city, and Part Two covers our picks for the conference seminars.

The Craft Brewers Conference in Portland is only days away, and now’s the time to begin planning to get the most out of your experience. As the largest conference of its kind in the U.S., the CBC can almost be overwhelming nowadays, with non-stop panels, seminars, demonstrations, hospitality events, meetings and vendor showcases. Oh, and the thousands of beer industry folks from all over the world descending on the Oregon Convention Center for three days of camaraderie, connecting and, of course, drinking.

The core schedule format of the CBC is consistent from recent years past, with sponsored demonstrations and hosted seminars occurring throughout the day, and the BrewExpo America trade show running simultaneously, along with various other group meetings, hospitality suites and official nightly events taking place. (See Part One of our preview for a rundown of a number of events happening around Portland, not officially affiliated with the conference itself.)

The big news this year is the addition of an extra half day of BrewExpo America.  (Previously only running on the Wednesday and Thursday, BrewExpo America now runs from 9am-5pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and 8:30am-12pm on Friday.)  This trade show attracts 600 vendors and is a brewery owners’ dream, as suppliers offering everything from basic needs such as equipment and ingredients to neon signs and specialty merchandise are all here. And with over a dozen beer stations throughout the show, it’s easy to stay liquified as you wander up and down the aisles. And speaking of beer, keep your eyes open for the six Symposium Beers produced by Oregon brewers for the CBC.

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Craft Brewers Conference Preview, Part One: Portland, Oregon

April 6th, 2015 Posted by Beer Events, On The Road Reports No Comment yet

The Bar Towel is proud to once again present our annual preview of the Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America (CBC), taking place from April 14th to 17th, 2015 in at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. Part One of the preview covers our highlights of breweries, bars and other sights of the city, and Part Two covers our picks for the conference seminars.

Portland is a city that you want your city to be like. It’s a city where you envy the things that they do and wish it happened where you live. In Toronto, where food trucks and carts have a persistent struggle for their very existence, Portland has literally hundreds of food carts thriving throughout its neighbourhoods. In a time where everything in life is getting more expensive, Portland has no sales tax. And in cities across North America where small brewing is booming, Portland has been on that for years, with over 50 breweries within the city limits, more than anywhere else in the world.

Welcome to The Bar Towel’s annual Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) preview, this year taking place in Portland, Oregon. Since the Brewers Association (organizer of the CBC) announced Portland as the location of the 2015 conference, the dates have been circled in bright red on the calendars of those across the brewing industry.  Portland is truly a paradise for fans of small brewing and one of the top destinations for beer in the United States.

As with every CBC, the conference is just as much a way to explore the destination city as it is to take in the conference programming, and we wholeheartedly recommend doing both.  Portland is a walkable, discovery friendly city and you’ll enjoy your CBC experience even more by taking some time to check it out. (See our past previews of Denver, Washington DC, San Diego and San Francisco if you’re interested.)

“Local” and “craft” aren’t clichés in Portland, they are part of its DNA. Portland is a city of local food, coffee, beer – just about everything that you’d want to put in your body Portland takes immense pride in. In this Part One of our CBC preview, we’ll outline some of the beer and brewing spots that you might want to check out while in Portland, and Part Two will cover our seminar picks for the conference itself.

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Listen to Bar Towel Radio Live from Goose Island

January 17th, 2015 Posted by Bar Towel Radio, On The Road Reports No Comment yet

Bar Towel Radio returns with a special episode recorded last November at Goose Island’s Black Friday tasting event, featuring their famed Bourbon County Brand Stout series of beers.

The event, held annually at their brewpub in Chicago to coincide with the launch of Bourbon County Brand Stout, is a live tasting of the BCBS lineup, hosted by brewers and other staff from Goose Island.

This year I was fortunate enough to attend the Black Friday tasting and was permitted to record the event for Bar Towel Radio.  You can listen to the episode below or via iTunes:

This is the first part of a special two-part “Live from Goose Island” series, and our next episode will be a live recording of the brewery tour from Goose Island’s Chicago brewpub.  Stay tuned for that one, and in the meantime enjoy this episode!

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill in Burlington, Vermont.

Bar Towel Radio Returns

September 22nd, 2014 Posted by Bar Towel Radio, On The Road Reports No Comment yet

Well, it’s not quite the return of Arrested Development, but after a 6 year (!) hiatus, The Bar Towel’s podcast, entitled Bar Towel Radio, has returned.

In July of this summer we traveled down to the Vermont Brewers Festival in Burlington, Vermont, and had a chat with Jeff Baker, the Director of Liquid Assets at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill, an great beer bar and restaurant in town.  And that visit and chat is now our latest podcast!

You can give it a listen right here:

Bar Towel Radio – Jeff Baker & the Vermont Beer Scene

If you’d like, feel free to listen to or subscribe to Bar Towel Radio via iTunes.

Here are some of the spots referenced in the episode, if you can make it down to visit Burlington:

You can read our past Bar Towel On the Road Report about Vermont here.

AHA National Homebrewers Conference Preview: Grand Rapids, Michigan

May 31st, 2014 Posted by On The Road Reports No Comment yet

The Bar Towel is proud to present our inaugural preview of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) National Homebrewers Conference, taking place from June 12th to 14th in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This article will cover highlights of the conference as well as some beer and cultural destinations in the city of Grand Rapids.

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Downtown Grand Rapids. Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids has over the past few years emerged as one of the premier beer cities in the United States.  And due to its close proximity (about a 6 hour drive from Toronto), it is one of the most accessible craft beer destinations for beer lovers in Toronto and western Ontario.  Grand Rapids, the second largest city in Michigan, is an attractive place to visit with a walkable, safe and clean downtown core, featuring many preserved historic buildings.  Located near the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, the city itself is inland, with the Grand River running right through the heart of town.  Grand Rapids offers a number of hotels right in downtown, making it easy to stay close to the action of its thriving beer scene.

It’s no little wonder then, that Grand Rapids plays host this year to the American Homebrewers Association’s National Homebrewers Conference, the largest conference dedicated to amateur brewing in the world.  The conference, subtitled “Mashing in Michigan”, is organized by the American Homebrewers Association, the group (through the Brewers Association) also responsible for the Craft Brewers Conference, held annually for professional brewers.  The homebrewers conference, which was founded in 1979, is taking place this year at DeVos Place, right in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.  The conference has experienced phenomenal growth in the last decade, growing from 261 attendees in 2001 to an attendance of 3,400 last year in Philadelphia.  That’s a lot of beards.

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Denver CBC Preview, Part Two – Our Seminar Picks

April 5th, 2014 Posted by Beer Events, On The Road Reports No Comment yet
The Colorado Convention Center. Photo courtesy Visit Denver.

The Colorado Convention Center, home to this year’s CBC. Photo courtesy Visit Denver.

The Bar Towel is proud to once again present our annual preview of the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC), taking place from April 8th to 11th in Denver, Colorado. Part One of our preview covered our picks for some of the beer bars and brewpubs in the city, and Part Two will cover our picks for the conference seminars.

The Craft Brewers Conference allows the industry to get together to share, learn and drink while discussing the relevant issues facing craft brewing.  The conference itself is split into two main components: first, the seminars, in which speakers and panels discuss a wide array of subjects including Brewery Operations, Exporting, Governmental Affairs, Safety, QA, Sustainability, Marketing and more.  Secondly, the CBC also offers a massive trade show entitled BrewExpo America (only operating Wednesday and Thursday), where almost 500 diverse exhibitors showcase and promote their wares to potential clients and partners.  The conference also organizes brewery tours of local breweries, plays host to the results of the World Beer Cup competition (every two years, including this one), and has mini side-conferences specific for wholesalers and bar owners.  It is due to this breadth and scope that the CBC has grown dramatically and is attracting brewers from all over the world, even though the Brewers Association is U.S. based.  And for many years now, the CBC is a must-attend for Canadian brewers as well.  In fact, there probably isn’t a single event in Canada that attracts as many from the Canadian brewery industry as the CBC does.

And why is this? Well, the CBC is extremely relevant for Canadian brewers.  The U.S. is a leader in the craft beer movement, so the trends, insights and best practices that are seen in this market are very important for the Canadian craft beer industry to understand.  In this second part of our Craft Brewers Conference preview, we’ll look at the seminar picks that we believe would be most interesting and informative, from a Canadian perspective.

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Craft Brewers Conference Preview, Part One – Denver, Colorado

March 30th, 2014 Posted by Beer Events, On The Road Reports No Comment yet
Photo courtesy Visit Denver.

A view of downtown Denver. Photo courtesy Visit Denver.

The Bar Towel is proud to once again present our annual preview of the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC), taking place from April 8th to 11th in Denver, Colorado. Part One of our preview covers our picks for some of the beer bars and brewpubs in the city, and Part Two covers our picks for the conference seminars.

Denver is a great beer town, in an great beer state. There’s no doubt about it, this place loves their beer. Denver is home to the Great American Beer Festival, one of the largest beer festivals in the world, where over 3,000 beers are available to try. There are over 30 breweries within the city limits, and over 100 in the Metro Denver area. The state is governed by John Hickenlooper, the former mayor of Denver for seven years and founder of the Wynkoop brewpub, and a brewer himself (interesting fact – Colorado is the first state to elect a brewer as governor since Sam Adams in 1794). And, he recently installed craft beer taps into the governor’s mansion (how cool is that!)  It is remarkably obvious that Denver loves its beer, so it comes as little surprise that the Brewers Association decided to hold its annual Craft Brewers Conference here, which is precisely what it’s doing this year, from April 8th to 11th at the Colorado Convention Center.

The CBC, as covered by the Bar Towel in San Diego, San Francisco and Washington DC – is a chance to not only learn about and meet those in the craft brewing industry, but visit the cities on the cutting edge of craft beer in the U.S. And Denver is no exception, as those attending will be able to try some mighty fine beers across numerous great beer bars and brewpubs around the city. In this article we’ll cover some of the hot spots to check out in Denver (with a skew towards what is located downtown near the Convention Center), and our next article will cover our picks for the CBC itself.

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