1990s Ontario Beer History!

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1990s Ontario Beer History!

Postby Cass » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:47 am

So some of you know that I moved, and as such that means lots of boxes of old stuff being looked at.

One of my finds was a box of old beer documents from the early days of my beer drinking. So I thought I'd scan some of the stuff as it's all pretty interesting to look at now.

And the first one is awesome. From time to time I know I've mentioned a 'legendary' Belgian beer release that the LCBO (through Vintages) did back in the '90s. Well, here's the original release magazine (this was before Vintages did the shiny circulars they do today). For those who don't know, back then Vintages did all the specialty beer releases, and generally brought out 1-3 beers per month instead of the current seasonal program through the LCBO proper.

I know this is one of the releases that set me down the path for good beer. It's amazing to think that this was 16 (!) years ago. How far has the LCBO come in its beer releases, when compared to this? They have certainly *never* done a release like this since.

http://bartowel.com/history/BelgianBeers1995.pdf

(quite a large PDF)
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Postby Steve Beaumont » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:53 am

Fascinating piece of Ontario beer history, Cass. Interesting to see the amount of detail the Board supplied at the time, even discussing the effect of Brett and naming the hop varieties used in St. Bernardus 6.

Note the named importer of Duvel at the time: Bill Wickham. Perhaps not quite the Charles Finkel (Merchant du Vin in the States) of Ontario, but certainly an imported beer pioneer. Remember the original Cafe Brusssel, operated by Bill's partner-in-importing, Roger Wils?
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Postby JerCraigs » Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:22 am

I remember being excited to share a lambic with one of my friends and had raved about how great it was. I didn't realize until later that I was sharing a geuze, and I had previously had the framboise!
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Postby Cass » Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:33 am

I absolutely loved the original Cafe Brussel, when it was on Broadview. Even though the one on Danforth had its qualities, it never replicated the intimacy of the first location.

I remember my first visit to CB they had a house blanche, made by a brewery that did a lot of contract brewing in the east end, I believe. That and the carbonade flamandes opened my eyes to a lot of new tastes back then.

IIRC Roger was heading to the Niagara region to open a 'champagnerie'. I wonder whatever happened to that?
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Postby Cass » Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:19 am

Here's something else for you Steve:

http://bartowel.com/history/SummitHouseBeer.pdf

For those who don't know, at the location of Boston Pizza at Yonge & Eglinton there used to be quite a nice beer bar called the Summit House (in fact, the bar was called the Beer Bar).

How about those prices too! $4.95 for a pint!
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Postby G.M. Gillman » Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:53 pm

I remember both documents well. I didn't go to the Summit as often as the Granite because parking was easier at the latter, but I did try the beers sometimes. Quite a few of the drafts listed are still available.

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Postby Steve Beaumont » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:43 pm

The Summit was one of my earlier consulting gigs, Cass. The manager at the time is now a partner in FAB, who I just helped open Against the Grain. Ah, memories... :lol:
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Re: 1990s Ontario Beer History!

Postby Cale » Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:04 pm




So THAT'S where half of the menu at Chester's came from.
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Postby Cass » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:04 am

Steve Beaumont wrote:The Summit was one of my earlier consulting gigs, Cass. The manager at the time is now a partner in FAB, who I just helped open Against the Grain. Ah, memories... :lol:


That's why I posted it! I also found a printout of an early email where you recommended the Summit to me :-)

Here's another piece of history, from Niagara Falls Brewery, their beer brochure.

http://bartowel.com/history/NFBrewery.pdf

NF was truly ahead of their time in the Ontario market, as the beers listed in the brochure can attest. In fact, I still have a decade-old article up on Bar Towel:

http://www.bartowel.com/?page_id=1687

Next up: some history from our friends at C'est What!
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Postby Steve Beaumont » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:33 am

Cass wrote:Here's another piece of history, from Niagara Falls Brewery, their beer brochure.

http://bartowel.com/history/NFBrewery.pdf

NF was truly ahead of their time in the Ontario market, as the beers listed in the brochure can attest. In fact, I still have a decade-old article up on Bar Towel:

http://www.bartowel.com/?page_id=1687


Wally Moroz was a great force in the brewhouse at NFBC. Even today, two decades in, I think beers like Olde Jack and Maple Wheat would raise eyebrows around these parts.

I'm not much one for nostalgia -- breweries open and breweries close, even good ones -- but the fall of the NFBC was one of the truly regretable occurances in Ontario's early craft beer years.
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Postby Cass » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:44 am

Alright, here's some more goodies as we walk down beer memory lane.

In the day's before e-mail newsletters, often communications were done via paper! And C'est What's "What's Up" newsletter was one of these. They used to have a printed newsletter to talk about goings on at the pub & music listings. And here's three issues from early 1995, issues #17, 18 and 20.

Issue 18 is of particular note as it announces their success in getting Coffee Porter into the St Lawrence Market LCBO (bottled at Trafalgar). Amazing that they talk about "beating the system". 16 years on, we're still up against the 'system'. Remember folks we always have to be fighting for a better beer environment here.

Also, in the same issue look at the music lineup - see who played April 3rd? One of CW's notably famous alumni.

There's also talk in the issues about CW's anniversary, a Belgian beer dinner that they hosted, and the Belgian beer release from above. Also interesting that during special events (then the Jazz Festival) they could stay open all the way til 2am!

http://bartowel.com/history/WhatsUp17.pdf

http://bartowel.com/history/WhatsUp18.pdf

http://bartowel.com/history/WhatsUp20.pdf
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Postby midlife crisis » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:15 am

Great memories. I remember those Vintages releases fondly, and shopping for them at the Vintages only (i.e. not attached to a regular LCBO) store at Bayview and York Mills, which seems odd in retrospect.
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Postby G.M. Gillman » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:38 am

One of my fondest beer memories is tasting Eisbock with Michael Jackson at Niagara Falls Brewery.

I wasn't a big fan of the beers except for Eisbock and the Brock's Extra Stout, but they put stylistic diversity on the map a long time before it became the norm in Ontario.

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Postby G.M. Gillman » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:44 am

C'est What and its longevity have been huge for fine beer in Ontario. Thanks for the memories.

Gary
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Postby tyler90 » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:59 pm

In the LCBO vintages, it makes reference that there were only 6 trappist breweries in 1995, which one has been added since then?

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