Celebrating Canada Day with the Brewer’s Backyard

GOS  - poster 11x17 newThe Canada Day edition of the Brewer’s Backyard is quickly approaching on Tuesday, July 1st at the Evergreen Brick Works from 11-4pm.  Entitled the Group of Seven, this one will feature the Brewer’s Backyard’s first-ever cidery participant, Spirit Tree, as well as breweries Great Lakes, Oast House, Left Field and Nickel Brook.  On the food front, returning partners Kanga Meat Pies and Sugar Pie Honey Bunch will be serving delicious eats.

The Brewer’s Backyard is all-ages and free admission, and you will be able to purchase beer and food during the event.  The Group of Seven will open from 11-4pm at the Evergreen Brick Works in the Koerner Gardens and Holcim Gallery areas, going rain or shine (Holcim is covered).

We hope to see you out at the Brewer’s Backyard on Tuesday – let’s celebrate Canada Day the right way – with some delicious craft beer!


AHA National Homebrewers Conference Preview: Grand Rapids, Michigan

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.


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.



Load Up on Great Beer at the Brewery Market

10354830_643003005781701_4044727348877763851_nThe Brewery Market is returning to Ottawa this coming Saturday, May 24th with our next event, entitled Carb Loading, honouring the marathon race weekend taking place across the city.

This edition will feature six breweries from the Ottawa region and beyond: Beau’s All-Natural, Beyond the Pale, Cassel, Whitewater, Ashton and HogsBack.  All together there will be 25+ beers available, and as some will be in limited quantities we’d encourage you to get there early to try the ones you want.  You can check out the menu to the side here.  Streetside Curry Cart and Green Papaya will also be in attendance, providing some tasty eats alongside the delicious brew.

Our popular Brewery Market mason beer jars will also be making a return, with a limited quantity on sale when the event begins.  If you’ve had your eye on a jar, be sure to show up at noon!

The Brewery Market runs from 12-8pm at Hintonburg Park in Ottawa on Saturday, May 24th.  Admission is free and the event is all-ages and family-friendly.  As always our proceeds go to support the great work of the Ottawa Riverkeeper.  We hope to see you out on Saturday!


Queen Victoria’s Secret Returns on Monday

BO-logo_outlined_v1Queen Victoria’s Secret, the third annual Brewer’s Backyard on Victoria Day, returns on Monday, May 19th from 11am-4pm at the Evergreen Brick Works.

As is with tradition, the exact beer and food menu won’t be revealed until the event begins, but it will include beer from Sawdust City, Oast House and Amsterdam, along with food from FeasTO, Sugar Pie Honey Bunch and Royale Popcorn Company.

New for this event is the Brewer’s Backyard’s first-ever collaboration beer, a British ale infused with Indian inspired flavours named Balmoral’s Outrage, brewed with Sawdust City.  And in keeping with the theme the exact ingredients in the beer will be revealed as the event begins.  There’s only a single keg of the beer and it will be sold in limited quantities at the top of every hour during the event to ensure that it can be tried throughout the day.  Samples of Balmoral’s Outrage will come with its own limited edition, take-home collectible glass.

The Brewer’s Backyard takes place from 11:00am until 4:00pm at the Koerner Gardens and Holcim Gallery areas of the Evergreen Brick Works (event goes rain or shine).  Admission is free and the event is all-ages and family friendly, with proceeds going to Evergreen’s great cause.


Toronto Beer Week Early Bird Deadline is Today

TBW_2014Logo_WhtBG-300x300The early bird deadline for bars and breweries to participate in Toronto Beer Week (at a discounted rate) is today, Friday, May 16th.  Toronto Beer Week, which will take place from September 12th to 20th this fall, is one of the city’s preeminent craft beer celebrations.  Now in its fifth year, Toronto Beer Week featured 56 bars, restaurants and pubs, 30 breweries and over 150 events across the city in 2013, with more expected in 2014.

Participating as a licensee or brewery has many great benefits and this year’s Toronto Beer Week promises to be another outstanding week of craft beer events.  If you are a licensee or brewery and are interested in Toronto Beer Week, please take a look at the details and benefits of participation here.  If you are ready to sign up or have any questions, please contact Troy at Toronto Beer Week.

Looking forward to seeing everyone out at TBW2014!

The Bar Towel is a founding sponsor of Toronto Beer Week.


Brewery Market Ottawa Returns Tomorrow

DoDThe weather indicates that winter isn’t over, but spring is definitely here for the Brewery Market.  On Saturday, April 26th from 12-6pm, the Brewery Market returns to Ottawa at Hintonburg Park with our first event, the Drink of Dreams.

Tomorrow’s event should be a smash hit, with upwards of 20 beers available from Covered Bridge, Big Rig, Kichesippi and Clocktower, with food from Stone Soup Foodworks and Clocktower.  Tomorrow’s event marks the first of four this year in Ottawa, with future dates in May, July and October, each one on the following Saturday after the Brewer’s Backyard.

Admission to the Brewery Market is free and the event is all-ages.  Proceeds from the event go towards the great work of the Ottawa Riverkeeper.  Bring your umbrella and boots as the event will go rain or shine, and we hope to see you there!


Great Friday is Tomorrow!

PrintGreat Friday, our next edition of the Brewer’s Backyard, arrives tomorrow from 12-6pm at the Evergreen Brick Works.  This one is extra-special as we kick off the weekend this time around, and we’re thrilled to be welcoming Junction Craft, Mill Street and Double Trouble to pour some delicious beer, and Bricks & Mortar serving up some tasty eats.

Beers available tomorrow include Mill Street Organic Lager, Tankhouse, 100th Meridian and Spring Thaw, Double Trouble Hops & Fire, Cheshire Valley Robust Porter and Junction Craft Brakeman’s Session Ale + 3 more surprise brews.  And Bricks & Mortar is serving up Santa Monica Tritip Sandwiches and Mac and Cheese.  And if that’s not enough, we’ve got a special after-party at the Mill Street Beer Hall, where a free shuttle will take us there where we’ll have an exclusive $10 and keep-the-stein promotion for us.

So come and join us at the Koerner Gardens area of the Evergreen Brick Works from 12-6pm tomorrow, Friday April 18th.  Admission is free and the event is all-ages.  We hope to see you then!


Denver CBC Preview, Part Two – Our Seminar Picks

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.



Craft Brewers Conference Preview, Part One – Denver, Colorado

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.



Bar Towel on the Road: Salt Lake City, Utah


Just one of the many beautiful views from the mountains around Salt Lake City.

One wouldn’t think at first blush that Ontario and Utah have much in common. The state of Utah and the province Ontario are separated by 3,000 kilometres, but there is an unexpected connection. Both jurisdictions have interesting, if not downright bizarre, alcohol laws. As such, a visit to Utah is oddly familiar, as we are certainly used to strangeness when it comes to alcohol. But like Ontario, Utah brewers are doing everything they can to make great beer, and bar owners to create memorable spots to enjoy those tasty brews, despite their oppressive rules.

In Utah, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is responsible for “regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages in a manner and at prices which reasonably satisfy the public demand and protect the public interest“. Sound familiar? In Ontario, the ACGO (having assumed the original LLBO mandate), is responsible for “regulating the sale, service and consumption of beverage alcohol…to promote moderation and responsible use”. Although Ontario does not have the Mormon heritage of abstinence which seems to have guided Utah’s laws, they are surprising similarities in core philosophy.