But while the night for me was mostly about Polk, it wasn't completely about Polk as other stuff happened, too. Lots of people there and turns out I knew more than a few. Though some stories do still involve Polk... because hey man, shut up, he was my ride back to Oakville! So let's dive into the 2018 Golden Taps and Ontario Brewing Awards night, shall we?
So anyway, I got to meet Jordan St John and Robin LeBlanc, the co-authors of two editions of The Ontario Craft Beer Guide. At this point, I should mention I haven't actually read their books, which go into elaborate detail on the Craft Beer Movement in Ontario from the beginning to, well, now. But I will buy them now that I have met them both. I like to check out the authors before I invest my cash. Except for comic books. There's a trust factor ingrained from youth there. But their work does sounds like stuff that a guy who writes about craft beer should probably know and appreciate.
Jordan is the guy I basically met as he was coming through the front door. So he had little choice but to talk to me. Some people are blessed with bad timing. We chatted there and at several other junctions through the night including an after-party bar for a night-cap. He seems like a really great and incredibly astute guy on all matters beer. But here's the thing. He's a writer. You want the real sense of a writer? Read their work.
I did exactly that. He recently visited Brussels, the capitol of Belgium, where all those tasty beers originate and wrote a piece on that. A little chunk of it was beer; there was tons of their history and their present. All capped off with some phenomenal photography involving their architecture. I'll include the link at the end but I was captivated after the first photo. One helluva writer, too.
Robin was working the room as she knew everyone there and when she finally came in my direction, I did exactly what I have long instructed my son, David, to do for either gender.
Didn't get a chance to really talk to her until later. But when I did, well, you know how you meet with someone in person that you only know online to actually talk for the first time? Whether you realize it or not, your guard is up, at least a little. That is, until she opened with "How's David?" Yeah, my guard disappeared faster than the superheroes at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. So we had a wonderful talk about my boy, another about a sibling in her own family and then, her story about Las Vegas!! She had won an award for a food blog and scored a free trip there. She didn't have much free time - just one day from the sounds of it - but it seemed like a great time. So I found the link to her Vegas story and read it. And I smiled. Everything I love about Vegas, she does not. I absolutely love the noise, the lights and the undeniable cheeziness of the strip. She's not a fan. She found an awesome comic shop - something we do have in common - and went straight for the indies whereas I would have been all over the Marvel, DC and Image stuff.
Let's move on to my man, Josh Beaven, my younger brother from another mother. I was there maybe 20 minutes, when I heard, "Donny! Donny!" Turning around, I saw Josh, one of the seven-member crew who did the Whitby Craft Brewery Invasion in December. I knew he was going as he had posted on Facebook that he was invited to be on the Brock Street Brewing party bus heading to the the OBAs. No handshakes here. Total hug moment!
I consider it very cool to just know this guy because he has fantastic, self-taught skills that I certainly don't. A carpenter by trade, he is the dude who will be putting a lot of the final wooden touches on the retail portion of the new Brock St Brewing at Dunlop and Brock Street in Whitby. And I can guarantee you this right now. When my man, JB, is done, it's gonna look bitchin' as shit.
But I also knew THE question would come back up. "When are we gonna do one of those limousine brewery tours again?" Lemme do Vegas in October, buddy, and we can arrange that next one afterwards. Because, shit, that was a whole lotta fun.
But here's a little story. When I was in Vegas for New Years Eve to see the Toronto Maple Leafs play there against the Golden Knights, Josh messaged me to ask for my home address so he could send me some Beer Mail from Brock Street and also a proper Brock Street pint glass. Why? So I would come home to Canada and have some fresh Ontario craft beer. Love this dude. It was a "Lemme get your picture" night, for sure.
So let's move on to Mark Woitzik, shall we? Okay, Mark is one of four co-owners of Brock St Brewing, along with Cliff Vanclief, Scott Pepin and Victor Leone. But Mark is the one in charge of their social media so he got to know of me quite well a couple years back.
Now back in September 1991, Mark was paralyzed after severing his spinal cord during a university initiation accident. Being in a wheelchair didn't slow him one bit.
But as the night progressed and the drinks multiplied, Mark took me and Drunk Polkaroo aside and said he wanted us to create our own beer in one of his specialty three hectolitre tanks once their new three-storey brewery-restaurant-private club opens, likely opening towards the end of November. Polk and I just looked at each other and he said instantly, "Triple IPA!" Yes, likely followed by another Triple IPA using different hops the following month. Mark, we're down if you still are. I'll let (yass, "let"... right) your staff kick my ass at mini pool table if that's any incentive.
My hometown homeys, Cameron's Brewing, had a great night at the OBAs, collecting six trophies, just as Wellington Brewing did, making both the big winners of the night.
So back to Cameron's. Polkaroo and I caught up with Cameron's Brewmaster Jason Britton, who told us the brewery was released some big stuff very soon. "An IPA?" I instantly asked. He smiled, as he's grown used to that question from me and said, "Even better." It didn't take long to find out what. Two days ago, the brewery announced they were launching Hazy American Pale Ale Keg Series, with the first outing, Haze Across The 7 C's, now available. It's not being canned but is available for growler pours. Have I mentioned the brewery is literally two minutes down the hill from me? (Three if I get caught at the one light.) They are about to see a lot of me and my growlers in there.
Anyways, as I said, Wellington and also Longslice Brewing's wins at the OBAs will be coming up in separate as both are doing big things right now that deserve separate attention in this space. Very soon. I promise.
Okay, as I said earlier both Jordan St John and Robin Leblanc wrote some excellent pieces and that I would link to them here. Here's Jordan's piece: An Outsider's Look at Brussels followed by Robin's piece called: Vegas, Baby, Vegas! But Scooby Doo Gang, I'll be back really soon with that new Cameron's beer, as well as the look at Wellington and Longslice. Until next time, I remain...