|As far as I'm concerned, THIS is the US Open|
that means the most!! No offence meant for
either golf or tennis followers but since I know
none of you are reading this, you can bite me!
No, I am, of course, talking about the US Open Beer Championship, which was held Independence Day in Oxford, Ohio. Oxford is ironically home to Miami University and has been since 1809 while Oxford University can be found in Oxford, England. Meanwhile, the University of Miami (they have a preposition for us - this one uses "of") is located in Coral Gables, Florida. The more you know... *starburst*
This year's brewers' bash was a big'un as 4,000 beers (and some ciders) were entered in 90 different classes (meaning roughly 45 entries per category), as well as offering the chance for homebrewers to go up against the pro breweries. That is, if they were a gold medal winner at the previous year's American Homebrewers Association's Homebrew Competition. And for the record, two homebrewers did win this year - a silver in the German Wheat class and a bronze in the Spice Cider categories. So you see, kids, dreams can come true... even if they involve *shudder* cider.
Now when I tell you breweries come from far and wide to compete in this event, I'm not joking. We're talking world-wide. According to Dow Scoggins, the US Open Director, Josh Deitner of Shanghai Brewery in China "traveled 7,263 miles to deliver his beer personally." And despite the fact that the name Deitner is a little more, well, German than Chinese, the brewery snagged a silver for their Imperial American Brown Ale. Let's assume Josh's German brother, Ho Ming Cho, was also there to celebrate so it's all good.
And there were Ontario winners once again this year. Last year while my Burlington homeboys, Nickel Brook, took two awards, it was tiny Neustadt Springs Brewery that lead the Canuck Assault with four medals. This year the tables turned so while Neustadt won two, both Nickel Brook and the Niagara College Teaching Brewery won three. So before I salute my homeys, let's talk Niagara College and their impressive showing. In the Bitter division, they scored silver for their Butler's Bitter; they took gold for their Brewmaster Stout in the Foreign Stout category and finally a bronze in the American Imperial Pilsner with their Liqueur De Malt, proving definitively if you use French naming a beer, you will win an award. When I open a craft brewery, you will all enjoy my Oui Monsieur Imperial IPA, my Au Revoir Pilsner, my Qui Moi? Porter and of course, my triple-award-winning Qu'est-ce Que C'est Chocolate Cake Stout. For those not fluent in French, my beers are, in order: Yes Sir, Goodbye, Who Me? and What The Hell Is That? Just call them sure-fire award-winners.
As mentioned, Nickel Brook took to the podium three times, collecting a bronze for Equilibrium in the ESB division, another bronze for their Uber in the Belgian Lambic category (tying a brewery actually from Belgium) and finally a silver for Babbling Brook's in the Non-Alcoholic Root Beer class. Now, Brook is brewery owner John Romano's daughter whereas his son Nick is the Nickle in Nickel Brook. And I can attest to the fact that the siblings put their time in at the brewery. I met young Brook as she was labeling a specialty beer, contracted by a Quebec brewer one day whereas University of Waterloo student Nick has filled my growlers during Summer Break more times than he can even count. Which is saying something since he's majoring in Business and Economics. One day as I was coming in, I saw Nick manning the retail station while his Dad was within earshot. So I bellowed, "Good day, young Nick! I am here once again to pay your tuition!" That got a chuckle from John. (I was joking but in fact, when you shop at your local brewery, that is precisely what you are helping to do.)
At the US Open, Grand River Brewing out of Guelph collected a gold in the Mild British Ale with their Mill Race Mild while Neustadt Springs (Neustadt, Ontario) was right behind them, snagging a silver for their Ever Ard and then following that with a bronze for Mill Gap English Bitter in the Bitter race. Oakville's Cameron's Brewing (another favourite of mine) picked up a bronze in the Brown Ale division with their White Oat Savant while Gravenhurst's Sawdust City Brewing beat all comers in the German Kolsch category, taking gold, Jerry, gold for their Gateway Kolsch. Well done, boys!
|This is one hoppy, delicious India Brown|
Ale AND it has a spaceship on the label!!!
Worthy of note here is that with the exception of a Quebec cider-house, all Canadian winners came from Ontario. Given the strength of the craft beer industry in British Columbia, that surprised the heck out of me. The west coast province seriously kicked ass at the Canadian Brewing Awards just one month ago. Next year...
But there were more accolades for Canadian beers when well-known men's website, The Chive, (thechive.com) posted "The Ten Best Canadian Beers To Sip This Summer" on Thursday, complete with accompanying pictures. Veering a little away from their usual girls-in-bikinis-pics format (I check it out daily... so you don't have to. You're welcome), the site, read by four million people daily, looked at some of Canada's best with Ontario once again being the big winner. Singled out was Cameron's Rye Pale Ale ("Bittersweet in taste, totally sweet in existence"), Black Oak Nutcracker Porter ("The sweeter, less hoppy stout goes great with some figgy pudding"), King Pilsner ("One of the tastiest Czech-style brews north of the border") and Amsterdam's Oranje Weisse Premium White ("This brew's light, crisp taste is sweetened with orange and unfiltered") The Chive did slip up a little by relying too heavily on RateBeer when they added Denison's Weissbier, which for the past two years, we have known as Side Launch Wheat.
Here's the deal. When Denison founder Michael Hancock shut down his operation in 2003, he kept two of his beers - the Dunkel and the Weissbier - alive by contracting out their brewing. Why? Because those two beers scored so highly on RateBeer.
|It's not Denison's Weissbier anymore. For the past two years, Side Launch|
brewmaster (and Denison's founder) Michael Hancock has been brewing
this as Side Launch Wheat, just as his Dunkel is now Side Launch Dark...
|Young Megan posted this Garrison Brewery paddle on|
my Facebook wall just three days before the IIPA got
some serious praise on The Chive. Coincidence? Nope.
There is no such thing. The Beer Universe is specific.
I wasn't a bit surprised to see at least one Unibroue (Chambly, Quebec) product on there and it turns out it was their strong 9% ale, La Fin du Monde. "Winning more awards and accolades than any Canadian competitor is a pretty good way to tell people they should try your beer." (This, too, is true.) Now before I continue, I should note I have had all of these beers and have praised them in this very spot. But there were two beers on The Chive's list that I haven't tried.
|Garrison's Imperial IPA made The Chive's|
list of Canadian Summer Beers You Must Drink
The first was Paddock Wood Brewing's (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) Black Cat Lager, a dunkel that sounds like it's totally in my wheelhouse. "It comes with a hint of 'delicate coffee notes' which is pretty damn tasty."
But back to the whole "there are no coincidences" thing... Last Monday, my young friend Megan, who lives in Halifax, posted a picture on my Facebook wall of a paddle filled with Garrison Brewing beers (see above). On that paddle? Garrison's Imperial IPA, Nut Brown Ale, a cider that they started brewing two years ago on their 15th anniversary (all yours, Megs), their Seaport Blonde Ale (her Garrison stand-by) and their Raspberry Wheat (her new favourite.) Megan sang all their praises, though I suspect she thought, "That IIPA might be best left in Donny's hands." So which Garrison beer made The Chive's list? Well, that would be the Imperial IPA, (Me: "Be the IIPA. be the IIPA... yay, Chive! Another round of girls in bikinis to celebrate!!!") which was described thusly: "You better like hops to get into this next one. Garrison Brewing claims it is the 'hoppiest beer in Atlantic Canada.' We are willing to stand by that claim."
Okay, gang at Cheers, this weekend IS the beer event of the Summer - the Burlington Beer Festival. We're talking over 30 craft breweries, two cider-houses, two wine makers (that's a new and cool twist.) It's $35 to get into the best festival that the GTA has to offer and in the wonderful green grassy setting that is Spencer Smith Park in Burlington. Am I excited that this festival quite literally happens at the bottom of the street I live on? That's like asking if my Mom smoked during her pregnancy with me? Of course, she did! Not her fault at all because she was pretty hammered on gin and tonics at the time and we all make bad decisions when we're plastered. But I turned out fine. *Bangs head on wall for no apparent reason* Check it out at: burlingtonbeerfest.com. And if you want to see that salute to Canadian beers on the website, here it is: The Chive Toasts Canada But guys and dolls, that's it, that's all and I am outta here. Until next time, I remain...