But (and never tell him I said this) I was stoked when a brewmaster weighed in with me on the big news. That would be my straight-shooting buddy, Liam Mckenna, the brewmaster at YellowBelly Brewery in St. John's, Newfoundland - a walking, talking No Bullshit Zone of a proud Scotsman. And being a craft brewer himself, his response was not entirely what I expected. But then again, it's Liam, man, so you never know what this guy is gonna say. You just grab some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show.
"I would rather have my local brewery owned and appreciated by another brewery versus a bank or a group of self-serving shareholders. There. I said it." Does he think the new ownership might alter things at Mill Street? Nope. "Mill Street makes a great pint. I expect this will not change."
|Mill Street Brewmaster Joel Manning has both a|
big fan and an ally in Liam Mckenna, who believes
that this ownership transition will not affect the
quality or integrity of Mill Street's countless beers.
As for the fact that Mill Street can no longer be considered craft, due to the size of their new ownership, Mckenna has his own views. "Craft is a term that brings us together and drives us apart. I expect it will always be thus. Craft, in my estimation, embodies in (its) ethos of approach to beer that keeps it simple and embraces the local. Ingredients, bands, sports teams, art exhibitions, local development. It is fundamental to the success of the genre."
And while he has no problems with Mill Street's role in the Labatt purchase, he is blunt in the new owner's recent tactics in trying to pass off some of their products - oh, let's say their Shocktop and Goose Island lines - as craft beer.
|My Beer Bro, Stevil St Evil, suggested that if Labatt is a|
hands-off owner, perhaps their new property should only
make a subliminal reference to their new ownership. So he
Photoshopped their presence, lurking in the background.
But he veered back to beer in general at the end. "All beer is good beer. Some is, for all sorts of reasons, better than others. That subjective judgement (that beer drinkers have) is and as always will be just that - subjective. Drink the beer that you like. Think about the reasons you like it. That's all that I or any other reasonable brewer could expect."
|Okay, if I'm gonna try to drink sour beer, you can be damn|
sure that at least it'll be the ones from my hometown brew
crew at Nickel Brook. On the left, we have the Raspberry
Uber Berliner Weisse, on the right, the regular version of it
As to those who used the internet to dump on both the deal and Mill Street with the harshest of words? "The vitriol is baseless and hurtful in regards to the future of Mill Street, I believe. I have suggested many times to the most vehement that they move out of their mother's basement. It continues to fall on deaf ears," he chuckled. So there you go, Mill Street, let the haters hate. You're not the Jackass Whisperers. Get together in the Mill Street conference room, everyone hoist a pint and yell in unison, "Unexpected plot twist!" Then you just keep on keeping on...
Okay then, as promised, the Sour Beer Challenge! Now you have to understand, sour beers are a very polarizing style. People either love them or hate them. Why? Because they're so damn sour! My friends are split down the middle on sour beer issue.
On the other side of the coin, we have everyone's favourite St John's brewer Liam, who didn't mince words. "Fuck sours! That may be a bit strong. Hah! I have been at tastings where the presenter was all poetic about a particular sour beer. Fast-forward to my notes, saying things like, 'Wet ass, shitty diaper, cheese, vomit, dog breath, horse blanket, mouse shit'. I could go on. I wish I was kidding. Obviously not a fan."
|My face when I first tried a sour beer. I'll bet|
this picture tells you some new things about me.
For starters, I am an infant and an Asian one, as
well. What the hell did my late father do when
he was overseas, fighting in the Korean War???
The first time I tried a sour, Kylie lucked out as I took one sip, grimaced, slid it in front of her and said, "All yours." At her urging, when Nickel Brook Brewing came out with a raspberry version of their Uber Berliner Weisse, I gave it another shot, buying a one-litre howler of it (as well as three two-litre growlers of Headstock IPA to wash away the taste, if need be.) It was... tolerable but man, that was sour! As an IPA drinker, I also learned there's a huge difference between bitter and sour. Huge! So finally, in an effort to be as fair as possible to the sour style, I bought a bottle of Nickel Brook Uber Berliner Weisse and the raspberry version to try them side-by-side.
However, I will likely try one again from time to time - spaced apart by months, no doubt - to see if either my taste-buds or opinion change. Like Stevil said, the first time I tried an IPA, I probably thought the top of my head was going to explode. Now I can't get enough of them. Beers are funny that way. It's like those people who say, "You don't need alcohol to have fun." Yeah, well, you don't need shoes to walk across gravel but it's a helluva lot better with shoes, isn't it?
Okay, coming up next, we have a bunch of goodies, including a look at Sawdust City Brewing's Gateway Kolsch and Old Woody Alt, as well as revisiting their Long Pine IPA, which recently won Brewmasters Choice for Best Beer at the 2015 Golden Tap Awards in Toronto and their outstanding Golden Beach Pale Ale, which wowed both myself and coworker Jay-Dawg at the summer Burlington Beer Festival. And don't forget about Rib Eye's Jack Beer Festival on Sunday, October 25 where they lock the doors from noon to 4 pm and for $25, there are 20 brewers in the house, as well as five separate food stations, prizes and a big-ass 30-ounce souvenir mug. And according to the flyer, there will be live music, courtesy of "Andrew Hill". I'm not sure why they put his name in quotation marks like that but I do suspect the Witness Relocation Plan might be the reason. Call the restaurant at 905-633-9929 but call them now. Tickets are nearly gone! Jay Dawg and I will be there but you can always stand on the other (safer) side of the restaurant. It's a big place. Okay guys and dolls, that's all, that's all and I am outta here!!! Until next time, I remain...