|But if Playboy is no longer showing pictures of|
naked women, where else can we find sexy pics
of Marge Simpson in various stages of undress?
But now that I'm out of the industry and no longer financially-dependent on it, it's actually still pretty grizzly to watch the print industry continually adjust itself in a market-place that largely has no interest. Even as a journalist, I was reading the news, sports and even the comics online. Why buy when it's there for free? And magazines and even books are every bit as susceptible to the downsizing trend as newspapers are.
|Unfortunately for these aliens, their message landed in the|
offices of Playboy magazine, which no longer has any nudes.
When I told my young friend Jonny about this at the recent Rib Eye Jack's Beer Fest, he looked at me blankly and said, "Well, then, what's the point?"
|♫ Goodbye, Norma Jean... ♫ This was the |
landmark first issue of Playboy published
way back in 1953. Publisher Hugh Hefner
never put a date on it because he wasn't sure
there would be a second issue of the magazine
Now in the end, I don't really care about Playboy's decision. Haven't bought one in years. (You wanna see Miss March 2013? Guess what? Google.) My sole concern is there will now be an entire generation who will never know the vicarious thrill of sneaking into the "old man's" Playboys for a dirty peek. My late father had a staggeringly huge collection that spanned the entire 1960s and early 1970s and believe me when I say, in my youth, my friends and I got more enjoyment from those than he likely did.
But using Playboy as a microcosm of the print industry at large, it's easy to see the boats are getting smaller every day and well, that iceberg is not that far away in the distance. Ironically, since leaving journalism (walking the plank may be more accurate), I have landed safely onshore in the beer industry as a Beer Store employee. Why is that safe? Well, turns out Canadians like to drink and when they do drink, 51% of the time, it's beer (as opposed to 27% for liquor and 22% for wine.) And the beauty of beer is, unlike Playboy or newspapers, you will never be able to download an app for it online. It's much like, I dunno, pastrami - you gotta get out there and buy it, be it at the Beer Store, LCBO or soon, grocery stores. And since I returned to the Beer Store in 2005, one segment of the beer world has seen a staggering rise - craft beer. That year, Ontario craft beer sales through the LCBO alone were less than $2 million. By 2011 (the latest LCBO figures I could find), that was up to $16 million. And since that number was up significantly from the 2010 figure of $10 million, we can safely assume they're upside of $20 million now. And that's just the LCBO numbers, not the Beer Store or breweries themselves.
Truth to tell, I have seen it in my own Beer Store. While the LCBO clearly still gets the lion's share of the craft beer, I have seen my own self-serve Beer Store go from a single top shelf of craft in one aisle to an entire large section by itself. And craft single cans (their soon-to-be preferred sales vessel of choice from what most of my craft beer reps are telling me) are slowly taking over our can shelves and coolers, as well.
|And my coworker Jay-Dawg's favourite new |
beer is finally available at the LCBO. I've
reviewed this before so I'll simply say that if
you see it, buy it. You can thank me later...
So is there any connection between the plunging fate of the print industry (specifically using Playboy as a model) and the sky-rocketing success of craft beer? Oh hell no, none whatsoever. Well, except me. I somehow jumped ship from an ink-soaked sinker into a lifeboat now being propelled by its smallest paddle - the burgeoning demand for craft beer. Make no mistake. I mean, I work at a Beer Store so I know the strength of the big guys - still 90% of our sales. But from tiny acorns grow mighty oaks... and other trite, tired cliches to that effect.
With that said, let's dive fearlessly into a fresh batch of new beers, shall we? What do I know about being fearless? Hey, I went to Thanksgiving Dinner at my Mom's house, not knowing my phone was at 25%. It died just before dessert. I had to share "How's your life going?" stories with her. Nothing scares me now.
So let's start with our friends up in Gravenhurst, Sawdust City Brewing Company. A little more than a year after opening their shiny new 12,000-square-foot brewery on the town's main street (they had previously contracted out of Toronto's Cool Brewing), I inadvertently found out how many of my friends have cottages in the Gravenhurst area this past summer. The reason? The amount of Facebook messages I got, asking if I had heard of them and the inevitable follow-up, "Should I go visit them?"
The brewery actually caught my attention some two years ago when I first tried their Lone Pine IPA and Long Dark Voyage to Uranus Imperial Stout (the latter, still one of the best names in Canadian craft brewing.) Still brewed out of Cool at that point, I pretty much rhapsodized about these two beers. I think I may have gotten positively gushy.
|When Beer Bro Glenn recently popped into|
Donny's Bar and Grill, he came with a Stone
Brewing Drew & Steve's Imperial Mutt Brown
Ale. Brewers are really starting to up their game
with brown ales, a formerly tired boring style...
Beer Bro Glenn was a visitor at Donny's Bar and Grill recently because... well, I often forget to lock my doors. However, among the treats in his goodie bag was a Stone Brewing Drew & Steve's Imperial Mutt Brown Ale - the name a play off 'nut brown'. While I would love to tell you it smelled like wet dog just for the irony factor, Glenn got coffee off the aroma, I got licorice. And the taste? Well, at 9% and 45 IBUs, this ain't your grandpappy's brown ale. Using Vienna, Victory and Chocolate Wheat malts, Stone brewers Drew Neldon and Steve Via created a brown ale more than worth drinking with its chocolate and coffee on the tongue. The pair won this year's annual Stone in-house brewing competition with this bad boy.
|Why did Stone call this Arrogant Bastard Ale?|
Well, a quick read of the back label tells you.
And since we have the Escondido, California brewery in our sights, let's have a look-see at Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale, which surfaced a while back in the liquor store. Glenn asked me if I'd ever had it and I responded in the affirmative. It turns out I was thinking of Rogue Ales' Dead Guy Ale so in fact, no, I hadn't. Not my first mistake. I once told a super pissed-off girlfriend to "calm down and be reasonable" so I know from mistakes. At least, the Arrogant Bastard didn't turn out to be a near-death experience like that. In related news, given sufficient motivation, it turns out I can run quite quickly. Even in sandals. But back to the beer. In keeping with its name, the back label tells us: "This is an aggressive ale. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth." While it's true that I have neither taste nor sophistication (it's like they know me, man!), I nonetheless somehow managed to appreciate the quality and depth of this beer. As you can see, this 7.2% ale pours a very dark amber and while the brewery is keeping its IBUs shrouded in mystery (definitely 90-plus), you can smell the hops in the aroma, as well as some citrus and pine. You lose the citrus completely in the deep taste but get some nice dark fruits. I get the feeling that this is the Bastard who killed Kenny. Outstanding beer.
|A recent road trip into Toronto saw Rib Eye|
Jack's GM Steve, beer technician Kylie and
fun-loving Cara return with a treasure trove
of goodies from Rainhard Brewing. Among
the treasures was the Refuge Imperial IPA
Okay, let's paddle this leaky canoe back to Canadian soil with an offering from Toronto's Rainhard Brewing. Now this relatively-new brewery has hit the ground running and I have told them several times on various social media that I believe they are soon gonna be Brewery of the Year at the next Ontario Brewing Awards. (If not them, then Innocente Brewing out of Waterloo. Again, a coin toss - both are stellar.) So when I had a Refuge Imperial IPA at Rib Eye Jack's Ale House recently, that only solidified their standing in the craft beer community to me. At 8% and 90 IBUs, this has tons of orange on the nose followed by big tropical fruit on the tongue. And it lingers on the tongue for a decent stretch. I would suggest you try their Armed 'N' Citra Pale Ale first as a palate warmer before jumping into this little ass-kicker.
Okay, time to wrap this bad boy up but before I go, let's deal with some recent distressing news. Like most of you, I was stunned to see that recent report in the headlines from scientific researchers telling us that bacon can cause cancer. Until I realized in a very different study conducted over thousands of years, involving billions of people, showed that those who don't smoke, don't drink and don't eat bacon also die! So dammit, I'm gonna continue to smoke, drink good craft beer and eat bacon. I'll roll those dice. Like I said, after that low cell battery debacle, nothing frightens me anymore. I'll leave the final word to my buddy Tony at Nickel Brook who recently texted me with this little gem: "Just saw the trailer for the new Star Wars movie. HOLY F**K!! Chewbacca hasn't aged a day!!!" But guys and dolls, that's it, that's all and I am outta here! Until next time, I remain...