Last January, I reviewed the winter issue of Canada's beer quarterly, TAPS magazine. I had some advice and, happily, little complaint but after Troy like any good worker beer announced the next incarnation I thought I should have another look.
TAPS is advancing by leaps as bounds with every issue. There is no other way to put it. While the quality of the magazine's layout and photos remains among the best in beer trade journals, the range of subject matter has moved to a new level. As I had hoped, there is broader, more global vision but, at the same time, the summer issue also includes deeper articles about Canadian brewers like Vancouver's venerable Granville Island and Montreal's stylish Benelux Brasserie. There are still too many stories about the niche of food pairing and not enough about beer fan general interest topics like great Canadian pubs and straight up honest reviews... but those stories are in there, too, fighting for the increasingly valuable real estate within the pages of TAPS.
Best of all there are opinions. No discussion or community can grow in a healthy way without opinion and disagreement. For example, in his regular "My Shout" article, Stephen Beaumont takes the position that alcohol levels of beers are contextual so that anything can be a session beer in the right time and place. I disagree with his suggestion that Canadians have the selection of good session beer given I don't accept 5% low enough for the long haul but I am having to rethink what "session" means given what Mr. Beaumont has set out. Similarly, Greg Clow's article on yet another Toronto beer and food event receives criticism for poor planning to ensure the offerings matched the crowd. I don't buy Greg's "victim of its own success" argument given that it is really an question of event management but I am very pleased to see his different bolder take on a topic, something other than the too common "Hooray for Everything" related to craft brew.
TAPS summer 2009 issue is one more indication of an increasingly mature craft beer market in Canada. If you are interested in good writing about good beer, get a copy. Tree huggers and international auslanders alike can buy it on line for the measly price of $12 bucks for four issues. I got my copy for $6.95 at the Chapters chain of book stores. And if you sell into the Canadian market, if you are a craft brewer or a beer bar manager or in any other way have an ad budget in the beer trade, you should be considering offering your support that way. There are still too many noticeably glaring gaps from that perspective.