A Good Beer Blog

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Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


Comments

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Steve -

Well, the biggest myth believed by both sides was that Canadian beer was stronger then American beer (many still seem to believe this), not necessarily that it was "better". I'm a Canadian that now lives in Texas. There are almost 1,500 craft breweries in the U.S. and they're continuing to grow and mature. Many of them are having to seek out new markets to continue growing their sales and Canada, with its low number of craft breweries, is a wide open market. Hopefully the Canadian craft breweries will be able to take on this new competition, but some are definitely going to have to expand their offerings and step up their game. There are some great Canadian craft beers that I actively seek out while back in Canada, but none that I really crave when I'm back down here.

Jim -

I'm surprised he only mentioned Unibroue and not Dieu du Ciel. I think just about every American that likes craft beer knows about Peche Mortel. Their other beers are also worthwhile (they're just expensive here in the US, unlike Unibroue).

I think the issue in Canada is the styles of beer people prefer. When I spent time in New Brunswick, I was drinking nothing but English style beers. When I asked about American style beers, I was basically laughed at. It didn't matter though. I really enjoyed the beers I had from St. Ambroise, Picaroons, and Pump House. I've never been one to think that the big bold flavors of American beer are superior to the more nuanced flavors of English sessions beers.

So sure, the US might have more craft breweries, but perhaps the author just hasn't spent enough time in Canada to experience the breweries that don't make it across the border. Picaroons is still a standout for me. I liked everything I had from them (had to bring most of it home with me in my suitcase because the bars didn't have that much).

Stephen Beaumont -

I'm the first to criticize Canadian breweries for their conservative approach to their craft, especially Ontario ones, but I think it grossly unfair to dismiss Canadian craft beer. For solid, to-style brewing, Canucks can hold their own with the best -- as good a Bohemian-style pilsner as you'll find anywhere in North America (King Pilsner); weisse beer that rates with the best (Denison's); oatmeal stout, as you said (St. Ambroise); cask bitter that can hang with the best of the British (Granite); brown ale (Black Oak); British-style barleywine (Alley Kay); etc...

Jim -

Canadian beer, aside from a few good breweries, is too damn boring.

The first problem I see is that a majority of the Canadian craft beers are 5.0% ABV, regardless of style. Another thing that bothers me is that I have yet to find a truly delicious, hoppy canadian IPA. Some do alright, but I haven't found a great one yet, and I live in BC, which one would think would be big on west coast hops.

Maybe I have been spoiled while living washington, drinking beer from oregon, cali, montana and colorado...

Anyway, I'd love for someone to tell me otherwise and point me to some good canadian brews aside from Unibroue or dieu du ciel... I've had pretty much all the BC offerings, and while they are OK, they dont really stack up to others ive tried.

Fred -

So Rob Kasper in Baltimore only knows one kind of Canadian beer, and thinks American beer is the greatest, eh.
Is this a Rick Mercer "Talking to Americans" episode?

Mike Carter -

Hey Jim
I live in B .C. too and though I wish we had more pubs with tasty craft brews,
things are slowly looking up.
last evening I was in Dix drinking an IPA abv 7+% and as delicious as many I drank at this months Portland spring brew fest.

Howe sound Devil's Elbow IPA 6%, Tree Winter double IPA 8%, Central city Imperial IPA, , Storm brewing, R+B IPA , the wonderfull beers of Swans and Phillips. Unfortunately I think Spinnakers has lost it.

Try the Alibi room on Alexander , they have # cask conditioned ales on tap and a large beer menu.

Most of all keep educating friends and family and one day we may be as lucky as the folks who live in Portland!

Best wishes and good drinking
Mike carter

Mike Carter -

Hey Jim
I live in B .C. too and though I wish we had more pubs with tasty craft brews,
things are slowly looking up.
last evening I was in Dix drinking an IPA abv 7+% and as delicious as many I drank at this months Portland spring brew fest.

Howe sound Devil's Elbow IPA 6%, Tree Winter double IPA 8%, Central city Imperial IPA, , Storm brewing, R+B IPA , the wonderfull beers of Swans and Phillips. Unfortunately I think Spinnakers has lost it.

Try the Alibi room on Alexander , they have # cask conditioned ales on tap and a large beer menu.

Most of all keep educating friends and family and one day we may be as lucky as the folks who live in Portland!

Best wishes and good drinking
Mike carter

Ian -

The are some truely interesting beers coming shortly at the new Niagara's Best Brewery and Pub, soon to be opening in Niagara Falls...

Brewer Bill -

As a craft brewer from BC, I would just like to add that it is extremely difficult, read expensive and time consuming, to introduce truly unique and bold beer styles to the public. As a banker once pointed out to me, "pioneers get the arrows and settlers get the land". Conisdering the expense and risk in opening up a small brewery is it any wonder that most Canadian brewers are not volunteering to be "pioneers"? I know this first hand as the first BC brewer to introduce IPA, Smoked Porter, Raspberry, Imperial Stout, and Barley WIne, all bottle conditioned. The reality is that with all the obsticles in the way to getting a new or unusual stlye of beer to market, either by keg or bottle, it is truly amazing that any make it at all. When we first opened our doors, back in '93. the vast majority of people were interested in cheap beer not trying something new or distinctive. So you can see this
experience has left me with "bitter" taste in my mouth :)

Andrew -

i'm going to have to agree with Jim here. Not only is our beer boring (i live in ontario), there just isn't enough choice. I live in st. catharines, and crossing the border, a half hour away, opens up an entirely new world of beer. I'm sure if people had choices here like they do in the states, they would be more likely to try new things and be more risky. I work part time at the beer store, and the whole molson/labatt/sleeman/bud/coors monopoly has such a hold on people when they walk in, they don't get past the displays and cheap beers that flood media and advertising. I try to get people to explore craft brews when I can, and we do have a few decent ones (welly, st.ambroise, unibroue, king, mill st., etc.) but people are so used to watered down swill beers that they don't know anything else. Anyway, I'm just a canadian that is sick of smuggling IPAs, imperial stouts and wildly different beers over the border. we need some flavour up here.

Rick Green -

Hmmmmm, it seems that all of the Canucks who say their beer is boring live in the east. I guess the setup of the LCBO means it's harder to find good craft beer? You might want to follow http://canadianbeernews.com/ for some pointers to the good stuff.

Out here in BC, it helps to be dialed into the craft beer scene, but we're not wanting for a good brew that can stand up to our southern counterparts. There just isn't as much choice available as in the US -- hardly a surprise there! You would expect that for a country with ten times the population. The good news is that Canada has better beer than China!

Brewer Bill makes some pertinent points about the difficulty of setting up a craft brewery in BC. However, I have to say, that out here in BC we suffer from brewers who are not business-minded and business people who could care less about their own beer. Craft breweries should be working hand in glove to advance their industry and exploit every opportunity to educate the public about good beer. This does not happen even close to the extent that ou find in the US.

I think this is one of the main handicaps we face in Canada. If the system is set against craft beer, then find another way. Work on educating consumers so that they will push for change. This is already happening in BC.

Roelof -

I've lived in the States for 3 years (just moved back to Canada). Living in Michigan opened me up to a whole new world of beer. Coming back, I've discovered there are some descent craft breweries in Canada (Mill St., Lake of Bays, Flying monkey) in Ontario; and of course the world class ones from Quebec. But it is not the same as in the states. People still think that Molson and Labatt brew quality beer! In Michigan, while people drink Bud, Molson etc. they do so b/c of the price...not b/c they are disillusioned enough to believe they are of a high quality. I can go into a Meijers in Michigan (equivalent to a Walmart), and choose from 100's of quality beers (No, people...Brava, Heineken, Stella Artois do NOT constitute good beers). People know the difference between a Russian Imperial Stout and a Guinness, for example. It is just a totally different beer culture. We need Sam Adams to come into our market (and not just their Boston Lager).

Roger W -

“People still think that Molson and Labatt brew quality beer!”
Craft beer snobs might take great delight in slamming the macros for their mass produced watery beers but make no mistake, breweries like Molson and Labatt produce a very high quality beer. Let’s not confuse quality with one’s personal preference. Like it or not these companies deliver exactly what the masses want and make a lot of money doing it.
Conversely, I’m always amazed to hear someone brag up a beer solely because it’s made in small batches with lots of dark malts and hops. Let’s not ignore huge swings in consistency and major flavour defects. Case in point was Jim’s mention of Picaroon from New Brunswick. I have try all of their products and can honestly say that I have never had a more infected beer.