Friday, January 31, 2014

The Great Gruit Revival

February 1st (or rather, feBREWary) is International Gruit Day. At least, that is what the good people at Beau's All Natural Brewery have proclaimed. And with more and more microbreweries getting on board, it may one day be a standard calendar entry.

So what is gruit? Quite simply, it is beer without hops. To take it one step further, it is a traditional, some say original, way to brew beer using herbs in lieu of hops. There's a pretty good article in The Globe and Mail about it.

The great thing about beer is that, if you ignore the Reinheitsgebot, or the Bavarian Purity Law (which states that beers must only contain barley, water, hops and yeast), it is really open to interpretation. That's much different than, say, wine, which tends to be more finicky and precise about how it is produced.

International Gruit Day is the brainchild of Steve Beauchesne and the people at Beau's. Started in 2013, it enters it's second year with more breweries on board, more gruits produced, and a lot more hype. Don't believe me? Check out #internationalgruitday on Twitter.

Gruit is not for everyone. But for beer lovers and history buffs alike, it's good to remember your roots, and if you picture Erik the Red enjoying ale after a good pillaging, he quite likely quenched his thirst with this hearty beverage.

I'll be brewing up my first - a Sandkicker Golden Gruit that will have, among other things, corriander seed, rosemary, sweet gale and yarrow in it.

If you get a chance, give this beer a try. You just might be surprised.

Gruit resources

Explains what gruit day is

A website dedicated to all things gruit.
The Bog Father - Beau's signature gruit-style beer.
History lesson. This guy really did his homework


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The 30 second update

Well, this is embarrassing. It's been over a month since my last post, and a lot has happened in that time.

I'm tempted to leave it at that, and let the suspense wash over you....

But then you may never return. So allow me to recap:

Christmas open house resulted in great feedback on my beers, and helped me identify up to four 'house' beers, those that I would or should keep on tap.

We hosted Christmas and Boxing Day - lots of pyjama time spent with family. Lisa and Aiden managed to stay relatively healthy, but Marissa and I fought colds/virus stuff off and on throughout the holidays.

Lots of time spent in hockey rinks. Always fun.

Didn't brew over the holidays. Thought about it lots, but never did. However, as part of the homebrew group I am a part of, I gave 12 of my beers (six of the 1808 pale ale, six of the Wrecking Ball blonde ale). In return, I received 12 different types of beers from 12 different homebrewers. A great idea, a lot of different styles, so happy I was a part of this. Also a great opportunity to give and receive feedback, since many homebrewers are always looking for ways to improve.

I did expand my keezer from two to four taps. Here's a picture. The taps have all been bought/given/gifted and in no way reflect the great beer that comes out of the tap.

2014 rolled in. I finally received the best beer in the world - the Westy 12. Taste is always relative, but the story behind this Trappist beer is fascinating. I will give this it's own post that it deserves.

Recently, I brewed a Black IPA. It's currently fermenting, and I am very excited to try this one.

So there it is - le quick update. I will be back soon, as there is so much more to share.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Hockey and craft beer in Kingston

Nothing screams "Canadian" more than hockey, and in Ontario, Kingston is a great hockey town. Names like Don Cherry, Doug Gilmour, Kirk Muller, and Ken Linseman are synonymous with the city by the lake.

So when I found out my son's hockey team would be attending a tournament down the 401 in March, naturally, I was excited. Not only will be be a part of some great hockey, but it's a chance to get to know the parents and kids a bit better, and be able to share some homebrew. In fact, there are two homebrewering dads that have kids on the team - me and my brewing mentor. Our eyes lit up over the prospect of a weekend trip away.

Kingston is not currently known to house any micro-breweries yet, but something tells me it's coming shortly. Until then, I'll need to find a way to get to this bar and grab a few pints.