Introducing the Ontario Brewmasters Cup
I won't lie, the decision to help organize a beer competition designed to highlight the brewing talent in this province was initially conceived of as a sort of smart-ass response to the 2012 LCBO Brewmaster's Cup.
That competition, launched a couple month's ago to coincide with Euro 2012, pitted 16 beers from 16 different countries against one another. It was an interesting idea, but had two flaws as I saw it: 1) the competition consisted mainly of an international who's-who of watery lagers, and 2) the format only allowed for one Canadian beer in the competition (and that beer — Moosehead — wasn't even from Ontario).
I felt strongly that some kind of response was necessary, and so the Ontario Brewmaster's Cup was born.
As I've noted in the past, being a brewer in Ontario is a bit of a tough row to hoe — what with somewhat archaic legislation, the tedious process involved with getting your beer in the LCBO, and the Beer Store monopoly — so I thought, "why not hold a competition of the same format that showcases the great beer being brewed right here in our own backyard?"
While I'd consider myself a gifted amateur alcohol-enthusiast, I've actually only been drinking beer discerningly and writing about it seriously for a short time, so I called in some highly qualified back-up to help develop the tournament and draft the beers. Here's who's behind the project:
- Greg Clow is the publisher and editor of the website Canadian Beer News and its off-shoot review blog Canadian Beer Notes. He's also a news contributor and forum admin for Toronto beer website The Bar Towel, and a regular contributor to TAPS Magazine.
- Crystal Luxmore writes the bi-weekly Hopped Up column for The Grid, in addition to writing about beer for The Globe & Mail, Beer Advocate, ELLE Canada, enRoute and Tidings magazines. She's also taking the beer sommelier certification with Prud'homme, and is part of a self-study group to write the Cicerone exam.
- Jordan St. John is the National Beer Columnist for QMI, with a weekly column appearing in papers across Canada. He also writes about the beer industry in Ontario on his website, St.John's Wort. Jordan has trained as a brewmaster at Niagara College, and is co-author of the forthcoming book How to Make Your Own Brewskis: The Go-to Guide for Craft Brew Enthusiasts.
In short, I rounded up a little beer nerd posse.
Much like the LCBO's version, we opted to involve 16 brewers and, in a live draft that occurred via Twitter, on Monday night, selected 16 great beers in four separate categories: Lagers, Pale Ales/IPAs, Stouts/Porters/Dark Ales, and Wheat/Fruit/Flavoured.
Here are the beers we selected:
Lagers / Pilsners
Beau's All Natural Brewing Company's Lug Tread Lagered Ale
Creemore Springs Brewery's Kellerbier
Grand River Brewing's Galt Knife
Steam Whistle Brewery's Premium Pilsner
IPAs / Pale Ales
Spearhead Brewing's Hawaiian-Style IPA
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery's Smash Bomb Atomic IPA
Kensington Brewing Company's Augusta Ale
Muskoka Brewery's Mad Tom IPA
Black Oak Brewery's Nut Brown
Wellington Brewery's Imperial Stout
Neustadt Brewery's 10w30 Brown Ale
Mill Street Brewery's Coffee Porter
Wheat / Fruit / Flavoured Beer
Amsterdam Brewery's Framboise
Nickel Brook Brewery's Gluten Free Beer
Magnotta Brewery's True North Wonder Weisse
Denison's Brewing Company Weissbier
Now that the shortlist is in place, the ultimate decision is up to the public. Voting for the Ontario Brewmaster's Cup opened yesterday (August 14th), and we've already seen an overwhelming response. People seem eager to show their support for Ontario beer.
The first round will run until August 26th, at which point we'll name the best beers in each category and open up the voting for the second round, ultimately aiming to name the Ontario Brewmaster's Cup Champion on September 1st.