Small Batch Festivals & The People’s Pint

People's Pint #SmallBatchBrews

People’s Pint #SmallBatchBrews

Throughout the year there are numerous large festivals dedicated to craft beer in the province.  Generally speaking large festivals have a pretty wide variety of beer available from a number of different breweries.  But these festivals do have a downside; the number of people who attend.   What I mean by that is when it’s not handled properly by the organizers, having too many people can mean longer lines for everything; to enter the event, to buy beer tickets/tokens, to get beer and food and very importantly to use the washroom.

On the other hand smaller festivals, while much more intimate, tend to lack a wide selection of beer.  They often have the same stuff you can get pretty much anywhere and rarely are there any one-offs or unusual brews.  The upside is that there is more time to talk to individual breweries about their beer and in some cases speak with one of the brewers who actually make the beer.

So how do you get great variety in a much smaller and less crowded setting?

Welcome to the People’s Pint Brewing Collective.  It is a small festival with only 100 tickets available, but it features 20 different unique beers from 15 different brewers.

The first People's Pint Event in May 2015 at the Gladstone Hotel

The first People’s Pint Event in May 2015 at the Gladstone Hotel

We bring together award winning amateur and professional brewers to each create small batches (19L) of a single one-off beer.  This leads to an amazing amount of choice, but doesn’t overwhelm you with too many possibilities.  Patrons attending this Small Batch Festival are able to speak to the brewers directly and can conceivably try all the beer being offered.  This brings together the best of both worlds.

Originally this concept started with homebrewers creating the beer in their kitchens, basements or garages around the city.  But legally the only way to serve that beer was to belong to a private club and the events were only open to club members.  Trying to promote this sort of event blurred the lines of legality and so we decided to explore another avenue.  The best option in this case was to get the beer legally brewed at a bricks and mortar brewery.

We approached several breweries in the city and asked if they’d be willing to host outside brewers under their roof and allow them to brew beer under their license.  Happily every single brewery we approached said yes and were very supportive of the entire concept:

Rainhard Brewing Co.Junction Craft BrewingMuddy York Brewing Co.Indie Ale House Brewing Co.Great Lakes Brewery & the newly opened Folly Brewpub all graciously hosted our brewers.  Many thanks to all of them for making this happen!

People's Pint Custom Glassware

People’s Pint Custom Glassware

Our next event is coming up on Sunday November 15th and will be limited in size but with very unique beers like: “Cookie Monster” a chocolate stout, “Peater Drinklage” a smoked pale ale, “Redrum” a Belgian Dubbel flavoured with pecans and rum soaked raisins and “Saison’s Greetings” another Belgian style beer that tastes like Gingerbread.  A complete list of what is available can be found at the People’s Pint Website.

The Lansdowne Brewery

The Lansdowne Brewery

Another very supportive brewer in the community has stepped forward to host our event, Jeremy Coghill, one of the owners of the Lansdowne Brewery.  We are very thankful for this and are very happy to have our event with them.  They are located at 303 Lansdowne Ave, and while not yet selling their own beer they are serving excellent food and top notch locally brewed beer from other amazing breweries.

If you are interested in attending our upcoming Small Batch Event, get your tickets before they sell out, only 100 tickets will be offered for sale.  Ticket includes a custom printed tasting glass and all the samples you can drink.  You can get them here.

But don’t wait too long they will sell out fast.  Hope you will join us!


Craft Beer in Copenhagen

Mikkeller Pub in Copenhagen.

Mikkeller Pub in Copenhagen.

For a long time Denmark has been well known for producing the very iconic Carlsberg Pilsner.  It is a brand that has sponsored the FIFA World Cup and has created some pretty cool marketing campaigns over the years.

But Copenhagen isn’t just Carlsberg anymore.  Thanks to Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, a high school teacher, and journalist Kristian Klarup Keller, everything has changed.  Back in 2006 these two homebrewers created Mikkeller, which is a “gyspy” brewery with no real bricks and mortar facility to call their own.  They wanted to “challenge beer friends with intense new tastes”, drawing inspiration from the American breweries that “aren’t afraid to play and break all the rules”.

Mikkeller has a couple of pubs in Copenhagen, which serve as a home base, but continue to brew all over the world, collaborating with many well know brewers.  The beer they make really does push the limits and they aren’t afraid to try new and different things such as a black imperial pilsner or a sweet and sour naturally fermented beer they call “Kung Fu”.

Thanks to the world wide success and recognition of Mikkeller beer, Denmark now has well over 100 new micro breweries, with many new brewers hoping to cash in on the current craft beer trend sweeping the world.

Excellent Beer & food at Nørrebro Bryhus

Excellent Beer & food at Nørrebro Bryghus

One of the other early entrants into the craft beer scene in Copenhagen was the Nørrebro Bryghus, which opened it’s doors in 2003.  They shared a similar philosophy of creating new and unique beers that weren’t readily available in Denmark.  Their Bombay Pale Ale is a Danish take on the American IPA and it is well balanced with plenty of grapefruit and citrus hop flavours. Their original brew pub is still one of the coolest spots in the city, with a laid back vibe, excellent beer and food with very attentive, but not intrusive service.  It’s a place that you can really experience the Danish concept of “hygge” (pronounced hugh-ga). In essence hygge means “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people”.

Fermentoren, a place with so much great beer!

Fermentoren, a place with so much great beer!

Fermentoren in a formally industrial section of the city is another great place to experience hygge.  They have a very warm and cozy environment, great for the often cold, grey and rainy northern European days.  The draft list is unbelievable with offerings from many of the smaller, harder to find, Danish brewers.  While they don’t have a kitchen providing food, they do encourage you to buy food from the numerous vendors in the surrounding area and bring it in.

Variety of styles in Carlsberg's Jacobsen beers

Variety of styles in the Carlsberg Jacobsen line up of beers

The love of craft beer in this country has even influenced brewing giant Carlsberg.  They have created a very popular line of Jacobsen beers, which are named for their original founder, JC Jacobsen.  They are edgy, interesting and high quality beers that are widely available at grocery and corner stores throughout the city.

Copenhagen is a great place for beer, but in typical Danish fashion they don’t brag about it, they just let everyone come and discover it for themselves.

Do “bought out” breweries really start making lesser beer?

If anything this infusion of cash will actually make the beer better. I’ve noticed many inconsistencies lately with Mill Street beers, many to do with packaging issues. But I also just had an excellent experience at their brew pub. The beer was great, food pretty amazing and the service was top notch. I’m looking forward to being able to order a Mill Street beer at more mainstream establishments too (like the Rogers Centre). It’ll help open up the world of craft beer to so many more people than before.

Ben's Beer Blog

Four days ago, following the news that local AB InBev subsidiary, Labatt, had purchased Mill Street Brewery, I wrote something about the news for Toronto Life.

While it was my intent to take more of a “positive” approach to the news than you might expect most craft beer fans would, the article did actually outline my own feelings about the takeover fairly accurately. And if you haven’t read the article yet, I can summarize my response for you fairly succinctly with one word; namely, “Meh.”

And while the reasons I’m “meh” on the news are myriad (and detailed in the article. Seriously, just go fucking read it), I received quite a few negative responses to my take, and, as you can imagine, Mill Street has taken some abuse about the news, too. Because it’s the internet, the responses vary widely from reasoned and logical arguments about where beer-drinkers…

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