Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Week That Was

OCB Beer Week 2012 has come and gone, but it won't soon be forgotten.  It's left it's mark in our collective consciousness.  In previous years I never found that this week really lived up to the hype.  Sure there have always been a lot of events, but they never seemed to be as big as the advertising suggested.  Maybe I just didn't go to enough events?  Maybe I'm just went to the wrong ones?  Maybe I'm just plain wrong?  Either way, this year there just seemed to be a lot more weight behind everything. The craft beer market seems to have reached a critical mass and it's really starting to show.

By all accounts, the events seemed to be well attended and well put together.  Events seemed to have the solid advertising and promotion behind them and leading up to events, there seemed to be lots of excitement and anticipation.  The Twitters and Facebooks seemed to be a glow up right before an event.  Every night people seemed to just want to go out and try something new.

And we here at the Sawdust City Brewing Co, are just down right happy to be involved in any way.  No we aren't a part of the OCB quite yet, but we're new and we're very small.  So it just hasn't made sense for us to join yet.  But still, we were able to hop on the wave and be a part of a few events through out the week.

As I outlined in the last post, we had a lot going on.  Collaborations, Tap Takeovers, Beer Festivals...it was a big week for us.  And it didn't disappoint.

Starting with the Antique Car Show in Gravenhurst last Saturday (that's a photo up top there), we couldn't have asked for a better summer day.  26C and sunny, it was a great opportunity for Sawdust City to showoff to our local crowd.  The days started off great and we went through a lot of beer early on.  It tailed off near the end, but as far as first time events go (it was the first time they'd ever had beer at this event) it was a sure-fire winner.  Thanks to everyone at the Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce for asking us to take part in this event.  We had a great time and look forward to working with you all again in the future.

That was one event, now how about the collaboration I was talking about.  Brewed earlier in the month, specifically for OCB Beer Week, Daily Bread Saison, was a collaboration we did with the Black Oak and Cheshire Valley (sorry, this is an early version of the poster with neither breweries logo included).  A Belgian Table Sasion, this beer was definitely brewed to be a session beer.  At only 4.5% and with a gentle, refreshing and thin body, this ale will be perfect for the summer.

Other breweries around Ontario also did collaboration brews for OCB Beer Week as well, with many of them being showcased at events through out the province.  It was a pleasure to work with the guys at Black Oak again and to work with Paul Dickey from Cheshire Valley for the first time.

Next up we had the "Tap Take Over" at WVRST Beer and Sausage Hall in downtown Toronto.  The good folks at WVRST gave us 8 taps to show off our wares.  And show off we did.  We gathered all the beer that we could muster and did our best to impress.  The crowd was fantastic and the bar was packed all night long.  For our first ever tap take over this was an amazing night.  It also marked the 1 year anniversary of our first ever pilot brew at the Niagara College.  So in 1 year we went from a single pilot batch to having 8 beers on tap and a great beer bar in downtown Toronto...not too shabby.  Thanks so much to the WVRST for all the support they've given us throughout this first year. If it weren't for awesome places like this, we'd have no where to serve our beer!

Next up was Session 99, the big festival to wrap up the week.  In it's third year of existence, Session 99 promised to be bigger and better than ever before...and bigger and better it was!  Boasting an all-in-one $50 all you can eat and drink ticket, the revelers came out like never before.  Almost 1,500 people over the two Sessions.  99 Sudbury was a packed both inside and outside.

I was inside, and with so many people trying our beer it was difficult to get outside, even for a minute.  So unfortunately I have no outside shots...just this one from my booth.

It was great to have the chance to serve beer and to0 talk directly to everyone.  So many people were genuinely interested in trying new beer and discovering new flavours, it was amazing just to be there.  Over the two sessions we served almost 800 samples, that ain't bad.  Getting the chance to get our beer into that many different hands is unbelievable.  The staff and crew at Session 99 did a great job and this is will definitely be a premiere event in Toronto for years to come.

Anyhoo, that just about does it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the Sawdust beneath your feet.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Happy Father's Day Eve Everyone

So June just started...and it's almost over.  Months get lost, especially in Montreal.  After spending the first week of this month in Montreal working the 5 day Mondial de la Biere Festival and the first ever Canadian Brewing Awards held outside of Ontario, the first two weeks seemed to pass over like a sound. A really loud, obnoxious drunken sound.  But a sound non-the-less.  Eitherwhich, the days they are a'gone now and it's almost Father's Day.

Playing second fiddle to Mother's Day, the mostly forgotten of the two parental holiday's, Father's Day normally just sees spikes in tie sales and World's Best Dad coffee mugs, but this year on Father's Day Eve, we're aiming to give Dear ol'Dad something a little special.  The Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce is hosting the 19th Annual Classic and Antique Car Show at lovely Gull Lake Park.  And Sawdust City will be there pouring our Ol'Woody Alt and releasing for the first time this year, our summer ale, Golden Beach Pale Wheat.  This is the second time around for Golden Beach, but it's been a while, so peep the label for a refresher -

Along with all the beer, Chef Sean is going to be on hand as well cooking up some sweet, sweet pork.  A full pig roasted on a spit!  What more do you need?  It's gonna be sun, cars, pork and beer.  I'm pretty sure Dad's around Muskoka are going to be having a pretty awesome Father's Day this year.

For more information on the show check out the website -


But that's just Father's Day Eve my friends, this year, Father's Day also signifies the kick off of OCB Beer Week (http://www.ontariocraftbrewers.com/craftbeerweek/index.php#2) .  Breweries, beer bars and beer fanatics across the province are hosting a multitude of events, collaboration brews and just fun times in general.  For our part, Sawdust City has a number of things going on.  Firstly, we put together a special collaboration brew with our good friends at Black Oak Brewery and Cheshire Valley Brewing Co.  A Belgian Table Saison, CSB is the great foil to the June heat.  4.5% abv and loaded with fruity aromas, this is certainly a session beer...and it says it in the name! CSB stands for Collaboration Session Beligian or Cheshire Sawdust Belgian, pretty clever eh?  This one-off collaboration can be found at a number of events through out the week.

One such event is our very own and very first tap takeover!  Held at the amazing WVRST Beer and Sausage Hall in downtown Toronto (King & Portland - http://wvrst.com/), Sawdust City is going to be pouring 8 beers through out the night.  Yep, you heard it right, 8 beers.  5 of our very own brands and 3 collaborations.  It's going to be a night of probably too much fun.  But dang it you deserve it!  Also, it's not only the very first day of Summer but it's also Rob's Birthday, so there are plenty of reasons to come out and celebrate.  RESPONSIBLY!

That very same night, way across town at the legendary The Only Cafe (http://www.theonlycafe.com/theonly/ocbweek.html), my brother Jed and a few of his cohorts will be taking the stage as part of The Griffin House band.  They will be representing Sawdust City in the Brewery Battle of the Bands.  They are up against stiff competition though as the boys from Beau's will be in town rockin' the stage as well.  So all you East Enders get out there, listen to some sweet tunes and drink some great beer.  RESPONSIBLY!

Next up is Corks Beer & Wine bar @ Longo's in the Maple Leaf Sqaure.  Hosting a mini beer fest, the good folks at Corks will be pouring some of Ontario's most unique beers in one of Ontario's most unique bar locations, in a grocery store!  Running from 5-9pm that night, you've got 4 hours to get down town and taste some great beer.  RESPONSIBLY!

Through out the week, Bryden's on Bloor (http://www.brydens.ca/) will be hosting "The Best of the West" event, showcasing the best beers from Toronto's west end.  Sawdust will be there with a few collaborations, "How do you say Monkey in Latin?" a beer we brewed with Black Oak and our friend Frederick Trembley from MicroBrasserie de Charlevoix in Quebec.  It was a unique one-off brew we put together for the CBA's this year (but I've probably already told you about that).  We'll also have "Marked For Death Match", a double collaboration! Half COCKpuncher, half IndieAleHouse Wit, it's Segal and Van Damme together at last.  Starting Sunday and running all week there will certainly be plenty of chances to get out to Bryden's and enjoy RESPONSIBLY!

Lastly, to wrap up this amazing OCB Beer Week, we have Session 99 THE CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL.  (http://sessiontoronto.ca/) Full of special one-off casks and kegs, this festival not only showcases amazing beer from local breweries, but also great local food, music and artisans.  Held at 99 Sudbury, Session is into it's third year and is out to prove it self as one of Toronto's premier beer events this year.  And Sawdust City is going to be there pouring not only our beer, but also a few special collaborations never done tasted before.   (wink, wink nudge, nudge Amsterdam and Bellwoods) But the real big deal this year is the deal it self.  In order to taste all this lovely beer, all you have to do is pay one simple admission fee.  That's right, no more waiting in line for beer tickets, no more muss or fuss.  One price gets you all you can drink and eat.  There are two sessions, 1-4pm and 6-9pm.  Pay one price, drink and eat as much as you want for 3 hours.   RESPONSIBLY!

Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mug and the sawdust beneath your feet.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

How Do You Say Monkey in Latin?


But wait, I'm getting a little ahead of myself.  First things first, let's talk about last weekend before we get to next weekend.

Last Saturday was the 1st annual Brews'n'Bands Festival at The Casbah in Hamilton.  A great beer bar / concert venue, The Casbah brings together two of our favourite things on a regular basis, indie music and craft beer.  But the Brews'n'Bands Festival was the first time they jammed the place, with 16 craft breweries and 5 bands, 4 food vendors and 1 radio station in one solid day of gloriousness. The Casbah's two levels were over flowing with beer and beer lovers and Sawdust City was there to witness....and to pour

Ol'Woody and COCKpuncher made the trip down to Hamilton.  No, the two DUDES are Sam and Sean, the BEERS are Ol'Woody and COCKpuncher.  Ol'Woody Alt, one of our 5 mainstay brands was tasting great and pouring well, but it tended to attract a more reserved crowd.  While COCKpuncher IPA an 8.5% massive IPA we brewed with our good friends at the the IndieAleHouse in Toronto, brought the rock and pulled in the more adventurous drinker.  A little ying and yang thing goin' on.

By early afternoon The Casbah was filled with revelers.  Beer lovers and music lovers coming together as one to enjoy the scene.  The beer was flowing and the first act, (one of my personal favourites) The Sadies took to the main stage at 4pm.  I may have left Sean to handle the pouring duties for a while...

After The Sadies rocked the stage, I headed down to do a little radio spot with 108 FM to talk Sawdust City and the growing craft beer movement in Ontario

And that was just the first session!  Session 2 started at 6p and brought in even more great indie music with The Wooden Sky, headlining.  A whole new crew of beer and music lovers made there way through the Casbah, sampling the wares of some of Ontario's finest breweries

D-Money in the house!

All and all it was a good day, but seriously, how can you not have fun with that much awesome music and amazing beer under one roof...it's pretty much impossible not too.  Brodie, the owner of The Casbah has big plans for this festival and with one successful year under his belt, I can't wait to see what he has planned for next years fest.  What ever he does plan, if they'll have us, Sawdust City will definitely be back

So what of all this latin monkey talk?  Well a few weeks ago, Frederick from Microbrasserie Charlevoix, Simon and John from Black Oak and yours truly from Sawdust City got together and brewed a special commemorative collaboration brew for the 10th Anniversary of the Canadian Brewing Awards.  This was first time a beer had been made specifically for this event, so we wanted to do something special.

What we came up with was a pretty unique brew.  A Dubbel IPA.  We've seen Belgian IPA's before, that's not really anything new, but what we wanted to do was take the DNA of a Belgian Dubbel and cross it with the DNA of an American IPA to not create and exact hybrid of the two distinct styles, but a whole new animal, unlike any seen before. So along with the old, we also wanted to throw in a dash of the new.  A little of the unknown into two styles we were pretty familiar with.  So we elected to use a few new varieties of hops that we had not used in the past to see what they`d bring to the table.

This was an experiment after all.  The outcome could have been an abomination onto beer.  An ungodly mistake, one that should never have been released to man.  But we were willing to take that chance and venture into the unknown.

So using the malt and yeast body of a Belgian Dubbel we added in the hop profile of an American IPA and what we ended up with was, `How Do You Say Monkey in Latin` .  Continuously hopped for 60 minutes with a boat load of Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin and Legacy hops, then dry hopped with another boat load of the same hops, Monkey turned out like nothing we`d ever tasted before.  Not really a Dubbel and not really an IPA, this beer has massive aromas of berries and wine, with just a hint of banana lurking around in the background.  The flavour is much of the same, some sweet malt melted into blackberry jam and red wine. Quite unique, and yet very drinkable....and at just under 7% abv, that could be trouble.

Oh yea, we also wanted to make this as Belgian as we could, so we bottle conditioned the brew as well.

But there isn`t much to go around so you`ll have to make the trip to Montreal to try this unique one-off brew and get your commemorative bottle in the CBA gift bag.

Here take a look at the label done by Shannon our design guru -

Big thanks to all the suppliers who generously donated to the brew - G & P  for the malt, Hops Direct (Beer and Wine Filter) for all the hops, H.Moore Printing Services for the amazing labels and United Bottles for the bottles.

Anyhoo, that just about does it for now.  Until next time, keep the beer in your mugs and the sawdust beneath your feet.