Did I mention that I was going to Canada? I did?. OK, I'll remind you. I've been to Canada. Just got back on Tuesday. So as a change from endless newspaper cuttings about British Lager you'll be enduring my Canadian holiday tales.
Vankleek Hill and Hawkesbury. Neither of them is exactly a metropolis. Hawkesbury has a population of 10,000. Vankleek Hill just 1800.
Not a typical trip for me by any means. I only drank in one pub, for a start. That's very unlike me. I usually spend as much of a holiday as I can inside pubs. To be fair, most of my time was frittered away either in a brewery or a beer festival. The main purpose of the trip was to brew a beer at Beau's (located in Vankleek Hill) and speak at Beau's Oktoberfest (also in Vankleek Hill). You'll be hearing all about my brewing day in a later post. All I'll say for now is that it was quite different from anything I've experienced in other breweries.
A happy circumstance was that several people I only know from the interwebs were also there. People I've communicated with a great deal, but never met in the flesh. People with whom, amongst other things, I've been working on a couple of projects about American beer, namely Albany Ale and Vassar Ale. (The latter was the topic of the crazily-detailed talk I gave at the Oktoberfest.) A couple - Alan McLeod and Craig Gravina are fellow bloggers (it was Alan who suggested I blog, so you can blame him for the rambling nonsense that fills these pages) - the others were Ethan Cox, a brewer in Buffalo and Chad Fust who works at Vassar College.
Together, the five of us constituted a roaming beer gang, consuming and talking about beer all through the day and into the small hours. With our varied historical perspectives and backgrounds, the conversations sometimes hit intellectual highs and at others descended into total silliness. Funnily enough, that was usually the progression during the day: stimulating and mentally challenging at breakfast, incoherent jollity by supper. It was all good.
They weren't the only people I met. There were dozens of happy, friendly folks working at Beau's. Other guests, like Anders Kissmeyer and Dick Cantwell, brewers with decades of experience who made me a little more reluctant to shoot my mouth off than usual. There were other beer people, too, like Aaron Brown, who sent me photos of Labatt brewing records. It was great to be able to thank him in person. Finally just random festival goers, who we found standing next to us and with whom we stumbled into conversation, unsteady on our feet perhaps, but happy to chat and joke.
I'll recount all of this in more detail over the next few days. I hope I can get it done before my next adventure. That's this weekend in Haarlem. More hours of beer chat with beery folks. I'm a lucky man.