Thursday, 4 October 2012


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.

It was my first time there and my impressions were very favourable. Though I'm not sure how typical the places I visited were of Canada as a whole. Apart from passing through Montreal airport, the only places I visited were 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.


Alan said...

Ms. Watts who was speaking from the audience during out panel, has written a very deft description.

ealusceop said...

Did you come to Quebec? Our Victorian Porter is on handpump right now at the Albion.

Ron Pattinson said...

ealusceop, I sort of did, if you count Montreal airport.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, I hope you used your French in and around the Montreal airport.


P.S. Keep that Victorian Porter on the handpull, ealusceop, I'll be in Montreal before the end of the year and I am driving up to see you!

Craig said...

"...stimulating and mentally challenging at breakfast, incoherent jollity by supper."

I could not have summed the weekend up better.

Alan, we better watch out, Ron has added "Albany Ale" as a search tag on his site.

Arctic Alchemy said...

Ron, you missed ealusceop !, Brasserie Albion is the best place in all of Quebec and probably all of Canada to have a beer ....hands down. He regularly has 19th century ales on, plus we brewed the Arctic Ale together there.Ironically , I have just returned from Canada tonight, but I was in Niagra Falls, please let us know your state-side travel plans, you have friends on this side !

Ron Pattinson said...

Arctic, I'd have loved to have gone there but it just wasn't practical with my schedule.

My next trip ascross the Atlantic is in February when the whole family is going to Boston for a week.

Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, I spoke French in Hawkesbury, too.

dana said...

What's the plan for Boston in February? Any beer releases?